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I’m sorry for the radio silence over here for the last few days, but I was having the time of my life at the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland! I wanted to share some tips and tricks that made our trip amazing, and some snapshots from our adventures.

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When I think of Disneyland I think of when I went as a little girl. My first trip to Disneyland was when I was just 6, and I had the time of my life, crying on It’s a Small World, choking out “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my whole life!” through my happy tears.

It was quite an experience going back! So much has changed, and so much is the same. Plus, it was my first big trip with my boyfriend Jim. We’ve been looking forward to this vacation everyday since we booked it 2 months ago, and we both so needed some silly fun and uninterrupted time together.

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Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was recently spiffed up for the upcoming 60th Anniversary celebrations this year. Updates included new bejeweled rooftops!

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Star Tours, in Tomorrowland, was still as hilariously fun as it was when I was a kid.

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The Haunted Mansion, in New Orleans Square, was my absolute favorite ride when I was a kid. The famous “stretching room” acts as an elevator moving you down underground, where most of the ride is actually built.

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If you need a break from walking around and don’t mind some seriously silly puns, take a ride on the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland, one of Disneyland’s original rides from 1955.

I’m no Disneyland expert, but I thought I’d share some of our travel experiences in case you’re planning a trip to Anaheim. Hopefully this post inspires you! It was an absolutely wonderful getaway with my sweetie!

Flights

We flew Virgin America, a first for both of us, and were excited to see what all the fuss was about. We got a great deal on airfare and yes, their ticket booths and plans are full of blue and purple lights. The airline is definitely packed with style, not to mention a swingin’ safety video that will get you dancing in your seat. Each seat had it’s own personal screen full of TV shows, movies and video games. Most things cost between $5-8. I got to watch Gone Girl on the way to LAX, and Men, Women & Children on the way back to Seattle. We sprang for drinks on the plane, too, which were all between $5-8, too. One thing we would swap next time is flying into John Wayne instead of LAX. John Wayne is much smaller, and closer to Anaheim and would have made traveling that much easier since we spent all our time in Anaheim. It makes sense to fly into LAX if you’re planning to spend some time in L.A. as well.

Accommodations

Anabela Hotel We were psyched to get away for a vacation, but wanted to keep things fun and affordable. A good start was with our hotel. Just across the street from California Adventure, the Anabella was super convenient. We had a comfortable room (with a fantastic air conditioner) as well as access to a pool and hot tub. The Tangerine Grill & Patio was on site and connected to the pool area and was a great place to grab a cup of coffee in the morning, and a quick lunch when we arrived.

Food & Drink

Catal Restaurant and UVA Bar is located in the middle of the Downtown Disney District and they have a sit-down restaurant and a circular outdoor bar out in the main walking area. It’s a great place to grab breakfast, lunch or a cocktail during your time at the parks. We went there a couple times on this trip.

Hilton Mix Lounge was a fun spot for cocktails with some friends who were staying in the hotel. The drinks were lovely, the staff was friendly, and the ambiance was fun and colorful.

Cafe Orleans in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square Don’t get me wrong, we ate plenty of guilty pleasure food while on vacation. It’s just part of the joy, really. There are several good options in the park, though, if you’re looking for something delicious and somewhat healthy. I had the “Crescent City” Salad with Blackened Chicken at Cafe Orleans and it was absolutely perfect. There’s also heavier fare if you’re in the mood, like killer Pommes Frites, plus you can sit outside.

 

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This was my first time at California Adventure and holy wow it was so amazing! I loved the view across the water with Califoria Screamin’ and the big Mickey ferris wheel in the distance.

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This photo was taken at one of the entrances to Cars Land. It’s amazing how huge and real it looks, and just like the movie! The ride is really fun, too. You get to ride through the movie scenes in one of the cars!

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Luigi’s Casa della Tires used to be a ride that was recently closed. From what I read it sounds like it won’t be reopening. I wonder if they’re making room for a Frozen-inspired ride.

