Disneyland Resort: Disneyland and California Adventure
This year, my husband and I chose to buy a Disneyland Annual Pass, which is a 12-month pass to get into the parks any time. We bought the type of pass that has no black-out days and a lot of other perks on it, so we went into this with the idea that we'd be going up to Anaheim at least 5-6 times between July 2019 and July 2020 to get our money's worth. It helps that we live about a 1-1/2 hour drive (depending on traffic, of course) from Anaheim.
Hopefully, this thread can assist any of our members in planning a trip that includes the Original Disneyland in Anaheim. Sure, Florida has more parks under its belt, but we here in California have the ORIGINAL, the only park where Walt actually completely planned, executed, had an apartment within, and watched it grow for 10 years. That said, and knowing we have a one-year pass, I will add more to this thread as we go up each time.
Over the years, I have visited the Disneyland park many times. My first visit was when I was a kid, and Walt had just passed away about 6 months before. On my third trip, as a young adult, I introduced my then-boyfriend-now-husband to the park, and he was also enamored with it. Now we're older adults and we do the parks a lot more leisurely!
Monday, July 22
This was our packing and driving up day. We didn't leave our home until mid-afternoon, as we wanted to arrive at the hotel after check-in time. Traffic was okay until we got to Tustin, then it was heavy to the point of slow-and-go. We used the "carpool lane" which is a lane for vehicles with 2-people or more in them, as much as we could, but even IT was slow-and-go at times!
Our hotel on this go-round was Best Western Plus Meridian Inn and Suites, located sort of on the city limits between Orange and Anaheim. It was about 5 miles south of the parks but it avoided us paying either a resort fee of $10 (required by the City of Anaheim) or parking fees of $10-15. This place is lovely while not being overly fancy -- the room was small but clean (we opted for the Standard King Room). There was a heated pool and hot tub, which we took advantage of almost immediately. The air conditioning system was different from any I've seen in a hotel, activated by your room key card. (With the costs of power out here in SoCal, I really can understand why the place wanted to do that.)
The only bummer to this particular hotel was that there wasn't a lot of restaurant choice nearby. The closest was a dubious-looking Mexican place; everything else, you either had to pay to have delivered in, or go out in your vehicle. We chose the latter and picked up chicken to go.
Tuesday, July 23 - California Adventure
We hadn't been up to the Disney Parks in about 6 years, so we prepared ourselves for possible changes. Thanks to a map that was on the same paper as the hotel diagram, we found our way up to DLR (Disneyland Resort) without getting on either CA-22 or I-5, both reported to be slow-and-go because it was Rush Hour. We went down Garden Grove Blvd. to West, which becomes Disneyland Drive north of Katella, and found our way into the new Pixar Pals parking garage. So new that they hadn't added a lot of light fixtures yet!
Realized after walking all the way down to the Tram pickup, that Disney now uses full body airport-type scanners at Security instead of the rudimentary search they used to do. So back up we went -- hubby had his little bitty pocket-knife with him. I had NO bag with me but still buzzed -- RFID card holders will make the scanner buzz, so as soon as I declared it, I went through.
Tram ride, then had to stand in line at the Ticket booths to get our e-ticket (which got us into the parking garage free; regular passholders and ticket holders pay $25 for the privilege of parking) exchanged for a regular pass card. Went straight into California Adventure from there, as we'd already made reservations for dinner there.
I didn't take any photos that day -- I will next time we go -- but we were on rides a lot. Hubby even got me on the one roller coaster that does a big loop-de-loop in it, on condition that he didn't make me sit in front. Generally I find roller coasters to be fun, but don't like going upside down.
We enjoyed lunch at Pacific Wharf, which has soups and salads that are placed in a sourdough bread "bowl". We also bought ourselves some refillable cups, but for this trip, they were kind of a pain because we didn't have a place to put them and had to carry them all day.
Beyond riding a lot of rides, we also went to see the "Frozen: Live" show. It was hotter-n-Hades that day, and seeing a show in an air conditioned theater was great -- it was free with your admission and lasted about 1 hour. We both love the Frozen movie, and the live show was done well with "Disney magic" (special effects) added to it. My only comments was that one of the two little girls that played Little Anna, had a very brash singing voice and needed to tone down her vowels, and the choreography was really uninspiring and not "in period". The woman that played Elsa was beautiful and had a lovely voice, as did the young man who played Anna's "first love". The show lasted about 62 minutes.
