10 Impressions From My Trip to Disneyland Last Weekend

I just got back from a great weekend at Disneyland!  I stayed in the Disneyland Hotel for three nights.  True to the Crowd Calendar predictions, the parks were crowded on Saturday and Sunday, but pretty quiet on Monday.  Here are some of my thoughts, good and bad.  Mostly good, of course, because it is still a trip to Disney after all!

1. Holidays at the Disneyland Resort – A visit to Disneyland during the holidays is a must do.  It’s just wonderful to see the entire resort decorated.  Disney goes all out.  The trees, the lights, the wreaths, the garland – it’s everywhere!  The holiday overlays for it’s a small world and the Haunted Mansion are exquisite.  They didn’t just stick some garland in the scenery.  They shut the rides down and went to town!  Some of the big rooms in small world will take your breath away.  The World of Color preshow starring Prep and Landing was perfect.  If the rumors are true, next year Disney may have an entire World of Color holiday edition.  That alone will make a visit to Disneyland well worth the cost!

2. Monorails – Plain and simply, Disneyland’s monorails are great.  Walt Disney World seriously needs to upgrade its monorails.  Every time I ride the sleek Mark IVs, I am reminded how old Disney World’s monorails feel.  Don’t get me wrong, Disney World’s monorails are more useful as an actual mode of transportation for getting around the Disney property, but still, the monorails in Florida are not nearly as nice.

3. Disneyland Hotel Refurbishments – It has been a couple of years since I’ve actually stayed at the Disneyland Hotel so I was interested to see the changes.  My first impression was that standard rooms are very standard.  Of course I knew that from previous stays, but this stay reinforced that.  The parking lot view is just awful!  Now if you don’t care about your view, then the newly redone rooms are great.  The light up headboard is awesome!  I toured a Downtown Disney District view room last time and it was beautiful. I decided the next time I stay there, the upgrade is worth the price for me.  The new pool is also superb.  It was a little too chilly for me, but not for the scores of kids I saw having a great time in it.  Tangaroa Terrace, a casual dining restaurant, is also a nice addition.  The Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier were really lacking for a food court type restaurant.  Tangaroa doesn’t have quite the selection that White Water Snacks over at the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa does, but it was still a great option.  Well, mostly a great option.  A word of warning to picky eaters:  there were no regular french fries available, just sweet potato fries.  Yuck!  I realize I may be alone with that last sentiment.

4. Disney California Adventure’s Special Entrance – The DCA entrance from the Grand Californian is so very handy.  It’s often the quickest way into DCA from any of the Disney hotels.  Especially with the main entrance being so torn up right now.  The Grand Californian entrance opens 45 minutes before the main entrance for guests staying at any of the Disneyland hotels so they can experience the new ride, The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and get a FASTPASS for World of Color before the general public.  I wasn’t even there at opening and was still able to ride Ariel’s multiple times with no wait.

5. World of Color – World of Color is wonderful.  Like Disneyland’s Fantasmic!, it also needs seating.  I lined up really early so I had an unobstructed view, but the same can’t be said for the 5 rows of people behind me in my section.  It’s just frustrating to wait so long for something and then not be able to see it all.  Any show where the cast members encourage you to let the children and shorter people go to the front of the section has a problem.  It’s an amazing, amazing show.  I just want to know if I wait that long to see it, I will in fact be able to see it!

6. Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular – The Genie on Sunday was “en fuego” (that’s “on fire” in ESPN speak).  He was one of the best I’ve seen and had the audience in stitches every time he was on stage.  Aladdin still hasn’t got that flying carpet working (there was an accident with it a few months ago, no one was injured).  I certainly don’t want them to rush or bring it back before they are sure it’s fixed, but they need to come up with something to temporarily replace it.  It was a little awkward hearing the song and not being able to see the singers.  The little girl next to me kept asking where they were.  That was the one slight downside in an otherwise spectacular show.

7. The Pathway Between a bug’s land and the Hollywood Pictures BacklotThis is something I have seen before of course and my first impression was, it’s super convenient!  My second impression is, it kind of messes up the atmosphere in Bug’s Land.  Bug’s Land used to feel like it was its own little park.  Removed from all the main traffic.  Now it’s really just thoroughfare for people to cut through.  It’s kind of sad to me.

8. I love paradesSadly, my teenagers don’t have much interest in sitting around and waiting for parades anymore.  This weekend I got to experience two – Mickey’s Soundsational Parade and the first A Christmas Fantasy Paradeof the season.  The Christmas parade is wonderful, as usual.  Nothing gets me in the Christmas spirit like an ice skating Mickey and Minnie and seeing Santa on Main Street.  Soundsational was also fun and has some great elements.  The drummers at the beginning were just awesome!!  They were soooo talented!  I also wondered if anyone else thought some of the costumes were a little, um, interesting?  Seriously!  Who designed the costume on the right? It’s just crazy!


