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California October 2017

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by peep, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. peep

    peep Moderator Staff Member Moderator Social Media Team

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    The trip started with Joey and I catching a low budget Norwegian airways flight from London to LAX. Considering the huge flight time it went by really quickly and we enjoyed playing the entertainment system's trivia game. We were met at the airport by Kyle and Dillon who drove us to our airbnb house for the week where Kara and Sajeer were waiting for us. The house was huge and really nice. The garden was full of ridiculous tat which amused us all.

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    We then went to a korean chicken place which was tasty but it was a faff before we got served. We then headed back to the house to get some decent rest before our first proper day of the trip.


    Sunday 1st October

    We actually split up on this day as I found out last minute that Fantasmic was only on at the weekend and I NEEDED IT IN MY FACE. So the others went to the beach and shopped while I did all the Disney stuff they totally weren't interested in. I decided to go into California Adventure first. I needed a drink full of sugar so I popped into the Starbucks, kinda wish I hadn't as the queue was literally 30+ minutes long. I enjoyed some of the roaming entertainment before grabbing a fastpass for Tower of Terror Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.

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    I planned on seeing the first performance of Frozen Live but I still had ages of time to waste so popped over to Monsters Inc. The ride was as meh as I remembered.

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    I then went to the Hyperion theatre for Frozen. For those unaware this theatre is absolutely huge and has full-scale Broadway shows, they used it as a test for Aladdin and now Frozen. I'd heard good things before seeing it but holy smokes I wasn't expecting to be that impressed. Despite a technical break due to a stunt failing to go off it was flawless and the cast were incredible (well aside from child Elsa, she was horrendous). The projection mapping around the theatre was really immersive, the travel scenes felt more realistic than Soarin'. I was a little creeped out by the trolls but I was glad their song was kept in as they usually abandon it in the parks. I left with such a huge smile on my face, I almost saw it again but it just takes up so much of the day (show is about an hour, plus you have to arrive early to get a seat).

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    I then went to check out Five and Dime which is another street show with a really fab band, I really enjoyed their show on my previous visit so made sure to check them out again.

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    I then queued for Little Mermaid. The board said it was a 15 minute wait, it was a lie. I think it was more 45 minutes, I didn't even know the queueline went as far back as it did. I still quite like this dark ride, simple but I really like the music and I think the audio design in some of the spaces is genius. As I exited I caught another street show I didn't even know existed. Operation: Playtime! with the green army men. It was random and included far too much audience participation than I'd like but it was fun.

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    I then headed over to California Screamin' which had like a 15 minute wait (through-put on this thing is absolutely incredible). It's a fun ride but boy the vibration on the loop is intense, feel like I've placed my head on a vibration plate and put it on max.

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    It was then time for my fastpass for Guardians of the Tower: Operation Twilight. So, ok, where do I start my review of this? The exterior still doesn't look right, I mean even the blasted tower segments have been kept and it looks out of place. All the random tat attached to it looks exactly like that, just plonked on and not part of the design. The interior really feels like this too. Also I'm 99.9% sure capacity has been completely slashed but I'll get onto that a bit more in a mo, it does mean Fastpass now actually has a separate queueline as batching is a lot slower. The main hall actually looks decent, the amount of references in there and the libraries (no idea what to call them now, waiting rooms?) is pretty neat for fans of the Marvel movies, probably a lot I didn't even pick up on. The big screen video looks amazing and sets up the story pretty well, however I feel like no one really waits in here to be able to watch it - bit of a waste if you ask me. The pre show room has a HUGE flaw and that is that they shove too many peeps into the room and then if you're standing in the wrong place you can't see the best thing about it.

    The best thing is an incredible animatronic of Rocket, it looks so real! Well, as real as a talking raccoon can look

    The boiler room looks pretty much the same but with Twilight zone theming either replaced with park/marvel references or literally painted over. Ok so on to the ride portion of things. This is, without a doubt, a much better ride experience. It feels longer, the drops and sheer amount of air time is insane and the video segments are kinda fun. Sometimes the audio isn't exactly clear and I'm not sure how they can improve that but I left with a stupid grin on my face.

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    I adore this painting

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    I then headed over to Disneyland which I'll post separately to break it up a bit...
     
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  2. peep

    peep Moderator Staff Member Moderator Social Media Team

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    Part 2 of day 1...

    As soon as I stepped into Disneyland I could hear something exciting. The Dapper Dans! And they did a spooktacular Halloween set which was phenomenal (despite the lame jokes).



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    Aww, it's so diddy

    After a quick tour through the Sleeping Beauty castle I headed to the back of Fantasyland for Mickey and the Magical map. Towards the end of the opening song there was a technical problem and they had to restart the show after a short break. It was sort of amusing and the audience went nuts when they finally came back out to start the show again. The show is fun and contains some neat effects but it lacks something compared to other Disney stage shows (for example Mickey and the magician in Paris is far superior).

