Ah, Disneyland. The Happiest Place on Earth, haven of dreams coming true, where princesses roam and the imagination comes to life. We went last month for Rachel’s 30th birthday and I want to tell you all about it! A lot of ground was covered in only two days in the parks, so this post is a bit messy and is probably 75% photos¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Come on, it’ll be fun :v
We were in the parks on Rachel’s actual birthday, so we made sure to get her an “It’s my birthday!” button, and she bought herself some fantastic rainbow sequin Mickey ears (complete with a little cupcake on top). I enjoyed hearing the Cast Members wish her a Happy Birthday as we walked, weaving around families and strollers, keeping our eyes peeled for our next snack. Rachel is a magical starfish, and she deserved this.
In all of the planning and prep for our time in the parks I had one major goal: eat more treats! I’ve had the good fortune to visit Disneyland many times (I had an annual pass while living in LA), and I always go hard for the rides. The rides are awesome and I love them, but whenever I see pictures of the parks it occurs to me that I seldom take time to relax and enjoy the scenery. It is a park, after all, not just a coaster place!
Crowds were relatively thin both days, and the longest we waited for an attraction was 30 minutes (not bad at all). And it was for Peter Pan!, a notoriously long line. Sadly the Matterhorn was closed for refurbishment, as was the Main Street cinema. It’s a lovely place to go to get away from the crowds and heat, and enjoy a few calm moments of old Mickey Mouse cartoons. Oh well, next time 🙂
We booked a double room at the Grand Legacy at the Park, which is a hotel I highly recommend. It’s closer to the park entrance than Paradise Pier, the employees were friendly, cheerful, and responded quickly to our request for extra towels, rates were extremely reasonable, and it has a pretty sweet rooftop bar with views of the nightly fireworks. We had dinner up there on the day that we arrived in town and had a great time!
They also have a nice little pool and hot tub
If I had to pick a bummer moment from our trip, it would be the fact that it was 88 degrees, 75% humidity, and we didn’t get to ride Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Run. Boo 😦 Splash Mountain broke down indefinitely while we were in line, and the Grizzly River Run Fast Pass return times conflicted with our dinner reservations. We did unexpectedly catch the first half of the Paint the Night Parade, though! It was awesome, really upbeat and exciting, and the parade floats were insanely advanced with elaborate moving parts. I bet it’s so much fun to design them.
I couldn’t resist the Anger plush, and Zach was stoked about giant pickles
“Who Framed Flash Dance” – probably my favorite photo from the trip
One of the first places that Rachel and I went for food was the Troubadour Tavern. I was excited to eat the cheddar garlic bagel twist, and she bought a pink rose lemonade slushy in a souvenir Beauty and the Beast stein. On her birthday we tried the Grey Stuff from the Red Rose Taverne and I am pleased to say that it is in fact extremely delicious! We need to learn how to make that!
Coconut macaroon caramel donut and the mac & cheese bacon bread cone – worth eating!
It’s nice that more places in the park offer fresh fruit! And how frickin’ cute is Rachel with her Rocket Raccoon
Goal to eat more treats – emphatically accomplished! Pretty sure I got a photo for each thing I consumed. Extra thanks to Morgan for taking so many pictures 8) Rachel and I made time to relax on benches and watch the trolly horses, the Disneyland band, and the Dapper Dans going by. We saw tons of Face Characters, used the shortcuts that weave through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle (and enjoyed the walk-through of her castle too! They really upgraded the effects in there), and took advantage of the Photo Pass feature of the Max Pass.
I didn’t realize it until sorting through these photos, but the Disneyland photographers like to have guests throw their arms up in a gesture of celebration. Clearly it’s effective, because I absolutely love these pictures! Max Pass: super worth the $10.
There aren’t enough Dole Whips in the park to satisfy Zach. Look at his hat!
We all road Space Mountain together, Morgan and Rachel rode Mission: Breakout, and Zach and I went on Monsters Inc. There were many moments through our vacation where I stopped, took a breath, and looked around with deep gratitude. Traveling, vacations, and unfamiliar places eventually cause frustration, and it’s objectively not easy spend so much time with a pack of people through fatigue and hunger. I am so happy that the four of us are able to go out and adventure together. That we can get through tired early mornings, sluggish traffic jams, delayed flights, crazy van drivers, intense heat, weak showers, sore feet, giant cockroaches… and still miss one another when we have to go home.
Zach ate at Angry Dogs, and said it was delicious. I’m loving all of the Inside Out additions!
That Mickey macaron was filled with the most tart and satisfying raspberries
I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, and I finally had a turkey leg!
There were many breaks to prevent this porcelain adonis from getting sunburned
I love California Adventure at night – it’s so moody
All told, we experienced the following attractions: Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, Jungle Cruise, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, Mission: Breakout, Monsters Inc., Incredicoaster, Mickey’s House, and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. There were others I would have loved to go on (such as the Tea Cups and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride), but we weren’t willing to wait around in the heat. Next time! Next time.
One of the last things we did on our trip was have a fancy birthday meal at Wine Country Trattoria. The sun was setting while we waited for our food, and it created an especially pleasant atmosphere with lots of twinkle lights and vining greenery around our table. Something particularly nice about Disney dining is the chance to experience really great service (along with fantastic food, of course); I live in an area with mostly chain restaurants so what we get isn’t anything too special.
Our waitress was very friendly and could/should have been a Princess Jasmine Face Character! She was delightful. Man, now I’m thinking that I should have submitted a Cast Member compliment for her. Dangit. Next time!!
Even though they brought out an uh-mazingly good chocolate mousse birthday dessert,
she only had eyes for her incoming plate of tiramisu
This was an oddly difficult post to write. How exactly does one go about capturing a hectic two days in Disneyland? Well, I can’t… but I think this is a pretty good start.
Happiest of birthdays to you, dear Rachel ❤
-x happy beast