This is my favorite time of year. Fall colors and fall lighting make for some of the prettiest scenes you can imagine. They’re a match made in heaven, the way they enhance each other. It’s almost difficult to take a bad picture.
This pumpkin in the Halloween Tree ain’t happy. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because he’s heard the rumblings of what’s to take place in the back of Frontierland.
No more BBQ.
No more Ranch.
A (potentially) smaller River.
Right now this pumpkin is thinking “Oh-My-Gourd! Who’s running this place??? And who the hell is Spiderman??”
I can’t blame him. I grew up loving Star Wars. Spiderman was my favorite superhero. But Disneyland held a special place in my affections.
There are a million arguments to be made on both sides regarding the changes coming to Disneyland. I’ve read a lot of them and see well-made points on both sides. I think what my biggest disappointment is is that I’m starting to recognize Disneyland less and less. My experiences with things like Star Wars and Marvel hold different associations and memories than Disneyland does. The integration of these things now blurs the lines that made Disneyland unique and distinct for me.
I get it. Time passes. Culture changes. I get older and my life experiences cause me to see things differently.
What I don’t get is a company built on imagination and ingenuity obsessing over acquisition and assimilation.
I know I’m in the minority. I know Disney is going to continue making a ton of money with the decisions they’re making. I’m just feeling a lot less welcome in a place that used to feel like home and I’m inclined to agree with this unhappy pumpkin.
The answer is yes, we are still around. It feels a little weird, but it’s nice to be back.
It’s the moments and spaces in between that seem to give Disneyland its magic for me.
This little vignette of canoes on the Rivers of America lends believability to the rugged and wild atmosphere of Frontierland. At the same time it’s not tied to any particular story. It’s just a pair of canoes tied up along a riverbank. It gives you the opportunity and your imagination the freedom to get lost in it and this is exactly the kind of scene I’m looking to get lost in.
The epic conclusion to our 24 Hours in Disneyland you’ve been waiting on pins and needles for is finally here—not that you doubted it would come.
Just think of this like you might Jurassic World; 20 years for a worthy sequel isn’t really that long to wait. Either that or a fine wine. It’s nice to pop the cork, get a whiff, and try a sip, but then you need to let it breathe.
In reality, it wasn’t our plan to let this series “breathe” for so long. Michaela started a wonderful new job a couple of weeks ago and that means playing Schedule Tetris, filling available time slots with blocks of need-to’s, want-to’s, and don’t-really-want-to-but-have-to’s. You know—life.
We’ve almost adjusted to the new schedule and plan to use this weekend to get ahead with projects, photos, and posts.
Part 2 left us at twilight, when the lights of Sleeping Beauty Castle come on. Unfortunately, due to the crowds, we didn’t find a decent spot for the first Paint the Night parade or the Disneyland Forever fireworks. Instead, we made our way to New Orleans Square for reinforcements—coffee and beignets from the Mint Julep Bar! It’s making me hungry just thinking about it… It was a welcome respite to regroup a little for the next 10 hours.
After watching bits of the fireworks through trees from the French Market’s patio, we caught a ride on the Disneyland Railroad to make our way back to Main Street and find a spot for the second showing of Paint the Night. It was a decision that paid off for us as the crowd had thinned dramatically.
Standing in the same spot for an extended period is not one of my favorite things in the world. It’s not even in my top 214. When the lights dimmed and the music started, it was worth every minute of standing. The Paint the Night intro began with a nod to the Main Street Electrical Parade and something happened that hasn’t happened for me since I watched World of Color for the first time – I felt like a kid again. I was transported back to the half-watched parades of my early childhood when I’d fall asleep in my stroller on Main Street after playing hard all day in a “World of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy.”
Sometimes those blissful moments aren’t matched by what follows but when the floats came out, we were mesmerized.
We enjoyed the parade so much that we watched both showings and shot a lot more photos the following evening. We’ll share those when we publish a new Paint the Night post on Monday!
After the parade, we met up with some friends for a ride on the newly enhanced Matterhorn, which turned out to be amazing. The next stop was a karaoke party in Mickey’s Toontown. Don’t judge; it seemed like a good idea at the time…
Exhaustion was setting in and it was setting in hard. We found ourselves sitting at the Princess Fantasy Faire,
pleading waiting for the sun to show and questioning if sleep deprivation still qualified as torture if self-inflicted.
Around 4AM, the sky began turning blue and helped us to quickly forget how tired we’d become. First we headed to the Mark Twain on the Rivers of America.
Then we made our way to Big Thunder Mountain.
And returned one last time to the castle, where we found 20 other photographers hoping the sky would dazzle us.
In the end, it was worth it. It’s a special sort of magic to be in Disneyland as the sun rises on a new day.
Before we knew it, the Disney 24 event had come to an end and it was time to say goodbye. We walked down Main Street with the last guests to leave Disneyland and slowly made our way back to our room for a few hours of sweet, sweet sleep.
We’ll be back with new posts next week, including a Paint the Night post on Monday. In the meantime, have a great weekend!
