First time to Disneyland
Growing up with regular visits to WDW, my brother an I often talked about going to Disneyland one day. For some reason it was hard to get from the talking about stage and actually get there. With my brother turning 40 this year, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to correct that. For his birthday, I took my brother to Disneyland.
We were going for 4 nights and got reservations at the Disneyland Hotel. We landed around noon and used Best Shuttle to pick us up from Long Beach and I found the van to be efficient, but dirty.
As we arrived on property it was an unusual feeling. It was the same but different :rotfl: We felt the environment strangely familiar and comfortable but it was all very new. As we checked in, we asked if we could get a renovated room. The woman at the counter bent over backwards to make it happen. The room was not ready but seemed worth it. They took our cell # and would text us the room # when it was ready.
Having a long flight from the North East we were obviously hungry and decided we should head out toward Downtown Disney and get a bite to eat while we waited for our room, and we were also meeting up with some friends. ESPN was sitting right there, so the choice was easy. We ate outside we didnt order anything fancy. I had some sort of apple walnut salad and my brother had a burger and we both enjoyed a nice cold beer. Always have found you can get a decent fill at ESPN and this was no different.
Our room was not ready still but our friends had arrived. So we went on to meet them at the Grand Californian in front of the fireplace. Beautiful hotel! Forgive my WDW comparisons, but to me it felt like a cross of the wilderness lodge and the darker colors of the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Whether you can appreciate the comparison or not, its a really beautiful hotel. Although the DL hotel was conveniently located, the location here was unbeatable. The path leading to Downtown Disney was so close to the parks, and of course the backside entrance to DCA makes it just perfect.
My brother and I were most excited to see DCA, believe it or not. Our love of roller coasters and the fact WDW doesn't have a similar park were the main reasons. We had them take us there first. Of course when they said what do you want to do were unanimous; Screamin'
Screamin' was an incredible experience! We were amazed at just how well the music was synchronized to the track, or is it vice versa? I swear the music was first and they built the track according to the track! Regardless of who was first the chicken or the egg, Screamin really rocks!
They took us onto TSMM. Yeah we have that in Orlando also but the locals take this very seriously. They have their own personal 3d glasses :rotfl: OK so we got our clocks cleaned on TSMM but it was much fun.
They brought us on a couple more attractions (Soarin, Monsters Inc) and at this time our room is ready. We head back to our hotel to get settled (and change, so much for warm sunny California! :rotfl: ) and will meet them after we settle. The renovated room was a double edged sword. I say that because our view was literally construction complete with an over stuffed dumpster. It was so bad it was actually a little humorous. Hey we asked for this!!! The room was beautiful and the beds were so incredibly comfortable. Above the beds is a long wooden sculpted castle and fireworks scene. A push button in between the beds activates the lights and the music (oh gosh I want to say a dream is a wish your heart makes, sorry if I am already forgetting LOL) . The water pressure was a little low in the shower but everything else was perfect. Very nice and I would recommend it to anyone.
So back to the parks, with the locals help our goals as you could see already were to really try and get as many of the must do's... done. We went to Disneyland. From the moment we got in, where DCA did not live up to expectations, Disneyland exceeded them. It was incredible! Well, I still think someone stole part of the castle and nobody wants to talk about it :rotfl: but other than that absolutely perfect! I dont want to use the Quaint word I hear everywhere. To me it wasnt quaint, it was Finished. Everything seemed so perfect it just looked done. Absolutely beautiful!
I won't chew through a list of attractions, but definitely want to put up some highlights:
Space mountain... I will have trouble riding this in Orlando from now on I guarantee it. WOW. What makes Screamin so special, makes this attraction the ultimate. It was darker, it was smoother, and the soundtrack pluses this attraction above and beyond anything you could possibly expect.
Gorgeous! All of fantasyland is mesmerizing, the attractions here are so much closer whereas the attractions in common with WDW are so distant and dont feel as immersive. The facades are so beautifully sculpted. If I were to have one complaint about fantasyland the locals would call for my head!
:rofl: Sorry locals but heres the deal. You love the matterhorn because its nostalgic. We thought it was beyond lame (running scared!!!!) I even made a joke to my brother. If I had this place I would knock that sucker down, look at all the real estate it takes up ROFL. You might actually see their castle! :rotfl: OK OK dont hate us, you can keep the matterhorn, and honest we LOVE your park.
