This post is brought to you by Disney.I visited Walt Disney World for the first time when I was five years old. I’ve been back so many times in the years since that I’ve lost count. Despite a few decades of residence on my bucket list, I’d never managed to get myself to Disneyland. East coast problems… This was a need that should have been addressed years ago. Luckily, it’s never to late to visit Disneyland!
While in California for the D23 Expo, we were invited to visit Disneyland for two nights to celebrate the Disneyland Diamond Celebration. I like Disney. I like Diamonds. I knew this would be fun! Plus…bucket list check-offs happening left and right. Always a good thing.
Now for the Disney anxiety… When I’m at Walt Disney World I know my way around. I’m the one who’s telling the poor unfortunate souls with me where we’re going next. I know what we must do and I know what it’s OK to skip if we run out of time. I had no clue what I needed to see at Disneyland or where I could even find it. Thankfully Disneyland expert Sara from Mom Endeavors volunteered to act as our tour guide.
What I requested? “I want to see everything that’s not at Disney World.” Perhaps a large undertaking for what amounted to less than ten hours of park time, but everyone seemed game to give it a go!
So grab your first visit button and head into Disneyland for the first time with me!
- Indiana Jones Adventure is an enhanced motion vehicle dark ride. The technology is similar to Dinosaur at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, however Dinosaur doesn’t feature Harrison Ford. Also known as the love of my 8 year old life… Make sure you grab a fast pass for this one.
- Matterhorn Bobsleds is a Disneyland exclusive! This steel coaster was just refurbished for the Diamond Celebration with updated animatronics and special effects. Of course since this was my first time, I wouldn’t have known the difference. Still, amazingly cool. The single rider lines are a great way to skip the longer queue.
- Haunted Mansion is my most favorite dark ride ever. Although the Disneyland and Walt Disney World versions are similar, there are some differences. Keep an eye out for the fabled and newly installed Hatbox Ghost!
- Pirates of the Caribbean is at every Disney location, but the one in Disneyland is special. It was the last attraction overseen by Walt Disney. The Blue Bayou Restaurant overlooks the opening of the ride, and several scenes are slightly different from the Walt Disney World Version. Plus you should never pass up the chance to see Johnny Depp in any form.
- It’s A Small World is one of my favorite rides. Every time I step in a boat I’m immediately five years old again. The Disneyland version features additional Disney characters along the boat ride not present in the Walt Disney World version. Standing in the queue also gives you a chance to watch the dolls parade out of the clock on the ride’s exterior on the quarter hour.
- Paint the Night Parade utilizes over 1.5 million LED lights. It’s been called the “spiritual successor” to Main Street Electrical Parade. That same five year old girl who loved the Electrical Parade more than anything during her first visit to Wald Disney World couldn’t help but love Paint the Night.
- Disneyland Forever combines music, projection mapping and fireworks into an almost fifteen minute show full of surprises and special effects. I was positioned in the perfect spot to see the fireworks and the projections on the Matterhorn. I even got dusted with snow in the middle of the show. No one does fireworks quite like Disney.
California Adventure Must Dos:
- Radiator Springs Racers is similar to Test Track in technology, but it’s unlike any other ride I’ve ever been on. You really do feel like you’re in the middle of a Cars film. Actually, all of Cars Land will do that for you. The single rider line is a must for this one if you miss out on a fast pass.
- Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is a whip ride, with a little less spinning than a tea cup. That meant I didn’t need someone to hold me up from getting too dizzy when we stepped off!
- World of Color is California Adventure’s nighttime show featuring water fountains, mist screens, fire, lasers, lighting, and fog. Oh, and Neil Patrick Harris. I really do love him. Although not as much as I love Harrison Ford who makes a quick cameo. Try to not cry during “Forever Young”. It’s impossible.
- Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is all but an exclusive at California Adventure. He’s available for pictures and there’s an Oswald themed gift shop near the entrance. You might have already guessed I have a fondness for bunnies. Of course I had to pick up one for my office…
Speaking of shopping… There’s a ton of Disneyland merchandise available and plenty of Diamond Celebration exclusives you’ll want to buy!
I didn’t have nearly enough time to experience everything Disneyland has to offer-that just means I need to head back soon. Experiencing Haunted Mansion Holiday is on my Disney bucket list, after all. And it’s not at Walt Disney World.
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