Disneyland: A Disney Fan’s Ultimate Pilgrimage Part 2

So long for now California Adventure! We will see you again (really) soon! For now, it’s on to Disneyland! 

Can I just say how much I love that it’s super easy to park hop at Disneyland? You don’t have to consult bus schedules or travel time – you literally walk across the courtyard and you are there. It’s really similar to Disneyland Paris. Or I should say, Disneyland Paris is really similar to Disneyland ūüėä

Check out this train station! 

  

This is it! 

After breezing through the turnstiles I had to have a mini photo shoot with this iconic building. I may have been more excited to see the train station than the castle. I don’t even know… I was just in Disneland bliss! 

  
  
We’re walking right down the middle of Main Street USA! 

  
So first order of business? Getting ACTUAL paper fast passes! We were headed to Tomorrowland to grab Space Mountain FP’s and then it was time for my first actual ride at Disneyland! 

  
It ended up being Astro Blasters with Buzz Lightyear! Kind of a strange choice, but it was better than my choice for first attraction at Disneyland Paris (Backlot Tour?!?). But it was one made of opportunity since we were there and the line was short! 

  
Everyone said how much better this one was when compared to the Magic Kingdom’s, and I have to agree! I love that you can pick up the blasters and move them around.  I have to say my score was nothing to be proud of, but I sure had fun! I also like that you can email your ride photo to yourself free of charge after you get off the ride. It’s not the best quality photo but still the free souvenir is appreciated! 

After fighting Emperor Zurg we went over to the Finding Nemo subs. The line was posted as a twenty minute wait so we decided to jump in line as I’d heard the line can get pretty long. 

  
Again, this ride was so much fun! Definitely not one for the claustrophobic guest but it was an entertaining visit to the Great Barrier Reef with Nemo and his friends. 

Once we exited the subs we were hit with a wall of people. Something I noticed about Disneyland in general was how congested the walkways could feel, especially in the Tomorrowland area. I think because Disneyland was built during a quainter time it’s almost like the park doesn’t know where to put all of its guests. But the funny thing is that I never waited for any attraction longer than half an hour on a Sunday, the week after Easter. At Disney World you can wait much longer than that during peak times. I’m not sure if this is a side effect of Disneyland being a locals park? Its visitors are probably not strictly there for the attraction count, whereas at Disney World its guests may need to be constantly hitting attractions to feel like they are spending their time and money wisely. 

Next we crossed over the hub and stumbled upon Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and the Partners statue! 

  
Now I know there’s a constant running debate about Cinderella’s Castle vs. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle but honestly I can’t even compare them. They were both built in different times with different ideals and goals in mind. I love how Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is so pretty and pink and iconic! And now it’s so sparkly getting ready for its 60th! That’s the drawbridge that Walt walked across guys! 

  

  
Ok, just walking the other way…

So we moved along from the pretty hub and castle and ventured into Adventureland! Time to go visit Dr. Jones! 

 
We got up to the line and there is a sign saying to ask the Cast Member about single rider, so we did that and she handed us some cards and then pointed us to the stand by line. Wrong. Apparently when you do single rider you get in the Fast Pass line, or so it was explained to us by another Cast Member. So I’m not sure if the first CM was new, but lesson learned for next time. So we didn’t save any time here but that’s ok, because I had fun checking out the queue anyways. 

This was a really fun ride as well. I knew going onto this attraction that the track and ride system were the same as Dinosaur in Animal Kingdom, just this one was themed to Indiana Jones. I loved the Indy theme and the story line but I have to admit I missed the Dino at the end! It kind of makes it seem like something is missing without a Carnatorous roaring in your face! Although I admit that would be more than a little out of place here… But I loved going across the bridge and the boulder coming down towards you at the end! I was hoping to make it back on this one again before leaving but for now we had other places to be! Like Bengal Barbecue! 

  
I had the Bengal Beef Skewer and a lemonade, and they both were very tasty and just what was needed for a quick snack. 

We were doing pretty well so far and thought that since we were over on this side of the park we should go see what the line for Haunted Mansion looked like. This was one of the attractions I was most looking forward to since it’s a Disney classic. I think the half hour wait was maybe the longest line we waited in. 

