Sorry for the delay! I have been dealing with a lot at home, and just hadn’t any time to draft this up. Which is why I am using my lunch break to make this magic happen!
As much as we loved the bustling city and relaxing beach stops of our Southern California trip thus far, this part, Disneyland, was as special. We thoroughly enjoyed Disneyland (DL) just as we had hoped.
This was an extremely hot day! It was pretty humid and the heat index was off the charts.
We started by having a pretty big (delicious) breakfast at our hotel before walking over to the parks area. We entered the parks via South Harbor Blvd, which was the opposite side of where we went the night before to Downtown Disney. Being this close to the parks was fantastic. We all commented on how it felt like going to the Magic Kingdom (MK) from the Bay Lake Towers (BLT) at the Contemporary in Walt Disney World. Which is a resort we all enjoy staying due of the proximity to MK. *With the major differences here of being outside of the property and way more people walking along with you. The MK walk from BLT is literally like your own private entrance!
The walkway to the Disneyland Parks here had the most charming, manicured, square-cut trees. With Pixar Fest happening, there was that faint Pixar music that we heard at Downtown Disney being piped in, which I loved so much. Who doesn’t get amped up hearing The Incredible’s movie theme song early in the morning!? Your stride changes a bit, you seem to have a bounce in your step and a smile on your face. It’s pretty magical from that point on.
Since we planned one day per park, we realized this was going to be a challenge because of the amount of people slated to be at the park as they just reopened annual pass holders back from Summer. Also, DL’s fast pass system is the old school paper tickets, and being unfamiliar with the park (wanting to see more) was a big obstacle, but also we were fighting time.
If you have never been to DL, but have gone to WDW, the set up is basically similar to MK. Meaning they both have themed areas at almost in the same directions as one another; with three exceptions in DL. They have the following… Main Street, U.S.A., Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown, Frontierland, Critter Country, New Orleans Square and Adventureland. Knowing where these are at WDW, you know Main Street USA is where you enter down to the castle. The castle is the central point with Tomorrowland to its right, Fantasyland behind it, Frontierland and Adventureland to its left. Did I get that right? Yes, ok. So. Knowing generally where the rides we wanted to get on first were, and how the fastpass system worked, we planned to opt out of chasing down characters we had met before, or, rides that we had gone on at WDW IF we had to skip something for time.
There is a MAXPASS system in place at the parks. It’s $10 a person per day, which we didn’t get the first day, stupidly. We both thought it was $40 a person, for some reason. I am not sure what we were thinking, but we did get it on our next visit which was a HUGE help getting us on rides faster. The MAXPASS grants you access to book fastpass (FP) and to see/save photopass pictures through their app. The rule is you book one FP per person, you can’t get another electronically till that one is spent. Like at WDW, except you get three per person to book in advance to start.
Even with the FP set back, we did a lot. And since they had opened the gates that day for their annual pass holders return from the Summer off, the amount of crowds was manageable. There were a lot of people there.
We did a lot for what we had to deal with and time!!
The rides we got on:
- Snow White’s Scary Adventure*- I loved this when it was at WDW, it was the very first ride my husband had taken me on during my first visit. (Snow White is my favorite Princess of all time.) Naturally, we had to ride this first to show the kids. This ride makes its way through the Seven Dwarfs lives in the cottage and glimmering mines, the haunted forest, the Evil Queen’s room and exits to the happily ever after. I miss this ride a lot!
- Pinocchio’s Daring Journey*- This was a cute ride, similar to Snow White’s, with all its plot twists along Pinocchio’s story. I loved seeing Figaro everywhere, he is my favorite cat.
- Big Thunder Mountain- We all love this ride at WDW, and this one was very different but still the same. It wasn’t as jerky, which made it a little more enjoyable, and I felt like it was more daring with its drops and swoops. We definitely wished we lived closer to ride it more and more!
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride*- This was a first for me and the girls, my husband had ridden this at WDW as a kid. The ride moves along pretty quick, though, but we thought it was a lot of fun!
- Storybook Land Canal Boats*- This is the sweetest water ride to ever exist. It is a simple cruise down a canal overlooking all the homes of the storybook characters and some Disney ones from over the years. It was so well constructed, and adorable.
- Mad Tea Party (twice)- This is a ride also at WDW, but it is outdoors adorned with colorful lanterns above. So pretty at night! I noticed it wasn’t as big, not as many riders can get on at once, so the line took some time to get through. Overall, aesthetically we liked this location, but the short length of the ride and wait in line was a bummer.
- Indiana Jones Adventure*- So, we all loved this ride a whole bunch. It was super fun, thrilling and kinda creepy! Lots of twisty turns, bringing the action as close to you as possible. Lots of effects that surprised us all. I wish they create this at WDW… but make it a little less jerky, please.
- Jungle Cruise- This is a ride I have not gotten on in years, since my first visit in 2002 to be exact. Each time we have brought our kids it was either down or they didn’t care to go on it. This time, because it was so frackin hot and the line was at 15 minutes, we jumped on! So happy we did. The cruise takes you on an adventure with animatronic exotic animals and people along the way. I re-lived a lot of the funny jokes.
- Space Mountain (twice)- When I say ‘we’ rode this, I mean my husband and oldest daughter did. Our youngest would rather die than ride it again. ha They did say that it was different from at home, one loved it more and one loved it less.
