Disneyland Birthday Trip: Day 2
Guests at any of the 3 Disneyland hotels get the benefit of being able to enter 1 of the parks an hour earlier than guests staying off property, and it just so happened that Disneyland was the early park on our 1st park day. We had a 3-Day Park Hopper pass, but we planned to spend all of our 1st park day in Disneyland park. Since security is where you enter Downtown Disney, and not at the park entrances, entering the park is pretty quick! On the 1st day of your ticket, they’ll snap a quick picture for you, but after that we just had them scan the passes on our phones and it was a breeze.
As we were walking up, I started getting emotional and when we actually stepped onto Main Street, in view of the castle, I actually cried a little bit. I kept saying, “I can’t believe we’re here!”. I teared up again when we saw the window of Walt’s office (The last window on the left, as you’re walking towards the castle is his office. When he was alive, he always turned the light on in that window when he was in so guests knew he was there. Since his passing, that light has remained on ❤️).
Of course the 1st thing I wanted to do was see the castle, so that’s exactly what we did! For any Disney World people reading this, yes, it’s tiny. Yes, people warned me ahead of time and I was mentally prepared. But it’s really teeny! Like, almost comically so.
As you can tell by the pictures, it was overcast and actually pretty chilly. I was really glad I got my spirit jersey the night before because I wore that and my pink bow on my ears and tossed my red tank and bow in the backpack for when it warmed up.
We stood in line for pictures by the partner statue and again right in front of the castle, and took plenty of our own. I told my husband before this trip I wanted to get our picture taken as much as possible since we got all our photos with the MaxPass.
Really long side note and background here on MaxPass:
If you’re familiar with Disney World and the FastPass protocol, then you’ll find Disneyland’s to be a lot different. In Disneyland, you walk to the attraction you want a FastPass for, insert your ticket, and get a paper FastPass. Just like it used to be in Disney World when they were first introduced.
With MaxPass, you pay $10 per person per day and you can make all your FastPasses from the app on your phone. Which means you don’t need to walk over to the ride to get a FastPass and you don’t necessarily need to wait until you’ve used your previous FastPass before you can make the next one. As soon as you enter one of the parks, you can make a FastPass for either park (tho, I assume if you don’t have the Park Hopper option on your park tickets, you probably can’t make one for the park you didn’t visit that day). I am able to manage both my and my husband’s Disney accounts so I made FastPasses for us throughout the trip. Once you have scheduled a FastPass, it will tell you what time you can go in and make the next one. Sometimes it’s before the FastPass you already have and sometimes it’s after, so you may potentially have a few upcoming and they may even overlap a little. The only real rule we discovered, aside from dictating what time you can make the next one, is if you have a FastPass for an attraction you have not yet used (if it’s a few hours later or something), you can’t make another FastPass for that attraction, even if it’s time to be able to make another selection.
The other piece of the MaxPass is the photos, which I think is worth the money all by itself. Every PhotoPass photographer you have take your photo will scan the code in your Disneyland app to link the photos to your account and you have rights to ALL of them!
We checked the app and saw that Buzz Lightyear had a 10 minute wait, so we decided to make that our 1st ride and walked over there while I was checking to see what FastPasses we could get.
Buzz Lightyear was pretty awesome. It’s different than the Disney World one in that the guns actually come out so you can hold them and move more freely and the back lights up when you hit a target and the target lights up when you hit it!
By the time we were done with Buzz, I realized I’d only had 1 cup of coffee, so we headed to back to Main Street to hit up Starbucks.
I used the gift card the wonderful Meghan Hayes gave me and treated myself to a travel mug and an iced latte. 😃
I mean, did you really get Starbucks in Disney if you didn’t take a picture of it in front of the castle? 😜
We still had some time before our first FastPass and all I’ve heard about is Mickey Beignets. Sooooo we decided to go to New Orleans Square and check out the Mint Julep Bar!
There are pretty much only 2 things on the menu: beignets and mint juleps. Now, there is no alcohol anywhere in the whole of Disneyland park, save for Club 33, so these were virgin mint juleps. We skipped those and just went for a bag of beignets. And they. were. amazing!
Our 1st ever Disneyland FastPass was for Haunted Mansion! Mansion was one of the Disneyland rides I was most excited for because there’s one in Disney World, too, but I know they’re different and I love the Disney World one.
