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{travel} Two Days at Disneyland

  Thursday, June 15, 2023 at 7:30 AM   |    Post a Comment     Tagged:,, 

Finally getting around to doing some posts on our California trip in April! Let's start with something I've been looking forward to for a long time - Disneyland! While I have been to Disney World many times since my first trip in 2011 I had never been to Disneyland, or California for that matter. The parks may both be Disney but they're so different. Different rules, different rides, different sizes. It's a whole new ballgame. Having said that, it was still fairly easy for us to make the most of our trip, even though we were newbies. 


My friend Caleb lives in CA now, so he was able to give us all the locals tips that helped in addition to my own Disney knowledge. (We also got to make use of his Magic Key discount for my souvenir shopping & food, ha ha.) Since we had a large list of to-do's on my first trip to California we only did two days at Disneyland & Disney California Adventure so we had a LOT to pack in to those days.

Tip #1 - If you have a quick trip like ours, make the most of your time. We stayed at one of Disneyland's official hotels, Paradise Pier - soon to be Pixar Pier, so we would be right next to the action AND get the additional benefit of 30 minutes early entry. That perk is only available at Disneyland's three official hotels (at Disney World there are also partner hotels that have this benefit.) We walked to the parks each morning well before our early entry time to make sure we were at the front of the line to get in. On our California Adventure day we used the special Paradise Pier entrance right into the middle of the park, exclusively for guests of that hotel.  


We used this early entry perk to ride Space Mountain (Disneyland day) and WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure (California Adventure Day) with literally no wait because we were right at the front of the line to enter the park. After we rode Space Mountain we hopped right on to a bunch of the "dark rides" - Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Snow White's Enchanted Wish before the park officially opened. After Spider-Man on Day two we speed-walked over to the Incredicoaster to ride that with no wait followed by the Pixar Pal Around.

Tip #2 - Use Genie+ strategically. There are a lot of rides and attractions at both parks so in order to ride as much as possible in our two days we decided to spend the extra money on Genie+ for our first day. Since we had Park Hopper tickets we used Genie+ for both parks throughout the day to knock out as many rides as possible on day one. We used it for Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Small World, Smuggler's Run, Indiana Jones, Star Tours, Soarin' Over California, Incredicoaster, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, Mike & Sulley to the Rescue, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and Space Mountain in the evening. Phew! 


Some rides do not have Genie+, like Pirates of the Caribbean, so we waited in the normal lines for those. Other rides have what is called an "Individual Lightning Lane" where you pay to skip that ride only. We bought that for Radiator Springs Racers on Day 2 since that line gets VERY long throughout the day. When we went to ride it after our Early Morning hours the line was already over 90 minutes but, thanks to our purchase, we literally walked through the Lightning Lane and right on to the ride.



While some rides are the same as Disney World, they're still different in their own ways. Some have slightly different stories, others are completely different. Even the lines are different. Pirates of the Caribbean is almost double the length of Disney World's version and of course Haunted Mansion looks completely different on the outside and has the Hatbox Ghost (coming soon to Magic Kingdom!!) Try to spot all the differences as you ride any of the same name rides.

Tip #3 - Don't ignore the non-rides. On our first day we definitely focused more on the rides, but since we rode pretty much everything we wanted that day we were able to slow down on day two and do the slower activities and any rides we missed.  Of course you can't forget about the usual things - the Magic Happens parade, Wondrous Journeys projection (and fireworks) show, World of Color ONE and Fantasmic. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see fireworks or Fantasmic on our trip, but  the projection show at Disneyland is just as good without the fireworks, if not better since you can focus on just the projections. Sometimes It's a Small World will have projections in the evenings but we skipped that this trip to get more rides done.


And now back to my original point - there are so many under the radar things to do at Disneyland. Yes, you can actually ride the Main Street Vehicles - fire truck, omnibus, horse drawn carriage and jitney - on quick one-way trips down the road throughout the day.  You can also ride the Trolley Car at California Adventure.

If you like art, or even if you don't, take a drawing class at Animation Academy and learn more about animation in the Sorcerer's Workshop. Just past the Workshop you'll find Beast's secret library and learn what Disney character you're most like. 



There is currently a Disney100 exhibit,  The Disney Gallery Presents: Disney 100 Years of Wonder, in the lobby for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln that is a must-see as well as other memorabilia from the park. 


Finally, don't forget to walk through Sleeping Beauty castle to see the story of Princess Aurora unfold! This is not something you can do at Disney World because the castle has the Cinderella Suite and Cinderella's Royal Table restaurant, so be sure to take advantage and explore the castle here. You can also experience this in Disneyland Paris (with the addition of a dragon beneath the castle!!)

Tip #4 - Be strategic about food. Christian and I love trying new food when we're at Disney so that is always a priority for us. We usually do one sit down meal a day and then do quick service/snacks for the rest of our meals. If you want to optimize your time you may want to skip out on table service restaurants all together. Before your make a list of the snacks you'd like to try so when you're at the park you can grab something if you're nearby.  I'll do another post with everywhere we ate and where we still want to try. 

Tip #5 - HAVE FUN! Above all, Disney is about fun, so don't forget to let your inner child out and enjoy. I always feel like I can escape the real world while at Disney, all my cares float away while I'm riding rides and eating delicious foood with those I love!


About Closet Fashionista

Loves to get bargains on clothes and is obsessed with Harry Potter and Disney. By day she is a freelance graphic and web designer. She also has a slight obsession with movies.

You can also find her on the web at her Harry Potter and Matthew Lewis fan sites.

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