Travel Diary: The Happiest Place On Earth

In case you (somehow) missed it, the boy and I took a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth this past weekend, Disneyland! Before we left, I posted about why I still love Disneyland at 23 and likely always will, and let me tell ya: this trip did not disappoint.

*Note: The rest of this post contains affiliate links – if you click through any of the links marked with an asterisk in the post below & make a purchase, I may receive compensation, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

We got there for the first full weekend of PixarFest, which celebrates the soon-to-open Pixar Pier and all of the fantastic Pixar movies that Disney has come out with. As a die-hard Pixar fan with a particular fondness for Nemo (I’ve got a little fin, too!) I loved it. We aren’t the parade sort of people, but I dragged the boy over to watch part of the Pixar parade and it was totally worth it.

The only downside was that Pixar Pier is not quite open. It’ll be open this summer, which means I’ll have to wait until next year to experience it. But everything I’ve heard and seen so far promises that it will be worth the wait. They are revamping California Screamin’ to be the Incredicoaster, and the whole pier will have a new Pixar theme. I’ll put up with one weekend without for a whole lifetime of Pixar Pier goodness, I suppose.

For the first time, I brought along my digital camera. (I took the serious-about-blogging plunge and invested in a Sony HX80*, and I’m loving it.) There’s something about being able to capture the magic of Disney without being distracted by the pop ups and notifications on your phone that just made it all the more wonderful. Well, that, and I got some really good pictures, too.

What I Wore

Okay, so this isn’t what I usually put in my travel diary posts, but I feel that it is essential to showcase my Disney style. I like to stay comfy, but cute, at the parks, which means that slouchy soft tees and leggings or shorts are absolutely essential.

Now, I can’t totally remember where I got my jersey tee, but there’s a similar one here*. I love mine – it’s just flowy enough to keep you cool, but the extra sleeve length helps when those California events get chilly.

(Also, yes, I do the pin thing. I don’t trade them, though, but I do buy one or two pins for each trip I take. It’s a simple, sweet way to commemorate them. This trip, I got the Aztec Gold keychain that hangs from the bottom of my lanyard, and an Yzma pin. I got Kronk last year to signify the first year that I went with the boy – we really like The Emperor’s  New Groove – and figured I’d stick with that theme.)

Oh, and a pair of ears. You can’t forget the ears.

Where We Ate

So anyone who knows Disney knows that the food there is expensive – it’s kind of part of the experience, right? 😉

That said, we accept the prices and eat in the parks – partly for convenience, and partly because there are certain items that I must have every time. Like a Mickey pretzel.

Other places we ate include:

Alien Pizza Planet
Now, I’ll admit that this place isn’t my favorite, food-wise, at least. I love the atmosphere and feeling as if I’ve been transported into a Toy Story film, but the pizza isn’t the greatest and it’s extremely overpriced. That said, it’s a buffet-style which makes for a short wait time, and there’s plenty of seats, which as anyone knows, is really hard to say for a Disneyland restaurant.

Churro Carts
This one is a given. Churros are like their own food group at Disney, am I right?

Galactic Grill
Surprisingly, I’ve never eaten at the quick-serve restaurant that also serves as seating for the Jedi training experience in Tomorrowland. We ended up there because we got hungry right before the fireworks and didn’t want to risk a trip to Main Street post-Matterhorn. They were out of the veggie wrap I wanted, so I ended up with a salad and a free side of fries – plus, again, tons of seating! We even got a pretty good (partial) view of the fireworks as we ate.

Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe
Okay guys – I LOVE this place, more for its Mary Poppins theme and Mickey macarons than anything else. However, I also feel like this is one of the few places in Disney where you get a good bang for your buck when it comes to portion sizes. Settled right at the end of Main Street, it’s also a great place to people watch as everyone takes pictures by the Walt & Mickey statue.

Smokejumpers Grill (California Adventure)
Honestly, we picked this place because we were hungry before our Soarin’ Fast Passes, and they gave us a free cup of water one time and we liked them for it. We stayed for the waffle fries and cheesy croutons.

Our Game Plan

This is the important part, right? Everyone does Disney differently, and I’m lucky to go with someone who does it close to my way. We go for 2 days, so our goal is to get as much as possible done the first day so we can relax a bit on the second. That said, we also plan our mornings accordingly. The first morning we always hit Frontier/Adventureland first – we grab Indiana Jones Fast Passes, then hit up the only-short-in-the-morning-and-at-night line for Pirates, before making our way to the Haunted Mansion. Depending on how cold it is, sometimes we even hit Splash Mountain that early! The line is much shorter at 9 am, let me tell ya.

The second morning we go for Tomorrowland. We grab our Star Tours Fast Passes and jump right in line for Space Mountain – somehow, this always works out really well timing-wise.

After the morning mania, we kind of just go where the lines let us.

This was the first time we’ve ever used the app to check wait times. We could have paid 10 extra dollars a day, per person, for the Max Pass, and used it to get Fast Passes more easily, too, but both of us are sort of against that concept. There’s enough people on their phones at Disney – why did we need to add to that? Plus, we personally believe that part of the fun is playing the Fast Pass game… aka, running from ride to ride to see if you can get the right passes at the right time. Luckily, we’re pros at that game.

Honestly, though, I wouldn’t care if we stood in line for 3 hours or 3 minutes. There’s just something magical about Disneyland that makes you forget about being an adult for a second. And being there with someone you love – be it the boy, some friends, or family – makes it all the more magical.

Oh yeah – and we saw Kris Jenner getting off a ride. Well, I was trying to get a picture of Big Thunder Mountain as the train came around the bend, but everyone around us saw her. And screamed. Loudly. So there’s that.

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