It is NO secret that Nostalgia is so in right now.
From TV revivals like Roseanne and 90s fashion trends, to bands like the Backstreet Boys announcing residencies in Vegas, everything that was old is new again.
And guess what: I AIN’T MAD ABOUT IT.
It’s a nice feeling to be reminded of the way things were and also to experience them yet again, with a twist.
I asked my parents and I hadn’t been to Disneyland since I was 9 or 10 years old and to cut right to the chase: it was the BEST DAY EVER.
Beyond reliving my childhood, it was Robin’s first time and experiencing the parks while celebrating friendships and her first visit made for an amazing memory that lived up to all that nostalgia hype.
Whether you have children or are just young at heart; it’s your first time or 50th, if you’re headed to California, I urge you to take a day and make a trip to Main Street, U.S.A., aka Disneyland.
I’ve rounded up a few highlights, tips and tricks if you are visiting to help you get the most out of your experience.
Invest in Park Hopper Tickets
The Park Hopper tickets allow you to jump between both parks: Disneyland and California Adventure Park. It is well worth visiting both parks if you have a full day dedicated to the resort. On Disneyland’s side you have classic rides such as, “it’s a small world!” and Splash Mountain and you need a classic Insta at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. But you also want to jump over to California Adventure Park to experience Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission: BREAKOUT! and grab a milkshake at Flo’s V8 Cafe.
If you’re a Canadian 21+ – BRING YOUR PASSPORT
There is an amazing restaurant in California Adventure Park, where you can try flights of California wines but just FYI you will not be able to experience this with just your driver’s license. I was lucky enough to have my NEXUS card which also worked but the other ladies only had their licenses and were not able to be served.
Grab a map and plan your route
There is A LOT to cover across both parks, but even just in one park. The smartest thing we did was a) research rides we wanted to take beforehand and b) grabbed our maps upon entry, got a coffee and planned out our route in both parks. It just made it stress-free to cluster rides we wanted to take and was a more effective use of time. And I mean, you don’t have to be super strict, there were many times when we spotted rides that weren’t on our original list and either had a short line or we just realized we really wanted to try – so we tried them. Nothing is set in stone at Disneyland (except the sword lol) so have fun with your plan!
Let FASTPASS be your BFF
FASTPASS is a service that allows you to make reservation to ride a popular attraction at both parks. For example, we recognized early on that the Guardians of the Galaxy ride was extremely popular, so we checked the FASTPASS availability on my Disneyland app and signed up to ride at 7:30 PM – you arrive 15 minutes beforehand and you can begin to line up in a separate line, as opposed to waiting in a line that was 2+ hours. The FASTPASS availability is open to MaxPass users and those with the Disneyland app – read more about it here and my advice is assess FASTPASS availability prior to purchasing it.
Get there early! And stay late
I know this sounds like a no brainer, but rides and attractions line ups aside, if you want to get a nice family photo or two, then my recommendation is to get there right as the park opens. We did this and it was absolutely rammed but by comparison to an hour later, it was actually not crowded at all. And if it is possible, I recommend staying after the sun goes down. The park is an entirely different place once all the incredible lights go on and the Paint the Night Parade is currently on every evening at California Adventure Park and it is quite the site to see.
Buy Minnie Mouse Ears or a Mickey Mouse Cap
Seriously, even if you are the most frugal penny pincher, there is something so wonderful about having Disney paraphernalia at the park. The most price conscious way to do so is with mouse ears – they retail for $24.95 USD in the park if you don’t get personalized monogramming. Parents and kids alike get so in to this and you really just need to lean into it and have some Disney swag to really make it the perfect day. And I promise I’m not exaggerating in the slightest: families are all matching and go all out. And that’s the beauty of Disneyland and California Adventure Park – it truly is an enchanting place and the only way to truly experience it, is to go all in and embrace the magic.
Lastly I just want to say, HAVE SO MUCH FUN!
This was easily one of the best days of my life and 2018 – I can’t say enough about the happiness all three of us felt all day long. And it was a looong day. When we should’ve been cranky or exhausted but every time we were like, OK should we go? It was a unanimous decision that we needed to stay and ride one more attraction or try the churros or corn on the cob. Even the parents with small children were logging their hours and having as much fun as their babes.
I am SO grateful to Walt Disney Company Canada for partnering with us on this special day and if you have any questions at all, please sound off in the comments below or hit me up on Instagram @lexniko.