Disneyland Attraction Reviews (by Old-ish People)

For fun, here’s a quick rundown of everything Raymond and I experienced attraction-wise during our very first visit to Disneyland.  (Bonus:  Comparisons to WDW when applicable)

Disneyland Attraction Reviews (by Old-ish People)

Disney California Adventure

Golden Zephyr – Yes, this was the ride we chose as the first one upon arrival.  No line, great views, very sweet and gentle.  Also, not at Walt Disney World, so added bonus of being unique!  We got to see the cutest Green Army Man parade from way up in the air.

Pixar Pal-A-Round (non-swinging) – I wanted to see the sights and thought the swinging version of this would impair viewing.  It was relaxing, but the caged-in feeling detracted from my enjoyment.  I’d ride it again.  Maybe.  Raymond was likewise underwhelmed.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout (Twice!) – This was awesome!  No comparison to Tower of Terror (apples to oranges).  Everything about this attraction is amazing and we thought it was about as entertaining a ride as could be.  We loved how the experience changes (like Star Tours) and the humor was great.  The queue was excellent too.  This attraction deserves all the hype and lives up to its reputation.

Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue – Cute!  Exactly what you’d expect and Monsters, Inc. fans are sure to be pleased.

Incredicoaster (Twice!) – A bit like an outdoor Rock’n’ Roller Coaster.  We love the Incredibles and are thrill-ride fans as well.  We thought this was the perfect combination of the two.  I want to be Edna Mode when I grow up.

Radiator Springs Racers (Twice!) – This won my heart.  It was my favorite attraction of the trip.  We almost skipped it because it was described as being like Test Track (which we think is just meh).  It was @CaptainAlabama on Twitter who convinced us to try it and boy!  What a phenomenal experience!!!  We rode during the daytime and then again one night.  I strongly suggest, if you ever have the chance, you do that too!  Cars Land by day is vastly different from Cars Land at night and this attraction is too.  Every detail, every twist and turn, every view, each and every moment…outstanding!

Toy Story Midway Mania – Not much different from the one at WDW.  Always a favorite.  Guess what?  No matter which coast I’m on, I always win the same prize on this ride!  Darn you, poor eye/hand coordination!

Paint the Night Parade (did a dining package for special seating) – This turned out to be one of Raymond’s most favorite parade experiences ever!  It was sweet and the floats and characters were interesting and entertaining.  (More on the dining package part in a future post.)

Disneyland Park

Space Mountain – The seating really threw us at first (side-by-side), but the ride was excellent.  The “Ghost Galaxy” theme was cool!  Enough like Magic Kingdom’s version to be familiar yet surprisingly different in a good way!

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – Ah, nostalgia.  It was nice to see Toad again after all these years.  I missed it at WDW when it closed, but knowing the ride lives on in California did a lot to soothe my hurt feelings.

Jungle Cruise – WHOA!  This was so cool!  The jokes are mostly different, the animatronics often much better than in Magic Kingdom, and (spoiler alert!) piranhas!  There was hardly a wait for this attraction – WHY?  It’s awesome and adorable!

Pirates of the Caribbean – This experience did not diminish my love for WDW’s Pirates in any way, but holy moly!  I loved the buildup from the bayou through all the scenes.  It felt much creepier (more creepy?) and the added length allowed more of a story to be told.

Indiana Jones Adventure – I cannot lie.  We hated it.  Go ahead with your gasps of outrage, we did not get anything out of this ride except whiplash.  We moved way to fast to actually see any of the seemingly awesome details.  Just when I’d spot something interesting to focus on – zoom!  We were gone.  I’m a huge Indy fan!  My DOG is named Henry Jones, Jr., for Pete’s sake!  Maybe I was expecting too much.  It’s a once and done for us.

Haunted Mansion – Words cannot describe how excellent the Halloween overlay is!  The Mansion’s exterior is gorgeous!  Absolute perfection that fits in very well with New Orleans Square (excellent details and theming there!).  While I would have loved to experience Haunted Mansion without the overlay for comparison purposes, we were blown away by the excessive details!  It’s extraordinarily well done.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Different, but just as excellent as Magic Kingdom’s version.  The explosions in the mine were so EXTRA!  What a fantastic detail and we were delighted!  It’s a do-not-miss for us.

Mark Twain Riverboat – Scoff if you must, but I drug poor Raymond right on board and loved every second of this!  Have I mentioned the weather?  Blue, blue sky, sans a single cloud, temps in the 80’s.  How could anyone NOT love a relaxing trip around the Rivers of America?  Seriously, it’s fantastic!

Snow White’s Scary Adventure – Like Mr. Toad, the nostalgia factor was the draw here.

