lost weekenders

march18

A Guide to Ride Cameras

Basics, Beginners, AttractionsKatComment

Okay first let me just say, I acknowledge that it is hilarious to see the horrible faces people make on theme park rides, especially if they are immortalized forever on official ride camera photos. But if you really want to strike a special pose (or just show off your best Toddlers-in-Tiaras smile), here’s a quick guide to all the ride cameras in Disneyland and DCA:

splash mountain

1. SPLASH MOUNTAIN

The ride camera for Splash Mountain goes off just after the huge drop - which means you’re going to have to hold your pose through the initial first few seconds of pure terror as you freefall down the waterfall. You’ll know it’s coming because the log you’re sitting in starts climbing an impossibly tall incline and the music turns super creepy and ominous.

space mountain tomorrowland

2. SPACE MOUNTAIN

Once you get past the initial spinning-rotating-lights-tunnel, Space Mountain is basically one giant clockwise loop in the dark. The camera goes off right after the track suddenly takes a sharp left - changing direction from the loop you’ve been going in the majority of the ride. As soon as the track shifts direction, strike your pose - you’ll have about half a second before the camera flashes.

radiator springs racers

3. RADIATOR SPRINGS RACERS

Once you find yourself on the outside track and racing through Radiator Springs, pay attention to the scenery. The ride camera is under the only part of the track that has a rock overpass, after a few large bumps, and the camera flashes right before you go under the tunnel. Don’t be too hopeful for a great shot though, as your hair is probably going to be in your face no matter what.

california screamin

4. CALIFORNIA SCREAMIN’ / INCREDICOASTER

California Screamin’ may be getting a new name and overlay, but odds are the ride camera isn’t going anywhere. The camera is at the end of the track, almost at the building you originally boarded the ride in. You’ll know it’s coming because you’re heading back to the origin of the ride, and you suddenly take a large dive to the left - the camera flashes when you’re in the left turn.

tower of terror guardians of the galaxy mission breakout

5. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: MISSION BREAKOUT

I can never for the life of me remember where this camera is, so I pretty much just pose every time. The camera for sure flashes right before a big drop, right after the doors of the elevator shaft open to reveal an expansive view of the park (though I can never remember when the doors-opening part is). So, as soon as those doors open, strike a pose ASAP!

star tours

6. STAR TOURS

So technically this isn’t a ride camera, but at some point they take a photo of the Rebel Spy to display mid-ride, and Kelsey and I are always terrified it’s going to be us so we try to move around as much as possible so that they can’t get a decent photo to display. The photo is chosen before you put your 3D glasses on, and I’m pretty sure the Spy is chosen personally by a Cast Member, so it’s always a surprise if you’re up on the screen!

buzz lightyear astro blasters

7. BUZZ LIGHTYEAR ASTRO BLASTERS

Near the end of the ride, you’ll find yourself helping Buzz Lightyear take out the Evil Emperor Zurg himself. The room is huge, so it’s hard to miss. The camera goes off as you turn to face Zurg at the beginning of the room, so strike a pose pretty fast!

 

 

Treat Yourself in Disneyland: Blue Bayou

Food & Drink, FoodKatComment

If you’ve thought about booking a reservation for an extravagant meal at Disneyland, Blue Bayou is probably on your radar. Chances are, you’ve found yourself on Pirates of the Caribbean wondering what that amazing smell is coming from the restaurant just off the water. If you’ve glanced at the menu outside only to balk at the meal prices and wonder if it’s truly worth it, let us reassure you: it is.

blue bayou disneyland

AMBIENCE

Listen, y'all, if you're looking for a meal with the most ambience and charm in the Disneyland Resort, Blue Bayou is it. Even if you ate nothing and sat at a table for 45 minutes you'd have a great time - the subtle music piping through the speakers, the atmosphere of being in the back yard of a Louisiana mansion, and the sight of boats filled with Pirates of the Caribbean riders drifting slowly by makes this restaurant unique above pretty much all others in the resort. 

blue bayou entrance

RESERVATIONS

Definitely make reservations for your lunch or dinner at Blue Bayou as soon as possible, as they fill up fast. If you don’t manage to get one that you want, you can always visit the check-in counter in front of the restaurant and ask if they have any availability that day - you never know when someone might miss their reservation.

If you’re stuck on whether you should pick lunch or dinner, there are a few things to consider. On one hand, it’s fun to have lunch in complete darkness (and enjoy the air conditioning on a hot day), to emerge into the bright sunshine of a Southern California day. The lunch menu is also usually a bit cheaper, though it offers fewer choices.

