When we booked our California Coastal cruise, I knew I couldn’t step foot in Southern California and not go to Disneyland so we looked at our schedule and figured out how we could make it work. With logistics like our ship’s return to LA and our flight home, we only really had one day to spend in the Happiest Place on Earth. According to Disney die-hards, that is not enough time, but with a few tricks, we were able to see everything that we wanted to see and then some.
The day of our visit was a Tier 6 day, meaning the park is projected to be the busiest it gets and the price for a one-day ticket is the highest it gets. I knew this was not going to be a budget day in the park, so I decided to spring for the $25 extra per person for Genie + to make sure we would get to see the headlining attractions. Since I had experienced both Rise of the Resistance and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway on our visit to Hollywood Studios in 2021, I did not feel it was worth it to pay for the Individual Lightning Lane to experience shorter lines for these attractions. My goal for this day was to experience the attractions that are only available on the west coast or are significantly different than their Disney World versions.
One of the best ways to deal with shorter lines at any Disney Park is to get to the park before it opens for what is known as Rope Drop. The first hour the park is open is when the headlining attractions have the shortest waits. We were able to ride Space Mountain, the Matterhorn, Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters in the first two hours before the crowds arrived. Throughout the rest of the day, we watched the wait times on the app and chose which attractions had the shortest wait. In the late afternoon after we had ridden pretty much everything we wanted to, Rise of the Resistance went down to a 45-minute wait, so we headed to Galaxy’s Edge to what is in my opinion, one of the most immersive Disney attractions of all time.
Disneyland and its castle are much smaller than their Floridian counterparts and things are laid out slightly differently. For Disney World veterans, it feels much like coming home but someone has rearranged all your things and in a few cases, made them much better. I have been going to Disney World since I was two and I never cared for Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted Mansion. They scared me as a kid so I don’t have the nostalgic attachment to them that a lot of Disney fans have. I rode both of them multiple times in Disneyland because they were SO good! Big Thunder Mountain and Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters were better than their versions in Florida. The Jungle Cruise was so much more lush than the version in the Magic Kingdom. Even It’s a Small World (which is the original from the 1964-65 World’s Fair) is so much more impressive than the Magic Kingdom version. Chris wasn’t sure why I was making him ride it but he admitted afterward that it was actually really impressive. Now, Splash Mountain (RIP) has always been my favorite Magic Kingdom attraction and I did not enjoy the Disneyland version as much. I got absolutely drenched on that ride and it was only 60 degrees outside. Why do you get wetter in temperate California than in hot and humid Florida?
Disneyland also has more classic dark rides than the Magic Kingdom. I enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, and Snow White’s Adventure. I was excited to take Chris on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride because I remembered it as a kid. I will say, I understand why they got rid of it in Walt Disney World. That was a strange experience. I don’t think there is another Disney attraction that ends with you going to Hell.
Another thing that California has that Florida does not is the Blue Bayou Restaurant. Blue Bayou is located inside Pirates of the Caribbean. It is probably the most popular table service restaurant in Disneyland and it can be hard to get a reservation, but I managed to score one for lunch (their iconic Monte Christo sandwich is only available at lunch) exactly 60 days out. When we checked in on the day of, I checked a box that it was our first time in Disneyland and they seated us right on the water! It was fun watching the boats go by as we enjoyed our lunch. It was also a great way to rest a little after all the walking we did in the morning.
As a Disney Nerd, one of the things I was most excited about was Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Disneyland Story. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was another attraction Walt Disney developed for the 1964/65 World’s Fair and nowadays, the preshow for it is a small museum dedicated to the history of Disneyland and Disney artifacts. It was very interesting to look at the scale model of Disneyland on opening day in 1955. Probably my favorite thing was the bench from Griffith Park (left) where Walt Disney first came up with the idea for Disneyland.
If you are a Disney Fan, you need to get to Disneyland! Your favorite attractions are better and there is nothing like walking where Walt himself walked. I really was not expecting to like it as much as I did and I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be so much different from the Magic Kingdom. I was disappointed that we only had one day. Oh well, I guess I will have to go back, stay in one of the resorts, and check out California Adventure too!
Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Cruising the Pacific Coast Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.