Loved the attractions that don't exist at WDW like alice, Pinocchio, and of course our nostalgic ride, Mr toad.
We caught a show at the tiki room, starring Tiki Maynard! What a blast from the past! What a fantastic cast member. He was a lot of fun to listen to. This was another case where its counterpart besides being renovated to new owners, seems so distant. In this theater you were up and personal and felt more a part of the show.
Pirates!!!! AYE! I think we rode for 10 minutes before we even came upon a scene that is covered at the sister park. Really enjoyed this attraction.
How could I forget Indiana Jones! OK if its true this is the same vehicle and track as in AK's Dinosaur, then the folks at AK have some splainin to do! Wow this was incredible. The queue, the scenery, the story line EVERYTHING. LOVED IT!
OK I promised not to chew through a list of attractions so let me sum up our Disneyland impression. PERFECT! This park seems PERFECT! As the night went on and our guides brought us from attraction to attraction we had mentioned how we sometimes watch the fireworks from Big Thunder Mountain and they said they have done that too, so lets go do it! Not only did the cast members pull us aside when we asked if we could wait until the fireworks really started up, but then after the ride was over they told us to sit tight. Reloaded the rest of the ride cars and sent us in for a second run! If you have never done this at either park, its one of those really neat things to do, and if your lucky enough, a cast member might make it even more special like happened to us that very evening.
We did a few more rides, and exited the park, found our way to the pool bar at the DLH and enjoyed a couple of wind down long islands :rotfl: Can you believe this was only day 1? really a half day! Thanks to our friends we really had nailed most of the big stuff which would allow us to really take in what was around us for the rest of the trip.
Think I'll pause here at the end of day 1. Please no hate mail over our Matterhorn comments :rotfl:
I'll try to do the remaining days tonight or tomorrow and just a teaser... cough*club 33*cough* and cough*lily bell*cough*
Wow...such fun. Can I borrow your locals for tour guides??? You had a great first (1/2) day...can't believe you got all that in...magical. I especially liked your magical moment getting sent thru BBTR twice during the fireworks! Looking forward to day 2 with you.
It's sounds like your first impressions of DLR are very similar to mine.
OK so the remaining days are much less to describe, as we really were trying to commando as much as possible and then stop and smell the roses.
Day 2 back to DCA for rope drop. No tour guides :rotfl:
We were marching with the crowd step for step heading to paradise pier right at screamin! To our suprise everyone else was still heading to TSMM. I guess we underestimated how much you locals have pride in those scores ROFL. I guess it makes sense, its more of a competition when your base is locals.
So with little effort we were right back at screamin and loving every minute of it. It was as good that day as the first time. Can't express how much we both enjoyed this attraction.
After screamin, we were thinking we better get on that big mickey wheel thingy!!!! It must load really really slow!!!! HURRY GET GOING GET... hey... where is everyone? OH... Still at TSMM. There were literally 1 other person on the attraction. We got on it, did one full circle and then my brother was begging them to let us out. We thought we could get some great pictures. Until we realized the chicken coop they had us sitting in ROFL. Oh well. Mickey Wheel lights good, ride... not so good. It's purpose is best suited for World of color, not for riding.
We did some more attractions, mostly repeats but at our own pace, and we took a walk through some of the other areas even if we weren't worried about the attractions. For example, we've seen bugs life so many times, just wasn't interested, but we wanted to be sure to take a good walk through the area to see what it was all about.
When noon came around, I wanted to check out some of the festival stuff. Enjoyed one of the wine walks, italia. Great stuff! I am by no means any kind of a wine expert but it was fun and tried some fantastic tasting wine. I finally asked someone where all the food was. They told me it was in a building in the back hollywood lot. It became very apparent that they are used to the locals and not tourists when implementing certain things. Even knowing where to look now it was still not obvious! You had to walk right up to this area that looked blocked off to see they had some food and a beer lounge back there! How about a sign? ROFL OK I'm done complaining about the location. I got myself some cheese soup in a sourdough bread bowl and it was fantastic. Had some Leffe (beligian beer) and life was all in balance! OK now I felt like I participated in the F&W portion haha.
We walked back over to DL now and really just walked around taking it in. I have to say Disneyland is simply beautiful. We didn't do any attractions, we just wanted to walk the park, people watch a bit, and get a good solid look around. It was as fun as any of the attractions.