  

  
I loved the loading area for this one, but I wasn’t a big fan of the dump from the stretching room to the load area. It was such a mess of people and everyone was shoving and pushing one member of their party up so that they could trail along behind them. It just was so frustrating. I think because at World the line is much more narrow when you leave the stretching room it almost forces people to get into a line earlier on. I don’t know – I’m not a theme park designer – just something I noticed. But the load area was themed so well and we had some fun Cast Members here too! 

After Mansion it was time to head back to Tomorrowland to use those Space Mountain Fast Passes! 

  
Again, I loved the music on this ride and I was so excited when I found that it was on the official Disneyland album. The music definitely adds another element to the attraction, but I can’t say it is better than Magic Kingdom’s. Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but MK’s Space Mountain was where I first learned as a kid that I LOVED roller coasters. Hey, I never said I was unbiased… 

Time to cross the park again for some more paper fast passes!

  
  
While we waited for our fast passes to be active it was time for more snacks and refreshments. We were off to the French Market for Mint Juleps and Mickey beignets! 

  
Mmmmm! So refreshing and delicious! There was also a fantastic jazz band playing here which added to the whole theme and atmosphere. I love the amount of live entertainment you can find throughout the park. The talent you can encounter between Disneyland and California Adventure really is impressive. 

But for now it was time for a break consisting of Mint Juleps, beignets, and jazz music in the shade. We still had a full afternoon and night of more Disney fun!!

  

Disneyland: A Disney fan’s ultimate pilgrimage¬†

If you call yourself a Disney fan or even just a theme park fan the line ultimately stops at one place: Disneyland. We all know the now famous story of how Walt felt there ought to be a place where adults could have fun as well as the children. Where a family could have experiences together, rather than leave the adults as passive bystanders constantly checking their watches. Thus, the modern day theme park was born. For those of us who count ourselves amongst the Disney faithful, visiting Disneyland is almost like making a pilgrimage to where it all began. Here Walt walked, and planned, and innovated, and lived. He saw these same buildings and rode these same rides. He pain stakingly designed each detail and combed these streets improving and “plussing”. For me, making my first trip out to Disneyland was more about experiencing the atmosphere and the history, and less about the attraction count. But don’t worry, we hit our attraction count still ran pretty high!

We left Hollywood around 6:45 am with a goal of being there around 7:45. As luck would have it we didn’t hit any of that famous Southern California traffic and reached the Anabella Inn right on schedule. Check in was really quick and since our room wasn’t ready we left our bags at the bellhop stand. The guy who took our bags was being super helpful and gave us a tip to cut through the Grand Californian lobby to get to California Adventure, which we had said would be our first stop of the day.  Well, I still think he was trying to be helpful but come to find out you can’t use that entrance if you aren’t a hotel guest. Ok, first rookie mistake of the day. At least we got to see the beautiful lobby! I definitely would like to stay here on a future trip! 

So we continued on our adventure towards the next entrance which lets out in Downtown Disney. I have to say that the area that immediately surrounds Disneyland seems to be very well taken care of. I had heard stories about how the surrounding area of Anaheim detracts from the Disney magic and I really didn’t find this to be the case at all. Around the hotels and the parks the side walks are wide and well taken care of, well lit, and have nice landscaping. So where some people thought I would be disappointed, I actually was pretty impressed!

Soon we could hear the lovely background music being piped throughout Downtown Disney and I could say I was finally back in that lovely Disney bubble! All cares drifted away! All stresses evaporated! I was five years old and I was going to Disneyland for the very first time! 

But not without a quick stop at Starbucks along the way…

Caramel frappaccino in hand NOW we are ready to take on California Adventure! (I admit I did sneak a peak to my left and litterally did gasp when I saw that famous train station peaking through the gates of Disneyland!) 

We had bought our tickets through a friend who works for Sony and so we had to trade in our paper print outs for legitimate Disneyland tickets. 