Storybook Land Canal Boats – I fell in love with this!  This attraction sounds silly and like a waste of time, but it is not!  The boats are sweetly adorable, the actual real-life human guide is an extra-special detail, and the little kingdoms and villages along the canal’s shores are especially well-crafted.  See all your favorite Disney movie settings!  And ride into Monstro’s mouth too!  What’s not to love about that?

it’s a small world – We were completely and totally unprepared for this.  It’s HUGE!  Makes the one in Magic Kingdom feel like a rip-off.  Sure, they’re basically the same on the inside (and everyone always says it’s what’s on the inside that matters, right?) but the exterior is so EXTRA!!!  It added to the overall experience exponentially.

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey – Well…uhm…this was certainly a tribute to Pinocchio and stuff.  I’m afraid it felt a bit outdated.

Splash Mountain – I have to say it.  Magic Kingdom’s version is much better.  Three things ruined Splash for us here.  One, the boat was much rougher and bashed into the sides of the “river” violently several times.  Two, the boats moved so fast we didn’t have time to enjoy the scenes and the adorable furry animals.  Three, there’s a pitch black section in which we were completely drenched with ice-cold water from head to toe.  We were saddened by the experience.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage – We thought this was precious and it brought back fond memories of the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Alice in Wonderland – This one was among my favorites.  Recently refurbished with added projection effects, we were charmed by the whimsical details.

The Disneyland Story Presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.  I liked this very much…better than Hall of Presidents, honestly.  They said no pictures and I took it seriously!  I did get a nice picture of this sign though…enjoy!

A word about wait times.  There were hardly any at most of the attractions.  In fact, not all Disneyland attractions have posted wait times.  Unlike Disney World, only the most popular attractions have/need FastPasses.  Interspersed with all those attractions, we had plenty of time to snack, grab a beer or glass of wine, and soak up the outrageously perfect weather and Disney’s magical details.

Attractions we skipped were mostly by design.  Some would have been exactly like their WDW version (Soarin’ and Star Tours), some would have meant we didn’t get to ride our favorites twice.  Matterhorn Bobsleds – closed for refurb, disappointingly.  I was conflicted about the decision to skip Grizzly River Run, but after the complete soaking on Splash, we thought it for the best.  Hopefully, there will be a next time!

Okay, let me have it!  Agree?  Disagree?  Bit of both?



Disneyland First Visit First Impressions

It may have been only two-and-a-half days, but our first visit to Disneyland exceeded our expectations – it was wonderful!  Our Good Neighbor hotel was fantastic and allowed us quick and easy access to the parks and Downtown Disney.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we did not see a single cloud the entire time we were there.  So with a great place to sleep and sunny skies, we got busy making the most of our limited time.

Disneyland First Visit First Impressions

Our first stop was Disney California Adventure.  So many things felt super familiar, it was odd to not know exactly how to navigate the park without a map.  Much of DCA felt like Disney’s Hollywood Studios and construction walls certainly made us feel right at home.

We were captivated by Pixar Pier and the areas around it.  There’s so much to take in and the theming was completely immersive – which we loved!  Raymond made the observation that the way the attractions were laid out reminded him of Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.  We visited Tivoli in 2015 knowing it was inspirational to Walt Disney before Disneyland was built and we noticed many similarities – mainly the way attractions, restaurants, shops, and kiosks were crowded together in an exciting way with something interesting to see or do from the ground to the sky.

We used both paper FastPasses (on Friday) and MaxPasses on Saturday and Sunday and both were certainly handy.  The paper FastPasses made us feel sentimental since those have been long gone from Walt Disney World.  MaxPass was worth every penny!  We used several (4+) a day and with all the PhotoPass photos included, we were very satisfied with how it worked.  We did miss having Magic Bands though.  We’re so used to the convenience of being able to enter the parks and purchase everything with them – doing without felt like an inconvenience.

Disneyland was a delight!  I could not believe how many attractions we could experience in just a couple of hours.  I’ll write separate posts on the attractions themselves, but I’m going to try to describe here how charmed we were by this park’s overall atmosphere.  We expected it to be as magical, interesting, delightful, and exciting as we find Magic Kingdom.  What we didn’t expect was for it to be more.  More of everything that makes us love Disney parks.  Disneyland feels like Disney World’s more mature, wiser and more beautiful sibling.

Yes, as you may have heard (or noticed yourself), Sleeping Beauty Castle is quite a shock.  Like your eyes are playing tricks on you – Where is it?!  It should be the centerpiece at the end of Main Street, visible just after entering the park.  That it doesn’t appear where and when it should certainly takes some getting used to.  Sleeping Beauty Castle’s relatively tiny stature does not detract from its beauty.  Once you get close enough to take in the details, it seems as perfect as can be.

