Peanut Adventures, Issue 7 (Disneyland Part 1)
*Look for more posts in the coming weeks regarding my overall thoughts and feelings on Disneyland and comparisons with WDW, for now, these will just be trip diaries.*
Unless you count trips to visit family in St. Louis, we have not had a single vacation together as a family. Not one. For years we've been trying to plan a trip to Disneyland, but things kept happening to get in the way (like a very expensive surprise trip to the vet). At last we were able to get our trip on the books for October with our good friend, Mellie.
The flight to LAX was double Daphne's longest previous plane ride. I found a DVD player that recharges with USB (so I could use cell phone bricks to keep it powered), but it ended up being unnecessary. We flew Delta, and they had an extensive video library. D was happily ensconced in Wonder Woman before we'd even left the gate.
BY THE WAY- we brought our stroller with us, checking it at the gate. I 100% do not regret this decision. Although Disneyland's rental strollers are WAY nicer than WDW's, it was very easy to get around with ours, and it saved us some money in the long run.
For all the horrible things I'd heard about LAX, we got our luggage and were outside waiting for our shuttle within 30 minutes of landing (although we did have to wait a while for a gate after touchdown, but not that bad). We used Super Shuttle to get to our hotel in Anaheim. I invested in an inflatable booster for D. It inflates in seconds, and the straps can be arranged in less than a minute. When deflated, it's somewhere between the size of a small baguette and a loaf of bread. I'd heard earlier in the week that the smoke from the local wildfires was brutal. Indeed, the drive from the airport to Anaheim was pretty smoggy looking.
Thanks to Mellie's job, we were able to stay in a 3 bedroom timeshare, the Wyndham Dolphin's Cove (less than a mile from Disneyland). We arrived so early the room wasn't ready, so we opted to grab tickets for the ART bus system on a multi-day pass. Originally we'd been debating using Uber, but with a 5 day unlimited ticket being under $30, this seemed smart. On the corner of our hotel's street, there was a stop that would take us directly to the Disneyland main gate. We hopped on the bus and went up to Downtown Disney to kill time (and eat food).
It felt like the entirety of Downtown Disney could fit into the Marketplace area of Disney Springs, but that could be said of the entirety of Disneyland: it's basically a compacted version of WDW.
We had a very tasty lunch (that was more like dinner for us) at UVA bar. You know what everybody is really into out in Anaheim? Garlic fries: sprinkled with minced garlic, parsley, and cheese.
We got back to the hotel and checked in maybe 3pm. The hubby and Mellie went to Target to pick up supplies (we had a full kitchen!), and I got us unpacked. Our room had a TV IN EVERY ROOM (halleloooooyer). Food delivery services ended up being our best friends, and our first night we got a local mexican place delivered. Around 5pm. And it was a struggle to stay up even that late for D. She crashed hard, and the rest of us weren't far behind.
D was up at 3:30 am, pretty consistent with when she'd wake up back home. I didn't even try to get her to sleep more, since that day (Saturday) was our Extra Magic Hour at Disneyland (which comes free with a 3-day park hopper). That meant the park would open to us at 7am.
The weather in Anaheim was flummoxing compared to what we were used to: we needed jackets in the morning, tank tops by midday. What even?? We also popped for MaxPass on all of our tickets. This allowed us to use the Disneyland App to make FastPasses once we were inside the parks, as well as giving us access to all our photopass photos. We were some of the first people through the turnstiles at 7am, and after grabbing FastPasses for the Indiana Jones ride around 8:30 am, we hoofed it up Main Street (half the size of ours), through the castle (half the size, maybe less), and straight to Fantasyland to knock out the old school dark rides that didn't offer Fastpass. At first, we hopped into a line that was forming, until we realized it was for Peter Pan's Flight, which we'd heard was so similar to ours it wasn't worth bothering. So instead we walked on to Mr Toad's Wild Ride (although I myself have never been to Disneyland, I remember a lot of these rides from my childhood visits to WDW). D thought it was strange (it is).
The only line in Fantasyland continued to be Peter Pan, so onward to Snow White's Scary Adventures (not as scary as I'd remembered, D didn't seem bothered either).
Our next stop was around the corner: Alice In Wonderland. In addition to the teacups ride, DL has a dark ride, and it had come highly recommended.
So we hopped on a caterpillar and took it for a spin.
I am SO BUMMED that we don't have this ride at WDW. It's such a fantastic combination of old school Fantasyland rides with some newer technology thrown in. Just fantastic from start to finish, and it was voted a favorite by all of us.