  

Through the gates we had one destination on our minds – Cars Land! Ok, so for those of you that do have the luxury of time I would recommend that you don’t let the excitement get to you and actually walk slowly down Buena Vista Street so you can take in the details. I think the combination of finally being here and the fact that we were headed in the same direction as the rest of park (I kept picturing the wait time for Radiator Springs rapidly getting longer)  meant that we were speed walking down this beautiful street. We did have time later to check everything out but my first introduction to this park is an admitted blur. 
Soon we were hanging a left and walking right down Route 66 itself! What a great area! The details are incorporated everywhere! And the rock work at the end of the street is literally breathtaking. You really buy into the fact that Ornament Valley is right there. 

  

But now it was time to take a ride on Radiator Springs Racers! I have spent every day since this attraction opened avoiding any on ride video and pictures so that I can experience it completely brand new. I kept hearing about how this attraction was Disney Imagineering at it’s finest and I was ready to be blown away. 

  

We jumped in the single rider line since it was showing only a 15 minute wait and we were soon winding our way through the meandering queue. I’m not sure I would like standing out here on a hot summer day! Of course as luck would have it the ride broke down as soon as we were at the front. No one seemed to be getting out of line though so we decided to wait it out and we were rewarded after only about 10 minutes. We were on our way! 

I have to say I love the music to this ride and I think it did live up to the hype. I won’t say anything more in case there are a handful of people left out there who have not yet been on this and don’t want it spoiled! And for inquiring minds – we won the race! 

We decided we would hold off on the rest of Cars Land until later that night and instead we made our way over to Paradise Pier to check out California Screamin’. 

  

Only about 15 minutes passed before we were getting on and ready for a wild ride. This is such a fun coaster! Again, I loved the music on this attraction! The ride is such a nostalgic throwback to the colossal white wooden coaster of old school beach side holidays, while still throwing in some modern thrills. I was excited to come back to this area later that night to witness the wonderful spectacle that is World of Color. For now it was on to the Tower of Terror looming in the distance!

  
This one had a posted wait of 35 minutes but I don’t think I waited much more than 20. It’s definitely different than the Disney World version and I’m glad I did it since it’s one of my favorite attractions at World. The bellhop who loaded us into our elevator was AH-MAZING too! Dear Disney World – hire people like him. I have to say that on the whole the Cast Members at Disneyland embody the Disney spirit much more than Disney World. Maybe this goes back to the argument about Disney World being mainly staffed by the college program, I don’t know. But there does seem to be a different standard in general.

While we were in the area we decided to go check out the Monsters Inc dark ride which was so cute. I’m a big fan of the classic dark ride and this one definitely put a smile on my face! I loved the door scene! 

  
We browsed through a few shops – I really liked Off the Page – but then we decided we should head over to Disneyland since our todo list was much longer there. But not without saying hi to Walt and Mickey at the Storytellers statue first! 

  
Up next: Disneyland! 

Lessons from Woz

Last night I had the opportunity to listen to a man who can arguably state that he is one of the few who has set the course for how we as society interact not only with technology, but pop culture as well. In fact, his contributions are so ingrained in our day to day life that few of us can imagine living a single day without our iPhones, iPads, and personal computers without a momentary reflex of panic. And at the same time, with the brilliance to support his successes and the term “game changer” listed on his resume, he comes across as extremely humble and looking to live life each day with a smile on his face, and the twinkle of a laugh building up in his eyes. 

I’m talking about Mr. Steve Wozniak, the cofounder of a small company you may have heard of – Apple. 

  
Going into this discussion I of course had heard the name Steve Wozniak and I knew of his connection to Apple but to be honest, that’s all I really knew. I didn’t know what kind of man to expect or even what he would talk about. Would it be a technical discussion? Super dry and way over my head? A suit and tie kind of guy making me feel like I needed to be on my best behavior? I didn’t really care either way – when a person who has helped to shape the world as we know it comes to town to talk, you stop and listen to what he has to say.

I was really surprised at who jumped up on the stage to share his life lessons with a crowd of approximately 2,500. He immediately imparts on his audience a laid back feeling and that whatever direction the talk was headed you were in for some interesting stories and a lot of laughs. During the next hour Woz, as he prefers to be called, shared stories on his background, his relationship with Steve Jobs, and his life philosophies that he has picked up and lived up to along the way.

