Emily M. DeArdo


California Diary: Disneyland!

travelEmily DeArdoComment

Time for some true confessions.

When I was first thinking about what to do in California, Disneyland was on the "maybe" list, because, to be honest, I'd heard a lot of "meh" about it.

It's small.

It's boring.

It's not as "cool" as WDW.

I am glad I did not listen to these people! 

There is an intangible magical aspect to Disneyland that's probably the fact that Walt was involved in every aspect of it--from start to finish. He was planning WDW at the time of his death, but Disneyland was his baby, and that shows. 

The park is smaller than WDW, but that is a plus to me, because it means you don't have to rush through it like a crazy person in order to see everything you want to see. We had plenty of time to ride everything we wanted to ride, each a leisurely lunch, shop, and get character photos, without ever feeling rushed or crushed by the crowds. And the weather has WDW beat--it was 70 degrees--perfect. I was actually COLD at  a Disney park, which I didn't think was possible! 

Also, Sleeping Beauty is better than Cinderella, to me, so I was happy to see Aurora's castle and accompanying things around. (It's not that I don't like Cinderella-- I just prefer Sleeping Beauty.)

We took an Uber to Disneyland--we used Uber almost exclusively this trip, and had ZERO problems, so I'm a big fan now--and arrived a little after 8:30. We'd bought our tickets at the Ghirardelli shop on Sunday, so we had those, and got in the line for the entrance. The park opens at 9:00, but Main Street opens at 8:30 So we got in, I got a hat (needed a hat, per my dermatologist--gotta protect the head!), and we headed through the castle to Fantasyland.

Mary saw Mary Poppins and Bert, so we got a photo with them because her sister loves Mary Poppins, and then we went on to ride two more English rides--the teacups and Mr Toad's Wild Ride. 

I love the teacups, but I'd never been on Mr Toad's Wild Ride--I hear it used to be at WDW but it's part of the Winnie the Pooh ride now This is silly to me, because I loved Mr Toad! I thought it was such a fun, simple ride that anyone could enjoy, even if, like me, they weren't too familiar with his story.

Small World also has the bonus touch of Disney characters inserted into the ride, but in a low-key way:

I thought that was a really clever job by the Imagineers. 

Another fun thing was New Orleans Square, which I liked a lot better than "Liberty Square" at WDW--the theming of New Orleans was a lot more fun and specific than the sort of colonial "Liberty" square era at WDW. The Haunted Mansion has a decidedly Southern theme here, and even Pirates of the Caribbean begins in a firefly lit bayou. And Mickey Beignets? Mary said oui to that. 


The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland 

The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland 

Of course, there's always the unexpected Disney things:

Yes, that's a real cat in the line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad--and she was totally fine with all of us watching her!

Yes, that's a real cat in the line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad--and she was totally fine with all of us watching her!

There is an undeniable charm to Disneyland that's nice--and the people are so low-key. No one was grouching about waiting in line I didn't see parents hauling screaming, crying kids out of the park around 2:00 because they'd been there since 6:30 waiting for "rope drop". Maybe I just got a lucky day, but it was blessedly free of the hordes of scooters and pushing, crying crowds that you often see at Disney World. It just seemed more "mellow" than its Florida counterpart. 

We had a great lunch at the Carnation Cafe, and even got Dole Whips before we went on the Tiki Room (you don't really "go on" the Tiki room--you enter the Tiki room, I guess). I shall reveal a super-secret tip on getting Dole Whips Quickly in the wrap up at the end of the series! 


List of rides: 

  • The Tea Cups: Always a winner
  • Mr Toad's Wild Ride: My favorite "new" ride
  • The Carousel (Spelled "Carrousel" at Disneyland): Classic, especially due to Saving Mr Banks
  • Small World: The original, with Disney characters! Find Nemo!
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow and red headed women
  • The Haunted Mansion: Longer and scarier than the one at WDW 
  • The Tiki Room: Always good for a laugh (name that movie)
  • Indiana Jones: I was totally underwhelmed--least favorite "new" ride
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: It might not be huge or showy, but it's a solid, smooth coaster ride

We ate dinner at Naples in nextdoor Downtown Disney, and then we headed home, getting back to the hotel (thanks to Uber) around 8:00

Have you been to Disneyland or Disney World? Which do you like better? What's your favorite ride?