During the early months of the year I always feel the winter blues, resulting in me booking a trip to distract myself from the frigid temperatures here in Toronto.
This year we decided that Los Angeles would be the exciting city to explore. I haven’t been to La for over a decade, and when I thought of the city of Angels, other than the walk of fame I remembered one of my favourite moments when I was there last, Disney. Excited for the most magical place on earth, we booked our tickets and were off!
Disney Land, built in 1955 in Anaheim California is the first of six theme parks to be constructed. Walt Disney came up with the concept after visiting various amusement parks with his daughters in the 1930/40s. Taking about a year to complete, the park was unveiled during a televised press event on July 17, 1955, and as of December 2017, the park as has over 708 million visitors since it opened. Since the opening, the park has undergone multiple expansions including the addition of New Orleans Square in 1966, Critter Country in 1972, Toontown in 1993 and Star Wars Galaxy Edge which just opened up.
As the Disney park continued to thrive, in 2001 they opened a second park called California Adventure (which was the old parking lot so I’m told) This side celebrates the culture of California and various Disney, Pixar and Marvel properties.
If you enjoy rides, this side has more of that, if you’re looking for the original Disney charm than you might enjoy the original side. The good news is you can purchase a hopper pass which allows you access to both sides (I highly recommend it!)
We started off with Adventure Studios in the early morning to help avoid long lines. We were captivated by Pixar Pier, it kind of looked like an idealized version of Santa Monica but Disneyfied. The Pixar Promenade was inspired by the victorian-era boardwalks. I really loved the vintage charm from the large ferris wheel with Mickey's face and the roller coaster behind him.
After walking the boardwalk I had to try one of the iconic Mickey Mouse pretzels and cheese which was actually quite tasty!
Next we headed over to Hollywood Land, which was inspired by the golden age of the 1930’s. I love that era so I was super excited to check it out. The are is designed to look like an active studio back-lot which was fun. As you continue to walk down the street and get closer to the city, you realize a good portion of it is just painted onto a wall. Didier and I found this area super cute to shoot in, with an old movie theatre and shops it totally matched our aesthetic.
We continued walking down to Cars Land which looked like you entered Nevada. The attention to detail was impeccable, it truly seemed as if you were surrounded by real cacti in the dessert! There are 3 attractions on that plot which stretch 12 acres. Radiator springs racers which was the main ride, Luigis rollicking’ Roadsters and Masters Junkyard Jamboree. With a budget of estimated 200 million dollars, there’s no doubt you won’t have a blast in this world!
Disney’s California Adventure also hosts annual events such as the holiday festival taking place in the winter and the food and wine event during spring. There’s also dozens of live performances and character experiences for the kids. I felt this park offered a lot for both kids and adults, not to mention this side of the park offers alcohol at most stands and food kiosks which the other side does not.
After a few rides and a walk down the pier, with our tummies full of Mickey pretzel, we made our way to the Disney side. One of my favourite moments about walking into the Disney park is being greeted by the castle which is located in the centre of this park. Inspired by the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany its pink and blue hues stretch 23 metres high. (Unfortunately it was under construction when we went but I’ve been lucky enough to see it in the past.)
When you enter the park, you walk through Main Street, USA from the early 1900s era.
There are 7 lands that stretch across the park, including New Orleans Square, Fantasy Land, Tomorrowland, Critter Country, Adventureland , Frontierland, and Mickey’s Toontown. I still can’t get over how well done each area is, it truly felt as if I stepped back in time or to a different city. Because there are so many rides and a lot of tourists, Disney offers a FastPass option which allows to you get a ticket with a time to come back to ride the ride. This will save you SO much time as the FastPass line is significantly smaller. There’s also an option to purchase a MaxPass which allows you multiple FassPasses, the option to book your rides through he app as opposed to having to walk to each ride and print the ticket (saves you even more time) and grants you unlimited PhotoPass to take your memories home with you!
There’s lots of options when it comes to food, we ended up at the Alien Pizza Planet in Tomorrowland. The portion sizing was larger than expected and the food was really delicious (not to mention prepared on the spot quite fast).
If you have the liberty of attending the park during the weekend, you can end the night with an amazing firework show. Although we went on a Thursday and didn’t get to see it this time, I’ve watched them in the past and they are absolutely incredible! I recommend going on the weekend to see it but make sure you invest in a MaxPass as it will be a lot busier.
Disneyland will alway hold a special place in my heart. It's the one day I completely feel like a child, no worries, no stress just magical fun. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the trip, and I’m SO excited to head over to the park in Orlando some day soon.