So… with our trip almost wrapping up… we headed back to the park where we started it all: Hollywood Studios! I do have to admit it was a bit nostalgic to tromp through an imaginary Los Angeles… made infinitely better by the lack of cars. :)
Our first ride of the day: Toy Story Mania! True to PIXAR ride fashion, this short ride is an interactive shooting game adventure like Buzz Lightyear, except it involves video screens and 3-D glasses!
You sit in a simple back-to-back vehicle and wind and twirl your way through a maze of objectives to score as many points as you can. Shooting balloons, capturing aliens, and just generally hitting targets.
And at the end of the ride… here were our scores. I’ll leave you to guess whose score is on the left and right.
Does that smug face give it away? Yup… Mr. M was the big winner… and I was left in bunny land.
So what comes after all the cuteness and fun of a ride on Toy Story Mania? Why how about the joyful screams of…
… TOWER OF TERROR! They may be a bit of fake fear on my face, but in reality, I didn’t know what to expect after training my ride experience to that of the Disneyland version. In fact, my friend Michelle and I once rode on it 15 times in a row on its opening weekend… don’t ask us what we were thinking, other than how to spice up a weekend.
Luckily this ToT experience was different enough to scare the screams out of me… made even better by our fellow guests. See that lady in the red sweatshirt in the middle row? According to her son, she was, “the meanest mom ever!” I guess he had gotten cold feet at the last moment, but she made him get on the ride anyhow, but he tried his best to convince the rest of us it was torture. Poor guy was really scared, but when it was over, he was smiling even though he knew the punishment was coming shortly for his acting out.
We spent some “down time” at the lovely Indiana Jones show… which is only a little bit cheesy, but the huge explosions make up for the jokes in the end!
For our last big thrill ride of the trip, we hopped onto the Rock N’ Rollercoaster (featuring Aerosmith) for an insanely lovely looping coaster ride! For full disclosure, I’m completely and totally in love with any acceleration start coaster… like Space Mountain @ Disneyland Paris, and California Screaming @ Disney’s CA Adventure. Thanks to technology, you’re pushed from 0-60 in less than 3 seconds, and it usually means you avoid that whole climbing the mountain bit that eats at my acrophobic heart. (Is it really irrational to be scared when you’re 200 feet up in the air?) This ride was pretty neat as it was a dark ride… and you were on the freeways in LA trying to get across town, so different landmarks and freeway signs would light up as you went through them. Needless to say, we went on this twice, but Mr. M says CA Screaming is still tops in his book.
After touring some little shows and getting some food, we ended up at the Animation Academy to try our “Disney animator” hats on.
Our assigned task for the day: Angry Minnie!
Here’s what we ended up with in the end…. I had a fat minnie with a bow out of proportion, and Mr. M’s was pretty spot on. We took the drawings home as souvineers, and then went back to the buses to make it over to the Contemporary Hotel for dinner.
When we were discussing options for dinner around 2pm, we decided to try and see if we could go to the California Grill for dinner. I called to see if they had any openings, and sure enough there was room for two at 5:30! We knew it was going to be more of a splurge for the visit, but we knew the sushi was going to be amazing, so we decided to go for it.
We took an express elevator up to the restaurant, and were seated in the private cellar room with only 6 other tables with ours. Mr. M commented later that he wouldn’t have thought as much of the experience if we were seated in the noisy main area, but that our intimate space made things that much nicer. The Mickey confetti was left there in celebration of our 18-month anniversary, and I’m assuming the table was selected in honor of that as well. In other words, this promotional Year of Celebrations is pretty wonderful!
Eating at the California Grill made us quickly realize one thing… we really love our local food. And while nothing on the menu was exotic at all, every dish was salivating! We indulged in a great cheese plate and found a new favorite from only an hour plus away in Modesto and Mr. M enjoyed a glass of wine from one of his favorite little wineries in the Napa Valley. The sushi was superb and full of wonderful flavors, and our entrees (pumpkin ravioli and pork loin) were just as lovely.
For dessert, we both ordered banana creme brulee, and I fought to gobble it all down… but left the accompanying brownie aside as I just couldn’t manage to find a free spot in my tummy.
Lots of people come to eat dinner here just for the view of the nightly fireworks, which were at 8pm, so right after settling our bill we jumped out the landing to watch the show.
I snapped this photo… and two minutes later we made a flying leap for the door and the warmth of the hotel. I checked the weather minutes later, and the windchill was down to about 28 degrees at this point. Not exactly “watching fireworks 16 stories up on a roof” weather.
Luckily the dinner was perfect, even without the entire fireworks show, and we hopped back home via Downtown Disney in the hopes that our room was 40 degrees warmer than it was outside.