We were lucky to have visited Disneyland this year before they closed for COVID-19. We were only going for 2 days, so we wanted to get the most bang for our buck. There are two parks, one Disneyland, and the other California Adventure. And they are literally across from one another, which makes it easier when you have the park hopper option as you can just walk.
Touring Plans Disneyland and California Adventure
One of the things we love to subscribe to is Touring Plans! It is totally worth the subscription as touring plans help game plan your day. You tell it how many days you are spending, and which parks you are going to, and if you are looking for an adult itinerary, or one with kids, and it will give you an itinerary for the day. It will tell you which rides to go on, and in what order. And if something happens to that ride or you are skipping it for whatever reason, you can tell it to recalculate. It has saved us so much time and it allows you to ride as many rides as you possibly can!
Where to stay near Disneyland & California Adventures
We did not stay at a Disney Resort, as the cost was very expensive. In comparison to Disney World Resorts, I believe it is more expensive to stay at a Disney Land Resort vs a Disney World Resort. It is likely due to a lack of land available in Los Angeles vs Florida. There are also more “Disney World resorts” with various prices that can meet your budget. We stayed at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel. It was a nice hotel and decent cost, but it was further from Disneyland than other hotels across the bridge. We tried to walk there the first day, trying to get in line early, but our walk was about 40 minutes, and we are in good shape and fitness. I recommend just taking the free shuttle. But get downstairs early, as the shuttle is small. The shuttle will also pick you up from Disneyland, but because this hotel has so many rooms, the first or second bus may be filled, so you’ll have to wait on a third trip…be prepared!
One of the things we all wanted to do was to go to the Star Wars area and ride both Smuggler’s Run and the new ride Rise of the Resistance! We were told this would be hard to get into, but it was not as hard as we anticipated. It helped to pick a weekday to go when the park was not “as busy”.
Rise of the Resistance Tips at Disneyland
Now, I am sure most of you are wondering about the new ride Rise of the Resistance. Thankfully, even though you get into the park early with extra magic hours, you still can’t try and get into the “virtual queue” of Rise of the Resistance until the actual park opens for the general public. We didn’t have extra magic hours so this was helpful. Before you get into the park, there are some things you have to do. You have to create an account on the Disneyland app on your phone. Then you create a “party”. Then you have to scan all your parties’ tickets into one person’s Disney account.
Everyone in your party must enter the park, and have their tickets scanned at entry in order for you to try to get into the “virtual queue”, otherwise it will not allow you. Disney already knows who is in the park and so will your app. Just before the park opens, do a count down. That’s how close you need to be looking for the time to change because there will be thousands of people wanting to get into the queue. Refresh your app when the time changes, and then try and get into the “virtual queue”. If you are lucky, and we were, we got into Group 99. We were told to get back into the actual line by 7:22 pm. Within a couple of minutes of the park opening, you could no longer get into the queue. Disneyland even has a sign ready, and they put it up every day at the park entrance saying you cannot get onto the ride for that day. One of the things that helped us was that only one person in our group tried to get onto the virtual queue. What also helped was “not” to get onto the Disneyland WiFi as it will be slower to log onto the queue.
Smuggler’s Run at Disneyland Ride Highlights
Smuggler’s Run. The line is long, be prepared! It was the first ride we went on when the park opened. Six people ride together on the Millennium Falcon. You are given a card to tell you what you will do on the ride. Two people are pilots. Two people control the guns and two serve as engineers, repairing the ship. I was the gunner. And my hubby and brother were pilots. It feels like you are in an arcade game. You get to go on an adventure with Chewy and another Smuggler. Unless you’re the pilot, the ride isn’t as fun as we were expecting. First of all, it’s hard to see above people’s heads. And the gun is on the side of you, so you have to turn your body in order to shoot, thus missing the adventure ahead of you. My husband and brother liked the ride better because they were both pilots and thus had a better view. You don’t have total control of the ride. You can only steer as a pilot, up and down, left and right. You can dodge meteors and enemy crafts. You also get to punch it into lightspeed! You do get a score at the end and each person can see how they did. Again, I did not think it was that much fun, certainly for how long one had to wait.
Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland Ride Highlights
Rise of the Resistance: This ride is definitely worth riding. The ride starts with you getting informed of the mission by a holographic Rey and a real-life BB-8. After that, you are escorted by Disney Staff Rebels into a full-sized cargo ship where you stand with about 30 people.
Then you take a 5-minute ride on the cargo ship. You can only see out of the windows in the front or back so choose your spot wisely. During this time, you venture through space and go through a space battle. You fight off Tie Fighters but eventually get captured by the First Order. Then the cargo ship opens to two Disney Staff members dressed in First Order officer uniforms. They walk you out into what looks like a docking bay of a star destroyer. There lies 40 Storm Troopers staring at you. They then hurry you into the next room but try to take a few pictures. They will yell at you but it makes the journey more fun. Then they put you in line, and you have to wait for about 20 minutes with people from other groups.
