Carnation Cafe

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LOCATION

Main Street USA – As you make your way from the Town Square to the castle, you’ll find the Carnation Café on your left, about halfway down the street.

EXPERIENCE

Service Type – table service

Seating – outdoor enclosed patio and indoor dining room

Reservations – yes

Entertainment – none

Menu

CONCEPT

Hungry visitors shopping on Main Street USA can stop for a bite to eat at the Carnation Café. Like the rest of Main Street, the Café brings early 20th century America to life. The Café’s Victorian-style interior and floral patio offer shade and comfort amid the hustle and bustle of Disneyland’s busiest land, and guests can stop by any time of day to eat and unwind.

MY RATING – ★★★★☆

The Carnation Café is one of my favorite sit-down restaurants in the park, so long as I can get a table on the patio. The indoor dining room is a little dark and doesn’t have much décor, but the outdoor patio is charming, surprisingly quiet, and is a great place to sit down and relax. Like with most of the restaurants in the park, the food is decent, and the café is one of the few sit-down restaurants to offer breakfast. If you’re looking for a relaxing lunch on scenic Main Street USA, the Carnation Café is a great choice.

MY FAVORITES

  • Main Street Cheeseburger
  • Roasted Turkey Sandwich
  • Chicken Fried Chicken

TRIVIA

The menu has a section called “Walt’s Favorites”, which are dishes inspired by Walt’s favorite meals. However, Walt never actually had a favorite at the Carnation Café, since the restaurant opened in 1997.

Until 2012, the Carnation Café was an exclusively outdoor restaurant. But after a renovation and expansion, the Café reopened with a large dining room adjacent to the patio.

Bengal Barbecue

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LOCATION

Adventureland – You can find the Bengal Barbecue across from the entrance to Indiana Jones Adventure. When entering from New Orleans Square, the Barbecue will be on your left, just beyond the River Belle Terrace. If you follow the path from Adventureland’s Main Street USA entrance, the Barbecue will be on your right, after you pass the gift shop.

EXPERIENCE

If you need a pick-me-up as you explore the jungles of Adventureland, look no further than the Bengal Barbecue. This quick-service snack bar offers a number of meat skewers, assorted snacks, and souvenir drinks for hungry explorers to enjoy.

CONCEPT

Service Type – quick service

Seating – outdoor, open seating area around raised bar

Reservations – no

Entertainment – none

Menu

MY RATING – ★★★☆☆

The Bengal Barbecue is a snack bar, not a restaurant. If you’re looking for a full meal or a sit-down dining experience, the Bengal Barbecue is not for you. But if you want a quick bite to eat or a drink, the Barbecue is a great choice. The menu is quite large give the Barbecue’s size, and it is conveniently located in the heart of Adventureland. There is little to no seating in this area, but it’s a great place to grab a snack and refuel.

MY FAVORITES

  • Tiger Tails (breadsticks)
  • Mickey Pretzel
  • Hot Cocoa

TRIVIA

Before opening as the Bengal Barbecue in 1990, the snack bar was called “Sunkist, I Presume” and served mainly Sunkist juices.

When Adventureland adopted a 1930’s era with the installation of Indiana Jones, the Bengal Barbecue was one of the only spots in the land to undergo zero façade changes to adapt to the new time period.

Cove Bar

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LOCATION

Paradise Pier – If you follow the main path, across the bridge, you’ll find the Cove Bar on your right, just beyond the entrance to Ariel’s Grotto. You can also reach the Cove Bar from the rear of Paradise Pier, by following the path next to the California Screamin’ launch pad. You’ll find the Cove Bar on your left, right across from the gift shop.

EXPERIENCE

Service Type – table service

Seating – outdoor waterfront patio

Entertainment – none

Menu

CONCEPT

Looking for bayside drinks and some finger food? Look no further than the Cove Bar. This waterfront bar is a great spot to get off your feet or watch the sunset over the bay. The Cove Bar sits right at the center of Paradise Bay, with great views of the Mickey’s Fun Wheel, California Screamin’, and the periodic water shows. Whether you visit in the afternoon or after dark, you’ll find the Cove Bar to be a mini oasis within California Adventure.

MY RATING – ★★★★★

The Cove Bar is one of the best places to relax and grab a drink and a snack in California Adventure. This restaurant does not offer full meals, and is one of the less kid-friendly spots in the park. If you’re visiting without kids and want a chance to kick back and have a drink overlooking Paradise Pier, the Cove Bar is a perfect place to unwind.

