So obviously no trip to Southern California is complete without a stop at the Happiest Place on Earth! While I took a short trip there years ago, I really remember very little 😦 Jason has never been at all so we had a huge learning curve!
First things first: how do we get there? Renting a car and driving meant big $$, as the hotel parking was pricey (yes, Disneyland hotels charge for parking) and we really had no need for a car once there. Uber wasn’t cheap, either, so we opted for the train!
This was the one part of the trip that stressed me out and did not go as planned. After our Warner Brothers Studio tour, our Uber dropped us at In & Out for lunch and afterwards, we walked to our hotel to grab the bags they were storing for us and then take an UberX (large enough for luggage) to Union Station. I was excited to visit Union Station as it’s an old, historic building that I really wanted to take pictures of.
I’m a train newbie but my assumption (you know what they say about assumptions?) is that luggage was welcome on trains that offered checked bags. Not all trains offered checked bags so I made note of the ones that did. What I also assumed is that we’d easily grab an Uber, but for whatever reason had a 20 min wait for this one. That, combined with traffic, meant we were running to get our bags checked by the required 45 minutes before the train left.
What I also assumed was that Amtrak/Union Station would have a relatively efficient ticketing counter. Y’all. And we complain about the TSA??? We had only 6 parties ahead of us when we joined the line and it took 30 minutes to be called to an agent (only 1 working). I gave up hope of making our train (due to having bags we couldn’t check) and thought we’d have to wait around for a couple of hours until the next one.
Fortunately, once we got to the agent, we learned that while we couldn’t check the bags, we could carry them on! Who knew? So with 10 minutes to spare, we raced through Union Station, hauling our suitcases, and got on the train just in time.
The downside is that thanks to the ridiculous ticket line, I didn’t get one picture of the station – and it was just beautiful.
(not my picture – obviously)
Once on board, we found the luggage racks and settled in for a quick 35 minute ride. And did y’all know they don’t have any sort of security for trains? I found it odd (and a bit disconcerting) that they let me haul on suitcases without a second glance.
So now you know that if you travel by train, you can carry on anything you want and you should buy your tickets in advance, if possible.
After a lovely quick ride, we were in Anaheim! They don’t have an old historic station but they have a beautiful one!
We grabbed another UberX to our hotel, Paradise Pier, one of Disney’s 3 onsite hotels. While not the JW Marriott, it was a step-up from our last hotel and a HUGE step-up from our San Diego lodging – more about that later 😉
Our view was over the pool area and a parking lot. Exciting, right?
And this is where our Disneyland visit went from 2 to 4 days. See, the original plan was to just visit Monday and Tuesday. But we were in our hotel room by 4:30pm and Disneyland was open until 11pm… and adding days to our pass was minimal. We knew we’d spend way more $ just filling our evening.
So off to Disneyland we went!
Disneyland is so different than Disney World in that we could walk out of our hotel and be standing on Main St in about 10 minutes. 15 if security lines were longer. It was amazing!
Interesting to note: we were there on Dapper Day, which is a big deal. Crowds were higher (thus the longer hours) but it was really entertaining to check out all the outfits. Did you know some of those women walked around in heels all day?!?
I know Walt Disney World like the back of my hand. I could probably pinpoint every restroom in each park and certainly know where all of the attractions/restaurants are. Disneyland was like this similar place… but different. It looked the same in some ways, but things weren’t where they were supposed to be. Plus, we entered the park for the first time at night so we were literally trying to navigate things in the dark. Occasionally, we were those people over in the corner, examining the map under the light of our cellphone.
After grabbing dinner at The Plaza Inn, we decided to just wander. Our first attraction was the Nemo submarine ride. 20 minute wait, it’s something WDW doesn’t have, so we opted to just for it. Pssst – it was incredibly lame.
Next stop was the Matterhorn (15 min wait) – it reminded me a little of Expedition Everest and was super fun in the dark. I expected it to be painfully jerky and it really wasn’t!
Toontown was not far (I miss it at WDW!) so we walked right on Roger Rabbit. Toontown was so cute – it was already decorated for Christmas!
When you pull this doorknob, it buzzes and lights up like you’ve been electrocuted:
Then we wandered to Fantasyland to ride Mr Toad’s Wild Ride (another ride no longer at WDW).
Shortly after getting on, the ride stopped, lights came up, and we just sat.
A castmember came and walked us all the way out of the ride. Unfortunately, we never made it back to ride it again but it was pretty cool to walk out.
Pirates was next! It is slightly different than the WDW version – more drops and a tad bit longer, I think. The restaurant Blue Bayou is inside the ride – we ate there the next day. Here you can see the restaurant from inside the Pirates boat.
Also back in that direction was Splash Mountain
where we took what is perhaps Jason’s most interesting ride photo:
Winnie the Pooh is next door, which seemed like such an odd location (he’s in Fantasyland at WDW). Both Pooh and Splash Mountain were walk-on’s so of course we rode it.
It was nearing 11pm so we wandered back to our hotel – it had been a super busy day! Even with the increased Dapper Day crowds, 20 minutes was the highest wait we had so I was pleased. The weather was also just beautiful!
Next up… two full days of Disneyland!