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Unread 12 Jan 20, 02:14 PM  
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Wonder on the West Coast: Day 2 - Disneyland & California Adventure


Tuesday 22nd October 2019

Despite our long journey and late bedtime yesterday, Jo and I were both up by 5:30am. As per usual, I was up and dressed and down to the lobby for coffee to kick start the day.

We had some plane snacks (biscuits) left over from travel day so we enjoyed one of those with our cup of coffee. I decided to get the bag ready so that as soon as Isabella was up and ready we could get a move on. As I was getting the very recently purchased ‘Brita Fill and Go’ travel bottle out of the fridge, the door swung back and knocked it from my hand. The bottle hit the floor, and the clasp on the flip top lid broke - we had literally had it for about two days and only used it briefly yesterday. Suffice to say, some words were uttered that I shall not repeat!

At about 7am we woke Isabella, she got ready, and we went down to the hotel lobby for our complimentary breakfast buffet. Despite a limited selection, the quality was of a good standard - this morning there was hot food including porridge, sausage patties, biscuits, mexican potatoes, eggs, and waffles.

Isabella enjoying her porridge

A decent selection from the buffet

We all had enough to keep us going, then headed back to the room to get ready for our day in Disneyland - after months of talking about it, planning it, watching vlogs, reading reviews, blogs, and Dibb trip reports, it had finally arrived and we were so excited!

By 7:45am we were heading out the front of our hotel - the catchily titled ‘Homewood Suites by Hilton Anaheim Resort - Convention Center’ in case you’d forgotten - into the bright Californian sunshine.

Ears on...

And ready to go!

Our route to the park would involve a short walk to the Disneyland Toy Story Parking Lot (next door to our hotel) in order to get the free shuttle bus to the park. At that time of the morning, the buses are regular and all in all the entire journey from hotel to park entrance took about 20 minutes - 6 minutes from leaving the hotel to getting on a bus; 10 minutes on the bus; 4 minutes to get from the bus, through bag check, and to the entrance. Not a bad start to the day.

The Toy Story parking lot

Next stop: Disneyland!

As we’d bought a 3-day hopper pass from AttractionTix.co.uk we had go to the ticket booth with our confirmation to turn those into paper Disneyland tickets. We also wanted to check that the third day of the ticket would still be valid on the last day of our holiday in 14 days time - fortunately it would be. This meant that on Thursday (day 4) we could spend the afternoon and evening in California Adventure at the Oogie Boogie Bash (which we’d purchased a separate ticket for) and save the final day of our ticket for when we return. This meant spending the day in Disneyland on our last day, which was also Dapper Day, rather than in LA as originally planned; we still want to see LA but realised that having less than a full day to spend there probably wasn’t going to work out.

We were concerned that getting the paper ticket was going to take precious time away from being in the park, but fortunately there was almost no queue at the ticket booth and within a couple of minutes we had our tickets and could finally enter Disneyland - or California Adventure if we preferred.

Being our first visit it was natural to want to experience Disneyland first, it was a magical feeling heading towards the entrance for the first time - we were all so excited and happy to be here. To top it off the weather was glorious - much hotter than expected.

Feeling excited!

We got to the Halloween-decorated (including large pumpkins of Mickey and friends) entrance gates where we each had our photos taken to associate with our tickets - no MagicBands our fingerprint scanners at Disneyland - before entering the park.

Once we were inside, as well as soaking up the atmosphere, we also made the decision to purchase the max pass via the Disneyland app. This turned out to be such a great decision despite the additional cost ($15 per person per day) as it means you can make FastPasses via the app rather than having to go back and forth to the FastPass machines - anyone that’s used the MyDisneyExperience app will be familiar with how it works.

Halloween decorated entrance to Disneyland

With the max pass purchased, we decided to make Indiana Jones Adventure our first FastPass. While Jo did that, Isabella busied herself checking out the Disneyland map, while I took a few photos for the trip report.

