I am so very excited to share highlights of our visits to Disneyland park. I can’t really tell you how many times we entered the park on our four day tickets because we did a lot of hopping back and forth so these pics were taken over the course of several days. Here are the things that were our favorites:
- Main Street – characters in 60th outfits, Mr. Lincoln, seeing Walt’s apartment, omnibus
- Tomorrowland – Hyperspace Mountain, Star Wars Launch Bay
- Fantasyland – Castle, Small World, Matterhorn, Nemo Submarine
- Adventureland – Dole Whips in Tiki Room, Indiana Jones
- Frontierland – Thunder Mountain
- New Orleans Square – Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean
- Critter Country – Splash Mountain
- Blue Bayou – fantastic atmosphere and great food
- Plaza Inn Minnie Breakfast – best character breakfast ever – food, characters, price
- Golden Horshoe – check times guide and arrive 20-30 minutes early; very brief show but good food and fun entertainment
- Jolly Holiday – everything we had was delicious
- Paint the Night – best parade I’ve ever seen – use dining package, arrive early
- Disneyland Forever – fantastic fireworks show
All four of us felt like it was a surreal moment walking up to the gates of the original Disneyland. The place that Walt himself created, where he walked the streets, greeted his guests and spent many a night overlooking Main Street. To be here during the 60th anniversary was such a treat, and we knew it was bound to be dazzling from the very moment we entered the turnstiles.
I always feel a little in awe on those first few steps coming into Magic Kingdom, but Disneyland kind of blew our park away with its beauty. The buntings and diamonds and all of the touches put in place for the 60th were truly dazzling.
We tried really hard to meet all of the characters in their 60th outfits over the course of our visits, but we never could seem to link up with Donald or Minnie. They were all so much fun, but it was Daisy that stole the show! I found the character interaction in Disneyland to be much better than in Disney World.
I’ve yet to ride the Omnibus on my coast, but we had the chance to do multiple turns here! It seemed to be out and available much more than I’ve ever seen in Florida. The top deck gives a wonderful vantage point of Main Street!
I was almost speechless at Sleeping Beauty Castle. It’s tiny in comparison to Cinderella Castle, but makes up for that ten fold in how dazzling it looked all dressed up for the 60th. It literally glittered in the sun!
As far as rides, well, we did nearly all of them. Some because we loved them in Florida, some because we had no clue what they were (and would never do again after trying once), and others because we had heard so much about them. We were able to hit many of our tops multiple times in spite of crazy crowds. A lot of our most favorites are in both Disneyland and Disney World, but none of them were exact duplicates so it was all new and exciting.
Our favorites were Matterhorn… (try it once and if everyone is good, do single rider for repeat rides)
Haunted Mansion… I even saw the Hatbox Ghost!!!!!!
Splash Mountain… (where my people ganged up on me and made me ride up front)
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage… (I loved this because it was so reminiscent of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The littles and Honey loved because they had never done anything like it!)
It’s a Small World… (it’s the original, y’all! Although I thought having the characters in there was a bit odd.)
And Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln… (Another original from the World’s Fair and the animatronic that started it all. I also loved seeing “the bench” again.)
Also on our “love” list were the Tiki Room, Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean. (That time our littlest wanted to go to kids club rather than the fireworks…)
On top of those, we really enjoyed many of the other attractions… (although we wouldn’t wait in a long line to ride again)
The Monorail… (that only takes you to Downtown Disney BUT we got to ride up front with the driver like I LOVED doing as a kid in Walt Disney World!!!)
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride… (again, so much fun because this was a favorite when I was little)
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey and Snow White’s Scary Adventure …
We somehow stumbled upon the princess greets and were the only person in the line so we went on in!
We also bumped into Cruella, who made the littles act like her puppies. hahaha!
We had a little time to kill before a fast pass and toured the Mark Twain. I’m so glad we did!! The band was fantastic and meeting Dr. Facilier for the first time was a LOT of fun. He was really put out that my ears didn’t have him on them.
A lot of time was spent in Tomorrowland with Hyperspace Mountain (imagine Space Mountain with a Star Wars theme… it was EPIC… and Star Wars Launch Bay).
In Star Wars Launch Bay, we had awesome and memorable interactions with Kylo Ren and Boba Fett. Let’s just say that the Dark Side won’t be inviting yours truly back. How was I to know that asking Boba to flex his muscles and trying to hug Kylo would be frowned upon?!
Now, y’all know we did our fair share of eating :-)
Every single item in Jolly Holiday was incredible!!!!!! Sandwiches, salads, soups, Matterhorn Macaroon and Mickey Macaroons were all delish!
The Dole Whip is just as delightful in Disneyland. There is a discouraging line on one side… so just pop into the Tiki Room, grab your Dole Whip from the queue inside of there and enjoy while you watch the show!!!