MY FAVORITES

  • Citrus Infusion
  • Magical Star Cocktail
  • Pomegranate Splash
  • Spinach and Artichoke Dip
  • Tri-Tip Sliders

TRIVIA

The Cove Bar is a good example of how Imagineers originally envisioned California Adventure: as an adult alternative to Disneyland, serving alcoholic beverages and housing tons of restaurants.

When Paradise Pier changed to a 1920’s Victorian theme during the park’s expansion and renovation, the Cove Bar underwent no surface changes to match the new façade.

Disneyland On A Date

Disneyland is always filled with couples, and the sheer number of proposals in front of the castle suggests that the park is a great place to date. If you and your significant other are looking for a fun, low-key day in the park together, this is the touring plan for you!

I list the fast pass rides below each section of the itinerary. They are not included in the itinerary because it’s very hard to predict when return times will be. After you make your way through Main Street USA, grab your first fast pass, and then continue through the itinerary. Every time you hit a fast pass window, grab the next fast pass on that list, use the one you have, continue on the itinerary, and repeat.

Note: This plan assumes a park hopper ticket. If you do not have a park hopper ticket, I recommend you choose Disneyland over California Adventure.

PART 1 – DISNEYLAND

Main Street USA – begin your day by exploring all of the shops on your right hand side. Grab a morning coffee and/or pastry in the Market House, check out the novelties in the magic shop, and get the princesses in your party some tiaras from Crystal Arts (my tiara is the best purchase I’ve ever made in the park…they’re adjustable and super cool!).

Tomorrowland

  1. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

Frontierland – If you want to check out more shops, Frontierland has some very cool souvenirs and clothing for sale. Otherwise, pass through Frontierland to arrive in New Orleans Square.

New Orleans Square

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean
  2. Haunted Mansion

Adventureland

  1. Tarzan’s Treehouse

FAST PASSES

  1. Space Mountain
  2. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  3. Splash Mountain
  4. Indiana Jones Adventure

Lunchtime! Grab a bite to eat in New Orleans Square or Tomorrowland.

Fantasyland

  1. Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
  2. Snow White’s Scary Adventures
  3. Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
  4. Mad Tea Party
  5. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  6. Peter Pan’s Flight

As you leave the park, wander the shops on the other side of Main Street USA. You’ll find delicious candies and an irresistible ice cream parlor tucked among the gift shops.

PART 2 – CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE

Hollywood Land – check out Disney Animation. There are lots of cool movie-making tricks to see and experience, and the Sorcerer’s workshop leads to Beast’s Library and Ursula’s Grotto, which are tons of fun!

Cars Land

  1. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
  2. Radiator Springs Racers – although you’re on a date, go single rider for this ride. You’ll save hours in line, and you can meet up at the finish line.

FAST PASSES

  1. Soarin’ Over California
  2. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Hungry for dinner? Grab some food from Pacific Wharf, and bring it to the back patio of Flo’s V8 Café. (You can get there easily from Pacific Wharf; just pass through the rock archway and follow the path). Enjoy your dinner on the patio as you watch the racers zoom across the gorgeous Cars Land landscape.

Paradise Pier

  1. The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  2. Silly Symphony Swings
  3. Toy Story Midway Mania!
  4. King Triton’s Carousel
  5. California Screamin’
  6. Mickey’s Fun Wheel

If you’ve still got time after this itinerary, check out rides that didn’t make the list, line up for Fantasmic! or the fireworks, or stroll through the glow of Disneyland at night. No matter how low-key or adrenaline-filled your day in the park, nothing ends a trip to Disneyland like enjoying a dessert overlooking Paradise Bay or the Rivers of America!

ESPN Zone

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LOCATION

Downtown Disney – Take the monorail from Tomorrowland and you’ll find yourself only feet away from the ESPN Zone. If you’re walking from the park gates, just follow the main walkway; the ESPN Zone is one of the last buildings on your right.

EXPERIENCE

Sports fans visiting the Disneyland Resort will immediately fall in love with the ESPN Zone. This sports hub is massive, and virtually every wall (including those in the bathrooms!) is covered in TVs broadcasting live games and coverage. Guests have different options for their dining experience; they can lounge in huge leather recliners right in front of the big screens, sit at a raised dining table with a private TV, hang out by the bar, or shoot pool in the game room with some snacks and drinks. Whether you’re stopping by for appetizers during a game or sitting down for a family meal, the ESPN Zone will offer an exciting dining experience.

