Happy Monday morning! Although, maybe not so happy for me, as this means it’s back to work and no more vacation. My husband and I had such an amazing time at Disneyland celebrating our first anniversary, and I’m so excited to relive our trip as I share it with you!
We started our Disneyland day with a character breakfast at the Storytellers Cafe at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. This is by far my favorite hotel in the Disneyland Resort, and it's been my dream to stay there ever since it first opened (maybe one day we will!). I love the Northern California, lodge design aesthetics it provides, making it all feel, well, grand. Okay, back to breakfast...the buffet was probably the yummiest I’ve ever had (who can resist those perfectly sized Mickey waffles?). It was the right amount of food to fuel up on and last us until dinner--if you include some churros, popcorn and baked goods in-between. And it was fun to say “hi!” to Chip and Dale, and Koda and Kenai from Brother Bear.
Once inside the park, we hit the Matterhorn first, since Peter Pan’s Flight was a 40 minute wait right off the bat (some guests had an Extra Magic Hour before the park opened, thus the longer wait time). I must say, the new and improved Abominable Snowman is legit! His life-like movements and features truly enhance the ride, making you feel like you’ve invaded his home and you better get the heck out of there!
Three words: Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. I still can’t get over how dazzling it is! Disney really outdid themselves when it came to adding glitz and glitter to this iconic landmark. They gave it just the right touch with the ribbons, banners, and gemstones. If you think it’s beautiful during the day, wait until you see it at night!
I love exploring all the shops throughout the park; I could spend hours looking around and not even notice (seriously, ask my husband!). However, one of my favorite areas to hang out in is Frontierland. Maybe it's because it reminds me of home in the Southwest, or maybe it's the familiar roar of the train tracks on Big Thunder Mountain. I just love the Western-inspired architecture and merchandise inside the stores.
Here's a shot to show just how empty the park was! Glorious weather, minimal crowds, and wait times that didn't exceed 30 minutes--that's my kind of Disney day!
One of our favorite places to get treats is at 'Pooh Corner', just outside Splash Mountain in Critter Country. They have an in-house candy kitchen filled with so much deliciousness, it's hard to choose what you want. I always vote for the Hunny Pot Rice Krispy with a chocolate and peanut butter drizzle on top (*drooling*). Freddy likes to try out new things each year, and this year he got their Cookies and Cream fudge and a chocolate chip cookie.
Next stop: Mickey's Toontown! Freddy and I have never been to this area together, so I was excited to show him a special part of the park that holds many childhood memories for me. We went on Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, and had fun walking around exploring this animated town.
This year, Freddy and I were very diligent about our eating habits, which was such a hard thing to do in the Magic Kingdom. But, as we have discovered, food prices add up very quickly, and the portions are so large that we usually end up feeling stuffed and lethargic after eating our own meals. Sharing meals this year was probably one of the best decisions we made. We saved money, didn't feel super full, and we had a couple snacks instead of having a full on "meal" for lunch. For dinner, we tried something new and ate at the Hungry Bear Restaurant, which sits just outside Splash Mountain and runs along the river. We shared the fried green tomato sandwich, with some sweet potato fries and onion rings (my fave!).
It was the perfect amount of food for an early dinner. We got to sit back, relax, wave to Princess Tiana as she came by on the Mark Twain River Boat singing some jazzy tunes.
At the end of the day, we were surprised at how much we didn't eat, which gave us a good laugh!
The next item on our agenda was the 'Paint the Night Parade'. We lined up a good hour and a half before it started, but I'm so glad we did because we were able to get a front row viewing spot on Main Street. Typically, parades aren't on our to-do list when we go to Disneyland, but I knew this year it was a MUST because I've heard so many wonderful things about Paint the Night, and they are all true! The music alone is fantastic (which lends a slight nod to the original Main Street Electrical Light Parade); it makes you want to dance and sing along and it's just so fun. The floats and displays are beautiful with all of their glimmering lights. It was so great to see all of the characters and performers having a great time too! I still have the song stuck in my head, and I'm not upset about it one bit.
After the parade ended, everyone gathered on Main Street for the 'Disneyland Forever' Fireworks Show. This one definitely made me tear up a little...or maybe a lot. Hearing Walt talk about his beloved creation, seeing the shining castle, and listening to the theme song 'Live the Magic', it was all so inspiring and heartwarming, making me even more thankful for this magical place that I love so much. It was the perfect end to a perfect day, and I couldn't have asked for a better anniversary celebration!
Do you have a favorite Disneyland memory? I'd love to hear in the comments below!
Stay tuned as I'll be sharing our day at California Adventure very soon.
All photos taken by me, Chantelle Ballesteros.