Friday, December 23, 2011

Thoughts on Disneyland

Oh, what a long time it's been! But I promise, I'll be back big time in 2012! It's one of my New Year's Resolutions! And with two trips planned, one to Aulani, and one back to the world for Food and Wine Festival, there will be lots of research and updates to talk about.

But for now, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on my recent (okay, not so recent--back in October) trip to Disneyland with my niece and sister. That's us in the fair godmother costumes (handmade by moi)!

Happy Holidays to everyone! Hope you are having a magical time and your stockings are full of Disney presents!

I love Disney World. It’s my favorite place in the world. And traveling there in October is my favorite time to go. Both the Food and Wine Festival and the Halloween festivities make my heart skip a beat. So, I’m sure you’re wondering why I’d taken four of my precious vacation days and spend them in California, at Disneyland right smack dab in the middle of the month?

Simple answer. Disneyland is different, and yet so much the same. It’s like Disney World lite. First, Disneyland only has two parks vs Disney World’s four. You can get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time without returning from vacation feeling like you need another vacation. I didn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn and go until midnight to see and experience everything Disneyland and California Adventure had to offer. Four days allowed us time to do everything, and I do mean everything, with a few hours break to lay at the pool.

Second, the California park has some attractions WDW just doesn’t have. Of course, there are some of the originals like The Matterhorn and the Storybook boats, but there’s also Indiana Jones and that crazy ferris wheel at California Adventure (trust me, it’ll make you scream more than Tower of Terror). And some of their classics are a little different, too. Haunted Mansion gets a make over by good old Sandy Claws AKA Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas during the month of October. And Tom Sawyer Island is turned into a Pirate’s Lair. And last but not least, in good old Disneyland, Liberty Square doesn’t exist. Instead, you get a chance to experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of New Orleans.

I think the theming at Disneyland is simply much more elaborate than at “the world.” It surprises me every time I go, because the park is situationed right in the middle of the city, with no lagoon around it. You park and walk right up to the gate. But once inside, it’s easy to buy in to being in New Orleans or Frontierland or Adventureland.

And the cast members—super nice. I dare say we were treated better at DL than at WDW. We had a little bit of trouble checking in as my sister had purchased her tickets online at a non-Disney retailer, and even though it was totally not Disney’s fault, they still gave us a fast pass to use at the attraction of our choice for our inconvenience.

Finally, don’t forget the beignets! There is a great little place right off the Haunted Mansion which often has a jazz band and “just like New Orleans” beignets. They’re something you just can’t get at WDW, so I make sure and enjoy them every time. .

Now, I’m not saying I’ll be quitting my annual (okay, sometimes twice annual) trips to Disney World. But every once in awhile it’s nice to go back to where it all started. Especially when you only have a few days to spare, and you really want to feel like you can accomplish everything on your “to do’s.”

In fact, I got to live out one of the items on my bucket list on this last trip—ride the Davy Crockett canoes. I’ve always wanted to paddle the rivers of America, and on a gorgeous Saturday in October (when the park was at 94% capacity, mind you) I got my chance. My niece and I sweated it out while circling Tom Sawyer island. Another Disney memory made and cherished.

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