American Roadtrip | California – Disneyland!!

Before leaving New Zealand we all understood that the budget would only allow us to visit one Disney theme park and we all wanted it to be the original Disneyland, even if this meant waiting at least 18 or so months. Finally, after passing three other Disney sites on our way to America (Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo), we couldn’t believe we were finally on our way to Anaheim.

After our Los Angeles tourist activities, we were heading to our accommodation for three nights, Super 8 by Wyndham Anaheim/Disneyland Drive (see our Wyndham Properties review here). Knowing we wanted to visit Disneyland mid-week we had booked this room quite a few months out and had got a bigger discount than just our standard Wyndham Rewards. We settled in for a quiet afternoon as we knew the next couple of days would be full of fun.

We purchased tickets online and for a our 2-day ticket (admission to one park per day) it cost us a total of $870 USD/$1,279 NZD. Disneyland Tickets_Nov 2018This was by far the biggest expense for us during our time in the U.S and if we had not of gone to Disneyland we would have been under our daily budget. However, as we have said before, Our Awesome World Adventure isn’t just about the budget and we knew for a long time that we wanted to have this Disney experience together.

Day One

We were up early to have our Wyndham breakfast and get ready for our first day at the Disney parks. We had decided to hit up Disneyland first and then the second day we would go to Disney California Adventure Park. The time of year we were there (November) Disneyland was open from 8:00am until midnight so we wanted to get into the park as early as possible. Just a five-minute walk from our accommodation (A) was a bus stop (B) that would get us to the parks via Anaheim Resort Transport, Ball Road Line 11. This bus route just went back and forth for the day and went past a few other hotels and accommodations with a frequency of every 20 minutes. That day the first bus was meant to be at 8:00am but we didn’t see it, so the 8.20am one it was. We were hoping to purchase one-day tickets so if we wanted to come back to the motel and have an afternoon rest we could without purchasing more single journey fares, however the bus driver wasn’t able to help us with this type of ticket so we paid $8 USD/$11.63 NZD to get us all to Disneyland (C).The Bus to Disneyland_Anaheim_California_AmericaA quick ten or so minute trip around the corner and we were outside the happiest place on earth!! We headed to the “with bags” line to have our bags looked over and then into another line to go through an airport like security screening frame. Next it was to a ticket counter to collect our pre-purchased tickets and then into the line to enter the park. They scanned each ticket and took a digital photo of each person to match to the ticket. And then finally…. we were INSIDE the happiest place on earth!!Disneyland_Anaheim_California_AmericaWalking in and it just hit us that we were actually here, unbelievable. First stop, Tomorrowland. We were in awe of what we were seeing around us and a little star struck as we walked through with our eyes as wide as they would go. We pulled ourselves together and got into line for our first ride, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Fantastic start and it just continued to get better and better as the day went on.

We had gone into the park with a bit of a plan, using the Disneyland App to see wait times and visit the rides accordingly but if we had gone back and forth around the park I think we would have missed more rides and/or wasted more time. Instead we did the rides we wanted to do in each “land” or area and then moved onto another one. Thankfully on our first day we didn’t have too many long waits and being able to bring your own food and drinks into the park helps with having snacks on hand for the longer lines.Disneyland_Anaheim_California_America_1We were thinking we would see how the day was going and maybe go back to our accommodation for a mini-break in the afternoon but as the day went on it didn’t seem to take long before it was nearly 6:00pm. We had spent nearly an hour in the “It’s a Small World” line and we were getting hungry. So we found some dinner and a spot to recharge a little while we watched the Christmas parade. After the break we got a second wind and headed back into the park for a few nighttime rides now that the sun had gone down and all the lights had come on. Disneyland at Night_Anaheim_California_America_1Just before 9:00pm we started back towards Main Street to find a spot to watch the 9.30pm fireworks display. Not long after, there was an announcement that due to wind conditions the fireworks display may have to be cancelled. We could barely feel any wind but apparently it doesn’t take much of a breeze for the fireworks to be cancelled, it hadn’t been on the previous night either. The final decision would be made right at 9.30pm so with two very tired children and two pretty tired adults we decided together we would wait just a little longer to see if we would see the fireworks or not. Disneyland at Night_Anaheim_California_America_2Sadly the display was cancelled and so we dragged ourselves to our feet and headed for the bus stop. A little disappointed but man oh man, we had had an absolutely fantastic day.