1. Always be truthful

This was one that Woz imparted on the group as being one of the most important aspects in both business and personal relationships. He showcased this throughout the entire night by giving us extremely honest opinions on competitors, Apple itself, Steve Jobs, hot topic social issues like legalized marijuana, and the future of the tech industry. 

2. Don’t be afraid to praise your competitors 

I think this is something that was really interesting to me especially for someone in the competitive tech industry world. Woz talked about how for years he’s carried around Android phones along with iPhones so that he could show his colleagues at meetings what was better about the competition and where Apple was lagging behind – most notably the screen size. The market was clearly going in the direction of bigger screens and how many of us said “finally” when the larger iPhone 6 came out?

3. Always have passion for what you do

Woz made it very clear that he just wanted to build computers. He didn’t necessarily want his own company – that was Steve Jobs’ forte – he just wanted to make computers. When you are passionate about what you do you never stop learning and you never stop innovating because you want to always make what you are passionate about better. That’s how you become an innovator. 

4. “Always have something to bring to the table.” Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture

Woz didn’t use this quote directly but this was a theme that came up a few times during the discussion. Woz told a story about how when Apple was still a fledgling company they had an opportunity to go to Las Vegas for a technical showcase but Apple could only see a business need to send three people and Woz wasn’t one of them. Well Woz wanted to go! He wanted to see Vegas! But instead of playing the seniority card, because he was a founder after all, he made himself necessary to the trip. He asked if he could get a floppy disk programmed and ready to showcase could he go? After all he would need to be the one to operate it and answer questions since he had the technical know how. They said yes. The way Woz tells it he had never worked with floppy disks. In fact, he really didn’t even have much knowledge about them period! But within a span of two weeks he had taught himself how to use them and program them, and he had reached his goal. He was going to Vegas! 

5. Be involved in your community 

I think the thing that surprised me the most was how involved Woz is in his hometown. For a span of seven years he taught middle schoolers in order to help inspire and impart his knowledge on to the next generation. He feels very strongly about schools and education and when he wanted a certain addendum passed in town he set out to send notices on his own time and budget to his fellow neighbors encouraging them to vote. He truly embodies the idea to be the change you wish to see. The change you make doesn’t need to be on a large scale. It can be in your own neighborhood or town. 

At the end of the discussion the question that was put to Woz was how do you wish to be remembered in history? Woz said he knew that he would most likely be remembered for his technical accomplishments, but he said he would like to be remembered as being kind and fun loving. Well Woz, history may remember your advancements with computers, but at least for those at this discussion, we will definitely take with us the impression of a brilliant man who is humble, quick to laugh, and excited about what the future holds. 

Art Journaling at Disneyland

  

So I was searching around the many different blogs that exist in the Disney fan universe the other day and I came across an article by Nicole on Sparkly Ever After about a class she was going to be guest teaching in. The class takes its students on a virtual trip around Disneyland and teaches Art Journaling along the way. Seriously?! This sounded like such a fun idea to me that I immediately had to head over to the website to learn more! The instructor, Tangie Baxter, is an artist who teaches various virtual and physical Disneyland related art classes. Since I’m off for my very first Disneyland trip in a week and a half I thought this would be such a fun way to get prepped for and then remember this whirlwind adventure! I’ve just bought all my art supplies and spent the last half hour perusing the paint aisle getting so excited to unleash some Disney ceativity in water color form! 

I believe the class is still open for enrollment so if you are interested head on over to Art Journaling the Magic to learn more!!

My California Adventure Continues 

So we last left off with my top ten for Disneyland attractions and miscellaneous must do’s for my very first visit to the Disneyland Resort next month. Today it’s time to check off those Disney California Adventure Must Do’s and I’m going to bring a little bit of Stacey with me to California and list my Top Seven for this one!

Attractions – Disney California Adventure

1. Radiator Springs Racers

This one needs no explanation. I have avoided watching YouTube videos of this attraction for the last three years just so I can go into it waiting to be amazed.

