As I have mentioned before, I was recently at the Disneyland Resort Parks. In summary, as a trip report, it was incredible, and I experienced many events I had not previously, and I will touch on those soon. But today, I want to play a game!
From my friends Keith, Allen and Shawn at the Enchanted Tiki Talk Podcast, its the revival of the $40 A Disney Day Dining Challenge. Here is how we play: Unlike the Tiki Hut, anything goes. I entered the parks with one envelope and two $20 bills, and I was allowed to spend the money at either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure.
The caveats: I’ve brought two bottles of water into the park to keep me hydrated during the day (it was HOT the weekend I was there). I’ve also brought beef jerky, Cheese-its and jelly beans in three separate baggies. Also, as I stayed in a Good Neighbor Hotel the night before, I enjoyed a complementary continental breakfast to tide me over for a while.
In answer to the famous “what are doing first” question, I headed into Fantasyland and checked out the recently refurbished and well done Alice in Wonderland attraction. After this I headed back to Main Street USA to complete a tour on each of the four Main Street vehicles (Horse-Drawn Trolley, Omnibus, Fire Engine and Horseless Carriage). This took less than half an hour, leaving me time to enjoy a treat before meeting some friends at Downtown Disney.
Being thirsty, and also being curious of the work inside Main Street’s Market House since the Starbucks took over. As I expected, the building still has a great turn of the century feel to it, and the Starbucks logo is not displayed on every corner of the building. On the cups, yes but not the building itself. In my mind, another perfect blend of Disney and corporate sponsorship.
I started my meal shopping spree by being a big spender, going with a simple Grande (medium) Drip Coffee, which, after tax, put me back $3.01. Pet peeve…why can’t businesses alter their prices to avoid the $.01 issues. As a cash spender, its burdensome to receive 99 cents back (granted, I was able to use it later on in other purchases, but I digress).
Following a quick gathering of 30 or so friends for the official kickoff of Friends of the Magic 2014, it was off to Disney California Adventure and a harrowing ride on Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train(s), where we filled two complete vehicles. Yes; our group raised the wait time from 2 minutes to 5 minutes. Fear not, the wait time dropped again once we were done. Then I was off to Carsland for my very first time, and the experience was jaw dropping. It’s cliche, but it really does feel as though you are standing in the same Radiator Springs from the movies. All due respect to Epcot and my east coast friends, but Radiator Springs Racers puts the similar technology Test Track to shame.
At this point, I was due to host some friends back in Disneyland on the Sailing Ship Columbia, so I crossed the Esplanade again and reentered Main Street, heading to Frontierland. On the way I stopped at Red Wagon to grab corn dog lunch. Because of my water bottles I brought with me, I only needed a corn dog itself, which is served with a choice of apple slices or potato chips. Due to the heat of the day, I went with the apples instead of the thirst inducing chips. This crisply fried, easily portable meal only set me back $7.23 post tax, keeping my budget in tact.
Following the Columbia voyage, complete with no breeze during a hot day, our group headed to Fantasyland for a spin on the Tea Cups. I elected to bypass this spin and instead chose to have another treat, a Frozen Strawberry Lemonade from a mobile kiosk. This proved to be a mistake, as Disney ensures their ice cream products are rock hard. It took about ten minutes of standing in the sun before I was able to place my plastic spoon into the cup to enjoy the eventually refreshing $4.25 treat. For the reward, I had no cravings for the rest of the afternoon as we again rode Alice followed by Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin
Avast! As the day began to cool down, we broke into several smaller groups. Mine headed towards Pirates of the Caribbean for an air conditioned adventure, before heading towards dinner with The DisGeek Podcast. A new adventure for me, we ate at Rancho del Zocalo, located next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This was a fantastic discovery for me, and restaurant I will plan eating at again. The prices were quite reasonable for Disney standards and meal was quite filling. I selected the Carne Asade & Red Chile Enchilada Platter, which came with rice, beans and tortillas. As Rancho del Zocalo also offers free refills (!!!) I did splurge on a large soft drink as well. After tax, my total was $17.47. While nearly half my budget, it was a use of my funds.
After a long relaxing meal, we headed towards Fantasyland again to enjoy fireworks between It’s a Small World and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, which was of course followed up with a trip through the musical clock. then came another journey to the Rivers of America for the best of Disney’s nighttime shows, Fantasmic!. While this show is perfect on its’s on, there is one thing that makes it better: hot buttery popcorn. Mind you, my viewing spot was literally ten feet from the Frontierland Popcorn Cart, so I just could not resist. $4 to close out my Disney Dining Day.
Mind you, the day was not done. August 9 was the date of this challenge, and it also happened to be the 45th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion. Our group arranged to take the final Stretching Room down to the Doom Buggy to close the ride for the night. Upon conclusion, we found a full moon greeting us over the mansion, creating one final photo opportunity for the day.
How did the dining challenge turn out? Let’s summarize:
$4.04 remain! I could have had another popcorn, another soda, or even a churro if I wanted to. There’s another day to record, and this fund does not carry over. Look for that report coming soon.
I thank you for taking the time to read this today. I ask you would please leave comments. You may contact me directly on Twitter @, and you may also subscribe to be alerted by email when new postings are published. Quest for Vault Disney is now on Facebook. Please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/questforvaultdisney. Have a great rest of your day. See ya real soon…