Part 4 -- Disneyland ParkWednesday, September 12, 2018
This is a bit of a pilgrimage, of sorts.
I have it listed that Disneyland Park is the 77th theme park I've ever visited. Go ahead and make fun of me for having that statistic, it's alright.
That means that I visited 76 theme parks before
making it into the one that, by many accounts, has the right to call itself the most important theme park ever built. I mean, it's Walt's original, and it paved the way for a multi-continental empire that sets the standard for parks everywhere. It all started with a mouse. Well, and a rabbit, and some shrewd land deals in the early 1950s, but who's counting?
So, on our second day at the Disneyland resort, we entered the original mouse house.
And even though you prepare yourself for it, you just can't help but notice -- that castle is tiny!
The day went similarly to our prior day at DCA, with one big exception. Aside from obvious kids rides and spinny things, we intended to ride everything
in the park once, since it was our first time there. While we were able to basically complete DCA in a single run-through, we weren't quite able to do the same for Disneyland. Those Fantasyland FastPass-less dark rides ended up taking a bit of time, and we even had to leave one (Alice) for the next day. We also nixed much of Tomorrowland, but got through pretty much everything else, including all of the major attractions.
Well, all but one -- we were visiting during the Matterhorn's scheduled maintenance, which was unfortunate. Thankfully, that ended up being the only ride we had to miss all week. The only other attraction that was totally down and out at Disneyland was the Tiki Room, and maybe the Columbia ship.
Crowds were again very manageable. We used FastPass on Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones, and Star Tours -- and our waits were 10 minutes or less for everything else, sans a couple of those dark rides. We did lunch at the French Market and dinner at Bengal Barbecue. Both were pretty good, especially the skewers at BBBQ, though I'd vote to skip the breadsticks next time.
We watched the Pixar Play parade in the late afternoon, and the rest of the family called it a day after sunset. I stuck around for another lengthy set of night pictures -- yet again leaving the park just over an hour after closing time!How Was Disneyland?
It's weird to finally be at the original, when I've been to the Magic Kingdom more times than I can count, and also visited Disneyland Paris in 2016. What struck me the most about Disneyland was actually how it reminded me more of Paris than of the Magic Kingdom. Yes, I know I've got that in reverse, since Paris was obviously heavily influenced by Disneyland in the first place. It also reminds me a little of the whole Kings Island / Kings Dominion effect, where maybe there's something very familiar right in front of you, and then you turn the corner and it's entirely different from what you're used to.
I'll probably take the Magic Kingdom as my favorite of the three "classic" Disney parks I've visited, but all three are a pretty close call. Some of the cloned attractions are too similar for me to really tell a difference between. I'd put Big Thunder, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, and several of the dark rides in that category. Anaheim definitely has the best Pirates of the three, and throw in Indiana Jones (far superior to Dinosaur) as well. Orlando has the best Splash Mountain and Space Mountain. Paris has the best Buzz Lightyear and Small World. Basically, there are top-tier versions of attractions at each park. So, my official trip report recommendation is to visit all of them!
Aside from that, I'm not sure how to really review a park like Disneyland. It's only the most iconic theme park on the planet. I wish the meals were a little cheaper. I wish some of the pathways were a little wider. I wish Fantasmic wasn't such a cluster, but I'll get to that in a later trip report! There's not much else to say, really. This park is a classic, and it's crazy that it took me so long to visit.How were the attractions?