The outside is clearly very different from the Disney World one and it looks way more like a cool old mansion. The outside definitely doesn’t seem as spooky as the Florida one but I think it’s pretty.
As we discovered during our time here, most of the queues in Disneyland are outside, whereas any in Disney World that are outside are covered but they’re mostly inside and air conditioned. Makes sense since it rains a lot in FL and not so much in CA. Plus, it’s way hotter and more humid in Florida.
The inside room of the Disneyland mansion is different in that you move down as the room stretches (instead of the ceiling moving up), so I feel like it takes away from the surprise for first timers since you immediately feel it happening. Other than that and the inside queue being decorated slightly differently, we didn’t notice many differences in this ride compared to Disney World. It was equally as awesome, in our opinion.
Next up was a Big Thunder Mountain FastPass. We had a tiny bit of time so we wandered past it a little. The sun was finally out and we were getting warm, so we stopped for me to change to my tank quick. Thunder is one of my favorite Disney World rides (really, if it’s a roller coaster, I like it), so I was pumped for this!
This is another that I know is a bit different from Disney World, but I confess I couldn’t really put my finger on many differences. There is a cool part near the end with dynamite that Disney World doesn’t have which is pretty cool. We did see the infamous goat, tho!
Even though I admittedly skip Small World pretty much every time I’m in Disney World, I knew of the amazing beauty of the ride in California and I really wanted to do as much as possible, so that’s what we snagged our next FastPass for. I’m really glad we had a FastPass because the wait was pretty long and it’s not a ride I really want to wait a long time for. The entire queue is outside and you even board the ride outside. The other big difference I noticed is a lot of easter eggs of other Disney characters that I don’t remember from the Florida version. It has been awhile, tho, so I may just not be remembering.
We had to pay the Small World Wall a visit while we were there. 😉
Way back, when I was a kid and first started hearing friends and other people talk about Disneyland, the ride I wanted to ride most was the Matterhorn. It was something completely foreign to Disney World (now I feel as though it’s sort-of like Expedition Everest junior, but way back we didn’t have Animal Kingdom yet) and, as I mentioned previously, I love roller coasters.
We both liked it. It’s situated kinda like the Florida Space Mountain in that it’s one-by-one in the cars, with 6 people in total. It’s fast and whips you around and it’s in and out and a lot of fun!
By this point, it was time for lunch. I’ve heard that Disneyland’s food game, especially snacks and quick service, far exceeds Disney World’s. So, unlike my usual over-planning, we decided we’d totally wing it for lunch. I went for a garlic cheddar bagel twist from Maurice’s Treats (right by the castle) and hubby got a lobster mac ‘n cheese hot dog from Harbour Galley (by Haunted Mansion). We took our treats over to the seating area by Mint Julep Bar and chowed down.
Mint Julep Bar is literally right next to the New Orleans Square train station, so we hopped on the Disneyland Railroad after lunch. We decided we’d take it a full loop plus one stop because we wanted Fantasyland, but that’s the stop right after New Orleans Square, and we love riding the train around the park. Partially because it’s relaxing but we also love another opportunity to see the sights.
When we finally got off the railroad, we wandered through Fantasyland towards the castle and saw that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride only had a 20 minute wait. I couldn’t resist the throwback to childhood so we waited in line for the first time that day.
When we left our car Winky, we walked across to Snow White’s Scary Adventures. The wait was a little long for my liking for this type of ride (40 minutes), but I wanted to do and see as much as possible in our 3 days there. The Evil Queen is up in the window above the queue and she opens the curtains every so often and looks creepily down at you.
My favorite dwarf is Dopey so I was pretty excited when our car pulled up (it’s the little things). It’s been a long time since I rode the Disney World Snow White, so I can’t compare beyond that it’s the same type of ride as Mr. Toad in that it’s cute and kinda hokey and meant to be tame for the younger Disney lovers.
After Fantasyland, we made our way back over to Tomorrowland for our Space Mountain FastPass. This one is much different from the one in Disney World. For one, you sit side-by-side on this, which I was looking forward to. As much as I love roller coasters and LOVE the Disney World Space Mountain, neither my husband or I were big fans of this version. Hubby’s theory is because the lights on the ride are moving and you’re moving (as opposed to Disney World, where we’re pretty sure the lights on the ride track itself are stationery), it kinda made us feel a little funky, which usually only happens to me when I spin.
