In Episode 23 of the Wandering But Not Lost Podcast, co-hosts Matt Emerson and Jan O’Brien are on location at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim to celebrate Jan’s birthday.  While there they discuss what will be new for summer, provide a few tips, review an attraction or two, bowl a few frames in Downtown Disney, and have a few pops! It’s a great day of wandering at The Happiest Place on Earth.

Wandering But Not Lost Matt Emerson Let the Celebration Begin Jan O'Brien



Thoughts, Tips, & Tidbits


Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Carthay CircleCarthay Circle Lounge

This is truly one of the best places in the park to get away from the hustle and bustle, beat the heat and settle in for a relaxing cocktail and great conversation.  A fantastic place to celebrate a birthday or simply because you are there on a day that ends with y!  The decor is warm, dark and inviting which puts you immediately at ease.  The bar and appetizer menu is well-designed.  We order the cheese board and enjoyed every delicious bite.  Touches of Walt are scattered throughout the building and the music is most definitely Disney, although it blends into the experience with subtle elegance.  As you can imagine, the lounge can be a popular place so walking in and finding a seat can be a challenge, however, early birds (like we were at 11:31 am) and times that avoid the lunch and dinner rush are your best bets.  If you have time though, queuing up for a while to get in just might be one of the best waits of the day.

Pixar Pier – Opening June 23, 2018!Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Pixar Pier

The classic California seaside boardwalk makes its third transformation since the park opened in 2001 as Pixar Pier.  The area will soon be rethemed into neighborhoods that will feature all of your Pixar Pals from The Incredibles, Toy Story, Inside Out, Wall-E, Bugland, and more.  Here are the highlights from the park’s website:

  • The Incredicoaster – hop aboard a thrilling coaster adventure with baby Jack-Jack!
  • Pixar Pal-A-Round – Soak up grand views of the park with a leisurely Ferris wheel spin.
  • Games of the Boardwalk – Test your skills at games inspired by A Bug’s LifeWALL·E and more.
  • Jessie’s Critter Carousel – In 2019, take a rootin’-tootin’ spin on one of Jessie’s critter pals.
  • Toy Story Midway Mania! – Take aim during a midway-style, 4D shootin’ game. NOW OPEN!
  • Lamplight Lounge – Indulge in a waterfront drink while surrounded by Pixar memorabilia.
  • Poultry Palace – Treat your taste buds to turkey legs and chicken drumsticks.Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats
  • Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats – Dig into the frost with snow-capped, lemony-yellow sweets. NOW OPEN!
  • Señor Buzz Churros – Savor a crispy treat, presented with chivalrous Spanish flair.
  • Angry Dogs – Feeling “hangry”? Try an outrageously tasty hot dog!
  • Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff – Later in summer, enjoy Bing Bong’s saltwater taffy “tears of sweets.”
  • Knick’s Knacks – Shop for goodies featuring many favorite Pixar films. NOW OPEN!

Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Disneyland Resort Mobile OrderingMobile Ordering

The Resort recently started beta-testing mobile ordering with annual pass holders via the Disneyland App.  The ordering process is user-friendly and there are a wide variety of locations that are apart of the test.  I was thrilled to hear of this because every so often I get a hankering for a bread bowl at the Pacific Wharf Cafe.  I don’t however, ever get a hankering to stand in that queue.  Our first try of this rollout was fantastic, easy, and convenient.  It looks like my bread bowl craving might not be thwarted in the future!  Here’s how easy it is:

  1. Go to “Order Food’ on the Disneyland App home screen
  2. Select your arrival window and location of choice
  3. Build your menu
  4. Once complete, select ‘View My Order’
  5. Confirm and then either ‘Modify Order’ of ‘Review Order Summary’
  6. Ensure your order is correct, select payment method (if you have not already added a credit card to your account you can easily do so here), scroll down and you’ll see an itemized list of the costs (your AP discount (typically 15%) is automatically included, then select ‘Purchase’
  7. Your purchase will be confirmed and you’ll be asked to contact the location when you arrive
  8. Once you notify the location that you are in the area, they will send you a message when your order is ready.  If you are at the location, they will most likely call your name when you for is up. Each location has a separate mobile pick-up area and as wandered the park the signage was easy to spot

During our visit, once I alerted the Pacific Wharf Cafe that I was there, they were calling my name within minutes.  To be fair, I did only order the bread bowl which is probably one of the easiest items to prepare so I would suspect that my extremely short wait was atypical, however, the process was easy and I could see by the other people who were waiting for their mobile orders that Disney has a hit on their hands with this one.

