Disneyland Resort: 2013
Sunday 28th April
My first trip to the "original" Magic Kingdom! I had the most wonderful time there and whilst I spent the week telling myself this would probably be my one and only visit, needless to say as soon as I got home I started thinking about my next trip. For the most part, I'll let the photos speak for themselves in this trip report.
I'd decided my first stop would be Adventureland and Indiana Jones Adventure, as this was a totally new ride for me. And for my first ride on it I decided to skip the Single Rider line in order to experience the queue area.
This was followed up by Jungle Cruise, given that the ride was due to be closed for most of my trip. As I think I may have mentioned in previous reports, this is the attraction I remember seeing on TV when I was a child and wishing I could visit one of the Disney parks (back then I doubt I realised there was more than one). Even though you can now see real animals at Disney's Animal Kingdom, I still love seeing their animatronic counterparts.
Next stop: Fantasyland. Whilst I appreciate not everyone welcomed the new additions to "it's a small world", I was looking forward to seeing the Disneyland version and have to say, I really didn't find the Disney characters to be in any way intrusive.
Merida has yet to make it to Disneyland Paris (as far as I'm aware, certainly not the last I visited) so of course I had to meet her - and her brothers!
Meeting Fawn and Tinker Bell at Pixie Hollow.
Off to Mickey's Toontown.
I'll admit to feeling a bit teary when I first saw Sleeping Beauty Castle. Compared to the Paris version and Cinderella Castle in Orlando it seems so tiny (relatively!) but the setting is so beautiful, this was definitely my favourite castle to photograph.
Lunch at Carnation Cafe.
Iron Man Tech Exhibition at Innoventions in Tomorrowland.
Huge line for the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage - would have to make that a first visit on another day.
One of my favourite views of Fantasyland.
Great long lines for the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which I managed to by-pass thanks to the Single Rider line. I have to admit as being somewhat underwhelmed by the ride, finding it uncomfortable more than anything else, but still went back for another ride later in my trip.
Wandering across to Frontierland (via Toontown).
When I visited Walt Disney World last March, Big Thunder Mountain was closed for repairs. Same story here.
A ride on the Sailing Ship Columbia.
Just enough time to meet Pooh and friends in Critter Country before heading back to Main Street to wait for Mickey's Soundsational Parade.
I will never have enough photos of "Partners"! Cue my usual moan that the Disneyland Paris version isn't in front of the Castle.
The new Fantasy Faire/Royal Hall area.
I had to try the much celebrated fried chicken at the Plaza Restaurant!
After another viewing of the parade, my first day at Disneyland was drawing to a close and of course there's no better way to end a Disney day than fireworks!
Monday 29th April
As much as I was excited to visit the only Disney park that Walt actually set foot in, I also could not wait to finally see Cars Land at Disney's California Adventure. Hotel guests had already entered the park and there was a (very) long line to collect Fastpass tickets for Radiator Springs Racers. I decided to get in the line, then figured I'd waste so much time queuing there that I might as well take my chance with the Single Rider line.
Whilst waiting for the park to open properly, I realised that I could not see the Storytellers statue anywhere. How could I miss it? It turned out to be hidden - at first I was told that there had been some filming going on, other cast members said it was being cleaned up. Whatever the reason, whilst I heard other guests complaining about the lack of Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain, I was horrified at the thought that I might not get to see the statue! But I had the whole week ahead of me for it to make an appearance so I wasn't (too) concerned. Yet.
I headed over to Radiator Spring Racers (the photo below shows the waiting time) and...walked straight on! Thank you Single Riders! So of course I went straight back on again (slightly longer wait that time). Whilst I didn't have to spend ages queuing for the ride, it was still a relief that the ride was so enjoyable. The only downside is that I never managed to be in a winning car...
Next up, one of the rides I was most looking forward to riding/photographing - Monsters, Inc: Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! Definitely my new favourite dark ride.
Red Car News Boys performing on Buena Vista Street.
The day started with one of the highlights of my trip, the "Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps" tour. Aside from anything else, this meant being able to ride Peter Pan's Flight without queuing! Of course, even more exciting than that was the opportunity to peek inside Club 33 and to visit Walt's private apartment above the Firehouse on Main Street, USA. Whilst Disney "nerds" may not learn much from the tour, it still provides a wonderful opportunity to see inside places otherwise off limits to the general public and its a moving experience to listen to Walt's speeches as you walk around the one Disney park he actually spent time in.
At the end of the tour, the group (15 or so, if I remember correctly) was split in two. One group went to view Walt's apartment whilst the other had lunch at the Jolly Holiday Bakery. This enabled me to tick off another "must-do" - a Matterhorn Macaroon! Whilst at lunch we were also presented with souvenir pin badges.
I headed to Radiator Springs Racers and whilst this was my longest queue for the ride so far, thanks to the Single Rider line it was still nothing to complain about! 15 minutes, perhaps. Unfortunately, our car didn't get too far before coming to a stop and the ride being evacuated. As I hadn't queued for very long, I wasn't too bothered aside from wishing we'd been further along so I could have walked more of the track! We were given fastpass tickets to use and this worked out well for me as I wanted to do the ride after dark anyway.
As my 5 day pass didn't cover my full week in Anaheim, this was originally going to be my relaxing day off. However, it didn't take long to decided that there was no way I could spend a day so close to Disneyland and not actually venture to the parks. So I bought a one day pass for Disneyland Park to cover my extra day (having debated whether or not it would be worth buying an annual pass). But first up today was breakfast at Storyteller's Cafe at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
Another day in Disneyland Park.
My last day in Disneyland and a wander around the Park playing with my fisheye lens followed by rides on Dumbo and Casey Jr and a late breakfast at Carnation Cafe (couldn't let a holiday pass without a Mickey-shaped waffle!).
Sadly, with a mid-day pick-up to head back to the airport there was no way I could justify paying for another day in the parks! However I could spend a couple of hours wandering around Downtown Disney, visiting the Resort Hotels and buying some final souvenirs. Whilst I always have a great time at Disney Theme Parks (blisters aside) I really did have the most amazing week at Disneyland Resort.
It would be hard to select highlights but I suppose things that particularly stand out for me are the amazing sights of Cars Land and visiting Walt Disney's private apartment. I also had some great meet and greets with characters. I've only started queuing to take photos of characters in the past coupel fo years (as opposed to just trying to take shots as I walk past) but it's definitely become one of my favourite things to do and I had some wonderful interaction with the characters and castmembers this trip. I'd also rate the Napa Rose - possibly the best meal I've had and certainly wonderful service, although I had no complaints at any of the resort restaurants I visited.
Fingers crossed for another trip next year, my current plan being to visit during the Halloween season but next up for me is a trip to Walt Disney World in November where I'll catch the last couple of days of the Food & Wine Festival and, of course, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!