In the past, I've enjoyed reading about some blogger's trips to Walt Disney World yet I've never really thought I should do a post like it too. Where I highlight my trip to Disneyland and talk about what I did there. And there are some pretty big differences between Walt Disney World and Disneyland which I gathered from reading other blogger's posts (as well as listening to a Disney podcast about it!) So hopefully with this post I can give a sense of what it's like to spend a day in the original Happiest Place on Earth.
---- Starting the Day ----
The first thing my family does when we get to the Parks, is go for these guys -
These are fastpasses that are distributed by a machine at the specific rides that lets people get into a shorter line if you come back at the specified time. It's super convenient, and very helpful, as long as you are willing to fast-walk your way through the parks picking up passes. We usually pick up a fastpass for a ride that is very popular/has a long line, and then get in line for a less popular or shorter wait ride. And at the moment, the most popular ride, I think, is Radiator Springs Racers in Carsland in Disney's California Adventure (abbreviation: DCA). It's kind of the best ride though, it's a combo of a classic dark ride through Radiator Springs, and then there's a race against another car of guests (but the winner is determined randomly I think). It's so much fun!
|A picture of the picture they take on the ride - We won! (I'm in the middle, front row)|
---- Mid-day Shenanigans ----
Usually in the morning, there are less people (although on this particular trip - it was really crowded, I guess because it was Labor Day) so we try to get to all the popular rides first thing, and save the middle of the day for taking a rest, seeing some shows, or wandering through some shops.
There are some things I really enjoy when I walk through the parks - seeing the different characters stationed around taking pictures and interacting with the guests, Sleeping Beauty castle (of course!), Frontierland and the Rivers of America always makes me happy too. I really love the old America aesthetic. I have a lot more fondness for Disneyland than DCA, but DCA does have some awesome rides.
Midday is also a great time to ride the rides that we don't usually make a point to go on while we are at the Parks - rides in Fantasyland, Toontown (which is on the outskirts of Disneyland, so it's a bit of a walk) and also a ride on the Disneyland Railroad (although we often end up on it at the end of the day when our feet are tired and we'd rather let the railroad take us around to the different lands).
|The Mark Twain Riverboat at the Rivers of America|
And important news everyone - in my last post on Disneyland, I mentioned that I wanted to take a picture with Flapper Minnie Mouse, but when I went to the Parks for my birthday I didn't see her at all! I had much better luck this time, and happened to see her in the afternoon - so I got in line! It's silly, but I was so happy to get this picture! Again, the character interactions are top notch at Disneyland - this Minnie was waving and blowing kisses and being so cute. I know it's kinda weird because there is a real person acting underneath there, and I never really forget that, but it's so nice to see kids really get into the interaction, and sometimes the adults too!
There are a few shows around the Parks, but the Broadway level production of Aladdin at DCA is a usual must-see for my family. It's a truncated version of the story, but in quality the show is top notch. There are special effects, wires and flying and fantastic singing. The real draw too is the Genie who steals the show with his updated and topical references and jokes. While Aladdin and Jasmine are great to watch, I really do keep coming back just to see what new things the Genie has come up with. It's kind of sad that this show, which has been running since 2003, is due to close in 2016 to make room for a new production - Frozen. I suppose it was inevitable.
|From second level - when Aladdin enters for the big Prince Ali number!|
---- Nighttime Magic ----
Night time is very nice at the Parks because it's cooler, sometimes the crowds lessen, and there's a new beauty to the Parks with all the lights. I have a favorite nighttime show too and it's called Fantasmic. It takes place on the Rivers of America and is basically a story of Mickey overcoming an attack on his imagination by some villains - including Maleficient and Ursula. There are fire and water effects and fireworks. I LOVE the part in the end when Mickey's imagination is triumphant, and he directs jets of water and fireworks like a conductor atop a building, and in a poof of smoke, disappears and appears on the ground and says "Some imagination, huh?" You guys, I legit tear up at the magicalness of it all. It's kind of embarrassing, but goodness. It's so well done!