On a hot day, you're looking for any opportunity to enjoy air conditioning, so we walked shops, went on rides that were inside, got Fast Passes (i.e. "head of line" passes) for any ride we possibly could.
Dinner was at Carthay Circle. We'd never eaten there and wanted to try it. The ambiance was amazing, a very ritzy feel to the place. Prices were on the high side but you came away full and the service was really great. I don't think we'll be eating there every time we go to DLR, though, because you can easily drop $150 for 2 if you aren't careful. Oh, it is a place that serves liquor. There are several places within DCA that serve liquor, unlike DL across the Esplanade.
We walked around some after dinner, as the weather was cooling down. We had fast passes for a 10:30 World of Color, which I've never seen, but we were exhausted. We wanted to sit in the place where the FP folks would sit for WoC, around 9, but they would not allow us to. So we decided that we'd just leave and go back to the motel.
We got lost trying to exit Pixar Pals and get back to West/Disneyland Drive, ended up on I-5 south. It worked, but it was the long way. The next evening, we scouted out our exit from the garage before getting back to the car, which helped a lot.
Back at the motel, we were able to enjoy the pool and a relaxing evening before going to bed. Because of all the walking that day (I had 20K on my FitBit by the time we got to the room), we slept WELL!
Wednesday, July 24 - Disneyland, the Original
Once again before we left, we ate breakfast at the hotel. It was really an extensive breakfast, with two types of scrambled eggs, sausages, a waffle maker, all sorts of breads and sweet rolls, yogurt, fruit (fresh and fruit cups), juices, cereals, milks, and of course coffee and tea. If you went away hungry, it was your own fault.
Back to the parks and in the same garage, almost the same parking space, walk, security, ride tram, but this time you go straight to the park. We went to Tomorrowland, and were amazed that this was NOT where they put the new land. Galaxy's Edge, the new Star Wars land, we later found out was in the back northwest corner of the park, "behind" Critter Country. For those who know DLR history, a while back that was where they had a petting Zoo for awhile and the "back road" between Critter Country and Fantasyland.
Anyway, we enjoyed the new theme for Space Mountain, which is now Star Wars theme. I still don't "get" the story (I've only seen the original 3 SW movies once each and didn't find them to be my cup of tea), but the ride is still fun without knowing the SW stories. Rode other rides, sat out in the shade whenever possible or enjoyed air conditioned places.
Lunch was at Plaza Inn, where they had wonderful fried chicken. In all our trips to DLR over the years, we had never eaten at PI. We took a table for 4, and ended up sharing it with a young couple who had come down for a one-day to both parks.
We went to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (SW: GE) at a bad time of the day, the hottest time. We look forward to seeing this in a few months when it won't be so hot. Why? Almost the entire land is made from concrete and metal, which have the tendency to draw in and retain the sun's heat. There was very little in terms of greenery and few places for shade. They had one ride open (I understand a 2nd one just opened), Smugglers Run, but it had a 75 minute wait and no Fast Pass available. Not knowing what the queue area was like in terms of AC or shade, we chose not to wait. With a year pass, we'll ride it eventually.
Did a bunch more things, including two of our favorites, Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. Love both of those rides, and within about 6 or 7 weeks, HM will be changed to a Halloween overlay that I've never seen.
Dinner was at our favorite place at DL, Blue Bayou. It's hard to get reservations there, even 60 days out, much less only 10 days like I did. But we had a lovely water-front table. Blue Bayou is located on the "shores" of Pirates of the Caribbean and is air conditioned, table service. Great table service and food. Next time we go, though, we want to do lunch there as they have the best Monte Cristo sandwiches.
Once again we chose not to stay late, but to go back to the room and enjoy the pool instead of fireworks.
Thursday, July 25 - Driving Home
Just a drive home today, about 1-1/2 hours. We waited until later in the morning to do so, though, to avoid trying to drive I-5 south in the Rush Hour. Next time we go up, it will be a weekend. That doesn't mean that there won't be traffic on I-5, though. That highway is the Ho-Chi-Minh Freeway Trail West!