Being on the behind the scenes sides of big radio promotions, I never imagined myself on the receiving end. There we were, carpooling to work on a Monday morning, and I hear my name on the radio as a winner of not only a family vacation to Disneyland, but special event tickets to preview Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure on Thursday, June 14th, before the general public. As I reached for my cell phone to call in and claim my enormous, exciting prize, the only thing I could think was how this, me as a winner, was going to make for horrible radio. I did my best to get as excited as I could, but 7am is for listening to the radio, not talking on it. The first winner of a promotion should be the most enthusiastic out of all of them. Sorry JohnJay and Rich, it just wasn’t in the cards with this one.
Slight tangent here. Having been on the other side of radio promotions, from organizing to executing, and doing so for a privately owned station, documenting the shit out of any and all promotions was our lifeblood. Without sponsorship dollars, the station would cease to exist. So, when the 24 hours of personal information and waiver signing had ended, the last thing I assumed was that that was the end of the listener-station relationship. Nothing. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Now don’t get me wrong, I get the smoke and mirrors of broadcast radio, but this was like a fog machine straight to the face. Totally bizarre and sort of a let down. Not that I am all super fan, radio show lover of the world, but I just assumed that there’d be a little more TLC of the winners, especially considering how social this particular show cast happens to be. There were less than 100 of us and to brand the contest as a “come hang with our families” and then never see anyone from the station was a ballsy move. But when you’re a huge broadcast conglomerate, I guess you don’t have to impress the people throwing dough at you as much as the little guys. End tangent.
We were lucky enough to have a room ready when we arrived so we didn’t have to battle the park-closing, check-in crowds on Wednesday evening. After getting all of our stuff situated in what Dylan called the “beach ball hotel room”, we marveled at the park view from our room, freshened up from the car ride, and hit Disneyland.
The obligatory Disneyland entrance family photo. Complete with spandex and puffed chest.
It seems the one ride Dylan remembered most from the past few times was the teacups. So. There we went.
Note: Bring your sister along as trip photographer. You’re kid will constantly smile and wave.
After a whopping, nine million hour day, we returned to the hotel room. I then discovered that there were ALL OF THE THINGS going on for the debut of Cars Land. A special, star-studded red carpet event was taking place in the backyard of our hotel and so I did what any normal human being would do. I brooded, poorly feigned disinterest in all of the hullabaloo publicly, and then spent the remainder of the evening stalking all of the fun online and found myself completely content in doing so. Mostly because my forged media pass didn’t end up working.
Backwards R’s make things most believable. The blood from stapling it to your shirt helps.
The next morning, we woke up early to get a little breakfast and a bit of Disneyland in before getting to experience California Adventure, as we would discover a few hours later, almost entirely to ourselves.
The monorail station in Downtown Disney makes our hearts (and batwings) happy.
A few rounds of Buzz Lightyear and a quick stop to pick up a compliment-inducing sweatshirt for Dylan, and we were just a wee shred of excited to make our way into the park.
Really. We aren’t excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at all.
First stop, the entrance to Cars Land. OH. MY. EXCITED!
Okay so maybe this was after we did everything because…EXCITED!
The first attraction we went on was Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. It was a really fun ride until your sister shatters her elbow during a swing or you underestimate the tossing and squish your four-year-old son against the unpadded side of the car. Meanwhile, I had the time of my life, because I knew what to expect from watching videos of the attraction on YouTube before the trip. Duh.
People in the background: becoming a part of our memories since 2012.
Next up we tried out Luigi’s Flying Tires. This was our initial look at the detail, oh my gah, the detail of these new attractions. In true Disney fashion, every little thing was injected with magic. From the art on the walls to the monstrous, cement tire planters in line, naturally no detail went untended. Even the organization of riders was cohesive to the attraction, as colored, wooden “banner flags” were distributed to ensure that no one was left without a flying tire.
The entrance to the Luigi’s Flying Tires attraction.
Meh. He wasn’t that excited to ride this one.
These weren’t souvenirs. Apparently some people didn’t catch on to that.
While the new Cars Land area only hosts three attractions, all three are a joy in their own right. The final stop for us was the highly anticipated, Radiator Springs Racers. This roughly five minute ride was beyond what I could have ever imagined. A mellow cruise through Ornament Valley that ends in a wild goose chase to the starting line for a quick race against another car full of guests to the finish. Dylan thought this ride was the bee’s knees! I had so much fun, I drooled in my hair.
The entrance to Radiator Springs Racers.
They take your picture. You drool in all of your hair. Memories are made.
After we rode on the new attractions, we moseyed around Radiator Springs for a little while to take it all in. I walked right past Tory Belleci and immediately regretted not letting my inner-geek reign supreme and ask for a picture. Naturally, I instead lamented over my missed opportunity on the internet. The mass of media was insane. Booths set up for any and all radio stations to broadcast live, television cameras in the middle of the road, designated areas for webisode filming, and general documentation of every thing, around every corner.
Every one of those umbrellas was covering a broadcast station.
We didn’t eat here, but the pies looked amazing.
Leave it to the hippie character to play host to the healthy alternatives. Peace man.
Now, did I mention that California Adventure was closed to the public on Thursday for all of this? It was. Which means, there were no lines. For anything. We walked onto every attraction in that park and were able to do each thing multiple times throughout the day. For someone who had never experienced Disney in the summer, they’d surely be ruined for life. For myself, it was an affirmation to how incredibly lucky and privileged we were to have had the opportunity to experience such an anomaly in the world of Disney. It was a memory that will last a lifetime.
And the Parents of the Year Award goes to…
Obligatory California Adventure family photo in front of the Ferris Wheel.
Riding Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train for the 879th time.
Being a bunch of fish.
We won’t get soaked on the ride, but we’ll pose like lunatics in front of water.
We had a blast. An exhausting, memorable, blast.
Disclaimer: I know I knock ‘em a bit for the bizarre promotional side of this trip, but I can’t thank JohnJay and Rich & 104.7 KISS FM, Clear Channel Communications, and Disney Travel Promotions enough for providing us with four, three-day park hopper tickets, special event tickets for Thursday, and two-nights at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. All of the incredible memories are our own.