After that, First Orders officers tell you what color to stand on and then escort you to your prisoner cell. Next Kylo Ren tries to interrogate you. Then Disney Resistance members break you out and put you on a transport operated by a real droid. As you try and escape you drive through the star destroyer and you come across two full-sized At-At’s. Meanwhile, you are being shot at by Storm Troopers. This is the fun part of the ride. You back into an elevator and are raised to eye level with the At-At pilots who start firing on you. Your transport drives to the command center and you see Kylo Ren talking to General Hux. You then see Rebel ships come out of lightspeed and begin shooting at the Star Destroyer. Then you go into the cannon room, where full-sized cannons start shooting out into space where there’s a battle. You end up being saved by the Resistance.
Part of the ride is just being in the “atmosphere”. If the Disney Staff are Star Wars fans, the ride is so much nicer as there are acting skills required to make the entire journey feel like you are in the movie. We went on this ride twice, one on each day, and I will tell you the staff on set made the difference. I think it was better at night as well. As when you got off of the ride, the real moon and dark sky felt like part of the set when you walked outside. The journey/ride is about 15 minutes long. The graphics are amazing. And the props were right out of the movies.
IncrediCoaster at California Adventure Ride Highlights
My favorite ride in California Adventure was IncrediCoaster. Next to The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal Studios, this is second best on my list. The ride is actually 2.36 minutes long, but it feels longer, in a good way. It goes from zero-55 mph in 4 seconds at the launch. And apparently as of 2020, it’s the longest inverting roller coaster in the world! It’s definitely scary, and I loved it! If you are tired, it will certainly wake you up…pure adrenaline! And the ride line is not very long, the single line rider is quicker but not by much. One of the things that I appreciated about the ride was the overhead harness. I felt more protected this way. In comparison, at Universal Studios, they have the ride called Rip-Roaring Rockit, which I did not feel was as secure as the IncrediCoaster thus I was not a fan.
Radiator Springs Racers at Disneyland Ride Highlights
My final ride highlight in California Adventure was the Radiator Springs Racers ride. It’s an EXTREMELY long and painful line, get the fast pass on this one. Once you get on, it’s definitely a fun ride, but very short in comparison to the wait-in line. I would definitely recommend it as you get to ride in a car with 3 people in the back, and 3 in front. They have an awesome race track which is very well built. You get to a race another vehicle through turns and hills. Fun and Expensive Fact…the attraction cost $200 million to build!
The new Disneyland Parade “Magic Happens” is a lot of fun for all ages but especially children! If you or your child are Frozen fans….Disney has a Frozen Float. Anna and Elsa were on the float. I enjoyed the Coco Float as well. Of course, the music and dance are 5 stars!
Another great and don’t want to miss activity is Mickey’s Mix Magic Fireworks show and Fantasmic. You can actually see both in one day, the Fireworks show starts first. It’s a long day, but worth it. Mickey’s Mix Magic show is near Cinderella’s Castle. We waited on Main Street looking towards the castle. This was a good spot. The buildings on Main Street changed colors based on the fireworks, so you could look both ways and appreciate them. Disney does awesome Fireworks. This is fun for the whole family! Fantasmic is located on Tom Sawyer’s Island. We were able to find a spot directly in front of the show control area and in the back of the seated area. This is directly in front of Orleans Cafe. The Pirates of the Caribbean ship makes its way into the light show. It is really well done. If you had to pick between the two shows though…don’t miss the Fireworks show!
Overall, we had a lot of fun at Disneyland/California Adventure. We came during California’s Food and Wine Festival. We did eat at a couple of places to try the appetizer-sized food, but it was definitely expensive for the amount of food you got. In comparison to Disney World…I prefer Disney World to Disneyland. I know there may be some disagreements out there, but everyone has an opinion…and here’s mine. Disney World to me is where you see Walt Disney’s dream laid out the best. Walt Disney’s hospitality, charm, and happiest place on earth theme reside in Disney World. There is a 6 Star Service that you get at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom that you don’t get at Disneyland. Ever heard of the song…”Be Our Guest”….I feel that when you walk through the gates into the Magic Kingdom, there are so many Disney characters waiting for you, and smiling faces from all the Disney cast members that are just not present in Disneyland. Disney World is even cleaner and well-manicured. You realize that you are completely in Mickey and Minnie’s World when you come to the Magic Kingdom. And it doesn’t matter how many times I have visited Disney World (which is about 12 times)…I felt the same…EVERY TIME!! I would love to hear your thoughts about this!
Enjoy the extra pics!