We’ve just survived two exhausting but fantastic days at Disneyland. It would have been nice to have a day to recover before we hit the theme parks, but it made logistical sense to go there the first two days. It also meant that we avoided the weekend, which we thought would mean shorter queues. It’s holiday season in the park so the opening hours are long – from 8am to midnight. We didn’t quite stay there for the whole time, but got very close to it on both days!

Our Disneyland days couldn’t have been more different. The first day we were caught in a Californian winter storm with torrential rain, flash flooding and chilly temperatures. This meant very short queues, loads of rides and very soggy clothing and shoes. It had been raining the day we arrived, just nice light rain. When we saw the forecast for Thursday was more rain, we assumed it would be the same sort of rain. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The day started overcast, and we got in lots of rides at California Adventure before the rain started. We even splashed out on a session in the warming hut to dry off after the Grizzly River ride. It was great fun but completely pointless as we were more drenched than ever once the torrential rain arrived.

Grizzly River
The Warming Hut – a people dryer

Anna and I made the classic mistake of wearing jeans, Matt was better off in his shorts. Californian drainage is pretty non existent so we were soon wading through the parks with completely waterlogged shoes. It was like stepping on wet cold sponges.

After the the rain started but before the flooding. I see I snapped a mobility scooter in the photo!

The upside of all this was we had done most of the big-ticket rides at both parks by lunchtime. We persevered until about 2pm in the hope the rain would stop, then eventually gave up and and headed back to our hotel for a very long soak in the hot tub. The rain stopped while we were soaking, so we headed back to the park in the winter woollies we had packed for Europe. As we rode the shuttle bus we could see a good covering of snow on the hills behind LA. The rain did return, but only light showers. So we rode ourselves silly for the rest of the day and enjoyed the magic of the fireworks show in the evening.

Our Trusty shuttle bus that departed every minute and was free!
The weather cleared enough for the fireworks

Our second day was the complete opposite. We still got in a decent amount of rides, but also got to enjoy the vibe with perfect blue skies all day. And we got to share the magic with a huge number of people. The crowds were just about at Disneysea Japan levels, with the added challenge of hundreds of mobility scooters. It’s always a challenge to avoid your ankles getting attacked by strollers at theme parks, but I’ve never had to avoid so many mobility scooters before. Somehow we all managed to escape with ankles intact though.

We got to ride all the favourites, many of them multiple times. Matterhorn Bobleds was the overall favourite, with Big Thunder, Incredicoaster and Indiana Jones close behind. The water rides were also great fun, especially on the sunny day. We loved Grizzly River and and never had to wait. I think it was too cold for the locals to ride!

Getting ready for Switzerland at Matterhorn Bobsleds
Big Thunder Railroad
Inside Space Mountain
Some bear – not sure who!
The Old California Screamin’ – now rebranded as Incredicoaster
Much harder to drive than a real car!

A few of the rides were done for Nostalgic reasons. Anna still has a soft spot for Pooh Bear and that part of the park brought back very happy 6 year old memories for her. We had a ride on Goofy’s Sky (the renamed Mulholland Madness) which was Matt’s favourite roller coaster when he was 4. I had great memories from the Alice in Wonderland ride from the when I was 5 (yes it’s still there!) but the queue was never short enough to bother.

Back in 2004
So many expensive yummy treats!

The parade and fireworks were magical and the Fantasmic show over the lake was a typical Disney spectacular of lights, music, fountains and special effects. Visiting just before Christmas made it even more special with all the extra celebrations. We walked over 30,000 steps each day and came away exhausted, but enjoyed every minute of the magic.

It’s a Small World by day
And by night
It’s a Small World Christmas Edition
Haunted Mansion Holiday – super popular but a bit weird with spooky meets Christmas theme

I’ll leave you with a few pictures of our favourite photos from the parade.

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