The walk back to our hotel sucked. This was partly because we were so far away from Candy Cane Inn (at least compared to what we were accustomed), partly because of the mist, and partly because Sarah’s Crocs had no traction, so we had to walk slowly as she held my arm. I hate walking slowly. Especially in rain.
Since the rain had given way to mist and the sky appeared to be clearing, I really wanted to get back to the park to take more photos. Rain at Disneyland is fairly rare (at least compared to Walt Disney World) and I wanted to take full advantage of that wet pavement. We made haste in our room, spending only around 5 minutes there before leaving.
Sarah was surprised that I chose not to wear a coat, and she noted that it might start raining again. I remarked that if I was going to get wet, I was going to get wet, regardless of whether I had a coat or not. In my head, I was strongly betting on it not raining again, so I suppose I was really tempting nature with this stance. Although, I’m not at all superstitious, as I fully believe the unrelated actions of one person to “spite” the natural world can’t have an impact on the acts of nature. To think otherwise is fallacious reasoning at its finest.
Given its proximity to the city of Anaheim, Disneyland’s fireworks are canceled if so much as a seagull passes gas. We thus assumed that the weather was such that the fireworks would be canceled, so we headed over to Disney California Adventure to finally see the Christmas decorations there at night.
As we approached the turnstiles, I immediately knew that this would be a great night for photos. The reflection was incredible, so I stopped. Sarah headed on in, as she was going to grab us food at one of the Paradise Pier Garden restaurants. I lagged behind, shooting more of my Disneyland Christmas time lapse video outside the turnstiles, then near the Christmas tree in Paradise Pier before finally heading over to the seating outside Paradise Garden Grill. Of course, there was no live music playing, so my plan to eat there while entertainment was playing was a failure. We only an incredibly short amount of time before World of Color, so I quickly ate my food and headed towards Paradise Bay.
I had always thought that it was difficult to see World of Color without a FastPass. I didn’t realize it was downright impossible. Seven minutes before the show was to start, I headed up to one of the entrances, where I was told that I’d need a FastPass to enter. Seeing the half-empty seating area, I assumed this was just for that entrance, so I went to another entrance, and was told the same thing. I inquired as to why, given the mostly empty seating area. The Cast Member told me he’d let me in after a few minutes if it seemed like it was still going to be empty. Someone said “here” and gave me a handful of FastPasses for the show. It was only 3 minutes until showtime, so I called Sarah, who told me to go in without here, that she was going to wander around. We planned on watching both shows, anyway, so this wasn’t a big deal. I suppose she had ‘gramin’ (that’s her “hip” term for using Instagram) to do.
I made it all the way to the front row, but there were people all along the waterfront, so I didn’t have a clear view to do any shooting. No big deal, I was content watching the show. This was the third time I had seen the show from the front row, and I think it got better each time.
After the show I met up with Sarah, and we began to race around the park taking pictures. There were surprisingly few subjects that would have been enhanced by the reflections on the front, so I mostly did regular shooting. This wasn’t such a bad thing, as the clouds were pretty cool. This was basically my one shot to get nighttime photos of the Disney California Adventure Christmas decorations for my Disneyland Christmas eBook, so we quickly moved around the park getting photos of the decorations. Luckily, there weren’t many decorations to photograph.
We headed back to Paradise Pier after doing this, and we heard an announcement concerning World of Color beginning shortly. I had no concept of time at this point, but based upon a later revelation and the time stamps in the EXIF data of my photos, it was definitely before the 10:15pm time World of Color was scheduled. I didn’t realize this at the time, though. I’m mostly oblivious to reality, so this should come as no surprise.
This time, Paradise Bay didn’t even have Cast Members standing at its entrances collecting FastPasses. As I took my spot in the front row and, literally, no one was within 40 feet of me on either side five minutes before the show, I could see why. Given this and the mass exodus from Disneyland earlier when it started to rain, I began to wonder if Southern Californians melt when it rains. Seriously, World of Color was playing to about a 10% full house. I have no concept of numbers (which helps explain the “I didn’t know if it was 9pm or 10:15pm” thing), but I’d hazard a guess that only around 100 people were in Paradise Bay for this show. As it started, the viewing area filled in a bit more, with a few people joining me (less than 20) in the front row, and almost all of the audience in the second row.