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    I then got an epic sized baked potato outside the theatre and then headed over to the parade which I caught just in time. This parade is ok, the soundtrack is pretty good.

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    As I was next to the entrance to it I walked straight on to Its a small world once the parade finished. I had totally forgotten they had placed the characters in this one, was a nice surprise.

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    I then made my way over to Frontierland to see if I could still grab a Fantasmic fastpass (I doubted this but worth a try). However on the way I got distracted by Fatasy Faire which takes place in a tiny show area next to the castle. I didn't check this out on my last trip and now I regret this, it was hilarious. It's essentially a couple of guys performing a Disney story in the style of medieval panto and it's fab. This one was Tangled and they got Rapunzel and Flynn out to help tell her tale. I laughed so much and the piano player was amazing.

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    So anyways, back to Frontierland to check for Fantasmic passes and no luck. Oh well. Instead I headed down to Splash Mountain where I joined the small single rider line. So glad I was sat at the back of this, the poor kid who sat at the front was absolutely drenched from head to toe - it was hilarious. I also forgot how dark this version of Splash is (lighting and the story).

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    I then went on the Winnie the Pooh dark ride because I could. I then headed over to Big Thunder Mountain for a night ride. I was shocked to get a chance to ride this on this trip as it was down for maintenance the rest of the week. It's really fun and I like that the lift hills aren't as loud as the ones in Paris.

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    It was then time to grab a spot for the sole reason for adding on this extra day at Disney. After standing around waiting for Fantasmic to start for about 90 minutes I was quite broken by the time it started but boy was it worth it. I've always enjoyed Fantasmic and the differences between all 3 resort versions but this brand new version in Cali has taken the cake. As soon as it started the audio was soooo much better, the projections were clearer and the projection mapping onto the stage was a neat addition. As the show went on I just had a stupid grin on my face, the Lion King/Jungle Book/Pink Elephant segment is incredible, I never knew I wanted a club remix of the pink elephant track but now I want MORE of it. I'm literally addicted to the new soundtrack. I also need to point out a really small effect of the fire lanterns on the floats during this segment that do little puffs of fire in time with the music and I love it. The Peter Pan stunt show on a massive boat has been replaced with Pirates of the Caribbean which isn't a bad thing and it looks incredible with the lighting. However whoever they got to do the voice of Elisabeth Turner is atrocious, I hope they replace that at some point as it ruins a great scene. I also think the villains segment took quite a bad hit in the edit of this version, considering the audio edits elsewhere are perfect the Ursula segment is messy and the Chernabog segment goes on for far too long. Maleficent is still incredible though <3 The prince and princess segment is still pretty good and the addition of Aladdin and Jasmine on the magic carpet is pretty neat.

    Overall I was absolutely blown away by how good it was and I stuck around to watch the second performance too.

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    In between performances was the castle firework show, they actually put the castle projections up on some of the Fantasmic water screens which was nice and despite the audio cutting out a few times I really enjoyed it as it went through each area of the park so fireworks set to the Tiki room song was pretty fab.

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    More Fantasmic photos because it's amazing...

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    I then had a quick ride on Pirates of the Caribbean where our boat created a huge wave and the peeps in the front got quite wet! It was then back to the house for a much needed rest.


    Thanks for reading, I'll post about the second day tomorrow. Full photo album here - https://imageshack.com/a/K40l/1
     
  3. davidm

    davidm Well-Known Member

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    California again John - you were only just there not so long ago? ;)
     
  4. peep

    peep Moderator Staff Member Moderator Social Media Team

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    Haha, I know I know. I just had an urge to head back to the States and I wanted to see Kyle and the gang (hadn't seen them since 2012) so it was more a place to hang out than a need to return so soon.

    Monday 2nd

    After a fairly relaxed start to the day we headed over as the whole group to California Adventure. After some walking around the Grizzly Peak area (which is fab) we grabbed some fastpasses for Soarin' and World of Color before headed over to Cars Land. It has a pretty fab Halloween theme this year, the more time we spent in this area the more details we spotted. Hard to get photos of stuff though as it was pretty popular. Anyways we joined the queue for the Mater ride which is pretty fun. All the music had been changed to Halloween tunes sung by Mater which was more fun than it sounds.

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    We then did the Little Mermaid ride - I'll admit I was surprised when the rest of the group wanted to go on this.

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    It was then time for our Soarin' fastpass. I've never been a fan of this attraction, that opinion hasn't changed. Everyone else loved it. There was a fab t-shirt in its tat shop though and then we were all disappointed when we realised we were looking at the back of the shirt and the front had a lame little logo on it. Why are Disney so bad at designing merch for men?

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    For reasons I can't remember we then headed over to Disneyland. We started with the classic Tiki Room, always amusing to see people get into it.

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    We then queued ages for Jungle Cruise, I didn't even realise this had a massive queueline upstairs and now I do. None of us understood why the queue was split in half, was more complicated than it needed to be. Oh and at one point lots of peeps got freaked out because there was a gross spider in the queue - think it was a jumping spider, can't remember.