Day Two 

After our huge first day we were surprised how perky we were when the alarm went off. It was straight to breakfast and then the bus stop for our second day of Disney fun. California Adventure Park was open between 8:00am – 10:00pm and we had arrived by bus, been through the lines and checks, into the park and in line for our first ride well before 9:00am.Disney California Adventure Park_Anaheim_California_AmericaFirst stop was Cars Land and the Radiator Springs Racers ride as we knew this was very popular. The first “Cars” movie was released in 2006 and Lincoln, who was born in 2008, watched it hundreds of times during his early years and then by the time Braxton was born in 2012, “Cars 2” had been released and he too loved the franchise. So Lightning McQueen and his friends have been well established in our family for a number of years now.

Cars Land_Disney California Adventure Park_Anaheim_California_America
Cars Land was incredible – like stepping right into the movie.

The wait time when we entered the line was already showing as 70 minutes!! We slowly weaved our way through the queue barricades, cursing those coming up the “skip-the-line” lane. Once we finally made it into our racer we were all blown away and so impressed by the ride that we quickly agreed it shot to the top of one of our favourite rides.Radiator Springs Racers_Disney California Adventure Park_Anaheim_California_AmericaWe hadn’t purchased the add-on of “MaxPass” (which is an extra $15 USD/$ 21.88 NZD per day, per ticket) which gives you “FastPass” access (aka “skip-the line”) but we wished we had learnt sooner of the free way to get “FastPass” tickets. FastPass isn’t available on all rides, just the popular ones and near the entrance there are distribution machines that will spit out a FastPass ticket when you insert your Disney ticket. These tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can run out quite quickly, but they are certainly worth a try. So at certain times of the day (usually about an hour in duration) you can get yourself an entry to the ride without the longer wait. You can only hold one FastPass ticket at a time so it’s best to try to get them for the next possible time frame and then once you have used that FastPass you can find another ride to get FastPass tickets for.Disney California Adventure Park_Anaheim_California_America_1One thing about Adventure Park, it is much smaller and more compact than Disneyland so you can get around to much more without walking for miles. And while Disneyland is an incredible place, Adventure Park is so modern and the rides are next level. We had an incredible second day, but by 5:00pm and after another firm family favourite ride, Guardians of the Galaxy, we were ready to call it and head back to our accommodation. Another truly awesome family day.Guardians of the Galaxy_Disney California Adventure Park_Anaheim_California_America

Top Three Favourite Rides

Logan – Guardians of the Galaxy, Incredicoaster, Radiator Springs Racers

Paula – Guardians of the Galaxy, Radiator Springs Racers, Grizzly River Run

Lincoln – Splash Mountain, Guardians of the Galaxy, Radiator Springs Racers

Braxton – Radiator Springs Racers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Soarin’ Around the World

Our Top Disney Tips

Logan – Take your own food, it is expensive and lines are long. Wear comfortable shoes. Do popular rides first.

Paula – Have lots of snacks and water on hand for the line waits. The Disneyland App shows approximate wait times and you can pre-order food if needed, although we still waited a long time to pick up our lunch meals and they were expensive for what they were.

Lincoln – Plan when you do the water rides, you can get really wet. Get as many FastPasses as you can.

Braxton – Have games downloaded on your phone so you can play them while you wait in line. (There is a fun Disney one called “Play Disney Parks” that has lots of Disney games.)

Walt Disney_Disneyland at Night_Anaheim_California_America
Thank you Walt Disney!!

Average Daily Spend for 2 nights – $884.12 NZD ($596.62 over budget per day)

– The Ewers Family

One thought on “American Roadtrip | California – Disneyland!!

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