Return to Disneyland

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WestCoast 625 225x300 Return to DisneylandIt’s been 34 years since my last trip to Disneyland.  Back in 1979 my best friend had moved to California and a trip out to see him and his family ended with a day at Disneyland.  Since then I have visited Disney World over 25 times and consider myself a Disney expert.

I can’t tell you how many people told me since I always visit Disney World that I would be disappointed when I visited Disneyland.  “It’s so much smaller, it is surrounded by a city, the rides are so different” are just a few of the comments I heard.  I wasn’t going to let anyone influence my vacation or put any negative thoughts in my head.  I was 14 years old in 1979 so I really didn’t remember much about the park.

First things first, a lot has changed since 1979!!  We used our DVC points and booked a few nights at the Grand Californian Hotel.  It was a little odd seeing so many commercial establishments just outside the turn to the hotel, however once we walked into the lobby, I knew I was at Disney!  The Grand Californian Hotel lobby reminds me of walking into the Wilderness Lodge.  It has the same look and feel once inside the lobby.  We booked a 1 bedroom villa and I will have to say the room was huge!  Our room overlooked the pool as well as Disney’s California Adventure and there was no city to be found!

Once we were all settled in we thought we would venture out to California Adventure!  It was pretty cool having our own entrance into the park just through the lobby of the hotel.  It reminded me a lot of the back entrance to Epcot from the Boardwalk or Beach Club.  My first thought as I walked into the park was, “OMG I have no idea where I am going!”  This was very foreign to me as I know all the Disney World Parks like the back of my hand.  I felt like an actual tourist for the first time in a very long time.

WestCoast 602 224x300 Return to DisneylandWe decided to get Fastpasses for Soaring then head over to check out Cars Land.  Like Disney World, many of the big rides were out of Fastpasses for the day.  We had a couple of days booked so I knew there would be time to ride these before we left.  California Adventure was pretty cool.  I was shocked to see a “park within a park” meaning we turned the corner and there was “Hollywood Studios” complete with the Tower of Terror.  Having a 7:00pm diner reservation, I started planning my next day which happened to be an early entry day.  The plan would be come into the park, grab Tower of Terror fastpasses and head to Radiator Springs Racers before the line was too long.

We were able to hop onto the Monsters Inc ride which was a fun little ride, as well as one of the main rides, California Screaming!  California Screaming was a fun, fast rollercoaster with twists and turns and of course the famous loop just under the Paradise Pier sign.  It reminded me a lot of an outside Rockin Roller Coaster.  Paradise Pier had the feel of more of a carnival or boardwalk with a few games to keep the kids busy.  Outside of California Screaming you will find Toy Story Mania.  TSM is always a long wait; I was very surprised to see there was no Fastpass for this ride.  It’s not that they were gone for the day; I meant there are actually no Fastpasses available.  This is one of the most popular rides, so I was a little shocked.

7:00pm rolled around so it was off to Ariel’s Grotto.  We booked here so we could have special entrance into the World of Color.  I wasn’t overly impressed with the food; I will only say it is typical of a Disney restaurant.  After our dinner we received Fastpasses for the World of Color.

WestCoast 801 300x225 Return to DisneylandI didn’t know what to expect from the World of Color.  I will say it was a fantastic show!  It was a blend of the fountains outside the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas with a mix of Fantasmic from Hollywood Studios in Disney World.  Lights, color, fire and video combined to truly take my breath away.  The music was perfectly timed and the water fanned out to act as a video screen to bring to life your favorite Disney characters.  Along with a few rides, I would love to see this show come to Disneyland.

Stay tuned for my trip to Disneyland Park!

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Mike Conrad

About the Author

I live in Pelham, NH and call Disney my second home. I've been to Walt Disney World over 25 times and ventured out to Disneyland once back in 1979. Over the next several years I plan to go back out to CA and continue to the new DVC resort in Hawaii. I'm almost certain the character Mr. Incredible was written for me, heck an overweight super hero, what's not to love? I am a technology guy! Through my blog I have been reviewing products for the past 3 years. Disney and technology go hand in hand! I hope to review some cool apps, and technology that will make your Disney experience extra magical. One of my favorite things to do at Walt Disney World is to get four extra Fast Passes to one of the big rides when the times are later in the day, then when the time comes when I am walking out of the park, I find a family of 4 and give them those Fast Passes. I simply love to see the reaction. Follow me on twitter @Mike_Conrad to keep up with the latest technology!

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  1. […] trip but we had a dilemma because we had just used all our 2013 points for our Disneyland trip (  We started to research “off-property” hotels and were a little shocked when we found the […]

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