Last time on Spring Break 2016, we finally made it to Don and Megan’s wedding! It was a beautiful ceremony, a fun reception, and I was so happy to be able to partake in this wonderful day with my friends. Now, off to the second-best reason to be in LA – DISNEYLAND!
Note: This series of Disney posts will be a recap with a lot of tips, if you were planning your first trip and would like to learn the bit of a scoop I got! Scroll to the end of the post for some overall tips. Let me know if you’d like just an overall tips post for Disneyland?
Also I wasn’t sure how to divide these up, so it’s going to be broken up roughly around the meals we had? … Here we go!
After spending several days in Vegas and a wedding together, there was a small chance that maybe Don and Megan had enough of us. After all, there was a really good chance that Megan had spent more time with me over the past week than we had over the course of our whole friendship? (This is almost definitely true for Don and Ben.) If they were tired of our faces… they were in for a tough break at the beginning of their mini-moon (Minnie-moon!) in Disneyland as I just had to have at least one day at the original happiest place on Earth.
Ben and I spent one magical day at Disneyland, and it started bright and early! We dragged ourselves out of bed to say goodbye to our AirBnB and see ya later to LA before hitting the road and crossing our fingers that traffic to Anaheim wouldn’t be too bad. Luckily, we managed to get there without sitting in too much LA traffic at all! That Disney magic was helping us right along! We checked into our hotel and got our room keys, although our room wasn’t quite ready yet, so we skipped off to have adventures without being tempted by beds.
The key was having the room key because Disney resort guests are able to enter one of the two parks during ~*~Extra Magic Hour~*~ aka an hour earlier than everyone else! This perk, in addition to the convenience of being right off park property, was one of the main reasons I wanted to spring a little extra to stay in a Disney hotel. On the day that we arrived, Extra Magic Hour applied to Disney’s California Adventure (aka DCA), so we head through the gorgeous Grand Californian (where Megan and Don were checking in later after sleeping in after, uh, getting married), which opens up directly into DCA.
Tip: While there is an entrance to DCA from the Grand Californian, that line gets very gnarly because Disney hotel guests want to use this exclusive entrance. However, there aren’t as many line attendants as there are at the main entrance, so, unless you got to that entrance very early, you’ll get into the park faster if you go through the main entrance, where you can also see all the folks waiting for both DCA and Disneyland to open up the gates. We stood in the hotel guest line, having kids gawk at me in my Disneybound for a bit, before deciding to do that and it was the right decision in the end, for sure.
Okay, in order to be able to enjoy the rest of the day without stressing, we had to get a few things out of the way. I spent a lot of time planning our Disney day in my head and consulting with friends who frequented the California parks often enough to give me the insider’s scoop on what was what. When we got in early, we spent most of our time waiting for a FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers.
Tip: A lot of people suggested either getting FastPass or waiting single rider for this, also, but this is one of the longest lines in either park so you’ll want to either line up first thing, do single rider, or get FastPass. This is also one of the only FastPass stations that is not right in front of the ride, so do not go straight to the ride if you are looking for a FastPass.
After taking a bit of time to enjoy Cars Land (for the record, I really don’t care at all for the Cars franchise, but this part of the park was really cool), we rushed to pick up FastPass for World of Color, which is the evening light show at DCA.
Tip: If you are interested in seeing WoC, you should definitely make sure to get FastPass for the show. It does not count towards your FastPass status (as in, you will still be able to get a FastPass for a ride), and it allows you to sit/stand in the priority viewing area without having to show up AS early to get a good view. When we went hunting for the FastPass, we found cast members handing out the tickets.
With the park open to the general public and our WoC FastPass tickets in our pockets, we went to ride Soarin’, which isn’t very Disney, exactly. Rather, it’s more of a California Tourism Bureau-type attraction, where you sit in seats and “soar” over California’s sights and landscapes playing ahead of you on a giant screen. It’s very similar to FlyOver Canada in Vancouver, if you’ve ridden that before? (I’m still amazed by how real it sometimes feels, despite riding things like this all the time.) Soarin’ also has a lot of fun little aviation trivia and history posted up if you are caught waiting in line to ride it.
Then, it was time to tackle California Screamin’. I have a very strong memory of a family vacation to Orlando’s Disney World where my brother was really craving a more thrilling ride and the closest we got was Space Mountain, which isn’t really all that fast. Screamin’ is a fast roller coaster, so strap yourself in tightly! It’s a lot of fun!
Tip: The wait for Screamin’ didn’t seem to exceed 20 minutes at any given point during the day. Either fewer people ride it because it is a rather intense ride, or the speed of the ride means the line moves along quickly, or a combination of the two? (At least the day I visited.) This means you can probably visit this one whenever you have time an ride it multiple times if you’d like. I’d just recommend not going right after a meal.
Hair fully dry from Screamin’, we went back to Cars Land to use our FastPass for RSR, and then went to ride on the Tower of Terror, which is a delightfully spooky ride that has more thrills than, say, the Haunted Mansion. Great throwback to the Twilight Zone days, and a really solid drop that got me screaming more than I thought it would!
Tip: A bit of a spoiler, but at the top of your ascent before you’re dropped, you go from being in the dark tower to seeing outside. In our case, we had the sun in our eyes and a beautiful view of DCA when our photo was taken, resulting in this ultra-goofy shot.
With my stomach thoroughly thrown around and empty and a little bit of time between FastPasses and early-morning lines, it was time for us to finally grab a late breakfast. I had specific cravings, so we temporarily left DCA to grab a bite over at Disneyland.
Before I say anything else, I would definitely recommend a few things:
- The Disneyland app is actually incredibly helpful. You can see line wait times for every attraction in real time, which saved us right after we finished eating as I’ll talk about in my next post. You can just check to see if a ride is temporarily closed or if the wait is miraculously only 10 minutes long!
- Wear comfy clothes but feel free to add some Disney magic to that outfit! I always try to Disneybound when I visit the parks, and for me, it’s worth it to see how much fellow Disney fans appreciate it. The most important thing is to make sure your shoes are comfy, above all else.
- Bring a small bag so you can carry goodies around. Ben forgot a drawstring bag, and it would’ve come really handy for stowing away his sweater when the morning chill was melted away by the relentless sun, for carrying water and snacks, etc.
Anyhow, more tips and recap to come next time, starting with a turn around New Orleans Square over at Disneyland!
What are your favorite things to do at Disney’s California Adventure?
What are your favorite Disney parks foods??