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We’re back with Part 2 of our 24 Hours in Disneyland trip recap. Be sure to check out Part 1, in case you missed it.
Our last post left off at the back side of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Where better to start than where we went next? That’s right. The front side!
I’ll admit that the majority of our time in Disneyland was spent at the castle, going from one side to the other. It was pulling us in like a bug zapper… with less zapping.
The gloomy skies sent us wandering around the park in hopes of finding a patch of blue sky or a short line. We headed back into Fantasyland and made our way to the Tea Cups where we found a hint of blue.
From there we set out into Tomorrowland. I was interested in watching the Tomorrowland movie sneak peak but found that the theater had been taken over by a Marvel Movie Marathon, which was actually a great call by Disney to offer.
Before too long, it was time for us to transfer rooms. Because the Grand Californian was booked solid through the weekend, some shifting had to be done. So we headed back down Main Street, following one of the vehicles.
The room transfer ended up working in our favor, and despite concerns about making it back into Disneyland, we were able to make it back in after a short wait. This time we used the other tunnel and took the opportunity to capture the caboose above the famous plaque and 60th anniversary bunting.
The park had become very crowded at this point. Main Street was packed with people waiting to see the Paint the Night Parade. So we headed into New Orleans Square to use some Haunted Mansion fastpasses. It was our second trip seeing the newly returned resident, the Hatbox Ghost. We’re saving him for an upcoming post!
After we took our turn through creepy old crypts we headed over to Big Thunder Mountain.
The lines for just about everything were more than we were willing to endure, so we decided to continue meandering. And this is where we will leave you once more. We’ll return with Part 3 first thing next week!
We did it once before and said never again but they were empty words. When we heard everything that Disneyland was planning to kick off their big 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration, we got a little excited. Okay, maybe more than a little.
A new fireworks show.
A new nighttime parade.
A new World of Color.
The Hatbox Ghost finally back in the Mansion.
A new Harold (the abominable snowman), in a revamped Matterhorn.
A 24 hour event to kick off Memorial. Day. Weekend.
What could possibly go wrong?!
It wasn’t the easiest decision, given the mayhem that was sure to take place, but we bit the bullet and decided to go anyway.
We were fortunate enough to be offered a room at the Grand Californian by a friend who’d booked a room but wasn’t able to make it. We took it as a sign that maybe there would be plenty of sunshine headed our way.
Knowing that people had begun lining up to get in the night before and that Disneyland would bring guests into Main Street at 4:00am, we decided to sleep in until 5:00am in hopes that the congestion would ease up by the official park opening of 6:00am.
We woke to gloomy skies that quashed the excitement of an epic sunrise and made for slow going getting ready for the day. We decided to forego the security checkpoints at the esplanade and used the Grand’s entrance to DCA. It was a brilliant move that got us straight into the park at 6:40am.
We walked briskly through the newly re-themed Grizzly Peak Airfield, taking a few photos along the way. (More on this wonderful new area in an upcoming post!)
Naturally, we had to stop and take a few pictures of Carthay done up in its 60th anniversary decor before heading over to Disneyland.
It seems that no matter where you go at the resort, diamonds will find you. The esplanade flags are no exception.
It only took us 10 minutes from the time we entered Disney California Adventure and photo-walked our way across the esplanade to pass through the turnstiles and into Disneyland. Despite the heavy cloud coverage, it seemed that sunshine was indeed headed our way.
After a couple of stops on Main Street, we headed for Sleeping Beauty Castle to see what she will look like for the next year or two (or three…). The last time we’d visited Disneyland, the castle’s makeover was only halfway completed.
In pictures I’d seen online, the “diamonds” on the castle looked off to me, sort of plastic-y and cheap. In person was a different story, having more an appearance of glass, and they quickly grew on me.
And that is where we will leave you. We’ll return soon with Part 2!
Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration festivities are fast approaching and I can feel my excitement growing by the day. It’s not so much for the bedazzled castle or even the promising nighttime entertainment. It’s simply for the milestone.
One of my favorite places in the world is about to start its year(ish) long birthday party. Having had the privilege of going several times in my childhood, for Grad Nite as a teen, and becoming an annual passholder as an adult, Disneyland has been a pretty big part of my life. At this point, the park feels like an old friend.
It’s been a source of joy and inspiration as Walt hoped. It’s been a place to think fondly on the past and to dream about the future. It’s been a place for birthdays and anniversaries, for escape and adventure, for worlds of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy and for reminders of how small this world is.
As much as the spectacular can celebrate such a wonderful place, a quiet, contented gratitude is more my cup of tea. I think I’ll still find myself seeking the solace of this nook for the beauty of a Sleeping Beauty Castle twilight and others like it. I’ll still close out the park occasionally in hopes that I’ll be one of the very last guests and selfishly stroll down Main Street like it were all my own. I’ll make sure to see the parade and the fireworks too, but I’ll probably sneak off early to catch a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean while it’s a walk-on.
Yes. I’ll celebrate with my friend by doing all the things that have brought me so much pleasure for all these years.
Most of all, I’ll think about Walt and the many Imagineers and Cast Members that have made Disneyland such a magical place.