We had a long day prior so we called it quits pretty early and headed back to the hotel. But... thought a drink couldn't hurt at the uva bar. We got some flatbread pizza and some calamari, and a solid Long Island iced tea. The flatbread was very good, the calamari was awesome! Wow they were like giant squid! heh, seriously it was the biggest rings I have ever had of Calamari, and it was very tasty. Nice spot to people watch. OH AND while I'm thinking of it. Whenever you walk from the hotel to the parks or back you walk past those carmel popcorn stands... HELLO!!!!! I wish I could buy that smell and take it home with me :rotfl: I wasn't even interested in eating it but I sure wish the scent could follow us around!
We went back to the hotel and even got a nap in, the time zone differences were finally taking a toll. Woke up at 11:30pm ROFL thinking ohhhhh noooooo now what! Well fortunately the pool bar area is open until 1:30 ROFL So we basically got up from our nap, went to the bar and pounded a few long islands in order to knock ourselves back out... It totally worked haha.
Wake up, wallet & phone cant be found! Have to run over to meet up with some people at the Grand Cali so are running out of time. Quickly run to the pool bar to see if its there, it isnt. Then I start thinking, I keep my phone in one pocket and my wallet in the other so this just doesnt make sense. We decide to go to the Cali to meet them to explain I have a little problem :rotfl: Very nice people, these are tourists not locals :rotfl: We explain I have to go back to the hotel etc and they should go on without us, we can meet up for lunch at 11 they say between the doors of 32 and 34 ;)
Good news is, when checking your pants the night before to see if your wallet is there, you have to actually check the EXACT pants you were actually wearing. I had checked the wrong ones, and there it was.
Run back to DL and since we hadn't been there long we headed toward Nemo where we knew the group was headed, and we did catch up with them just before entering the queue. I thought Nemo was cute but overall, not worth all the trouble :rotfl: Gimme 20,000 any time. Hey at least you have subs right! From there they want to go on... the matterhorn! Ouch. OK we bit our tongue and rode Matterhorn. At this point we split up and went our own way to meet back at 11. We pulled a fast pass for Indy and jumped on Mr Toad and one or two other short lined attractions.
We met outside of 33 at 11am with an 11:15am reservation. We killed the time chatting with what the rest of the group was up to (10 of us total btw). When the door opens I can't describe the anticipation of what is actually inside. As the door creaks slowly open it unveils piece by piece of this mysterious puzzle. Well the entry room is beautiful. Dark polished wood, a curved staircase, and a small luxurious elevator. The cast member shared some information with us as we looked around in awe and eventually a few at a time rose within the elevator to the main floor.
As you step off the elevator you find yourself in a hall leading toward the main dining room. A display case showing the merchandise available for purchase. This case actually brings a smile to your face, it was just one of those questions you have when you don't know what to expect. Can I buy some merchandise to remember this by? Yes you can :rotfl:
This hallway's decor is that of a gold pattern wallpaper, much lighter then downstairs. photo's and interesting sconces on the wall. Very nice. You begin to approach the main dining area and your entry has the most beautiful wooden door with intricate gold design and a glass window.
Big wooden table sets with spotless white tablecloths are the first thing you notice in the distance. Antique like, but of course in perfect like new condition. Passing a fully stocked bar you now notice a cold buffet with the 33 logo tinted into the glass along with a display case for the deserts. Wow the desert buffet is simply amazing. There must have been 15 different types of desert, each looking better than the next.
Then you enter the main dining chamber and sit down at this elegant table setting and are handed your menu with that logo staring up at you. The staff was extremely attentive and with great personality. Engaging you when you wanted them to and leaving you be when you wanted. They just knew what they were doing. Guess we weren't a very adventurous group of 10! 9 of us ordered the filet and 1 the lamb chop :rotfl: I had to order a heineken, so i could check off another thing off my list of things to do haha. Drinking in Disneyland :drinking1
The cold buffet were things like fresh salads and cheeses there was even some thinly sliced pork, some sushi and seafood options. Everything I sampled was extremely fresh. I even noticed a cast member poking each slice of pork individually with a thermometer making sure it was all still up to their standards of what they would serve. The filet was wonderful and cooked exactly as I requested and the beer was cold ;) I have heard people say that the food isnt all that great its all about the prestige of being in the club, but that definitely was not my experience. The entire group agreed. Did I mention the desert options? Wow nobody even knew what they were eating haha but it was fantastic. Kept hearing, what is that? I don't know but it sure is good!
