Our second stop on our honeymoon was to the original Disney theme park – DISNEYLAND. I was so excited! Having been to Walt Disney World numerous times and Disneyland Paris, it felt only right to give this place a visit. The fact that it was our honeymoon made it even more special.
When you enter the grand gates, to your left is California Adventure, to your right is Disneyland, and straight ahead is Downtown Disney. The moment you step foot into the Disney area (you can tell by all of the street markings, hotels and sign posts nearby) you instantly feel the magic and the literal happiness emanating from families walking by. And soft Disney music whisks you away…
We bought our two-day-two-park-hopper tickets through Expedia, costing us around the $200 mark each. You may think that is steep, but the moment you step into Disney, I’d happily give them all, of, the money.
Our two day trip to Disneyland was hot! It was the middle of July, so we did have to keep topping up our drinks and sun cream. I had to buy new shorts on our second day because my denim shorts were not weather appropriate – denim rubs!
Walking through the entrance – after the ticket and security checkpoints – you come to the famous floral Mickey, below the Disneyland railway. This is when you start to get all of the feels. Then you arrive onto Main Street USA – wow!
Now, my first thought when walking onto Main Street is how teeny tiny the castle looks in comparison to other parks. For me, because it’s the original castle, it doesn’t make it loose any sense of magic, it just go to show how each park has made more of a development as the world of Disney parks has grown.
It’s crazy how the parks are all very similar, yet different with certain elements. Layouts are pretty much the same, some rides are just different. Like Indiana Jones – in California it’s an amazing coaster ride, whereas in Florida it’s a show. Splash Mountain in California is a single coaster flume, but in Florida you sit side by side with your party. The Paris Disneyland doesn’t even have Splash Mountain – what! To me this is why the Disney parks are incredible. Each have their own little differences.
Consisting of Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, it was still the set up I was used too – but like I mentioned above, there were a few slight differences when compared to Disney World. All still magical and wonderful though!
I won’t go on too much because I don’t want to give any of the magic away – however, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight and Big Thunder Mountain remain a handful of my favourite rides.
We met Mickey Mouse in Mickey’s house in Mickey’s Toontown, the set up was Steamboat Willie – and of course, he was dressed as Steamboat Willie Mickey – it was amazing! As expected we got all of the love and hugs from him being newlyweds, and we had a good old chat with him. He was wonderful.
A wedding gift to ourselves was from the Silhouette Studio on Main Street – I had seen this before I just didn’t know if it was something you could still have done. It’s safe to say that we were both totally blown away by it.
The lady who created our portraits for us was roughly 50 to 60 years young, and had been doing that very same job for roughly 40 YEARS, and she was still going strong, loving her job every single day. The silhouettes are created with just paper and scissors and are finished within 60 SECONDS! Absolutely incredible. You sit facing the shop front, and the lady is looking at you side on, and she simple snips away, creating something that actually looks like you – if that’s not talent, then I don’t know what is. If you wanted too, you can have up to four silhouettes in the one frame, including any Disney characters and pets (you just need to show the artist a photo). You can then have the option to purchase a lovely oval frame for the artwork.
You get two copies of your silhouette for $9.99, and if you wish to have a frame it’s $16.95. The queue to get in was never long when we walked past, it’s first-come-first-served, so if you see this shop, it is a must!
California Adventure had a very similar vibe to Hollywood Studios in Orlando. It’s very ‘set’ heavy – like you’ve walked onto a movie set. It definitely had a different vibe to Disneyland and didn’t feel as crowded.
The park is divided into eight sections; Buena Vista Street, Pixar Pier, Pacific Wharf, Paradise Gardens Park, Grizzly Peak, Hollywood Land, Cars Land and Future Expansion.
The main feature of this park is Mickey’s Fun Wheel and the Incredicoaster, and the park as a whole is Pixar-dominated, which is a great contrast to Disneyland. Lot’s of Toy Story, Incredibles, Cars, A Bugs Life, Monsters Inc, Inside Out and more. I mean, we even had the chance to meet Russell from Up, which isn’t a character you would normally come by, he was so cute!
