Our first full day at Disneyland – and this time, not in the dark!
Since we were staying at a Disneyland hotel, we had early entry to California Adventure that morning. The park hours were fairly short, not opening until 10am to the general public, so our opening time was 9am – which our bodies thought was Noon thanks to that 3 hour time change 😉
We have NEVER been rope drop people but thanks to the time change, it was easy peasy to get there at rope drop and really paid off for us given the record heat the week we were there.
After breakfast in Downtown Disney, you go through security (line moves fairly quickly, though they don’t have a separate line for people without bags so you have to wait behind loaded down strollers. Grrr.). Then you join a long line at one of the turnstiles. The gates were still closed when we arrived at 8:30am and the lines were loooong.
It was pretty hot, and standing in the direct sun was not a cool way to start the day. The frustrating part came when they opened the turnstiles and it was mass confusion. It appeared that many in line were there for the 10am opening, had no idea why they couldn’t enter if the gates opened, which meant the line was full of people wanting to enter at 2 different times. Finally, cast members started walking the lines and yelling for onsite guests to come on and follow them to the turnstiles. Nuts!
I had already read a strategy for the early hour so we stuck with it: first, Soarin (new film!), followed by California Screamin’ roller coaster and Toy Story Mania. All 3 were pretty much walk-ons. Cars Land attractions don’t open early.
It was interesting to note that most of the queues at Disneyland are outside/exposed to the outside and not at all interesting. This was the Toy Story Mania line and loading area:
By now, it was 10am (official park opening) and since Radiator Springs doesn’t open for extra hours, we could either jump in line and hope we’d finish in time for our early lunch reservation at Disneyland or grab a fast pass and come back. We cut through the backside of Carsland to grab a Fastpass, and got our first look at this beautifully themed land!
The ride was already up and going so we caught a glimpse of cars racing:
We made a rookie mistake. We assumed fastpasses were located near the racers instead of double checking the map. Of course they weren’t – they are not anywhere near the racers but instead over in front of A Bugs Land. By the time we got there, the line to GET a fastpass was snaked well into the A Bugs Land and the return time wasn’t until 4pm (the park just opened!). We said thanks but no thanks.
After exploring the park a little more, we hopped over to Disneyland (man, I love how easy it is!!) and got to see it in the daylight!
We had an early reservation at Blue Bayou because I wanted a waterside table and I knew we’d be starving by then (that time change!). We were the first seated for the day!
After a delicious lunch, we rode The Haunted Mansion. The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland gets a seasonal overlay and it’s AMAZING! It becomes The Nightmare Before Christmas from Halloween through Christmas. I’m not a fan of the film but I loved how detailed it all was. Due to the overlay, lines are longer than normal so we grabbed a fastpass before lunch and went right back to ride it after lunch.
Even the exterior is themed for it!
I’m so glad we got to ride it! It was very well done.
By now it was mid-afternoon and 4000 degrees outside so we took advantage of our close hotel and escaped for a mid-day break. When we came back, we used the Grand California Hotel entrance that goes directly into California Adventure and went to ride Mickey’s Fun Wheel, aka The Wheel of Death.
I vaguely recall riding this my one other trip here and being freaked out. That hasn’t changed. When the wheel moves, the carriage slides on a track (thanks, gravity) – can you see the red carriage above hanging sideways? Yeah, it does that. I was clinging to the metal grate while the 6 year old also riding with us thought it was amazing.
This was the view from the top:
Jason coerced me to ride the swings, another thing I HATE, but I lived to tell about it.
We hit up Cars Land again, which I had heard was just beautiful at night. This is the same backdoor entrance I posted earlier:
It really is beautiful, especially with the neon lights and Christmas decor!
Mater was driving through, heading to a meet & greet!
One of the restaurants:
This is a really cool little area – each “cone” sells a different snack type food in a cone. Ice cream cone, popcorn cone, mac and cheese cone, etc.
Cars Land has 3 rides, though 2 seem so similar. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree had no wait so I twisted Jason’s arm into riding it, even though it looked pretty lame (it’s a whip ride on a track):
This is what he thought of it.
The racers, which we still hadn’t ridden, were up to a 70 minute wait and of course no fastpasses were left. So we hopped to Disneyland! Y’all – hopping between the two is so easy!
Oh – this is the Christmas tree at California Adventure! This fine family was having their picture made. They looked so happy, I didn’t crop them out 🙂 You can also see how tall it is with them pictured.
When we were at WDW last fall, my very favorite ride was down for rehab so I HAD to ride it at DL. Peter Pan seems to be everyone’s favorite because the line is consistently long, even at extra magic hours, but it was sitting at ~30 minutes so we jumped in line before the park closed.
I adore this ride. When we got off, the park was already closed – Fantasyland was so pretty deserted.
The backside of the castle while we were walking out:
The Christmas lights were strung on the castle but they hadn’t been turned on yet. We were attempting a selfie in front of the castle (we are the WORST – I blame it on Jason’s height) and another couple asked if we would take theirs, and they’d take ours.
You can’t tell but we’re about to fall over from exhaustion. And hunger. Because I don’t like to stop and eat when there are things to see and do! So we stopped at an outdoor restaurant in Downtown Disney and had a late dinner before hobbling back to our hotel.
Next up… day 2, er 3, at DL and the BEST nighttime show I’ve seen to date.
(excuse the photo quality – I’m having to seriously resize them which diminishes a lot of their quality)