Wait, we had a trip report going? That can’t be right. I’m just as shocked as all of you but here we are, ready to dive into the third installment of a January Disneyland trip that seems like years ago instead of months. I’m hoping this fairly personal post can give you a little break from being stuck inside your house, and a taste of one of my favorite places in the world.
After arriving at Disneyland before 5 AM the previous day for the opening of Rise of the Resistance, Melissa and I revised our plan to get a little extra sleep. Still not a ton of sleep mind you, but waking up a little after 6 is much better than waking up a little after 4. We arrived at security around 7 for an 8 AM opening and, while there was a decent amount of people there, didn’t have much of an issue. We were in line for the gates before 7:30 and that’s around the time they started letting guests through.
Before long we were inside of Disneyland and making a beeline toward Galaxy’s Edge and virtual queue nirvana. We found a spot to sit next to the Millennium Falcon and set our sights on the BBGP (Best Boarding Group Possible). Fortunately, my thumbs were fast and we accomplished just that, ending up with boarding group 6 and getting on the attraction within the first hour of opening.
On my first ride through on Rise of the Resistance I took quite a few photos because I didn’t know how much I’d be able to get on the ride through the rest of the weekend. Our second ride through, I opted to put the camera down and just enjoy the attraction. The first ride through of Rise is the best simply because of how jaw-dropping the attraction is but that doesn’t mean the second ride wasn’t great. The scale is always astounding and the ride system spectacular. Instead of the attraction not quite living up to the first day hype, the ride cemented it’s place in our minds among Disneyland’s elite.
After our quick morning in Galaxy’s Edge, we walked back to our hotel to pack up a few things. Michaela picked us up and we moved hotels before heading to California Adventure for the day. We had barely been in DCA during the first two days of the trip, only riding Mission: BREAKOUT and nothing else.
I don’t regret that at all. Disneyland has become my favorite US theme park by a wide margin over the last year and California Adventure is… a bit of a disaster. There are certainly parts I love about DCA, notably Grizzly Peak and Cars Land, but most of it feels like an incongruent mess that has a few good rides. It’s not an awful park but considering the masterpiece across the esplanade, I have a hard time justifying much time there.
But there we were. Michaela was blocked out of Disneyland that weekend due to the attraction opening so the rest of our day was spent in California Adventure. Pixar Pier was our first stop, with a trip on the Critter Carousel and a FastPass for Incredicoaster. It was a pretty warm day and we had some ponchos so we moved along to Grizzly River Rapids. I guess warm for Washingtonians in January is relative since the attraction was a walk-on. We had a good time and emerged largely unscathed by the water. The older lady riding with us mentioned having a soggy behind and I will not get over hearing that phrase for the rest of my life.
We hadn’t done much with the day, but going in a park, riding Rise, leaving, and then walking back to another park had taken up a good amount of time. It was near lunch time and since we were already close to the Grand Californian, we made the short jaunt over to the GCH Craftsman Grill for lunch. This is the best counter-service food in any American Disney Theme Park resort. Check out our review for more details!
After lunch we were back in Grizzly Peak and stumbled upon this beauty.
I understand that this feline, who lives on the banks of Grizzly River, has different names on other sites. Here on Wandering in Disney, we call the cat Chester. We are also aware that it is a girl and stand by the name. I hope that Chester is doing well even with a lack of current visitors.
We spent the early afternoon riding attractions with minimal waits. Radiator Springs Racers doesn’t usually jump to the top of that list but thanks to the single-rider line, it does. After our ride around the Cadillac Mountains we waited entirely too long for a ride on Little Mermaid (an attraction that I don’t care enough about to look up the actual name).
After that we continued our tour around the pier with a ride on the Golden Zephyr and the Silly Symphony Swings. Both are perfect late afternoon or early evening attractions. California Adventure is full of rides with long waits and, while these aren’t anything spectacular, these are a nice fallback when lines are long.
After a few rides and more FastPasses, we circled back to Cars Land to watch the land light up by sunset. It was a very pretty night, with a royal blue sky entangled with strings of clouds and some color from the sunset.