2. World of Color

Since this World of Color doesn’t have a WDW counterpart, I am dying to see this. I love the music and I love the idea behind it so I can’t wait to witness it for myself. Fast Pass is already on my list to grab!

3. California Screamin

I love a good roller coaster and need to see how this one stacks up. Should we sit in the front or back?

4. Tower of Terror

This is hands down my favorite attraction at WDW. If I could build a ride in my backyard this would be the one! I have to see how California does it! 

5. Monsters Inc – Mike and Sulley to the Rescue!

Again, WDW doesn’t have this one and I love the Monsters Inc characters. I can’t wait to visit Monstropolis!

6. Maters Junkyard Jamboree

I don’t even know why, but when I see all the videos for this one everyone comes off that one with a smile on their face. It’s so simple but so fun!

7. Aladdin the Musical

Can’t wait to see the Broadway show in New York, but I feel like I need to see this one first!

Miscellaneous – Disney California Adventure

1. Have a glass of Lassetter wine at the Carthay Circle Lounge

2. Visit with Oswald

3. Take a picture with the Storytellers statue 

4. See Cars Land at night

5. Eat at the Cozy Cones – Reds apple freeze and chili cone carne are in my future!

6. Shop on Buena Vista Street

7. Check out the Animation Building 

That about wraps up my Disneyland Resort Must Dos! Let me know again if I should add or change anything! I’m not used to having my park game plan down so I apprciate any advice from Disneyland regulars! 

Are there any hidden gems I should check out? And snacks or drinks we should be sure to partake in?

I’m really looking forward to spending some time in the place where Walt walked and just taking in the whole experience. I love traveling and seeing new places so I’m also excited to see Los Angeles and what it has to offer. I don’t have any real need to do the whole “see the stars’ homes” tours, or anything like that. That doesn’t really interest me. But I am looking forward to the Santa Monica Pier and the craziness of Venice Beach. I’m running the Hollywood Half Marathon that weekend so of course I’m excited to get my own sparkly star medal at the end. And I’m really looking forward to hanging out with friends and celebrating birthdays and unbirthdays.

But mostly Disneyland. :)

My California Adventure

So…it’s been a while.

 

A really long while since I last posted. But you know, life gets in the way and other things just end up taking a back seat. Hopefully, I can start to get caught up on the Disney things I’ve been up to since my last posting, because those Disney things were pretty cool and such meaningful memories to me and I would love to share them!

But before I start to look back, in true Walt Disney style, let’s instead look forward!

Next month I am taking my very first trip to California, and of course that means my very first trip to Disneyland! This trip is such an impromptu adventure and it was only recently pulled together, but as of today, flights are booked, plans are being solidified, and most importantly, Disneyland schedules have been consulted!

Now, the whole reason for this California trip isn’t to visit Disneyland. I have to keep telling myself that this isn’t a Disney trip.

This. Isn’t. A. Disney. Trip.

This is to celebrate my friend’s birthday. She used to live out in L.A. and so I’m helping to celebrate with her back in one of her favorite places with some of her California friends. Of the four, yes only four, days we will be in California, only ONE of those will be spent on Disney property. ¬†It actually starts to stress me out thinking about all of the things I want to do there and how there is absolutely no way to squeeze all of the Disneyland nostalgia, history, and just plain amazingness into like eighteen hours. Yes, I will just need to go back at some point!

So I decided that in my pre Disneyland excitedness, before the long weekend extravaganza where there will be no sleeping, and we will all be surviving on caffeine and adrenaline, that I would create my Disneyland Must Do’s. This is so that in my sleep deprived state I will at least have a plan of attack! I have to split this out into two categories. One is attractions and the other is miscellaneous, because as a Disney fan there is so much more to the Disneyland Resort than how long the Radiator Springs Racers standby line is. (Although RSR is definitely on my must do!)

So for all of you Disneyland veterans out there, let me know if there is something that is missing off of either of my lists that a Disney fan can’t leave property without visiting!

 

Attractions – Disneyland

1. Haunted Mansion.

For obvious reasons.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean.

