Disneyland: Before Dinner | Spring Break 2016

A lot of crazy and terrible things have been happening, and while I want these posts to mark good memories for me, I am not blind to the injustices and cruelties that are happening to other people this week and in weeks past. Do not take all of this sitting down. I want to let you know that you can do more than just hashtag and repost things on social media. It requires a bit more work to find out what legislators are doing to help you change the world, but I think it’s worth it. Black lives matter.

Last time on Spring Break 2016, Ben and I arrived in Anaheim for one magical day at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure (DCA). After running around trying to see as much of DCA with minimal line-waiting time as possible, we finally had to answer the call of our rumbling tumblies. So, off to Disneyland’s New Orleans Square it was!

DISNEYLAND! Celebrating their Diamond Anniversary with 60 years of magic.
The “dinky castle”, as Annie dubbed it

I reviewed a handful of roundups of best food to eat at Disneyland, as it seems that a lot of my vacationing revolves around eating, even at the happiest place on earth. (One that I looked to for reference often was this one at Local Adventurer, which is a compilation based on their own personal experiences and other people’s lists.) We still had a fair amount of time before our lunch reservation, so I thought we’d be able to split one of the much-touted Monte Cristos, as it’d be a nice between breakfast and lunch type of sandwiches. Unfortunately for us, the line into Cafe Orleans was just too long and we hadn’t planned on visiting Blue Bayou at all. Off to Mint Julep Bar for Mickey beignets it was!

Mint Julep Bar
With a mint julep, of course!

I had actually been craving beignets for weeks leading up to this trip, and I can’t remember when the last time I had one before our trip to Anaheim was. (Had I ever had a beignet before this???) These were pretty freaking great, though. And the mint julep (non-alcoholic!) was super refreshing as the sun started to get really hot. (It was our first sunny California day!)

Tip: Mickey-shaped beignets are sold at Mint Julep Bar and Cafe Orleans, but if you aren’t able to stop by New Orleans Square, the lines are too long, or some other obstacle keeps you from this goodness, you can get traditional-shaped (aka square) (aka not Mickey Mouse) beignets from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. Some folks say those taste better, despite not being Mickey-shaped!


The man behind me is just not having it with my selfie nonsense and, frankly, I can’t blame him

While we were letting the beignets settle into our tummies, we checked the Disneyland app to see if there were any rides in Disneyland that had shorter wait times before our lunch. On our way to Mint Julep Bar, we saw that Pirates of the Caribbean was unexpectedly closed for repairs, but they had reopened and the wait was 5 minutes! We got up REAL fast and power-walked over to PotC, which I honestly did not think I would get to experience on this trip. I didn’t feel too strongly about experiencing rides that had replicas over at Disney World, in light of having ridden them in Florida and wanting to experience completely new things in California, but this is THE original Pirates ride and it was a lot of fun to experience. It’s slightly different from the Orlando one, and it’s fun knowing that there are still real human bones in the attraction! Also, to wave at the Blue Bayou diners at the beginning of the ride. I love this ride a lot, and I’m so so glad that I was able to ride it.

Tip: This isn’t exactly a tip, but I was a little startled by the small drop that happens after you finish harassing greeting Blue Bayou diners. I remembered hearing some yelps as I was waiting in line, but be advised that your little boat will drop and splash a teensy bit! Don’t say I didn’t warn ya! Also, despite what Youtube may tell you, I’d recommend not shouting “Throw me a roll!” at the diners.

After Pirates, we grabbed FastPasses for Indiana Jones, since that wait was very long otherwise and we had a FastPass opening! And then, before we knew it, it was time to head back to DCA for lunch at Ariel’s Grotto with Megan and Don. (Muahahaha they thought they could escape us!)

Ariel’s Grotto is a character dining establishment, so if you are not emotionally prepared to meet princesses, you should give yourself time to be prepared. Of course, the Little Mermaid herself greets and welcomes you before you’re seated and order.DSC00781

Almost all of us opted for the tri-tip steak (it felt a little wrong to order seafood in Ariel’s restaurant, didn’t it?) and Megan and Don had some fun with their drinks. (Light-up ice cubes!) Plus, a delicious dessert sampler!

Teeny creme brulee, little s’mores brownie, and a chocolate-covered strawberry

We were able to meet four princesses:

Belle! (Beauty and the Beast)
Punzie! (Rapunzel – Tangled)
Cindy! (Cinderella)

Meeting Tiana made me really emotional, moreso than I thought I’d be. I was upset that they excluded her from having her soundtrack played as they introduced her, even though they played every other princess’s music. And she meant so much to me, and I knew that didn’t even compare to how much she means to so many other people as the first black princess. I was just really happy to see her. (Okay yes I cried.)

Tiana! (Princess and the Frog)

After lunch, we rushed back to Disneyland to catch Indiana Jones Adventure with our FastPass. Can I confess something? I haven’t seen any of the Indiana Jones movies. I’m sorry!!! This was the closest I’ve come to experiencing our favorite Harrison Ford archaeologist’s adventures. It was a lot of fun, kind of scarier and creepier than I was expecting! I think that after that visit to Disney World a few years ago, I didn’t think that Disney parks really aimed for thrills, but I have been officially proven wrong with Indy and Screamin’.

