MY DREAM CAME TRUE!
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A private party at Disney California Adventure

Ever since 2002, on one night in mid-November, one of Disneyland Resort's two theme parks closes early and KOST 103.5, a radio station in Southern California, holds their Private Holiday Kick-Off Party. The only way for members of the general public to get tickets to the party is to win them. As a Disney fan, the idea of a private party at a Disney theme park was exciting, and so I was thrilled when I won tickets.

My friend and I arrived at about 8:15PM, picked up our tickets, and joined the lines of party guests that had already formed outside the turnstiles leading into Disney California Adventure Park. Just before 9PM, the gates opened and we were each handed a “special edition” of The Buena Vista Bugle. Then we were allowed into the entry area. Garlands and wreaths hung everywhere and there was a 50-foot Christmas tree that reminded me of the tall, skinny one at Disneyland park.

At about 9PM, The Voice finalist, Chris Mann, arrived in a vintage car and sang two holiday songs for us, demonstrating the talent that had made him a singing competition finalist. Then a trolley car holding the KOST 103.5 stars and some of the Disney characters pulled up. One by one, the KOST stars were introduced to the antsy crowd whose members had already begun jockeying for a place right by the invisible rope.

Finally, there was a countdown: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… The Christmas tree lit up, fireworks shot up over Carthay Circle Restaurant, and the crowd surged into the park.

Riding Radiator Springs Racers was one of my missions for the evening, so my friend and I headed to Cars Land first. By the time we got there, Cars Land was so packed with people that it was easy to miss the creative decorations, like the muffler garlands and wrench wreaths. The line for Radiator Springs Racers extended onto Main Street, and so we decided to bypass Radiator Springs Racers and instead be the first people of the night to board Luigi’s Flying Tires.

After a quick flight, my friend grabbed dinner at Flo’s V8 Café while I tried one of the disappointingly non-ugly “ugly” chocolate mud pies. After our pit stop, the line for Radiator Springs Racers looked shorter than when we first arrived, however the wait time was 90 minutes according to a Cast Member, and there were no FASTPASSES available during the event, so we left Cars Land, taking our time to enjoy the festive tire and hub cab Christmas trees and other decorations.

Since most of the party guests were in Cars Land, the rest of California Adventure was fairly deserted and, in some cases, we could walk for a few minutes without seeing anyone at all. We rode The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue, two of my favorite rides, with no wait, and Toy Story Midway Mania, with only about a five minute wait. The wait time for Soarin’ Over California, our favorite Disney California Adventure ride, had a wait time of 45 minutes, and so we decided to try again later.

We headed back to Radiator Springs Racers, taking a few minutes to pose with the "snowcar" (think Cars Land version of a snowman) at the entrance to Cars Land, before joining the line for Radiator Springs Racers that, although it had a reported wait time of 90 minutes, was more like a 45 minute wait. The wait was worth it; I enjoyed our ride through Radiator Springs to meet the Cars characters and the brief, but fun, race at the end.

After our ride, at 11:50PM, the line for Soarin’ Over California had a reported 60 minute wait, and I wanted to see the holiday version of World of Color that was scheduled to start in 25 minutes, and so we skipped Soarin' (for this visit) and staked out excellent spots for World of Color. At 12:15AM, the characters from Prep and Landing kicked off the nearly half-hour show featuring projections and colored jets of water dancing to music from some of the Disney animated movies, including Disney/Pixar's Brave. Even though we were outside Disney's "splash zone," rain drops sprinkled us from above, as they had intermittently all night long.

After the show, and a few more photos in the near-empty park, we left the party just before the 1:00AM end time. Despite the less-than-ideal weather, we had enjoyed ourselves. For a Disney fan, there’s nothing like a visit to Disneyland Resort to kick off the holidays.

I did this in 2012 in Anaheim, California, USA.

Dr. Jen (California, USA)

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