A 17-Year Long Dream Come True
Has there ever been something that you wanted to do for as long as you can remember? Maybe even longer than you can remember?! For me, this “something” was Disneyland and to be quite honest, I never thought it would happen.
Since the age of 7 every summer I would ask my parents if we could go to Disneyland, however, being that we lived in Florida they always simply opted for Disney World. This didn’t stop be though, I persisted. December 2016, 17 years later, this dream finally came true. And let me tell you, it was everything I ever dreamed and more.
While I only had three days in this happy place, it was hands down three of the best days of my life. From start to finish my entire stay on Disneyland property was beyond magical. We dined with princesses, took an adventure with Peter Pan, followed the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole, and sang with dolls on it’s a small world, but these few tidbits don’t even begin to describe the remarkable memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Now, I know this sounds cheesy but before we even checked into Paradise Pier I could feel this overwhelming sense of excitement that I’ve never felt before. Whether it was the magic of being at Disneyland for the first time in my life or just simply the fact that this was my first “adult” vacation without my parents, but that was the moment that set the tone for the entire stay. Since we spent the prior two days traveling from Florida to California, we decided to spend the first night in Downtown Disney. Taking it easy and just being able to really take in the fact that I was at Disneyland technically was just what I needed after so much travel and airport time. Surprisingly, there was quite a lot to do in the much smaller Downtown Disney District. However, we stuck to making characters at Build-a-Bear (Minnie Mouse and Baymax) and having dinner at Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria, which has absolutely delicious Italian food – and this is coming from an extremely picky eater with a taste for Italian. We spent the rest of the night back at Paradise Pier where we stopped at the bar, watched the Disneyland fireworks from the pool area, and watched World of Color from our room which overlooked Disney’s California Adventure. The perfect ending to a perfect first day on Disneyland property.
Day two picked up the pace and we took on Disney’s California Adventure kicking off the day in Radiator Springs. Personally, before this moment I never considered myself a fan of the Cars movies, but after experiencing this section of the park I felt compelled to watch Cars while falling asleep that night and have a new found love for the movies. After we headed right to the front of the park for the Oswald the Rabbit meet and greet. This was a major moment of our trip as I am a huge Oswald fan!
A little later we ended up going on Sorin’, and as one of the few people who have never been on either Sorin’ ride I was completely mesmerized by the breathtaking views this ride brings to you. I have yet to go on the Sorin’ here at Walt Disney World in EPCOT, but I have a feeling that will be changing this upcoming weekend. Continuing our day in Disney’s Califonia Adventure we went on many, many rides and decided to have a late lunch with Ariel, Rapunzel, Tiana, and Cinderella at Ariel’s Grotto (another amazing restaurant with delicious food for even the pickiest of eaters). The entire experience was phenomenal and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to do a character dining experience while visiting Disneyland. We ended our time in Disney’s California Adventure taking part in the World of Color Desert Party (which if you can swing it I highly recommend). This is hands down my all-time favorite Disney show I have ever seen. The lights and water are breathtakingly beautiful combining this with the projections of the Disney characters I have come to know and love it was everything I have ever wanted in a Disney show.
The next day was my moment of truth. The moment I felt as though I waited my entire life for. The moment I actually entered the one and only Disneyland. I can’t describe how this moment felt, but I can tell you it was everything I ever anticipated. Within minutes of rope drop, I was already getting my picture taken with Peter Pan (my favorite character from my favorite movie) and another picture was taken in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle (without many people behind me LOL). After this, we went on the original rides that we don’t have at Walt Disney World such as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey.
After taking the time to explore behind the castle in Fantasyland, it was time for breakfast with Minnie and friends at Plaza Inn. Besides the yummy breakfast and rejuvenating hot cocoa, this was the experience of a lifetime for this Disney girl. Being able to meet Minnie Mouse (an all-time favorite), Rafiki, Pooh Bear, and Chip n Dale, was awesome in itself, but there were two characters that I got to meet for the very first time on this trip. Captian Hook and Max Goof may seem like a random duo to be excited about to many, however, this was honestly the peak of our trip, but they are characters from my absolute favorite movies from my childhood, Peter Pan and A Goofy Movie (yes, the original with Powerline not the sequel).
We spent the rest of the day exploring Disneyland, doing everything this magical park had to offer. We went bobsledding on the Matterhorn, saved the galaxy from Emperor Zurg, went under the sea with Nemo, took a spin with Roger Rabbit, explored Tarzan’s Treehouse along with the jungle on the world famous Jungle Cruise, and stopped in at the Haunted Mansion to visit our friends Jack and Sally, but the absolute best part of the park (aside from the character breakfast) was Toon Town. Maybe this was because I am still bitter about the fact that Toon Town no longer exists at Disney World or maybe it is simply because my very first memories of Disney World are Minnie and Mickey’s houses, but no matter the reason I couldn’t get enough of being in Toon Town. Now that I am much older I found new reasons to absolutely love this area of the park, and they’re not necessarily Disney related but definitely worth noting. Now, while this first location probably offers identical items at other quick service locations, Clarabelle’s Snack Stand, became a staple of our trip due to the delicious warm hot cocoa and the cooler weather that December brings. In addition to grabbing a hot cocoa at Clarabelle’s, I proceeded to enjoy my hot cocoa in the gazebo in Toon Town. Now, some of you may not realize the significance of a white gazebo and a hot cocoa (replacing coffee of course), but in these moments I was able to feel like a real life Gilmore Girl while living out my dream of visiting Disneyland.
We continued to enjoy Disneyland the following day prior to having to fly back to Orlando. All in all, Disneyland is hands down the most magical vacation I have ever experienced and I can not wait to just get back there already. You would think that I detailed quite a bit in this post, but honestly, the amount of fun and details that were left out is unreal. I highly recommend to any Disney lover to take a trip to Disneyland and experience the original park that began all of the magic you’ve come to know and love. People have said that you can almost still feel Walt’s presence when walking in the park, and honestly, it’s true! There is just this amazing essence of authenticity and history that fills this park that you just won’t understand unless you visit for yourself!
I hope you enjoyed reading about the most magical time of my life, and I encourage you to share comments about YOUR magical Disneyland or any other Disney destination vacations!