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    We were planning to then go on Indy but it had been closed so we grabbed some fast passes for later. Joey and I then went up Tarzan's treehouse as neither of us had done so before. Star Wars Land was pretty obvious from up there, actually it was obvious from lots of places, that thing is huge.

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    We then queued about 20 mins for Pirates of the Caribbean which was fun. We then headed over to Tomorrowland for Star Tours. The queue was fairly long and went into the boring room which is just a bland cattlepen, such a horrible space. The queue moves really slowly here compared to Paris so it was a little frustrating as the wait was more tedious than I'm used to, at least our adventure was in English.

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    We then headed over to the Matterhorn which was pretty fun, very old and bumpy but still very enjoyable.

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    We didn't have long to wait before our Indy fastpasses could be used so we grabbed a snack in Frontierland and enjoyed the ambience around the day of the dead themed stuff. I say that like it was calm but while sitting at a table we nearly got hit by several birds getting far too close for comfort.

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    Indy had a silly queue but I suppose that's what happens when it's down for most of the day. Even with fastpasses it felt like we waited a very long time to ride. I always forget how much it throws you around. It's a fun ride but there are so many points where it stops and starts where nothing else is going on. Minor gripe.

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    We then headed back over to California Adventure where we queued up for Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters After Dark - a Halloween "sequel" to the day time ride. Probably wasn't the best idea for the others first time on Guardians be the sequel, nothing makes sense so it did sort of leave them with a sense of 'wtf'. It was absolutely fantastic though and the cast members certainly have more of a "role" compared to the day time version, much more like Twilight Zone. Yet again there was just so much air time, like it's insane. The music tracks for the evening version are also better as they're more rock based which suits the ride experience a bit better imo.

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    We then headed into Cars Land for Radiator Springs racers at dusk which was fab.

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    We then headed to the pier area for a night ride on California Screamin'.

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    Afterwards we grabbed a stupid amount of rich ice cream at the Ghiradelli place (so good). It was then time to go grab a spot for World of Color. I was shocked at how bad our location was considering it was a fastpass area, my mood wasn't improved when some douche kept making annoyingly loud comments/"singing" along etc. I always remember watching the video of this original version of World of Color and thinking it looked amazing but in reality it's really bad. Such a poor mix of songs/clips etc and it's only saving graces are the range of colours used (when they make it seem like light/water is suspended mid-air is pretty neat) and the fire - because fire is always good.

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    Honestly it was a bit of a bum note to end the day on and while we didn't do much we still had a good day filled with fun.

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    Thanks again for reading - hopefully I'll have the next part up tomorrow night. Full album - https://imageshack.com/a/Q40l/1
     
  5. peep

    peep Moderator Staff Member Moderator Social Media Team

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    Tuesday 3rd

    We began the day at the wonderful iHop down the road from Disney. It was pretty busy and loud. There was a lady doing incredible balloon creations of Disney characters, they were so darn good. The pancakes, as you'd expect, were drool worthy but also incredibly filling.

    We then started our day at Disneyland by heading over to Haunted Mansion to pick up some fastpasses as it was crazy busy due to the Nightmare before Christmas overlay. Once we got that sorted we continued around to Splash Mountain. Kyle got pretty wet but still nowhere near the level of wetness that kid on the Sunday got. It was a good way to start the day.

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    We then had a bit of time to kill before our fastpasses could be used for Haunted Mansion. So I'll use this time to point out that they've made a slight change to fastpasses at this resort. Now the little paper ticket you get is just a reminder of your time-slot and you actually need to scan your park ticket at the queue entrance. The scanners are also exactly the same as those used in Orlando for the magic bands. I nearly paid $10 to try out the new Max Pass too but it wasn't really needed, it essentially gives you unlimited fastpasses and you pre-book them via the mobile app (not quite like Orlando as you have to be within the park when selecting them).

    Oh, opposite the entrance there was a great band playing some tunes and they were throwing out madri-gras beads which I thought was random. I quite like the Haunted Mansion holiday re-theme, it still amazes me how much they add/change. I think I was the only one in the group that even likes Nightmare before Christmas, oh well.

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    I think we popped over to Space Mountain at this point to pick up some fastpasses before doing a temp split as Joey wanted to do at least one "classic" attraction and the other two totally weren't interested in doing any of them. So we joined the queue for Alice in Wonderland as, in my opinion, it's the only one worth doing outside of Peter Pan's Flight (and the queue for that is always silly). I still really love the projections they added in here as part of the 60th anniversary but I can't help but think it must have been very dull beforehand.

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    We did join the queue for Snow White as it was like 5 min wait but as we joined it the ride broke down. We gave it about 10-15 minutes before calling quits. Took a walk through the Sleeping Beauty castle walkthrough and then met back up with the other two. Space Mountain currently has the Ghost Galaxy overlay on, I didn't like this theme when I last rode it and I sill feel that way. I forgot how much speed it picks up though, it doesn't do anything with that speed but it's still take nice feeling the fast breeze when it was so hot outside.

