business conference. The conference was pretty cool…lots of great speakers, tutorials, keynotes, vendors and other work sessions to fill my head (and my bag) with lots of great information and contacts.
As an added bonus, the conference was held in the Disneyland Convention Center in the Disneyland Hotel. While this certainly wasn't my first reason for opting for this particular conference, it didn't hurt.
Unless I happen to have readers who are in the Software Test and/or QA industry, I won't bore you all too much with the various things I learned at the conference…hit me up after if you're interested. ;)
Instead, I figured I'd give a little recap on the "entertainment" portion of the trip.
Now, I've stayed at Disney Hotels in Walt Disney World before and they are absolutely super fabulous. In Florida if you're going to do extended time at Disney Resorts, it's almost a given that you should stay on a Disney property. They're close to the parks with complimentary shuttles so you don't have to worry about your own hotel shuttle into the large WDW complex or doing your own driving and parking.
The Disneyland Hotel is fabulous fun. I'd been in the main lobby area before to eat at Goofy's Kitchen but hadn't really explored. They have fun art and themed nooks throughout the hotel. The hotel is split into three "towers" each with its own theme. The main tower (with the lobby/restaurant, etc) is the Fantasy Tower. To the East is the Adventure Tower. And across on the other side of the pool is the Frontier Tower. I was in Frontier facing South with a lovely view of the parking lot. *grin* If I craned to the left I could make out portions of Disney's California Adventure around the edge of the Paradise Pier Hotel. The Frontier Tower was themed in Frontierland style and had a cool scale model of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the lobby.
After the day of conference tutorials, speakers and meetings, things broke up. There were often post-conference activities available for those interested. I'm not a drinker so the bar didn't interest me. They had a few party style games and activities as well but I was actually more stoked to head into the Parks. The rush to the parks was especially urgent to me because they are on "off peak" hours which meant the parks closed around 8PM each night.
So much time so little to see. Strike that. Reverse it. ;)
The ride itself was fabulous. I have always always always loved the Haunted Mansion. It's one of my favorites. Initially the transformation might make a big fanboy nervous…but I'm also a fan of Nightmare Before Christmas, so this is a fabulous melding. I absolutely loved it. I felt like some of the audio was a little muffled at points during the opening, partially due to some of the guests being a little noisy, but it didn't feel like they were any noisier than normal…and after multiple ride-thrus I did feel like I had a hard time really hearing everything in the Stretching Portrait Gallery.
I did take a float on Luigi's Tires. This is a throwback to the Flying Saucer's ride that was in Disneyland back in the ~60s (?). Essentially it's a sort of hovercraft. The floor of the ride is equipped with a ton of high powered fans. The Tires are large and shaped like tires. The outer portion inflates when the ride begins. I'm not sure if the tires have a fan built into their bottom or not…it seems like they might. Whether or not they do, I'm not sure. But basically a pocket of air is created underneath the tire and by leaning each direction you're able to use gravity and escaping air to make your tires move. Don't lean too far though or the heavy solid portion of the ride will hit the ground and stop you. It was a slow paced ride but pretty fun even if just for the novelty of it.
The funnest ride I had in Cars Land (ok, so I only did two…but hey, I was pressed for time) was Mater's Junkyard. The idea is that Mater is hosting a hoe-down out in his junkyard. He's up in the DJ booth spinning tunes and singing the songs (which he does with hilarity). In the junkyard are a bunch of small tractors each hauling a little trailer that you get to sit in. The tractors spin around a sort of double figure-8 and the trailers are on a pivot so that as you're turned one way or another, the momentum sends you spinning. It's like an ongoing game of crack-the-whip. It was surprisingly more fun than I expected it to be.
The menu is a bit pricey (especially the meat dishes) but the pasta dish is affordable and very tasty. I also must whole-heartedly recommend the Carthay House Biscuits. Hot fried biscuits stuffed with white cheddar, bacon and jalapeños and served with apricot honey butter on the side…I was certainly skeptical about the combination of flavors. But oh my were they tasty. Wow.
Wednesday night was a lot of fun repeating favorite rides again and again before hopping into the waiting area for World of Color. For dinner that night, I grabbed one of their "World of Color Picnics." It seems you must order these ahead of time (the people in front of me hadn't ordered one and they were all sold out) but you can do so online or first thing in the morning.
Just before leaving California Adventure, we made a stop in Hollywood Land to make a purchase in Off the Page. I was stoked to see Stitch on the street outside the shop. While my wife went inside to make her purchase, I stood in line to meet Stitch and get our photo. Unfortunately the line for Stitch moved faster than the line for shopping. Soon I was at the front of the line and my wifey was nowhere to be seen. I let the person behind me go ahead of me. Then again. And again. And again.
Our main reason for staying late though was to wander around in costume and ride the rides. In between Splash Mountain and Pirates and Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain we happened to see the Cadaverous Dans (?) singing on a raft on the Rivers of America. We also happened to be in just the right spot for the Halloween Firework show which was pretty impressive. We sat down in the Jolly Holiday patio for a snack and managed to catch the Halloween Costume Cavalcade (albeit from a distance). It was a lot of fun.
This was a pretty fun trip. I'm glad I finally got to cross a couple of things off my pseudo-bucket-list…I've now stayed at the Disneyland Hotel and I've been to Disneyland for Halloween.
Now if I could just get somebody to sneak me into Club 33 for a day. ;)