On the other hand, you want to make sure you’re REALLY hungry when your reservation time comes around, since the portions are pretty large and you want to get your money's worth. In this respect, dinner is sometimes a better option, as you’ll have enough time between breakfast and afternoon snacks to get truly starving.

fantasmic disneyland

FANTASMIC! DINING

Blue Bayou offers a Fantasmic! Dining package, which involves a flat fee of $69 per adult for dinner. With dinner, which is a 3 course meal (appetizer, entree and dessert), you’ll receive a pass for reserved dining at a specific showing of Fantasmic!

The reserved area is right in front of the stage (making the Blue Bayou package the best of the multiple Fantasmic! Packages available), but it’s usually pretty likely you’ll be able to find a decent Fantasmic! Viewing spot on your own - without even a Fastpass - and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to enjoy a great dinner at Blue Bayou for less than $69 a person.

blue bayou menu

MENU

Blue Bayou recently changed their menu - which is a TRAVESTY because my meal of choice was always gumbo to start, followed by jambalaya which is NO LONGER AVAILABLE - and the famous Monte Cristo sandwich is now only available for lunch.

However, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The portions are large enough that you’re going to be way too full by the time you leave, and the food feels fancy enough for the rather large pricetag.

We highly recommend the gumbo as your starter, because let’s be real, you can get a salad freaking anywhere. And no, the gumbo is not the same as the gumbo available in bread bowls just outside - it’s totally different and still amazing.

blue bayou

WAYS TO MAKE IT EVEN BETTER

Remember, when you’re checking in, you can ask for a table by the water (or the tree, or wherever you fancy). Sometimes you have to wait a little longer to have a specific table, but we think it’s totally worth it - sitting by the door or the kitchen can really detract from the ambiance.

You can get a special drink with a glow cube, which is fun but kindof distracting since the restaurant is so dark.

If you feel like photographing your experience, bring a camera that can handle low-light situations - flash photos are pretty much your only option otherwise, and they nearly always look horrible (plus, again, the flashing light really detracts from the Blue Bayou ambiance).
 

So yeah, Blue Bayou might be way more expensive than other food options in Disneyland, but when it comes down to charm (and isn't that why you're in Disneyland and not Six Flags?) it cannot be beat. And the amazing food is a great plus! 

 

Healthy Snacks of Disneyland

Food & Drink, Food, SnacksKelsey2 Comments

I’m just gonna come right out with it and let y’all know none of us at Lost Weekenders support calorie counting in Disneyland. You’re walking at least 10 miles a day. Have the fried chicken.

We also understand not everyone abides by the same Disneyland belief system, or maybe doesn’t have the same type of flexibility when it comes to food.

I’m here to help y’all out. Let’s dive into some healthy (but still supes tasty, y’all) snacks and meals at the happiest place on earth.

Quick Tip: If you’re ever curious about diving deeper into Disney dining, you can check out the full list of restaurants and their menus for both parks here.

1. Pickle

Oh, my beloved pickle. There’s nothing quite like one on a super hot day when you’ve been walking and sweating. They’re a good way to replenish some lost electrolytes and curb a growling stomach. If you’ve always passed by the pickle stands, I highly suggest you try one out.

2. Dole Whip

It’s just not a real Disney trip without a Dole Whip. You can find whips by the Tiki Room in Adventureland, and at the coffee shop at the Disneyland Hotel. I like a classic soft serve, but you can get it float style, swirled into a tall cup with pineapple juice. They’re dairy free and about 90 calories.

Bengal_Barbecue.jpg

3. Skewers at Bengal BBQ

If you need a more robust snack on the go, you can’t beat Bengal BBQ. Located across from Indiana Jones in Adventureland, Bengal BBQ serves up super tasty and healthy kebabs. You can get a variety of veggies and meat, all which are marinated and grilled. I love the bacon wrapped asparagus skewer, and the Bengal beef skewer.

Fruit_n_Tajin.jpg

4. Fruit with Tajin

Pretty sure fruit is just a vehicle for Tajin. At any of the stands where you’d get a pickle, you can also pick up big slices of watermelon, packets of mango, or big pineapple skewers. Plus there’s packets of Tajin, a chili lime seasoning, which I douse any and all fruit with on a regular basis.

5. Salads at Pizza Port

Listen, I feel like Pizza Port gets a bad wrap. Like, I get it. It could use a makeover. It seems hokey. But, guys, I love pizza port. As the name suggests, they have a bunch of pizza (that’s not that great), but they also have a variety of salads ready to go. I usually go for the Asian chicken salad, but they have options for every type of discerning salad selector (a thing I just made up). I also pick up a pack of breadsticks and marinara because, carbs.

