It felt sinful only giving myself part of a day at Disneyland in December, but I operated under the logic that some Disneyland was better than no Disneyland. On this most recent visit, I made sure to give myself two days at Disneyland.
My visit began with a journey on the Monorail. I mistakenly thought it was for hotel guests only in past visits, so I was excited to have what I thought would be a magical entry into the park. And the Monorail was a nice alternative to walking…once I got on board.
I don’t know if I should be excited or concerned that the Monorail was my longest wait of the weekend. I probably should be ashamed since the park was only a 5 minute walk away
. Unfortunately the Monorail was only running one train and half the capacity was sucked up by park guests who went for a roundtrip journey, so it took about 30-40 minutes.
On the bright side, my park ticket was scanned when I entered the Monorail’s queue so I was able to immediately reserve a Fastpass reservation. Being a Saturday afternoon, most of the E-tickets were gone, but I was able to snag an It’s a Small World Holiday that was ready for use right away. To anyone who thinks MaxPass isn’t worth it, you’re missing out.
I was stunned the holiday overlay was still active in late January, but I wasn’t going to question it. Heck, I wouldn’t care if they kept this overlay active year-round. It’s far superior to the standard version if you ask me since the cheery Christmas tunes offer a reprieve from the tune we’re all too familiar with. 9 out of 10
I figured I could sneak on the Matterhorn’s single rider line before meeting up with PeoplemoverMatt at DCA, but it was closed. The same thing happened at Space Mountain. I was confused why Disneyland wouldn’t try to maximize capacity on a busy day, but then I realized the single rider lines were only temporarily closed.
My suspicions were confirmed when I asked the Matterhorn cast member. They said they don’t want the single rider line being longer than 15-20 minutes. So I patiently waited for 10-15 minutes until the single rider line reopened, and I was rewarded with a near walk-on.
The Mattherhorn is a flawed coaster. The thrills come from how poorly it tracks. But it has a certain mystique at night and the history cannot be denied. Plus it’s nice to see a Yeti animatronic that actually works (sorry Everest). 6 out of 10
After detour at California Adventure, we returned to knockout the Fantasyland dark rides. Alice in Wonderland is one I rarely hit due to the line, but I really do enjoy it. The tight turns and scenes perfectly capture the frenetic nature of the movie. 8 out of 10
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is a favorite of mine. It broke my heart when Florida’s closed, so I always make sure to ride it at Disneyland. What other Disney ride includes beer and a journey to hell? 8 out of 10
After being slightly disappointed by Peter Pan in both Japan and Florida (from a ride perspective, I know better than to wait an hour for this), I was reminded that California has the best version. It seems a bit brighter to me. 7 out of 10
SoCal was in the middle of a deep freeze during my visit; it was 65 degrees outside. I saw many locals donning winter hats and jackets, but I was in my element. It was like a summer day in New England! So of course I couldn’t help myself when I saw Splash Mountain was a total walk-on.
I was looking for the full Disneyland Splash Mountain experience, so I eagerly volunteered for the front row. I knew full well I would get drenched, but it was still shocking seeing that colossal wave careen over the front of the boat. On the bright side, my chipmunk hat and shoes (miraculously) remained dry. The same couldn’t be said for any other article of clothing.
Even if it were below freezing, I’d still ride Splash Mountain if it were open. It’s a perfect attraction. The combination of scenes and drops is everything I could ever want in an attraction. It was so good, that we went right back around for a second time. Shockingly that wasn’t my idea, but I wasn’t going to say no. 10 out of 10
Fantasmic was about to go down for a lengthy rehab, so it was nice to catch the show. I strategically planned walks to and from Critter Country so I could catch the beginning and end of the show. I find the middle of Fantasmic to be a bit dull, but I love the soundtrack and there’s no better finale than seeing a 50 foot dragon, a gratuitous fireworks display, and a boat of all my favorite Disney characters.
The only other Fastpass I secured on this Saturday was for Big Thunder Mountain. I happily skipped the 45 minute wait and requested the back row. In the front, Big Thunder is best described as scenic. In the back, Big Thunder has some abrupt pops of air and sustained laterals. 7 out of 10
We finished the night in Tomorrowland and I was thoroughly destroyed at Buzz Lightyear. Now I’ll admit when I suck at something. Take billiards for example. However, this was not my fault. I swear I nailed several targets (repeatedly I might add), but my score was a Level 1 Space Ranger. 8 out of 10
My unfortunate luck carried over to Space Mountain being down for the night, so Star Tours was the consolation prize. And wouldn’t you know? My bad luck continued. All I wanted was a Gungan free ride, so meesa not happy to see Jar Jar.
