Saturday, October 28, 2017

Spruce Street Suspension Footbridge
(with a little Acro)

After AcroYoga practice in Balboa Park, Tori and I visited the Spruce Street Suspension Footbridge on Banker's Hill for the first time. It was built in 1912 by the City of San Diego to connect parts of the hilly neighborhood to the former trolley stops on 4th and 5th Avenue.




The span extends 375 over Kate Sessions Canyon and is 70 feet high over the deepest section. Like all suspension bridges, it is designed to flex in the wind and it was quite easy to make it rock back and forth. Despite the wobbles, we decided to try a few AcroYoga poses on the narrow path.




We started out in Bird but the cable railings made it tough to rotate Tori down into Straddle Bat. We had to move slowly so she would not get her feet caught. The cables were quite low so I was a bit worried when I lifted her higher into Star. I was ready to bring her down quick if the bridge began to wobble under the feet of others walking across the bridge.



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Disney California Adventure Park
(Kenny's Birthday)

Tori, Jill, Tommy and I went to Disney California Adventure Park with Kenny yesterday for his Birthday. While we were hoping for a cool fall day, Santa Ana winds brought a strong heatwave with temperatures for the day predicted to be 103 degrees in Anaheim. When we arrived at the park at 9am, it was already 90 degrees. Since Tommy works at Disneyland as an acrobat in the parade, he went backstage to get us discounted tickets but he surprised us instead with free Park Hoppers tickets. Grateful, we paid for his food and drinks all day.





While I have been to Disneyland many times, I have never been to the California Adventure side of the park. Our first stop was the Guardians of the Galaxy ride that replaced the former Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Despite all the extremely short lines we had for the rest of the day, we had to wait 45 minutes for this newest ride. The inside of the highest building in the park was designed to represent the museum of the Collector who has captured the Guardians and put them on display. The park changes the ride at night to a Halloween-themed mission but we experienced the original Mission: Breakout where Rocket Raccoon escapes his enclosure and we follow his attempts to help his teammates. Loaded into our elevator seats, I quickly realized my mistake after it launched straight up and began rapidly ascending and descending with stops at several different floors to watch scenes of the Guardians breaking free. I was soon praying for it to end as I fought off dizziness and low-grade nausea. I will never go on that ride again without taking Dramamine first. Whew! I spent the rest of the day with a light headache. I am fine with most motion rides, but that prolonged up and down weightlessness feeling is my Achilles heel.





After standing in the short line for Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (Graveyard JamBOOree), we crossed over to Disneyland for a few hours since that side of the park was closing early for the Halloween Party at 6pm. Since I already posted about my Disneyland trip in 2011, I took very few pictures this time.





Due to the short lines, we were able to go on six different rides in quick succession with a stop for lunch in between at Hungry Bear.
Star Tours - The Adventure Continues
Space Mountain (Ghost Galaxy)
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Haunted Mansion (The Nightmare before Christmas)
Pirates of the Caribbean
Splash Mountain
Indiana Jones Adventure
This was at least my fifth time on the Indiana Jones ride and I think it pretty overrated. It is so jerky that it is hard to appreciate the surroundings. If they smoothed out the motion of the jeep by half, I think it would make a huge improvement.





Even though we grabbed a FastPass ticket for the Radiator Springs Racers when we first entered California Adventure, our window wasn't until 3:30pm. Coming back over from Disneyland, we still had a little bit of a wait, watching test-runs of empty cars as they opened the ride for the first time that day. This turned out to be my favorite ride of both parks, maybe of any amusement park ever. It was a great combination of a Dark Ride and Thrill Ride. It started out as nice Sunday cruise through Monument Valley before going indoors as we visited Radiator Springs and its inhabitants at night. After getting a fresh coat of paint at Ramone's House of Body Art, we lined up with a second car for a thrilling outdoor race among the buttes. My favorite parts were the high-banked turns when we were neck and neck with the other car. It was so exciting, I can't remember if we finished in first place or not. It reminded me a lot of the former Soap Box Racers at Knott's Berry Farm, another favorite of mine.





Our next stop in Cars Land was Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters (Honkin' Haul-O-Ween). It was pretty cool ride where all the cars dance and spin within the Italian themed garden. There are no tracks, instead each electric vehicle is programmed with an independent route within the synchronized dance. The cars take turns ending up on the two electric panels that charge them up between rides.





We headed over to Pacific Wharf next for ice cream at Ghirardelli. Designed to look like Monterey's Cannery Row, it is a food vending area and doesn't contain any rides. We also walked through the Bakery Tour at Boudin's and tried the free Sourdough Bread samples.





Our first stop beside the Paradise Pier lagoon was Toy Story Midway Mania! which is an updated version of Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blaster over at Disneyland. Instead of shooting lasers at moving animatronic sensors, you use a spring-action launcher mounted on the carnival carriage to shoot simulated 3D objects at targets on the video screens. In the line outside, we interacted with Mr. Potato Head telling jokes. He could identify us by our appearance with the use of a behind-the-scenes operator. Jill and Tori decided to sit out the steel roller-coaster as I joined Kenny and Tommy in line for California Screamin'. Unlike traditional coasters that slowly climb the lift hill and then use that initial gravity as momentum for the rest of the ride, this one catapulted us down a launch track at 55 mph before speeding up the first hill. It was a great ride, with a fun vertical loop in the middle. It wasn't until close to the end when we went over a small series of weightless camelbacks that my dizziness from the Guardians ride came back with a vengeance.





I was feeling pretty light-headed when we boarded Mickey's Fun Wheel so Tori and I chose one of the non-swinging carriages on the outer rim. Even then, the slight rocking as we got on and off the ride was a little too much. Despite this, I enjoyed the views from the top of the 160 foot Ferris Wheel. It is the only replica in the US of the original 1920's Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. There is no way that I could have ridden in one of the 16 swinging gondolas that slide in and out on a snaking rail inside the wheel.





Since I was still feeling dizzy, Tori and I rested while Kenny, Tommy and Jill rode the Silly Symphony Swings but I had recovered enough to go on The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure. It was nice to get out of the heat for a bit as we rode the slow-moving clam shells through scenes from the movie. While we waited for our FastPass window for the Soarin' Around the World ride in Grizzly Peak, we wandered around Hollywood Land and went inside the Sorcerer's Workshop where we drew a basic animation in the Magic Mirror Realm and visited the Beast's Library. I discovered the Disney character I most resemble is Marlin the Clownfish from Finding Nemo. I am not surprised. Ha!





I ended up skipping Soarin' as I didn't want to risk getting dizzy again on a flight simulator so I found a comfortable bench and people-watched as the rest went on the last ride of the day. We were all starving when we left the park and Kenny was craving Thai food, so we found a nearby restaurant called Cuti Thai with lots of good reviews. All the food was awesome. I highly recommend the BBQ Beef Salad which was amazing!