I found out yesterday that another benefit of my new job is that I get 50% off admission into Disneyland (among other theme parks around the world)... I am loving my job more and more!! So here are some secrets, tips, and tidbits about one of my very favorite places in the entire world :)
First off, my first trip to Disneyland almost 25 years ago is one of my first memories of my entire life. I was 2.5 years old and I remember meeting Cinderella. I don't remember a ton, but what I do recall is the incredible embarrassment and frustration over the fact that my mom had dressed me in overalls. I actually remember thinking that I wanted Cinderella to know that I had so many pretty dresses at home and I couldn't believe she had to meet me like this. Hahaha! It is hilarious to think that I was only 2 and felt and thought all of that.
So from my years of knowledge and from my time roaming around the streets of the most magical place of earth, here is what I have learned...
It is very important to have a strategic route around the park in order to maximize your time in the park. I am speaking as someone who usually only goes for two days at a time, so I want to get as much done as I can the first day in Disneyland, so the second day can be all about California Adventures and riding the favorite Disneyland rides over again.
I start my day getting to the gate as the park opens or soon after. I then immediately head to Adventureland! This is for two reasons - the kids are going to Fantasyland, and other people usually head towards Space Mountain to start the day. In Adventureland, I pretty much walk on to Indiana Jones and The Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square (Pirates opens later than other rides, so I'll come back after Haunted Mansion). Then it's Big Thunder Mt Railroad and maybe a fast pass to Splash Mountain (although I skip this cause I don't really like the ride or getting wet). With that I am done with the big rides on that half of the park and I move on to Fantasyland. Peter Pan (the line is always longest), Mr. Toads, Alice in Wonderland... and if the lines are short - Snow White and Pinnochio. Done with Fantasyland. Tomorrowland - Buzz Lightyear, Star Tours, and Space Mountain, and then I am done with all the good rides!!
The rest of the day is all about finishing up the rides I missed - Jungle Cruise, Winnie the Pooh (although I don't much care for this ride), Matterhorn (if the line isn't too long), It's a Small World, and then back to riding the rest of the rides I have already done.
This route has been proven to maximize park time and cuts down on zig-zagging your way around the park!
Jungle Cruise - it is fit or miss if you get a good tour guide. I like annoyingly laughing at the cheesy jokes the tour guide says. It is amusing to me at least and as long as I am entertained, I am good.
Indiana Jones - The line for this is never super long if you get to it at the beginning of the day. That is why I ride it first. But as you wander through the halls and caves that the Disney Imagineers have put together, it isn't a terrible wait. The most fun seat on this ride, is in the drivers seat.
Bengal BBQ - I just discovered this place a couple of years ago. It is a food stand in the center of adventureland. They sell bacon-wrapped-asparagus, which is a MUST HAVE! They also have different meat skewers in yummy sauces. A great afternoon snack for someone with a big appetite and a great meal if your appetite is small.
New Orleans Square!
Haunted Mansion - One of my very favorite rides! This ride changes for the last 3 months of the year to become Nightmare Before Christmas. I definitely am a bigger fan of regular Haunted mansion. It is dark and creepy and I remember being legitimately creeped out when I was little. Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion is more colorful, but gets a little annoying. I do however want the skull wrapping paper on the presents in the ride.
** check out the Hidden mickey in the dining room where the ghosts are dancing. In the center of the table, three plates form Mickey's head.
** The hidden Mickey on this ride is on one of the breast plates banging on the wall at the very end of the ride on your left.
Pirates Lair/ Tom Saywer's Island - This use to be Tom Sawyer's Island, but I they have redone it to be all about Pirates. They have Pirate shows on the edge of the island that you can watch. This is also great for kids who enjoy exploring the caves and tunnels of a "Pirate's Lair." There are also some picnic benches along the Rivers of America where you can sit while the kids play... and bathrooms!
Finer Dining -
Orleans Restaurant - This restaurant is right next to the French Market, but is a sit down table service style. I ate here once with my friend Teresa. The salmon sandwich I got was dry... and the jambalaya gave Teresa food poisoning... but I am not opposed to eating there again.
Blue Bayou - I have never eaten here and always wanted to. It is inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. You are surrounded by candle light and the waters of the "Bayou. My family tried to eat there once, but the wait list was 3 days long. If you are going for several days, think about making a reservation on your first day. It is expensive, but I think it would be still very fun!
To be continued...