Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Top Ten Disneyland Memories: Memory 2: A Magical Night in Cars Land/ "Good Morning Starshine!"

Disneyland 2017 Memory #2
A Magical Night in Cars Land/"Good Morning Starshine!"

When Cars Land opened back in 2012, we were all intrigued by the idea of new stuff to explore and impressed by Disney's always exemplary theming.  We stood in line for over 120 minutes to ride Radiator Springs Racers (and watched on our phones as news of the Aurora shooting broke, making me wary of watching The Dark Knight Rises in the theater).  Overall, our reaction to the recreated Radiator Springs was positive, but Cars Land didn't change my life.  Why would it?
Fast forward five years, and I now have a two-year-old boy who is obsessed with Cars and absolutely loves Mater and Lightning McQueen. For a while (like ten, eleven months) Giddy watched Cars almost every single day.  He still watches Car Toons:  Mater's Tall Tales at least once a week.

So spending a big hunk of time in Cars Land was a must this year. After extensive research (i.e. watching random videos of strangers eating stuff at Disneyland), I decided we would kick off our Disney days by heading straight to Cars Land in California Adventure for a snack at the Cozy Cone (a first for all of us).

This turned into a bit of a fiasco. We arrived at that awful time just before sunset when the sun beats down on your head and shines right into your eyes no matter which way you turn. Since the Cozy Cone is kind of new, it doesn't have much shade, but it does have everything else, and Penelope wanted to try all of it. She nearly succeeded. We were all running around jumping into different lines (because each cone offers a different type of snack), and Gideon was just plain running around, marveling at the replica of Radiator Springs and wearing a shimmering mask of yellow edible glitter soon enough.

We Rayburns ended up sharing (not terribly evenly) pretzel bites, churros, and Ramone's Pear of Dice Sodas. (My mom instantly became obsessed with this bubbly pink drink and kept luring us back to the Cozy Cone for more throughout the trip. The basic recipe is Sprite, pear flavored syrup, and mojito syrup. I know because Mom asked. She plans to make us some soon.) Penelope also somehow acquired a huge, chocolate-dipped soft serve cone.

To me the highlights of these tasty snacks were the racing-stripe churros. (Well, I mean, technically, the pretzel bites tasted the best and satisfied my hunger the most, but those racing stripe churros won the prize for most photogenic, top honors in my book.)

They came in red, yellow, and blue, and we got yellow and blue (because I'm phobic of red dye). Basically they were ordinary churros augmented by stripes of edible glitter--not just ordinary glitter, though. Giddy and I started off sharing the yellow one, and it was resplendent with tiny stars, like those packets of little foil sparkly stuff my mom used to pour into birthday cards in the late 90s. Very soon, Giddy commandeered the entire racing-stripe churro and set about covering himself in yellow. He was still yellow when I took him to get a picture with Mater.

Derrick gave me a plain churro since he'd bought five. Even though it wasn't as gorgeous, it still tasted just as good--or so I believed until Gray later said that the ones with the glitter tasted better, and I retroactively decided he must be right. I didn't really need another churro--they were about as tall as Gideon (which was fair since they were $5 a piece)--but I thought I did because we hadn't eaten since breakfast, and I love churros.

Actually our "little snack" at the Cozy Cone ended up costing more than our dinner that night, but it was such a delicious whirl of sparkle! It was all worth it, I'm sure (especially the kids' souvenir sippers that look like Dinoco cans).

After that, we took Giddy on his first Disneyland ride ever--Luigi's Rollicking Roadsters. (Actually that ride was a first for all of us since it recently replaced Luigi's Flying Tires.) Giddy absolutely loved it, and now his new favorite song is "Mambo Italiano," which played during the ride.  (During our last meal together at the end of the trip, he tried some orange-pineapple juice and declared, "That's nice!")  For the first time, I took a bunch of video (because Giddy and Nellie love watching videos of themselves so much).  Giddy insisted on being held by me at all times for most of the evening, but he was enjoying all the little rides so much. I had a blast experiencing them with him.

Next we rode Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. "Wow! Das a fun ride!" Giddy commented to me as we exited.