Now that was sorted, we could finally make our way into the park proper and head down Main Street for the first time. Just like the entrance, Main Street was all decked out in Halloween orange and looked wonderful.

Checking out the map

Main Street

We’d been watching lots of Disneyland vlogs before we came, so we knew what to expect. Even so, the feeling of that first experience can’t be beat; it’s all so familiar to us Magic Kingdom veterans, but all so different at the same time. And the Disneyland castle may be small but it’s no less magical than the Magic Kingdom’s - in fact I think we all agreed that we preferred it, as it’s so charming.

After reaching the hub we turned left into Adventureland and walked through to New Orleans Square for The Haunted Mansion, past familiar attractions in slightly altered surroundings - Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Haunted Mansion was also another familiar yet unfamiliar attraction - even more so at this time of year as it featured the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay.

"This is Halloween, this is Halloween..."

Fortunately Haunted Mansion was a walk on so we walked on! We’re all fans of this ride; the Disneyland version is a bit different to the Magic Kingdom although a lot of is the same. Of course, with Nightmare Before Christmas theming (which we loved) it was hard to tell exactly the differences and similarities.

Back outside in the bright Californian sunlight we found that Isabella’s sunglasses had been broken in the bag so we headed to the nearest shop - Pioneer Mercantile in nearby Frontierland - and found a really nice pair decorated with colourful Mickeys.

Now that Isabella had her nice new sunglasses, we made our way outside and headed back to the hub, this time taking the route through Sleeping Beauty’s castle into Fantasyland. There are lots of classic attractions here that aren’t in the Magic Kingdom, so we were keen to experience as many as we could. First up was Snow White’s Scary Adventures, followed by Pinocchio’s Daring Journey; both rides are slightly surreal and feel dated, but we’re glad we did them.

Looking super cool

Sleeping Beauty’s castle

Snow White’s Scary Adventures - not that scary

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey - slightly surreal

Next we wanted to try another classic in the shape of the Storybook Land Canal Boats, but after initially joining what we thought was a fast moving queue we realised it would take longer than we were prepared to wait to board so we left the queue. We decided instead to head into Tomorrowland to ride Hyperspace Mountain - the Star Wars overlay of Space Mountain. Unfortunately this queue was also slow moving; in fact it wasn’t moving at all (we think it was down) and a lot of people were leaving, so we decided to come back later and instead rode the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage which had no wait.

The Submarine Voyage was really fun, a mixture of real underwater scenes and animation from Finding Nemo viewed from inside a ‘real’ submarine that travels around the lagoon.

Storybook Land Canal Boats - come back tomorrow

The monorail

Disneyland ducks chilling on the dock

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Setting foot back on dry land, we took a stroll back towards the castle, passing Mary Poppins and Bert as they headed backstage by the restrooms behind the Plaza Inn - we saw a few characters going in and out of that area over the three days we were there.

'Avin' a jolly 'oliday

As with Adventureland, I think I preferred the Tomorrowland of Disneyland to Walt Disney World; whereas in the Magic Kingdom it feels like Tomorrowland is in dire need of an overhaul, here it felt just right.

Back at the hub, we decided it was high time for a Starbucks, so we made our way back down Main Street to the Market House where the Starbucks is located. We bought an iced Pumpkin Spiced Latte (which Jo and I shared), a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino (which Isabella and I shared), and a mini Starbucks cup Christmas tree decoration.

Just outside the Market House is a little cul-de-sac off of Main Street where there are a couple of tables and some imitation market stalls and shop facades. It’s a cute little area to sit or stand and relax with a coffee away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds.

Taking a much needed break

Stewboy's Trip Reports

Edited at 02:25 PM.
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Unread 12 Jan 20, 02:15 PM  
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It was now finally time for our Indiana Jones FastPass that Jo booked when we entered the park almost two hours ago; at some point during those two hours Jo had been able to make another FastPass for Hyperspace Mountain for later.

On the way back to Adventureland we stopped in a shop to get our ‘1st visit’ pin badges, we wanted to make sure we had them before we made use of the PhotoPass photographers that were included in the price of the max pass.