6. Spinach and tomato egg white frittata at Carnation Cafe

If you’re sad because you want the Mickey shaped thing but you don’t want waffles, fun news! They’ve created another way for you to eat Mickey’s head. The egg white frittatas at Carnation Cafe on Main Street are delicious, Mickey shaped, and healthy.

Edelweiss_Snacks.jpg

7. Chili lime corn from Edelweiss Snacks

Chili lime, yes please. When you’re done eating it on your watermelon head over to Edelweiss across from the Matterhorn and eat it on your corn.

8. Veggie Gumbo

Around the corner from the Pirates line entrance you can grab a bowl (of the bread variety if you’re into that kind of thing (I am)) of either meaty or meatless gumbo. Both are Lost Weekenders approved, and we’ve been known to cross the circus that is Main Street on a parade AND firework night to snag a bowl.

Carthay_Circle.jpg

9. Spring Rolls from Carthay

These are best with a pear martini if you’re Kelsey (me), a Pim’s Punch if you’re Kat, or a gin and tonic if you’re Stephen.

Lucky_Fortune_Cookery.jpg

10. Rice bowls at Lucky Fortune Cookery

Packed with protein and good grains, these are so so so so so good, and will keep you full for like...ever. Although no lie I can still horf a churro right after like it’s no one’s business.

 

These are just a few of our favorites. There’s so many options when it comes to food at Disneyland, just about everywhere you go will have healthy and tasty options.

What’s your favorite healthy Disney snack?

What To Do With One Day in Disneyland Park

Basics, BeginnersKat1 Comment

Let me start by saying that in an ideal world, you will have a Park Hopper ticket valid for both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Park, with Maxpass attached so that you can get Fastpasses whenever you want. But if you find yourself strapped for cash and holding a one-park-only ticket, here's our basically fool-proof way to best enjoy your trip to Disneyland (assuming the park hours are 8am-12midnight, but remember, park hours vary, so adjust this suggested schedule according to the daily times!):

disneyland sleeping beauty castle

6:00-7:30 AM

Aim to get to the resort area at least an hour before rope drop (when the park officially opens - hours can vary, according to the Calendar). You’ll want to use this time to park in the Mickey and Friends parking lot (all the other lots are the worst), get through security, and take the tram (unless the lines are horrible, then just walk - it’s about a 15 minute walk from the structure to the park gate).

We usually put a mobile Starbucks order in when we get on the tram for the Starbucks closest to the park entrance. That way when you offboard the tram, you can just swing by Starbucks (a few feet away) on your way to the entrance.

Be sure to get a locker first-thing before entering the park - they fill up fast, especially during peak times. We usually get a locker to the left of the main entrance to Disneyland, by the Information Booth. Lockers are great for storing souvenirs that you don’t want to carry all day, and keeping your coats out of your hands until it cools down at night.

7:30 - 8:00 AM

You’re allowed into Disneyland to mosey around Main Street before the park officially opens. If you’re early enough and you didn’t want to face the lines at the Starbucks in Downtown Disney, you can get coffee at the Starbucks on Main Street while you walk to your rope-drop position.

Strategy is key for the first few hours of your day - this is maximum ride time! Have a snack before the park opens so you won’t have to stop for breakfast and slow your whole day down. Making the decision for what land to start in is important.

The majority of the morning crowd of Disneyland heads for these locations:

Peter Pan’s Flight - The line is shortest first thing in the morning, but it will be up to 45 minutes in no time unless you’re the very first person there, so unless you’re feeling particularly lucky, try something else instead.
Space Mountain - Nearly everyone heads for Tomorrowland first, so do yourself a favor and get a FastPass for Space Mountain later.
Indiana Jones - Indiana Jones is one of those rides that has a really unpredictable line, and usually at some point (or several points) in the day, the line will be just as short as it is in the morning. And don’t get a FastPass first thing - the lines are so short that you’re likely to get a return time of about a half-hour later.

People rarely start at these locations:

Splash Mountain - especially if it’s cold, no one wants to ride this one first-thing. Of course, the price you pay for no line is being freezing all morning.
All of the rest of Fantasyland - If you start with Alice (the ride that usually has the second-longest line in Fantasyland), you can ride pretty much all of Fantasyland’s rides (minus Peter Pan) in the first hour.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - if you want to walk on, Big Thunder’s line doesn’t get bad until about an hour after park opening.

pirates of the caribbean

8:00 - 10:00 AM

Ride as many rides as you can. Do not stop for Fastpasses. Do not stop for snacks.