I was shocked at the lack of people, to say the least, but I was quite pleased. During the previous show, there was an audible response from the audience at the conclusion of the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides sequence. For whatever reason, the scene didn’t have that great of an impact on me the first day we saw it, but during the first show on this evening, it was spectacular. I paid even closer attention during the second show, and the scene was even more spectacular. I don’t know if Disney cranked up the fire and special effects, but it certainly seemed more jaw-dropping than the previous Pirates scene (which was quite impressive itself). Now I really wish I had the chance to see the Tron scene. If there’s one thing I like more than fire, it’s lasers, so I think the Tron scene would’ve been right up my alley.
Although I took thousands of photos during this show, I focused entirely on the show–mostly because the camera was doing its own thing shooting scenes for a time lapse. I already used some of these frames from the Prep & Landing opening for the Disneyland Christmas time lapse, but I shot the full show that way, so I should have that video up soon.
After World of Color, I assumed the park was closed. As I packed up my gear and walked towards Paradise Pier, I saw the Zephyr running. This made no sense. That show of World of Color started 15 minutes after park closing, meaning the park was really closed by this point. I didn’t question this at the time, but instead, set up for my shot. After waiting and waiting, I finally realized that it wasn’t running because no one was waiting to ride it. So I sent Sarah up there on a mission to make that Zephyr spin. She didn’t seem too enthusiastic at first, as it was a little chilly. I implored her to ride, though, for the sake of America.
After getting several shots of the spinning Zephyr, we headed on towards the back half of Paradise Pier to get some more shots. After grabbing only a few, we decided to leave. Granted, when we made this “decision” the park was closed, but it still was of our own volition. We could’ve stayed to take more photos. It just seemed like a better idea to head over to Disneyland.
When we arrived at Disneyland, we discovered the single greatest invention of all time. The Plaza Inn Yule Log. Sarah might tell the story differently, but I recall a glorious dessert bursting with flavor. It was quite fortunate that we inadvertently saved the Yule Log for the last night of our first Disneyland Christmas trip, or else we probably wouldn’t have sampled any other desserts!
The Yule Log from the Plaza Inn was easily the best dessert we sampled out of the many, many desserts we sampled during the trip. There are two varieties of this dessert, and which is sold depends upon when you visit. If you’re visiting in November, the Classic Yule log spice cake with pumpkin mousse is available, whereas in December the chocolate cake and chocolate hazelnut mousse is available. When I learned this, I almost booked a trip back in December just to sample the other variety.
The Yule Log is the stuff of legends at Disneyland, and for good reason. Not only is it delicious and beautifully crafted, but it’s reasonably priced relative to many smaller and pre-packaged desserts. If that doesn’t sway you, it was also highlighted as one of the top holiday desserts by Guy Fieri on the 2009 Food Network special, “Guy’s Disney Holiday.” Guy doesn’t just eat any crap-food he finds at random hole-in-the-wall dives. He has discerning taste. If he liked it, you know it must be excellent.
How does the Yule Log taste? Succinctly put, it is the culinary embodiment of “awesomeness.” It is wholly different than fruit cake; for some reason I thought the two were synonymous before I tasted this edible gem! It may come as no surprise for you to now learn that I am not a master-chef. Less succinctly put, the Yule Log is the perfect combination of sponge cake and cream, with rich pumpkin or chocolate mousse. None of the flavors overpowers or is too rich, meaning a single guest can easily conquer this entire largely-sized dessert.
After I gushed over it for a while as we were leaving the restaurant, I asked Sarah what she thought of it. She said, “it was okay.” At this point I stormed off, disowning her and sending her to Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters. I haven’t seen her again since.
We actually did split apart, but only because I wanted to take some photos. I grabbed a few in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle while she rode Astro Blasters before we met up again to ride Space Mountain. To give you an idea of how dead the parks were, at 10:30 pm (on a day that Disneyland closed at midnight) I was able to get the below photo without anyone in the frame. That would often be impossible at 12:30 am on a night that the park closes at midnight!
From there, we headed to Space Mountain, Matterhorn, Haunted Mansion Holiday, and “it’s a small world” holiday before ending the night back on Main Street USA.
I shot some more time lapse on Main Street. While the camera was doing its thing, I wandered around and absorbed the great feeling of Christmas in Disneyland (because aimlessly wandering around Disneyland while your camera is by itself is always a smart idea!). Main Street was a special place on a normal Christmas-season night, but with the wet pavement and few people around, it was all the more special.
After a bit of enjoying our surroundings and taking photos, we decided to call it a night. Despite the rain making us uncomfortable at times during the day, the payoff was totally worth it (Sarah disagrees–bah humbug to her). It made us appreciate the clear night even more, and the misery of rain-soaked clothing rewarded us with the beauty of rain-created reflections.