Rain in Radiator Springs

Enjoying the rain come down in Radiator Springs from our cozy table in Flo’s V8 Cafe

Nice time at the parks in between rain and a really big storm, and despite starting exactly the way we hadn’t planned and proceeding exactly opposite to how we wanted to navigate the day:

1) Started at DCA, when Mark had really wanted to start at DL, but we changed the plan in favor of more indoor lunch possibilities at DCA (on account of the weather). Amy supported this, given the possibility of a light crowd and thus more opportunity for Radiator Racers and Toy Story.

2) Despite seeing longer lines to get into DCA and Amy suggesting we go with the flow and start at DL instead, Mark was now on board with the DCA plan and rationalized the longer lines as the park having just opened.

3) The Fastpass line for Radiator was almost as long as the line for the ride, and the return time was coinciding with our DL time, so we bailed and went straight to the ride. Turned out the wait was twice the Fastpass line—at 40 minutes—so we bailed on that, too, and headed to Screamin’ and Toy Story on the Boardwalk. As we crossed over the bridge, we both saw the dreaded stillness of Screamin’. It wasn’t just down temporarily, it was going to be down for a couple hours. Having passed Donald on the way to Screamin’, I asked Donald what he had done this time, that troublemaker, but of course nobody would say. We advanced to Toy Story knowing the Screamin’ outage was going to result in a crowd stockpile at Toy Story. Yup.

4) We had pushed a nice clip from the entrance to the farthest reach of the park, which was exactly how we didn’t want the day to start, and now all that was left was blaming each other for why we were now going to “cross the pond” back to DL, which is what we were going to do all along and which we specifically wanted to avoid. So Amy blamed Mark for not listening when she suggested we start at DL after all, regardless of the lunch situation; and Mark blamed Amy for not being forceful enough in communicating that.

Nevertheless, the walk was lovely. The light was still golden and sparkling off souvenir drops from the earlier rain, and we agreed to discuss our missteps at a later time. As we passed the Fastpass entry for Radiator Racers, we noticed the return time was now two hours later than it had been on our first go-round, and would fit in perfectly with where we wanted to be at the end of the day. So, things were working out after all. See? See?!

5) The instant we were on Main St., we accepted we’d be having lunch at Disneyland, which meant being exposed to the elements, as we sure weren’t going to try to make a reservation, much less wait for an indoor table. Then again, the “elements” had become quite amiable. See? See?! Everything was working out.

6) Indiana Jones had a 20-minute stand-by time so we got in the queue. In truth, we never get to enjoy the queue because we’re always speeding right through it. The Indy queue is one of Disneyland’s best queues, and we enjoyed taking our time through the line almost as much as we enjoyed the ride itself. We gained our entrance through the Future—the alluring mysterious spacey blue Future. We never get the Future! Usually, we get Youth, which neither of us has ever sought. Everything was working out.

Café Orleans Restaurant in New Orleans Square

7) As planned, we headed over to Cafe Orleans for lunch. They were taking reservations, but the wait time was about 15 minutes. We opted for the wait time and the pager and moseyed. Amy was just about to head off to a restroom when the pager went off (never fails). We were taken to a lovely corner table indoors! We laughed. Everything was working out.

And lunch was delicious. We shared a bowl of gumbo, which we brought up to our preferred level of heat with the addition of Tabasco, which is brought with the soup. We split the chicken sandwich and the salmon sandwich. Good quality and we left feeling good (Amy all the happier for leaving off the tops of the buns, which her waiter assured her would be given to a worthy bird.)

8) We ended our day, as planned, over in DCA. We got right on Tower of Terror and then got in our Radiator Racers, a tour de force of an attraction. On our way out, we saw no wait for Luigi’s Flying Tires so we went on in. We were the next to board, and as we waited, we observed a skinny dad and his 4-year-old boy literally flying around the arena. What was the secret, we mused, cuz we thought it had to do with having more weight to lean in one direction or another. No. In fact, weight had nothing to do with it. Turns out, one need only tilt in the desired direction and off you go. When it was our turn, we flew! Turns out, the rebounds are so much more fun when you have momentum. Doing badly is hysterical good fun; but doing well is a whole lot of fun!

Great note to end on as we headed over to The Grand Californian.

9) Got to the Hearthstone Lounge, and there was Carmen. Somehow we knew that wherever we ended up sitting, Carmen would be our server. We’ve been pretty frequent visitors to the Hearthstone Lounge, for more years than a few, and she never ever recognized us; even when Amy would say, “Nice to see you again, Carmen.” Even then. And she didn’t this time, either. She took our order and everything was very pleasant, just as always. We talked about the day, “Disney for Two,” and conjectured whether the flamboyant group of minglers was a convention or a motivational trip.

10) We were waiting for the card to come back so we could head over to Napa Rose, when the unexpected occurred: As Carmen placed the leather binder containing card and receipt in front of Mark, she leaned over and spoke softly and intimately, “It’s so nice to see such happy people. I see so many who just look so unhappy,” she confessed with an expression between scowl and scorn. “Just today, a little boy came in here and said, ‘I hate Winnie the Pooh!’” She put her hands to her cheeks and shook her head. “That’s so wrong,” she mouthed as she walked away and over to her next table.” We looked at each other like proud parents and grinned a little abashedly for realizing it: Carmen had seen us. She’d finally seen us.