Friday, May 15, 2015

Events: Downtown Disney & Disneyland (2015 Road Trip Part 1)

Last month, my wife Brita and I had a whirlwind of a few weeks filled with Disney fun and all sorts of traveling. For a graduation present (I just finished up school at BYU-Idaho), Brita and my parents contributed to a California road trip for us so that we could visit Disneyland, California Adventure and the Star Wars Celebration 2015 there in Anaheim.

We then made our way back up through Utah to visit the famous Up house and then moved our life back across the country to Connecticut (where we're both from) to settle down. It was all an absolute blast and I'm glad I finally have the chance to share some of our memories with you.

I'll be separating the trip here into four parts (one a day), with a couple of sub-posts regarding some cool experiences we had as well. Today's focus is the very beginning of our trip starting with our arrival to CA, our evening at Downtown Disney and our times at Disneyland the next day...let's get to it!

Around noon on Monday, April 13th, we arrived to Anaheim after a couple of days of driving. It's always so magical arriving at a Disney vacation and seeing their classic buses around town! That always gets me pumped for the times ahead.

For the first couple of nights of our stay in Anaheim, we were able to stay in the beautiful Grand California Hotel; so it was fun to get there, explore around a little bit and take in how gorgeous everything was.

We then had a delicious lunch at the hotel's "Storyteller's Cafe" with my 93 year old grandmother and my uncle Rick who met us up there (they live pretty close to there). Great memories!

I didn't actually go for the "Buzz Lightyear Punch", but of course I had to document everything Pixar related.

After our lunch and farewells, we were able to spend some time in our room just relaxing after a long drive. Now it really started to feel like a vacation! Plus it's always fun for us to take it easy at first- checking out the park maps and planning the upcoming days.

*Knock knock*...who's there?

Room service! My parents had ordered us some surprise sparkling cider and tuxedo wearing chocolate covered strawberries as part of their gift to us. Classy! A big thanks to them; that was such a fun, thoughtful surprise and extremely tasty.

Later that evening we took a walk over to Downtown Disney, which was especially awesome this time around since it was literally right outside our hotel!

We hit up all of our favorite shops, such as D-Street, the Lego Store, the WonderGround Gallery and the World of Disney. It was such a fun night out- everything seems to just sparkle and twinkle there at night and there's always fun live music that helps to create the magical ambiance found only at Downtown Disney.

Awesome Toy Story 2 art (on wrapped canvas) found at the WonderGround Gallery

The next morning we arrived early at Disneyland for their extra magic hours. Unfortunately though, that hour wasn't at all magical. We attempted to ride Space Mountain first, but it closed while we were in line. We went over to Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters- closed. We went to the Matterhorn- closed. We went over to Indiana Jones- closed. In fact, all of Adventureland and Frontierland weren't even open at all during "magic hours". Nothing seem to be operating and, since there weren't enough rides opened, the crowds were insane.

There were just not enough rides opened to help spread everyone out. Ultimately, the hour was wasted and we ended up going on the only ride that wasn't closed and didn't have a line- Yup, It's a Small World. Looking back, it's pretty funny. At the time? Not so much.

Anyway, something that's really cool at the Disneyland version of It's a Small World is that in 2008 they added 37 Disney characters placed all around the ride in their native lands...including Nemo, Dory, Woody, Jessie and Bullseye! It's always a treat to see, since it's different than the Disney World version.

Once we got off of It's a Small World, things started to pick up and it turned out to actually be a pretty perfect day. All of the rides that we wanted to go on opened, the crowds actually turned out to be very minimal (we never waited more than 15 minutes for a ride all day) and the weather was outstanding.

Of course I want to document everything here about our day (so many good times and we have countless pictures), but I'll just keep to mostly the Pixar related parts here on the blog.

Here's some merch in the Buzz Lightyear gift shop...some nice looking Woody and Jessie hats and some great Pixar pins! I'm not an avid Disney pin collector, but I wish I was! There were so many cool ones there this time around.

 Our words needed.

Mac & cheese hot dog from Main Street Refreshment Corner
Harbour Galley BBQ chicken baked potato

We always love the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and wish it would come to Disney World! It really captures the heart of the film and is just such a cool, immersive experience overall.

If you know anything about Brita, you know she's in love with the pineapple Dole Whip floats there in Adventureland. Here we are enjoying them while cooling off in the Enchanted Tiki Room-

Some Mickey's Toontown action!

Random Toy Story display behind window in Toontown

Here are a couple little items I didn't get but thought were pretty cute... a Cars Mater plush (that says "She likes me for my body!") and a Monsters Inc. Sulley antenna topper.

Gotta love this moving Ratatouille window display outside the front of the Emporium shop on Main Street U.S.A.! If you haven't seen it in action, check out a brief video on YouTube HERE.

After a successful day going on all the classic rides (some more than once) and exploring all the gift shops, our time at Disneyland ended perfectly with their night time firework show "Fantasy in the Sky."

There we have it! What a day.

If you enjoyed reading about our 2015 Disneyland road trip so far, be sure to come back tomorrow for my full-write up of our day at Disney's California Adventure! Stay tuned.

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