Disneyland (CA)

Tips for the Solo Traveler in Disneyland

by on July 24, 2014

Red Car Trolley Newsboys

Stop and enjoy the show!

Ever find yourself wanting to visit Disneyland but have nobody to go with? It’s nothing to be afraid of! Some of the best trips I’ve ever had visiting Disney Parks have been by myself. I used to be an Annual Passholder for Disneyland Resort Paris and would make a stop in the parks whenever I was travelling from anywhere in mainland Europe back to London, where I was living at the time. (I had to pass through Paris by train anyway, so I figured, why not tack on a half day in the parks?) I also visit Walt Disney World solo on occasion to participate in Run Disney events. (If you’re thinking of visiting WDW alone, check out these great tips from fellow blogger Claire.)

Now that I am a Southern California resident, I frequently visit the Disneyland Resort, but because I’m new to the area and don’t know too many people, I don’t always have someone to go with. (Especially since I’m sure that I’m interested in going much more frequently than any of the new friends I am making, if they even have an Annual Pass. I’m not a “few times a year” guest, to say the least.)

Touring the parks solo offers many advantages: You can can go at your own pace; you aren’t forced to doing anything you dislike; you can make new friends, etc. If you decide to visit the Disneyland Resort by yourself, here are a few helpful tips.

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#TBT: Club 33 Before the Renovation

by on July 24, 2014

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, at least I hope Kylene Hamulak thinks so! I loved her throw back Thursday article so much I decided to share one of my own. This time visiting Disneyland’s Club 33 before the much debated renovation. I thought now was a great time to preserve the information in case the club emerges nothing like it was in the past. Now, I must apologize for the photo quality. Back in 2011 I hadn’t picked up photography as a hobby just yet. That plus my hands trembling with excitement led to some pretty sad results!  If you want to see (always) amazing photos, check out this old post by THE Tom Bricker.

I’ll never forget how nervous I was that day! I couldn’t think about anything else and I made my hubby push the button to check us in. When they first opened the door and we stepped inside, I immediately snapped a photo of the inside of that door! I’d been waiting so long to see it! It was surprisingly… red. Actually the entire entry was a bright red color with a lovely staircase directly in front of us and the French lift on the right. Maybe I remember that color so well because all my photos are just a smeared mess of that red! ;) We asked to take the French Lift up to our table and it’s really as tiny as people say.

Below is my first photo of the day that turned out. Once we sat down I took a deep breath and photographed everything on the table. Our server tried to unfold my napkin to place it on my lap and was a little confused when I stopped her. I was worried she’d think we were “that” kind of table but it ended up that she was really lovely and appreciated how much we treasured being there.

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After taking a few minutes to appreciate the dining room we thought we should grab something to eat. When we were at Club 33 you not only got to order from a gourmet menu, there was also a buffet to start your meal. The options were immense with cheeses, seafood, meats, salad, fruit, soups, and more. I wonder if this tradition will continue with the new club? It was an amazing way to start off your meal!

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Disney Offers U.S. Military Special Tickets and Resort Rates

by on July 22, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

In honor of our troops, both the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort will not only be offering U.S. Military special discounted room reservation rates, but they are also offering them promotional military ticket options.

The brave men and women who serve our country can purchase specially priced tickets from August 25, 2014, through September 30, 2015 for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort. (Disneyland tickets can actually be purchased through October 1, 2015.) These special tickets may be purchased by active and retired U.S. military personnel (which includes active and retired members of the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists). Active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase the Disney Military Promotional Tickets for not only themselves, but also up to five additional family members or friends. Keep in mind that there is an expiration date for these tickets; they must be used by October 3, 2015, and they are non-transferable. Valid military identification will be required for purchase and use.

At Walt Disney World, there are three different Military Promotional Ticket options, which include:

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Review of DCA’s New Disney California Story Tour

by on July 21, 2014

Bs1sRmcCcAAr1n5Three things are for sure in life, death, taxes and Disney theme parks having guided tours. Disney California Adventure now has a tour to call its own, but is it worth the $109 asking price? Read on and I will help you decide.

