Thursday, March 22, 2012

Best. Day. Ever: Disneyland

we're wearing pins that say "Honorary Citizen of Disneyland" :)
After weeks of anticipation, I'm now experiencing major withdrawal from my day at Disneyland last week. As fun and magical as it was, these past few days I've mostly felt sad that it's all over, wishing there had been more time.

To cheer myself up, I thought I should write a post about the highlights of the day. Because I was trying to take it all in through my own eyes and ears (and hands and nose in some cases!), I didn't spend as much effort documenting the day with photos or videos (especially after the sun went down). I suppose you'll just have to use your imagination where there are no pictures provided!
bandleader mickey welcomes guests to disneyland; archimedes the owl stands watch at sleeping beauty's castle
We began the day running into the welcome band - Mickey and all his friends, including Pinocchio, Goofy, Donald, Pluto, and Chip & Dale. Alice and the Mad Hatter joined in too. I took a video (the only one of the day!) but I haven't had a chance to upload it yet.
mickey is joined by pluto, chip & dale, donald duck, goofy, pinocchio, alice and the mad hatter

Then we went on through Sleeping Beauty's castle to Fantasyland. I thought this would be a good place to start since it had all the classic Disney rides and characters. We rode Snow White's Scary Adventures, Peter Pan's Flight, and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. I enjoyed noticing all the little details that were spot on from the films!

We had lunch at a Pinocchio-themed burger/pizza place, then went over to Tomorrowland for the best ride ever: Space Mountain! I'm so thankful for Fast Passes. That ride is always so fun! Could have totally went on it more than once if there had been more time.

Afterward, we were unsuccessful in getting onto Indiana Jones Adventure as well as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. They were both inexplicably closed! Boo.

We did get to go on Pirates of the Caribbean, though. They redid all the Jack Sparrows to resemble Johnny Depp's version. It was a little creepy how lifelike he looked! Was definitely a very fun (and pleasantly long) ride. Thought it was cool that there was a restaurant inside the ride.
loved the typography for the Pirates sign; Chip & Dale hats; Pineapple Dole Whip!
After that, we stopped at the Tiki Juice bar for some famous Dole Whip - which I had never heard of until that day. It's not quite ice cream, not quite frozen yogurt. But very delicious and pineapple-y! Sadly, Wendy did not get to have any because she gave up sweets for Lent. But her slice of pineapple was yummy!

On our way over to California Adventure we stopped for a photo op at the iconic Walt & Mickey statue. The Disney employee who took our photo loved our shirts. We noticed that it was mostly employees who noticed our shirts throughout the day. I suppose they are the true Disnerds. By the way, why didn't I ever apply to work at Disney World or Disneyland? Seriously rethinking my career options here.
We didn't get to spend a ton of time at California Adventure, but we did go to the Muppets 3D Vision show, as well as the It's Tough to Be a Bug (Bug's Life) 3D show. I had never seen the Bug's Life one and it was so fun! I won't give away the surprise, but it was truly a 3D experience. :) Outside in the waiting area they had all these punny movie posters, like this "Web Side Story" one. Loved them!
surprisingly, it was actually my idea to get my sister to pose as mulan.
We met up with my sister's friend, Benito, who was working at the Pier, and he gave us a couple of passes to get us through lines more quickly. With that we went on Soarin' Over California, which was my sister's most recommended ride. It was awesome! We were strapped into this contraption that hung us over a huge IMAX screen, and it felt like we were flying over California. Really fun! Also, Patrick Warburton (voice of Kronk in Lilo & Stitch) was the pilot in the intro video, which I found quite hilarious.

We attempted to go to Sorcerer's Workshop, recommended by Benito, but it was closed too. I guess that was a feature where you find out which Disney character you are, and then you get to record your voice in one of the animated movies! Sad, that sounded super cool.

So instead, we randomly went to this other thing called Animation Academy without knowing what it was. Turns out it was a classroom, with a Disney animator who taught us how to draw Chip (as in Chip and Dale). We each had these large boards with a piece of paper and pencil. It ended up being one of the coolest things we did all day!
awesome sketches in the waiting area; wendy & lynnette in class; our Disney animator teacher!
I was quite proud of how mine turned out, even though the ears and eyes are too small.
In the animation studios area they had this huge room with 360 degrees of large screens, where they showed artwork and clips of all the animated movies. It was so fun having watched a good number of them so recently, and being taken into each of those worlds with the beautiful art and moving musical scores. I probably could have spent much more time in that area. At the end of the day, it's the animated movies I love the most about Disney (if you couldn't tell).

After that, we decided not to go on Tower of Terror and head back to Disneyland. As we got back the parade was just starting. I got a glimpse of a few floats but we decided to try to get on some rides instead. We took the train over to New Orleans Square and got to go on Haunted Mansion, since there was basically no wait. It was creepy and fun! I liked the part where the floor of the windowless room lowers and you don't know how you're going to get out.
Parade - Princess & the Frog; The Lion King (Simba's mane is out of control!)
We were hungry (and cold) after that (I refused to wear anything over my awesome t shirt) so we got sourdough bread bowls and found an indoor restaurant to eat in. Afterwards, we stopped at a souvenir shop where I bought a blue Mickey key chain and what I thought was a cookie cutter. It turns out it is actually an egg/pancake mold! I've already made a fried egg and St. Patrick's Day cookies.

By then, it was nearly time for the fireworks so we headed over to the main area near Sleeping Beauty's castle. It was a wonderful fireworks show, despite the prominence of a certain, ahem, pantsless fairy. One of the best parts was when they played quotes of many different Disney characters talking about their wishes. Aladdin's "Genie, I wish for your freedom!" nearly brought us to tears. It was a magical way to end the day.
at the entrance before the sun went down; waiting for fireworks!
We stopped into one more souvenir store where I agonized over buying some other things but ended up not going through with it. I have the worst time making decisions when there are so many options! Next time I go to Disneyland, I really need to plan better.

I think I could have pushed myself to stay longer but we were all pretty exhausted by the time we left at 9:30. I'm so thankful for the whole day - it was one of the best days I've had in a very long time!

It's strange - I hadn't been to Disney World since 1998 and I never really had an urge to go back. But now after having had one day of Disneyland, I can't wait until the next time. Nostalgia is a powerful feeling, especially for suckers like me.

Even though the day was full of fun, laughter and happiness, I had an overwhelmingly empty feeling as I flew back to Madison the following day. I realized that no matter how wonderful a day at Disneyland can be, it doesn't ever fully fill you the way you think it will. It was a reminder that there's only one thing that does.

Check out more pictures from my entire trip to California here!

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