Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Disneyland ~ 60th Anniversary Trip!

With all of the hype about the 60th Anniversary at the Disneyland Resort I thought I'd do a couple of blogs on this wonderful place. We only had one day in the parks so we didn't go on, and I won't be covering, all the rides. We decided what we wanted to ride the most and that's what we did, your own visit may be a bit different depending on what you, or your family, likes the most. 

Today I'll be covering Disneyland during the day then next week I'll cover some of California Adventure and finally Disneyland After Dark on the 3rd week. I hope you will come back for all 3 weeks! 
 To start off, lets talk about timing. Summer is a really hard time to enjoy the parks. It's hot and crowded every single weekend. During May and part of June there are also "grad nights" to deal with so make sure you check their schedule or even call and talk to a Cast Member who will help you plan your visit. We were there on the 28th of May. That was a Thursday, a non-grad night and right after the crazy 24 hour event and the Memorial Day Weekend. Perfect. I almost never get a shot of the entrance way Mickey...that day I had no problems...there were hardly any people! In fact, we basically walked right into the park!
 Ornate decorations for the celebration are, literally, everywhere. Banners, bunting, signs and the elaborate D are to be found all through both parks and Downtown Disney as well. 
 You can see here just how uncrowded it was that morning. I'm standing in front of City Hall and this was my view. City Hall is a great place to visit if you have medical needs and need to find out some information about accessibility or if you are celebrating something special. They will give you a button that says something like Happy Anniversary or Happily Ever After or It's My Birthday! Cast members will remark on the buttons all day long so it's tons of fun. Ok, back to my view... If you click on the big picture you will find one of the things that most visitors to the park miss....other parts of the park sticking up where you can see them!
 The spires of Space Mountain can be seen from the Main Street square! Take the time, and I know it's hard because the idea of seeing Disneyland is to get as many rides under your belt before closing, but take the time to just take it all in. Disney is all about the details so spend some time looking for them.
 One of the ways you can have an extra fun time is to use the different forms of transportation that run from the front of the park to the Castle. I had never been on the double decker bus until this trip and I've been to Disneyland over a hundred times! It's totally free and totally fun. The kids will love it too!
 But if you choose to walk there is always a lot of "beautiful" to be found on Main Street. I have always loved the vintage style lamp posts but now they are extra beautiful with the new decorations.
 This is my very favorite lamp and it shows the gorgeous details that you can find on Main Street and throughout the parks, of vintage style. 
 So, a moment to discuss souvenirs. The 60th Anniversary brings with it special items for purchase. Many, if not most, of these items are very glitzy, very blingy, very glamorous...and very expensive. A light jacket will cost you what a regular, heavy non-Anniversary jacket would cost. I bought a t'shirt, that I totally love, and it cost $25...and that was one of the lesser expensive items. Magnets could cost you $20. So, while the merchandise is really awesome, it's gonna cost you so be prepared for those inflated prices. Speaking of inflated...it's not Disney if you are not being bludgeoned by balloons! These are not just ANY balloons...these are 60th Anniversary balloons and they are HUGE@ One will take up half of your trunk...they are seriously big. If you or your kids are in love with these my recommendation would be to get one on day one and bring it back each day for them to enjoy. You can try to deflate it, carefully, by untying the bottom for refilling back at home but I've never tried that. The good news is that if your balloon pops while you are in the parks they will replace it for free! Just bring the broken balloon to a vendor for replacement. This doesn't count in the case of letting the balloons go...if they float away then there goes your money too.
 Walt Disney and his dream of a place where families can come play and be lost in the Magic has always been the anthem for Disneyland. This small square in front of the castle holds some really nice surprises so take a few minutes to explore here before moving onto one of the "Lands". This is also a very popular place to take the family photo so do this at the beginning of the day while crowds are low. (you can just see the castle, decorated up for the anniversary, in the background...wait till you see it at night!)
This is also the time to take a few minutes and check out the schedule at Pixie Hollow. I don't think there is ever a short waiting time to see Tinker Bell and the other fairies but it's worth it. This is such an adorable character meeting place and they take so much time and care with the kids that it's one of the must-sees if you have a kid who loves Tink. I'll admit to waiting in the line just to see what this display looked like because I adore Tink! There, I said it...I'm over 50 and love Tink! PS. my mom waited with me and we didn't have a kid with us...LOL!
 We headed into Tomorrowland first because the Little Man with us was dying to go on the "Topio" cars. This is a premier ride and the lines are usually really long so it's best to hit these rides early. If you are going to be there for more than one day, which we were not, then pick one premier ride and go on that first each day so you can cut down on the line waiting. There were NO lines at the Astro Orbiter so we could have just walked right on...but Little Man wasn't interested....the topio cars were waiting!
However his Dad and I couldn't resist the no wait, walk right on situation at Buzz Lightyear! That was tons of fun. We did hit a minor glitch in the ride where we stopped for a couple of minutes. I used that time to take photos, my son-in-law used it to rack up even more points! 
 We met up at Autopia and it was a very short 5 minute wait till our turn. Little Man loved this because he could drive us around and "beat" Mom and Dad. No, the cars don't go fast. Yes, they are on a rail so pretty much guided. But YES, little kids adore this ride! If they are over 10, maybe even over 8, they may not be thrilled with it but if they are younger than that then this is a Don't-Miss ride!
Another premier ride is the Finding Nemo Submarine Tour. The lines for this ride are always long. Even at 9am they were about 30 minutes. If this is one you want to ride then make sure to walk straight to it and get in line as soon as you get in the park. Warning for those who may be a tad bit claustrophobic...this is not the ride for you. But for those who love the movies, love the ocean and don't have an issue with confined, dark spaces this is one of the best rides in the park. Kids are truly amazed by it!
 With only one day in the parks we skipped Nemo and headed right for the Matterhorn! Ok, Mom and Dad headed for the Matterhorn...Little Man and I found some shade. The line for the Matterhorn, also a premier ride, was about 20 minutes long. They do have a single rider line, if you don't care about riding together or if you are a single rider, but that was about 15 minutes wait. This ride has been revamped in SUCH a good way! If you have ridden it in the past 10 years then you have ridden the old ride...for the 60th they added some cool things you are going to love!
