We are traveling to Disneyland for the first time ever and we are beyond excited! Not only is this our first trip to the ‘original’ Happiest Place on Earth but Jason and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this week! So since this is a special anniversary trip, we are traveling without the kids. Once we have them well secured at their grandparents’ house we start our travel day.
We begin our adventure
After some crazy heavy rain in Louisiana on our way to the airport in New Orleans, it was clear sailing from there. And when I say clear, I mean EVERYTHING went right for us! First off we park in the garage in the airport and get a spot super close to the elevators. Then we make it through security with basically no line at all. We walk into the terminal and ours is the first gate on the left… no searching, no waiting… It was the best airport experience we have ever had. Since we are very cautious we arrived very early and with the ease of getting through the airport, we had a couple of hours to kill before the flight. So we stocked up on flight snacks and relaxed.
This was our first time for a lot of things on this trip… first to Disneyland… first to California and first flying with Spirit. We were nervous because it is a budget airline with mixed reviews, but we had a fantastic experience. It was a four-hour flight from LA to LA… It’s not often you can say that but what I mean is Louisiana to Los Angeles. We flew over parts of this beautiful country that we had never seen before. We saw desert and mountains the likes of nothing imaginable in flat, wet Louisiana… it was amazing!
Once we arrived in LA, we quickly grabbed our bags, grabbed an Uber and headed to Anaheim to start our magical adventure!
After we arrived at our hotel, that was in walking distance from the parks, we dropped our bags and grabbed a bite to eat next door at Coco’s, With full tummies, we walked for the first time over to Disneyland! Where we were staying, the Best Western Stovall Inn, was on the back side of Disney California Adventure with an incredible view of Paradise Pier including California Screamin’ and Mickey’s Fun Wheel (also known to us as Mickey’s Death Wheel)… But this is not the park we were heading to first, we had to go to Disneyland!
From the angle we entered, we walked through Downtown Disney to be able to enter the parks. We quickly make it through security and walk into the huge crowd of people on a Saturday night… in June… in Disney… Luckily we came expecting this crowd level so we made our way through without a second thought.
This area is teeming with life and people everywhere. There are so many shops and restaurants but right now we walk on past. We do stop to catch some of the live music that catches our eyes and ears. It does a great job to get us excited for what is to come.
Jason and I make our way through Downtown Disney and see the grand entry with the Disneyland entrance to the left and Disney California Adventure to the right.
Our first steps into Disneyland… EVER
Our faces are all smiles as we take a left and head into Disneyland park for the first time. We exchange our paper printed tickets at the turnstile for our park tickets and we are almost there. We first, of course, we have to take an iconic photo in front of the train station… and then another of our park tickets in front of the train station. Because if you didn’t take a photo, then it didn’t happen!
At this point, we turn and walk through and under the most memorable sign… “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy”. These are words I fell in love with on my first adult trip to Walt Disney World and seeing them on the original sign really pulls at the heartstrings. Yeah, I teared up a bit as I entered the park…
Disney is more magical at night!
I have said it before and I will say it again… Disney is more magical at night! I knew we would only have a few hours this evening in the park but I was so glad we added the extra day to our park ticket to be able to see everything for the first time all lit up!
When we first entered Main Street, there was a huge crowd gathered and I had to ask a cast member what was going on. It had completely slipped my mind that the Main Street Electrical Parade was there. How I forgot this, I do not know??? But luckily they had a bypass path that led into Tomorrowland. So we didn’t get to walk down Main Street to get our first glimpse of Sleeping Beauty castle as we entered. But I was really ok with it because it would be something to look forward to. But we did get to see Walt’s ever burning light on in his apartment over the fire station!
First stop… Tomorrowland
So into Tomorrowland we go! We were so excited that we were just smiling and laughing as we followed the secret path. We kept saying that we felt like giddy children! Let me say here that one more thing we loved was the temperature! We were in Disneyland in June and were wearing jeans and were completely comfortable! It was fabulous!!!
The good thing about the parade going on is that it pulled people out of the walking areas and opened up everything for us to see. Tomorrowland at night is our absolute favorite! We always save this area at Magic Kingdom for night time to experience it all lit up. One thing we did notice is that even though the park was very busy (Saturday night in June with Grad Night going on) that the wait times were not too bad for many of the rides. You could get a FastPass for Star Tours for 40 minutes from now and ride Astro Blasters with a 15-minute wait. But we decided that we were just going to explore tonight and take in just the experience of being in the park and wait for rides until tomorrow.