We then got to ride Haunted Mansion, which is delightfully spoopy. Sometimes, I really can’t believe that Disneyland has these rides that would later inspire movies, since we’re pretty used to seeing rides be inspired by successful Disney franchises. I am glad I got to ride Haunted Mansion because a classmate of mine from high school is one of the Imagineers who worked on Hatbox Ghost, who was only part of the ride for a brief time when it opened before he was removed due to technical failures. Despite his short tenure, the love of the fans brought him back and it’s a lot of fun to see him and his head appearing in the hatbox!


Dashed on over to TomorrowLand to check out Star Tours because I didn’t need to be beaten in Buzz Lightyear by Ben. (Again.) It’s definitely a lot of fun, especially because it’s one of the attractions that is personalized for each group that rides it. (You want to know what’s funny? Seeing a photo of a befuddled 4-year-old boy up on the big screen, warning of a dangerous rebel!) This was one of the longer lines we waited in all day, actually, because we didn’t have FastPass and it is a popular attraction, but it was fun and I got to see a really cute little Princess Leia in full costume, buns and all!


Ben and I then spent a longer time than we thought chilling at Star Wars Launch Bay. It was nice to just slow down and enjoy the exhibits a bit, especially since Ben has always been a fan of the franchise and I’m a fairly new fan, so we enjoyed learning things about the universe that we didn’t know before. Also it’s really nice and air conditioned in there, y’all.

Normally, Marvel’s Superhero Bay is in this area, but it was closed while we were there, very sad. The wait times to meet Kylo Ren and Chewie were also really short! Like 10 minutes!!! But Ben was very uninterested in meeting them and preferred to just keep things low-key and not wait in line, which was really understandable after all that we had done up to that point. Definitely visit this part of the park if you are a fan of Star Wars! There is a movie that you can watch to learn more about the making of the films, and it’s a must-visit for any Star Wars fan.

Oh yeah, and then Ben pwned me at Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters after all. The most heartbreaking thing is I almost beat him! And then at the last minute, our ride stopped and Ben had this great angle for a lot of points and I didn’t stand a chance then.


We were starting to feel the early morning and the multiple attractions we had already visited at this point, so we mosied over to Path of the Jedi, which is a 10-minute movie about Star Wars, the making of the movies, and a trailer for The Force Awakens!!! I’m assuming they will or have already updated this to have the new trailer for the new film… It was good to just sit.

Tip: If you need to take a little break and just sit down, this is the place for you. The most you’ll need to wait is 10 minutes for the theater to open back up after playing the movie, so you could even get 20 minutes of break time if you need a little more of a breather!

Spent a lot of time staring into the sun trying to get this shot

The sun was starting to set a little bit, so while Disneyland was awash in gold, we walked around. The lines for most of the rides that we didn’t get to ride were pretty long, and the only ones with shorter lines were storybook rides (aka the interactive ride-through-the-Disney-story attractions) and faster rides than we felt like sitting through at that point. We even bumped into Megan and Don waiting in line for Peter Pan’s Flight while we strolled around. I hunted down Snow White’s well because I mean…

Tip: The wishing well is located right up near the castle. I, and other guests, had a bit of a tough time finding it!


And got some more photo ops around the park…DSC00824DSC00825DSC00838DSC00855DSC00857

This line was too long, but I heard that It’s a Small World on this coast has a lot of cute Easter egg characters hiding among Mary Blair’s characters! (e.g. Look for Lilo & Stitch in Hawaii, Timon & Pumba, etc.)

DSC00878DSC00877-edited.jpgDisneyland Snow.jpg

And before we knew it, it was time to power walk back over to the Grand Californian for our dinner reservation with the newlyweds at Napa Rose.

One more Disneyland post after this and we’ll be in the homestretch for these spring break posts! A few more notes:

  • We didn’t get to eat any Dole Whip (sorry Annie!!) because we were rushing around, but I hear that the line inside is shorter than the one you see when you reach the Enchanted Tiki Room, so it’s well worth a gander. Plus, you get to go inside the Enchanted Tiki Room!
  • You may have noticed that we did not even bother with Hyperspace Mountain. The FastPasses were completely GONE for this attraction before noon, and the line never got shorter than a 2 hour wait. I had heard it was really similar to Space Mountain back in Orlando, and I didn’t really need wait that long to ride another roller coaster. If you really want to ride this one, make sure you get a FastPass early, come start waiting in line early, or just be prepared to wait about 2 hours to ride.
  • If you neglect to pace yourself, like we did, do take some time to plan out attractions for you to take it easy, like Path of the Jedi. (Disney World visitors often do the same thing with Carousel of Progress, which is one of my favorite rides even if it wasn’t a break for my feet.)

What are your favorite things to do and eat at Disneyland? I neglected to mention this in my last post, but Ben and I did manage to eat a churro at DCA so we weren’t completely starving. However, we didn’t make it to the churro cart with the fun flavors that I’ve heard about! Did I miss out?

What are your favorite Disney franchises that are based on rides / have rides at the parks? I think I have a special place in my heart for Pirates, because I really do love the ride (“We want the redhead!”) and the movies are awesome. This is a little unfair to rides like, say, Haunted Mansion, because I am not great with spoopy and I had a really weird experience watching that movie. And I am pretty partial to anything at the parks that have to do with The Little Mermaid.

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