It was a dream for one man to have “a family park where parents and children could have fun – together” (Disney Dreamers) and that is exactly what Walt Disney has created. A park that has so much to do that you can just not see it all or do it all in just one day or trip. A 160-acre resort with two parks, three hotels, and a shopping area make it for one of the most memorable vacations that I had ever taken, and I was nineteen. This resort is for the young, young at heart, and even the “grumpy.” And while it is expensive and crowded, even sometimes hot, there are many ways to get around these roadblocks and many things to see to have an amazing vacation with your friends and family.
The construction of Disneyland started in 1954 with a television show documenting its progress to the public. On July 17, 1955, Disneyland officially opened its gates to eager Disney fans alike. Though opening day was a disaster because of record breaking heat, wet concrete, shortage of food and drinks, and non functioning water fountains; and with only eighteen attractions not including some of the most famous E-Ticket rides such as the Matterhorn and Space Mountain, the park was still able to welcome its one millionth guest just a few months after these magical gates were opened. The park continued to expand over the years with the addition of The Disneyland Hotel, roller coasters to the already existing five lands and the expansion of three more lands, Disneyland grew into a family getaway for all ages.
In 2001, Disneyland continued to expand from just one park into the resort that we know today. Disney’s California Adventure and Downtown Disney shopping area opened with the addition of Grand Californian and Paradise Pier hotels. California Adventure was inspired by the great state that Disneyland is home to, recreating such California staples such as Hollywood, the Golden Gate Bridge, wine country, and classic boardwalk styled attractions. With California Adventure expanding into an even bigger vacation destination in the next few months (the construction of Buena Vista street and Car’s Land), staying at the resort is more of a “bare-necessity.”
Staying at the Disneyland Resort does cost a lot. A six-day/night trip for four including park hoppers for six days would cost $3,192.24 for the cheapest hotel on the Disney property, Paradise Pier hotel and $2,035.04 for a Good Neighbor hotel, which is a hotel off the property but has shuttles to and from the Resort and also includes the magic-morning hours which lets you into certain parts of Disneyland an hour before it opens (Disneyland). There are also deals for Southern California residents and military discounts. I had to beg my parents and family members who went with us to stay in a hotel. Being a So-Cal resident it was a very difficult thing to justify staying at the hotels since I lived only fifty minutes away from the park but because I was staying at the park, my experience was different from any other time I had gone in the past.
Southern California is known for its heat. Temperatures reach above 100 degrees during the summer regularly and Anaheim is no exception to this. Being outside for extended periods of time can be exhausting and a bit harmful to someone’s health but Disneyland and California Adventure offer indoor restaurants and shopping to cool down and relax for a little bit. A majority of the attractions are inside as well. Pirates of the Caribbean is an indoor boat ride that takes about ten minutes to complete which makes for a wonderful, relaxing cool down in the middle of an exceptionally hot day. The wait time for Pirates is on average fifteen minutes as well as The Haunted Mansion, which in some areas of the attraction are kept noticeably cooler for the affect of being outside in a graveyard. There are also water rides in both parks that keep you nice and cool by getting you drenched while watching the shenanigans of Brer Bear, Brer Rabbit, and Brer Fox from Song of the South. And 56 years after the plumber’s strike that kept the water fountains operating on opening day is long settled and there are working water fountains all over the park. In Toontown one of these fountain’s water change colors thanks to a light inside the fountain.
During the major tourist times throughout the year, winter holidays, summer breaks, and Halloween time, crowds can reach so large that the park stops letting in visitors. So get there early and make use of the free FastPass services offered on many of the attractions. But the most visited attractions do run out. Go to the Tomorrowland attractions first, these tend to be the most popular and the most crowded, especially with the newly renovated Star Tours (which has a stand-by wait time of over two hours). Right as you get into the park get a FastPass for this. Adventureland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and Critter Country are fairly empty at the opening of the park. Once a FastPass is in your possession head to these lands to make use of the short lines. A new FastPass will be available two hours after you got the FastPass or after the return time has passed. So be sure to “check your FastPass ticket to see when you can get your next FastPass and then get one as soon as you can” (Tips). California Adventure is no different. Soarin’ Over California has a very poor turn around time because there are only a few viewing rooms. So get a FastPass for that ride early and then enjoy those lines that are quick with our without a FastPass. Unfortunately, the newest rides do not have the FastPass option such as The Little Mermaid’s Undersea Adventure and Toy Story Midway Mania. These rides are perfect low intensity rides for everyone so I would encourage sticking out the wait. And if you are not one to catch the evening shows that Disneyland is famous for, going on these rides during World of Color when the lines will be substantially shorter.
If you do plan on seeing the shows, which I would highly recommend, there are dining options you can utilize and many different viewing points. There are different shows in the parks to see, and every show is different. California Adventure has a brand new water-lights show that blows people’s minds, World of Color. It is a show that has mist screens that can reach 200 feet high and “the show features nearly 1,200 powerful and programmable fountains, and a vast underwater grid with more than 18,000 points of control. Each fountain has multiple points of control for lighting, color intensity, water angle, height and more” (World of Color). I have personally seen the show three times in person and multiple times online, and it has been different every time I have seen it. There are typically two shows a night where you can view in the viewing area, on the bridge connecting Paradise Pier to the rest of the park, and on Paradise Pier. You can also get a dining plan or picnic spot where you eat and enjoy the show from the comforts of a seat and above the major crowd. At Disneyland, there are three shows that take place at all different times during the night. There are two shows of Fantasmic, which takes place on the Rivers of America including live action, audio animatronics, and mist screens. These happen before and after the fireworks but are typically around the same time as World of Color, and at the same time of another brand new lights show that takes place on the façade of It’s a Small World called The Magic, The Memories, and You. This show makes the attraction come to life by projecting lights and pictures taken that day in the park onto It’s a Small World. Both of these shows sandwich Disneyland’s main and greatest show, the fireworks. Every season the fireworks show changes so there is a great chance that you will see a different show every time. This takes place above the Disneyland sky and incorporating Sleeping Beauty Castle. Viewing this show can be very easy since it can be seen from all over the parks, and even in the surrounding suburban areas of Anaheim, but to get the full affects of the show and the castle prime viewing is from Main Street, U.S.A. and continuing into the Hub (where all five lands meet). I have attempted to do both World of Color and the fireworks in one night and I cannot see how this can be done. So if you are staying at the hotels it is easy to see it all. All of the Disneyland shows can be done in one night so use one night for Disneyland nightlife and one night for World of Color. Every single one of these shows has brought tears to my eyes.
Disneyland Resort can be hot, crowded, and expensive but it is magical and exciting, with new attractions and shows being brought to the park consistently. My grandpa can be grumpy about things; especially Disneyland and he found a way to have an amazing time on our family vacation to this magical resort. The parks give you many ways to avoid many of these negative things that Disneyland has come to be known for, so use them, especially if they are free. My Disney vacations have been the best and the most memorable experiences I have had so far, and it is forever changing because it was Walt’s dream for it to be “something that will never be finished. Something that I can keep developing…and adding to” (Disney Dreamers).