Tomorrowland Phantom Boats

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LOCATION

Tomorrowland – Guests could find the Phantom Boats in roughly the same place as today’s submarine lagoon, in the rear left corner of the land, beside Autopia.

RIDE BACKGROUND 

The “Tomorrowland Boats” debuted on Opening Day, as one of the land’s main attractions. However, the boats failed to impress park guests, and only about 450 riders boarded the boats on the park’s first day. After a month of troubled operations and constant breakdowns, the ride closed for a brief refurbishment. In August, the lagoon reopened with the “Tomorrowland Phantom Boats”. While the ride premise was identical, the new boats were futuristic and featured bold colors and exaggerated wings. 

RIDE EXPERIENCE

The Phantom Boats gave guests an up-close and personal tour of Tomorrowland’s lagoon and rock formations. Guests boarded 3-4 person boats and embarked on self-guided trips around the lagoon. After a few minutes of exploring, guests brought the boats back to dock, and unloaded back into northern Tomorrowland.

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CLOSURE – August 16th, 1956

Unfortunately, the mini-refurbishment did not solve the numerous problems with the Phantom Boats. The enclosed motors constantly overheated, forcing cast members to tow riders back to the dock. When the boats were refurbished, Imagineers also added a seat for a driver, to prevent engine failure from guests cranking the gas. However, the engines continued to overheat, and the need for drivers made the ride more expensive than it was worth. So after a brief and troublesome year, the Phantom Boats closed for good.

TRIVIA

This was the first permanent ride/attraction in the park to close. 

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Pacific Wharf Cafe

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LOCATION

Pacific Wharf – When you cross the bridge to the central dining area in Pacific Wharf, you’ll find the Pacific Wharf Café on the left corner.

EXPERIENCE

Pacific Wharf Café is one of the quick-service restaurants located in Pacific Wharf’s central dining area. Diners grab food at the service counter, and can enjoy their meals at the patio tables, which overlook Paradise Pier and the bay.

CONCEPT

Service Type – quick service

Seating – outdoors, central Pacific Wharf Patio

Reservations – no

Entertainment – none

Menu

MY RATING – ★★★☆☆

The Pacific Wharf Café features one of San Francisco’s most famous food items: Boudin bread. Boudin’s fresh sourdough makes any sandwich taste better, and diners can find a variety of healthier meal options at the Café. However, this restaurant has surprisingly few sandwich options, which is definitely a disservice to the great bread they offer. If Pacific Wharf Café were to add more choices to their menu, I would raise this rating to four stars.

MY FAVORITES

  • Turkey & Swiss Sandwich

TRIVIA

The central dining area in Pacific Wharf, where the Café resides, is a blend of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and Monterey’s Cannery Row.

Pacific Wharf Café offers Boudin bread, a famous San Francisco sourdough company. Though Boudin sells bread nationally, all of their products are baked in their San Francisco factory.

Painted Ladies

As guests head from Paradise Pier to Grizzly Peak, many take the back path that winds around the entrance to Grizzly River Run. And though thousands of guests travel this path every day, few notice a hidden gem adorning this stretch of road: the Painted Ladies!

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The Painted Ladies are a famous row of Victorian houses on Steiner Street in San Francisco. Built in the late 1890’s, these homes became famous in San Francisco when a number of local artists painted their homes in bright colors in the 1960s, starting a trend known as the Colorist Movement.

Next time you wander around California Adventure, take a moment to appreciate the Painted Ladies. Imagineers put an incredible amount of detail in this hidden gem, and this area is an excellent backdrop for photos.

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!)