Buena Vista Street is laid out like an LA street in the 1920s, similar to Main Street USA. It’s full of shops and yummy eateries, you’ll find yourself walking up and down here and seeing lots of characters – so keep your eyes peeled!
Pixar Pier and Paradise Gardens Park look like something you would find on a beach, it has the typical-looking rides, with the huge coaster and big wheel, then you can find all carnival-like games – hook-a-duck etc. Pacific Wharf is essentially a collection of restaurants and eateries – it kind of acts as a precursor to the Pixar Pier.
One of my proudest moments happened at Pixar Pier. So, Rich thought he would try to win me a teddy on an A Bugs Life-themed game, one of those games that look really simple but are almost impossible. You had to get three out of six balls into a barrel, so many people were struggling to get one in. Rich gets me to do it, I only go and get five in, and have a crowd watching from behind, and anyone who knows me, knows I get the giggles when I start doing something really well… Hence why I missed one. So yeah, I won a Flik teddy and I proudly paraded him around he park sticking out of my backpack.
The best attraction here in my eyes is Toy Story Midway Mania – it has a similar vibe to Buzz Lightyear’s Spaceranger Spin, but better (bold I know). It’s an interactive arcade game – I’m not saying anymore, but it’s so much fun!
Grizzly Peak is when you step into the wilderness that has elements of Brother Bear and Up. The featured attraction in this park is Soarin’ Around the World – I’ve always loved this ride, when I first went on it many years ago it was breathtaking, I’d never experienced anything like this, so with this being Rich’s first time aboard I was excited to show him!
Hollywood Land was once home to the Tower of Terror, but it’s now … The Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout ride – and they’ve definitely upped their game. We both felt dreadful coming off it, the theme is cool and how they’ve done the ride is cool. But unlike the predictable up (then down) of Tower of Terror, Mission Breakout is unpredictable and quite erratic.
So, back to Hollywood Land, this part of the park is inspired by 1930’s Hollywood, appearing like a backlot. You can find theatres here, as well as shows and a lot of Monsters Inc. things. If you have some young ones, you can sit back and relax watching some Disney Junior Live!
Cars Land is self explanatory, you are in Radiator Springs, no word of a lie, it’s unreal!
This part really felt like Disney had pushed themselves – the streets, the restaurants, the rides. The attention to detail is amazing. The main, and most popular ride in Cars Land, is Radiator Springs Racers. It’s the same as Epcot’s Test Track – where you are essentially testing out a new car, before a final race at the end.
The newest land that the Imagineers are working on is Avengers Campus! This new part will be located near Guardians of the Galaxy, and is going to be fantastic from the sounds of it!
Our two days in Disney were during Disneyland’s first ever Pixar Fest! It was running from April 2018 through to September.
I’m so glad we were able to see this. We love Pixar, who doesn’t! But we got to see more of it than expected – the parades and fireworks were Pixar-themed – so much emotion, it was ridiculous!
Food and drink
Food and drink in the parks adds up. Everything is just a little over priced. Enough to go ‘lets just get it’ but then you look at your bank at the end of the day, and you’ve spent a lot.
My favourite snacks to eat in Disney are the famous Turkey legs – sounds gross to some people, but it’s probably the best value for money food they sell. It’s big, tasty and filling – I’ve still never finished one to this day. As well as the turkey leg, anything Mickey Mouse shaped will do me (apart from pretzels – that’s Rich’s thing). If you ask me, cookies and ice cream are the way to go.
There are always a few fast food deals on for cheapish prices, like hot dog/ burger with a bag of chips (crisps) and a drink for less than $10.
There’s lots to choose from when it comes to eating in Disney, whether you want to dine in or walk about with your food. Food is everywhere, and it’s all yummy!