The night was filled with more attractions that didn’t take much of a wait. The lack of sleep among the three of us was starting to wear us down so we tried to stay busy with the trio of Animation Academy, Mickey’s Philharmagic, and more pier rides. The day was filled with loops from Pixar Pier to Cars Land and we did one more, walking the back way from Pacific Wharf into Cars Land. That’s my favorite path in California Adventure and it’s especially blissful at night.
We finished off the night in the park with rides on Monsters Inc. Mike and Sully to the Rescue and Mission: BREAKOUT! A truly terrifying way to end a night but I survived the broken elevator. The exhaustion had really set in at this point and the walk back to our hotel was loopy and fun. Michaela had an orientation the next day so it was going to be our last time seeing her until next trip. It was a fun filled day, full of laughter.
After staying up late, it was time once again to (ahem) rise for another rope dropping of the new attraction. We essentially repeated our previous morning routine although we allowed for a little extra sleeping time. Still there was no problem getting into the park and we ended up with another pretty early boarding group. We celebrated with some Blue Milk before heading off to enjoy the rest of the park. Unfortunately, Rise of the Resistance had some issues that morning and ran off and on throughout it.
We grabbed a few FastPasses for Big Thunder later in the morning and walked over to Fantasyland to do a few dark rides. Before long we moved further back into Fantasyland to it’s a small world.
I woke up that morning in a funk. There was a heaviness weighing on me that, frankly, I wasn’t prepared for. I’m generally a happy, laid back person but not on that day. There were a number of things going through my head and in the name of brevity as well as this being a Disney Parks blog and not an ‘Andrew’s Thoughts’ blog, I’ll try to condense what I was feeling.
Like most people, I don’t really enjoy vacations ending but never to the point of being openly sad about it. Our trip to Japan was about the only time in my life where I was extremely disappointed to go back to everyday life. I’m lucky enough to have a great life, one that is fulfilling in many ways. So, that morning when I woke up with this feeling of really not wanting to go home, it was strange. The few weeks prior, I had been struggling to find a groove and was feeling down more than usual. To put it bluntly, I wasn’t ready to go back to that.
That weekend ended up being three of the best days of my life with two of my best friends. As we walked over to Small World, the feeling set in that I wish the world was truly smaller. That I could hop right back into the joy of that weekend whenever I wanted. Getting on that ride, I started to cry and became pretty emotional.
It’s pretty hard to describe and is obviously nothing compared to what many people go through. That said, I think it’s a feeling that we can all somewhat relate to right now while being told to stay home. Yes, things could be worse but really we’d just like to grab a drink or dinner with friends and family. We could all use the world being a little smaller right now.
I got off the ride, went to the bathroom and came out to Melissa moving my flight back a few days. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me, maybe to the point of causing a few more tears along the way. I’m not a very dramatic person and am pretty frugal when it comes to travel. I like sticking to our budget but sometimes people know exactly what you need. Staying for a couple more days to work through what was going on in my brain was the right call, even if it cost us a little extra money.
From there, I tried to recover from a minor emotional breakdown and we had a fun late morning and afternoon fitting in a bunch of rides. We did Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder, and grabbed some lunch at the always solid Rancho del Zocalo.
Our boarding group was called for Rise of the Resistance, after the ride had a tumultuous morning. We got in the queue and after about ten minutes the ride broke down again. While sitting in a queue for 45 minutes isn’t anyone’s ideal, it was actually a pretty good time. Before long, Cast Members came through with chips and water. We made some small talk with the people sitting next to us and before long the ride was back up and running. It wasn’t a bad stretch and really gave us the full Rise of the Resistance experience 😉
Once actually on the attraction, we were still blown away. I didn’t notice any effects not working on that particular ride through, so whatever the issue was must have been solved in some fashion. That AT-AT room is incredible no matter how many times you’ve been in there or how few hours you sleep.
Unfortunately, Melissa’s time was winding down before she had to catch a flight. We did a few more attractions and made our slow walk out. My feelings aside, it’s much easier to say goodbye to your favorite place when you know you’ll be back in about a month. After a minor rental car mishap, we were off to LAX. I dropped her off and then took it easy for the rest of the night. We’ll pick up the next day with part 4 of this trip report!
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Categories: Trip Reports