Recently my friend Michelle from the Disney Dream Girls Podcast traveled to California for a whirlwind week holiday from the United Kingdom. As part of her tour, she invited me to join her for a day visit to Disneyland to check out the 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration. After thinking for about four-tenths of a second, I agreed and we met up in the Disneyland Resort Esplanade on Thursday, May 28 one hour after the park opened. In the planning process we agreed that this visit would be purely Disneyland Park, that Disney California Adventure would wait for another day.
After starting the day by taking the obligatory photos in front of the Mickey floral, we entered the park through the left tunnel, pausing at the Firehouse to thank Walt for his devotion to the park he built. It was then off to The Hub to take some photos of Partners as well as to get a first look at Sleeping Beauty Castle, dressed up in diamonds for the celebration.
The park is just beautiful in the daylight with all of the pluses Disney made to the park. Every gaslight post online Main Street is adorned with a diamond-filled Disney D, while white and blue bunting adorns every second story windowsill, along with the Main Street Disneyland Railroad Station.
Once the start of trip photos were done at The Hub, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and Snow White’s Wishing Grotto, Michelle and I ventured into Tomorrowland, as we felt we could knock out a large bloc of attractions in a short time in this area. Michelle headed to the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage to hold a spot for me while I dashed up the Space Mountain entrance ramp to garner two FastPasses for later in the morning (picking them up at 10:15 gave us a return time of 11:45).
When I met up with Michelle at the Subs, I found there was a light 20 minute posted wait to board our yellow vessel. It was closer to 15 minutes, which is very short for the attraction. Interestingly, this was my first time riding port side on the subs, I normally get placed starboard. Again, no matter what side you sit on, Nemo goes on an adventure, while Marlin and Dory go searching for him.
Upon disembarking we left liquid space and headed to Star Tours: The Adventure Continues with the goal of aiding and abetting a rebel spy through the galaxy. With a 30 minute standby wait, it was another easy boarding process, with the two of us holding the process up to take some photos of the droids in the queue area (what, I like C3PO). The attraction is amazing and fun as always, although I did end up with the same ride experience I had both times I rode the ride last year: Wookie Planet and General Ackbar addressing the StarSpeeder. I know it’s a random process, I just look forward to being able to get a different combination at some point.
Once the spy was delivered safely, we exited into the Star Trader and proceeded to Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters for a battle with the evil Emperor Zurg. This was another posted 20 minute wait time, which ended up winding around the backside of Pixie Hollow. The line again moved very quickly, and we were soon boarded onto our omni-mover. It was a fairly one-sided competition, as I ended up defeating Zurg, along with defeating Michelle 183600 to 6500.
At this point in the day Michelle and I both decided we were fairly hungry, and for more than just a churro. As we walked across Main Street we noticed there was hardly line for the Jolly Holiday Bakery quick service eatery, and decided to eat there. Michelle had eaten there before, and it was my first visit to the bakery. As we discussed our trip, I planned ahead and decided I was going to get the Jolly Holiday Combo, which was a cup of tomato basil soup and a toasted cheese sandwich. However, in the heat of the day and with the persuasion of the display case, I quickly changed my order to the Jolly Holiday Salad, which was lettuce, spiced pecans, feta cheese, red and yellow tomatoes, dried cranberries and a side of raspberry vinaigrette, with a bread stick. Having learned my lesson last year, I paired this meal with a cup of complimentary ice water and decided to splurge and try the Honey Lemon Cupcake (it WAS a bakery after all).
I had a salad for lunch. At Disneyland. A salad. And while it was obviously preassembled (it was ready for pickup before the cupcake was ready – but it IS quick service), it was one of the best salads I’ve had, and one of the better entrees that I’ve had at Disneyland (admittedly I’ve eaten a lot of cheeseburgers and corn dogs). The tartness of the cranberries complemented the feta cheese, while the raspberry vinaigrette provided a sweet yet tangy meld to the pecans. This is a salad I would gladly order again, although the bread stick was just a bread stick, a bit dry and not memorable. Michelle ordered a strawberry chicken salad, which must have been very good as not a bite was shared.