Again obvious…

3. Indiana Jones Adventure

Walt Disney World doesn’t have this attraction and it’s popular with so¬†many Disneylanders that I definitely need to check this out.

4. Big Thunder Mountain

I’m not sure how different this one is from Walt Disney World, but I passed on doing the one at Disneyland Paris because I thought they were the same and then later found out I should have waited in line!

5. Alice in Wonderland

Again, mostly because WDW doesn’t have this classic and because I am a fan of the Disney Dark Ride :)

6. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

I vaguely remember this one from when I was little and it was in WDW, so I would love to take a trip down memory lane! Plus, I believe this is a DL opening day original!

7. It’s A Small World

Again, pretty obvious… I have to see where the never ending refrain started! I heard that the exterior has been hidden though due to anniversary preparations. I hope not!

8. Space Mountain

Can’t wait to check this one out! I love the WDW one for my own nostalgic reasons, but I also loved the Disneyland Paris version. I need to see how this one compares!

9. Finding Nemo Submarines

I’m kind of flip flopping whether this is a must do for me. I hear the lines can get pretty long, but I think the idea of going in those subs is so cool.

10. The Castle Walkthrough

This seems like a sleeper must do. When I ask others what I need to put on my list, this one is always mentioned but thrown in at the last minute. So everyone always seems to think of it, it’s just not the first one to pop in their heads!

***When I’m there both Peter Pan and the Matterhorn will be closed for renovations otherwise both of those would have been on my Must Do’s***

Miscellaneous – Disneyland

Most of these have to do with just taking in the ambience and enjoying my surroundings.

1. The light in the window above the Fire Station

2. Check out the windows on Main Street

3.  Drink a Mint Julep and have Mickey beignets

4. Take a picture of the Partners statue

5. Eat a corn dog – I’ve never had a corn dog but I hear Disneyland does them right

6. Go shopping at the Music Store on Main Street.

7. Find the entrance to Club 33

8. Visit the Snow White wishing well

**I’m going to put the following two on my list because they would be must do’s,¬†but won’t be available when I’m there. I just couldn’t really bring myself to remove them**

9. Meet and Greet with Thor and Captain America.

We don’t get the Avengers in WDW. They still belong to the park down the street, so seeing them in a Disney surrounding would have been awesome. But it looks like at this point these meet and greets won’t be available starting April 1st…

10. Take a picture in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

I can’t believe I finally make it out to California and the castle will be hidden by a giant sheet. When I went to Disneyland Paris the bottom half of that beautiful castle was also under renovation. I’ve been to WDW an insane number of times and I have never had it hidden from view – cranes in the background more times than not, yes, but not actually hidden… soo bummed about this. It’s just the way my luck works. I’m sure when the castle is unveiled it will be beautiful though.

 

I’ll list my Disney California Adventure Must Do’s in another post, but until then, let me know what you think I need to add, replace, or delete!! I’m not really thinking in terms of realistic time patterns. Just a Disney fan’s optimistic thinking. We’ll start tweaking the plan¬†as the day goes on. Until then I’m going in super confident in my Disney stamina and in the¬†coffee at Jolly Holiday!

 

 

Day 48: 100 Happy (Disney) Days

20140521-214622-78382426.jpg

The Yacht Club Lighthouse.

Whenever people play the game “If You Could Be Anywhere in the World,” where you pick where you could be at Disney with just the snap of your fingers, this is the spot I always think of. It’s just so peaceful here listening to the sound of the water, or the seagulls flying overhead. I love this spot at either night or day. It’s especially entertaining to watch the Boardwalk from here at night when it’s all lit up and the sounds of the Atlantic Dance Hall float across the water. Or during the day, to think about whether you should continue down the path to International Gateway and Epcot. Or perhaps you should jump on a Friendship Boat and head down the waterway to Hollywood Studios. I think this lighthouse just reminds me about all the exciting possibilities a day at Disney can bring. And it’s a great spot to remember all of the excitement the day has already brought as you drag yourself up the steps of the Yacht Club and to your nice, cozy bed.