I’m not surprised DCA hasn’t had a tour up until now. Before the park’s billion dollar refurbishment was completed in 2012, there wasn’t much fodder for a Disney tour. Maybe they could have went through and pointed out all the puns (Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream, get it?). But there weren’t many Disney references to go through and talk about. But now that Buena Vista Street exists as the park’s entrance area, there are Disney references every couple of feet. The tour takes advantage of this and starts off at DCA’s flag pole. Immediately the tour guide starts going through all the references, tributes and gags that are tied to Walt and the company’s history. There are so many references on Buena Vista Street that it wouldn’t be practical to point out all of them. But they still manage to cram a lot of information in to this portion of the tour. For fans of Walt Disney, and the history of the company in general, this will be the most interesting part of the tour.

After making several stops at points on Buena Vista Street, the group pauses for a moment in front of Carthay Circle Restaurant and gets a brief introduction to the building and its significance to Disney history (for those who don’t know, the original building is where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937). After that, our tour group was taken inside the 1901 Lounge. This lounge is usually exclusive to Club 33 members, but the tour enters in the morning before it is open to its usual clients. The walls inside 1901 are filled with vintage photos of Walt and his animators. One of the highlights is the wall of caricatures of the likenesses of Walt’s “Nine Old Men” group of animators. If you’ve already been inside 1901, then this part of the tour is no big deal. Especially considering you don’t stay long (the tour takes you through in about 15 minutes) and there are no pictures allowed. This is especially strange because pictures are usually allowed when you visit with a member, and pictures are also admitted when taking the Adventures by Disney tour that takes you through the club. If you’ve never been inside 1901 before this will be a good, but short, highlight of the tour.

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Disneyland Social Clubs: Who are They?

by on July 17, 2014

disneyland social club earsDisneyland has such an interesting and unique culture that is not found at any other Disney park around the world (well, maybe Tokyo). Having a Disneyland Annual Pass is like being in a club all its own, and Disneyland fandom is very strong on the West Coast. The creation of social media has made it easier to connect with people with this same passion. With the mix of passionate Disneyland fans and social media came social clubs. There have been a ton of articles written about social clubs lately but I am here to give you the quick facts, the history, and some insight on who and what social clubs are.

So, What Exactly are Disneyland Social Clubs?

  • Disneyland social clubs are an organized group of fans that gather together to share their love all things Disney. Social clubs have their own unique attire, to separate themselves from other Disneyland visitors.  Each club has their own guidelines and steps for members to follow before joining. All social clubs names reflect something Disney related and have a certain part of Disneyland they enjoy spending time at the most.

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#TBT: Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

by on July 17, 2014

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle dressed for the 50th

Today, Disneyland Park celebrates 59 magical years, and preparations begin for the resort’s next milestone birthday. As some fans get a sneak preview at what’s coming to the resort for the 60th Anniversary, let’s take a look back at “The Happiest Birthday On Earth” – July 17, 2005, Disneyland’s 50th birthday!

The Disneyland 50th Anniversary celebration was a huge campaign that reached Disney Parks worldwide – as well it should! All of this may have been started by a mouse, but when it comes to family vacations as many of us know them, it was all started by Disneyland.

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Disneyland Character Meet and Greets: A Walking Tour

by on July 16, 2014

Mary Poppins and Bert

My friend Scott and I with Mary Poppins and Bert. I’m trying to make a Bert face.

Meeting characters is an integral part of a day at Disneyland Resort for many Disney fans. Both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, in addition to the nearby Downtown Disney District and on-property hotels, have a decent amount of character meet & greet locations.

There are character greeting components in popular parkgoer activities like Disneybounding and the growing number of runDisney events. Plus, we cannot ignore the giant Elsaphant in the room, with waits for characters from Frozen often exceeding three hours! (No offense meant to the lovely ladies who play the very svelte and lovely snow queen.) And who can resist taking an Instagram selfie with Mickey?