We arrived at Indiana Jones and had a little bit of a wait despite our FastPass, but there’s plenty to keep you occupied in the queue. The queue begins outside and features real props from the movies, before eventually going inside the ‘Temple of the Forbidden Eye’. It’s pretty dark inside and very winding - some poor old man got really confused due to the poor light and winding passageways, fortunately his family helped him out - after initially leaving him behind - otherwise he might still be stuck there today!

The ride uses the same track system as Dinosaur, and just like Dinosaur was a lot of fun. Apparently there are three different options for which room you experience at the beginning (thanks Wikipedia) but I can’t recall which one we got. I do remember Indy turning up at the end and saying “Tourists, why'd it have to be tourists?" - apparently there are a few different options for this too.

We headed back to Main Street and decided to take a break from rides in order to get some PhotoPass photos done. We decided to give the Castle photo a miss for now as there was a bit of a queue and instead headed to the Partners Statue. After a short wait it was our turn. The photographer was really friendly and was chatting to us about where we’re from, whether we’d visited Disneyland before, and gave us some info about rides - in particular that Space Mountain in WDW came before the Disneyland version and is actually based on the Matterhorn Bobsleds, the result being that from a comfort point of view Disneyland’s version is better!

Queue for a photo outside the castle!

While this was going on the photographer obviously wasn’t taking any photos; all of a sudden a middle aged woman came and stood almost next to us, wanting us to move so that someone she was with could take her photo. There was another PhotoPass photographer present and he immediately turned to her, told her to “wait your turn ma’am!”, and moved her out of the way!

After we had our PhotoPass photo, we had a look round the hub which had pumpkins carved with characters representing all of the lands of Disneyland (excluding Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge): Buzz Lightyear - Tomorrowland; Roger Rabbit - Toontown; Winnie the Pooh - CritterCountry; Tinker Bell - Fantasyland; Woody - Frontierland; Jack Skellington - New Orleans Square; Tarzan - Adventureland.

Now it was time for our Hyperspace Mountain FastPass. Fortunately this time around the ride was up and running so we were able to ride it. Jo sat with Isabella and I sat with a kid who became my new best friend! He was telling me about how last year he’d ridden Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy but preferred the Hyperspace Mountain overlay “because it’s Star Wars”. Having not experienced Ghost Galaxy all I can say is that Hyperspace Mountain is great and so much better than Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom which, after riding it last time we were there, I vowed never to ride again!

Jo & Isabella; Me & my new friend

Time to head back to Main Street again, and this time as we made our way past the castle we took advantage of the lack of queue and finally got that PhotoPass photo.

It wasn’t long until our lunch at Carnation Cafe so we decided to hang around Main Street and check out the shops. Our favourite was the Penny Arcade shop which is themed like a sideshow amusement arcade and is full of old coin operated amusements - some of which work if you’re willing to spend your quarters - including a dancing Pinocchio and an Esmeralda (reminiscent of Zoltan from the 80s Tom Hanks film ‘Big’).

The Penny Arcade segues into the Candy Palace, and in amongst the flavoured popcorn (which we bought an assorted pack of) is the Concert Orchestrion music machine. This amazing antique, purchased by Walt himself in 1953 and refurbished in recent years, plays different pieces of Disney music every seven minutes. We were treated to a wonderful rendition of the Mickey Mouse Club March; it was fun just to stand and listen to it, and be amazed at how great it sounded considering it’s age - they’ve obviously done a great job with the refurb.

Penny Arcade

Finally it was time for some lunch at Carnation Cafe just across the road. We checked in and were seated inside - which is bigger than it looked on the various Disneyland vlogs we’d watched.

