Disney Guide | Ariel and Alder

Disney Guide

My Disney obsession and frequent park visits started when I was young, so there was zero chance of me living a Disney free life as an adult. I loved Walt Disney World, and essentially grew up in Disneyland. In this guide I will cover tips, tricks, and recommendations in the two american parks, and hopefully recommendations for some international gates will be added as time goes on :)

Lets start with my home park, Disneyland!

Some general notes about The Disneyland Resort:

Disneyland is in Anaheim, California. The closest airport to fly into is John Wayne (SNA). The resort has two separate theme parks, Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. You can choose to visit them independently, or both in the same day with a park hopper ticket. For the most part and with some exceptions, the resort and tourism/hotel area is walkable. 

Anaheim/ Orange County
Disneyland will always be my favorite. Because it is Walt Disney's original vision and his long lasting gift to the world, it will always win in my book. I don't recommend a choice between the two parks (they are both great and California Adventure has come a long way) but if you only have a day or half day to visit, Disneyland has the history and is the way to go. 

There is nothing more beautiful than the walk through the park gates, down main street, to get a first glance at the little pink castle that started it all. Americana is real and widespread at Disneyland, and magic is abound.

Main street is a great place to meet characters since they meet regularly at the top of the street by the theatre, train station, and firehouse. You can catch Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Mickey, Chip, and Dale in the main street area daily. Characters like Cruella de Vil and the popular singing foursome "The Dapper Dans" are also frequently sighted on main street. In the front of the train station the princesses often meet, and the train station itself makes a great place to view parades, take a break from the rush, and get first in line for a one-on-one character interaction. 

Once Star Wars Land is complete, the silence and tranquility of the train station might shift. 

A beautiful, easy, slightly healthy, cost efficient way to dine at the park. Jolly Holiday has the best selection of soups and salads as well as sandwiches, coffee, and baked treats and the Mary Poppins Theming is to die for! I usually snag the signature salad for just under ten dollars with some sort of baked good and a large iced tea. The location is handy when the afternoon parade rolls around and is a great pit stop in between rides.

Other delicious places on Main Street: Plaza Inn and Carnation Cafe

Main Street U.S.A Starbucks- This one is the most crowded but also the most convenient when trying to get a Fastpass to Space Mountain or Star Tours in the morning. The theming is also very cute in this Starbucks, as it was a coffee shop before they moved in and there is loads of seating both inside and out.

Main Street is also where some great retail stops can be found! The Emporium has a wide selection of merchandise, and the shop has the best (the best!!) display windows outside. The windows feature popular movie scenes and the transitions between scenes are absolutely amazing. Also check out Disneyana for some high end disney pieces and to see a live artist sketch characters. 

As you turn the corner after Jolly Holiday, the first land you will hit is Adventureland. Here are a few must do's in that area. This land is small, perhaps the smallest land in the park! Or at least it feels that way with the crowds the last few years. 

This attraction is a must do if you are visiting Disneyland! It is unique to the west coast and is really one of a kind, the ride car system is something that needs to be experienced in person to really appreciate it. Personally, I think this is an attraction to hit up first thing in the morning or when the wait time is around thirty minutes. The fast pass doesn't really jump you too far ahead of the main line and you want to spend at least a few minutes appreciating the hidden booby traps and theming in the line queue. 

Random, but this attraction and I are the exact same age! There was even a promo sign that read 

"The adventure begins Spring 1995"

And I like to think that my arrival was the adventure they were referring to ;)

Adventureland is the original spot to get the famed dole whip dessert! Its creamy and tastes like a fresh pineapple, its not quite ice cream and its definitely not frozen yogurt. The only way to experience what it is? To wait in the hot, stinky, long line and grab one. If you are waiting to see The Tiki Room (which I highly recommend!) there is a slightly shorter line within the queue area and you can take your dole whip into the show with you.

This is one of my all time favorite attractions because it was the birth place of audio animatronics. Here is a video where retired Disney Imagineer, Rolly Crump outlines the brainstorming and creation process of this historical attraction and its significance to Disneyland. If you do one thing in adventureland, let it be the tiki room! There is almost never a long wait and its a great attraction for little ones, as well as a great air conditioning/sitting break for the adults. 