    We then proceeded to get the monorail out to Downtown Disney. The cast member on the station decided to chat to us to pass the wait for the next train, he was a nice guy and told us about the worst weather he's experienced at the park. It was an entertaining discussion, wish I'd taken his name down to put in a compliment slip. We also sat in the last car meaning we had lots of space, Joey was thrilled...

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    We made our way over to the Disneyland Hotel for Trader Sams because it's 5 o' clock somewhere right? There was a lack of effects and cast member energy but I'm thinking that it might be more of an evening thing? It was actually pretty busy though as loads of goons were drinking in their costumes before heading to the parks for the Halloween party night. We just wanted cool cocktails.

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    Ok so fellow non-Americans learn from Joey's little mistake and take a passport with you. Their bar laws are quite strict and require a full on driving license or passport. If you don't they still do some tasty non-alcoholic cocktails. I got a Piranha Pool cocktail which contains Strawberry Vodka blended with Pineapple Juice, Cream of Coconut, Strawberry Purée and Blue Curaçao. It was tasty but also full of lots of alcohol. To be honest, all their cocktails are very strong.

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    We then made our way back over to the parks and this time entered California Adventure. We headed straight over to Tower of the Galaxy where we joined a fairly lengthy queue. That long wait was totally worth it as we had an extraordinary time while riding.

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    As we moved up from scene 1 to 2 I felt something hit my head. Odd. Then we really started flying up and down the tower and in the small flashes of light all we could see was popcorn. Yes, bloomin' popcorn EVERYWHERE. If you ever wanted to see how much air time you achieve on this amazing ride just take a bag of popcorn with you, it's hilarious. No idea who introduced the popcorn to the ride but during the entire ride time everyone was crying with laughter. The entire car when we came back to unload was completely covered in popcorn. We couldn't look at popcorn the same way for the rest of the trip.

    Joey and Dillon had fun stacking things on my head...

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    We then had a good ride on California Screamin'.

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    We then headed into Cars Land to check out the ride added after our last visit, Luigis. I think all of us were skeptical about how fun some dancing cars would be. We were so wrong, it was hilarious. Some of the movements were just amusing and then it always ends with a long spin where it feels wrong if you don't just raise your hands and shout "weeeeeeeeeeee". Genuinely amusing experience.

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    Joey and I then joined single rider for Racers which was a much longer wait than anticipated. We ended up in cars that raced each other though so that was neat.

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    We then walked through Bugs Life land as it's probably the last time we'll see it (rumoured to be spited for Marvel). We then joined the queue for night time Tower of the Guardians Zone. It was a very long wait but at least it was night by the time we rode. The night time lighting on the tower exterior is actually pretty fab, lots of effects.

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    After that fun ride (although not as fun compared to Guardians: attack of the popcorn) we decided to leave the very busy park to grab dinner somewhere local and a fairly early night.

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    Thanks for reading, I'll have the next day up soon. Full photo album - https://imageshack.com/a/q40l/1
     
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  6. Hixee

    Hixee Flojector Staff Member Administrator Moderator CF Award Winner 2016

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    I'm enjoying reading this. Sounds like you had a good time, and the pictures and tales convey that.

    I look forward to seeing the rest!
     
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  7. peep

    peep Moderator Staff Member Moderator Social Media Team

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    Wednesday 4th

    Our final day at Disney and we all had a rough idea of what we wanted to see and do. We started by heading into Disneyland where a great band greeted us.

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    We headed into Tomorrowland and picked up some Space Mountain fastpasses before joining the small queue for Star Tours.

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    I think we ended up getting the same ending that we'd already had on this trip which was a bummer (city from Ep II) it's a good one but Naboo has the best scene. By the time we were off it was time for some Ghost Galaxy action. Still don't understand why it doesn't do anything with all that momentum. I really like the indoor queue though as it actually feels like a space port.

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    We then popped over to Adventureland to grab some Indy fastpasses and grab some morning Dole Whip floats. Tasty.

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    We then joined what looked like a small-ish queue for Matterhorn but it turned out one side was broken and so it took forever. At least when we finally got on it was a fun ride.

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    Putting drink umbrellas in our hair was apparently a thing on this trip

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    It was then time for our Indy fastpasses so we headed over for a bumpy journey through the temple.

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    On our way to Toon Town we came across the marching band outside the castle. They were playing Beauty and the Beast and as we got closer we noticed that Belle and the Beast were actually there dancing. Quite a moment. As we passed the crowd to get through the castle it got even better...

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    We then continued over to Gadget Go Coaster because Kyle and Joey needed the cred. Luckily the queue was a lot shorter than the app had led us to believe. It was weird seeing Star Wars looming over the back of Toon Town.