CONCEPT

Service Type – table service

Seating – several dining rooms, bar, upstairs lounge and game room

Reservations – no

Entertainment – TVs show dozens of games at a time

Menu

MY RATING – ★★★★

I always have fun when I stop by the ESPN Zone. The food is good, and no matter what team you want to see, you’ll be able to find them and watch the game. If you tell the front desk what game you are interested in, they’ll do their best to accommodate you. The ESPN Zone is fun even if you’re not a huge sports fan, because the place has tons of energy and really good comfort food. If you’re looking for a place to eat outside of the parks, try the ESPN Zone (and don’t forget to have a cookie sundae!).

MY FAVORITES

  • Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad w/ Garlic Bread
  • Sliders
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Penne With Grilled Chicken
  • Chicken Breast Sandwich
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae

TRIVIA

The largest screen in the ESPN Zone measures at a whopping 16 feet. If that wasn’t enough, the big screen is surrounded by twelve 36” monitors!

On the first floor of the Zone, you can purchase ESPN memorabilia in the restaurant’s official gift shop.

You can sign up to be an MVP at the ESPN Zone, a membership that offers benefits including priority seating and special discounts.

Mike Fink Keel Boats

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LOCATION

Frontierland – Guests looking for a trip around the Rivers of America could board the Keel Boats from the dock on the far side of Frontierland, on the same dock as the rafts to Tom Sawyer Island. To reach the dock, guests followed the waterfront from central Frontierland until they reached the area in front of what is now the Haunted Mansion.

RIDE BACKGROUND

As Frontierland began to expand after Opening Day, Imagineers looked to incorporate more Disney television characters and themes into the park. So on Christmas Day 1955, the Mike Fink Keel Boats made their debut. Based on the television show (and later film) Davy Crockett’s Keel Boat Race, the boats’ namesake was “King of the River” Mike Fink, Davy Crockett’s rival in the boat race. For over 40 years, the Keel Boats were a well-known and well-loved ride in Frontierland, becoming an icon of Frontierland’s early days of operation.

RIDE EXPERIENCE

Guests could ride one of two Keel Boats: the Bertha Mae or the Gullywhumper. Both boats took the same tour around Tom Sawyer Island, and each had the same two-level seating. Guests on the upper level had panoramic views of Frontierland and the waterfront, and guests on the lower level had a similar but shaded experience. The boats took a complete trip around the Rivers of America, before returning to the Frontierland dock.

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CLOSURE – May 17, 1997

Before their official closure, the Keel Boats left the Rivers of America for almost two years, from 1994-1996. While no official reason was given for the closure, this temporary absence foreshadowed the boats’ permanent fate, which would come less than one year later.

In May 1997, one of the Keel Boats began rocking back and forth until it finally capsized, dumping the entire boatload of guests into the Rivers of America. The boats were immediately closed for inspection, but never reopened.

TRIVIA

Richard Kraft purchased the retired “Bertha Mae” Keel Boat for $15,000 at a Disney auction in 1998.

The “Gullywhumper” Keel Boat became a prop on Tom Sawyer Island, as the boat of for the pioneers visible from the train or other boats. However, the boat eventually flooded and sank, so the current boat at the rear of the island was never part of the Mike Fink Keel Boats ride.

The Mike Fink Keel Boats take their name from “King of the River” Mike Fink, even though he loses the film’s keel boat race.

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Same Park, Different Experience

If you’ve been to Disneyland a bunch of times, you may be getting bored of your favorite rides. When you follow the same touring plan during each visit, it can be difficult to maintain the feeling of excitement about the park. This touring plan is specifically designed for guests familiar with the park; instead of focusing on the big rides, you’ll visit the often overlooked or hidden attractions in Disneyland. You’ll be surprised at how much there is to do in the park, and with this plan, you will have a completely new Disneyland experience!

Note: This plan assumes one day at the resort with a park hopper pass. If you are visiting for more than one day, I recommend spending your first day with a more traditional plan, and then use this plan on your second or third day. If you don’t have a park hopper ticket, I recommend you choose Disneyland over California Adventure.

PART 1 – DISNEYLAND

Adventureland – begin your day by grabbing breakfast at the River Belle Terrace. The outdoor patio has great views of the Rivers of America, New Orleans Square, and Frontierland.