Also, FYI, you can get water for free in the park. Water fountains are dotted around the park, and you can also ask for some tap water from a handful of restaurants and cafes – for free.
Downtown Disney is a lot smaller than I thought it would be in Anaheim. It’s also free to enter, with a similar setting and layout to Disney World. However, when walking through the shopping area, it just seemed to end – but then again, it’s wedged between two big theme parks.
Albeit small, it still sells all the merchandise you’d ever want – and there are a wide variety of shops and places to eat and drink.
And the shop pictured above is where you’ll find all the best bits!
The Disneyland app was more useful that I thought it would be, so you have to make sure you have enough battery on your phone. We mainly used the app for wait times, FASTPASS times and the PhotoPass, but you can use it for so much more!
- Check waiting times for both parks.
- You can buy park tickets through the app, so you can skip the ticket lines by just showing the barcode on your phone.
- Check FASTPASS times and select them.
- Manage reservations.
- Make dining reservations and order food ahead of time.
- View your photos cast members have taken of you around the parks.
- See restaurant menus.
- Explore the Disney map.
The FASTPASS works a charm if you know what you’re doing. We used it the old fashioned way, however you can use the app to see availability and book your time slots.
At the rides or close by to them you can find little ticket booths where you insert your park ticket (One person can do multiple tickets at once if need be) and you get a ticket for a reserved time slot to come back and join the FASTPASS line – which is typically much shorter than the main queue.
The Photo Pass was a new feature for me and it totally blew me away.
When you are walking around the park, you will come by so many cast members with cameras, positioned near all of the best photo opportunities. Once you have your photo taken, they scan a Photo Pass card for you, which you can then use on your Disneyland app to view by scanning the barcode. So then every time you have your photo taken, you can scan the same card as previously done and the pictures will upload onto the app where you can save, download and share them.
The first thing we had to do before entering Disneyland BEFORE we saw the castle, was nip into the first shop and get ourselves a FREE ‘just married’ badge. Now, if you want some attention, you need to get yourself a badge for whatever occasion you are celebrating; marriage, birthday or even a milestone Disney Park visit.
When wearing these badges, the queuing, shopping, character meeting experiences etc. were enhanced ten fold! Just walking throughout the parks, cast members would wish us both all the luck in the world, ask us about the wedding and more. It was a lovely touch – although it did make the rest of our honeymoon feel a little weird as people outside of Disney didn’t give us attention. How dare they!
Peter pan, oh how Peter Pan never fails to grab my heart. He is the one character I tell everyone to meet, especially if you have children. He is wonderful, and we didn’t do a character meet with him. We found him. He was hiding behind a bin. Why? Because he was playing hide-and-seek with some children in the park. HOW SWEET.
He then spotted Captain Hook and got super excited, waving him down so he could join in with another game with a group of children. If I had a child and they were involved, I would have been sobbing my heart out.
It was one of the cutest things I’ve witnessed. So go meet Peter Pan!
Meeting Woody in California Adventure was unexpected and turned me into a giggling monster. Below, you can see the three stages of our conversation. Firstly, Woody spots our badges and give us well wishes.
Secondly, he takes my hand and looks at my rings.
Lastly, he high-fives Rich. Flattered much!
In my opinion, anything that Disneyland lacks in modern wow-factor, it makes up for in nostalgia. Sure, the castle isn’t the biggest, but it’s the first castle ever. Some of the rides may be a little outdated (when compared to newer Disney parks) but there’s a strange sense of wonder in knowing that Walt walked on the same cobbles you’re walking on. Walt Disney himself created this park from start to finish, and got his hands dirty in the process. It’s because of this park that we have other Disney parks. It’s because of this park’s rides that we have a Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, a Haunted Mansion movie and a lovable stigma attached to little robots singing “It’s a Small World” in several different languages. Disneyland may be the oldest Disney park, but it still has spades of character, and plenty of pixie dust left.