since our annual passes had been blocked off for almost all of winter break, we jumped at the chance to go on the first day we could. with the rose parade and bowl game being on that same day due to new year's day falling on a sunday, we were hopeful that it wouldn't be too bad if we got there early.
of course, 894375093814 other people had the same idea - which we were prepared for. and so we headed out with the intention of using up some food vouchers we had leftover from the blog meet-up and to get one last ride on the tower of terror. it was the last day for the ride before they shut it down and re-theme it for this summer's "guardians of the galaxy" re-do. the plan was to park, grab fastpasses for whatever time we could get for the ride, and just wing it from there.
parking was...a nightmare. and when we finally did get into the structure, they had us park in the furthest possible corner from the escalators. boo.
but that's okay. the new security checkpoints, which i much prefer over where they used to be, had all lines open and the crowds were flowing nicely.
we were able to catch a tram pretty quickly, and then we were finally on our way to the gates. we passed a few of these signs, which were for a $99/ticket event that would allow its attendees to be the final guests to ride the tower. i'd thought it was kind of crazy, but then i got a little case of FOMO as i thought about how fun that would have been. alas, it was a school night and wouldn't have been feasible for us anyway.
you know it's going to be a busy day at the park when the lines to get in are crazy long.
as soon as we went through the turnstiles we handed our passes to the old lady, who kicked on the turbo and skedaddled right over to the fastpass kiosk for the tower. she had to stand in a fairly long line, but she managed to snag us three tickets stamped with the very latest possible time we were willing to wait for.
with that taken care of, we had plenty of time to relax and wander. and eat. we headed over to flo's v8 cafe to grab some breakfast and shared platters of eggs, bacon and potatoes plus their brioche french toast with salted caramel sauce.
i made them stop for the photo op, too. who doesn't love a good photo op?
since we were already in cars land, we decided to see how long the single rider line was for radiator springs racers. the bean was stoked when the cast member handed her this to carry through the line. they use it to see what the actual wait time is from entrance to boarding, and she's always wanted to be "the one." heh.
from there, we decided to join the queue for the "frozen" show. we managed to snag almost the very last spots in the line for the orchestra section, and somehow still got to our favorite seats in the whole theater.
the show is a little over an hour long, so by the time we were out of there it was time to find a snack or something. we headed over to the festival of holidays to pick out some bites from the various kiosks using our vouchers. i mean, free food? yes please!
the old lady decided to try the weisswurst sausage and sauerkraut. it...didn't look appealing. taste-wise, it wasn't bad, but we were pretty put off by the texture. i think we ate about half of it before we gave up.
the bean loves the asian pork belly bao.
and then we finally got to try the tamales and sopes at abuelita's kitchen.
the weather was in the 50s and mostly cloudy...perfect for spending a day at the parks.
we decided to hit up the "treats for santa" kiosk for some cookies and their white hot chocolate with a peppermint marshmallow. it looked really weird, but it was pretty tasty.
the bean always asks to have her face painted, but it's usually too warm and i always manage to ward her off by telling her she'll sweat it right off. not today.
and then we let her loose to run around the redwood creek play area. best way to burn off that sugar.
with a handful of vouchers still to spend, i finally ordered one of the shrimp cocktail cups. it was served with a jalapeño olive that the old lady said looked like a butthole. ewww. but she ate it anyway.
she washed it down with a margarita.
and then we stopped in at the bakery tour for free sourdough bread and at ghirardelli's for some free chocolate.
we munched on our free snacks while watching the holiday drummers perform.
days like this, where we have low expectations of riding a lot of rides, are great for catching shows that we typically just cruise on past.
and after a long absence, we finally headed into the animation studio to do some drawing. today's lesson was how to draw sully from monsters, inc.
while the girls did a little shopping with the gift cards they'd gotten for christmas, i snuck out and grabbed a seat on a nearby bench to do some peoplewatching.
and i waved at mickey as he passed by on the trolley.
inside one of the shops i found this...which i told the girls they could keep me in after i die. lolz.
after a hot cocoa and potty break, it was finally time to head over to the tower. now, we knew it was busy, but had never seen the fastpass line this long before. it snaked across the front and around to where the trolley pulls in, and back out towards the fastpass kiosks. it was a solid half hour wait.
i tried to snap as many pictures of the interior as i could, but it was dark and there were a ton of people in there.
and then, as we were standing in front of the doors to the library where the ride experience begins, i heard it: the dreaded "technical difficulties" announcement. YARG. and so we all took a seat. we'd waited this long, we weren't going to leave now.
we passed the time by playing "heads up" with my dying phone, and then at 7:10 a cast member took the mic and said the magic words - "the ride is back up and ready for you!" he was met with lots of cheer and applause, and we hopped to our feet and headed into the library for the very last time.
after watching the video, which a lot of us pretty much recited along with "rod serling," we made our way in and headed for the elevators.
our ride was during "late checkout" hours, which meant that the entire ride was done with all the lights out. we still got to hear the narration, but there was nothing but darkness. totally makes it scarier. it was over before it began, like it usually is.
here's our very last tower of terror photo, like ever. sob.
in the gift shop, i was a little annoyed to find that they'd come out with a much nicer quality ornament than the one i'd bought a month ago. if i'd known this was coming, i'd have waited.
a final look around:
and that's all she wrote. no more tower of terror...in california, at least. it's staying for the time being in florida and paris, but who knows when we'll ever get there again? and i must say, although we're going to miss this ride and its 1930s art deco theming, i'm looking forward to seeing what they do with it next. after all, we did like "guardians of the galaxy," and who knows? maybe it'll turn into our new favorite ride.
i guess we'll just have to wait and see.