The image below is when the Mark Twain Riverboat comes around for the finale with loads of characters on board dancing to the perfection that is the Fantasmic theme (I adore the music). And I love this part too. This show is just the best!
Usually we stay at the Parks until 11 pm or so - it's rare now that we can make it til the Midnight closing time, but it is nice when we do. There is a poignancy to leaving at the end of a long day and seeing everyone else tired but happy. And there is a closing ceremony that I enjoy seeing on the rare times I've been able to.
---- Ride Spotlight ----
These are the go-to rides for my family. It's what we always have to go on when we visit!
The Haunted Mansion, despite it's premise and the aura it cultivates, is anything but scary. It's so much fun to take a trip in the doom buggy through the different (very unkempt and gloomy) rooms of the mansion. This is a highly nostalgic ride for me - it's a classic and I just love pretending it's scary!
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a mine car roller coaster that is just fast enough to get the thrill of a coaster, but you can also take in the sights around you, and there are moments when you slow down a bit just so you can really take in the world-building of the ride (my book blogger mentality is showing.) It's the wildest ride in the wilderness.
Another heavily nostalgic ride, Pirates is a dark ride through Pirate-y scenes, with the only really exhilarating part the drop that occurs in the beginning. But the sheer size of the sets are impressive, and I love how so many parts of this ride are iconic.
This is probably my favorite roller coaster - it's not crazy with loops and steep drops which I don't really like - but it's a fun race into darkness with twinkling "stars" to light the way. If I could see how high up I am on this ride, I would probably be a little more nervous, but as it is, I am perfectly happy zooming around in near darkness. The ride music is also one of the best parts of the ride for me. It goes along with the everything so well.
Indiana Jones is so memorable to me because of how immersive it is. From the wait line, it perpetuates the idea that you are going to take a jeep through a newly discovered temple, and once you get on, things go terribly wrong as a curse has been enacted and we have to race to get out. I'm not a big fan of the Indiana Jones films (I do enjoy them, I just don't feel the need to re-watch them), but I love Indy helping us out in the ride.
At Disney's California Adventure
How could I not make a point to get on this ride every time I visit? This is a darkride through The Little Mermaid's story - it's pretty simple, but always lovely to experience the story and music. I also like the part where we dip down, ostensibly going "underwater" which is perpetuated by bubble projections and a rush of cool air. The air is always welcome in summer.
I feel like this is objectively the best ride at the Parks, just because it combines the magic of a dark ride immersion (with the part that goes through the main street of Radiator Springs), and then you get the thrill of a race on a track that curves and undulates. And it's nice to win the race too! Every aspect of this ride is wonderful.
If I had to pick a favorite ride though at the Parks, I would pick this one. Ride immersion is something I really enjoy - I like to pretend I'm somewhere else - the escapism of a "stay" at the Hollywood Tower Hotel where their elevators are a bit wonky is so fun to me. The elevator drops of course, and that is a huge thrill. I love feeling weightless, and hearing the screams (some my own) of all the people in the elevator car!
This ride is a bit different from all the others, because it's like a huge fair game where the car you are riding in moves around to different screens where you "shoot" at things for points. Also you're wearing 3D glasses, so the screen images pop out at you. I just go crazy shooting at everything. It's just so fun! Below I took a picture of the screen that shows the points at the end (I'm Player 1) from my recent trip. :) (Meh, who cares about accuracy!)
Visiting the Disneyland Resort can be very tiring, but ultimately it is so rewarding because you really can just play. It's a place to experience the nostalgia of youth, and feel your everyday worries melt away. I get the feeling that I'm far away from real life when I'm at the Parks which can be a beautiful thing!
Bonus picture of Mary Poppins taking a jolly stroll around the Park! (It was also 'Dapper Day' at the Parks on this particular day, so there were guests dressed in their 1940s/50s finest! One day I would like to participate in this!)