Also, pro tip! If you need to use the bathroom, there is a single stall restroom to the left of the show entrance that almost never has a line. This is a great chance to use the bathroom or get changed if you have spills, but please be quick and considerate to other guests who may also need to use this hidden gem before the show :)

Grand Californian Hotel
Napa Rose is unlike other park restaurants. You won't find characters running around or mouse shaped menu items, but what you will find is unbelievable five star dining (and a huge selection of wine!) Napa Rose is perfect for a dinner that feels miles from the hustle and bustle of the park but is only steps away. If the park is busy chances are this restaurant will be busy, so be sure to make reservations in advance.

Anaheim/ Orange County
I think out of the three hotels on the property, the Disneyland Hotel is my favorite. The Grand Californian is more luxurious, and Paradise Pier is a better deal but this one screams Disney with every detail. If you're like me and mouse shaped soap, characters in the lobby, and themed dining is your thing than this is the perfect hotel! Make sure to carve out some time by the newly renovated pool and stop by the enchanted tiki bar for a drink.

New Orleans Square
You have to make reservations in advance and its one of the more expensive dining options, but Blue Bayou remains one of the most unique experiences you can have at Disneyland. The restaurant is actually inside the Pirates Of The Caribbean attraction and has a uniquely beautiful swamp setting. I recommend trying the deep fried Monte Cristo sandwich (pictured above) at least once, but I also recommend splitting it with up to 3-4 people due to its size and extreme richness. I don't think I have ever seen just one person finish the whole thing and you certainly wouldn't want to feel sick on rides after your meal!

Downtown Disney
I just tried this place on my last trip and was super impressed with how great the food was for the inexpensive price point! I tried a BBQ chicken flatbread that was out of this world and a berry/spinach salad that packed in some much needed greens on a busy park day. A really great find if you want somewhere inexpensive to eat or if you are staying at The Disneyland Hotel! Earl Of Sandwich is quite literally just outside the Disneyland Hotel gardens.

Buena Vista Street, DCA
On a trip to Disneyland Cameron surprised me with a "World Of Color" dining package and dinner at Carthay Circle for my birthday. Carthay Circle holds a special place in Disney history as it was the theatre that "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs" premiered at for the very first time. The restaurant is themed in vivid detail after the theatre and the interior feels so old hollywood you feel like you stepped into a time machine. Little nods to snow white and Walt's early hollywood days are placed here and there, it really is so special. Dinner topped my highest expectations and the package was worth every penny. Its definitely a high end vibe, but the change in pace was so awesome after a sunburned day in the park. 

Having Starbucks as the official food and beverage sponsor of Disney Parks has been an absolute dream! I love Starbucks and having the convenience of getting my favorite morning drink before a park day is the best ever. They now accept payment with the Starbucks app (you just can't use star rewards) which means you can earn free drinks for future redemption while at Disney! Here are the differences between the three different locations at Disneyland. 

Downtown Disney Starbucks- The most efficient of the three, if you are looking for speed this is the location to utilize. You will get your drink in under ten minutes and you can use star rewards here since it isn't technically in the park. However, when you get a drink here you won't get the signature "disney parks" cup if thats a consideration for you ;) If you walk in from Paradise Pier or The Disneyland Hotel then this is right on your way into the park!

Buena Vista Street Starbucks- This one is right at the entrance of DCA and it usually has a shorter line than its counterpart in Disneyland. It's also attached to Clarabelles Ice Cream if there is someone in your group who wants an ice cream stop.

Main Street U.S.A Starbucks- This one is the most crowded but also the most convenient when trying to get a Fastpass to Space Mountain or Star Tours in the morning. The theming is also very cute in this Starbucks, as it was a coffee shop before they moved in and there is loads of seating both inside and out.

Downtown Disney
This store is the place to go if you saw something in the park that you wanted to buy but can't remember where that item was. World Of Disney has one of everything and most of the merchandise found in the park. This store is the place to find ears, park clothes, pins, holiday ornaments, home decor, toys, and so much more. They also have the quickest customer service, there is always a cast member around thats ready and willing to help you with whatever you need. 

Paradise Pier, DCA
Cove Bar has become oh-so popular in recent years and for a very good reason! The lobster nachos are ridiculous and the secret drink menu (hint: ask for a mickeys fun wheel!) is wildly popular with those who seek a mid-day break. Make sure to plan a visit early, as the line gets incredibly long around lunch time.

1 comment:

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