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    We then headed back to Main Street where some shopping occurred. At one point the marching band, Mickey and friends and the dapper dans all marched together and performed a couple of songs. Never heard of that happening before but it must be a thing. Pretty cool.

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    I popped into the cinema as I'd never seen inside before. It was tiny and had 4 screens showing different old cartoons. I finally watched Steamboat Willy the whole way through though so that was something. It was certainly a film of its time.

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    We then left Disneyland for the last time on this trip and headed to a local outdoor mall for some food. The place was dead but we ended up at a cool place where you fill a bowl with food and then this guy cooks it and it was unlimited and very cheap. Afterwards we went to Cold Stone Creamery because their ice cream is incredible. While entering a wonderful ice cream dreamland we witnessed a real life hummingbird eat a nearby plant. It was wonderful and I was mesmerised, never seen one before. After filling our faces with food and being dazed by incredible wildlife we headed over to California Adventure. Obviously we went straight to Tower of Breakout Guardians. The queue was long. It was always long. I think the Marvel re-theme may have been a good investment.

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    I think by this point we were all pretty exhausted and didn't have a huge desire to do anything in particular. I did want to check out the Coco stuff though so we headed over to the back of the park which they'd decked out in day of the dead theming. There was a Mariachi band, lots of little activities and food things and then a cool show where they performed a couple of the songs from the new pixar film Coco. It was pretty cool.

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    We then made our way to the shops before heading into Downtown Disney for even more shopping. After 3-4 days of Disney we were done and we still had several days of theme parking to go!

    The doors at one of the Disney hotels are huge and look amazing...

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    I also missed a brilliant thing that occurred in the station of California Screamin' on the previous day. We were waiting to board and I felt a thing flutter in/around my ear. I inner-freaked out and just batted it away... Or so I thought. Joey then goes "OMG OMG" so that 'thing' was actually a praying mantis and it had decided my shoulder was a wonderful place to stay for a while. WTF. A PRAYING MANTIS. It had been a great couple of days for exciting wildlife adventures.


    Thanks for reading, gonna post the next day soon. Full photo album - https://imageshack.com/a/l40l/1
     
  8. peep

    peep Moderator Staff Member Moderator Social Media Team

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    Thursday 5th

    Another day, another theme park. This time was Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights. We had a ticket which got us front of the line and entry into the park at 2pm. With the plan of getting to Universal more like 1pm to check out a few stores in Universal CityWalk we went to grab a big breakfast at a nearby restaurant. Dillon had done some research and ended up choosing Bea Beas ( http://www.latimes.com/tn-gnp-dine-20100814-story.html?barc=0 ). We waited like 30 minutes for a table but there were 6 of us so it's sort of to be expected when it's a busy place with barely any big tables. During our long wait there was a man with a dog who wanted nothing but belly rubs from us lot, it was cute. The food at this place was absolutely insane. So we wanted the usual eggs etc but we also wanted one of the sweeter things. They had crepes, pancakes, waffles and french toast and the combinations all sounded ridiculous. Well you could get eggs/hash browns etc with one of these just for $2 more which it made it about the same prices as just getting the french toast or whatever so we assumed we'd get a small portion. NOPE. Mountain of glorious sugar things all over the place.

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    I may like my food but there was no way I was going to finish that meal. It tasted amazing but if you ever go, don't bother with the non sweet part of the meal. Don't lie to yourself.

    After eating too much we got ourselves over to Universal and faffed a little in CityWalk. It was then time to enter the park and straight to Harry Potter (the main reason for the early entry ticket). We walked straight on to the coaster (+1 and done) and then the dark ride. I didn't really enjoy the dark ride as much as I remember with the Orlando one, really felt like I could see the edge of the screens the whole time.

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    We then headed down to the tram tour as none of the others had experienced it before and to me it's a "must see". Having the front of line pass was proving to be an absolute god send during the day, we weren't sure we'd have enough time for one of these things let alone all 3. The tram tour does take over an hour though so it did mean not everything went to plan.

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    As we were doing so well on time I was really hoping we'd also get into the last performance of Waterworld as knowing Universal it's probably the last chance any of us would get to see it. We arrived at the theatre just as it had filled to capacity. Balls. So it was back to Potter where we drank some Potter-themed beers and relaxed before the evening entertainment began.

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    We made our way down to the lower lot which takes forever. So many escalators. The first mazes for Halloween Horror Nights that open are Insidious, Shining, Saw, Ash vs the Evil Dead and American Horror Story. We opted to do The Shining first. We were some of the first people inside and it was pretty great. I don't think some of the hallway scenes that used projections really worked but there were some decent jump moments and the recreation of the bathroom scenes were fantastic. The maze at the end was also chilling.

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    We could tell quite a lot of people had already gone to Insidious so to keep ahead of the crowds we headed down the long, oh so very long path to the back lot where the other 3 mazes were. I totally confused a member of staff because I didn't know they had removed the tram ride from Transformers down to the backlot, ha oh well. Being able to walk around the back lot is super cool seeing as the sets have been used in countless films. Better than seeing it from inside those cramped trams.