When it was time to leave you approach the merchandise display case and simply tell a cast member which items your interested in. Everyone wanted the club 33 ears haha and we all got those. I got a shot glass with the logo to bring home to my wife as she collects them. With that we made our way down the stairs and out the exit. What an amazing experience. What a great group of people to share it with. We said our goodbyes and it was time to hit the park for a little longer.
Our fast passes for Indy!!!! We ride Indy again and it was even better the second time, saw things I hadnt noticed the first time. Everything was perfect as we left the queue except something is noticeably wrong. My wallet... AGAIN! Hadn't I learned my lesson? This time I feel nauseous because I know its really gone this time. Running back up the exit queue I tell the cast member and he immediately asks me what row and picks up the phone and calls the other side as well to let them know. I was in shock to find 2 ride vehicles later, he came up with it and handed it to me. WOW! I need one of those chain wallets! relief, but now we need a break that was too much.
We head back to the hotel, catch a nap as my cousin is coming down to have dinner with us that evening.
They took us off site to an outback, and then they took us to the pacific so we can say we have seen both oceans coast to coast... Another thing off the bucket list. We chatted a while and then they returned us to the hotel and made their way back home. A 3 hour ride, so nice of them to take that time out to spend a little time with us.
With that we retired for the evening knowing we had a long day coming ahead of us. The last full day and we were going to PWN disneyland.
What an amazing couple of days!!!
I have to agree somewhat on the Matterhorn......we love taking pictures of it from different angles but when it comes to riding it....once a trip is plenty!! Not the smoothest ride I've ever been on.....lol
Club 33.....so jealous!! We did the Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour last year & got to go inside the lobby & that just made our mouth water even more to go upstairs......but I just don't see that in our future....heavy sigh!
Can't wait to read more & make sure you left Disneyland WITH your wallet :rotfl:
Thanks for the review! We are also fellow WDW vets who are headed to DL for the first time... next weekend. A spur of the moment trip, because we're ready for a break, and I cannot wait until December to get our newly adopted daughter to some Disney magic! (Hopefully she doesn't slow us down too much! :lmao:)
I always love reading about someones first time especially a wdw vet.
Love your description about Disneyland as "perfect". Agreed.
Thanks for the report. It was nice to read your comparison as I haven't been to DLR in 18 years and it is dd first time. Have been to WDW 5 times in the past 15 years so we will be seeing the differences also.
Club 33, wow am I jealous. :rotfl: maybe someday we'll go there.
Aengus, where do I send you your bill? ;) Tommy
Thank you everyone, and looks like i found one of my tour guides! :rotfl:
OK so lets continue!
Let me show you all what two n00bs can do without a tour guide!
The first tip you always hear from anyone about any park is get there at rope drop. Well I record audio as I go along so I was able to play this back and see just how much you can get done if you follow that rule. This was our last real day in Cali (next day was travel) so we were there at rope drop and wanted to knock it out of the park :)
9 am open at rope drop on main street
go to buzz grab fast passes, DOH, buzz is closed, the guy tells us right after we put our ticket in... to late to worry get moving.
Ride Space mountain, ride star tours (had to do this one more time before close!), on to fantasyland and ride alice, ride toad, ride pinochio, fumble around looking for pan, 30 minute wait already so dont want to lose time here, we can wait for this one later as long as its the only thing left we need to do, ride small world, ride roger rabbit (almost missed this one, forgot about it ROFL), ride pirates, get lost in NO Square looking for adventureland and ask for directions. board jungle cruise. As we boarded jungle cruise I heard us tell the time. 11:25.
So 9 attractions in 2 hours and 25 minutes. Locals dont have to care, but us tourists, how can you beat that?
After riding JC (fantastic skipper btw) we exited the park and walked out to harbor blvd to get picked up. A friend was taking us for some off site authentic mexican food. Sorry I have no idea what it was called but it was very good!
We returned and she was determined now to make sure we dont miss much. She takes us to DCA first to go through the animation building and the blue sky cellar. Great stuff we almost missed! Then back to Disneyland for pan. LOVED yours so much more. So much closer and personal, and that star scene we dont have, it was fantastic. We inquired about the lily bell as well and to be honest, i was thinking why is everyone making such a big deal about a stupid train! They said if there was any possibility it wouldnt be able to be until at least 6:30. So we went off doing other rides, much slower pace and enjoying the park.
