Part Two The drive from San Diego to Disneyland was very quick indeed at just over an hour. When we arrived at the Disneyland Hotel our room was not ready, so we left our bags with bell services and took a wonder around the hotel grounds and Downtown Disney. I love the DTD in California – there is such a great atmosphere and so many stalls selling great little bits which cannot be found in the parks. $370 lighter , after spending almost two hours in World of Disney, we went back to the Disneyland Hotel to check out our room. I ordered a special gift basket from vacation planning, and it was in our room upon arrival. This was the wonderful view from our room, looking to the right. The photo is slightly zoomed in, but the view of Paradise Pier was great (particularly at night). This was another great view from our room, looking straight ahead. This is Downtown Disney, and you can see the Matterhorn Mountain in the background. The room was very spacious and had a day bed which was perfect for us as we needed three beds and I was expecting I would have to call for a roll-away. The view was one of the best bits about the room – we had an eighth floor room with a breath-taking panorama of Downtown Disney, Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park. The view was probably my best memory from the trip – in the evening the whole vista came alive with music and colourful lights; it was a really special atmosphere. We also had a wonderful view of the Disneyland Park fireworks each night. The way the beds were facing meant we could lie in bed with the curtains open and enjoy the fireworks show I was very impressed with the Disneyland Hotel and we will certainly return. Previously we stayed at the Grand Californian – this hotel has direct access to the California Adventure Park and is located right within both the theme park and Downtown Disney. Disneyland Hotel is a little further back, at the other end of Downtown Disney. However, the room at Disneyland Hotel was definitely larger than the room we had at the Grand Californian, which was ideal as there are five of us. We had a magnificent view and the hotel grounds are very impressive – there are two great swimming pools and even a small lake and waterfall! We enjoyed breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen had a nice Breakfast Buffet, but we only saw two characters the whole time we were there, which was very disappointing. The restaurant is very large and we seemed to be sat away from all the action and antics. Since I have never done a Disneyland California TR before, I thought I would throw in a few details and observations about the parks and comparisons with Walt Disney World. Before our first trip, I had read lots of very negative reports about California Adventure, so we were not expecting much. However, California Adventure Park is arguably our top Disney Park we have had the pleasure of visiting. To me, CA seems to combine multiple parks into one – you have the “MGM studios” area with tower of terror, the animation studio and the Monsters Inc ride which is really good fun. This area also has the absolutely incredible Aladdin show. This show really blew us away. It is even better than Broadway – the actors are excellent (especially the genie) and the show has incredible special effects and the most awesome staging and props. The comedy is great too – the genie is always cracking jokes which filled the crowd with laughter. Every single person I saw coming out of the theatre was brimming from ear to ear with a smile – this show encapsulates everything I love about Disney and it was worth the admission price alone just to watch it. Make sure you get there early for good seats, or get hold of some preferred seating vouchers to give you first pick (I got ours from eBay, but you can get them free if you reserve an AAA package). Other highlights from California Adventure include the Grizzly Peak rapids ride. We loved this ride – the drop is quite a bit steeper than other rapids, and everyone in the boat got soaked. We also met a gem of a cast member outside of this attraction. He was a photopass photographer and we really enjoyed meeting him. He made us do some really funny poses and we had a great time. He also told us some stories about the times he visited England and how he cannot wait to go back sometime. He was a really great old man and we had the pleasure of bumping into him again when we visited Disneyland Park the next day. He made us all roll about laughing with his odd humour and jokes. The Paradise Pier area of the park is great, and comes alive at night. It is very pretty with the lights and we enjoyed riding the Sun Wheel at night with the great views over the park (make sure you go for the non-swinging capsules if you get motion sickness!). California Screamin’ is now my eldest DS’ fave rollercoaster, even beating Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster in Orlando. I enjoyed it too – the initial boost at the start gives an adrenaline rush which lasts the whole ride, which is very smooth and enjoyable. California Adventure is also home to Soarin’. This is the Disney attraction