It seems like a lovely dream now that I actually went to Disneyland last week.
So here's the low-down on my Disneyland trip.
We arrived early at the airport, heavily laden with our luggage but oh-so-excited. We checked in, upgraded our tickets to first class (it's super cheap if you do it on the day-of, we discovered), and waited excitedly to board the plane. Customs was a pain of course, having to pass through numerous check-points, some requiring the removal of shoes and belts, but finally it was over. We boarded, we sat in our large leather seats, buckled our seat belts, and off we went.
It seemed quite unreal when the fast-moving plane lifted off the ground into the air. I looked out the window and we were so high up! Higher and higher into the sky, and then above the clouds! It was an amazing feat that humans actually learned how to fly, and to lift not one human, but a whole plane full!
I discovered that first class passengers receive special treatment. There is no pretense for equality on a plane. If you're in first class, you're treated better. When I first boarded the plane and asked to use the bathroom, I was off-handedly directed to a bathroom at the very back of the plane. However, when the flight attendant discovered that I was actually seated in first class at the front of the plane, her attitude changed completely and she ushered me to a "secret" bathroom at the front of the plane used only by first class passengers and the pilots. During our flight, one economy class passenger kept sneaking into the first class area to attempt to use this secret bathroom, but the flight attendants would turn him away, much to his disappointment. It was like a Seinfeld episode.
The pilot went onto the loud speaker to list off various prices for drink and food items. I looked around my seat to look for the price list that he said would be in front of me, but I could not find it. When I asked the flight attendant for a price list, she told me that there were no price lists for first class because everything was complimentary. What a nice discovery, huh? I promptly replied yes to all her questions regarding whether I wanted the complimentary meal and drinks. Alcohol was free too, but neither V. nor I are much into drinking. What a waste, huh? The fellow behind us drank glass after glass of wine the whole way!
The LAX airport reminds me of a part in Monsters Inc where loud speakers constantly warn of the dangerous human girl loose in the city. Except, in LAX, the loud speakers warn you to report of any suspicious activity immediately, etc, etc. This is very different from the Vancouver Airport where you are more likely to hear waterfalls and sea birds.
Our luggage fell with a plunk from an overhead shoot onto a conveyer belt and we retrieved it with no problems.
Outside, I was delighted to see palm trees. I had never seen a real palm tree before.
Once you have your stuff, you go line up for a tour bus that will take you directly to your hotel near Disneyland. It's a quite a thrill to see a bus called "Disneyland Express" drive up to you. It's covered in images of the Sleeping Beauty Castle and Mickey Mouse.
Along the way, I saw Bird of Paradise flowers growing along the road. Those are tropical flowers that I only ever see in florists around here. How strange it is to be in a place where they can grow in the ground!
Our hotel ended up being right across the street from the main Disneyland gates. It was so convenient! Wake up, eat breakfast, cross the street to enter Disneyland - so cool!!! We dropped off our luggage, and headed right out. It was late morning on a Thursday, so it was a full day to discover Disneyland without huge crowds.
Disneyland is everything I wanted it to be AND MORE! From the moment you begin to walk towards the front gates, the experience begins. You hear cheerful Christmas music grow louder and louder, and your spirit soars as you see the gates before you. They say, "Where the clock never strikes twelve". Isn't that wonderful?
And it's really true, the minute you enter Disneyland, you're in another world. There was so much to take in and to see, but it was all good.
The first thing we did was go to Disneyland's City Hall to get our First Visit pin. You should definitely go get one if you ever go to Disneyland for the first time. It's a good point of conversation for locals that have gone to Disneyland many times before, and the park staff go out of their way to help you find things or to give you advice on what to see and do. After that, we hopped onto an old fashioned street car, and went on a quick tour of Main Street U.S.A. That gave us a bit of an overview before we returned to where we had started off so that we could walk on foot this time around and slowly explore the "city".
That first day, we went to Fantasyland. My very first ride in Disneyland was Snow White's Scary Adventures. From there, we just jumped into any line up that was particularly short so that we could do the maximum number of rides and attractions in the shortest amount of time.
It was a dizzying amount of adventure for one day, and it ended with the most spectacular fireworks display behind Sleeping Beauty's castle. Tears sprung in my eyes as I watched because I felt like my whole childhood was there in front of me, splashed in light across the sky. It was magical.
We spent one more day exploring all the wonders of Disneyland before heading over to California Adventure, which is right beside Disneyland.
California Adventure is very different from Disneyland. It has a California theme, so everything is more laid back and there are palm trees and cactus everywhere. Mickey Mouse and Minnie wear more safari-like/touristy clothing, and the music is California themed. The attractions are more spaced out and, at least when I was there, there were less people. A certain few rides have extremely long line-ups, while other rides have very short line-ups.
The rides with the most attention are The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (which is very frightening indeed!!! It simulates being trapped in a haunted elevator shaft.), California Screeming (which is really fun, and you actually feel quite safe despite how scary the ride looks from the ground), and the Toy Story ride (which attracts TONS of kids and parents). We went on almost every singe ride and attraction, but we missed Disneyland. California Adventure just isn't as immersive of an experience. However, on seeing the future plans for California Adventure, it seems that it will be something more like the Disneyland experience in about 5 years. There are some amazing rides in conception right now. Maybe I'll go back when those are ready :D
We hopped on a bus for Universal Studios the next day and finished everything in one day. There were almost no line-ups so it was easy to go from one ride to another. It was a lot of fun. My favourite attractions were the Muppet 4D show, the Terminator 4D show, the special effects show, and the Shrek 4D show. Those were really good! Another cool thing about Universal Studios is that all the staff can act really well. Another perk is that toys and food are way cheaper than Disneyland. Popcorn tins for about $5 are refillable all day! I saw a big ET doll for only $18 too. Toys that size would be way more expensive in Disneyland and you would pay about a dollar more for a non-refillable popcorn tin.
Back to Disneyland
We originally planned to check out the San Diego Zoo for one day, but Disneyland was so fun that we opted for two more days there. We took our time exploring more of the park, and went on any rides that we had missed. Some rides that were especially fun were repeated. We went on both the Indiana Jones ride and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride 3 times.
We were very sad to leave Disneyland. It really had been a dream come true, and we had experienced so much! When we finally got on the bus for the airport again, it was with very sad steps.
V. bought me a Fruit and Nut chocolate bar at the airport to make me feel better (mmm, chocolate!), and I sat at the window watching planes take off. I was detained for a bit at the security check and had to get pat down, but there was nothing to find so I went on my way. I hadn't even set off the metal detector, but I guess the guy was curious as to my many layers of clothing in preparation for Vancouver weather.
California looked so amazing at night from the plane. I was really in awe. We had a yummy meal on the plane, and the flight attendant gave me many yummy snacks to munch on to pass the time. A fellow behind me spoke of not having seen his wife for 8 months because of his job, and he was so excited to finally be heading home to see her.
The Vancouver airport is beautiful. When you get off, you pass one hallway that is completely decorated in Native art, glass, and plants. You hear bird sounds and water sounds, and it is so soothing! In the next undecorated corridor, there is a scrolling sidewalk to help speed up your passage. When you descend from the escalator, there is water flowing down colourful smooth stones beside you. It was really lovely and peaceful.
As we stepped out from the airport, a blast of cold but ultra-refreshing air entered my lungs. I had not noticed how much more polluted the air in California was, but the air in Vancouver was noticeably fresher. It was like being on a mountain top.
I missed Disneyland already, but I loved being home too. I loved the fresh, cold air, and I looked forward to being able to drink clean, safe water straight from the tap again.