While out at Disneyland for the inaugural Star Wars weekend (recaps 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 here), we also made good use of our days enjoying as much as the Disneyland parks - Disneyland and California Adventures - as possible. We opted for the 3-day park hopper pass and found it was great for what we needed. The two parks are right across from each other and can both be reached by the same plaza.
Talk about convenient.
Many folks told me that Disneyland would be more low-key than Disney World and they were right. We didn't need to worry about booking Fast Passes in advance of the trip. There weren't any shuttle busses that needed to be taken.
It was also different having only two parks to make it through rather than four.
Either way I was ready to enjoy and soak in all the Disney magic.
We bought our 3-day park hopper passes through GET Travel and picked them up at the Star Wars Expo. It felt "old school" rocking a paper ticket to enter the park.
Let's start with Disnyeland.
And there it was... the Castle!
Now it is definitely smaller than Cinderella's at Disney World, but still majestic.
Mandatory post-race Castle Pic! :)
I was excited to finally break out my Alex and Ani Disneyland bracelet!
We found Mickey's Toontown on the Friday morning was the PERFECT time to walk up and easily grab photots with four classic characters!
I heard someone say they could be getting rid of Toontown, but I really liked the feel of it. The little kids we saw were loving it... and I hit the gym while there. ;)
The wife and I had a great time battling against each other at Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.
I had my booty handed to me.
Our other favorite Tomorrowland ride Star Tours (which we definitely used a Fast Pass for more than once) and meeting Thor in Innoventions! He was great and met with each person in the group and took photos with everyone. The kids were just in awe.
And I impressed him with my bling!
Ohhh and how could I forget Space Mountain. The wife felt that the Space Mountain at Disneyland was wayyy better than the one in Disney World. It definitely went faster and felt more like a roller coaster. The carts also held six people (two in each row) rather than the three solo seats at Disney World. It did, however, lack the games you can play while waiting in line for the ride.
Critter County was under construction while we were there so I didn't get to see that at all.
Oh and if you didn't know Disney is Starbucks country so I had to suck it up and drink that while there.
At least they gave me a Mickey on my cup. ;)
But I was happy with my Disneyland treat on the last day - Mickey Pretzel.
It was delicious, but I'm glad I waited to enjoy it on the last day otherwise I would've had multiple. :P
I also appreciated the variety of characters (in addition to the four staples - Pluto, Minnie, Mickey, Goofy) walking around Disneyland for photo ops: Hook, Fairy Godmother, Peter Pan, Alice, Mary Poppins and Cruella Deville.
Cruella was awesome. The person playing the character was doing a spot on job.
Cruella to me: "I asked for black spots. Not black and blue!"
We had gotten Fast Passes for the 10:45pm show of Fantasmic on our final night... and fell asleep before it happened. :( FAIL! Next time for sure!
If you had a ticket to the park, you could actually take a monorail from Downtown Disney to Tomorrowland in Disneyland. We did it once just to say we did. Really I felt Disneyland and Downtown Disney were close enough to walk between, but it was nice to have the option - especially for families, sore race participants or disabled patrons.
I really enjoyed the beer choices at UVA Bar and Cafe. It was an open seating area in the middle of Downtown Disney.
I love when places offer flights so I could try multiple local brews.
We made a couple of trips to this spot including once with AJ and Ivie.
Downtown Disney, like in Disney World, offers a lot of general retail stores and restuarants, as well as, some Disney shops. The wife was able to expand her Vinylmation collection at D Street, while I picked up a new Alex and Ani bracelet at World of Disney.
We dined at Naples Ristorante the first night, which was okay, but a little over-priced.
We also ate at two restaurants at the Disneyland Hotel: Goofy's Kitchen (character dining) and Steakhouse 55.
Goofy's Kitchen was also pricey ($100 for the pair), but I know character dining is usually more expensive -especially for dinner. If we had a morning free, I would've opted for a character breakfast (also cheaper). But it was fun!
We were DEFINITELY not fancy enough to be at Steakhouse 55 and due to budgeting probably not go back there again. The meal for the two of us was around $150 - and neither of us got desserts (1 drink, 1 entree and 1 side each).
I would compare California Adventure to Hollywood Studios in Disney World. Especially since it had some of the same rides.
Now I will give The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disneyland a better scream maker than the one in Disney World. It had more drops and felt like a longer ride than in Florida. Once in the "elevator," they didn't drive you through the building like in Florida so they made up for that with more drops.
"Less build up and more thrill" - the wife
It was awesome and worth a Fast Pass.
There was a whole Frozen Fun zone, which was interesting. We saw an adult DJ party one night and it just left me confused. Haha. Apparently I'm not one to mosh or rock out while at Disney. :P
"A bug's land" offered a lot of cute rides mainly geared towards kids, but that didn't stop us from testing them out.
Cars Land offered our favorite ride of California Adventures - Radiator Springs Racers. We didn't have time to wait in the line (45 min) or get a Fast Pass so we opted for the Single Riders line and lucked out. We ended up waiting maybe 5-7 minutes and were scooted right up to the front. I am not one to have to be next to the wife on the ride especially if it cuts wait time and it was worth it. Totally awesome ride. Think Test Track but 1000 times better.
We also hit up Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, which looked sweet and innocent, but definitely whips you around.
And then there was Paradise Pier.
That Ferris Wheel. While I heard the Ferris Wheel - or Fun Wheel as it was called - was a quick ride (about 2 minutes to make a rotation), I also heard it was sort of scary as the cars move while the wheel turns. Ummm no thanks. I passed. But it was pretty to look at.
World of Color was also down while we were there. :(
The wife is a roller coaster junkee so she talked me into going on California Screamin' and oh boy did I scream. To make it up to me we then waited in line for Toy Story Midway Mania (which didn't offer Fast Passes - boo!)
And after searching the parks for two days, we FINALLY spotted Donald Duck on the final day at Paradise Pier! YAY! Donald is the wife's favorite character!! :)
I did enjoy that California Adventures offered some yummy adult beverages. :)
We took a moment to enjoy some of the Pixar Play Parade from the comfort of the Sonoma Terrace.
(First set of Parade pics from one of the four times we caught the Parade)
I also enjoyed my other Disney treat at California Adventure - Disney Ice Cream.
Also delicious, but not as good in my mind as the pretzel. But again glad I saved it until the last day.
We did find that with the park hopper pass we could have Fast Passes in both parks in the same day. That was AWESOME and wicked helpful.
Ohhh and I had the pleasure of meeting blog readers Casey and Leah while entering California Adventure one day! It was a cool treat. :)
Which park do you prefer: Disneyland or California Adventure?