We continued with our mission to travel to all the Disney parks, which ended in California visiting both Disneyland and California Adventure! To end it where it all began felt right. Disneyland opened in 1955 and California Adventure (known as DCA to us Disney fanatics) opened in 2001. You cannot call yourself a Disney Theme Park Nerd without visiting these two parks. Steve and I spent three days at the two parks and plan on going back, again… and again.
Where We Stayed
We stayed in our trailer at the Anaheim RV Park. The trailer park was nothing special, we did have some green space, a pool, and laundry services. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite walking distance to the park and even if it were, it wouldn’t be through a great area. We ended up both driving our truck to the park and taking the Anaheim shuttle a few times ($6 for the day). It was neat that on our first night there we could see the fireworks from the comfort of our little home on wheels.
We did have Sparky with us. We decided to leave him at Petsmart in Orange, CA. He spent a few days and enjoyed it immensely. We were a little nervous considering his last experience with a doggie boarding in North Carolina, so it put us on ease immediately when he ran up to the handlers and kissed them. He had a good report card when we picked him up and was happily exhausted.
It won’t be a big surprise for our friends to hear, we ended up buying Annual Passes. Why? We did the math, if we make three separate visits to the park, it would pay for itself. At this point, we had a trip planned in March 2018 for our friend’s birthday. Can we fit another trip in our calendar within a year – Yes. We can (NOTE: Since we are a little behind on getting these blog posts out, we have already been back once!).
Three Magical Days
We split our time between both parks using our hopper. Disneyland Resort has a regular fastpass system, and maxpass. The maxpass allows us to book a fastpass using our phone every 90 minutes. The cost of maxpass is $75/year, or $10/day. Since we had just bought our annual pass, we decided to get the year maxpass – LOVED IT. If you want to get the most rides for your time spent – it is WORTH it. The ease of booking a fastpass for either park on our phone EVERY 90 minutes – YES! During our visit, Disneyland Resort was celebrating Halloween Time at both parks. The parks were decorated; there were special themed shows, food and rides. There was also a special event ticket for after park hour’s events, but at $115 extra, we skipped it. We still enjoyed the Halloween ambience, especially the fun food!
We also got to spend time with some AMAZING people! We arrived just in time to spend time with our friends, Albert, Maria, Michaela, Alfredo, and Kathy! Kathy had to leave early on our first day, but we spent the rest of the day with the crew. We rode rides, ate delicious foods… and maybe had a few drinks at our favorite drinking hole, The Cove Bar. I LOVED seeing them, and celebrating the good news we found out that day – Michaela and Alfredo will soon be parents!!
On our second day our friends Ryan, Brittney and Harper joined us. Harper was born just a few months after we left, so this was officially our first meeting of Harper! Let me tell you, she is even cuter in person than the photos I have seen (those curls!!!!). Not only that, she has the BEST personality – super chill, curious, spunky, and smart! Visiting Disneyland as adults is always fun, but there is something magical about seeing through the eyes of a child. If only it was socially acceptable for us to take naps in strollers too!
“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
— Walter E. Disney, July 17, 1955
Like I mentioned earlier, Disneyland first opened July 17, 1955 AND has entertained over 650 Million guests since opening! I can probably go on and on about my obsession, nerd facts and memories – but I will spare you my geek rant and recommend you visit the park, the Walt Disney museums and check out the many fan pages for more fun facts! I can’t stress enough however, how much this park really means to me. I have been coming here since I was a kid with my family, with girl scouts, with friends, and now my husband. Steve and I got engaged at Disneyland, and plan on making our own memories here for years to come!
With that said – let me break it down.
Attractions & Areas to Highlight:
Main Street, U.S.A. – This park entry is set to look like the turn of the 20th century Midwestern town. It is here that in the morning, upbeat music is played, and at night a more calming one. They even have smell jets in the walkway to entice you to buy some candy and ice cream! Shops, restaurants, streetcars, horse drawn carriages, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the cinema, the gallery and characters all happen in this area. It is also where you will see Walt Disney’s apartment, above the firehouse – they always leave a light on for him there.
Disneyland Railroad – The iconic Disneyland Railroad has been opened since park opening. It takes guests on a journey around the park, including going back into prehistoric times! With the construction of the new Star Wars land, “Galaxy’s Edge”, the tracks had some adjustment. The trains reopened just in time for our visit and we enjoyed making a LEFT turn on the train (this is a Disney first for any park). The train does close early, I think around 6 when we were there.
Adventureland – Meant to recreate a tropical, exotic place. Walt said “To create a land that would make this dream reality”, and, “we pictured ourselves far from civilization, in the remote jungles of Asia and Africa.” It is here you can grab a world famous Dole Whip, go on a jungle cruise, have an adventure with Indiana Jones, or climb trees with Tarzan at Tarzan’s Treehouse!
