When we bought our Annual Passes for Disneyland last summer, part of the reason was in anticipation for the opening of Rise of the Resistance. Doing an attraction opening day was on my (very strange) Disney Parks Bucket List and what better way to do it than with what many anticipated to be Disney’s best ride in years. Some of that anticipation unfortunately went away when Hollywood Studios got the Rise of the Resistance premiere but we were still excited to ride it.
Along with that, somewhere along the way Michaela started working with me on the blog and we realized that she was moving down for the Disney College Program a week or so before our trip began. All of that, plus just going to Disneyland, had me as excited to go to a Disney park as I had been since stepping foot in DisneySea for the first time a few years ago. Somehow the trip exceeded expectations.
Melissa and I landed in LA late on the Wednesday night before Rise of the Resistance opening. After a quick stop at In-N-Out, we drove to Anaheim and checked into Anaheim Desert Inn. An updated review of the hotel is coming but it was a great spot for the first few days of that trip, being so close to the park. After some sleep, we were both up fairly early. Melissa had to work for a few hours before coming to the park so I went and picked up Michaela before rope dropping Disneyland.
Our goal for the morning? Ride Haunted Mansion Holiday as many times as we could. With Michaela blocked out of Disneyland for a couple of days and the ride going under refurbishment for the next few months, getting on those doom buggies was of the most importance. So we got a FastPass for the attraction. Then rode it. Then rode it again. After a quick visit with my favorite pirates and a brief scare about falling out of an Indy ride vehicle, it was back to the Mansion. Haunted Mansion Holiday is a fantastic overlay, somehow measuring up to the original.
Wait times were low throughout the park so we went down Big Thunder Trail and hopped over to Fantasyland. With no wait at a few of our favorite dark rides, we walked on to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. We ended up at the Matterhorn. I don’t think this is particularly interesting but the other two were excited that we got evacuated off the ride. Usually I’d be excited but our ride vehicle went 5 feet forward and then they asked us to get out and put us back in pretty quickly. Nevermind, it was a highlight!
A Disneyland morning without waits is one of my favorite experiences. Being able to bounce around the park without much strategy or any waits is pure bliss. We did 8 attractions in 2 and a half hours and didn’t even seem to be in a big hurry.
After our morning of rides, we decided to walk around Galaxy’s Edge for a while. It was Michaela’s first time in the land and the place has a certain amount of wonder to it whether it’s your first or 100th time there. There was a media event in progress at Rise of the Resistance. Somehow, your fearless leaders weren’t invited! (That was a joke. Not about us getting an invite but that we’d even be considered.)
It was a nice stroll through the land and I was amazed at how few people were back there. Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge generally feels less crowded than Hollywood Studios, largely because the park has a higher capacity and more places to fit people. On a day that wasn’t busy in the first place, that was very evident.
Melissa had finished up with work so we met up with her for a ride on Big Thunder. For those curious about fitting 3 adults in a seat on the train, it is possible. Comfortable? Well, I wouldn’t go that far. Fun with the right people? Absolutely.
Our busy but fulfilling morning gave way to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Disneyland, Cafe Orleans. For whatever reason, I wasn’t that hungry but the Pommes Frites never disappoint and the rest of the food was tasty, as well. The service was really slow this time around but I would just write it off as bad luck.
With full stomachs, we grabbed yet another FastPass for Haunted Mansion and then headed over to Critter Country. First came an exciting ride on Splash Mountain. As Michaela pointed out a few days ago, the ride isn’t in good shape. Still, I’m glad they’re running it right now with other attractions down.
After Splash we rode The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. If you were curious about fitting 3 adults in a row of the ride vehicle on this attraction, it is kind of possible. Comfortable? No, not even a little bit. Fun? Oh yeah. I mean it was fun once my hip stopped cramping up about 20 seconds into the ride. The others were nearly in tears from laughing. I was in tears from pain. A memorable ride for sure.