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    We walked straight into American Horror Story: Roanoke. I should point out I don't watch this TV show (this will be a common theme for this event) but I've enjoyed the previous AHS mazes I've done at Horror Nights. This was no different, I thought it was amazing, just lots of jump scares throughout the entire thing. Probably helped we essentially walked through alone.

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    Next up was Ash vs the Evil dead. This is based off the TV show only hard core evil dead fans watch, so like 5 people? I've heard if you watch the show this maze is amazing but it failed for us. The sets were pretty detailed but it wasn't scary, just lots of lame scenes from the show played out with the occasional Ash plunging out of a dark space at you.

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    So we then walked straight into Saw. This was based off the whole franchise, with one bit based off the latest film. This was great, the sets were fantastic with the occasional jumpy moments dotted about. I think my favourite bit was from the latest film. Due to strobes it felt like you were going to walk into spinning blades, highly effective. The stench in the bathroom scene was also rank, that was so unpleasant.

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    Insidious had gained a queue and we thought it'd be better to save our front of line pass for when it was night so we did the long walk back to the lower lot and then up the many escalators. This is when we entered crazy transitional hour of woe. So somehow Universal still don't know how to really do this event properly and communicate properly. We felt like it was probably a good time to grab some food. Some of us headed into Krusty burger as it was basically open and for some reason everything was closed off (yet they were checking event wristbands for entry/purchases anyway? - seems redundant). Joey and Kyle were adamant about finding something that wasn't a burger but this meant they ended up essentially funnelling themselves into the lane the park were using to throw everyone out of the park. Joey ranted at someone and ended up getting back but both weren't happy. Dillon then wanted a beer which you could then only get in the Duff beer garden and then once purchased you couldn't leave that area with said beer. I know this event has a bad rep with alcohol but this seemed a bit ridiculous. So many areas during the event are just barricaded and manned with several members of security.

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    Back together again and the event had now officially started so the crowds had to start to funnel into the park. We headed over to the Terror Tram. It was great this year with Chucky 'hosting' before going through areas with Jason, then Texas Chainsaw and then Freddy Kruger. Yet again the added awesomeness of going through actual film sets is pretty cool. I think Freddy Kruger running around in a woman's nightgown is one of the funniest things I've seen and our group photo in front of the Psycho house is fab <3

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    It's a shame Harry Potter is up on a hill as it's always obviously a big shed.

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    So while we were waiting for some of the group to use the loo Joey noticed on a guest survey lady another mantis! WTF. Two in one week! I tried to take a photo but my camera was clearly scared by it but you can just about make out a blurry green thing in the below pic...

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    Dillon, Joey and I then used our front of line pass on Simpsons. Regrets, we had them. Batching on this thing is so faffy and then the ride experience is just dreadful. I hated every moment of the ride.

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    After that dreadfulness we headed over to the mazes in the upper lot. We started with Horrors of Blumhouse. This is a maze that consists of 3 sections, all based on Blumhouse production features. Starts with Purge, then Sinister and then ends with the new film Happy Death Day. The purge section was pretty neat but I love the style of the evil stuff in those films anyway. Sinister was ok but I felt like I mis-timed all the scares and then Happy Death Day was short and not that exciting. This could have suffered from too many peeps going through at the same time though. If it didn't have a 40+ min queue all night I would have been up for giving it a second chance.

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    The front of line pass was starting to become a very nice thing to have. We skipped right past a very long queue of peeps for Walking Dead. This is now a permanent thing in the park and the highly detailed animatronics show that off. However it was soooo short, we literally all came out at the exit saying "is that it?". For someone who hates zombies (so also Walking Dead) I've always somehow enjoyed the Universal mazes but this was just pathetic.

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    The next maze on the agenda was Titans of Terror. This used Kruger, Jason and Leatherface again (sounds like a fairly last min replacement). The concept is neat though, you start in the house of a kid who is celebrating Halloween and the house is covered in posters and tat associated with 80s horror movies. You then go through various sections relating to each of the 3 "titans" of Halloween. Each section starts with a long dark corridor with a bright spinning light shining in your face that sort of represents the franchise. It actually worked quite well as a build up to the actual themed jumpy areas. This really suffered a lot from too many peeps walking through at the same time. Seeing the jump scares ahead of them occurring when you're in the area is just frustrating and a big problem that the entire event suffers with.

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    The scare zones were now in full swing, always love seeing characters creep up on people without them realising for ages. The area in the upper lot was called Hell-o-ween, some of the stuff was pretty freaky.

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    It was then time again to tackle the many escalators of boredom. Once we reached the bottom we walked on to Jurassic Park where I think we all panicked about getting soaked. Going on this at night is fab though, the outdoor section is spooky and then the inside bit after the lift is just strobes and Guns n Roses "Welcome to the Jungle" on repeat and it's fab.

