LA Diaries – How To: Disneyland

The Happiest Place On Earth

I have recently returned from one of my favourite places in the world, California. No trip to California would be complete without a trip to the ever creepy yet enthralling Disneyland and of course, I did just that. This was my first trip to Disneyland in about seven years, so I was perhaps more excited than a woman of my years should be, but I didn’t let that phase me.

We went on a Friday, during school term in March, but even so Disneyland was busy. Not Christmas or summer holiday busy, but still crawling with people, so be warned – there is no quiet time at Disneyland.

The park opened at 9am and we were through the gates shortly after, determined to make the most of our time there. It was a hot day, particularly for March, so we left hoodies and leggings in the car (luckily within walking distance of Downtown Disney). Ride number 1 was Indiana Jones, which is as thrilling now as it was when I was first tall enough to go on it. We quickly followed with Splash Mountain and expertly avoided getting soaked, which was a relief since I had totally forgotten to zip up my bag.

Everywhere in Disneyland will serve you iced water completely free of charge, so don’t force yourself into buying expensive and, surprisingly for the US, not refillable, drinks. Keep your bags close, zipped up (learn from my mistakes) and don’t bring too much. Some money, a camera, phone, sunscreen and some warmer clothes nearby should do it. Try and avoid restaurants during peak lunch and dinner hours as not only are the over priced but also over crowded, there are plenty of food carts dotted around the park that can help you stave off that hunger. I heartily recommend the churros, although in moderation!

Although many of the rides in the Magic Kingdom sound very child friendly, some classics such as Pinocchio and Snow White manage to terrify me even now. The neon lights, the UV, the spinning characters all create a rather frightening image around you, which of course is part of the thrill. An ever popular ride with toddlers, teens and adults alike is Peter Pan. The line will almost definitely be over 45 minutes long but it is absolutely worth it, even if you’re not a huge fan of the movie.

If you can handle the music, Small World is another Disneyland classic that has never faltered in popularity, but my personal favourite ride has to be Big Thunder Mountain. Failing that, Space Mountain is excellent fun.

Disneyland’s live entertainment, whether it’s the Dapper Dans or the rock covers band that plays Tomorrowland are what make the atmosphere of the place. It’s no Thorpe Park in that magical land. There is not one speck of gum on the pavements, if you spill a piece of popcorn it has been scooped up before you even notice it, and everyone has (albeit probably forced) smiles on their faces. The parades, fireworks and light shows (I particularly recommend World of Color in the California Adventure park) are all part of the experience. That’s the beautiful thing about Disneyland. It doesn’t matter if you go on one ride, or ten, the park itself is a world away from real life, just as Walt Disney intended.

If you can face it, Disney pin trading is fantastic. Though the prospect of going up to a cast member is a little daunting at first, it’s definitely worth it as you built up a collection of your favourite characters. Though be warned, this is an expensive hobby to take up, so buy pins sparingly!

Having met Tigger, Minnie Mouse and hundreds of other excitable people both young and old, it was clear to me that Disney still hasn’t lost its magic. We still stare open mouthed as huge floats of princesses glide by us, and we still grin gleefully at fireworks and fountains. Let the memories begin.

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