At this point in the day, we figured it was about time for another stroll down Main Street. I wanted to check out the shops and I just love the vibes of being on Main Street.
So we strolled. We got a churro. And we strolled some more.
We’d made a FastPass for Roger Rabbit back in Toon Town so we wandered our way back there. It seems like the same kind of ride as Mr. Toad and Snow White, so when we got in the FastPass line and didn’t move at all for 15 minutes, we decided to get out of line and skip it.
We had a FastPass coming up for Indiana Jones, so we decided to head over to Adventureland for the 1st time.
As we approached, we saw that the ride was actually temporarily down, but it’s right next to Jungle Cruise and the wait wasn’t too bad, so we decided to do that in the hopes that Indy would be back up when we were done.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with Jungle Cruise, the ride itself is totally lame, but you don’t go on it for the ride – you go on it for the humor. Your Skipper for your journey is always going to be punny and that’s my favorite. Plus, who can resist the 8th wonder of the world??
Luckily for us, our plan worked and Indiana Jones was back up and running after we departed our cruise through the jungle! I just have to say, in case I haven’t already, that I LOVE FastPasses! (I absolutely despise them if I’m waiting in the standby line, but oh do I love them when I’m walking past a big line that I don’t need to wait in.) I kept seeing Indiana Jones in the FastPass selection options, but I had completely forgotten until partway through the day that Indiana Jones is actually a ride at Disneyland. Indiana Jones in Disney World is a stunt show in Hollywood Studios. The Disneyland one is like the Dinosaur ride in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. In fact, I’ve heard they have identical ride tracks, and after riding it, I do completely believe that. We absolutely loved it!! It was so much fun and there was so much detail in some of the rooms. It’s really well done.
After Indy, we had another FastPass for Big Thunder (did I mention I love this ride?) so we popped over there for round 2.
Our plans after that were to catch the Pixar Play Parade at 6:00. Hubby checked with a cast member about the parade route and which end of the park it started on, so we went to find a spot in that direction, and settled down in Fantasyland, right across from Small World. Since our dinner reservation was for 6:40, we wanted to make sure we could make a quick getaway. Well, 6:00 came and went and we weren’t hearing or seeing any signs of the parade and it seemed like the cast members by us weren’t hurrying to rush people out of the road, so we went to ask someone. It turns out that the parade runs in one direction, and then the next time they have the parade, it goes back in the opposite direction, starting from where it ended the previous time. Makes sense, but I guess the cast member my husband asked was mistaken. We ended up spending some time sitting and waiting for nothing, but whatever.
We abandoned our spots and found a way to get around the parade and get over to New Orleans Square in plenty of time to make our dinner reservation at Cafe Orleans.
If I could have been given my choice of any table in the entirety of the restaurant, I’d have chosen the one we were seated at by chance. We were outside, all the way at the front, in the corner. My wonderful hubby sat with his back to the park so I could sit facing out, with a view of the River Boat and Thunder Mountain. The weather was perfect, cool but comfortable, and the sun was setting so everything had that perfect golden hour glow.
We’d both totally forgotten that there isn’t a drop of alcohol in all of Disneyland park (save for Club 33) so we were initially surprised when our server said there wasn’t a drink menu and that they only had soft drinks. As soon as he said it, though, I realized I knew that, but it had just completely slipped my mind! Anyway, no big deal there, and my body was probably happier with me that I had water. I’ve been really into appetizers lately and often make a couple appetizers or sides into my dinner, and that’s exactly what I did. I had the pommes frites + gumbo come out together for my dinner and my husband had the shrimp and grits. All the food was great and I just had the best view! The only dessert they serve is Mickey beignets so we decided to pass since that had been our breakfast that morning.
There was the most perfect light as we walked back toward Main Street and the partners statue just looked so perfect in front of that glowing pink castle. 😊
After dinner, we decided to head out for the evening. It still felt 3 hours later to us because of the time difference and I don’t think either of us was up to standing on Main Street to wait for, and watch, the fireworks. We stopped for one more photo op on our way out, because why not? 😉
So we went back to the room and changed (I went for yoga pants and sweatshirt) and went to the Uva Bar in Downtown Disney to relax and wind down at the end of an amazing 1st day in the parks.
Check back next week for day 2, where we visit Disney California Adventure for the 1st time!