 Little Man is 4 and has no interest in fast scary rides. So this brings up another tip. All over the park you will find two things...benches and food vendors. We grabbed a cold drink and found a shady bench after spending a few moments watching the nearly empty Tea Cup ride swirl around. Fantasyland is also a great place to hang out while the crowds are low. Almost all of the rides have been updated for the anniversary with fun new features so it's fun to ride even those rides you may have been on 2 dozen times. Little Man and I really enjoyed just hanging out and watching the people go by and the Monorail zoom past us. If you want to save some cash then purchase a water and bring some drink mix pouches and use the water fountains all over the park to refill your bottle for free. You can, of course, bring in a reusable bottle and just start off with the fountains in the first place to save even more.
 I'll spill a secret...the Monorail is his favorite ride! And, often, not always, you can do a round trip to Downtown Disney and back. If you are celebrating a special anniversary or birthday of your own you can even ask the conductor if you can ride in front with the driver! While Little Man took his first spin on the Monorail with Mom, I headed to It's A Small World, one of my favorite rides.
 The wait was only about 10 minutes, maybe, before I was able to get right on..and into the front seat of the boat! This is definitely the best seat in the house so if you want the unlimited view make sure to ask if you can sit up front.
 Two tips on this one. During most of the year you will get the standard music and the standard displays but during Christmas, mid November to January, this is completely revamped into a holiday wonderland.
 If you look closely you will find Disney characters hidden throughout the whole ride. Make it a game with the kids to see who can pick out their favorites the fastest! Hint...Jesse and Woody are in the Old West set...
 At Christmas those lands that do not celebrate the holiday are not changed. So if you are Muslim or some other faith that doesn't celebrate know that this has been taken into consideration. If you don't celebrate at all and the display would upset you and your family then make sure to go before the Christmas changes are put into effect in November and after they are taken back down in January.
 Dad headed off to ToonTown to play on Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin! So after I got off Small World and Mom and Little Man got off of the Monorail we all met up in the little park in ToonTown. 
 Now you may be thinking, as I did, What little park in ToonTown? Well, there are actually two! As you walk up through the tunnel into ToonTown you will see the Roger Rabbit fountain on the right side and the little shady park on the left. There are lots of benches in both areas but we chose to sit in the shady park instead for the views.
 All of the park is filled with details but not nearly as many as ToonTown! Spend some time here, especially if you want to meet up with Mickey or Minnie in their homes which are located here, just to soak in the fun details!
 There are food vendors and shops as well as small rides so there are plenty of activities to do in this farthest part of the park. Look around these buildings to find extra little hidden activities that will require you to pull a handle or push a button to get a cartoon reaction out of the building!
On limited time we hopped the train back around to Tomorrowland so Mom and Dad could ride Space Mountain and Little Man and I could take another spin on the Monorail. 
 Riding the train is a fun thing to do on it's own. Yes, it's slow. Yes, the displays are totally cheesy. BUT, it's a great way to rest a bit, a cool and breezy way to cool off and fun for the family. If you have a little one who is afraid of the dark then make sure to avoid the dinosaur section...this is why we only road it around from ToonTown to Tomorrowland...no tunnels or dark spaces so Little Man wouldn't get spooked.
 Once done with Tomorrowland we stopped for lunch at Bengal BarBQue in Adventureland. This is a Must Stop for us in the park. They serve kabobs of all kinds but my favorite are the bacon/asparagus kabobs. YUM! Ok, enough about food. there is tons of food in the park so you will easily find something for someone. Anyways, Mom and Dad went on Pirates of the Caribbean while Little Man and I headed for the boats!!!
 There are two that follow the Rivers of America all the way around for the ride. The first to come our way was the beautiful Sailing Ship Columbia. The details on this ship just take my breath away.
But Little Man had his heart set on the Mark Twin Riverboat! This is truly a work of art. There are many different levels you can explore on this ship and we hit them all! The great thing about this boat is that it is fully accessible. Easy to get on and off with special boarding for those who need a little help or a little more time and the bottom level has premium viewing for all.
 You just never know who you are going to meet while there! Princess Tiana was enjoying a cruise and happy to wave at all of the guests...who were totally delighted to wave back. And, yes, I'm talking about me here...I waved back too! 
 Spring and early summer bring BABIES! These fuzzy mallard ducklings were happy to swim wherever Mama led them. At one point the were very close to the riverfront and we were able to ooh and aww over them. Ok, ready to ooh and aww.....
BAM! Told ya...cuteness overload right there! The little ones...ok, who am I kidding, the big ones too...were totally in love with these little fuzzy balls of adorable!
 Dad took Little Man off to run on Tom Sawyer's Island while his Mom and I headed down to Winnie The Pooh in Pooh Corner. Ok, back to food again...hard to avoid in Disneyland. If you love Fried Green Tomatoes then you really MUST stop here and grab some when you see this sign. 
 The entrance to Splash Mountain is here as well. With a HUGE waterfall drop at the end of it, it's not my cup of tea, but if you love that rush and don't mind getting wet then make this one of the rides you are willing to wait in line to go on.
 But we are made of much tamer stuff and Disneyland provides for those of us who are not fast ride junkies wonderfully. Winnie The Pooh is one of these tame rides. However, we are back to those little ones who don't like the dark. Most of the ride IS dark. They use glow in the dark paints to light it up but it can be scary to those who have darkness issues. It is not scary in any other way.
 And there's a wonderful smiling Pooh Bear to greet you at the end after you have dealt with all those happy Heffalumps and Woozles!
 Since the guys were still running the island we decided to hit the Haunted Mansion. This is one of those rides that they change for Christmas too. The regular display is replaced with Jack Skellington and The Nightmare Before Christmas. We do celebrate and love the movie so we look forward to the change each year. Side note...do you have someone in your family who can do a great scream? When you enter the entry elevator to get on the ride there is a short presentation that includes paintings like the one above...but then, for a few seconds it goes dark...that's the moment to let your screamer do their thing...it echos wonderfully and everyone laughs. SO much fun!
 New Orleans Square is a great place to hang out. There are lots of shops and places to grab a bite to eat here. I highly recommend getting a Mint Julep here on a hot day. Really hits the spot! But this is one of those areas where the architecture is especially beautiful. So find a shady spot and enjoy the view. Another word about food...told you it was inevitable...if you are planning on going to Blue Bayou for lunch or dinner you really need to make reservations ahead of time. I think you can do so 45 days before the date. It's a very cool, if expensive, dining experience since the restaurant is located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride! It feels like you are dining outside at night even with it's 12 noon! You can check out the menu here and see if it is within your taste and budget requirements.