9. DCA is torn up – I mean torn up!  Now I’ve seen it in various stages of reconstruction and yet it still surprises me every time.  The main entrance is just convoluted right now!  If you want to get to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror you have quite a walk.  You are rerouted behind Soarin Over California, and you don’t emerge from behind the construction walls until you are somewhere in the middle of Condor Flats.  Now these are no ordinary construction walls, Disney does an excellent job of making them look as attractive as they can.  They have decorative signs and posters, and even a few Christmas wreaths here and there.  I won’t complain too much, because I do think the growing pains will be worth it.  Cars Land promises to be amazing.  I wouldn’t let the construction keep you away from visiting Disneyland, just remember that it’s not in its full glory currently.


10. Toy Story Zoetrope – I don’t know why, but the first time I saw the Zoetrope (in the Animation Academy building) I thought it was temporary.  Every time I go back and it is still there I am relieved.  Seriously, they could charge admission to that thing.  It is just fascinating!!  It’s also hilarious watching people try to photograph it while it’s spinning and the lights are flashing.  Needless to say, timing the photograph precisely with the strobe lights is just about impossible!  I have no earthly idea how to describe the Zoetrope.  Spinning Toy Story Characters that are doing nothing but spinning, but the spinning makes it look like they are doing much more.  If you haven’t seen it, go!

What do you think?  Do you agree or disagree with my impressions?  I have a lot more thoughts on Disneyland that will be coming in the next few weeks!

Tammy Whiting

Tammy has been a lover of all things Disney for most of her life. There’s nowhere on this Earth she’d rather be than on a Disney cruise with her family. She’s an Air Force wife and proud mom of two wonderful children and one beautiful daughter-in-law . She fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2008 and became a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations. She now owns her own travel agency - Storybook Destinations. You can reach Tammy at Tammy@StorybookDestinations.com.

11 thoughts on “10 Impressions From My Trip to Disneyland Last Weekend

  • November 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I agree with you on the sweet potato fries-give me regular Nathan’s fries with ketchup or barbeque sauce. I can understand offering the sweet potato fries as an option for those on a diet or with health restrictions but I would think most people would want normal fries. It’s the same thing at WDW where the default drink option for kid’s meals is milk and you have to request a soft drink. I understand having healthier options but they souldn’t be the default option or the only option

    • November 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm

      Yes! I just wanted some normal fries as an option.

  • November 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Love love love the zoetrope! I find it is a true hidden gem in DCA as most people don’t even know its there.

    Have to disagree with you on the sweet potato fries. I don’t agree that they’re a ‘healthier’ option. Lets be honest, they’re deep fried! But they are yummy!

    • November 18, 2011 at 7:58 pm

      I love it too!! It’s seriously awesome. You’re right the sweet potato fries may not be healthier. All the more reason not to eat them! 🙂

  • November 19, 2011 at 2:39 am

    Great read, I also love the zoetrope. No a fan of sweet potato fries but rest of family loves them

    • November 19, 2011 at 8:45 am

      It’s official, everybody loves the zoetrope!

  • November 20, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I need some advise when going to Disneyland at magic morning hours is it faster to ride the monorail in or wait at entrance to Disneyland. Two years ago we waited at monorail during magic morning and we could not be loaded because they had a problem with one of the monorails and we had to walk to entrance with major crowds at entrance our magic morning was a disaster.

    • November 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      Leon, u should be able to enter the park at the front gates on the far left side of the turnstiles. I have never seen a wait here but then again we sleep in. have arived about thirty minutes early and noticed no wait.

    • November 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      Richard is right, the main entrance is usually very quick. If you are walking from the Disneyland Hotel though, the monorail may be quicker. There’s usually not much of a line, if any, so it will really depend on how you happen to catch the monorail. If the monorail just left, it’s probably quicker to walk to the main entrance. If it comes quick, the monorail is faster.

  • November 20, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I’m a long time DL AP who just got back from my first trip to WDW as an adult and I have to say, I agree with most of what you said.

    I never realized how special it was for the entire DL resort to be decorated. I just thought that’s how Disney does things. The Osborne Family lights in DHS are spectacular, but there was a noticeable lack of holiday decor in other parks.

    Two things I don’t agree with, though, are the sweet potato fries (I think they taste better than regular fries and are better for you – double win!) and waiting in line for World of Color.

    Honestly, I did the wait once – the very first time I saw the show. Then I realized 97% of the show is up in the air. Because the show takes up the size of a football field, the best way to take in the entire thing is from the back. You want to be able to see straight forward, so don’t stand behind someone taller than you, but otherwise the only thing you get for being up front is wet. Now I typically show up toward the end of the waiting time period on my FP and calmly walk right in toward the back of the crowd. Everyone rushes forward to be up front and I get my pick of the prime spots in the back sections – usually right up against one of the fences. Just be wary of being near the plants if you don’t want to get wet, since they have fountains in them too and that water will blow right over you if the wind is heading your way.

    • November 21, 2011 at 8:48 am

      Thanks for reading, Nicole. I’m glad there are people that like the sweet potato fries!

      You are right about so much of the show being high. I like the front for picture taking purposes. I like to have the whole show in my pictures, and that’s pretty hard from anywhere where you don’t get wet. If you’re not going for the picture and just going to enjoy it, which I definitely recommend, your suggestion of location is a great one.

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