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Friday, 31 May 2019

Tips for a first time visit to Disneyland in California

Hey everybody!

Despite my California trip feeling like a long, long, long time ago, I recently received a lovely message from an old Uni friend which has completely sparked up my passion for the West Coast resort once again!

The individual in question explained that he is visiting LA for his Honeymoon, and he is a self professed Theme Park fan. Essentially, he wanted some insight into both Disneyland and California Adventure from a fellow 'expert', and I was of course more than happy to oblige.

Whilst composing my response to him I thought, like any good marketeer does, yeah, there's some content in there! So there you have it – this is going to be a pretty niche post but hopefully, my insight into the Californian Disney parks will help some of you as you venture off on your first trip to Anaheim and experience the one that started them all.

Enjoy! And if you have anything you'd like to add to this, or any further Disney related questions, you can find my contact details on the blog!

– Mercedes

  • If you're a BIG Disney or Theme Park fan, you'll need three or four days...

Yes, there are only two Disney parks in Anaheim, but you will definitely need an additional day or two to really soak in the atmosphere that they have to offer. We had three days at Disneyland and California Adventure and honestly, if truth be told, I honestly could have done with a fourth! Downtown Disney is pretty small so you won't necessarily need an entire day there too – but maybe set aside a morning or evening to head down there! We visited Downtown Disney to shop the day before we ventured into the parks and we also went back there for the morning before heading to LAX to fly home. 

For those of you that are in to Theme Parks, remember that Anaheim is also home to Knott's Berry Farm, and you will also find Universal Hollywood in LA.

  • Crowds increase as the day goes on...
Disneyland is pretty unique in that of all the resorts I have ever visited, this one definitely seems to have the most Annual Passholders. Because of this, lots of people head down to Anaheim in the afternoon after finishing work so crowds increase as the days go on consequently. As with any theme park, weekdays are quieter than weekends but you will definitely want to make the most of rope drop when you visit to ensure that you beat the crowds early and get those fastpasses!
  • The unique attractions in Disneyland aren't exactly thrilling...
As a true Disney fan, I was really excited about classic and unique attractions at Disneyland however, if truth be told, they're not all that. The Matterhorn in particular is a pretty uncomfortable ride so be prepared!
  • If you're not into Disney History, you don't have to ride the classics...
Disneyland is home to the classic versions of attractions such as Peter Pan's Flight, Pirates of The Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion, but if you've ridden them before at other Disney resorts, don't feel that you have to queue up for them again – they're virtually the same as everywhere else! As a BIG Disney fan, I did of course ride the original classic attractions but if you're short on time, don't feel that you have to.
  • Indiana Jones is a surprisingly decent attraction...
I was expecting this to be a similar attraction to the coaster in Paris which is okay, but nothing special. Instead, this thrilling dark ride takes you on a frantic journey through the classic Indie movies. Think Animal Kingdom's Dinosaur but with animatronics – definitely not one to be missed.
  • You will need a dining package or Fastpass for Fantasmic! 
...well, if you want to be able to see the damn thing that is! We opted for a Blue Bayou Dining Package; at around £50 per head for three courses and front row seats to Fantasmic! in the evening, we thought this was reasonable. They also have more affordable packages available at Belle Terrace and The Hungry Bear.

If Dining Packages aren't really your thing, be sure to arrive at the park early and obtain a fastpass for Fantasmic! as you really won't get a great view without one of these options! For World of Color in California Adventure, the same situation applies. We were able to get a fastpass and were stood in the 'yellow area' which gave us a great view. We didn't stand right at the front as we didn't want to get wet (it was cold!) but could have done had we wished as we arrived early to our area. 
  • Don't head to the Castle for the night time fireworks...
For some of the best views and to beat the crowds, head to either It's A Small World in Fantasyland or Rivers of America for the night time fireworks.

  • California Adventure is better than Disneyland...
This is of course just an opinion (but one that I am very much sure of) so allow additional time for this park simply exploring and relishing in the little nods to the west coast state!
  • Guardians of The Galaxy is an awesome attraction – no matter how much you love Tower of Terror...
Don't get me wrong, I am glad that Tower of Terror is still available in the park that I visit most (Disneyland Paris) but as a big Guardians fan, I really appreciated this attraction and the new elements, I feel, make the entire experience more thrilling.
  • You might want to invest in MaxPass, especially if you're not an early riser!
For roughly $15 per person, per day, Disney offer MaxPass, a digital fastpass platform which means you don't have to walk around the park all day collecting fastpasses – from simply the touch of a button, you can obtain your fastpasses on your very own smartphone. This will save you a lot of time and could be good for those that don't want to arrive at rope drop.
  • You MUST watch the Frozen show in DCA!
I don't care if you're not into Frozen or Princesses, this show is amazing. Lots of people argue that it's actually better than the show on Broadway – now that's saying something!

  • Shop as you see stuff!
Unlike other resorts around the world, at Disneyland, due to Downtown Disney being so small, there are some bits of merchandise that are only available at specific stores in the park so shop as you see stuff to avoid disappointment.

  • Vegans won't go hungry in California...
California is a state with a reputation for health and wellbeing and their Disney resort is no different. From lactose intolerances to coeliacs, veggies to vegans, every dietary requirement is catered for at Disneyland!

I hope you find this useful if you're heading over to the West Coast. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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