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Theme Park in Anaheim, CA

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I Didn't Marry John Mayer Or Meet Aladdin, But Most Of My Dreams Came True

  • Dec 7, 2006
  • by
Pros: Great rides, great family-friendly atmosphere, fast passes, wonderful shows, Disney's magic lasts forever...

Cons: ...older rides don't have fast passes, no "real" rollercoasters, PRICES!

The Bottom Line: Disneyland is called the Happiest Place On Earth for a reason. Children and adults alike can find a reason to genuinely smile at the Disneyland resort.

After two long months of work and school, my friends and I decided the perfect way to end the summer of '06 would be a trip to the Happiest Place On Earth: Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

We took the weekend off our respective jobs, piled into two separate cars, gave ourselves eight hours to get there and eventually arrived in sunny California. After spending Friday night at the Red Roof Inn (which I may write a review for), we woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, bought our Two-Day Hopper Passes (more on them later), and headed for the theme park.

I hadn’t been to Disneyland since my mother and grandmother had taken me when I was five, and of course, I didn’t remember much of that experience. As we waited outside for the park to open, I half-jokingly declared to my friends that "in Disneyland, all your dreams come true!" It was our on-going joke for the day, but by the end of the day, we learned that I wasn’t far from the truth.

The Park
Disneyland was created by Walt Disney in 1955, and his theme park has expanded over the years to Disneyland theme parks all over the World, from Disney World in Florida, to Tokyo Disneyland in Japan. But it all started with the original Disneyland in Anaheim.

We went to the park at opening, and you can feel the excitement building as you stand outside of the rod-iron gates. As my friends and I waited in the admission line to the park, songs from some of the Disney movies and cartoons played through the speakers, and we could even spot Mickey Mouse waving at us through the gates.

Once the park opened (at ten am) we were let inside, and it felt as though I'd entered another world. Unlike most other California theme parks (Magic Mountain or Six Flags Marine World, for example), the walls surrounding Disneyland are tall, and when you look up you can't see the freeways or LA smog, and after a few hours you really do feel like Disneyland is its own "land".

The park is big (85 acres to be exact), and can be a bit overwhelming at first sight. However, the park is divided into lands, which makes it a lot easier to navigate, and of course, there are plenty of maps to keep you on track.

The first land that we reached from the gates of the park was Main Street, U.S.A., which is obviously the main street of Disneyland. Decorated with early 1900-style buildings, Main Street is filled with the majority of shops and places to buy souvenirs, though there are other shops scattered throughout the park. Main Street is certainly charming, with the Victorian theme and horse-drawn trolleys that appear every fifteen minutes. Main Street is the only land that doesn't have a conventional ride, so we were quick to head straight to the rides before the lines started to grow.

The Rides
The next land we reached was Adventure Land. Decorated to look like jungles in Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific, Adventure Land certainly lived up to its title. The first ride we reached was The Indiana Jones Adventure, a fun and exciting ride that lets you live out Indiana Jones' role in the famous movies. And yes, I'll admit that I screamed when the boulder began to roll towards us- it looked real! The Tarzan Treehouse Adventure is also in Adventure Land, and is less scary than Indiana Jones, and perfect for younger children to enjoy.

Next, we moved along to Frontier Land, which obviously has a frontier setting. Though Frontier Land doesn’t have many rides, it's where the nightly show, Fantasmic!, takes place, and also the boarding area for the Mark Twain Riverboat. We got on Big Thunder Mountain, a jerky roller coaster based on a runaway train that trails through some of the fake mountains placed in Frontier Land. The worst part about going to Disneyland with a party of five is that one of us always had to sit alone (as most rides can only seat two adults) and it was my turn during this one. Though the roller coaster is pretty mild (the biggest "drop" didn't even elicit a scream from the three year old in the seat behind me), I kept getting thrown around in the seat without someone else's body to block me.

After Frontier Land, we reached Fantasy Land, which holds the majority of the rides based on the older animated Disney movies. The center square has King Arthur's Carousel, and at various times throughout the day, actors in costumes put on performances from The Sword In The Stone. Most of the rides in Fantasy Land are for children (though that didn't stop any of us): Mr. Toad's Wild Ride,Alice in Wonderland and Snow White's Scary Adventures are inside rides where you sit in a cart and basically relive the stories through animatronics and beautiful sets.