10:00 - 2:00 PM

Have breakfast / lunch as close to 11:00 as you can, as lunch crowds will make getting food at noon annoying, unless you have a reservation somewhere.

By noon, the park will be crowded. Lines will be stacking up. If the Pirates of the Caribbean line has wrapped around the ramp outside of the entrance, it’s a good sign that it’s time to get some Fastpasses and consider taking it easy for a while.

This is a good time to ride the rides that rarely have lines. Small World is a good ride to count on, unless it’s the Holidays. The Train rarely has too long of a wait, especially if you plan to board at New Orleans Square or Tomorrowland station. Jungle Cruise nearly always has a wait of 15 minutes (if you see the line on the second floor, skip this one). Winnie the Pooh is also a good stand-by, plus you can get a treat at the end!

Now’s also a good time to enjoy the more laid-back attractions: take a cruise on the Mark Twain, watch Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, try the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough, have a Dole Whip and watch the show at the Enchanted Tiki Room.

You can also single-rider some rides if you’re still feeling high-octane: Matterhorn rarely has a long single-rider line, and you can go for Indiana Jones if you want (though it’s not particularly hard to get a good wait time and go with your party on that one).

If you’re planning on seeing Fantasmic! Pick up a fastpass by noon - they don’t usually run out, but it’s good to have. Remember, Fantasmic fastpasses aren’t on the same system as the others, so it won’t hinder you from getting another Fastpass right away.

big thunder mountain railroad

2:00 - 4:00 PM

Have a late lunch. If you’re overwhelmed, venture outside the park to Tortilla Jo’s or Trader Sam’s in the Disneyland Hotel. Take the monorail back to the park when you’re done - the entrance is right by the Disneyland Hotel, and the best view of the Park is on the trip back from the Hotel.

If you don’t have a reservation, good places for lunch are: The French Quarter, The Hungry Bear, possibly Cafe Orleans if you’re lucky enough to get in without a reservation, Rancho del Zocalo, The Plaza Inn (for fried chicken!).

Hopefully you’ll have a Fastpass or two lined up for this time by now. Ride your big ticket rides, and stroll through the shops throughout Disneyland.

This is also a great time to take a circle-tour of Disneyland on the train. Sit back and enjoy the full loop. If the crowds are still rough, ride on one of the many Main Street Transportation vehicles - the Omnibus is particularly fun if you have a seat on the top tier.

4:00 - 6:00 PM

Now is the perfect time for something like Mickey and the Magical Map, if you’re tired. It’s also the perfect time for some more caffeine, so hit up Starbucks like your life depends on it.

Have a snack to keep you going - you’re going to need your strength for Night Time at Disneyland. It just so happens that the snacks at the Troubadour Tavern by Mickey and the Magical Map are some of the heartiest and best in the park - try the Brat, the baked potato, the pretzel bites, and the sweet twist (whatever the flavor).

mickey and the magical map

6:00 - 8:00 PM

Eat dinner. Hopefully you have a reservation. If not, try: Hungry Bear, Plaza Inn, Downtown Disney.

Between the hours of 4 and 8 are prime meltdown time. Make sure you’ve brought something like Advil, because your feet are probably killing you by now. Have some more caffeine if you need it, and have a snack even if you don’t think you’re hungry. Don’t be afraid to take it easy for a while! There’s a lot to do in Disneyland but being exhausted will really sour the experience.

8:00 - 11:00 PM

Time for a nighttime spectacular or two!! Line up for Fantasmic! On the Rivers of America at least half an hour before the entry starts on your Fastpass. You can view the fireworks and projections from Rivers of America after Fantasmic! If you see the first show.

Pro tip: crowds are always less for the second showing of Nighttime shows, because the majority of guests leave after the fireworks.

jolly holiday at night disneyland

11:00 - 12:00 AM

Now’s your last chance to ride whatever you feel like you’ve missed. Remember, as long as you’re in line when the park closes, you can still ride whatever you’re lined up for - so make sure you’re using your time down to the last second!

The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage usually has its’ shortest wait time first thing in the morning or at night - the problem with riding it at night is that it’ll put you right to sleep.

Other lines that are particularly short at night are: Splash Mountain (again with the freezing thing), Fantasyland, the train, Autopia.

