Disneyland Resort First Impressions

Disneyland
Disneyland

Instead of another comprehensive trip report from me on my recent Disneyland visit, I thought I’d do something different and interview my mom, Pam, on her first visit.

 

What was your overall first impression of Disneyland Resort?

It is a more detailed version of Walt Disney World. It is more compact. I liked it and think their Downtown Disney has a more homey feel. Disneyland has better places to eat than the Magic Kingdom.

What was your favorite show?

World of Color was reminiscent of a show called Dancing Waters from back in the 1950s that I enjoyed as a child. Aladdin in Disney California Adventure was great. My favorite characters were the Genie and the carpet. How a character without any lines can portray so much emotion in playing a carpet was amazing. I also really liked Mickey and the Magical Map in Disneyland. I loved the swing dancers on Saturday night at Disneyland too!

World of Color
World of Color

What was your favorite ride in each park?

In Disneyland, I liked Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. I thought it was a nice themed ride with attention to detail. It was a long, relaxing ride. At California Adventure I liked Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Golden Zephyr and the non-swinging cars on Mickey’s Fun Wheel.

Which did you like better, Haunted Mansion Holiday or It’s A Small World Holiday?

Haunted Mansion Holiday
Haunted Mansion Holiday

That’s a tough one. I liked them both. The Haunted Mansion Holiday was really nice with the theming, but this brought such a change to the ride from the regular Haunted Mansion. The queues are also both so different from Walt Disney World. I enjoy the exteriors both, but really like the southern mansion style of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I think the theming at Haunted Mansion more immersive and complete than It’s A Small World.

What were some of your favorite food items or meals?

At California Adventure, definitely Carthay Circle. The Cozy Cone breakfast cone was good and a little different for a breakfast item. Churros were excellent. Those were always our go to snack. Bengal BBQ in Disneyland and Jolly Holiday Bakery were both places we visited twice. Flavored cokes from Coke Corner were great and brought back memories of working at a soda fountain in high school.

What were your favorite holiday decorations at Disneyland Resort?

World of Color Winter Dreams, It’s A Small World Holiday and the lights in Cars Land

What did you think about the Grand Californian?

It reminded me a lot of one of our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World, the Wilderness Lodge. It was bigger than I expected. We had a great meal at Napa Rose. It was a great location and nice that we could walk directly into the park from our resort.

What do you takeaway from the trip?

I was delightfully surprised. I thought it was just going to be a smaller version of Walt Disney World and thought I was going to be disappointed. The Cast Members really went out of their way to say Happy Birthday and your name. The theming was wonderful. I liked the more friendly village feeling to Downtown Disney. Also enjoyed Trader Sam’s theming and the holiday drinks at Disneyland Hotel.

Churro
Churro
Cars Land decorations
Cars Land decorations
Grand Californian lobby
Grand Californian lobby
Trader Sams
Trader Sams
Mickey, Minnie, Mom & me
Mickey, Minnie, Mom & me
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Disneyland: California Dreaming

Disneyland trip report
Disneyland

With so many of us and our friends traveling out to Disneyland this week, it’s got me thinking about my upcoming trip. I had my first trip to Disneyland last summer, and wow was it amazing! You can read my detailed trip reports from last year here, here and here. This fall I’m heading back to California the week after Thanksgiving. I’m so stoked that I will get to see the Disneyland Resort in a whole new light at the holidays!

Last trip was solo with several groups of friends traveling on overlapping dates, which turned into only one day where I was truly on my own. This year, my mom is coming with me for her first trip to Disneyland. We are also celebrating both of our birthdays since it is the week after mine and the week before hers. I’m excited to see it through her eyes for the first time as she has been coming to Walt Disney World since the early 1970s and has been a passholder on and off over the past 15 years. We are staying on property at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and splurged for a theme park view room since I was able to book at a discount through work.

Disneyland trip report
Musicians strolling through New Orleans Square

I am looking forward to going back to experience some of my favorites from last time like Pirates of the Caribbean, Radiator Springs Racers, Alice in Wonderland and many more attractions. Even just the thought of exploring New Orleans Square, which is one of my favorite places on the entire planet, gets me excited for this trip! I cannot wait to see and do the special things just for Christmas time. They haven’t released any info yet, but I’m hoping I’ll be there while Disneyland is doing the Candlelight Processional. I love this show at Epcot and would like to see the differences and often they have great celebrity narrators since they’re so close to L.A.

Haunted Mansion is going to be transformed for the Nightmare Before Christmas layover called Haunted Mansion Holiday. I’ve seen the ride through on my NBC special edition dvd, but experiencing it in person has been on my list for a while. I also cannot wait to see Sleeping Beauty Castle draped in icicle lights and the special Believe fireworks show in Disneyland.

Over in Disney California Adventure I am probably most looking forward to seeing my favorite section of the park, Buena Vista Street, decked out in decorations reminiscent of the heyday of Hollywood. I saw pictures from friends last year and videos of bell ringers and I see myself with a peppermint mocha from Fiddler, Fife and Practical Cafe’s Starbucks spending a good amount of time just soaking in the atmosphere. Also, I’m interested to see the all new World of Color show for the holidays. I have to admit I’m going to miss the regular show, but I’m sure they’ll produce something just as awesome for Christmas.

And then there is the food. I will definitely be returning to Jolly Holiday Bakery for my beloved Matterhorn macaroon, Mickey beignets and a mint julep will be happening, and skewers from Bengal Barbecue again will make another great snack. I am debating making a reservation for either a character meal, which I didn’t do last time, or maybe Steakhouse 55 since I’m still unable to find a way into Club 33. I really loved Napa Rose and may do just appetizers and drinks there again and same thing at Carthay Circle since I enjoyed them both so much. Oh yes, and churros must happen too. Team churro forever!

Matterhorn Macaroon
Matterhorn Macaroon
Mickey beignets and mint julep
Mickey beignets and mint julep
Club 33
Club 33
Carthay Circle Manhattan
Carthay Circle Manhattan

I think I hit all of the attractions last summer, but there have been some additions since then like Mickey and the Magical Map in Disneyland and the new location for the princess meet and greet. I am also hoping that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will be open then after its lengthy refurbishment. It’s A Small World Holiday is another thing I’m really looking forward to seeing for the first time.

Most of all, I just cannot wait to be back in Disneyland. For someone who has been coming to Walt Disney World for thirty plus years, it is like traveling home, but to a different home than what you know, and you are instantly welcomed and at ease. I’m also toying with doing either a special holiday tour or the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour. The ambiance and feel and coziness of Disneyland is something that I think we are missing here in Florida. I love the parks here at Christmas and can’t wait to experience the magic of Disneyland when I head back in a few months. The thought of returning to Trader Sam’s doesn’t hurt either. 😉

Have you been to Disneyland at the holidays? What are some of your favorite things to do? Leave me a comment if there’s anything I’ve missed that special for that time of year or if you have any restaurant or tour recommendations for me.

 

Best of luck to everyone traveling to Disneyland this weekend for the runDisney Dumbo Double Dare races!!!

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