There's a lot to get through here, and I'll try to do it all in one shot, even for the rides I didn't get to until the next day.Peter Pan's Flight / Mr. Toad's Wild Ride / Pinocchio's Daring Journey / Snow White's Scary Adventures / Alice in Wonderland / The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
-- I don't think I'm the target audience for these attractions. Glad to ride each of them once, but I can only take so much of these rather basic dark rides, and Disneyland just has so many
of them. The best of the batch is probably Mr. Toad, which has a bizarre story that's probably a little more PG-13 than your average Disney-going kid is going to recognize.Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
-- I'll list this dark ride by itself because the cars spin! If you aren't enthralled by the scenery, might as well try it out while rotating.Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
-- The first of two "overlay" rides at Disneyland Park. I'm guessing the scenery on the original version is pretty close to Orlando, but the Ghost Galaxy additions definitely ramped up the thrills a little bit. That's good, because the coaster isn't quite as exciting. Lots of turns, but no drops. That surprise airtime is the best part of the Magic Kingdom version, so I found this one a little bit lacking.Haunted Mansion Holiday
-- The second "overlay" ride, and wow, it's good. Haunted Mansion is already awesome, but the extra effects and theme are even more creepy and exciting. This ride was very
popular all week, even on the days with light crowds. I guess Jack and Sally have a bit of a following.Jungle Cruise
-- Bad jokes and second-rate animatronics, and I wouldn't have it any other way.Splash Mountain
-- Seemed shorter than the Orlando version. More importantly, it seemed much
wetter. Would have liked to have gone on this more than once, but just didn't feel like risking a soaking.Pirates of the Caribbean
-- This ride is long
. It's the original, and it's easily the best and most complete of the three I've been on. If I have to hear that "dead men tell no tales" one more time, though...Indiana Jones Adventure
-- It's like Dinosaur, but it's not bad like Dinosaur! This ride system works really well for a storyline in which you're trying to avoid danger in a hundred different ways -- sprint across the bridge, sneak past the snakes, and so on. Might be even more fun if you aren't carrying loose objects that you're worried about getting knocked around, but thus is the life of the photographer.Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
-- A great, lengthy family coaster. Maybe even a little bit of force here and there. I love the effects in the lifts -- the "fuse" thing on the final lift hill was really cool, and probably the most notable difference from the Florida version.Star Tours
-- If you're going to do a straight-up simulator, make it fun and exciting. Star Tours gets it done. I was not the spy. I'm not that good at keeping secrets anyway.It's a Small World
-- They're really sticking Disney characters all over Small World now, aren't they? The best part of this ride was not
getting backed up in the final tunnel on the way into the unload station. That happened to me in Paris, and the song was stuck in my head for days.Casey Jr. Circus Train / Storybook Land Canal Boats
-- Two Disneyland originals that I first experienced in Paris. They almost feel anachronistic here, but they traverse a well-landscaped section of the park that harkens to the storytelling that the whole Disney empire was built on.Gadget's Go Coaster
-- It's a roller skater, but it's the best-themed roller skater in existence! I'm not a closeted Rescue Rangers fan at all, I swear!Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
-- I maxed out the version in Orlando. I maxed out the version in Paris, which is very similar to the one in Anaheim. I just couldn't do it here, much to my frustration. I wish it were easier to tell which laser is yours. I wish it were easier to hit the hidden target on Zurg's chest. Maybe I'm just making excuses...Autopia
-- It's a giant ad for Honda.Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
-- I think I went on 20,000 Leagues in Orlando a long, long time ago -- way back before I could remember. I didn't know what to expect out of this ride, as it didn't seem to get a lot of attention. Aside from the cramped seating, I was impressed! It was a lot more interesting than I'd thought it would be, with some impressive effects -- both practical (I love the bubbles) and simulated (I have no idea how they get the screens looking so good underwater).Star Wars Launch Bay
-- Basically a museum space if you're really interested in Star Wars stuff, or if you want to get your picture taken with a character. I fall into neither category, so it was a quick stop for me.Pixar Shorts Film Festival
-- Got some time to kill? Watch a few Pixar short films. We got to see For the Birds
(cringe-worthy), and Piper
-- Kind of pointless as a transportation device at Disneyland, but you'll get some views you can't get from elsewhere.Disneyland Railroad
-- On the other hand, there aren't a lot of good views from the train. The whole dinosaur / Grand Canyon thing was unexpected.Sleeping Beauty Castle
-- If you aren't totally done with fantasy storytelling after all the dark rides, this walk-through is worth five or ten minutes.Tarzan's Treehouse
-- I guess the Swiss Family Robinson fell out of style? There are a lot of trees, so the views are obstructed, but it's one of the only places in Disneyland with any sort of elevated vantage point for pictures. Those will be in a later report.Pirate's Lair / Tom Sawyer Island
-- Not a whole lot to do over here, but you can go through some caves, run across a suspended bridge, and stand on the stage where Fantasmic is performed.Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
-- A.K.A. "The Hall of President." Walt was clearly a big fan of #16. You'll learn about American history, and you'll get a speech from a Lincoln animatronic. Only Lincoln. No other Presidents. Just want to be clear on that. For reasons. Anyway, when you're done, check out the museum housed in the same building -- it's got a great scale model of Disneyland and plenty of other historic photos and information.