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage*- This is a super cute ride, that is themed with the Pixar movie Nemo, but used to be 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea- Submarine Voyage ride, which I never got to ride. It is an underwater adventure where you go “deep” into the ocean for exploration, then it turns into a Nemo adventure looking for him all over again. Our kids really enjoyed it, looking at all the under sea ‘fish’. BUT…if you are claustrophobic, do not go on this ride. Like I don’t even have claustrophobia and I was feeling a little too uncomfortable for my taste. But to be fair, it wasn’t the whole time, just when we had a small leak that dripped on another guest in our submarine. My brain, apparently, was not having it. hahah
- Autopia-Take a ride in the coolest gas-powered cars! This is a racecar ride that most amusement parks have, but the cars at Disneyland were tres cool! We had a blast letting the girls each take the wheel, as we feared for our lives… we keep doing this to ourselves. To our surprise this time, they did great! In my car, with our youngest, we only slammed into the guard rails at the center like 50 times while she screamed and let go of the wheel but leaving her lead foot on the gas.
- Disneyland RR- After our non-stop running around, we decided to get to our next destination, dinner, by railway. This was actually totally fun, and different from WDW’s. The RR rides around the park, but also through tunnels of time. Cute.
- Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin*- We had to hustle to get here after dinner. Toontown closes early for the fireworks display, it was around 8:30PM this night. It was such a fun ride, sort of like Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, but bouncy and kookier. The girls loved it!
- it’s a small world- This begins outside in DL, which is great, and it definitely went longer than its sister location at WDW. There seemed to be more lands/countries and I appreciated them way more! I actually love looking at all the details of the cultures, clothing, and the DL version was just a touch better than at WDW because they peppered in some Disney characters. Hands down cute!
- Alice in Wonderland*- The ride takes you on the adventure of Alice in Wonderland in a giant caterpillar car. Immediately you are shrunken down to fit through the doors. You avoid chases by the Queen of Hearts and her staff of cards. And you end up at the Mad Tea Party. It’s really cute.
* Not at Walt Disney World
FYI- The Matterhorn and The Haunted Mansion, the two rides I was looking forward to most, were shut down.
We got to meet for the first time:
- Kylo Ren
- Darth Vader
We drank and snacked on:
- Dole Whip (No swirls at DL, folks!)
- Mickey Bars
- Mickey Shaped Ice Cream Sandwiches
- Frozen Lemonades
- Frozen Lemonades with Cherry
- Waters..like I think fifteen waters a piece! It was really hot.
Aside from all this, we did stop to have dinner. We had booked reservations for the Cafe Orleans in New Orleans Square. This was a nice area of the park, set up to look like New Orleans. If you have ever stayed at the Port Orleans Resort at WDW, which we had our first family trip- on the French quarter side, it had the same feels of that location. Very ornate and pretty.
Cafe Orleans was pretty fun.The aesthetics inside and out felt like we were somewhere else; we sat outside on the patio. The mint julep drink was so pretty AND super delicious! We ordered dinner at a snail’s pace because we found out that some of their items, like their fries, were fried ahead of time in my husband’s allergen. With a little maneuvering he got to order basically what he wanted. Just no fries. Which was a bummer, because those fries rocked! Hey, I felt bad the whole time I ate them with the kids in front of his face. 😛
The waitress refilled our glasses a lot, which we needed in the heat. Even though the kids were drinking Sprite and Coca Cola, which I don’t normally let them unless we go out or are away, I wasn’t caring at all. They needed the sugar and liquid to make the rest of the night. Did I mention enough how it was sweltering hot out there? I feel like I haven’t. Not nearly enough. The sun was shining bright and the sky had no cloud in sight. Perfect but the humidity was over the top ridiculous. I wore a sheer top that I was boiling in. And I can handle high temps. My kids were just sweating standing in the shade and every twenty minutes we finished a bottle of water running for another one. We even drank from the weird water bubblers around the park when we had no water bottles in sight. It was so hot! OHMYGOD, I forgot to mention, it was so hot that an older woman fainted in front of us waiting to get on Big Thunder Mountain! She was about to get on and just dropped. That is how hot it was!
Ok, back to dinner..in the heat. As the food arrived it felt like a scene from some eating contest. The plates were overflowing with food, holy portions! The kids and my husband ordered 2 monte cristos and a three cheese monte cristo to split up, and I got the nicoise salad..with fries. 🙂 Their meals were not sandwiches, they were like donuts! GINORMOUS SQUARISH & TRIANGULAR SHAPED DONUTS! It was obscene! I was pretty happy to see that none of them could put a dent in their dishes.
After dinner, we had to run on a few rides before the Pixar Fest ‘Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular’ Fireworks started. I put a list of all the rides above, basically, in order of how we got on them.
Once the night sky got real dark, the show started. We got to watch the show by the it’s a small world building. WOW! We were told they were pretty special there, and they weren’t kidding. What a view! We got to stand pretty close to the projections on the ride, and, there was a lot of space for people to sit on the ground! It floats through all the music and scenes of Pixar’s great movies. The best part for me, however, was Wall-E and Eve. It was magical and perfect with the fireworks.
We did all this and we still had time to take our time walking down Main Street USA to shop around… twice! I got the girls some birthday surprises, which they both celebrate their big days in September. We left the parks by walking back to the hotel. We were absolutely spent after all the running around and non-stop fun.
This was another great day! We all felt that Disneyland had a great magical feel. We fell asleep looking forward to our next big adventure…Disneyland’s California Adventure Park! YEE!!