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – This attraction opened in 1963 and was the first to use Audio-Animatronics technology! When we were children, this was Moe’s (my sister) favorite attraction, resulting in us going again and again. What’s not to love – four friendly birds gather their friends to serenade us, in an air-conditioned building, and if we were good kids – with a dole whip in our possession. To this day, I still love this attraction. It is a nice “break” from the hustle and bustle of the Disneyland midways, and even though there have been some changes to the attraction, I still leave the building feeling giddy, silly and light as a bird’s feather.
The Jungle Cruise – Corny jokes, friendly faces, and animal animatronics – I am all in. I especially love riding this ride both in the day and at night.
Indiana Jones Adventure – This amazing ride opened in 1995, and is still a fan favorite today. There are many cool features – the interactive queue (if it is on), the moving walls, and ride safety technology. Hint, if you don’t want to ruin the special effects, don’t click on that link. The only bone I have to pick (get it? He is an archeologist), the ride is often down (presumably for mechanical reasons). We had to attempt to ride this 3 times before we got lucky.
New Orleans Square – Home of the famous Club 33, and two rides – this area is modeled after 19th Century New Orleans – coincidently, Walt Disney was an honorary citizen there.
Pirates of the Caribbean – This attraction opened in 1967, just 3 months after Walt Disney’s death. What was meant to be a walk through attraction became a boat attraction based on the popularity of It’s A Small World!” Since the movies inception in the early 2000s, movie characters are now being added into the ride. It is a great ride, with thrills and lots to see each time I ride. I know there are a lot of people who hate it when Disney changes their attractions, but I always enjoy seeing new items when I ride it.
Haunted Mansion – Because we were there for Halloween time, they had the “Haunted Mansion Holiday” theme out – which I LOVE! Jack Skeleton visits the mansion to deck the halls and celebrate Christmas with all 999 ghouls! I love this movie, and especially the music – making this a must ride.
Critter Country – This area opened in 1972, originally as Bear Country – with the headline attraction being Country Bear Jamboree (no longer there, but still at Magic Kingdom). There are cute shops, a restaurant, and three main rides: Splash Mountain, Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Once the new Stars Wars land, Galaxy’s Edge, opens – this area will connect to that.
Frontierland – Guests can travel back in time to explore the pioneer days of America. Our time here was short, as the Mark Twain Boat, Columbia and trips to the Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island were all closed (assuming for work related to Star War’s Galaxy’s Edge).
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – One of the wildest rides in the wilderness! We love this ride, and thanks to the new MaxPass, we rode it several times on our visit. Like other parks, the premise is the same – gold mining, cursed mountain, a terrible tragedy (earthquake in the Disneyland park), and possessed trains – GREAT ride!
Mickey’s Toontown – This area was inspired by the movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It is home to everyone’s favorite mouse, Mickey, as well as Minnie, Goofy, Donald Duck, and the chipmunks. Okay, so it is not my favorite area – even though I love Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, I would love to see it get a fresh makeover soon.
Fantasyland – Walt Disney said, “”What youngster has not dreamed of flying with Peter Pan over moonlit London, or tumbling into Alice’s nonsensical Wonderland? In Fantasyland, these classic stories of everyone’s youth have become realities for youngsters – of all ages – to participate in.” There are several must do attractions here for children, or children at heart – It’s a Small World, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (Steve’s favorite Fantasyland ride and exclusive to Disneyland), Peter Pan’s Flight, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Storybook Land Canal Boats, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Alice in Wonderland, Matterhorn Bobsleds, King Arthur Carrousel, Mad Tea Party, and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
Tomorrowland – This area has been remodeled several times, to be today’s “retro future” area. Although there are many attractions, there is still some dead space here – which leaves the desire for more. Regardless, it is still home to some amazing rides, shows and activities including: Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, Astro Orbiter, the Monorail, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Tomorrowland Speedway, Jedi Training Academy, and Star Wars Meet & Greets.
Space Mountain – Disneyland’s Space Mountain is my favorite version, and there is nothing that can change that. While we were visiting, it was in its Halloween version: Ghost Galaxy.
Believe it or not, we didn’t watch any nighttime shows, with the exception of Fireworks one night. The park was crowded and we ended up using the time to go on attractions rather than wait for shows. We wanted to check out Fantasmic (it was recently redone) but came to find out it only plays on weekends…. Ugh!
The shopping experience is similar at Disneyland to our recent experience at Walt Disney World. We (mostly me) love to shop along all the Main Street shops and our favorite pin store is in Frontierland.
When we travel to Disneyland Resort, we find ourselves mostly eating at California Adventure, but Ryan & Brittney introduced us to Rose Tavern, in Fantasyland. It is amusement part French cuisine, and was actually good! We have wanted to try the recently remodeled River Belle Terrace… there is always next time.
We ALWAYS have a great time at Disneyland. We have noticed a large increase in crowds over the last year, and anticipate it will only get worse with Galaxy’s Edge opening in 2019. Still, we are Disneyland fanatics, and won’t see us not returning once it opens.