When I originally started up this blog I had thought to myself that I would do daily trip reports for the Disneyland Resort aspect of our honeymoon. However, we went last August (2017) and being perfectly honest I cannot remember what happened each day and in what order. I thought that instead I would write a mini (probably very long) review as it were, talking a little bit about our three days in California and what we liked the most about visiting the original Disney park… spoiler alert: we loved it!
I will also split this across two blog posts. One all about Disneyland Park and the other about Disney California Adventure. Sorry for all the Disneyland Paris comparisons, it is the park I am most familiar with so it is hard for me not to compare.
Disneyland Park is the original Disney park and I was utterly excited to experience it and to be right where Walt Disney himself had been and where his creations had come to life. On our first day at the park I just remember feeling so unbelievably euphoric at being there and taking in all the magic.
Main Street USA felt like a home away from home because there are so many similarities to Disneyland Park in Paris. The sights, the music and the smells all made me feel like I was back in my happy place even though I had never visited this park before. On reflection I think that the shopping experience on Main Street USA in California is far superior to that of Paris, but I think the Paris one has a more magical feel to it. I’m not sure why but I think that it may be due to the castle at the end of the street. Whilst it was wonderful to see the original Disney castle, unfortunately due to it’s size and lack of magnitude in comparison to Paris, it did feel slightly disappointing. That being said, it was incredible to see (and photograph) and I am so happy to have ticked another castle off my list. Like I said before, it is also incredible to be able to personally witness things that Walt himself was involved in.
Overall the park felt extremely compact, but again I think this is partially due to my familiarity with Paris, but I will say that it did have some fantastic rides which we don’t unfortunately have. These are the rides that I will mostly focus on in this blog post.
One of my favourite rides that we were able to experience in California was the Matterhorn Bobsleds which opened in 1959 and was the first rollercoaster type ride at Disneyland Park. It is also the only Disney park in the world to have a Matterhorn mountain so already this attraction was feeling very special. We rode the Matterhorn twice and it was such good fun, it was fast, thrilling and the appearing Yeti’s were a fun touch. I would absolutely love it if Disneyland Paris could one day get a Matterhorn or a similar bobsled type ride- perhaps in the new proposed Frozen area of the WDS park in Paris!
There were a couple of rides in Fantasyland which we enjoyed that we don’t have in Paris and they were Alice in Wonderland and Mr Toad’s Wild Ride both of which are similar to the Snow White and Pinocchio type story attraction. We enjoyed both these rides and it was awesome to see Mr Toad being acknowledged in a greater sense then that of Paris.
It’s A Small World and Storybook Land Canal Boats are both rides that we have a variation of in Paris but I was excited to experience both of these and compare and contrast. It’s A Small World held many similarities to Paris except for the fact that the ‘river’ felt less free flowing as you were in a ‘container’ as such and they had different Disney characters dotted throughout the ride for you to try and spot. We were very excited to find Lilo hidden within the attraction. I don’t think that one version is particularly better than the other as they both have amazing aspects and were both just as enjoyable and magical for me.
The Storybook attraction was a different story for me though. In my opinion the California version is utterly incredible. I think this is partly because it is an original 1955 ride and that it is more interactive than the version in Paris because a Cast Member rides along with you. Also, in true pure Disney magic, our cruise had to stop midway to allow for the fireworks to happen so, we enjoyed the fireworks from the boat and exploding over Agrabah.
Another ride within Fantasyland which I adored was Peter Pan’s Flight. It was incredibly similar to the Paris version but with smaller ships. But it was so beautiful and well kept together that I absolutely loved experiencing it. Fantasyland in general was visually stunning. We of course went on other classic Fantasyland rides such as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups and Dumbo.
Mickey’s Toon Town is a land which we don’t have in Paris so I was very excited to have a wander around and experience, even though it is clearly targeted at a younger audience. We didn’t spend a great deal of time in this land and only went on Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin which was good fun. My overall opinion of this area was that it was cute but very busy which is why we didn’t spend a great deal of time in there as we only had three days in total at the parks and decided that we would explore elsewhere.
Adventureland was absolutely incredible because I adored the theming, it was absolutely brilliant. The stand out ride for me in Adventureland was Indiana Jones Adventure and I liked it so much because it is a ride that most of the family can enjoy, unlike the rollercoaster at DLP. The ride was like nothing I’ve ever been on before and it genuinely felt like you were going on an adventure. It was thrilling and action packed but without being too scary!
The Jungle Cruise is also in Adventureland and it was fantastic! It was great having a Cast Member onboard as they really played with the guests and enhanced the visit for all. I think that this would be a really fun attraction to see in Paris one day.
Frontierland was a little bit of a disappointment. Now the theming was absolutely amazing and I think the reason why I was disappointed all comes down to Big Thunder Mountain. If you have been to Disneyland Paris then you will know that Big Thunder Mountain truly is the wildest ride in the wilderness, in California however, this is not the case. It felt more like a Casey Junior than a rollercoaster and with Thunder being my all time favourite ride, it was definitely a disappointment for me. Also, as we were so excited to go on a different Big Thunder Mountain we ran there first thing in the morning, shocked that we were the first people on the ride but soon found out the reason!
New Orleans Square is a land that is unfamiliar to me but hosts rides of great familiarity to me including Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion (aka Phantom Manor). I thought that Pirates of the Caribbean was absolutely awesome and it was so good to see the new updates and effects before I was able to experience them in Paris (and in English). For me, Haunted Mansion was as enjoyable as Phantom Manor, maybe even more so due to the fact that the French language barrier was eradicated, and I could truly understand what was going on. I thought the music in New Orleans Square was absolutely fantastic and I felt as though I was Tiana in the Princess and the Frog.
Another land that I was unfamiliar with was Critter Country but it was something that I was really looking forward to because I am a huge fan of Winnie the Pooh. The Winnie the Pooh ride was adorable and I believe that we went on it three times as there was never any queue. It was super cute and I would be so happy if we could get one in Paris. Splash Mountain was the other new ride for me however we decided not to go on it as neither me or Kurt are a fan of heights or big drops so we decided to give it a miss. It did look like an interesting ride and if I ever visit again maybe I will pluck up the courage.
Lastly, Tomorrowland (our Discoveryland) has plenty of familiarity for me including Star Tours – The Adventure Continues (was great to experience in English), Space Mountain (I much preferred to Paris as it doesn’t go upside down), Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (basically the same), Autopia (good fun and retro!), Astro Orbitor (Orbitron) and finally Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage which was fantastic, this is something that I would definitely like to see come to other parks, even if it is as a walkthrough attraction. All in all, the land felt very similar and I prefer the California version as the rides were much more accessible to me as less of a thrill seeker. Also, we had delicious frozen lemonade which was one of my highlights as it was so incredibly hot and it was so yummy!
I feel as though I have rambled on for too long but just a few other thoughts, the counter service pizza was massive and delicious, it was so easy to meet characters because there were no massive queues like in Paris, and we had an amazing time watching the Electrical Parade and seeing snippets of Fantasmic!
In summary, we had a fantastic two days in Disneyland Park and there was such an amazing aura of authenticity and magic which I have never experienced before. The park had a wide range of attractions and experiences, some unique to other Disney parks that I have visited before. The Cast Members were all super friendly and happy to help with any query. By the time we had gone through the bag check we had already been given first visit badges. I would 100% recommend a visit to Disneyland Resort to any Disney fan as it is a truly remarkable experience and I hope that one day I can go back.