We redeemed our FastPass for Haunted Mansion and then took the train from New Orleans Square Station to Tomorrowland. It was an overcast and fairly cool day but we did catch some nice views along the way. The clouds had enough variety that it didn’t look too dreary out.
Our stop at Tomorrowland led to a FastPass for Space Mountain and a ride on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (I won) and a ride on Star Tours. As someone who doesn’t exactly like the latest Star Wars movie, Rise of Skywalker, I really don’t enjoy the new scenes in Star Tours. Even if I did like the film it does not seem like those scenes are exciting or interesting at all. Maybe I’m in the minority here? Lando says some funny stuff though.
It wasn’t quite time for our Space Mountain FastPass yet so we walked over to Fantasyland. Surprisingly, the Alice wait time was around 10 minutes which is unheard of for 5 o’clock regardless of the day. We got in line, hoping to fit 3 in a seat. Unfortunately, three people in these seats was not allowed. I know you wanted to know. Fantasyland in Disneyland is incredible from an attraction standpoint, one of the best theme park lands in the world, and Alice in Wonderland is an underrated part of that.
The sunset gave off some beautiful colors and we took advantage of it with a ride on the Storybook Land Canal Boats. It was a beautiful ride and an ideal time to take the boat. Unfortunately, the lines are generally longer than we encountered.
We got in line for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride which promptly broke down after I took this picture from the queue. The section of Fantasyland behind the castle is a little bit of a disaster at the moment, with Snow White’s Scary Adventure and the Carousel under refurbishment. There’s a lot of scrim up back there and it doesn’t look the best unfortunately. Hopefully the refurbishments go by quickly.
Riding the teacups with two people who really like to spin wasn’t my best choice. But, I made it out with my stomach still intact and me not falling over from being dizzy.
Next came a ride on two of Disneyland’s mountains – the Matterhorn and Space. The Matterhorn at night is always a treat as it feels faster to me and the show scenes pop a little more. Michaela claims that Space Mountain is better at night too because it’s easier to see all of the stars. After our ride through that night, I believe her.
We hopped back on the train because why wouldn’t you when you could see this?
Dinosaurs are so cool and the Disneyland Railroad is a masterpiece. I might be in the minority but I like it even more now that it goes by the river.
We took the train back to New Orleans Station. Melissa was smart and decided she didn’t want to get drenched in a cold evening. Michaela and I were less smart and went on Splash Mountain a couple of times. Both times were with the same people (it was confusing but not all that interesting) and they put their hands in the water during the ride. Don’t do this around Wandering in Disney staff. It may cause an anxiety attack. (Editor’s Note: Their fingers almost got smashed! Where were their parents??)
Thanks to our ponchos, we stayed fairly dry and then took the Critter Country path into Galaxy’s Edge. This is becoming one of my favorite parts of Disneyland. The soundscape changes and the plants slowly transform. On that night the walk was especially beautiful, the lack of crowds and a full, fun day played a large role in that.
We’d made a reservation for Oga’s Cantina a month or two prior and had a drink there that night. This time around we stood at the bar and I think this is the best option, not that you really have a choice when being seated. It was fun to watch the bartenders interact with guests and each other. We didn’t last too long in the bar, instead opting for a couple of rides on Smuggler’s Run.
After being largely successful piloting the Falcon (don’t ask for proof, please) we rode another time via the single-rider line. There were some Ronto Wraps mixed in with the rides and it was a perfect cap to a great day. I took a few photos around Galaxy’s Edge that night after close, trying to take advantage of the calm before the storm.
Knowing that the next morning would be bright and early with the attraction opening, we didn’t stick around the park too long after close. There were so few people in Disneyland that day that I’m guessing security did a pretty early sweep anyway.
We had an incredible day in Disneyland and it was a perfect way to start the weekend. Michaela and I rode 23 attractions that day. Melissa wasn’t far off that and was only in the park for 8 hours. That day further cemented Disneyland as one of my favorite places on earth and, if you catch it on the right day, there’s nothing quite like it. We’ll pick up part 2 the next morning, the start of Rise of the Resistance Opening Day.
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Categories: Trip Reports