Another night of little sleep gave way to a beautiful spring day at Disneyland. It was February 29th and I remember the day clearly even though February seems like it was at least 5 and a half years ago. Melissa and I were up a little after 7. Like most early mornings there, we tried our luck at entering the Rise of the Resistance virtual queue and did pretty well, getting boarding group 31.
After that success it was time for breakfast and we split the strangely delicious Breakfast Chimichanga. Pre-pandemic this could be found at a Frontierland snack cart across from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The Chimichanga was filled with bacon, eggs and cheese inside of the deep fried tortilla. It’s one of those items that has no business being as good as it is. This was a filling breakfast at a decent price!
With full stomachs, we took a trip back in time to check in on our favorite pirates. They’re still a mess and bound to meet their demise. By the time our ride was over our boarding group was called and we strode over to Galaxy’s Edge.
We got a front row seat on Rise of the Resistance for the first time and absolutely loved it. There isn’t a bad seat on the ride but this was the first time we’d been in the front and it was a blast! I look at things from a photography standpoint and having a clear shot of the droid and figures was a wonderful change. Sitting front row isn’t some sort of game changer on Rise of the Resistance but it’s certainly preferable to the back row.
Once off the ride, we met up with Michaela in Galaxy’s Edge and walked around for a few minutes, seeing R2D2 and going into Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. Outside of Rise of the Resistance, Dok Ondar’s is my favorite place to go in Galaxy’s Edge. It’s an outstanding shop.
We took our time exiting Galaxy’s Edge and then headed over to Rivers of America for some late morning activities on the water. There are some oft-overlooked attractions around this area and we spent the time enjoying them. Long time readers know that I’m quick to praise the river boats. On that morning we started on Tom Sawyer Island, a truly peaceful experience in the late morning.
Exploring the nooks and crannies of the island is really enjoyable. There’s a sense of freedom while walking around the area that you can’t get in the rest of the park. The vibe is closer to that of an actual park instead of a theme park. With paths to explore and a ton of character, I’d recommend an hour at Tom Sawyer Island to anyone. I could do without some of the Pirates Lair portion of the island but I can’t say it really detracts from the experience. It’s a lovely place to take photos so here are a few of mine!
After taking the raft back from Tom Sawyer Island, we moved on to our next river activity, the Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes! This was the only attraction at Disneyland any of us hadn’t done. It was certainly an experience! The skipper/leader of the canoe had a ton of dry humor while imploring guests to paddle the canoes. Explorer Canoes is a vestige to a past time at Disney, the same way the Country Bears are. If the park was built today, would they ever exist? Absolutely not. But a theme park needs a mix of old and new. Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes offer the kind of character that isn’t found in modern theme park attractions.
Part of the allure of the canoes was that I figured it would offer some really interesting photos. Turns out that you basically have to row the whole time so I didn’t have much time for that! Still, it’s an experience well worth trying.
We kept our ‘underappreciated attractions’ morning going with a trip on the Disneyland Railroad. Catching the train at New Orleans Square and riding it across the river, then staying on until Main Street is the ideal ride. Why stay on until Main Street? Dinosaurs!
By that point we’d reached early afternoon and had gotten a little hungry so we took a ride on the Matterhorn (a perfect appetizer) and then went to Red Rose Taverne. There is no review for this restaurant yet, although it will come, partially because I still don’t know what to think of it all these months later. The food was somewhat unique but I don’t know if it was any good. Anyway, Red Rose Taverne seems fine if we ever get to set foot in Disneyland again (we will).
Our early afternoon was spent on a few attractions with low waits. We hit up Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and saved the planet(?) from Zurg! Then crossed back to It’s a Small World for a very happy cruise. It was easy to understand why locals constantly come back to Disneyland. We did a morning of underappreciated attractions, Rise of the Resistance aside, and it was perfect.
After Small World, we walked over to Adventureland to enjoy the Tiki Room before using our FastPass for Indiana Jones Adventure. Both lovely attractions that couldn’t be more different from each other. Well, there is one similarity and that is that I have a terrible time trying to photograph both of them. Here’s what I got this go around.
Yeah, not great. We headed back to the hotel for a little bit to put our feet in the hot tub and ended up all getting our pants pretty wet from a rambunctious pool crowd! Anyway, Michaela eventually went off to work and we rested for an hour or two before heading back to the park.
At that time the California Adventure Food & Wine Festival was ongoing. We got a Sip & Savor pass and tried a few options. None of them dazzled us and it’s not like that information is all that prevalent anyway. I did enjoy the event though as it added some life to the area, crowded walkways and all.
We walked back over to Disneyland at that point and took a ride on Big Thunder before heading into Galaxy’s Edge. Man, I miss Disneyland. Big Thunder at night is my favorite time to ride. The caves pop more and the echoes and sounds are slightly more spooky. Of course it’s wonderful any time of day but it is the mountain that benefits most from it being night time.
Once inside Galaxy’s Edge, we watched some droid assembling at Droid Depot and I took some photos. The lighting in the land remains one of the champions of Disneyland’s expansion. Before long the line had dwindled down at Smuggler’s Run, as it usually does, and we did single-rider a couple of times without any wait.
I like the actual ride portion of Smuggler’s Run just fine. It is a decently fun attraction but is by no means a headliner. The queue and pre-show is where the attraction really excels. That said, if you get to ride Smuggler’s Run when two kids are piloting the experience really takes a turn. Sometimes literally. On that night I rode with a couple of 7 year olds as my Millennium Falcon pilots. Yes, I did get bruises and maybe a little bit of whiplash. But those kids had the time of their lives and I had a blast too. Just in case I didn’t, their parents apologized to me at least 3 times.
The park had really cleared out after that and we did a slew of attractions with low waits including the castle walkthrough, Mr. Toad’s and Space Mountain via the single rider. I’m somewhat afraid of roller coasters so I usually give up my seat preference to whoever I’m with because I don’t care as much as they do. On this night I somehow lucked into the front row of Space Mountain for the first time in my whole life. It was fantastic! I love Space and seeing it from the front row really did improve the experience. Even from a photography standpoint, it was nice to not take a photo of the back of someone’s head.
Melissa went back to the hotel a little bit after that, still not feeling perfect. I walked some of the way and then headed back into the park. I stumbled upon a majestic sight. A star is born, Disney style.
This duck is probably famous by now, with its mentor/partner trailing off into the darkness. I just hope that the new found spotlight doesn’t push our webbed foot friend off the deep end.
I spent the rest of the night photographing and I stopped in to say hi to Michaela, who was working a late custodian shift in Tomorrowland. I love this mural in Tomorrowland with Space Mountains blasting through the planets. On the opposite side is a mural with the Star Tours vehicles doing the same. It’s a nice touch to an area that could probably use a refresh.
There really wasn’t that much time that night and I headed back to Main Street before long, getting a few photos along the way. The day zoomed by but was fantastic as we experienced an extreme amount over the course of about 14 hours. There are days that you know are good while you’re in the midst of them. There are others that you look back a while later and wish you were living them again. This one happened to be both.
We’ll pick up the next installment with another Disneyland day! If you have any questions or comments, including any additions you’d like to see in future trip reports, please let us know in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland Resort? Check out our Disneyland Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends and like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Trip Reports