This week’s blog post will be a quick recap of our trip to the west coast and Disneyland. When I say ‘we,’ I’m referring to my wife (Lindsay) and myself (dork). This was our first time to California, so we had to visit Disneyland. Despite having been to Walt Disney World 20+ times, I was stoked about my first visit to ‘The Original Magic Kingdom’.
We flew in late on Monday (8/22) and went to Disneyland and DCA on Tuesday and Wednesday. We also had a surprise trip back to Disneyland on 8/29 (more below). We stayed at the Candy Cane Inn after reading several good reviews on TripAdvisor. I have zero complaints about the hotel. We enjoyed being able to walk to Disneyland (never done this at WDW). The breakfast was free and bus transportation was perfect.
Walking into Disneyland that morning was simply breathtaking. Seeing Walt’s work firsthand was incredibly exhilarating for me. As soon as we turned the corner on Main Street, my wife’s first comment was “Oh the castle is so cute… and small.” I had not realized how much smaller the castle was compared to Cinderella’s Castle. However, it was still gorgeous. I’m going to write this post similar to how my brain functions – in short, random bits of information. I also included a few low-res photos. So, here we go:
Space Mountain DL doesn’t really compare to Space Mountain WDW. It’s infinitely better. It was so smooth and the soundtrack makes a big difference. If you make it to DL, certainly don’t skip Space Mountain because “I’ve ridden it at Disney World.” No… no you haven’t.
Pirates and Buzz Lightyear were also much better at DL. I loved how Pirates was in “reverse order.” The order at DL actually made more sense to me. As for Buzz, the handheld laser guns on Buzz make all the difference. While I couldn’t break 100,000 on Buzz at DL and I easily hit 600,000+ at WDW, I still prefer DL.
New Orleans Square is amazing. I’d recommend eating lunch here, however if you can’t eat there, definitely just spend some time walking around. We ate at Cafe Orleans and it was de-flippin-licious.
Overall, I was disappointed in the Cast Members at DL. Seeing so many workers walking around the parks (no utilidors) certainly takes away from the Disney experience. I also overheard a Cast Member complaining about work and swearing while walking near Main Street. I’ve never heard this before at WDW. Overall, it just seemed the Cast Members at DL were simply working a job while at WDW where workers seem genuinely happy and motivated. My experience with DL Cast Members at Guest Relations and food service was much better. There were some shining moments that made me say “This reminds me of WDW.”
I was extremely disappointed with Tomorrowland at DL. The land feels crowded and cramped, even on a day when crowds were extremely light (crowds were 3-5 for the @TouringPlans peeps). I literally can’t imagine this area on Christmas Day. Also, without The Peoplemover, the land just doesn’t compare to WDW. Not even close.
The Matterhorn Bobsleds were closed for refurbishment during our trip. While this was disappointing, we knew this before our trip, unlike everyone else we ran into. We encountered one guy who said he hadn’t been to Disneyland in 25 years. When he was at the park 25 years ago, the Matterhorn was closed. He claimed that the Matterhorn was “the only thing I wanted to ride!” I just wanted to tap him on the shoulder and tell him to try researching his “once in a 25 year trip” next time. No big deal for us… we’ll get it next time.
Indiana Jones was my favorite ride of the entire trip. The theming of this ride was incredible! When you come into the main area of the ride with the massive skull… the fire… the bridge. Amazing! I literally forgot I was on an attraction and felt like the movie was literally happening around me. I have never had this feeling before. Loved it!
The Fireworks show ‘Magical‘ was awesome! This show is part of the ‘Soundsational’ summer series at DL so it was great to see it. The show certainly makes me yearn for something new at Magic Kingdom (even though I love Wishes).
Fantasmic! was 234,235,232 times better than WDW. We always skip F! at Disney Studios, however, we loved it at DL. We grabbed a chair at a nearby restaurant about 20 minutes before the show and had a great view. Even though it’s a similar show, it’s completely different (I hope that makes sense).
