When we were invited on a trip of a lifetime to Disneyland California, we were pinching ourselves for weeks. Living in Australia, it’s one of those places you dream about visiting so we felt incredibly lucky to be heading there. Home to Mickey, Sleeping Beauty Castle and Splash Mountain, Disneyland proved to be SO much more than we were expecting. One of the first being there are actually TWO parks – the original Disneyland built 63 years ago but also California Adventure Park, which is home to all your favourite Disney and Pixar characters. We spent five days hopping around the two parks which is roughly how much time you need to get the full experience from both.
The feeling you get walking into Disneyland is something you can’t put into words. There’s so much for your eyes to be drawn to – the vintage charm of Main Street U.S.A, the much loved characters stopping for cuddles and of course the sheer mass of rides. There are eight lands within Disneyland and California Adventure Park has seven including the brand new Pixar Pier. The lands have been so meticulously crafted that even when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s more!
We thoroughly enjoyed testing out quite a few of the rides and I was pleasantly surprised at how many we could enjoy as a family (including Olive who stayed fast asleep in her baby Carrier the whole time!) These rides included:
It’s a small world, Peter Pan’s flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Mad Tea Party, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, King Arthur Carousel at Disneyland Park
And from California Adventure Park: Pixar Pal-A-Round Swinging, The little Mermaid, Monsters Inc, Heimlich Chew Chew train, Flik’s flyers.
Archer’s favourite: Maters Junkyard Jamboree
Tye’s favourite: Soarin’ Around the World
My favourite: Radiator Springs Racers
Indiana’s favourite: Meeting Anna and Elsa from Frozen
We loved our stay at the Grand California Hotel and Spa which is located within Disneyland. The perks of being a guest at the hotel (other than it being absolutely stunning) is extra magic hour – where you can enter the park an hour before it opens to the public. If you are early risers like us, or have kids (what even is a sleep in?) then this is perfect! It means you can get to your favourite rides first up and if you visited the park in Summer like us, then you can enjoy it before it reaches peak temps! The other perks are that you can enter California Adventure Park from within the actual hotel. That’s right, you can skip the line outside and go through a casual bag/ticket check and be right inside the park within minutes. You can also enter Downtown Disney the same way through a different check point from within the hotel – this made it SO easy going to and from the parks when we needed to.
The newest land that has recently opened is Pixar Pier at California Adventure Park which is where Pixar stories and characters come to life. The pier is made up of a whimsical waterfront boardwalk and has a number of attractions and food stalls. We had a beautiful lunch eating appetizers and mocktails at Lamplight Lounge that overlooks the huge Incredicoaster which Tye built up the courage to go on (I did not ha!) and he loved it! A huge highlight of our time at the Pier was the ‘Paint the night’ parade. This after-dark performance was filled with all our favourite characters including Cars, Princesses, Toy Story and the Incredibles. We sang, danced and smiled the evening away, it’s a parade not to be missed.
Breakfast in the park with Minnie and friends is another must-do, it’s the best way to see and cuddle characters like Goofy, Pluto, Pooh Bear, Eeyore, Chip n Dale and of course Minnie. It was a special morning for the kids having the characters come to see them while they ate their breakfast and you couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces. Another great opportunity to see the characters up close is the Character Breakfast at Storytellers Cafe (within Grand Californian Hotel.) Another unforgettable experience for the kids with music, dancing and cuddles from Mickey and pals.
On our last night we witnessed the “together forever” firework display and it was the perfect way to end our time here. It was utterly magical and a little emotional (I may have shed a tear!) If there is one thing you are going to plan to see on your visit, it’s this! Disneyland really is the happiest place on Earth and the memories made during our 5 days here will last a lifetime. There is so much on offer at Disneyland and we will definitely be back to relive these moments again one day, hopefully sooner rather than later! You can find more images and videos from our trip in my story highlights on my Instagram page.