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First Time to Disneyland in Nearly 10 Years: What To Do?


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  • [Question] First Time to Disneyland in Nearly 10 Years: What To Do?

    So, after many years of Disney World/ Universal Orlando vacations, I decided to do something I've wanted to do for years and return to the happiest place on earth this Christmas! The last I was here, it was the summer of 2003: the Tower of Terror was under construction, Winnie the Pooh was the hot new ride, and Space Mountain had just gone down for it's major refurb. In the years since, my love and appreciation for Disney has continued to grow, and I'm excited to return to the park Walt disney created.

    To get it out of the way: yes, I understand Christmas is the most crowded time of the year, that the park will be packed to the brim. However, it's the only time of the year I can take a vacation (thank you, college) and after years of navigating Disney world through Christmas/ New years and President's Day, I think I'm up for a new challenge

    I'll be staying in Anaheim from December 23rd til December 27th, and will be using Southern California CityPass for three days at Disney, one for Christmas with friends, and one at Universal (I realize that leaves one extra day at Sea World unused, unfortunately I don't have the time/resources to travel down to San Diego, and even then, the pass is far cheaper than buying the tickets separately). My goal is to do as much as possible, and between now and the trip, I'll be sure to be cramming the Unofficial Guide to help make the most of my visit.

    The major reasons for scheduling this trip for me:
    * Experience what DLR has to offer in comparison to WDW (everything from World of Color, to the superior Fantasmic, to Haunted Mansion Holiday) as well as USH to USO (Backlot Tour, Transformers, you gotcha)
    * See the park that Walt Disney, my creative hero, built (this will most definitely include the "Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps" tour)

    I have most everything important figured out (flight, hotel, tickets, transportation, etc.), so I guess my question to you guys is to help fill in the blanks: is there anything I must do, must see, anything special to take note of? Special places to eat? Anything with Walt's personal touch that a Disney buff like me must experience? In a sense, what will make this Disney vacation truly special?

    Thanks to anyone who responds!

  • #2
    Re: First Time to Disneyland in Nearly 10 Years: What To Do?

    There are a million threads just like this one. I just answered one just like this two days ago (I attached an edited copy below). I would go back through the archived threads. There's a wealth of info.

    Read the "Fastpass Sticky" thread at the top and the Cars Land/RSR threads.
    Use the Disney web site calendar to check schedules for the various shows and AP blackouts ahead of time and the Ask Otto number, 714-520-7090, in the park.
    You can sign up with "touring plans" and have them do a statisticly optimized schedule for the day and review projected ride wait times ( though folks here have said there's not enough data on Cars Land). It's worth the $6.95 to join.
    If your party can be separated for the length of the ride ( 2 minutes?), you can save hours by using the single rider lines on RSR, California Screamin', Grizzly Rapids, Soarin', Indy, and Splash (there's a little blue "S" on the map if you forget which rides have single rider-or ask a helpful CM).
    There are free lockers for Grizzly Rapids just to the left of the line. Waves break over the top and water shoots up through the floor drains, so I put shoes and socks in the locker and wear flip flops on the ride.
    The tickets (fastpass) for World of Color (must see) are from the same fastpass machines as those for GR.
    The new Star Tours is great!

    There was a great "favorite food" thread here a few months back, worth reviewing to think about where to eat. I like the burgers at Taste Pilots Grill next to Soarin', the mexican food at Paradise Pier, the mexican food at Cafe Zocalo in Frontierland and the gumbo and live jazz at French Market near the railroad and Haunted Mansion

    Ask to ride up with the engineers on the tender car at the Main Street Station. Ask to ride in the wheel house of the Mark Twain. I also like paddling the Davy Crockett canoes.
    Last edited by sailor310; 08-16-2012, 08:38 PM. Reason: Added previous post
    Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.
    Mark Twain


    • #3
      Re: First Time to Disneyland in Nearly 10 Years: What To Do?

      it's a small world holiday - at night when all the lights are on. The entire facade is covered in lights and there is a special projected show every 15 minutes after the clock tolls. Even if you don't care for the normal version, the holiday version is totally charming.

      Storybook Land - Not everyone's cup of tea, but the detail on the miniatures is amazing, and they put up little Christmas decorations (not on the Aladdin stuff, of course).

      The Christmas Fantasy Parade seems more festive after dark, so consider the later run.

      Prime spot for the fireworks is the Central Plaza (the hub) and as far north as you can get on Main Street would be next best, but to avoid the crowds go to the area in front of it's a small world. You can see all the big stuff, though the small, low stuff is behind you, and the show is augmented by projections on the iasw facade.

      ---------- Post added 08-16-2012 at 09:37 PM ----------

      Looking to connect with Walt?

      Disneyland Railroad
      Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
      Mark Twain
      Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room
      Main Street Vehicles especially the Horse-drawn Streetcar
      Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
      all the Fantasyland dark rides
      King Arthur Carousel
      Jungle Cruise

      top of the list would be Blue Bayou

      a little less fancy - Cafe Orleans then Carnation Cafe

      really nice, but cafeteria service - French Market, Plaza Inn, or Rancho del Zocalo


      • #4
        Re: First Time to Disneyland in Nearly 10 Years: What To Do?

        The best place to eat inside the park (in my opinion) is the Plaza Inn. they serve a rather generous plate of Fettuccine Alfredo. or Roasted Chicken with mash potatoes and greens or pot roast. I think its also one of the few in house restaurants where you are able to get a free refill with your drink. (at least I think so, I've been getting free refills in there and nobody has said a thing about it)

        I know your going during christmas so they'll have their christmas fireworks, however if by some strange chance they show "remember Dreams come true" instead, its a perfect compliment to the park and a great way to end your visit. The show pays tribute to the rides and attractions at disneyland throughout the show. surprisingly they have an indiana jones and star wars segment as well. and its a very inspirational show all together.

        If your strapped for cash and just want a place to go eat. Head outside the gates of disneyland and make a left and walk all the way till you get to the road. across the street is a buffet called "Captain Kidds" its only 9 bucks per person (not including drinks) and their food is pretty good, not fantastic but still good and its a relief in your wallet if your strapped for cash.

        Inside the opera house they still show the 50 years of magic video they had in 2005 starring donald duck and Steve Martin. its a nice documentary about the park and a great way to start your visit. since you'll be staying for at least 3 days I'm sure you have the time to watch this your first visit there.

        for fantasmic if your too late to see the show up close and the only spots to view it in are the back were your obscured by everything. theres a smoking section to the left of the dock of the Mark Twain. if you don't mind smokers then this is a prime location to view the show if your too late to get front row spots in the regular locations. not many people know about this and frankly some people would rather avoid smokers than have the priviledge to watch up close so there shouldn't be too many people in that spot.

        aside from carsland and RSR, Soaring is one of the busiest lines in DCA. be sure to take it off your list early on or at least get a fast pass.


        • #5
          Re: First Time to Disneyland in Nearly 10 Years: What To Do?

          Originally posted by Ron W View Post

          Looking to connect with Walt?

          Disneyland Railroad

          Originally posted by sailor310 View Post
          Ask to ride up with the engineers on the tender car at the Main Street Station.
          You can also ask at Main Street Station if the Lilly Belle is running. It's really fun to ride in, and if you get a good CM escort, you can get all sorts of trivia about Walt and his trains.
          proud member of Rally team It Doesn't Matterhorn, winners of the 2012 Team Spirit award


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