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    As it was next door we finally skipped the giant queue for Insidious. Glad we didn't queue for it, was very disappointing. Lots of just dark corridors with not much happening.

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    We then had a quick ride on Mummy which was fun but I forget how short this version is and the lack of fire is always disappointing. We also had a quick ride on Transformers which is always great.

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    It was then time to do the Shining again although we sort of messed up seeing as it exits by Jurassic Park/Mummy and we wanted to go back down to the back lot next. Whoops. The final maze scene was even more effective now the chill machine was in full effect, loved it.

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    So we finally got back to the long walk to back lot and now the scare zone Toxic Tunnel was awake. Just a very long tunnel with intense lighting and masses of actors just jumping all over the place. The loud music and lighting just made it feel like a rave though.

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    The next (and final) scare zone we came to was Urban Inferno which was all demon infested but it was more like smoke-machine hall. Could barely see anything in front of me, let alone scare actors jumping around. There were some excellent stilt walker demons at the exit though that were very effective. There was also one demon that got excited and interested in my lanyard pass thing and then just threw it up and walked off in a huff which I found rather amusing, I like random interactions like that.

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    I think the group was pretty much done at this point but we had made our way down here so some of us did the three mazes in the area. Silly Ash was up first and I wasn't any more impressed on the second go, I think Kyle preferred it second time around though and Sajeer got the scare of his life at one point which was hilarious.

    Saw was just as great second time around and AHS was just as superb as it had been earlier in the night.

    And that was that, we made the tedious journey back up to the top and did some shopping before heading into CityWalk.

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    A quick list of the mazes from best to worst imo:
    American Horror Story - easily the best for me
    Shining - by far the best they could have done with this film
    Saw - Some excellent moments
    Titans of Terror & Blumhouse - both had some good moments but would have benefitted from less people going round at the same time
    Ash - Looks great but just not very good unless you've seen the show
    Insidious - meh

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    After watching a vlog months ago I'd been obsessed with the idea of going to a new place in CityWalk called Voodoo donuts and before we left Joey and I popped in to get a couple of donuts. They were much more reasonably priced than I expected. They were all so ridiculous. We ended up getting two, one with mango filling and one with oreo and peanut butter bits on top. Both were actually excellent and stupidly filling.

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    I was going to leave you with a fun gif but I couldn't get giphy.com to work for me (I'll try again soon).

    Anyway it was an excellent day and we certainly got our monies worth out of the front of line pass (GOOD because they were expensive).


    Thanks again for reading, next up is Six Flags Magic Mountain. Full photo album - https://imageshack.com/a/S40l/1
     
  9. peep

    peep Moderator Staff Member Moderator Social Media Team

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    Friday 6th

    Our last full day together Dillon, Kyle, Joey and I got over to Six Flags Magic Mountain shortly after opening. The car park was pretty empty which was a good sign for the day ahead. We sorted out our Six Flags annual passes (sale made it hard to resist) pretty quickly and the staff were pretty friendly.

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    Our first ride of the day was "Classic" Revolution. Looks like they've tried to remove all branding relating to the VR. I wasn't sure what I was expecting but it was ok, especially for its age.

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    Next up was going to be X2 but it was down and we were told "30 minutes". As we were in the area we took a ride on Viper, my shoulders regretted this decision. It's a really forceful ride and I imagine if the restraints weren't digging into my shoulders so much I might even enjoy it despite some rather major kinks in the layout.

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    We then walked over to Tatsu which actually had a queue of about 20 minutes (operations were slow). I usually don't like flying coasters due to the pretzel loops and while I loathe the pretzel loop on Tatsu I still think it's an excellent ride. Being up so high above the trees and just floating about just feels right for the ride type.

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    Unfortunately X2 was still being ill so we decided to make our way to the side of the park with Goliath and Twisted Colossus. We stopped by for Full Throttle. I really like the launches on this ride but it does feel like it doesn't really make good use of the space and speed it has.

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    Kyle and Joey got spited by a few of the kids creds on their previous visit so they mopped those up, I joined them for TNT coaster and Canyon blaster.

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    We were all quite hungry by now so we went in search of food. We ended up at a new outdoor bar place next to Justice League. I got a flat bread pizza thing that was really tasty. The app suggested X2 had opened so we made the stupid trek over to that via one of the many hills. It was a hot and unpleasant journey. Well the ride was certainly operating when we arrived so we put all our loose items in a locker and went over to join the 5 people waiting to get on. As soon as we closed the locker they announced the ride had broken down. Urgh. We decided to just wait it out and we queued for front row.

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    It finally re-opened and Kyle and I took our seats. Dillon and Joey decided to wait for the next front row. The ride went off without a hitch and it was bonkers. Limbs just ended up everywhere, it's just an endless assault on the body - but in a fun way. We then hit the end brake run where we discovered the ride had actually broken down again and we were now going to sit there out in the sun. URGH. It was so gross. At one point a lovely member of staff grabbed up some cups of water which was nice. After what felt like eternity in that heat we finally moved into the shade and into the station. Huzzah. We then waited around for ages while many many engineers tried to work out the problem so Joey and Dillon could get a ride in. It must have been a good 10-20 minutes before they fixed the issue (something in the station was causing a sensor error).