Disney’s California Adventure
When we first walked through the turnstiles, I have to admit I was disappointed. All I could see were construction walls. While I fully understand the need for construction and additions, I’d be lying if I didn’t say the excessive construction took away from the entry to DCA. However, I kept reminding myself “Keep moving forward.”
Our favorites at DCA: Monsters Inc., Little Mermaid, California Screamin’ (at night), TOT (at night), Paradise Pier (at night) and World of Color.
Monsters Inc. is without a dobut the most underrated ride at Disneyland/DCA. We walked on this ride several times. The immense detail in this ride makes it almost necessary to ride multiple times (6-7 times for us). Loved it.
We also rode the new Little Mermaid ride probably 6-7 times. Every time, we noticed something new. When this ride comes to WDW, expect long waits… this will be a new Peter Pan IMO.
Tower of Terror is slightly different at DCA. I won’t spoil it for those wanting to ride, but I was pleasantly surprised. I wouldn’t say I prefer it over the WDW version, but you must ride this thing at night.
Paradise Pier at night was just stunning. The feel of this part of the park is incomparable to any other feeling I have experienced in a Disney park. Just walking on the Pier at night is an attraction itself. While there, we enjoyed the Silly Symphony Swings and Mickey’s Fun Wheel. I rode California Screamin’ shortly before it closed for World of Color (8:30 p.m. when we were there). Riding it at night and looking at all the lights around the pier was one of the highlights of the trip.
Everything you have heard about World of Color is true. It’s the best show I’ve seen anywhere… period. This show alone is worth the trip to Disneyland and is like nothing else you will expereince in any other Disney park. The first time we saw the show, we were on the front row near the water. While this location offers a great view, we did get a little wet. If you’re at DCA on a cool night, stay back… the mist will get you. We did the picnic deal which includes fastpasses. While the food is nothing special, it’s worth it for the fastpasses. We picked up our food around 8:45 p.m., ate dinner while watching a little bit of the 9 p.m. show and went to our fastpass area around 9:45 p.m. for the 10:15 p.m. show. The only suggestion I have for WOC is to see it twice (if possible). It’s just that good.
This is a Disney blog, so I will VERY quickly sum-up the rest of our California trip. After two days at Disneyland, we drove north to Yosemite National Park, then to San Francisco, then drove down the coast along Highway 1 back to LA. We were in California for a full week. If you’re planning a trip to California, I highly recommend this route. We drove 1,300 miles but it never felt like it – and it was worth every minute!
SURPRISE! We’re going back to Disneyland!
So after driving down the coast on our last day, we arrived in Malibu around noon. We had tickets for the Jay Leno show that afternoon. However, I received an e-mail from my contact at Disneyland that she was able to get us tickets to Disneyland for one more day AND VIP WORLD OF COLOR SEATS. WHAT?! WOOT!
It’s pretty rare for adults to get a surprise trip to a Disney park. You see the commercials with kids getting the big “Disney surprise,” but this was our moment. We had a slow last day planned in LA before our early morning flight the next morning. However, after receiving the e-mail, we gladly said “WE’RE GOING (BACK) TO DISNEYLAND!”
The parks were extremely slow on 8/29 (TouringPlans rated 2). We went into Disneyland around 4 p.m. and rode Indiana Jones, Space Mountain, the Mark Twain Riverboat and walked through New Orleans Square one more time.
Then, we headed over to DCA for Monsters Inc., a ride on Heimlich’s Train and did It’s Tough To Be a Bug, Toy Story Mania and Little Mermaid a few more times before taking our seats for World of Color. We were lucky to get the VIP seats, but they were incredible! If you have the opportunity to take advantage of this perk, DO IT! It’s an unforgettable experience.
To wrap up, the trip was amazing. The surprise at the end might be one of the greatest moments I’ve had in my life. However, I now expect to end every vacation with World of Color. I guess that means we have to go back. 🙂