There are people who loathe Disneyland. Anything with Mickey ears makes them apoplectic with rage. If they were to run into Tinkerbell, they would squash her underfoot and brag about it*.
Seriously. She should watch out.
And then, there are people who enjoy Disneyland, but could happily go for many years without ever setting foot in the place again.
Me, for example.
Unfortunately, I am related to my sister. Who emails me in July about whether I prefer to go December 20th or 21st. And again in May to secure a place on the calendar for August***.
Yes, that's twice a year. At Christmas and during the peak tourist travel month of the summer. When everybody else on the planet is also visiting Disneyland.
This could be a nightmare. At a minimum, it could be easily justify whatever the sisterly version of fratricide might be. But instead of resentment, I'm filled with a mixture of awe and pride. Because we're not just good at going to Disneyland.
We're genius at going to Disneyland.
There are some trade offs to our method:
Add CARS to the "not gonna happen" side of this list. It was still under construction when I first wrote this post.
Unretouched photo of parking lot on our arrival. This is from several years ago, but it pretty much works every time.
2. Purchase a one day park hopper ticket. This is expensive, but worth it. Note that ticket agent is chipper and cheerful because you are among the first people she's seen today.
3. Upon entering the park, take exactly one (1) character photo with Mickey, then proceed directly to Tomorrowland. I would say skip the photo, but honestly, it's cruel to make kids walk by a giant stuffed mouse who wants a hug. This is also probably the only time all day the guy will be actually looking for company.
I did not photoshop out the crowds.
4. FIRST WARNING! DO NOT BE PULLED INTO THE VORTEX OF NEMO!!!***** Go directly to Space Mountain. Cackle with glee and high five each other as you walk straight into the space port. By the time you emerge, wait time will be twice what it was when you entered. Get used to this feeling.
5. Your next stop will be Star Tours, which may have a wait, but is worth it because the new Star Wars adventure is super cool. Proceed from there to Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, where you will once again stroll onto the ride in under 15 minutes. NEXT WARNING! DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO RIDE THE ROCKETS! This line is deceptively short looking but will absolutely kill the momentum you have built up at this point. If all goes well, you will have been in Disneyland for approximately one hour and will be on your way out of Tomorrowland with three of the best rides in the park under your belt. If your children ask to do Autopia, offer to let them drive on the way home instead. There is potential for a Pixie Hollow derailment here as well. Be alert, and you should be OK.
6. If they are running, now is the time for the Matterhorn Bobsleds. If not, it's on to Adventureland and New Orleans Square! Indiana Jones awaits, but you do not, as you are well ahead of the crowds surging toward the rides you just left. If the wait is any longer than 20 minutes, use the fabulous "single rider" method for this one******.
8. Snack Break! Treat your group to a six pack of piping hot, made to order, Mickey-shaped beignets, covered in powdered sugar, from the Mint Julep Bar. They also have lattes. Just sayin', this place is a FIND. Or, if you are a healthier sort, pick up some fresh pineapple spears from the stand across from the Jungle Cruise. Absolutely fabulous on a hot day.
9. Splash Mountain is right down the road, and the wait to be soaked should be just long enough for you to finish your snack. Pooh and friends are nestled into this area, too. You can usually go around twice on the Winnie the Pooh ride here without much trouble, and take a photo with Eyeore to try and cheer him up. NOTE: This is your Fantasyland substitute stop! Get it out of your system now!
Note dripping hair and tell-tale water marks on my shirt . BTW, don't buy the cookies at this general store. They look good, but are not worth the calories.
11. MAJOR WARNING! You will now be entering Fantasyland, the ultimate VORTEX OF DOOM. DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! Dumbo alone could cost you an entire afternoon and your sanity, and don't get me started on the ridiculous cult of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Honestly, I just don't get it. Think of this entire area like Jail in Monopoly. You are only passing through, JUST VISITING. Eyes front, kids leashed and bribed, for God's sake, just keep moving!
12. Finish up your time at Disneyland with It's a Small World. It's vintage, it's relaxing, it's infectious, and it's got incredible throughput, so even if there is a line it will move quickly. The clock should be striking noon as you leave so enjoy that, and move out. Singing aloud and laughing, exit the park, getting a hand stamp if you like.
This is one ride that's extra great at Christmas time
14. On the Boardwalk! After your corn dog fest, head over to California Screamin'. The wait time may be 25-30 minutes, but you have your Single Rider option. NOTE: If you have young kids with you, use "child swap" (another fantastic invention!) Your whole party goes through the line, then tell the attendant you are doing a child swap. One adult stays with the young child while the others ride. Then, when the ride comes back, the adult who waited gets to go right away! This works on ANY RIDE. You may be tempted by the crowds and excitement over by Midway Mania. DON'T GIVE IN. Keep moving. Hopefully your Fast Pass time slot for Grizzly River Run is just about now, so this may give you cover with the group to skip it. The rest of the rides in this area are all optional in our book, especially that giant Mickey ferris wheel. You will be sick if you get in one of the cars that flips around. Just sayin'. The swings are fun, though, and the Ariel ride is worth doing if the line is less than 20 minutes, which it should be for you.
18. On your way to the trams, steel yourself to avoid the final pitfall of the day: THE DISNEY STORE. You do not need ANYTHING to take home. (Except perhaps some kettle corn from the vendor by the trams. That stuff is good.) It is a pit of frustration and horror that will bring new meaning to the words, "Harsh my buzz". Even we, the professionals, have had many excellent days ruined by the gift shop********, so I know what I am talking about. Instead, as the sun sets, pity the masses of people just arriving at the park, step on and sigh with relief.
Note that prices start with the digit, "1". Feed the whole car for the price of a crappy burger meal at the park.
How do you do Disneyland?
Since, you know, we'll probably be going again soon.
* I feel a little sorry for these people, because they will be burning in Hell. A Hell filled with smiling dolls from many nations singing cheerfully as they burn.
** There are also people whose obsession with Disneyland is clearly freakish and unnatural (Grown up pin-traders, I am talking to you), but these are outliers and won't be discussed here.
*** To be fair, it's not just Disneyland. She's like this about pretty much everything. The woman gets up in the morning and makes a detailed plan. Then she emails people about the plan, gives them several options, outlines pros and cons of various alternatives, cites relevant source material, and requests a response so she can firm up her schedule as soon as possible.
**** I could charge you seven dollars for this information. But I won't. I may be able to get you through the place in one piece, but I can't do a thing about the price tag.
*****You could watch the movie twice in the time it will take you to get through this ride. This is the first of many traps must be avoided at all costs.
****** Have each member of your party ask the attendant for a single rider pass, and be directed straight onto the ride. Chances are you will still go together, or pretty close to it. Little known fact: Almost any ride that has FastPass also has the single rider shortcut. No dispensing machines, no time slots, no waiting!
******* Did you know there was a petting zoo at Disneyland? There is. With the happiest goats on earth. And at Christmas time, reindeer!
******** My sister's fault. She falls for it every time!