I would pay full admission for a 5 second Star Wars movie if it included Jar Jar’s death. He is right up there with Dobby as my least favorite movie character. I’m getting angry just thinking of the two. My contempt for Jar Jar aside, Star Tours is a very fun simulator. 8 out of 10
Flash forward 8 hours and I was back at Disneyland. I expected to begin my day at California Adventure with early entry, a perk I thought was included with my ticket. Turns out I misread the fine print. I thought Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hours were equivalent, but they are not.
All Magic Mornings are Extra Magic Hours, but not all Extra Magic Hours are Magic Mornings. Magic Mornings are only applicable at Disneyland. My bad! Hopefully I can save someone else from missing out on an extra hour of sleep; although I expect this all to change when Star Wars Land opens.
So instead of beginning my day in Cars Land, I decided to rope drop Mattherhorn. I honestly don’t know what came over me, but I really wanted a front row ride and that’s something I will never get with the single rider line. Unfortunately Matterhorn wasn’t quite ready, but Space Mountain was.
After missing out the night before, it was nice to get 3 straight walk-ons using the single rider line. California’s may only have one real drop, but the sense of speed is incredible. The combination of the darkness, musical score, and wind really gets me amped up. And I don’t think it’s just my imagination; those final turns have some seriously wicked laterals. 9 out of 10
Matterhorn reopened, so I waited about 10-15 minutes for my coveted front row ride. It’s still not as good as Disney’s other outdoor coasters, but the views were considerably better up front.
After some time at California Adventure, I popped to Downtown Disney for lunch. I love almost everything about Disneyland except the in-park food options. I have not had a good meal inside that park. On the bright side, Downtown Disney is a stone throw away. Based on the recent trip report, I was a excited to try Naples and it did not disappoint. It was everything I love about Via Napoli at Epcot.
For some odd reason, I waited until the afternoon to ride Indiana Jones Adventure. I don’t know why since it’s both a breakdown prone ride and my favorite ride at the resort, but alas that is what I did. I ended up waiting about 30 minutes via the single rider line, but it was still worth it.
I can enjoy heavily screen based rides. But there’s just something special about a wild joyride through a set as grand as Indiana Jones Adventure. Not only is Indiana Jones one of the world’s best dark rides, it’s one of the world’s best rides period. 10 out of 10
In the afternoon, I intentionally saved some moderately lengthy waits for Jungle Cruise, Pirates, and Haunted Mansion. Have I gone insane? No. You see, it was the NFL’s Championship Sunday and I didn’t want to miss the games. I also didn’t want to waste my Disneyland time. So I strategically planned for the longer outdoor queues to take place during the games so I could stream them on my phone.
In between my journey down the Nile River and my voyage to Tortuga, I watched the Saints get absolutely shafted by one of the worst missed calls I have ever seen. This was much to the chagrin of every Rams fan in line with me. While waiting for my encounter with 999 ghosts, I watched the Patriots stifle Pat Mahomes and the vaunted Chiefs offense.
For the second half, I watched the game at Downtown Disney. There aren’t many bars at Downtown Disney with televisions, but I eventually found Tortilla Jo’s. Not only did I have a delicious seafood burrito, but I took absolute pleasure watching the Patriots return to their third straight Super Bowl. I reveled in the misery of everyone else. I guess everyone outside New England hates the Patriots.
After using my glut of Fastpasses at California Adventure, I only had 30 minutes left at Disneyland. I would have loved to have ridden Space Mountain again, but it was a necessary casualty. I wasn’t going to leave Disneyland without two last rides on Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones.
I got a solo ride on Splash Mountain. I was on Cloud 9. Usually I celebrate Pats victories with dinner, but today I had a more fitting celebration. Bill Belichick got the victory Gatorade bath; I got a victory splash in the front row on Splash Mountain.
I’m guessing everyone outside of New England is probably gritting their teeth at this point, so I’ll stop.
As for Indiana Jones, it was refreshing to get a ride without the single rider line. The single rider line is an absolute time saver, but it has the unfortunate consequence of skipping one of the most immersive and well done queue lines in the world. It was the perfect way to end the night.
Disneyland may be my favorite park in the United States. It’s really a four way tie with Cedar Point, Silver Dollar City, and Knoebels. The parks are all pretty different, but with Disneyland, I know I’ll get a highly immersive experience with top notch customer service. It’s impossible to leave this park with anything but a smile on your face.