Have you ever been dying to get out of Isla Vista? For a weekend, a day or just an afternoon? Do you want to explore and experience something different? Every week in this column, I will bring you escapes from everyday life – some large, some small, some cheap, some not, but all a ton of fun.
First stop, the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. Where else can you escape the world better than to the “Happiest Place on Earth?” Now is a great time to go, because Disneyland is offering a deal for Southern California residents, in which a single day admission ($66) pays for one day each at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.
After cruising south to Anaheim, the first inclination might be to rush into Disneyland. Instead, head into Disneyland’s next-door neighbor, Disney’s California Adventure, and enjoy shorter lines for a more mature set of rides. You will find rides like California Screamin’, the only inverted ride at the resort, and the Tower of Terror, which promises to shock and delight, no matter how many times you ride it.
If you are not one for thrill rides, go for the more subtle excitement with some of the amazing shows and exhibits. Start with the Disney Animation exhibit, which sounds and looks lame from the outside but is actually very impressive. You can see some of the original animation from your favorite films, learn to draw characters and see the Toy Story Zoetrope, a sculpture version of a flipbook. This model is one of only three in existence and spins once per second, 60 times per minute to give the effect of animation before your very eyes.
Turtle Talk with Crush is, by far, the best aspect of this attraction, because it gives you the opportunity to interact with the character in real time from the safety of the “human tank.” Make sure to catch the Aladdin show, as well; this 40-minute play is a hilarious break from walking and waiting in line. The highlight of the show is Genie, who constantly cracks jokes about current events. (On Valentine’s Day, he even asked Jafar to be his Valentine, only to receive brutal rejection, I’m afraid.) The 3D shows are also quite cool and are a frequently overlooked aspect of the park. Muppet*Vision 3D, in which cannonballs fly out of the screen, explosions blast everywhere and the always entertaining Muppet hecklers lean out to mock the show and the audience. (Don’t take it personally; they’re just robots.) Though many of the shows are good, do not go to Golden Dreams, starring Whoopi Goldberg. It is absolutely excruciating, and unless you are a card-carrying member of her fan club, there is no reason to waste the time.
California Adventure closes earlier than Disneyland, and you will undoubtedly be hungry after such an action-packed day. Peruse the novelty restaurants inside Downtown Disney for a livelier atmosphere and delicious dishes. If you are willing to drop about $20 to $30 per person, check out the ESPN Zone or the Rainforest Café. You can save money by ordering a tantalizing appetizer or by ordering off the lunch menu instead of the dinner menu. ESPN Zone has huge TVs and an insane sports atmosphere, but I prefer the Rainforest Café for its better food and jungle ambience. (It is particularly exciting to get interrupted in your dinner by a huge tropical rainstorm and rampaging animals.) Meet me back here next week, same time, same place, for some insights into Disneyland itself.