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Flo’s V8 Cafe! It was so fun to see all of this in person! I felt like a giddy little kid!

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The view down Buena Vista Street in Disney’s California Adventure is absolutely gorgeous and quintessential California.

 Tips for the Parks

Keep in mind I hadn’t been to Disneyland since December 1997, so a lot has changed in that amount of time. All that was there back then was Disneyland and a parking lot. Today there is so much more! California Adventure is now across the street and past that is a huge outdoor shopping and dining area called Downtown Disney. It’s fabulous! Plus, you can walk through the amazing Grand Californian Hotel, or, if you’re lucky, you can stay there for a night or two.

When to Go Usually, with any theme park, it’s better to visit during the week, rather than on the weekends, because that’s when traffic will be the slowest. It’s good to avoid major school breaks, too. Although it was very busy when we went, it was totally do-able with some of the tips listed below. For more specific recommendations, DLR Prep School has a lot of useful information about what to expect in 2015.

What to Bring Into the Parks I brought a very small cross-body bag with me and only kept a few essentials in it to make sure I’d be okay carrying it all day long. I packed my ID, debit, and credit cards, cash, lipgloss, a hair tie, and a tiny hairbrush. I took all of my photos with my iPhone, and left the Nikon in our hotel room. I was happy with the photos it took and didn’t have to lug a big camera around all day.

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With Fast Pass we got to ride California Screamin’, Tower of Terror, Space Mountain, and Indiana Jones Adventure without waiting!

What to Wear The weather was beautiful, and hit highs over 90 degrees so I kept it cute and comfy with shorts and a tee for Disneyland, and a little t-shirt dress for California Adventure. I wore SPF 15 sunscreen and didn’t get burned at all (a big achievement for me!). Sunglasses, of course, were a must. I knew I’d overheat in sneakers, so I kept cool in comfy sandals.

Disneyland Maps App One of the best innovations in recent years has to be the millions of map and wait time apps available for all Disney parks. It’s incredible. My favorite is the Disneyland Maps app, which shows separate maps for Disneyland and California Adventure, with up-to-the-minute wait time updates right inside the map. It also includes photos and full descriptions of every nook and cranny of the parks.

Fast Pass Once you figure out which rides have the longest wait times, you can go to the ride early and get a Fast Pass which allows you to come back later and skip most of the line. You just take your Disneyland ticket and put it into a Fast Pass machine for the ride you want, and it spits out a Fast Pass ticket with an hour window for you to return and ride without the wait. Genius!

 

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Jim and me getting a little silly in line! The Charades! app was a great way to stay in the fun zone even when we had to wait.

 

Charades! App Even though we didn’t wait more than 25-30 minutes for most rides without Fast Passes (which honestly was a total breeze) we still wanted to something to keep us having fun to pass the time. Enter the Charades! app. It’s a fun guessing games with different categories to play including fun stuff like “Disney Characters” to keep you in the Disney spirit. Tons of people were playing it everywhere we went so we had to download it. It was a lot of fun!

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We actually rode California Screamin’ twice! I was super nervous, but Jim kept me going and I’m so glad I let loose and did it! I screamed my head off, but it was so worth it!

Ride Photos I’m sure most people already know this, but don’t ever pay for those ride photos if you don’t have to! Just snap a pic with your smartphone. It’s totally allowed, and let’s you keep the funny photo (reference above) while saving some more moolah for food and souvenirs. The photos were so funny, especially from California Screamin’, since I was literally screamin’ and holding on for dear life. #bestthingever

Well, that about does it for this vacation update! I can’t say enough about how much fun we had on our little Disney adventure. We spent time on our way back reading up on Disney World for a future adventure together in Florida. I don’t know when, but that’s definitely on my travel wish list! For more photos take a peak at the #jandldodisney hashtag on Instagram, or follow me there at lindsayliving.

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Questions, your own Disney stories, or travel tips?
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