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    We then headed over to Goliath which was walk on (about 10 minutes to walk through that queueline though!). Love this ride, it gets so intense and the air time is great.

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    It was then round to Twisted Colossus which had like a 10 minute wait. After the second lift hill we actually got a duel run which was great, makes the ride so much better.

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    We then headed over to the DC area to check out the new Justice League dark ride. Been hearing a lot of hype about these dark rides for the last year or two so was excited to finally experience one. Batching seemed to be a bit faffy and caused a slight wait out in the sun (it was by far the hottest day of the week and was just unpleasant to be out in). The first room looks pretty neat but it's not too exciting and then there's the preshow with Cyborg. The animatronic looks cool but the script is horrible. At one point he's like "I have this cool weapon thing and it's amazing, look how cool this is" and sort of shoots this box thing which sort of lights up and it's just met by awkward chuckles.

    The ride itself is ok. The ride system is good but the interactiveness seemed a bit messy? In the non-screen scenes there are barely any targets or anything really moving or exciting to look at. Then the final few screens are just filled with way too much going on all at the same time. It's disorientating and in a "I might puke" way. It feels like lots of money has been poured into it and there's some cool ideas and animatronics but overall it's just a bit disappointing? I suppose for Six Flags it's incredible although I was rather impressed with the mad house at Great Adventure.

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    We then took a stroll over to Apocalypse which I loved two years ago and after hearing they'd retracked parts of it I was excited to re-ride it. It was very rough, didn't feel like they'd touched it at all. I still think it has a great layout and it's pretty fun but that whole thing needs retracking and maybe new trains.

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    We then rode Superman which is pretty fun, that launch feels like it goes on forever.

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    Dillon and Joey then went on Riddlers Revenge. We were all so done by this point though, just exhausted after a tiring week and the heat and hills in Magic Mountain had just really gotten to us. So we then headed over for one last ride on Twisted Colossus which was great.

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    As we left the views from the car park were fab...

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    In the evening we met up with Sajeer and Kara for a group meal at a Mexican. It was pretty tasty. It was then a fairly early night as the Americans had to leave fairly early in the morning for their flight home. It had been such a tiring day though so the early night was very welcome. I like Magic Mountain, just a shame there's so much walking to get from one decent ride to another. Only in a massive Six Flags will you just completely ignore several huge B&Ms.


    Saturday 7th

    On our last day we woke up fairly early to say our goodbyes to the Americans. Jeremy from Rollercoaster philosophy then came to pick Joey and I up and take us to some interesting places in Cali. First up was to an epic bakery. One of the times we were glad to see a queue, just so it gave us time to make a decision! We chose several items each and it was incredibly tasty, highly recommend if you're near one (http://www.portosbakery.com/).

    We then drove over to Getty Museum which is a bit out of town and on the edge of a mountain/hill. Entry is free but you pay for parking (think it was $15?) and then you have to get on the funicular railway up to the museum. I didn't really know what to expect but this place is absolutely massive. Lots of different galleries to look at so while some were not my cup of tea in the slightest I really enjoyed the surreal experience of seeing very European aristocratic rooms and artwork etc in America (I suppose this is how it feels for essentially anyone visiting a London museum :p ). It was also cool to see a Van Gogh and a couple of Monet paintings.

    Time was tight so we didn't really see the gardens but the views were pretty cool.

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    We then headed over to the Museum of Jurassic technology. This place was a bit secretive as to what it was all about and Jeremy wasn't providing any hints beforehand. It looked pretty small from the outside and while the whole thing is pretty cramped they do squeeze a lot of things in. I was honestly way too tired to even find this quirky oddity interesting. There's a lot of reading and lots of very long monotone documentaries so I found it very hard to concentrate in my exhausted state. There is the odd thing inside that I genuinely found interesting but overall it really wasn't my thing. I won't say what it's actually about just to keep the mystery going but if you really want to know just PM me.

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    And that was pretty much it, Jeremy drove us to the airport and we said our goodbyes. Security etc was actually really easy which surprised both of us as it was the infamous LAX. The flight was pretty uneventful. It had been a fun week but the heat and long days just ruined us by the end of the trip. It was fantastic to meet Kyle and co again after so long and finally meet Jeremy (who was very kind to drive us around on our last day).


    Thank you for reading about my time in California.

    Full albums for last two days
    https://imageshack.com/a/340l/1
    https://imageshack.com/a/xJ0l/1
     
    Mrsupersonic8, Jaiden M. and Hixee like this.
  10. Hixee

    Hixee Flojector Staff Member Administrator Moderator CF Award Winner 2016

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    I didn't realise Riddler had a new paint job - I'm loving it!
     

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