Fantasy Land also holds some of the most famous attractions in Disneyland, including the Matterhorn Bobsleds, a fun roller coaster ride that takes you up the recreated Swiss Alps and back down. While we were going up, we actually caught sight of Mickey climbing to the top of the mountain and mounting a Disneyland flag. After the Matterhorn, we headed to the famous Mad Tea Party ride, with its colorful twirling tea cups (though the theme music for the ride got REALLY annoying after a while- I feel bad for the employees who operate that ride!). Dumbo's Flying Elephant and It's A Small World were both in Fantasy Land, but the lines were already ridiculously long and none of us wanted to wait.

Tomorrowland was the next destination. The outer-space theme makes the part of the park look more like a shopping mall, but its steel building and architecture are still pretty impressive. Anyone who's been to Disneyland within the last year has a picture of themselves on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride (which you can have e-mailed to yourself- pretty much the only FREE thing at Disneyland). The ride is a fun shooting-gallery type ride based on the Toy Story 2 movie. You can also catch a ride on the Disneyland Monorail System, and take a tour of the entire park. However, my friends and I had the most fun on Space Mountain.

Space Mountain is the only indoor roller coaster in the park, and is honestly the best one in Disneyland. From the outside, the building looks like some sort of Exposition room, but once you get inside, it seems as though you're an astronaut ready to take flight. You're placed into sleds that take you into a tunnel with strobe lights before being ejected off into "space". The amazing thing about Space Mountain is that you'll actually feel like you're orbiting through space; the sleds move effortlessly and quickly along the track and you can't see anything but the millions of "stars" that surround the room. There are tons of sharp dips and turns, and though younger children won't appreciate the darkness and drops, the ride provides enough of a thrill to keep the older kids and even adults thrilled.

New Orleans Square was next in line, and we headed straight for the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride. I remember crying on this ride when I was five- the animated pirates were scary. Now, I'm less scared of the animatrons, though they look as realistic as ever. The indoor boat ride takes you on a long trip (nearly five minutes) around the Caribbean filled with tons of drunken pirates loudly singing A Pirates Life For Me. Since the success of the movies, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp's character) has been added, and he looks even more realistic than the older animatrons (I annoyed my best friend by repeatedly asking him if Jack's character was a real person. "But he looks real, Joe! Are you sure he isn't a real person? It looks like an actor! I swear, he just made eye contact and WINKED at me!"..."No! For the fifth time, Brittany, it's an animatronic!")

Another ride that was later turned into a movie is The Haunted Mansion. The ride is enclosed in an old-fashioned manor, which you’re lead inside of and given a tour of in carts while mirrors and other images present the ghosts and horrors that are inside. The ride isn't actually scary (the "ghosts" are projected onto the walls, and are relatively kid friendly), but was one of the more fun attractions in the park.

Critter County and Mickey's Toontown are the last two lands. Save Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, a childish spinning car ride, we didn't spend much time in Toontown (My friends and I are all 19 and 20, so there wasn't anything for us there). Critter County holds Splash Mountain, a fun water ride with a decent drop, and The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh a cutesy ride that any other fellow Pooh lovers are guaranteed to enjoy.

The Lines
Everyone always complains about the lines at Disneyland, but I think we had a system that worked perfectly. Here are some tips I learned:

1) Arrive at the park early. Get there at opening (if you can), and hit all the big rides first (Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, etc.) while the park isn't too crowded. By noon, the park hits full swing, and all of the most talked about rides will have LONG lines. We learned our lesson with It's A Small World- by noon, the line wrapped halfway around Fantasy Land, and there was no way we were waiting.

2) FASTPASSES are your best friend. If, by some chance, you can't get to the bigger attractions before the lines start, get a FASSPASS. Most of the popular rides have them- machines print out a ticket for you to return to the ride in an hour and you'll have direct access to the front of the line. It's easy to work them into your day; for example, we got a FASSPASS for Space Mountain, had lunch, saw a show, and then headed back to be in the front of the line. However, some of the older rides (like It's A Small World) don't have FASSPASSES so you may be stuck waiting in line.

