“Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.”
When I was a teenager I was lucky enough to go to America and went to Disneyland. I fell in love with it then and promised myself one day I would bring my own children.
A couple of years ago I realised that dream. With Oscar 7 years old and Dahlia 5 years old, Steve was concerned they may be too young for Disneyland, that perhaps they may not be able to go on all the rides and be too young to remember and appreciate the holiday. However I had a different view. I wanted the children to be young enough to get lost in the magic of Disneyland. And I'm so glad we went when we did.
It really is true that Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth, well it certainly is for me. As we walked through the gates, every day I would get a rush of excitement, and I really would leave the 'real world' behind. You cannot help but let your inner child take over, your imagination wander, and senses be overwhelmed by all of the fantastical sights and sounds.
Disneyland now has another park next door, California Adventure Park. This park is equally as amazing and is an extension of Disneyland. You cannot go without visiting both parks.
The rides were amazing. They really were. I am not a huge fan of rollercoasters, and I get pretty scared of heights but the rides at Disneyland are so much more than a rollercoaster, they take you on an adventure. From start to finish you experience a story, with the most incredible props, backdrops, music, lights and effects you have ever seen.
My favourite ride was 'Soarin' - your seat is elevated only just the right amount in front of the biggest screen you have ever seen. You are then taken on a journey around the world flying amongst the world's greatest treasures, including the Pyramids of Egypt, the Sydney Harbour, and Mount Kilimanjaro. It is almost like you can touch them. Truly incredible.
A close second was the 'Indiana Jones' ride. It was the first ride we went on and I was crying with laughter and happiness watching Dahlia's reaction to the ride! Her eyes were as wide as I have seen them, her face changing with every turn. Even in the line your senses are heightened as you experience the inside of a deep, dark temple and once you aboard your rugged army-like transport, the ride takes you on a fast-paced adventure with danger at every turn.
Oscar and Steve's fave was 'California Screamin' - beginning with a countdown, '5, 4, 3, 2, 1... Scrrreeeeam', and taking off at super fast speeds, it was a true rollercoaster that had the boys addicted and they went back again and again. That one was a bit too scary for me!
Dahlia's favourite was the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad which I think we went on about 10 times! The train is set amongst the desert and you travel inside the mountain to an abandoned mine shaft. You dive into the tunnel, swoop around sharp turns and experience canyons, caves, waterfalls, and our favourite goat!
Whenever I speak of Disneyland people always ask me about the rides but Disneyland is so much more than just rides. We saw so many amazing shows. The Frozen show was a highlight, it was just like going to the theatre, and even the boys loved it! There were regular smaller shows too and our favourite was Beauty and the Beast. The kids got to meet their favourite characters including Cinderella, Snow White, Olaf and Darth Vadar just to name a few. They did Jedi training and battled against the Star Wars characters. They got their drivers licence and had a go at driving us around. We were all taught how to draw a cartoon character, and danced in the streets with the marching band.
Before we went we were aware we may have to queue for lengthy periods but had been advised to use the fast passes, and I think the most we ever spent lining up was 20 minutes! The fast passes work really well but you need to plan ahead. There are several rides that are the most popular so you are best to get a fast pass for those first. You are only allowed two fast passes at a time, and depending on the time of day and traffic, they will issue you a time to come back. With the fast pass you bypass the regular queue and enter the fast pass queue, which usually takes 5-15 minutes as opposed to up to an hour or more!
We looked at staying at the Disneyland resort's and our pick of the three is definitely the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. It is located right inside the park which is so convenient, especially if your children are younger and need naps. It is a 5 star resort with beautiful facilities. However, as we had planned a big holiday we selected a more affordable option and stayed at the Hilton. This was a 7 minute shuttle ride to Disneyland, and with regular shuttle buses this was the perfect option for us. It was much easier for the kids to sit on the bus back to the hotel rather than walking another 10-20 minutes to one of the local hotels as they were pretty tired by the end of the day. Our room was perfect for families, with a separate room for the kids with bunk beds.
A trip to Disneyland is a magical experience you and your family will never forget. We are desperate to go back!