In a short series, let’s take a walking tour of various character meet & greet opportunities across Disneyland Resort. First up: Disneyland Park.

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Disneyland Planning for Disney World Experts

by on July 15, 2014

Planning for Disney World is what I do, but planning for Disneyland is proving to be an entirely different matter. Joining the pilgrimage of Disney fans to Walt Disney’s original park? If you’re a Walt Disney World veteran, you’re going to need new skills for Disneyland planning. Or for some, old ones.

Disneyland Resort offers a host of new experiences for the Disney World veteran, such as World of Color at Disney California Adventure.

Disneyland Resort offers a host of new experiences for the Disney World veteran, such as World of Color at Disney California Adventure.

If you’ve been visiting Walt Disney World Resort long enough, you remember the days before FastPass+, My Disney Experience, even that weird blip when dining reservations were only available 90 days in advance. You remember planning your days with a much more loose feel, instead of racing from one reservation to the next. Of course, those days are gone. That knowledge is useless now.

Or is it? For Disney World veterans traveling to Disneyland Resort, planning a visit can feel like a return to form. So how does a Disneyland trip differ from a Walt Disney World trip? Dining, touring plans, getting around the resort, and fitting in extras and off-site adventures are all different with Disneyland planning. Let’s take a look.

Dining: 180 days prior to arrival, I’m rising with the sun to book Walt Disney World dining reservations. With a Disneyland trip, 180 days comes and goes without fanfare. You’ll have to wait until 60 days prior to your visit to make Disneyland dining reservations.

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Disneyland Railroad Lilly Belle Rumors

by on July 13, 2014

Disneyland Railroad Lilly Belle Ticket

Image source: Anna Fox

The rumor mill is swirling that Disneyland Railroad’s famed coach, the Lilly Belle, will no longer be available to the general public. I did some research about the historic passenger car dedicated to Walt Disney’s wife Lillian, and after reading some conflicting reports and a half-hour call to the Disney help line, I’ve learned the following:

  • The Lilly Belle has been under refurbishment since March.
  • The train car is not available to any park guests.
  • Disneyland has not announced when the train car will be available in the future.

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Should You Visit Disneyland?

by on July 11, 2014

The great debate of Disney World vs. Disneyland rages on across the Internet every day. While I could never pick a favorite, some reader comments last week gave me the idea to share my opinions on what makes the two coasts so different. With that in mind, here are the top ten differences between Disney World and Disneyland to help you decide if you should visit Disneyland.

Size: Starting with the itty bitty castle, some could view Disneyland as a scaled down version of Walt Disney World. However, I look at it like the greatest hits! In a smaller space they manage to pack in all the best attractions. Sure, it takes a little while to get used to seeing Star Tours across the street from Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, but you can ride them both without setting foot on a bus! Even better you can hop between the two California parks with just a quick walk. It’s enough to spoil a Disney World fan rotten!

IMG_1118People: Imagine a summer in the parks without tour groups everywhere. That actually happens at Disneyland! Not only that, but the main customer base consists of Annual Passholders. This means that the lines generally don’t get as crazy as at Walt Disney World. In general, the guests are more laid back as their trips are not “once in a lifetime” experiences. The locals also mean that rides can be taken down to offer seasonal events like Haunted Mansion Holiday.

Seasonality: The downside of the smaller tourist draw is seasonality in entertainment. During slower months there may only be fireworks or Fantasmic on the weekends. Other offerings are also adjusted based on occupancy. Tools like Touring Plans become very important, as Disneyland only posts its park hours and schedules 45 days in advance. Historical trends are what you have to depend on when picking dates if you aren’t booking a last minute trip.

Planning: The upside of this “last minute” attitude at Disneyland is that you can relax when planning. Putting together a Walt Disney World vacation can feel like wedding planning! There are so many little details, and if you don’t call exactly 180 days in advance you may not get to try a restaurant you’d dreamed about. At Disneyland you can normally call just a day or two before or even (gasp!) just walk up to the podium for a table. We love the relaxed attitude at Disneyland and not having to plan months in advance.

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