What is the same and what is different?
We get the lay of the land and mentally compare where things are at Disneyland, which is new to us, to Magic Kingdom, which we know like the back of our hands. There are many similarities but many more differences. And then we spot Mickey Mouse doing a meet and greet in a tuxedo high above Tomorrowland and want to know how we can get to be part of that! We find out later that it is a dessert party, but man that was tempting to do!!! What is Tomorrowland without a dance party? But instead of a DJ, there is a live band! How cool is that???
We keep walking and exploring and get our first up-close view of the Matterhorn. Whoa… it’s huge! And to think that it was built in 1959 is pretty amazing! Mine, mine, mine… where is that sound coming from? Well from the Nemo submarine ride of course. We just love those dang birds so of course have to go and check them out! The lagoon is beautiful! See, more proof that Disney is more magical at night!
How things fall into place!
We didn’t plan on watching the Main Street Electrical Parade but ran smack into it and the path was blocked to move any further so we stopped and caught the end of the parade. AMERICA! But… we found a great spot to watch the parade when we are ready to later in the trip.
Extra special bonus… It’s a small world was closed down because of the parade so we were standing right there when it reopened… with absolutely NO WAIT! Our luck just keeps on going. We had heard that the Disneyland version of this ride is better and it truly is! I have always ‘liked’ the ride at Walt Disney World, but LOVED this one. It was also great how the Disney characters were incorporated into the ride and in the proper places and lands. Very well done.
It’s a small world after all… it’s a small world after all… it’s a small world after all… it’s a small, small world.
You’re welcome for getting it stuck in your head! We never imagined that this would be our first ride in Disneyland, but we were going with the flow and taking things as they fell into our laps and it was perfect.
Walking out of the ride it was clock time. This is something that the Magic Kingdom version definitely doesn’t have and is so cool! At the 15 minute mark the doors open and all of the dolls of the world parade out in a circle and back in while the iconic music plays and then the clock strikes the time. Perfect!
Sometimes no planning is the best!
Let me say here that I am a huge planner when it comes to Disney vacations, but I decided to take a different approach on this trip and let things happen as they may. This was so perfect for us! We just decided tonight to walk into Disneyland and see and explore whatever. In times like this is when the best memories are made.
When didn’t even get a park map or times guide to see when events would happen. So when we walked out of it’s a small world and saw people sitting on the ground and mingling around, we asked what was going on. They were getting ready for the nightly fireworks… But wait I thought everyone went and stood in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle to watch the fireworks??? Well, little did we know but at Disneyland, you can either watch packed in like sardines in front of the castle or you can come back here. There is a separate projection show on the facade of it’s a small world! And it is relaxed back here. We were able to sit on the ground, Jason actually laid down as there was enough room, and relax and enjoy ourselves. Can I say AMAZING enough times?
Crying happy tears…
Ok, so now it’s time for me to cry again. I am actually tearing up as I write this thinking back to how I felt. The fireworks started with WISHES. Wishes has always and will always hold a special place in my heart. I thought it was gone forever since Happily Ever After became the new fireworks at Magic Kingdom. I started crying like a baby when I heard the Wishes music start.
‘Remember… Dreams Come True’ is a wonderful show!!! It starts as Wishes but it does not remain so, it brings in elements of everything Disney you can think of! There are projections and corresponding fireworks for our favorite Disney and Pixar characters. They bring our favorite rides like Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain into the show. There is even an entire section of Star Wars. And then it ends with more Wishes and Tinkerbell flying from the castle. Beautiful. Amazing. Phenomenal. And every other word that can be used to describe perfection!
That’s a wrap for today
We decide that nothing will top this and decide to call it a night so we can get up early and be back at the park for rope drop. On the way out we walk slowly down Main Street and go see a close-up view of Walt Disney’s lantern… and yeah we take a picture there. We had an amazing first-day experience and can’t wait to see everything this original Disneyland park has to offer!
This will be the first in a series of posts from this trip as we experience Disneyland for the first time in our lives. If you enjoyed this, please subscribe to receive future posts!
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