One-stop security is awesome!  As you approach the central plaza in which the entrances to Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Downtown Disney are located, there’s a single security stop for bag-checks and metal detector screening.  After that, park-hopping takes mere moments and, compared to Walt Disney World, seems absolutely effortless.  We loved this aspect…except after 5:00 pm.  Word of caution – if you leave the parks and return in the evening, two things happen.  Security lines are extra long due to decreased screening capacity and the sun is brutal!  We were there in September and the setting sun was blinding which made waiting in that looooong security line seem more horrible.  The necessity of arriving before the after-work crowd was one of our biggest take-aways.

Thanks for reading…I have much more to tell you, so please stop by again soon!

Disney Dining – Flo’s V8 Café at Disney California Adventure

Saturdays With Nick!  For this week’s installment, I choked back some very unbecoming jealousy over Nick and his wife, Barbie, having visited Disneyland in 2013 to bring you an awesome dining review.  I’ve dreamed of going to Disneyland forever, but every time I mention it to Raymond, he makes some dire statement about California being the “onramp to the apocalypse” (if it’s not shaking, it’s burning or there’s a horrific mudslides or epic drought).

Never one to give up on a dream, I’ve devised a plan for possible 2017 implementation (we’ve already planned our 2016 Disney vacations) which would get me, finally to Disneyland.  I’m going to propose we visit Aulani (Disney’s Vacation Club property in Hawaii) and stop on the way there for a couple of days at Disneyland.  I’m pretty sure I can make this happen…I’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime, we’ll just have to look back on Nick and Barbie’s adventures….

Disney Dining – Flo’s V8 Café at Disney California Adventure

A few days ago, I shared a video from Flo’s V8 Cafe at Disney California Adventure. Today, I’d like to share a more thorough review of the food.

I’d read that the food was good, but I had no idea just how good!
Let’s start with our first lunch.
This was literally the first place we stopped on our visit to Cars Land, as it was near lunchtime, and we were very hungry.

Upon entering, we were handed a menu by a cast member.

There are also displays of the menu choices in a case in front of the order station/ registers.

And, if that weren’t enough, they are also clearly displayed over the food counter.

I ordered the Pork Loin with Coca Cola BBQ Sauce. For sides I got the Roasted Corn Medley and cole slaw, for $11.49.
First off, several of my favorite words are in the entree name “Pork”, “Coca Cola”, and “BBQ”.
And this did not disappoint!  In fact, I honestly think Disney should be bottling and selling this sauce. It is excellent! I loved my meal.

Barbie ordered the kids Macaroni and Cheese meal, with a bag of carrots and a bag of apples. When asked if she would like the souvenir Lightning McQueen Racer, she said “No”.
I immediately said “Yes she does!” It’s awesome! The mac and cheese was very good too.

This cost $11.99.
We also got a strawberry milkshake, $4.29, and a chocolate milkshake in a souvenir cup for $9.59. Both were creamy without being too hard to drink through the straw. We also split an Apple Cheddar “Pie-O-Rama” for $4.99, also delicious.
We sat in a wonderfully themed dining room overlooking the Radiator Springs Racers attraction.
There is also ample outdoor seating.
So, how much did we like the food here?
We ate 3 more meals at Flo’s!
I’m running out of adjectives, so before I go any further, and this is going to sound like hyperbole, but I’m being honest, we loved everything we had, which was just about the entire menu by the end of our 5 day trip.
We shared a breakfast with my wife’s cousin, Jill, and Jill’s husband, Zach.
American Breakfast with scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon and a biscuit for $7.99, and the Chicken Tamale Breakfast with chicken tamale, scrambled eggs, salsa verde and pico de gallo – $7.99
On another night, my wife had the Citrus Turkey Breast with Old Fashioned Turkey Gravy– $11.49 , with mashed potatoes and the corn medley.

I had the NY Strip Loin with Home-Style Beef Gravy – $11.99, with potatoes and cole slaw.

For dessert we split a Chocolate Mudd pie. Wow, is that rich!
At night, the neon makes Flo’s extra lovely!
We also had lunch with new friends, Tips From the Disney Diva writer, The D’land Diva, and her family, and tried the kids meal sandwiches. I suggest asking for gravy on the side, as they were a bit dry without, but the gravy makes them delicious! We split the Seasonal Fruit Pie, which was pear and cherry.
I really can’t recommend a meal (or 3) at Flo’s V8 Cafe more, so stop in if you need a fill up!
You can read all about Nick, Barbie, and their passion for all things (and places) Disney:
Disney Musings Blog / Disney Musings on Twitter / Disney Musings on Instagram / Disney Musings on Facebook


Have you been to Disneyland?  What was your favorite dining experience?