Disneyland/California: February 26

Remember that alarm-setting that I mocked previously?  Yeah… Everyone slept great on our first full day – until 3:30am PST.  The time change was going to kill us!  Our track record for kids napping on vacation was quite poor, but we were still hoping to roll with the punches.  Yikes.

It always feels like a long time to this family of early risers before any parks, etc open, but that rings even more true when we all wake in the middle of the night.  Eventually, it was time to get ready, and then time to leave.  We took the very quick, very enjoyable walk to the Promenade and had all of our vouchers, etc in hand ready to take on the park by about 8:30.

Our first impression of Disneyland’s Main Street USA was a great one.  It’s absolutely charming, filled with even more detail than its Florida counterpart (or just different detail? Definitely more nostalgic feeling).  We had been warned of the “cake topper” standing in Cinderella Castle’s place posing as a Sleeping Beauty’s castle, so weren’t disappointed – but gosh, that thing is small.  Still, adorable and filled with history… so if I recall correctly, we still couldn’t get enough 🙂

At 9:00 it was finally time for Rope Drop.  Nothing special here, no fanfare or opening ceremony.  Despite my adoration of the Welcome Show at WDW’s Magic Kingdom, it felt ok not to have one at Disneyland.  We headed straight to Fantasyland, where we were on the second load of Dumbo.  It was fun to get a view of the park to start our morning!  Next we rode Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (very cool, if a little spooky), Pinnochio’s Daring Journey, the teacups, and the Storybookland Canal Boats.  For WDW vets – especially those that are fans of Walt and his legacy company as a whole, Disneyland’s Fantasyland is where the trip becomes worthwhile (to start… there were dozens more places we hadn’t yet discovered).  All the magic of “our” Fantasyland plus a dozen more rides and dozens more clues about Disneyland of the past – “leftover” (and repurposed) ticket booths, homages to – or actual – rides that were designed by Walt himself with much deliberation, etc.  And on our way from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland?  The World’s Greatest Corn Dog.  Hands down.

In Tomorrowland, we started with Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters.  As we had heard, it far surpasses Space Ranger Spin.  Next, we confirmed that the girls were tall enough to ride Space Mountain!  I was nervous for them, but they were both very excited.  Elise and Kyle rode first, and she loved it… but it broke down before Avery and I got to ride. 🙁  We would just have to keep an eye on it!  Lunch was at the quaint (and delicious) Plaza restaurant, then we were off to the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough attraction.  There, the Sleeping Beauty story comes alive in dioramas with very cool effects.  I think it’s a beautiful use of the space, and would love to see something similar in Florida – if it didn’t mean giving up CRT! 🙂

Later in the afternoon, Space Mountain was finally open!  Avery and I rode it and she did great, also really enjoying it.  We got pictures (having purchased the photopass plus – an amazing deal at DL) and a ride pin since it was their first time riding, hung out briefly with a few Storm Troopers, then headed back to the hotel for a rest.

Elise and Nolan actually slept some during our downtime, and the rest of us had a nice, restful time – pretty impressive for our first vacation afternoon, which you know if you’re been around here long!  At 4:20 we were back at the Promenade, this time heading into California Adventure to see what was in store there.  What a cool park!  We rode Soarin’ quickly (lovely as always), checked out Cars Land and A Bug’s Land on our way toward the back of the park, but today was mostly about dinner.  A very special dinner, with two special little princess mermaids, at Ariel’s Grotto!

It was a wonderful evening. The fanfare and the atmosphere were incredible, the food was very good, Nolan got a free kids meal, they had plenty of fun activities for everyone and our kids were generally the cutest around 😉  We saw Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella and Belle, which made my two princesses happy (even if the interaction was just mediocre).  Also included in the aforementioned Photopass+ package was the prints package from the restaurant.  I intended to scan it, but I can’t afford more of a delay, considering I’m posting about February in June.  So I’ll post this beautiful pictures, instead:

And these:

We couldn’t wait to spend more time at DCA, it had (has!) so much to offer.  It was getting late though, and the kids were all being spectacular still, so we made just one more stop at Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.  Wow.  This ride is so, so incredible, I can hardly stand the wait to see the WDW version which is “undeniably better”.  I can’t even fathom.

We had a nice stroll back to our hotel, bedtime (with the Duffy bedtime story, of course) was as smooth as ever, and everyone (except me) was snoring in minutes.  I was marveling at what a wonderful first day we had.  The character interaction, though less frequent, was definitely different. A long conversation with Ariel, a relatively long dance with Pluto (who had no “handler”, as most do not on MSUSA), etc.  The parks are certainly different here.  Not better, but absolutely not worse, as we had been told to expect.  They were perfect so far.

(More pictures – some better, don’t forget! – here)