To kill time until dark, we rode The Little Mermaid and a few rides in A Bug's Land. Giddy especially liked Francis's Ladybug Boogie and at the end of the trip repeatedly told us that his favorite rides were "ladybugs," "Car Toons" (Mater), and "Cars 3" (Luigi).

Cars Land at night has this (deserved) reputation of being magically enchanting. We tried to tap into this rumored magic by walking through at night back in 2014, but since we had already eaten, we just admired the lights long enough to take a picture and then split to eat Ghiradelli sundaes on the Pacific Wharf. So I think much of the ambiance was lost on us back then.

 This time I planned to have dinner at Flo's V-8 Cafe. Now to say Giddy is not great at restaurants is a gigantic understatement. He always expects to be served his entree immediately. He rarely tolerates high chairs. When Mom and Dad took us all to Outback for their anniversary back in June, Giddy spent ninety percent of the outing outside running around behind the shrubbery in the back of the restaurant near the dumpsters while Derrick and I traded off watching him.) That is a pretty typical restaurant visit for him. (Penelope was a very different child, but that's life for you.)

We were all really worried about how he would behave in Disneyland. (I mean, at the park he can run like 3/4 of a mile at a time without showing any signs of fatigue and can sense a playground 3/4 of a mile away.) Derrick and I even broke down and ordered a child harness and leash for him from Amazon, but it didn't arrive in time. (Come to think of it, I'm not sure it ever arrived.)

So anyway, at Flo's we sat outside.  I ordered a roast beef and cheddar sandwich, with a side of mac and cheese subbed for coleslaw. I'd heard good things but had tempered expectations (in fact I was downright suspicious of the food, but I really wanted to sit under the fabled neon lights).

To my surprise and delight, the roast beef and cheddar was indescribably delicious, one of the best sandwiches I've ever eaten in my life. The challenge was actually eating it. Giddy wanted nothing to do with his macaroni, and Derrick was inside going through the line a second time because Gray had been in the bathroom.

I know many people believe that a good parent can use some sort of magical powers to make a child sit quietly and behave, but Gideon has taught me that I lack this particular form of sorcery.

Soon he was up running around in larger and larger circles. I had to hop up and chase after him before he circled his way out of the theme park and off into space. When repeated efforts to retrieve him and make him sit down failed, I finally decided just to follow him around...but I took that amazing roast beef and cheddar with me because I was hungry. After all, we were eating outside, and just a few feet away, throngs of people were walking past us munching on popcorn and churros and turkey legs and corndogs. It worked for me. (Plus Mom was sitting at the table waiting for her dinner, so I wasn't abandoning Grayson and Penelope.)

After one lady gave me a dirty look, I got the inspired idea to show Giddy the cars racing on the visible part of the Radiator Springs Racers ride. I knew he would love seeing the replica of the valley and waterfall that he loves oohing and ahhing over in the movie. So I carried him over (still eating my sandwich), and, indeed, he was wowed. A few minutes later, I returned to the table for my side of mac and cheese and wandered all over the place eating that, too (which was harder and looked more awkward).

Honestly, though, while I was walking in circles eating dinner and following Giddy--that's when the full ambiance of Radiator Springs at night finally kicked in for me. Cars Land at night is now on my short list of favorite places in Disneyland. (New Orleans Square will always be #1.) I was having a fabulous time dancing to the Oldies music under the neon lights. Pleasant breeze, good food, happy toddler--it was all working for me. My one concern was that someone back at the table would assume I didn't want my Coke and get rid of it somehow before I could drink it. (I was really painfully thirsty.) Fortunately it was still there when I returned for it.
After dinner, we left Cars Land and headed over to Disneyland for other adventures.  Giddy fell asleep as we walked back to the hotel late Monday night, and we'd had a pretty full day, so I didn't wake him to bathe him.  That leads me to the funniest past of our whole Cars Land experience.

The next morning when I took off Giddy's diaper to change him, to my surprise I was greeted by a wee wee covered in sparkling gold stars. I guess some of the glitter from his churro had fallen down into his diaper. It was such an unexpected and hilarious sight.

"Well, good morning starshine!" I told him. He laughed and laughed (though I'm pretty sure he didn't know what I found so funny).

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