Frontierland

  1. Mark Twain Riverboat & Sailing Ship Columbia
  2. Frontierland Shootin’ Explosion

Fantasyland

  1. Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
  2. Sword in the Stone
  3. King Arthur Carrousel
  4. Storybook Land Canal Boats
  5. Mickey And The Magical Map
  6. Casey Jr. Circus Train

Frontierland (part 2)

  1. Big Thunder Ranch
  2. Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

Lunch time! If you want live entertainment, check out the Golden Horseshoe. For a quieter meal, try Rancho del Zolcalo.

Adventureland (part 2)

  1. Enchanted Tiki Room

Main Street USA

  1. Main Street Vehicles

PART 2 – CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE

Grizzly Peak

  1. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

Paradise Pier – Instead of riding the headliners on the boardwalk, try your hand at the arcade games. You can also have your face painted or get temporary tattoos at some of the booths. Don’t forget to take a spin on King Triton’s Carousel!

Pacific Wharf

  1. Boudin Bakery Tour

Hollywood Land

  1. Disney Animation
  2. Muppet Vision 3D
  3. Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular

PART 3 – DISNEYLAND

Main Street USA (part 2)

  1. Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln
  2. The Disney Gallery
  3. Main Street Cinema

When you’re ready to eat dinner, try one of the restaurants on Main Street USA. Most have patio seating and face the center of the street and the castle.

Fantasyland (part 2)

  1. Pixie Hollow

Tomorrowland

  1. Captain EO
  2. Innoventions
  3. Astro Orbitor

After you’ve finished this plan, you can explore some of the shops in the park, line up for the fireworks or Fantasmic!, or finish your day with a great dessert. (Note: check out the ice cream parlors on Main Street USA and Buena Vista Street for a great end of the night treat!)

Rides That Have Inspired Movies

Most of Disneyland’s rides offer guests the chance to experience their favorite movies and stories firsthand. But did you know that inspiration sometimes works the other way around? With so much detail and storytelling in every Disney ride, it’s not surprising that some have inspired major movies! The following is a complete list of every current or former Disneyland ride now immortalized on the big screen.

Current Rides/Attractions 

Tower of Terror (1997) – Disney’s first attempt at transforming a ride into a movie was the made-for-TV “Tower of Terror”. California Adventure had yet to house its own version of the ride, so the film’s inspiration came entirely from the Orlando version. Unlike the Haunted Mansion or Pirates, the Tower of Terror film explained the backstory of the ride’s characters. Guests finally learned where the ghosts in the elevator came from and how they died, but the film adds a resolved ending obviously absent from the actual ride. 

The Haunted Mansion (2003) – While the ride does not have a clear-cut plot or character arc, the film uses the famous mansion as it’s setting. But unlike the ride, the movie is a light-hearted comedy that will not spook you the way a drive in the doom buggies will! Throughout the Haunted Mansion film you’ll find tons of references to the ride, from the famous “welcome foolish mortals” line to the singing busts. In fact, this film has the most references to its original ride out of all the ride-inspired Disney movies.

Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) – The most famous ride-inspired movie is, without questions, Pirates of the Caribbean (and its sequels). Observant moviegoers will notice that the film’s story arc roughly follows that of the ride, including iconic moments like the pirate raid and the jail scene. After the film’s release, the ride underwent a brief refurbishment to incorporate some of the film’s voices and characters, focusing primarily on Captain Jack Sparrow.

Closed Rides/Attractions

The Country Bears (2002) – Based on the Country Bear Jamboree, this film chronicles the backstory of the show’s stars. The Country Bears features the famous bears from the park show, but the film features an original soundtrack from composer Christopher Young.

Mission To Mars (2002) – This major sci-fi production shares little more than its name with the original ride. Mission To Mars is a story of space exploration and rescue, when a team of astronauts becomes trapped on Mars. Though Mission To Mars features major stars, including Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise, and Don Cheadle, the film saw low box office reception and harsh reviews from critics.

Rumored/Upcoming Movies

It’s A Small World – On April 22, 2014 (the ride’s 50th anniversary), Disney announced plans to produce a major motion picture based on It’s A Small World. While few details have been released about the project, Walt Disney Studios confirmed director Jon Turtletaub and screenwriter Jared Stern fare both signed onto the film.

 

Skyway To Fantasyland/Tomorrowland

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LOCATION

Fantasyland – The most popular Skyway entrance could be found in the rear of Fantasyland, behind the entrance to the Casey Jr. Circus Train.

Tomorrowland – Guests could also board the Skyway at the Tomorrowland station, located roughly where the Tomorrowland Railroad station sits now.