3) Go on rides during the shows and parades. If you've been to Disneyland before and seen the shows, then they're the same as they were before (besides special holiday performances). Or if you just don't care or don’t have any children with you, skip out on the parades and head for the rides. The lines will be down because everyone will be watching the parade and you'll only have to wait about twenty minutes. Shows usually play at decent intervals, so even though you miss the three o'clock show, you can always catch the eight o'clock one.

4) Stay late. The later you stay, the better a chance you have of riding the rides with fewer lines. Most families leave around eight pm, so if you're going with a group of friends like I did, stay till closing and the lines will be down. Or, if you have a family, allow the kids to stay up past bedtime, and head to all those rides with the lines that were too long earlier (well, make sure the kids had naps earlier. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with a bunch of cranky children. Heck, I’m 19, and by the closing time I was cranky from not having a nap!).

Speaking of shows, the park holds quite a few of them. Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams and Fantasmic! are the most popular, though my friends and I found entertainment in the Enchanted Tiki Room. Filled with singing animatronic birds (well, except poor "Fifi"- she was broken and kept singing though her mouth just hung open and never closed), totem poles, and a magical fountain, the show is fun for kids who are stunned by the magical singing creatures, and great for adults who just want a cool place to have a seat and drink some soda.

You can buy the said soda all over the park, but for a high price. Of course, Disneyland is also known for it's high prices, and some things are ridiculously over-priced. Paying $4 dollars for a bottle of spring water is sad, so be sure to pack a backpack with your own bottled waters and snacks. Even if you don't have kids, you'll find that sometime throughout the day you'll want something to snack on, and paying for food at the cafe isn't practical. Eat BEFORE you enter the park (there are several restaurants surrounding the park), and you can leave and eat somewhere else and come back. A cafeteria in Tomorrowland was convenient for us at the time, and a slice of pizza and a soda was nearly eight dollars (which was a steal compared to the prices of the other meals).

Souvenirs are also expensive. The cheapest souvenir I bought was a Mickey Mouse pen, which was four dollars. And forget about buying t-shirts- the cheapest was $23 dollars for a child's size. I bought a few souvenirs in the park, but opted on buying souvenirs from the hotel's gift shop; the same $40 dollar t-shirt I'd been eyeing at the park was priced at the hotel gift shop for a measly $14 dollars.

I mentioned earlier buying a Two-Day Hopper pass, which allows entrance into Disneyland and the new theme park beside it, Disney's California Adventure. The adult ticket was only $116, and quite a steal- you have two full days (from activation date) to go back and forth between both parks. Single day theme park tickets are $59 for adults, and ten dollars less for children.

The Overall Magic
Disneyland really is the happiest place on Earth. From the fun-filled rides, to the chances to meet your favorite Disney characters as they walk through the lands (which my title is a reference to. I later amended that all my dreams didn't come true, as my highest hope was to "meet" Aladdin, and though we did meet Goofy, Donald, Mickey, Mulan, and Hercules, my chance to meet Aladdin and Jasmine was ruined as we passed over them while riding on the Monorail. Oh, and obviously I didn't marry John Mayer, but I guess I was a little too optimistic about Mickey fulfilling that wish), everything about Disneyland is pure magic. Disneyland is more than a theme park; it's a world within a world. The sights, smells and sounds all just help to whisk you to a place where you can be a kid again, and your heart's desire is only a few footsteps away.

The Magic Continues: Day Two Of My Trip...
Disney's California Adventure


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Brittany Brown ()
Ranked #461
My name is Brittany. I'm 23 years old. I love life, and sometimes, life loves me, too.
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Disneyland is an American theme park in Anaheim, California, owned and operated by the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts division of The Walt Disney Company. It was dedicated with a press preview on July 17, 1955, in ceremonies led by Walt Disney and opened to the general public the following day. Disneyland holds the distinction of being the only theme park to be designed, built, opened, and operated by Walt Disney.

Currently the park has been visited by more than 515 million guests since it opened, including presidents, royalty and other heads of state. In 1998, the theme park was re-branded Disneyland Park to distinguish it from the larger Disneyland Resort complex. In 2007, over 14,800,000 people visited the park making it the second most visited park in the world, behind the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

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