2017 Travels: The Happiest Place on Earth

Hello readers!

Coming in hot on the first day of 2018! The goal is to catch you up on our travels for 2017 within the first few days of this year so we can start 2018 fresh.

Ever since the early days of this Team, one thing has been very clear: Cameron loves Disneyland, and Disney World, and probably all forms of Disney Parks. While I went to Disney World with my family when I was five, and it WAS awesome, admittedly, the experience of going to a Disney Park changes as you get older. I confirmed this when we visited Disneyland Shanghai a little over a year and a half ago. Disneyland is fun and magical. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are.

Needless to say, the plans to visit Disneyland (the original one, in California) had been on the books for a few years. Cameron hadn’t visited since well before California Adventure had opened, and I hadn’t visited, well, ever. Over the past summer we looked at some options and settled on it for our fall break, which happens in November.

From our experience, I can make a few recommendations:

  1. It’s not a bad idea to book your vacation through a travel agent. Usually, travel agents can give good deals on multiple day passes, transportation passes, and other amenities you may need, like car rentals. We used Costco Travel, but if that’s not available in your area, I’d say talk to your travel agent of choice. A person, not a search engine on the Internet.
  2. Get a Park Hopper pass. We got a five-day Park Hopper, which meant we had access to both Disneyland and California Adventure during this time. It allowed us to go on our favorite rides multiple times, and to take a break from the busyness of one park by going to the other.
  3. Get a transportation pass for the same number of days you have a park pass.
  4. Get waterproof bags for your valuables, or a locker. Splash Mountain is no joke and you will get drenched, pretty much regardless of where you sit.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes – you will stand around a lot.

Other notables of this trip:

  • We flew the Dreamliner for the first time! United uses a 787 for their Seoul (ICN) to San Francisco (SFO) route – admittedly a lighter plane that can fly higher, where turbulence is less prevalent, and the seats are smaller. Seats are not that comfortable, at least on United. Food wasn’t bad. We had a better Dreamliner experience on our Singapore (SIN) to Hong Kong (HKG) on Scoot (more on that on our Christmas Break post coming soon).
  • I rode two roller coasters! More than once! Including one with an upside-down loop. There was a lot of sheer terror screaming and gasping for breath. It all subsided after the first time riding, and I managed to enjoy them!
  • Cameron fulfilled a childhood dream of eating at the Bayou Cafe on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It was delicious. And expensive. And VERY BUSY! Book well in advance.
  • The breakfast burritos on the cafe in Tomorrowland (by the Star Wars stage) and the beignets at the Mint Julep Bar (in New Orleans Square) are delicious and worth every penny you pay.
  • We caught the last legs of Halloween and the first glimpses of Christmas. A decoration dream.
  • The castle is really tiny! After being at Disney World and Shanghai Disneyland, the Disneyland castle looked like a gingerbread house. Or a dollhouse? It’s still pretty, but I was definitely shocked to see how small it was. I guess you may have not been able to go any higher in 1955.

Don’t be fooled by whatever time of the year you go on. It was the first week of November and both parks were VERY busy! Lots of BYU and Utah shirts, and LOTS of Seahawks jerseys. We suspect there is a fall break in Utah and Washington at that same time (Early November). No big deal.

We didn’t really know what to expect from California Adventure. Turns out it’s either very kid-friendly rides or not kid-friendly at all rides. Except for the Toy Story ride – that’s for everyone and it’s awesome. Worth the line though. It’s super fun.

One of the reasons I wanted to go to California Adventure was to see their water show, World of Color. I hadn’t really heard about it until the Sheldon Cooper character mentions it on an episode late in Season 3 of The Big Bang Theory (“We stayed for the California Adventure water show. It was pure Disney Magic”). IT REALLY WAS!

World of Color is spectacular! It has water fountains. Lights. Lasers. Fire. Music. (Apparently I remember A LOT more of the Little Mermaid songs after watching it on VHS every afternoon for like 3 months, and I didn’t even know English then!) All our favorite Disney characters. I had a really bewildered (stupid?) face the whole time. I don’t care, it was magical.

It was a bit surprising to stop for a minute and notice that in a lot of ways, Disneyland is kind of supposed to feel kind of like a utopian place. It’s so well kept and beautiful, and you’re having so much fun that I suppose that’s what the whole thing is about. If you have kids, though, wait until they’re at least old enough to go on the rides to take them. Toddlers are pooped as soon as they go on one ride and have a churro.

I don’t know that Disneyland is THE happiest place on Earth, but after going, I get the hype.

Enjoy the pictures, the lights and the magic!

The Team

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