RIDE BACKGROUND

The Skyway was one of the first major rides to debut in Disneyland after Opening Day, with an official opening date of June 23rd, 1956. Before the addition of now famous landmarks in the park (the lagoon, the Matterhorn, and the Monorail), the Skyway dominated the Tomorrowland and Fantasyland landscape. As the park expanded, Imagineers built the mountains and rails around the Skyway, so that riders actually traveled through the snowy mountain. During its lifetime, the Skyway was one of the most famous rides in Disneyland, and was a favorite among visitors of all ages.

RIDE EXPERIENCE

Riders boarding from either of the two stops took a trip through the skies of Disneyland. The four-minute journey showcased some of the park’s best scenery, including a peek inside the icy caverns of the Matterhorn. After passing the teacups, the lagoon, and the Monorail, the Skyway returned riders to the other side of the Tomorrowland/Fantasyland track.

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CLOSURE – November 9, 1994

In spite of the Skyway’s iconic status in the park, its long run became a problem, especially for the Matterhorn. The roller battery supports inside the Matterhorn developed stress cracks from years of Skyway trips, and given the mountain’s location right in the middle of the Skyway path, rerouting the track would have been extremely difficult. So in 1994, the Skyway closed, and the Matterhorn’s opening permanently sealed.

TRIVIA

Though it’s tucked away in the trees and greenery, if you look closely you can still see the abandoned Fantasyland Skyway building beside the Casey Jr. Circus Train loading area.

The Skyway was the first type 101 aerial ropeway built by Von Roll, Ltd. in the United States.

During the major Fantasyland refurbishment in the 1980’s, the Skyway remained open. However, guests had to make round trips to/from the Tomorrowland station.

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Rocket Rods

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LOCATION

Tomorrowland – When guests entered Tomorrowland from Main Street USA, they would see the Rocket Rods entrance on their immediate left, in the building that now houses the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.

RIDE BACKGROUND

After a three-year refurbishment and update, the former PeopleMover track reopened as part of the “new Tomorrowland” in 1998. The massive white infrastructure that dominated the Tomorrowland skyline now housed a high-speed transport system from the future.

RIDE EXPERIENCE

The waiting area for the Rocket Rods was an attraction in and of itself. Guests began their tour in the blueprint room, which featured original plans of Tomorrowland, and housed old ride vehicles from closed rides. Next, guests passed monitors showing 1950’s-1970’s Disney animations, predicting what transportation might look like in the future.

The largest waiting area for Rocket Rods was the CircleVision360 theatre. In the theater, guests could watch different transportation videos, including a short film detailing the evolution of GM cars. From the theater, guests traveled through the transit tunnel (a backstage area during the PeopleMover days) up to the loading platform.

On the platform, guests boarded 5-seat vehicles and proceeded to a drag race starting line. When the lights turned green, the vehicles took off for a three-minute flying ride above Tomorrowland. The Rocket Rods tour included travel through the Star Tours building, the Starcade, Space Mountain, and the Innoventions building. Riders also experienced some thrills, including sharp turns and an illusion where two rockets seem like they are going to collide before veering off at the last second. Finally, the Rockets flew by Autopia and the lagoon, before finishing the ride in a strobe light room and returning to the loading station.

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CLOSURE – September 25, 2000

When the Rocket Rods first closed in 2000, the closure was going to be a temporary refurbishment, with a reopen date set for spring 2001. However, the ride never reopened, and its permanent closure became official with reports in the OC Register and the LA Times in April 2001.

There were two primary reasons for the ride’s permanent closure. First, the PeopleMover track had been built for a slow transport ride, and its infrastructure saw serious damage with the installation of the faster rockets. And second, the rapid speed changes were often too much for the computer systems, causing frequent breakdowns and incredibly long lines; the Rocket Rods averaged at least one complete shutdown per day.

For almost a decade, the Rocket Rods track has stood empty over Tomorrowland, giving many fans hope that the PeopleMover will return. While rumors continue to circulate about its comeback, there has been no confirmation from Disney, and the huge white track still looms over Tomorrowland, waiting for its next adventure.

TRIVIA

Rocket Rods was the first Disneyland ride to offer a single rider line.

During the high-speed race, the Rocket Rods played an original song: World of Creativity (Magic Highways of Tomorrow). The song also appeared in the 1967 film The Happiest Millionaire, known then as “Detroit”.

When Star Tours: The Adventures Continue debuted in 2011, the Storm Troopers used the track as an elevated platform, looking down at visitors and monitoring Tomorrowland from above.

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