Since 1955, California’s Disneyland has been putting smiles on faces with a magical dose of entertainment, excitement and fun. As Helen Hayes discovered, there is always something new to see.
|There is something really heartwarming about being in a happy place; a place where there is no swearing, no carbon tax debate and no violence. I spend four days buzzing around the pristine, fairytale lands inside Disneyland and see not just families, but seniors, college kids, corporate types and all kinds of groups smiling themselves silly. It is the ultimate escape from the rigours of the real world.|
If you have never been to Disneyland California, here is the lowdown. There are two parks to have fun in – Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park. You can access both with one ticket and both have all kinds of rides and attractions for all ages. There are gentle rides for toddlers, thrill rides for adrenalin-fuelled teens and shows and rides that all will enjoy.
You can stay onsite, eat onsite and most importantly, make memories that your children will never, ever forget.
Okay, so I am really lucky. Lucky enough to be at Disneyland for the opening of a brand new ride, the reopening of a ride that has been completely revamped and also for the official opening of the new fantasmagorical Disney parade.
Ariel, the gutsy mermaid who wants to have feet, now has her own ride. The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is in the Disney California Adventure Park, and once I slide into my cute clamshell seat I am taken down into Ariel’s world ‘under the sea’. We cruise through a number of scenes from the movie, brought to life with incredible audio-animatronics technology. There are 200 figures that dance and swim and ‘sing’ those songs we love so much – Part of Your World, Under the Sea, and of course, Kiss the Girls. The Under the Sea scene is spectacular.
From under the sea I go into the galaxy with the reopening of Star Tours Adventures in Disneyland. The technology is brand new, delivering an innovative 3-D experience and because there are more than 50 different story combinations you can do the ride again and again and fly through different planets and come across different Star Wars characters. I do the ride three times and really feel like I am flying at warp speed through the landscapes of Coruscant, the icy planet of Hoth (where we narrowly miss being trodden on by an AT-AT), and the jungles of Kashyyyk where we encounter a gun-toting Chewbacca. We dive, we tip, and on each of the rides we scream, as the action is so realistic – especially when things hit the windscreen.
After all that drama flying around multiple galaxies, it is welcome relief to stand on Main Street USA to watch the new Soundsational Parade. The crowds gather, with little princesses excitedly hopping from foot to foot while others have a prime position on Dad’s shoulders. And then we hear the beat of the drums. Squeals follow, as kids both big and small see Mickey, playing drums in a huge float. There are nine different floats, all featuring different Disney hits and all with a toe-tapping musical accompaniment. The parade beats on every day at 4pm and 6.30pm – have your camera ready.
Once you’ve done the new stuff, make your way to some of the tried-and-true favourites. In California Adventure Park, I see the sights of California on Soarin’ Over California, get a little wet on the Grizzly River Rapids, laugh and jump at the very entertaining “It’s Tough to Be a Bug”, and fail miserably at learning to draw Goofy at the Animation Academy.
I even man up and tackle the California Screamin’ rollercoaster, which goes from 0 to 89 kph in four seconds. That doesn’t sound fast but believe me, it is ear-flappingly fast. I buckle in, nerves jangling and then we blast off and hurtle up and down and around and around like an over-inflated balloon that has been let go. I manage to open my eyes at one point but spend the ride hanging on for grim death. Embarrassingly, everyone else, including several six year olds, love it.
I slink over to California Adventure Park and look for something more sedate. I hop on Splash Mountain, search for Johnny Depp on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, ghost through the Haunted Mansion and then decide to try the Indiana Jones Adventure. Over 95 million people have ridden it since 1995, so it can’t be that scary, right? Right! It’s non-stop action with spectacular effects.
World of Color
In the mornings, it’s odd to see a lot of people running through the California Adventure Park. Apparently they are running to get a fastpass to the World of Color. I am intrigued and join the queue. Once it starts my jaw drops open and I am gobsmacked as more than 1000 jets of water shoot up and across with different colours creating a magic spectacle.
The wall of water then acts as a movie screen, showing highlights of some of Disney’s best movies as music pumps all around. People are oohing, aahing and some even shed a tear, with the scenes and music taking us all on an emotional journey.
It is a magical experience. The show starts at 9pm and in busy times there is another one at 10.15pm.
What’s coming up
Because Disneyland will, in the words of its creator Walt Disney, “never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world”, a new land will be unveiled in the summer of 2012 as well as a new look for California Adventure.
Cars Land will be a massive drawcard for all the fans of Lightning McQueen, Mater and the gang, with three incredible rides situated in a recreated Radiator Springs, complete with many touches from Route 66.
It is going to be truly spectacular and just one more reason why Disneyland California Resort will always be the ‘happiest place on earth.”
Disneyland Resort California. www.disneyland.com.au
V Australia flies from the east coast of Australia to Los Angeles twice a day. Premium Economy is highly recommended for the extra comfort and beautiful meals you’ll experience. www.vaustralia.com
There are three hotels in Disneyland, with the Grand Californian right on the boundary of Disney California Adventure. If you have small children you can easily duck back to the hotel for a bit of quiet time or a swim in the enormous pool before you head back into the Park. Disneyland Hotel is also highly recommended, with a new pool and waterslides.
Make sure you book for a character breakfast – the Plaza Inn is best for characters and Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel and Storytellers Café at the Grand Californian best for food.
The Fastpass is fabulous! The most popular rides – such as The Little Mermaid - Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, Star Tours, Indiana Jones Adventure and California Screamin’ offer the Fastpass option. Scan your park ticket at the Fastpass machines and receive a special ticket with a time frame on it. Come back during that time and go straight on to the ride.
Watch out for characters wandering around the Park – your kids will love having their photos taken with Buzz, Woody, Winnie the Pooh, their favourite princess or even Mickey!
If you have a child that is car mad, visit Ridemakerz in Downtown Disney.