To start, we ordered some fried pickles and waters to drink, and had the following for entrees:
  • Me: Chicken-fried Chicken - Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast served with Mashed Potatoes, Country Gravy, and Seasonal Vegetables
  • Jo: Sourdough Bacon-Cheese Melt - Angus Chuck Patty, Pepper Jack Cheese, Grilled Onions, Hickory-smoked Bacon, and Spicy House Sauce on Grilled Sourdough served with your choice of fresh Fruit or Seasoned French Fries
  • Isabella: Chicken-fried Chicken - served with Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli, and fresh Fruit

The food was good, really good! Isabella wasn’t keen on the strawberries and orange - it is a little odd to have that with chicken - but I ate them and they were really fresh and tasty.

The server was really friendly, and it was nice to have a sit down for half an hour after a fairly hectic morning. It also gave me a chance to charge my phone using our portable charger, all those photos I’ve been taking were taking their toll!

Fried pickles

Chicken-fried Chicken

Sourdough Bacon-Cheese Melt

Kids Chicken-fried Chicken

Lunch was finished and now we were ready for the fun to continue over in California Adventure. As we headed for the Disneyland exit we caught the end of ‘Mickey and Friends Band-Tastic Cavalcade’ which ended with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale showing off their dance moves accompanied by the Disneyland Band outside the Main Street station at the park exit. We watched for a couple of minutes as they finished up, and then we took one last look down Main Street before heading out of the park and across to California Adventure.

I love the fact that you can walk from one park to the other in less than a couple of minutes, or even head straight into Downtown Disney, or out of the parks altogether. Obviously we love Disney World and, if you’re staying on site, the fact that you can be fully in the Disney bubble; but it’s all so sprawling and there’s so much space, which in some cases is great. But we loved the more intimate feel of the Disneyland Resort, and the fact that everything is so close and easy to get in and out of, and it seemed to be full of locals who knew what they were doing rather than large families of tourists wandering aimlessly with their iPads out!
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Edited at 10:32 AM.
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Unread 12 Jan 20, 02:16 PM  
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Anyway. California Adventure here we come! It took a couple of minutes to walk there and then into the park. The Halloween decorations were prevalent here too - this year the Halloween Party (Oogie Boogie Bash - read all about that on Day 4) would be taking place here, and Mr. Oogie Boogie himself looms over you as you enter the park.

California Adventure here we come

The weather had really heated up and the temperature had reached 30 degrees - you can probably tell by looking at Isabella in the PhotoPass photos we got by the Headless Horseman, she looks slightly hot and bothered! So, before our Soarin FastPass’, we sat and had a pumpkin spiced churro (featuring tiny ghost decorations) from Willie’s Churros - something that was on our Disneyland ‘must-do’ list.

Pumpkin spiced churro...

Featuring tiny ghost decorations

Now off to Soarin’. It’s the same as the Walt Disney World version, but that’s no bad thing as we love that ride too. And we got the best seats - B1! Isabella pointed out her ‘Poppa’ (Jo’s stepdad Ivor) on the Great Wall of China as she always does - she thinks the man with the hat walking along the wall looks like him!

Next was a visit to Pixar Pier for a ride on Incredicoaster. All the vlogs we’d watched had said this ride was brilliant, and it absolutely was. Probably the best ride at Disney. Any Disney that I’ve been to anyway!. It goes without saying that we’d be coming back to do this again.

Believe it or not, Isabella loved this ride!

Pixar Pier itself is a lot of fun too, the theming is great, lots of Pixar artwork and music, and fairground style atmosphere. While we there, and as there was no wait, we decided to ride Toy Story Midway Mania, which is essentially it’s the same ride as at Disney World with a different queuing area.The result was the same as usual - Jo won!

Pixar Pier

We wanted to go and visit Cars Land next so we said goodbye to Pixar Pier for now and headed there. The theming here is great too, and before we tried some of the rides we headed to the Cozy Cone motel to get some iced water from one of the cones - it was still super hot!

Our first ride in Cars Land was Luigi's Honkin' Haul-O-Ween - Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters with a Halloween overlay. This was a fun little ride where the cars ‘dance’ to whatever song is playing and there’s different music each time you ride.