40 minutes into our day, the park isn't even open, and we've already knocked out most of Fantasyland. WE ARE PROFESSIONALS, Y'ALL. Even though I'd generally rather throw myself into traffic than go on It's a Small World, I'd heard the one at DL was very different and more fun, so we gave it a fair shot.
One of my favorite aspects of this trip was how tuned in Daphne was to pointing out the small differences in the things our parks shared. Small World loads outdoors, and most of the rooms had dolls from favorite Disney movies integrated into the appropriate country. So instead of focusing on the droning melody, we had fun trying to find the characters throughout the ride. It was definitely the most bearable trip I've ever had on the ride.
With still a little time left before our FastPasses, we checked out the Storybookland boat ride. D got to sit up front.
It was finally time for us to check out the Indiana Jones ride in Adventureland. It's basically the same ride as Dinosaur. Which was why I never bothered to check the height requirement.
Turns out, it's 46". D was an inch too short. Turns out she was relieved, since she had decided she was terrified of the ride. It was just as well. We took turns riding it with ride swap (and I am 100% on board with turning the Dinosaur ride into Indiana Jones please), and it was definitely a little intense. But also a total winner. As soon as we got to IJ, I was able to grab our next FastPass for Haunted Mansion.
At DL they have a Nightmare Before Christmas Overlay through Halloween and Christmas. Y'all.... Y'ALL!!!!
This MIGHT be my #1 pick at Disneyland. The ride itself is fantastic, but the Nightmare Before Christmas theming is just so next level. SO well done. D really liked it, too. She squealed every time she saw Zero.
We were hungry, so we took a stroll through New Orleans Square (they have this instead of Liberty Square. I'm jealous) in search of the famous Mickey Beignets. We found regular and special Orange Dreamsicle flavored ones. They were all fantastic.
The crowds were picking up, so we started exploring the park. We stumbled on their version of Winnie the Pooh. It wasn't on our to do list, but it had no line.
All these outdoor load-ins!! You could never get away with this at WDW with how much it rains here.
We found ourselves back in Fantasyland which was MUCH more crowded, so we hung a left to visit ToonTown.
We might as well have called it Daphne Mecca. Honestly, she was in Hog Heaven. She didn't even care that the Roger Rabbit ride was down, she could have just wandered around in there literally all day if we'd let her.
On the way to lunch, we let Daphne do a DL exclusive offering: the castle walk through. There are storytelling vignettes for Sleeping Beauty as you climb through the castle. This was also one of D's absolute favorite picks from our trip.
Our one and only dining reservation for our whole trip was for lunch Saturday at Cafe Orleans. No character dining, just food. I'd heard that DL's food was superior to WDW. This was not an exaggeration.
I had shrimp and grits that were on par with the best shrimp and grits I've ever had at the most gourmet restaurants, and this was just one of the basic table service restaurants at DL. D got a plate of shrimp and rice and then stole a bunch of mine, too. And the service was INCREDIBLY speedy and attentive, too. Cafe Orleans gets a huge stamp of approval from all of us.
We hauled butt across the park to catch their stage show: Mickey and the Magical Map. It wasn't overhyped. All the performers sang live. Some of my favorite movies were represented (Tangled, Mulan, Princess and the Frog, Lilo & Stitch). We all loved it.
We still had a little time to kill before the daytime parade, so we rode Matterhorn with a FastPass (it's a rougher hybrid of space mountain and Everest. None of us were particularly fond of it.)
We grabbed a spot for Mickey's Soundsational Parade in Town Square. Mellie treated D to her first ever ice cream cone while we waited (she's had ice cream, but never a cone).
There was a lot that I liked about Soundsational. It features a lot of characters that are missing from our parade (again, Tiana gets her proper feature, having a whole unit dedicated to her). And Mary Poppins has a fantastic unit and chimney sweep dancers, too. Love.
We went back to Toon Town to ride Roger Rabbit with a FastPass (it was cute... sort of in the same vein as Winnie the Pooh, but with a car you can spin as you go. Daphne loved it.) D got to explore more of Toontown, too. She was ready to move into Minnie's house. Or chip n dale's.
Sure, it was probably only 5pm. But we were all DEAD. And the park was PACKED. So we called it a day. Daphne conked out as soon as she got out of the shower (after eating some easy mac I'd packed, brilliant move on my part). We got food delivered and were tucked into bed by 8pm again. At this point it didn't seem worth trying to bother getting used to the time change, clearly.
Part II next week: Disney California Adventure!