As it got closer to 6:30 we got a text from our friends who invited us to club33. They have a 2 bedroom at the GC facing DCA and saw World of color the night prior, they ran thorugh it twice and thought maybe it would happen again this evening. Said they would text us and bring us on the observation deck if it looked promising.
Now OK OK we can go check the train. OMG thats not a train, thats a luxury box :rotfl: We were like royalty in there. For those who were as ignorant as I was. This is a recreation of a box car (i think they said for the 50th?) that Walt had made for his wife. We had our own conductor with just us in this incredibly lavish box car in red velvet and wood. Just sitting here made you feel like you were movie star. They bring you around the entire loop and the private conductor gives you some facts about the train. It was a total blast Im so glad i kept my mouth shut and didnt come right out and say hey guys, lets skip the freakin train! :rotfl2:
When the ride was over we got our very own commemorative ticket. Its a great souvenir for a great experience. It reads: this ticket admits (your name) and party aboard the disneyland railroad presidential car Lilly Belle. Oh look I totally butchered the spelling of Lilly Belle earlier, good thing I'm reading the ticket!
OK, so now I have to run out to House of Blues before any chance of supper or world of color. You see, my wife loves the stuff at the store there so if I wish to be let back in when I get home, I better get something! Shopped, changed and caught up with our friend once again at the GC fireplace. We were starving and it looked like we had about 30 minutes to kill, so we ran to the quick service at the GC and got some burgers.
OK we get a text, and they think it might be happening. So we catch up with those folks and they bring us to the observation deck at the GC and.... DENIED! They lock the doors and dont even admit hotel guests during the evening anymore so people cant video the world of color from there like we have all seen already :banana:
Now what? They invite us to their room to watch on the balcony woot! now I get a good glance at the DVC rooms (we had tried to get one but it was already booked solid). BEAUTIFUL! Dark colors, very open, kitchen area looked great. jacuzzi tub etc. Very nice. both bedrooms had their own balcony etc and they were facing DCA so a great view. In fact since DCA closed so early, I finally got to see how nice that giant Mickey wheel looks lit up. They were testing screaming continually as well for some reason.
Unfortunately they didnt run through World of Color that night but they did several tests that we could ooooo and aaaaaah at. We got a slight feeling for what it was going to be like and you know what... I call that a score because it was more than we were going to see!
Guess thats the excuse to come back now isnt it :cool1:
We hung out there for a good hour and a half watching the miscellaneous fountain and projection tests and then called it quits. This was pretty much it for us, and we were very satisfied with the experiences we had.
Day 5, pack and go home! BOOO!!!! OK I mentioned on day 1 that best shuttle had a dirty van that picked us up, well this time it was clean when it showed up. BUT the driver was insane! He cut off a car on the highway and the beeping and some hand gestures that looked just awful (not our driver the car that got cut off ROFL) . There were some other moves I just dont think you should take when you have paying customers on board.
I saved a few dollars going to best shuttle over someone like super shuttle but I think I would spend the few extra bucks and not recommend that service to anyone based on my 2 rides.
I do have some pictures I might be able to dig out sometime to share
I have one con I would recommend to Disneyland Mgt. I know you have mostly locals, but you need to help us tourists out a little bit more. Best example, I never would have been able to buy that cheddar soup if I didnt get extra help. It was hidden and no signs to help etc.
Other than that? I'll come back for sure. In a direct comparison of Disneyland to Magic Kingdom, I have to give the edge to Disneyland. No wonder you all have such pride in "your" park. Once more of DCA is built, that will be more of a pleasure to tour as well.
ETA: I DID MAKE IT HOME WITH MY WALLET :rotfl:
Sounds like a great time!! So glad you got your wallet back. You are really making me laugh!!
I didn't see where you had ridden Tower of Terror. Did you? And if so, give me your comparisons. Going to ride on DL TOT the first time this Nov. I know the physical differences, but wondering what you thought of the overall vibe.
Great trip report! Glad to hear that you had such a great time at Disneyland. It was a lot of fun seeing you "discover" the park for the first time - especially when Maynard gave you a personal performance. :lmao::rotfl2:
Hope you come back out to SoCal soon and we can do this again!
Wiggly legs... Wiggly legs...
Thanks Tommy, it was a blast!
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