P A R T 1
I guess you can say I am a WDW veteran. I've been visiting WDW every year since I was born, so I've grown to become a big Disney fan. I've wanted to visit Disneyland and Southern California in general for a while now, and this year I finally convinced my parents to go. While in Southern California, we went to a taping of “America’s Got Talent,” visited O.C. beach towns (Newport and Laguna Beach), went to San Diego, Santa Monica, L.A., Hollywood...but I’ll only talk about my adventures at the Disneyland Resort here.
A day at Disney's California Adventure
We stayed in the Candy Cane Inn, which is a very nice motel located behind DCA, a short walk away from the parks. You'd think that because it is a motel, it would be dirty and run down, but this is not the case with the Candy Cane Inn. The rooms are very clean, the hotel is beautiful with vines, gardens, and fountains everywhere, and on top of that, it’s inexpensive and includes free wireless internet, breakfast, and shuttle to the parks. It can't get any better than that. I like it that with DLR, you don’t have to stay at an official Disney hotel since there are lots of other great hotels nearby. DLR being a smaller resort than WDW was also better to us, because we could easily walk between both parks and Downtown Disney without having to worry about taking busses or driving all over the place. It really let’s you relax and enjoy things more, having everything so close.
A park hopping day at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure
Anyways, we decided to visit DCA on a Sunday because it was the only day during our trip that Aladdin was playing. Since we arrived early before DCA opened and had park hoppers, we started the day at Disneyland. We entered the park and took some pics with Cruella on Main Street (the characters at DLR seem more as if they were simply wandering around the parks rather than at a scheduled greeting, Cruella even told me "Ah yes darling, tell everyone I'm your girlfriend"--funny), then took the train to New Orleans Square where we went on Pirates and Haunted Mansion. Wow, both rides were amazingly better than their Florida counterparts. We also attempted to go on Splash Mountain, but it was closed down.
Afterwards we headed over to DCA expecting big crowds since it was a Sunday, but that really wasn’t the case and the crowds were very manageable. Now, coming to DCA and being a long time reader of MiceAge and all the Disney fan sites, I came to DCA with low expectations after having heard such negative things about Disneyland’s second gate. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually a really great, fun park. Being a tourist coming to California for the first time, I liked how the park was themed. My only issue with DCA is not the theme, but the visual intrusions from outside the park. You can see outside buildings like the Anaheim Hilton and the Convention Center from inside the park, which definitely ruins the magic and escapism that you come to find in a Disney theme park. Other than that, I loved all the areas of the park and any additions they make to the park in the future will just make it even better.
I’m a fan of old seaside amusement parks, so I liked Paradise Pier. California Screamin’ is so much fun, and the views from the Sun Wheel are great. Grizzly River Run was one of the best raft rides I’ve ever been on (better than Kali River Rapids at AK), and Soarin was fun as usual (although there was a strange black mark on the screen, and the queue showed some wear and tear but the aviation theme is better than Epcot’s version).
We ended up in the Bakery tour randomly, and we were surprised to find that it was actually fun. When we walked into the bakery, they told us “You have been selected for a special surprise during our Year of a Million Dreams celebration.” They gave us this fun hidden Mickey challenge, and told us we would get a prize at the end if we finished it correctly. I eagerly found all the Mickey’s quickly, not paying attention to Rosie’s cheesy jokes, hoping to get something cool like a Dream fast pass, a stay in the Mickey suite, or some free mouse ears. They ended up not checking our answers at all and gave everyone the prize anyway, which was Mickey Mouse shaped sourdough bread. I was disappointed that I didn’t get a dream fast pass, but hey- I got some cool bread (Do they usually give everyone free Mickey bread?). We also tried the Tortilla factory, and after being tortured by watching that movie, we were awarded by some tasty fresh tortillas.
In the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, we ate some expensive hot dogs at Award Wieners, and then lined up in the mezzanine level queue for Aladdin at the Hyperion Theatre. This show was amazing, on the same level of a real Broadway musical, nothing like your typical theme park show you’d find at Walt Disney World. The quality of the performers and everything about the show was amazing. We especially loved the carpet flying and of course the genie. After, we tried the Tower of Terror. We enjoyed the DCA version because of its newer, up to date special effects, which made the overall ride experience better than WDW’s tower. We were also lucky enough to get a really good CM; he really played the role well unlike previous Tower CMs we’ve gotten in Florida.
Monster’s Inc: Mike and Sully to the rescue was a great, fun dark ride and it was fun to see Muppets and Bug’s again. Overall, I really enjoyed DCA. I like the atmosphere and theme of the park, and I’d take DCA over Disney-MGM Studios any day. We ended our day watching Disney's Electrical Parade while eating dinner at the Wine Country Trattoria. Afterwards, we went over to Disneyland to see the later showing of Fantasmic and ride Indiana Jones Adventure. I enjoyed Fantasmic much better at Disneyland, and Indy was an amazing ride, so much better than Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom.