Where will the road take YOU?

Destination Diaries

Disneyland:  The Review

By:  Angela Ash


You know, I just can’t help it.  I have to be unbiased and truthful, even when it pertains to Mickey Mouse.  Disneyland is NOT the happiest place in the world.


It is the happiest place in the universe!


With so many fantastic recent updates and changes, there is still that special something that can not be described… a feeling that can not be duplicated… when walking below the plaque that reads “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy”.  And it’s true, isn’t it?  Try to walk around Disneyland and think about your bills, or the report that is due on Monday.  I bet you a churro that you can’t do it!


A day at a Disney theme park is one of the few things about today’s society that I can honestly and truthfully say that I believe is worth the money.  In this economy, quite a few families may be thinking about visiting less frequently, but in my opinion, cut back on take out.  For after all, can one really put a price tag on magic?


Disneyland, as always, is unparalleled, whether it be 90 degrees or 65, or whether the wait times are 10 minutes or 60.  But people, remember to make use of the FASTPASS!  As with a lot of other theme parks, this is not a paid perk, but a powerful tool that every attendee with a ticket may make use of.  Simply find the FASTPASS kiosk for participating rides, slip in your ticket, and out will pop another ticket with a time to return to the attraction.  (See!  I told you there was magic!)


If you have never visited the Disneyland park, shame on you!  You have been missing what I refer to fondly as “the mountains”… my personal Land favorites.  Take a whimsical journey through the briar patch before plummeting down a prickly waterfall on Splash Mountain, feel as if you are flying through the stars on Space Mountain, or speed down ice covered terrain, pursued by the abominable snowman on the Matterhorn Bobsleds.


Of course, there are the favorites that we all know and love… that seem timeless… transporting us back to memories from our childhood, or assisting to make new ones with our own little loved ones.  Seriously… what would the world be without Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s A Small World, the Haunted Mansion, the Jungle Cruise, or Peter Pan’s Flight?  It sure wouldn’t want to be a world that I would want to live in!


I especially love some of the older, smaller attractions that are not present at Walt Disney World.  I will squeal like a six year old on the Casey Jr. Circus Train, the Storybook Land Canal Boats, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, or Pinnochio’s Daring Journey.  And for you Alice fans, don’t just expect to spin about on the Mad Tea Party, but follow her down the rabbit hole on the Alice in Wonderland ride!


And no one has the ability to update attractions, without losing the original components that cause it to be so beloved.  Star Tours is an excellent example.  What was once a regular (as “regular” as anything Disney could possibly be) motion simulator, has gone 3-D!  And the infamous 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, is now sailing through different waters in the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.


Please… please do not leave the park without making a round on the Disneyland Railroad.  Much more than just a way to get from one area to another, this is truly an attraction in itself.  Plus, Walt would have wanted you to.  Say no to that!


A lot of folks still refer to Disneyland as one theme park, but Disney’s California Adventure becomes even more a force to be reckoned with!  While housing such fan favorites as Soarin’ Over California, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and It’s Tough To Be A Bug, the themed areas range from a land seen from the eyes of a bug to the perfectly created Paradise Pier, complete with a coaster and Disney’s zany idea of a ferris wheel.


But what everyone is talking about is Cars Land.  This is Radiator Springs straight out of Pixar’s Cars.  There are new shops, new restaurants and yes, new attractions!  Yay!


The Radiator Springs Racers is just about one of the FUNNEST rides I have ever experienced.  Cars holding six people zip through scenes and characters from the iconic Cars movies, and then the real fun begins.  Hold on tight… because your car will soon find itself in a dead heat race with the vehicle next to you.  And by the way, my car DID win.

Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is an attraction for the entire family.  Whip around with the baby tractors to playful music that makes you remember why you love Mater so much in the first place!

Luigi’s Flying Tires
is just… for lack of a more profound description, fantastic!  Seated in your giant tire, prepare to fly across a surface that may best be described as an enormous hockey table.  Great job, Imagineers!


And if you want to party, head to the Mad T Party!  Let me prepare you, this is no cartoon concept.  Hello, Mr. Burton, and pour me a cup of tea!  This appeals to all audiences, but has an “edge” that shows Disney is more than prepared to do the unusual and the unexpected, and with applause rendering results!  Expect zany décor and flashing lights, a rock band, and not your three year old’s Alice.  Dance to the music, surrounded by toddlers, teenagers, couples, and hoverounds. Only Disney could make this level of diversity work!  Better yet, leave your expectations asleep under the tree with Dinah, and take the tumble with the White Rabbit.  After all, you don’t want to be late, do you?


The close proximity of both Disney parks in California make it possibly to zap from one park to the next, so I would definitely suggest buying those park hopper passes.  While it is feasible to visit both parks in one day, picking and choosing which attractions you would like to ride, I do not think that one can experience, well… the “experience” without feeling rushed and anxious to move quickly from one bit of happiness to the next. Don’t sell your visit short.  Try to spend a full day at each park, and a third would be nice to “hop” from one to the other, revisiting your favorite places and catching the ones you may have missed on your first visit.


In a perfect scenario, stay a week, catch all of the great shows, and don’t forget to spend some time (and money) at Downtown Disney, the premier shopping spot from everything to Disney souvenirs to makeup.  (Yes, girls, there IS a Sephora!)


Also keep in mind that while each park hosts a plethora of delectable dining options, remember that the Disneyland hotels, Disneyland Hotel, the Grand Californian, and Paradise Pier Hotel, all offer several restaurant choices a bit away from the hustle and bustle.


My absolute favorite is the Storyteller’s Café in Disney’s Grand Californian, just connected to Disney’s California Adventure.  Yummy!


But if looking for a good option within California Adventure, check out the new Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land for an amazing breakfast, served on real dishes at fast food prices!  The lunch and dinner offerings range from sandwiches to steaks, and are equally as impressive.


In Disneyland Park, check out Red Rockett’s Pizza Port.  This is not your regular theme park cardboard pizza.  This place has awesome pizza, salads, AND pasta!  The Count-Down Chicken Fusilli is out of this world… pun intended.


As I leave Disneyland Resort, my stomach is full of goodness, my hands full of shopping bags, my feet are sore but still ready to explore, and I have stars in my eyes.

People often speculate if Walt Disney had any idea that a few sketches on a drawing board would result in a place so full of imagination, wonder, and happiness.


I think that he did.