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in the Park
Tips and ideas for the traveling family
|Adrienne Krock, editor|
|Flik's Fun Fair, A Mother's Review|
On a recent weekday afternoon, I ventured to Disney’s California Adventure with my sons Matthew (4 years old) and Spencer (17 months) to visit Flik’s Fun Fair during one of its "soft openings," in which the park's cast members tested out the attractions with guests and make adjustments before officially opening the land.
On first entering Flik’s Fun Fair, I immediately noticed the fantastic theming. Lush foliage fills the area. Straw-shaped light poles hold firefly lamps, while lower lights along walkways resemble pencils stuck in the ground. Thanks to large clover leaves around the land, there is plenty of shade and filtered sunlight. We found Flik’s Fun Fair comfortable on the warm afternoon of our visit.
Flik’s Fun Fair hosts four rides and one interactive fountain. The first ride we tried was Flik’s Flyers. Despite Matthew's observation that “it looks like the hot air balloon ride at Knott’s,” the Flik’s Flier’s ride vehicles are well-themed with food boxes for baskets. My favorite part was Flik's narration at the beginning, voiced by Dave Foley. Be sure to listen to Flik describe why ants need these flyers.
Matthew had to be coaxed to ride Flik’s Fliers, but younger Spencer had no reservations. Once on the ride, they both enjoyed it, although I thought the ride was pretty short. On the day of our visit, it was 15 seconds longer than it had been for cast member previews held earlier, making it as long as the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride in Disneyland.
Matthew made it his mission to ride Francis’ Ladybug Boogie next. Resembling tea cups, the ladybug vehicles rotate on two platforms. The transfer between the platforms was a bit rough. Unlike traditional tea cups, the ladybugs do not spin. The disc in the center of the vehicle functions only as a handle. Even without the spin however, both Matthew and Spencer enjoyed this ride, and our friend noted that Spencer giggled throughout his entire ride.
Next up we rode Tuck & Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies. A bumper-car attraction, this is the only ride in the area with a height restriction. Spencer sat out while Matthew and I climbed aboard a car, which we discovered talked to its passengers. Matthew enjoyed this ride, even though the T-bar restraints are very large, and he had to stretch across it to reach the steering wheel.
I found the bumper cars unbearably slow despite Disney increasing their speed after the cast member previews. My friend encouraged Matthew to ride the buggies again; fortunately, she volunteered to ride with him before I could express a look of displeasure.
Exhibiting marked patience for a 4-year-old who loves trains and A Bug's Life, Matthew finally got to ride Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train. We rode through Heimlich’s partially eaten snacks and enjoyed the smells of various treats, including Heimlich’s watermelon, which squirted at us.
Unfortunately, this ride is surprisingly short despite its clever theming. During the soft opening, the first train returned to the station before the second train unloaded, reloaded, and departed. Short or not, Matthew still liked this ride.
We entered Flik’s Fun Fair at 1:10, and by 1:45 we had experienced all the rides. Normally, I strongly dislike fountains but this day I had packed an extra set of clothes for Matthew and let him play. Princess Dot’s Puddle Park has several jumping fountains that many preschoolers enjoyed that afternoon.
Based on its previous experience with chlorinated water deteriorating the sponge-like flooring at Disneyland’s Cosmic Waves, Disney made sure Princess Dot’s Puddle Park sported a concrete floor. I was surprised that in the same land where the bumper cars run slowly for safety concerns, Disney built a concrete-floored fountain. While Matthew played, I watched several children collide and fall on the ground.
As a seasoned Disney visitor, observer, and mom, I have a few observations about Flik’s Fun Fair. Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train and Flik’s Flyers use plastic seatbelts. These were a bit difficult to tighten and loosen over my sons’ laps. On Flik’s Flyers, which rises high above the ground, there is one seatbelt across the entire bench. Although I made sure that Spencer remained seated on the bench, the seatbelt did little to hold him in place as it rested across my adult-sized lap.
Heimlich’s Chew-Chew Train uses two seatbelts per row, which gave me and Matthew our own belts. Cast members report that the train has separate seatbelts because Disney allows lap seating on this attraction, so one belt is sufficient for the lap sitter and an adult. This does not necessarily work well for three-member parties sharing one bench, which I saw on some other rows. On our first ride, the family in front of us put a child in the middle of the bench without a seatbelt and the cast member monitoring loading allowed him to ride.
Later in the day, we spotted a mother holding a baby on her lap. Not only was the baby not in her seatbelt, but the mom was lifting her high above the sides of the train. Despite the apparent attempts by Disney to increase ride safety, the planning and execution seem out of alignment.
As the author of the "Happiest Potties on Earth," one of the first things I noticed at Flik’s Fun Fair was the family restrooms between the men’s and women’s restrooms. Much to the embarrassment of my friend, I was initially giddy with excitement.
Each restroom has a urinal, a toilet, and a sink, and are ideal for families with potty-trained children who need to use the restroom together. Upon closer inspection, however, I discovered that the changing tables leave quite a bit to be desired.
Unlike the regular restrooms at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure that provide fixed changing tables with sturdy surfaces usually made of Corian, the family restrooms have plastic changing tables that fold down perpendicular from the wall. I find these changing tables to be precarious, especially when my 25-pound, squirming toddler needs changing. Even with two sons, I would gladly give up the urinal for a better changing table.
Like all other restrooms in Disney’s California Adventure, the toilet and urinal have automatic flush mechanisms. If your children are afraid of automatic flush, I suggest putting your hand over the light sensor to prevent the toilet or urinal from flushing while children are using them.
You can also take your child to the Baby Care Center, near the Tortilla Factory. The automatic flush toilet in the Baby Care Center is disabled. The toilet and changing tables there are in the same area so you can keep your children together, then visit the adult restroom near the front of the center if you need to.
Our family plans to revisit Flik’s Fun Fair because our children will demand it. Unless the bumper cars speed up, however, my husband and I will probably argue over whose turn it is to take the children on that ride. I am undecided about the future of our playtime in the Puddle Park. Before heading to Flik’s, we will make a proactive potty stop at the nearby Baby Care Center.
While Disney’s California Adventure rarely has heavy crowds to speak of, the true test for our family will come when we visit during a peak attendance weekend day.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Adrienne here.
Want to see more of the rides and area itself? Take a look at our concise photo tour of the land.
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