As for the honey lemon cupcake, I’m now able to see why I keep seeing people rave about Disney cupcakes on the message boards I subscribe to. It was a good sized portion for a cupcake, with a very generous serving of icing on top making it nearly four inches tall. I love lemon flavor to begin with, so this was right up my alley. The cake was nice and moist, unlike the earlier bread stick. While the cupcake was good, it doesn’t stand out as a highlight of meal, as Michelle was kind and shared a bite of her raspberry macaron sandwich cookie with me. Raspberry creme sandwiched between two firm yet chewy mickey shaped cookies that completely knocked the flavor out of the ball park. I ended up licking the crumbs from my bite off the plate. This is a treat that I will be getting again. And again.
In terms of price, Jolly Holiday was a good value for the food served. The Jolly Holiday Salad rang in at $8.49, while the Honey Lemon Cupcake totaled $3.79. Michelle’s salad was $9.99 and the Raspberry Macaron came in at $5.49 (and is worth it). Jolly Holiday Bakery is going to be an establishment I will visit again on future trips to the park.
Following lunch it was time to head to the opposite side of the park and pay a visit to the 999 happy haunts, including the Hatbox Ghost, who has just rematerialized for the 60th anniversary. A quick history: the Hatbox Ghost is an audio-animatronic that debuted in the Haunted Mansion when it first opened, but as the special effects didn’t quite work properly, he was removed within a few days and was left out of the mansion until just recently, when is was put back in near the Black Widow Bride.
After getting a FastPass for Indiana Jones, we queued up for the mansion. The line for Haunted Mansion again was not bad, posted at 30 minutes, and it was a quick moving line. We were quickly inside and able to see “Hattie” for ourselves. This needs to be seen in person to fully appreciate it, but it looked amazing. All I could say as we left the ride was “wow” over and over.
Next was a quiet cruise, as we headed off to Pirates of the Caribbean. This ended up being a highlight of the day, as while we waited in the line, Michelle was recognized by a listener of the Disney Dream Girls and we were able to have a nice random conversation while waiting for our turn, and we ended up riding in the same vessel.
Following Pirates, we headed off to Frontierland to attempt to accomplish an item on both of our bucket lists. Unfortunately, we were told that as part of the 60th anniversary, the Mark Twain Riverboat is not taking requests to enter the captain’s wheelhouse, but instead guests were being picked at random. As we could see a family already boarding the wheelhouse, we decided to forgo the sailing this time around and ventured off to Fantasyland for a little while.
Our first foray in Fantasyland was The Matterhorn Bobsleds, as we had seen online that the Abominable Snowman had been given a makeover. Indeed he has, as now he lunges at guests as they slide by his hiding areas. There are other pluses to the attraction as well, some tributes to previous version of the bobsleds. The ride itself is still bumpy and not gentle on the back, but worth the experience one time to see the enhancements.
Up next came an anniversary ride, as we headed over to it’s a small world, which was celebrating it’s 49th anniversary of its Disneyland opening on the day we were in the park. Actually, social media was celebrating the event, there was nothing done at the attraction itself. Still, it’s a classic ride that must be ridden at least once each park visit…and then sung over and over for weeks to come.
Once we exited the happy cruise, it was nearly time for Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, so we decided to exit Fantasyland and return to Frontierland to experience the wildest ride in the wilderness, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It was in this queue that we noticed the first sign warning against the use of the “selfie stick”, an item we both had noticed throughout the park on this day. For its themeing throughout, this is one of my top three attractions no matter what list I write, and the recent enhancements only make it that much better.
At this point it was time to meet up with Dr. Jones, as we entered the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Once we entered our Troop Transport, we were on our way to find the fountain of eternal youth…until SOMEONE looked into the eyes of Mara. Then we were off on our way to our imminent doom, until Indiana Jones was able to rescue us and guide us to safety. By chance, this was the first time I was seated in the back of the transport unit, and it was quite a bit rougher than sitting in the middle or front row. Nonetheless the journey was completed and we were of on our way to dinner, which will be discussed in detail, along with a review of the new nighttime entertainment at Disneyland Park in Part 2 of this trip report.
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