The Cadillac Range & A Beer TruckMatt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Cadillac Range

There may not be a better place in that park to get off your feet and take a little respite than the benches along the road outside of Flo’s Drive-In.  Here you get a fantastic view of the Cadillac Range, the Radiator Springs Racers speeding by, and an outstanding vista to people watch (I often find this far better than any parade that I’ve seen and I even catch myself humming the Electrical Parade music as the guests stroll by!).

Vista Point.  Disney sums it up best on their website – The towering Cadillac Range mountains serve as a majestic backdrop for Radiator Springs Racers. Car aficionados will notice that the 6 mountain peaks resemble the tail fins of classic Cadillac models from 1957 to 1962. The mountains are inspired by the iconic Cadillac Ranch public art installation created by Ant Farm. Cadillac Ranch is located along Route 66 near Amarillo, Texas.

To top off your ‘time-out’ make sure that you stop by the Karl Strauss Beer Truck in Pacific Wharf.  If you are an IPA fan, try their Aurora Hoppyalis – it is one of my favorites!   These local brews are the perfect addition to some rest and recuperation needed so you can make it to park closing.


Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Mission BreakoutGuardians of the Galaxy,  Mission: Breakout!

On May 27, 2017, Disney fans were faced with a dilemma.  Hold true to the beloved Twilight Zone; Tower of Terror or embrace the newly rethemed tower, Guardians of the Galaxy, Mission: Breakout!  The response was all over the map and it remains an ongoing argument on blogs across the web.  Truth be told, we were Tower of Terror fans.  The theming and story were solid and the attraction delivered thrills unlike most at the resort.  How could that be topped?  We’re in the camp that the answer to that question is simply, Mission: Breakout!

Although the structure and ride system is basically the same, the experience is completely different, this wasn’t a cheap overlay of the Tower of Terror, it was Extreme Makeover – Disney Edition.  The lobby of the Tower Hotel was converted into the Tivan Collection with artifacts from around the galaxy displayed – including the Guardians themselves.  From there you enter the Collectors office you meet Rocket Racoon who walks you through his plan to break out his friends.  The Rocket audio-animatronic is top shelf and really ups this experience.  Once on the gantry lift Rocket once again takes control, plugs in Starlord’s walkman and you are off on a wild ride full of plenty of airtime, music, and fun.  The attraction offers up a variety of ride sequences, which allows you to experience different lifts and drops along with 6 different audio tracks:

  • “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar
  • “Give Up The Funk” by Parliament
  • “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf
  • “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5
  • “Free Ride” by The Edgar Winter Group
  • “Burning Love” by Elvis Presley

It is an awesome addition to the attraction line-up at the park and will be a great anchor for the upcoming Marvel Land that will be premiering in 2020 (ish).  Mission: Breakout! has Max Pass so open that app the minute you get through the turnstiles and select your passes.

SplitsvilleMatt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Splitsville

If bowling is up your alley (see what I did there), then Downtown Disney’s Splitsville is the place for you.  Known for their semi-private bowling with small groups of 4-lanes through the building, energetic and fun environment, formidable food & cocktail menu, and sushi.  That’s right, bowling alley sushi, surprisingly delicious, bowling alley sushi.

The place can be packed, however, during our Monday night visit we were able to get a lane with no wait.  First, one of the staff members brings over a bag of shoes.  Just pick your size and then find the perfect weighted ball. The scoring is automated so all you have to do now is play.   There is a wait staff attendant dedicated to your lanes and the service is fantastic. Your time is by the hour not the number of games and if there isn’t a party waiting for a lane you can extend your time – just talk to your attendant.

We had a great time, bowled our hearts out and were sore the next day because of it!


Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Hearthstone LoungeThe Hearthstone Lounge

Adjacent to the magnificent lobby of the arts and crafts inspired Disney Grand Californian hotel is the Hearthstone Lounge.  It is another fantastic place to take a break during your visit at any time of day.  The fireplace nook is small and usually taken, however, it is a great spot if you can snag it.  If you aren’t able to get fireside, no fear, the remaining options are every bit as inviting.  The staff is attentive and the menu options are tasty.  Hidden Mickeys abound on all Disney properties and the Hearthstone Lounge is no exception – although here I suppose they are more a part of the decor rather than being hidden!  If the lounge is full, you can take your drink out to the main lobby and enjoy that massive space or grab a spot near the huge fireplace located there.





When Can We Do This Again?

Pixar Pier

Guardians of the Galaxy

Carthay Circle Lounge



Hearthstone Lounge

Pacific Wharf Cafe

 Mentioned in the Episode (Resources & Links)



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