The best time to get on Peter Pan’s Flight is either first thing in the morning (if you’re at the park super early) or at 11:59 at night, because if you’re going to wait 45 minutes for a non-thrill ride, you might as well make it 45 minutes that you couldn’t use to do anything else.

Random Pointers:

Plan on Fastpassing:

Indiana Jones
Space Mountain
Star Tours
Haunted Mansion (during Summer or Holidays)
Small World (during the Holidays)
Big Thunder (possibly)

Single Rider:

Matterhorn
Indiana Jones (possibly)

Do Not Get in Line if the Line is Longer than 15 Minutes:

Pirates of the Caribbean
Jungle Cruise
Winnie the Pooh
Any Fantasyland Ride
Small World
Any Ride You Can Fastpass

Food You Should Eat (Without a Reservation):

Dole Whip
Churro
Cookies from Any Treat Counter
Gumbo in a Breadbowl
Mickey Pretzel
Plaza Inn Fried Chicken
Hungry Bear Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Maurice’s Twists
Bengal Barbecue
Mickey Beignets
Corndog

Food You Should Eat (With a Reservation):

Blue Bayou
Carnation Cafe
Plaza Inn Breakfast (Character Meet and Greet / Breakfast Buffet)
Cafe Orleans

disneyland castle at night

Remember, you’re in Disneyland to have fun! Give yourself time to experience the Disney Magic, whether it’s watching the Dapper Dans perform on Main Street, or spying Peter Pan and Captain Hook parading through Fantasyland. Take some time to rest and relax and don’t push yourself too much - you’ll have a much better time if you come at your trip with a little bit of strategy and a lot of flexibility. And don’t forget our Rules of Disneyland!

Getting From Your Hotel to The Park

Basics, Beginners, HotelsStephenComment

Planning your Disneyland trip comes with many hurdles, one of which involves your hotel and the park.

In a previous post about choosing a hotel I spoke a bit about choosing a hotel based on price, relative proximity to the park and park entrance, and the never ending decision about how to navigate your morning. 

Pre-trip planning

We try to stock the car with simple daily use items that are cheap, aren't perishable, can get used on subsequent trips, and have usefulness in everyday life. If you're flying, I'd recommend a quick trip to Target or CVS, both of which are close to the park.

  • Sunscreen
  • Bottled Water
  • Packaged granola bars or nuts or some other protein rich small snacks
  • Canned Energy or Coffee Drinks
Disneyland Hotel Signage

Transportation to Disneyland

Driving is always an option, but unless you have an Annual Pass, daily parking can run you $18 and up. Chances are you're also paying for nightly parking at your hotel and not driving is an easy way to save some cash. Also be aware of the time it takes to park and ride or walk to the park. Typically we plan to arrive at Mickey and Friends 1 hour before park opening. Disneyland also has off-property parking lots such as the Toy Story Parking Area. This parking lot utilizes shuttle busses to get you to the park entrance plaza. During extreme weather days, this isn't so much fun. 

If you are staying at a nearby hotel, there are multiple ways to walk to Disneyland.


Hotels directly to the North can use the walkway that leads to the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure and use the tram.
Hotels to the South and East can enter on Harbor Boulevard.
From the South and West, walk North on Disneyland drive and use the walkway to Downtown Disney that is between Paradise Pier and AMC.

Anaheim Resort Transportation is an independent transportation authority that has a surprisingly large reach. These busses pickup at most every hotel or in densely built areas, a common space between hotels. A single ride is $3 but multi-day and child passes have large discounts. 
Although depending on the route your hotel lands on, you might only get 2 buses an hour, it's helpful to expand your choice of hotels to stay at and frees you with the ability to return for a midday break. 

start in the room

No matter the size of your group, having the loosest of plans for getting onto Disney property goes along way. 

  • Be aware of the day's temperature range and bring a costume change to avoid a sweaty day or a chilly grumpy night. 
  • Apply your first layer of sunscreen during your morning routine to save precious morning time 
  • Think about caffeine, energy and snacks. We bring a snack bag that is stocked with DoubleShots that get thrown in the fridge the night before. When you're at a loss, Downtown Disneyland has two Starbucks locations, both of which accept mobile ordering. 
  • Breakfast is important for your multi-mile day. Take advantage of your hotel's free cereal or that well planned box of granola bars.
  • Hydrate. Even though you might not be thirsty, drinking a couple glasses of water when you are first waking up helps get your body moving and refreshes overnight dehydration. 
Donut.jpg

 

Remember one of our always mantras: there will always be more time. There's nothing worse than starting a day out in a bad mood because your plan didn't work out the best it could.