We had a wonderful sit down dinner at Blue Bayou!!! You really cannot beat the ambiance here. Our table was right on the water and we were truly transported to New Orleans. The Pirates of the Caribbean boats float by while you dine and lightening bugs light up the sky. The menu was limited (a lot of seafood) but we all enjoyed our meal immensely. This would be a must-do for Disneyland!
We also thoroughly enjoyed our counter serve lunch at The Golden Horseshoe. The food was very good and they do a fun little show reminiscent of Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue in our side of the world. I would definitely recommend checking the times guide, grabbing a table up front and sending one person in your party to order the food about 25 minutes before the show starts.
Another stand out was the Plaza Inn. We did the breakfast with Minnie and Friends and just could not believe how fantastic the food was, how many characters we got to see, and how much time every one spent with us! Honey and I were in stitches when Hook made the boys shine his shoes with napkins. LOL. The price was very fair compared to Walt Disney World. I’d also put this on a must-do list for Disneyland.
And, finally, another must-eat are the Mickey Beignets at Mint Julep. It’s a little hard to find, but worth it.
We spent two of our nights in awe of the Paint the Night parade. Imagine the beloved Main Street Electric Parade updated to the year 2015 with awesome music, current characters and just complete showmanship!!!! It was sensational and I might never stop singing “When can we do this again?…” A dear friend helped me secure reservations for all of our meals and was able to get us VIP seating for the parade as guests of Disneyland. EEKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!! I can never thank her enough for all that she did to add magic to our trip.
Sleeping Beauty Castle is just as stunning at night as during the day. The first night we were in the park it was too windy to do the Disneyland Forever fireworks show. We were so disappointed!!! BUT, our last night we were there they went off without a hitch. It was like the most wonderful grand finale to our trip! I was so in awe that I only took one picture during the fireworks… and when I looked at them later I couldn’t believe that the fireworks were in the shape of Mickey over the castle and Partner Statue.
I’ll be honest, it was super crowded (level 10), we spent tons of time staring at a map trying to figure out what end was up, we had to remaster the learning curve on paper Fastpasses, it was cold and windy, and I felt a little stressed trying to “get it all in”. But, we bought sweatshirts, Honey took over on the navigating/planning, and I took a real deep breath and reminded myself that I was here for the magic, to live in the moment, to walk in Walt’s footsteps, to soak it all in, and to make a 10-year old’s birthday wish come true. I know how to “do” Walt Disney World like the back of my hand. I know what we like and we can instantly decide the cost-benefit of waiting in any length of line for any ride in the park. I also had the pressure of this being a “once in a long-time” (notice I’m not calling it lifetime any more :-) ) trip and wanted to do it all. Once I let it go and Honey took over with his rational man brain, all was well and we made so many precious memories and had SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!!
Tips and Tricks:
- We didn’t plan on park hopping but the parks are literally a hop, skip and a jump away! We bounced back and fourth too many times to count. Get park hoppers for any length of stay!
- Use the Disneyland app for wait times. It was great!
- Brush up on your paper fast pass skills. It’s really a great system once you figure out / remember how to use it.
- Be in the park the minute it opens! Use extra magic hour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were in the park every.single.day by 7AM. We hit it hard until about 10AM when the crowds became almost unbearable. We usually had a fast pass around this time and then we’d head up to Town Square to meet characters and maybe ride one of the Main Street Vehicles.
- The characters are pretty easy to meet in Town Square if you find out from the cast members who will be out and when. It seemed like 3-4 came out at the same time so Honey and I each stood in a line and just had the littles run between us.
- It can be cold and was very windy. Dress in layers!
- Take the afternoon off to relax at the resort before coming back for dinner and nighttime shows.
- Make use of the dining packages with reserved seating for nighttime shows. People were lining the curbs THREE HOURS before Paint the Night. We had VIP seats one night and the second night we took our little pocket blanket and one of us sat there with a kid while the others rode a ride. Then we’d switch. We also ate a Jolly Holiday picnic dinner on our little blanket :-)
- Look for the special 60th PhotoPass stations. They are a lot of fun and also have animated movie clips!
Overall, both parks have so much to offer. Since SO many of y’all have asked, if my life depended on it and I HAD to pick a favorite, I’d pick Walt Disney World :-) It just inches ahead in my opinion, mostly because I am so comfortable there and I don’t have to fly my family clear across the country to visit. I think that Orlando manages a crowd much better, has much more to do, is logistically smoother with the Fast Pass Plus system and has really streamlined everything (room entry, park entry, fast passes, purchases, etc.) with the Magic Bands. I think that Anaheim is much better in the entertainment and dining – characters, food quality, service, parades and shows.
Happy 10th Birthday, John. Thanks for taking us all along for the ride!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We all look forward to being able to visit again one day!!