 One of our favorite rides in Adventureland is The Jungle Cruise! We really try not to miss this whenever we go. On a hot day it's a great way to relax and cool off while enjoying a bit of comedy.
 The "jungle" is beautiful and lush and very shady. And, no I couldn't tell you which plants or trees are real and which are fake...it's that good of a job!
 The hippos are hysterical. In the actual wild they are one of the most dangerous animals out there. Here they just pretend to be dangerous by moving towards the boat and opening up their mouths wide like they would like to take a chomp out of it.
But it's the running commentary of the drivers that keeps us coming back again and again. When you reach this part of the ride, where you go under the waterfall they may say something cheesy like "And here you will see the backside of water! This isn't something you see every day! But I do. Every. Single. Day"  When you come back into dock they may say something like "If you had a great time on the ride today my name is Tim. If you had a bad time, my name is Mike." HA! So, yes, cheesy, "bad" jokes but we totally love them. The entire ride is like that! One of our favorites for the whole family and it's conveniently located near the Dole Whip stand! This pineapple "ice cream" is a treat for the group and it's in front of the Tiki Hut so if you want to enjoy your treat in the air-conditioning while birds talk and sing for you then this is a great spot to stop before moving on.
But we had dinner reservations in California Adventure so we didn't stop for a Whip or the show and headed over there from Adentureland instead. Next week we'll cover that part of the Resort including one of the parades and CarsLand!

In the meantime don't forget to click on the smaller photos so you can see the full size images and come visit me on Facebook or on Instagram! If you do visit, please make sure to say HI!

See you next week!


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