The final ride of the day was to be Radiator Springs Racers, which we had a FastPass for. It’s similar to Test Track but better. The theming is great fun as you drive through the scenery of the first Cars film. We really enjoyed and wanted to experience it again at night - another ride we’ll be returning to!

Cars Land

The heat, the early start, and all the walking and fun had taken its toll, and although it was only 3pm we were calling it a day. Besides, we still needed some supplies for the hotel so we needed to visit a supermarket and we didn’t have a car so it wouldn’t be as straightforward as usual.

We made our way out of California Adventure, then out of the front entrance of the Resort. On the way Jo ordered a Lyft to take us to a nearby Target, and we picked it up just to the right of the main entrance in the drop off area.

We didn’t have to wait long for the Lyft to arrive. Our driver was friendly and chatted to us on the short drive to Target.

It was a quick visit; we picked up a few bits including milk, water, sparkling water and some food including something for dinner. It wasn’t the best Target we’d visited so we didn’t spend long looking around.

To get back to our hotel we ordered another Lyft. This driver was not as chatty as the previous one and appeared to be sleeping in his car as his boot was stuffed with bedding! His sat nav was also insistent on sending the wrong way and kept telling him to turn round despite the fact he was taking the correct route to our hotel.

Fortunately it’s a short journey and within five minutes we’re back at our room unpacking the shopping and relaxing. Isabella chilled out with a book, while Jo and I had a La Croix - flavoured sparkling water: our favourite drink!

Relaxing with a book

As I said before, the hotel has a free light buffet available in the morning and the evening. The selection is limited but they also serve free beer and wine at dinner time, so at about 5pm we went downstairs to the lobby/dining area.

It was quite busy, but we found a table and got a selection of food from the buffet. There was a selection of salad, and some hot chicken. We also had a couple of beers (they had two to choose from: Modelo and something else which I’ve forgotten) and wine (red or white was available). We hadn’t planned on this being our dinner, but it was more than enough - we were very satisfied!

While we ate and relaxed with our drinks we made some plans for tomorrow. Isabella had bought her book down with her so she was content for a while.


After a little while we decided to call it a night and headed back to the room with a decaf coffee. Isabella had her bath was in bed by 7pm. Jo and I relaxed a little bit more until about 8:30pm before going to bed.

And that’s the end of an exhausting but thoroughly enjoyable day, our first at Disneyland. Tomorrow it’s more of the same!

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Edited at 10:42 AM.
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Unread 12 Jan 20, 02:32 PM  
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great report. Disneyland California is my "home park", Ive been there 10 times, so its really interesting to see it from a first timers point of view.

So glad you got there early in the morning. I'm sure you noticed the low crowds / wait times in the morning compared to afternoon and evening. Disneyland is a locals park, huge amounts of AP holders who don't go in the mornings

Interesting that you got MAXPASS, I never use it, I just use the free paper ones from the kiosks.

I go in June every year, so its really nice to see all the Halloween decorations.
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Unread 12 Jan 20, 02:45 PM  
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Just read your California Adventures update

Ah yes the afternoon heat is a killer. I usually don't do rides between 1pm and 4.30pm and I stay inside as much as possible. During this time I have lunch, go to a show or hang about in the shops.

I know its too late now, but Frozen show in California Adventures starts at 3pm, and it is a great way to get out of the heat and chill out. Also in California Adventures is a building called Animation Academy, which actually is very misleading. The Animation Academy is only 1 part. This is where Anna and Elsa do meet and greets, there is a really cool Finding Nemo show called Turtle Talks with Crush and a Beauty and The Beast area, themed as The Beast's Library. All of these are inside in air conditioning and I spend over an hour in here, out of the sun in the afternoon.
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Unread 12 Jan 20, 03:21 PM  
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What a fantastic busy day, brilliant photos! Looking forward to reading more! 😃
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Unread 12 Jan 20, 04:55 PM  
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What a great day you had. Can’t wait to read the next instalment.
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Unread 12 Jan 20, 08:28 PM  
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Fantastic report so far, we go for the first time in September so it's been really helpful and just made me even more excited
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