Confession: I’m a Disney fanatic. I love every and all things Disney. My goal in life is to visit every Disney location in the World. I’m up to 20 visits to “the world” (most recent ones here), which isn’t bad for a 29 year old New Yorker. Last year, we were lucky enough to visit the Disneyland in Hong Kong.
Naturally, while in California last month, Disneyland was a stop. I’ve heard a lot about Disneyland California from friends who have both visited and live in the area. Most say Disneyland is tiny and nothing in comparison to Disney World – in both size, fun, activities, you name it. I have to say I totally disagree. While in actual size Disneyland may be smaller, overall, it has more rides. Yep, Disneyland has more rides than the Magic Kingdom.
Some say you can do both Disneyland and California Adventure in one day. How? I’m asking. I’m serious, I have no idea where anyone is coming from when they say this. Yes, you can walk into both parks in the same day, it’s very easy, but you won’t accomplish a lot. There’s so much to see and do! In fact, we only spent one day at the Disneyland park and it wasn’t enough. We saw and did a lot, but not everything. I’ll say it again: There is so much. We felt like we needed two days at this park alone.
The only truth I’ve found to other reviews is that the castle is small, and it really is. Disneyland California’s Sleeping Beauty castle seems even smaller than Disneyland Hong Kong’s (which is saying a lot!), and obviously, it’s no comparison to Cinderella’s in Disney World.
One of the first thing we do when we get to the Magic Kingdom is go castle-picture crazy, from the moment we walk in. However, here, you need to get much closer for a decent castle picture!
Disneyland California has the same lands as the Magic Kingdom, (Main Street, Fantasy, Tomorrow, Adventure, Frontier), and then some. There’s also New Orleans Square, Critter Country, and Toontown. There are a lot of similar rides, but they’re all a little different. Plus, Disneyland has the Matterhorn, which may just be my new favorite ride ever.
Disneyland still uses the original Fast Pass system (no Magic Bands here)! A lot of the rides don’t even offer Fast Pass because there’s simply no room for an additional line. I have to say, I loved the traditional Fast Pass – they worked out really well. We’d get a Fast Pass, and as soon as we could grab another one, we did. It was wonderful!
Our first ride of the day was Thunder Mountain, since there was only a 20 minute wait.
Next, we headed to Fantasyland. The lines here, although long, have a short wait since the line is constantly moving. As much as I love the New Fantasyland in Disney World, there’s something very special about Disneyland’s Fantasyland. You’ll definitely find more “classic Disney” here: Pinocchio, Alice In Wonderland (there’s an actual ride for it, not just the Teacups!), Snow White’s Scary Adventure (I’ll admit, I’m so sad Disney World took this away), Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, the classic Storybook Land boat ride – a favorite!, etc. Winnie The Pooh is found on the other side of the park by Splash Mountain, and I can’t help but feel it’s where it belongs. It always bothers me that Winnie The Pooh is with the princesses and such in Fantasyland. To me, it doesn’t fit. This Fantasyland also Peter Pan, Dumbo, It’s A Small World, and a lot of the same rides you’ll find at Magic Kingdom. I fell in love with Disneyland California’s classic Fantasyland. I actually see why they expanded Disney World’s version, the current one wasn’t enough, but here, it is.
We took a break from Fantasyland to head back to Space Mountain for our Fast Pass, and then enjoyed Tomorrowland. I admit, I missed the People Mover. Disney World gets a one-up there. Next, it was back to Fantasyland. I’m not kidding when I say there are SO MANY RIDES.
We caught Anna and Elsa on the way to It’s A Small World. Frozen is all over Disney, and while I enjoy the movie, I’m kind of over it being EVERYWHERE. We’re not big parade people, so it was a great time to go on rides.
We didn’t get on the Matterhorn until nighttime (after the fireworks), because the line was crazy long all day. I don’t know what the ride is like in the light, but in the dark, it’s insanely fun! I LOVE THIS RIDE! Hint for those wanting to avoid the line: Watch the fireworks near the Matterhorn and hop on right after – no wait!
White Rabbit, are you home?
The Haunted Mansion is one of the rides in which the inside is almost identical to its counter part in Disney World. And, as similar as the inside is, the outside could not be more different. It isn’t as much of a mansion here, as a New Orleans Manor. Cool little fact: The elevator in the beginning of the ride is an actual elevator – the ride is underground.
Josh and I always found massive ride lines, and thought, “oh my goodness, there’s no way this line is only 20 minute wait.” We soon learned that most of the lines are ONLY outside (which is why they appear so long). The line you see outside is basically the entire line. You won’t find lines going from indoor room to room, like they do in Disney World, here.
The most exciting thing for us was Splash Mountain. We made it! For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while now, know what a big deal this is! We visit Disney World every January, and every time Splash Mountain is closed for refurbishment. I haven’t been on this ride in YEARS, and was so excited to be visiting a Disney in high season.
Pirates Of The Caribbean is another ride worth mentioning. Located underneath the Disney Dream Suite, Disneyland California’s Pirates Of The Caribbean is an underground ride, just like the Haunted Mansion. Also, it’s FAR SUPERIOR to Disney World’s version. I’m not ashamed to say this, and I’ll continue to stand by it. The drop is more significant (there are actually two), and overall, it’s amazing.
We didn’t get to Adventureland under after dark, which is a shame because I prefer Jungle Cruise during the day.
We also didn’t get much done in Adventureland, since it was so late and ended up taking a break for fireworks. We originally weren’t going to, since we didn’t have much time and there was still a lot to do, but we did. They went off and I couldn’t help myself. I had to watch. I don’t know how, but we found ourselves in a special roped off area near the castle, complete with amazing view.
As I said above, we visited Matterhorn post fireworks, and it was fabulous. My new favorite ride. Near the exit, we noticed a booth with hand painted names and characters. It’s gorgeous work and only takes about an hour for them to complete. We got a beautiful painting of our last name with Ariel, Tinkerbell, Sleeping Beauty, Captain Hook, Peter Pan, Rapunzel, Snow White, Cinderella, and a part of Sleeping Beauty’s castle! It cost under $80 and is well worth it. A perfect Disneyland 2014 souvenir.
Since we were in Fantasyland (I don’t get Matterhorn’s placement there by the way, but whatever, it’s amazing), we doubled back on rides we missed earlier in the day.
Unfortunately, by now, it was late and the park closes at midnight. We still had yet to go on most of the rides in Adventureland, or even step foot in Toontown. We LOVE shopping Main Street, and didn’t have time for that either. We wanted to be sure to hit the Indiana Jones ride, so we headed there next.
I have to ask, why is Indiana Jones not in Disney World?! I know they have the show in Hollywood Studios, but this ride. OMG. Amazing.
By now, it was closing time. SO sad. Two days at this park is needed for sure.
All in all, I thought we’d visit Disneyland California once and move on. Sort of like Disneyland Hong Kong, which made us just miss Disney World. Disneyland California had the opposite effect. We can’t wait to return. Dare I say it, but I love it just as much as Disney World. There are a lot of similarities between the two, but they also each have their own unique aspects, which I’ve fallen in love with. Equally.
I see our future Disney visits being filled with a tough decision: Anaheim or Orlando?
Coming up next: Our dining experience at Blue Bayou, and then later, our day at Disney’s California Adventure!