Friday, August 22, 2014

Disneyland - The Return Part 1

Last week I posted about my upcoming trip to Disneyland.  I've lost count of how many times I've visited Walt Disney World, but this was my first trip to the Disneyland Resort.  If you want to read my thoughts going into the trip, check them out here.

Having now experienced Disneyland Resort, I have to admit that I fell in love.  Yes, it is smaller; that doesn't mean there is less to do, though!  In fact, we ended up changing plans midstream in order to make sure we accomplished all of our "must-dos".

After 6 hours of travel (give or take a few minutes), we arrived at our hotel - the Disneyland Hotel.  We decided after researching that staying on property was definitely the way to go.  We were able to take advantage of an extra hour in the parks each morning we were there, and there was the added convenience of only a 7-minute walk to the parks.  Downtown Disney was literally right outside of our window!

Immediately after we checked in, I turned around and found Goofy and Baloo the Bear less than 20 feet away!  Seeing characters in the lobby was such a strange experience - but it immediately made magic.

We headed toward our room, and as we were on our way, we found Pluto, too!

More about the hotel later - there is much to talk about here, but first, I want to talk about Disneyland itself.  After a short walk through Downtown Disney, we arrived at the turnstiles.  I was struck by the fact that I was about to visit where it all started.  We just so happened to arrive as the train was pulling in, which was perfect - the train was very important to Walt.

I'm sure you can tell by the picture that everything is smaller in scale than at Disney World.  Rather than being disappointed by this, I found it absolutely charming.  

Once through the gates, we came upon Main Street and Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Obviously, Sleeping Beauty Castle does not dominate the end of Main Street like Cinderella Castle does.  Though not as large, it is every bit as beautiful.

The hub near the castle also boasts a "Partners" statue - it looks identical to the one in WDW.

Once we took our time down Main Street, it was time to get to the attractions.  The Magic Kingdom was fashioned like Disneyland, so the set up between the two is similar (though not identical!). Because it is our habit, we headed left toward Adventureland.  It was such an odd feeling - it looked so similar, but altogether different (if that even makes sense).  

Disneyland uses the "old" Fastpass system, which we are fortunately very familiar with.  We grabbed a Fastpass for Indiana Jones (not in WDW!), then got in line for an old favorite - The Jungle Cruise.

The queue was totally different, but the ride had a lot of similarities - albeit in a different order than at WDW!  The queue was 2 stories, but the line moved quickly.  As per usual Disney style, the theming was wonderful and immersive.  

The ride itself started with the Bengal Tiger, which doesn't appear until toward the end of WDW's version.  Here are some highlights:

Looks similar to the attraction poster!
"Looks like he got the point... in the end"
The backside of water!

There was still time before Indiana Jones, so we headed to Tarzan's Treehouse.  This attraction replaced Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse in Disneyland, though WDW still boasts the original Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.  This is a walk-though, just like the original.

Big Thunder Mountain RR off in the distance

It had neat theming, and I love how it told the story.  I did miss the Swiss Family Robinson version, but I was thrilled that they still played the calliope music in part of Tarzan's Treehouse as a tribute to the original.

After a quick snack, it was time for Indiana Jones!  Indiana Jones runs on pretty much the same track as Dinosaur in Animal Kingdom, but obviously, the theming is totally different.  In this version, you are heading into the Temple of Mara, who will grant riches, youth, or the ability to view the future.  But you must not look into the eyes of the statue!  Not surprisingly, your vehicle takes you right in front of the statue, and well, you are looking into its eyes. 

Verdict?  I loved it!  And I loved it much more than Dinosaur.  Maybe that's because I still can't bear to look at the big dino toward the end... 

At this point, it was lunch time, and we headed for New Orleans Square - but that's another blog! :)  Stay tuned for Part 2!

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