Late Friday night or early Saturday morning (depending on your perspective), I returned from five days at Disneyland. This marked my first visit to Disneyland since the early 80’s. A lot of things of change and I am glad to say that most of the changes were positive. My family and I had a wonderful time at Disneyland. I’ll be sharing my trip report in blog posts over the next couple weeks but today I wanted to share just my overall impressions from the vacation.
1) The Character and Photopass+ Interaction Blows Walt Disney World Away
My wife and I had this conversation a lot during our trip about how much better the character interaction and the creativity of the Photopass+ people was at Disneyland compared to Walt Disney World. The characters were willing to spend some time with you and come with photos just specific to you and your family. The Photopass+ photographers had a wider variety of Magic Shots at their disposal and were willing to go through all of them with every family.
My wife seems to think and I tend to agree that this is because of the smaller crowds at Disneyland compared to Walt Disney World. At Walt Disney World, there is always a line for a character even if the character has just gone “to check his mail or check on Figaro or Bullseye, etc.” This leads to a more “assembly line” feel for the line where the guests get their picture and their autograph and the character moves on the next person. Not so at Disneyland. The characters spend time with the guests. They write specific notes for the children in their autograph books. Chip wrote for my daughter, “Be good….eat more nuts at breakfast….Chip.” I can’t remember the last time if ever a character wrote a specific note in the autograph without us requesting it first.
2) The Lines are Shorter Especially in the Morning
If you followed the vacation along in the Facebook group, you would already know this but if you are motivated and can going in the morning, you can go on a lot of attractions and meet a lot of characters before 10 am. On our morning in Disneyland, we did 16 things by 10:30 am. This includes meeting all of the Big Five characters minus Donald who we had met earlier in the vacation. This also includes waiting 20 minutes for a ride malfunction on Peter Pan. At Walt Disney World, this would be near impossible because of the wait times. Not so at Disneyland, the longest wait we experienced on that morning was a 30 minute wait for Minnie Mouse.
Here’s what we got done that morning: Peter Pan, Dumbo, Mad Tea Party, Matterhorn (Single Rider Line), Storybook Land Canal Boats, Finding Nemo Subs, Autopia, Churro Breakfast (don’t judge it’s vacation), Met Pluto and Goofy, Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin, Met Minnie and Mickey, Gadget’s Go Coaster, and a ride on the Disneyland Monorail.
3) Only Have One Bag Check for Both Parks
This is a little thing but it saves a lot of time for those that park hop. The ability to only have your bag checked once for both parks. Disneyland had a great setup with a bag check at Downtown Disney and on the far side of the parking area in addition to the bag check at the Grand Californian entrance. The way the parks are set up right next to each other creates a giant sterile area where guests can freely walk between and enter both parks. This saves a lot of time when bouncing from park to park. Just a little thing but sometimes it’s the little things.
4) Unique Well-Themed Park Areas
The two areas that I liked the most at Disneyland were Toon Town in Disneyland and Cars Land in Disney’s California Adventure. Disney Imagineering put, as always, a lot of time and effort into these areas and they are some of the best areas in the parks.
With the good comes one bad thing to say about Disneyland…..IT’S TOO SMALL! I know the invasion of other non-Disney properties to the area hems in Disneyland on all sides. However, Disneyland Park, at night, is too small even with mid-sized crowds. There are just too many people crammed into too tight. The cast members do their best to keep traffic flowing and take guests backstage to elevate some of the traffic concerns. But that only helps a little. One night, we tried going from California to Disneyland Park but all we ended up doing was getting our picture taken in front of the train station and then leaving. If you are at the back of the park, it will take a good amount of time to crawl your way to the front because of the narrow walkways.
California Adventure does not have these concerns. The walkways are wider and can handle more traffic. TIP: If you are looking for a good place to watch the fireworks at Disneyland and are looking for a spot that is not crowded: walk out of Cars Land toward the front of the park, you will walking directly toward Disneyland. Move the side of the walkway and watch the fireworks from California Adventure. You’ll have a great view and a smaller crowd to fight through when the fireworks are over.
Those are my general impressions on Disneyland. Tomorrow, I’ll be starting my trip report going into more detail into the individual days at the parks.
Thanks for reading!