Disneyland is every Disney-lover’s dream. An amusement park all about our favourite Disney movies! I don’t know about you but I grew up in the 90’s, when all the best Disney movies were released. The classics. I get a thrill just thinking about them; The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Aladdin.
Therefore, when I saw a deal from Flight Centre for cheap flights and packages to visit Disneyland, California, my Disney-shaped heart fairly burst out of my chest at the possibility of a trip. I had booked myself a holiday within a week; my most spontaneous holiday to date. For those who truly know me, they understand that such a quick decision is phenomenal.
Then came the waiting game. I had about 4 months before my trip and during that time I researched and fantasized. The research was good but the fantasizing was a bad idea. You know how it is. When you have a childhood dream and, even though you’re now a rational adult, you still have that child-like expectation of magic. Well, that was me and Disneyland. Don’t get me wrong; Disneyland is a fantastic park and I would certainly return if I was in the area again. However, I somehow forgot that Disneyland is a business, not just Walt Disney’s attempt to fill the world with magic.
What time of year, season and day of the week is a big factor in how much you will enjoy your time at the park. I visited in early September, which is after the American summer holidays. This made the park less crowded during the week but overcrowded on the weekend. If you really want to see the park during a particular season, then you are going to have to count on it being shoulder-to-shoulder busy. I was shocked at the difference between a Tuesday and a Saturday.
As you will be able to tell from my photos, there is a pretty slim chance that you won’t get random people in your pictures and just know that people really don’t care that you have been waiting for them to pass before taking the shot. I don’t know how many times I took 6 or 7 shots of the same spot in order to get a shot without someone’s face looking into my lens. Listen, I am not having a whinge about finding “the perfect shot” because there is no way I am a good photographer. It’s the awesome camera I use. No, I honestly don’t like how oblivious we as humans are to our surroundings, especially to people trying to get a memorable photo. But like I said, resign yourself to having to look past the crowds for a good shot.
As to the atmosphere in Disneyland, I would definitely say it is one of the happiest theme parks I’ve ever been to. This is mainly because no one is judging you for dressing in a full Disney-themed outfit, sporting those iconic ears and walking around with a glazed expression on your face. In fact, most people will compliment you on what you wear and even share in your enthusiasm. Some of the staff within Disneyland, however, could be a little more nice. I found the staff on rides and the ones at the fruit/ bottled drinks stands rude. I mean, I understand they’re at work but they do work at Disneyland, right?
The rides are pretty incredible, I must say. I myself am not much of a rides person but the few I did go on were fantastic. The park is very large so if you do intend to ride many of the rides, I would suggest using the Fastpass service to your advantage. The lines were upwards of an hour waiting, which leaves very little time to do much else and there is so much more to see.
The food inside the park varies between reasonable and expensive. If you plan on eating at one of the cafés or themed restaurants, I would suggest leaving yourself plenty of time to eat. The lines for a seated meal were sometimes the same length as the rides’ lines. I often stopped to stickybeak, wondering what could be so good that they’d wait an hour just to be seated. If it’s possible to pre-book a table, do it. Food you must try, however, is the beignets and churros. Now there is something that I could easily wait in line for. Maybe not an hour, though.
On to my favourite part of Disneyland. The shopping! I could’ve spent a million dollars in the park’s stores. From jewellery to clothing to ornaments, Disneyland has a vast array of Disney-themed souvenirs. Be warned, however. None of these things come cheap. There was many times where I gasped at something spectacular, only to stare in horror at the ridiculous price attached to the item. If you are on a budget as I was, you will have to learn to be decisive on your shopping budget for your souvenirs will add up quickly.
Though the park has so many different facets, I can definitively name my favourite section of the park. It has to be Tomorrowland. Why? Because it’s Star Wars-themed! From the moment you enter the Tomorrowland zone, you hear the amazing soundtrack from the Star Wars movies. All the decorations are futuristic and cool. The rides, too, are the definition of amazing. Everyone lined up to go on them. The lines often blocked the walkways, no joke. The Star Trader store, however, was drool-worthy. I walked in and began touching everything, oohing and ahhing at every turn. I couldn’t decide what to buy! It was always my first and last stop during the day.
The one place I would not recommend visiting is Toon Town. Now, there is nothing wrong with Mickey’s Toon Town. It’s more that the region is most definitely suited for young children. It is where characters such as Minnie, Pluto and Mickey can be found and visited at their respective homes but there’s not all that much else. Nothing to keep the older ones happy.
So, if you are contemplating a visit to California’s Disneyland, here are my top tips.
Use the ART bus system. This is one of the local bus systems that has every route linked at Disneyland. The buses stop outside most of the hotels in Anaheim and take you all over the city, not just the Disneyland parks. They also arrive every 20 minutes or so, which is absolutely amazing. Do not walk unless you are staying at one of the Disneyland resorts. It’s just too far and too painful. Besides, you’ll be doing plenty of walking in the park.
Don’t visit Disneyland alone. It’s not as much fun when you have no one to share the magical moments with and you feel pretty lonely getting on rides. Disneyland is a place that you need to visit with someone. I know there are plenty of people who say it’s better alone but, speaking from experience, it was lonely.
California is hot. No matter what time of year you visit, California is going to be hot and dry. If you have fair skin, slather on that sunscreen. You will totally thank me later. I actually burnt my scalp and was in serious pain the rest of the week. Take a cute hat, too. That sun can be blinding and a hat offers much needed shade.
That about sums up my trip to Disneyland. I hope this post answers any questions you might have. I had an absolute blast in Disneyland, even if it didn’t live up to my childhood expectations. If you are thinking about going, grab a bunch of friends and check out this phenomenon.