I don’t know how Disneyland earned that title, but it most certainly is the busiest place on earth in my opinion. And I hear this is the off season. Oh my! Hands down the best day to be in the park was SuperBowl Sunday, when the ride times were at their lowest. But either way, Disneyland was a bucket list item from Hubby’s childhood and you guessed it, we just got back from our trip to Disneyland and California Adventure Park.
We’ve talked about going for a couple years (mostly Hubby, but he claims I was really on board) and when said Hubby took some impromptu days off around Christmas, I wanted to surprise the boys with a trip to Disney. But logical hubby won out and we planned for February instead. Thank you Javonna for the tips on the MaxPass and time to visit, although, I’d say it was still decently busy for the low season.
After a few people asked us if we were planning on driving, I thought I better clarify, the McNultys can NOT survive more than three hours in a car willingly. Now, push comes to shove in an emergency, okay. We can make do. But NINE hours in the car…. best intentions for good behavior are just not going to make it that far. We flew. As a side note, we did learn that Southwest is soon to be flying to Hawaii. Land that I love! Super excited about those future flights. Both ways to/from the airport we used Uber instead of the Disney Shuttle because of timing and it worked really well.
We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s mid range hotel. We chose this one because it has waterslides and pools, all of which were fully operational during our visit. The main thing I miss about Hawaii is the ability to swim year round, not to mention how nice it was to get in the pool after being at the park for seven hours and just unwind. We also picked this hotel because it sports both a very nice military discount and the early magic hour entry to the theme parks. I thought I read somewhere you can also purchase the magic morning pass, but don’t quote me on that. Although, it is at the very far end of Downtown Disney, adding a half mile walk to the park from the hotel. But given all the walking in the park, it really isn’t much.
Based on our experience at LegoLand, this Magic Morning hour is key to a very magical park visit. Disney did not disappoint. The parks are amazing. Especially if you think about all that goes on behind the scenes for all these rides to work. It is simply amazing. The magic morning for the two mornings we were there were both at CA Adventure. So we were able to ride the Cars ride before anyone was there and the place was strikingly empty. Sunday being the best day to visit the park as I mentioned above (Thank you Superbowl). And true to the videos I watched, the mornings are definitely the lowest in numbers.
My SIL Christie gave me LOTS of advice for what to see and do at the park and I still felt unprepared, but she was a great sanity saver for when I had a question. The MaxPass – Disney’s remote save your place in line system, available for a nominal fee through the Disney App is well worth the purchase. You get all your park photos, plus as described above, you save your place in line before you get to the ride. One time we waltzed right to the front and got on the ride. Other times it took our wait down to 10 minutes from the 50-75 standby wait time. A must get!
A word of caution about the rides. I did NOT research the rides at all before going to the park. I knew Cars and Space Mountain were the two most popular rides at each park, but I had no idea what either ride actually was. I erroneously assumed if John was tall enough to ride the ride, it would not be scary and be kid friendly. I am ABSOLUTELY NOT!! a thrill seeker and just as happy to stick to kiddie rides myself. We hit Disneyland our first afternoon and all the rides we went to were easy going. My theory held. The next morning, we did the Cars Ride and then rolled right over to the Gardians of the Glaxay ride. John was tall enough, so it must be alright. Right? Wrong! At the moment we are all shuttled into the room and they are playing the video about the ride, I start to realize the error in my theory. This is in fact an Elevator Drop ride that has a view of the entire park at one point. Is this my kind of ride? No Way!! We all pile on and mid ride, my boys are slammed against me, shell shocked. We exit as my legs are shaking with every step out of there. Oh my word!! I now realize, John is tall enough to ride scary rides and I better do a little more research.
The only ride John could not ride was the Indiana Jones ride, which Vance and Brendon keep telling us was amazing. Do they have no sense of our feelings??!! All in all, we survived all the rides, the Matterhorn as a second in John’s not happy playbook, and were certainly ready to come home after 2.5 days on park. Walking somewhere between 6-8 miles a day.
We did splurge and do the character dining at Goofy’s kitchen. (Also inside the Disneyland Hotel) The boys really loved meeting the characters up close and the chef met with us before we hit the buffet to cover all the food unsafe for Johns allergy. Disney is very good at being inclusive. The MaxPass photopass also included photos from the Character dining too.
How did Disneyland compare to Legoland? It was so much bigger, there isn’t much for comparison in overall theme park, but if you do both, make sure Legoland is first, otherwise I’d anticipate LegoLand feeling really second rate. Also, the boys really liked the theme of Legoland much better. Much like Walmart, my kids aren’t versed in Disney. They have seen the movies, but we aren’t much into the Disney marketing scene, so they are only so so on the characters. Case in point, when we told them “WE’RE GOING TO DISNEYLAND!!” the day before we left, they were not over the moon excited; but really they had no basis for which to be excited. However, six is truly the perfect age for visiting theme parks. It was all very magical for John and as mentioned above he could ride nearly all the rides (42″ is the height for most, some are 40″ and Indian Jones is 46″).
The hotel rooms: Legoland had them by a mile. The Disneyland Hotel is a typical hotel room layout, unless you spring for a suite or two adjoining rooms. At Legoland the rooms were the same size as a typical hotel room, but the layout was set up like two private rooms with a bathroom in between. Not that it really mattered as the boys fell asleep instantly, but the little bit of privacy and separation was nice. Plus the rooms were really themed out in LegoLand; not so much at Disneyland. They did have a magical night light that lit up the wall, but for some reason John found it kind of creepy.
Would we go again? I know there are many who make annual (or even more often) treks to Disneyland. While the place is magical for the reasons mentioned above, I do not see us making a trip there anytime in the near (several years) future. There are just too many other places to visit and we’re more about the great outdoors than the “crush of humanity”. Disneyland has dramatically changed since my last visit, Fall of 1993 and personally adding the extra park and downtown kind of took away the nostalgic charm for me. Of course, for my kids, that means nothing and they had an absolute blast being out of school, getting to do fun rides and Dad even treated them to cotton candy! in the park. They will have their own memories of what Disneyland is.
Also, one last note. I would not suggest Disney for anyone worried about finances; the whole experience is built around the park and your kids trying to separate you from your hard earned money. We had a comfortable expectation about what we would spend on the trip, traveled with cash and stuck to that amount. The boys got souvenirs like “Their hotel key card with their name printed on it for the magic morning…” They don’t truly NEED anything and it was pretty easy to talk them into a couple small items without going overboard.