I love most. It is the same as the one in Orlando, the one at EPCOT being a direct copy, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The Main Street Electrical Parade is also, rather bizarrely, located at California Adventure. This was a great end to the evening, I always get goose bumps when watching this - and DD and DS entertained the crowds with their gymnastic skills whilst we were waiting for the parade to start! They even got a a round of applause! Disneyland Park is full of history and this was demonstrated by the absolutely wonderful display and show they have near the entrance. It has a small scale replica of the original 1955 Disneyland Park. It is incredible to see how it has changed over time – back in 1955 it looked so sparse and bare, it is weird to think what it must have been like and how different it is now. For those who have never visited Disneyland before, but have been to other Disney parks, the first shock comes as soon as you the castle. It is tiny! It is nice to think that you are looking at Walt’s original, but it really is very small compared to the MK castle and is over-shadowed by the Matterhorn Mountain. Our Disneyland Park highlights include Indiana Jones Adventure – this is a ride which is kind of similar to Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom, except much better. It has great special effects and scenery, and the vehicles go at great speed. Other ‘best bits’ include the Matterhorn – similar to Space Mountain but less rough and a bit more bumpy! Speaking of Space Mountain, we much prefer the DL original to the WDW one, but I think we are in the exception. We enjoyed a gorgeous lunch at Blue Bayou, the restaurant beside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. DH and I had the amazing ‘Monte Cristo’ sandwich – it was absolutely gorgeous but way too big to finish. I think they must be changing the menus here, as we got to keep the menus as a souvenir of our trip. We were very lucky to get the one-and-only five seat riverside table, which made the trip even more special. The atmosphere here is wonderful and very serene – it’s strange going back outside into the light and heat after sitting in the Bayou for over an hour! Pirates of the Caribbean is incredible – much longer than at WDW – and with much more elaborate theming. Above POTC is the Disney Gallery. I was so pleased to see it was still open, as before our trip I had read it was closing. I am a big collector of Disney art so I was really happy to go and chill out in the gallery whilst DH took the children on Pirates for a second time. I even bought another piece to add to our collection! They have a wonderful balcony up there and it was great to look down on one of the jazz bands that were playing in New Orleans Square. The newest ride at Disneyland, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, was ridiculously popular. The line was 2 hours+ at virtually all times throughout the day and seemed to curl like a never-ending path all the way round the Matterhorn. Luckily, we only had to wait just under an hour (still the longest we have ever waited for a ride before), as we went straight there on an EMH morning as soon as the park opened. The ride is very slow loading and doesn't have FastPass, hence the long lines. Despite the waiting, we all really enjoyed this ride. I can't describe it too much otherwise I might ruin it, but the special effects are amazing and it really does "wow" you. We wanted to do it a second time, but didn't have the patience to wait again. The evening entertainment at Disneyland Park includes Fantasmic and “Remember….Dreams Come True” fireworks. We were fortunate enough to reserve the premium Fantasmic seating package, so we got special seating in a reserved area and a dessert box filled with delicious goodies. You can see some pictures and read my report about the Fantasmic Premium Seating experience here. The Disneyland Park fireworks show was really great. It really is a “park-wide” show – we experienced it in Tomorrow Land, Main Street , the Fantasmic area and from our hotel room – each time it was unique and special to the individual areas, with different lighting and effects. The fireworks show has great music from many of the Disney rides and takes you on a visual journey of all the attractions in Disneyland. It was great! The Los Angeles area has a wide variety of great attractions so we took time to spread our wings and go outside of Disney – for the first time (our previous DL trips we have stayed at Disney the whole time). We enjoyed visiting Splash City, Universal Studios, Hollywood, and The Warner Brothers Studio VIP tour. Splash City This is the water park adjacent to Knotts Berry. It was a little disappointing, but that is probably because we have got used to the amazing theming at the WDW water parks. It seemed to be full of summer camp kids whilst we were there, and it was a little overpriced in my opinion, despite using the AAA discount. Also, the lines for the slides were all over half and hour – DS had to wait for an hour for one of the slides! Not sure we will return, but it was a nice cool off anyway.