Disneyland: Our First Christmas Back, Day 1 Part 4

Saturday, December 27, Day 1 Part 4

Enjoying the Decorations at Disneyland Park

This next part is probably the least favorite part of the trip. So we may as well get it over with.

Our plan was to soak up the Christmas atmosphere at Disneyland Park and because we knew it would be crowded, we thought we’d be fine strolling through the park, admiring the decorations. We had already experienced the most crowded Downtown Disney we had ever seen as we shuffled our way through it, forced to a slow crawl. We were also warned earlier to get our hands stamped when we entered DCA because the parks would be filled to capacity. We also noticed during our stay that the parking portion of your Annual Pass would not be honored due to the crowded conditions—you would have to pay for parking ($12 per day) in the parking garage like everybody else. This didn’t apply to us because we had valet-parked ($17 a day) at the Disneyland Hotel, but we thought it was an interesting observation.

We approached the bag check just as a parking garage shuttle had landed so the crowds swarmed in ahead of us. Unlike some of the parks at WDW, there is no bag-free security line. When we asked about that the next morning the CM said, “We’re checking coats, too” as if she had never heard of a bag-free security line. Okay…

Moving right alone, we entered the park on the right-hand side—big mistake! People were already lining up for the parade. If we had checked a schedule, we wouldn’t have entered until it was over. We weren’t thinking. And Disneyland doesn’t make park hours and events easily known like WDW does. You have to track down the info you need. We had become used to having this info in our hotel room at WDW. But we could have asked or checked online, but we just didn’t think about it.

We wanted to walk down Main Street and then head off to the left toward our favorite lands: Frontierland, Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Bear Country, and Toon Town, if not Fantasyland. But the CMs were directing us to the right side only. When I said we wanted to ride the train, she curtly said the train wasn’t working for the parade. Not true—we later saw the train running (maybe the parade was over by then—at that point, we were unaware.) But then when the crowd tried to walk down Main Street in the direction the CMs were sending us, the CMs halted our progress because it was too jammed and sent us back to the left the direction we wanted to go in the first place. But toward the end of Main Street, they forced us to go to Tomorrowland —the one land we didn’t want to tour tonight. When I muttered, “this isn’t what I had in mind” the woman in front of me laughed.

We ended up winding back through Fantasyland, which was good, but we were stuck in a dead end the next time they were opening up a place to cross. Anyway, long story short, it was quite frustrating and difficult to navigate through such crowds! We felt forced to watch a parade, and I know that’s what a lot of you do enjoy, but that’s not why we were there. We eventually found our way on the other side of the parade route by It’s A Small World and Toon Town. Aha! Progress finally!!! We escaped the parade.

Check out It’s A Small World all decked out for Christmas. We enjoyed viewing the lights, and decided we’d return the next morning to actually ride the new and refurbished and Christmas version of this attraction.

From there we left the crowds behind and toured Toon Town, all decorated, including Minnie’s house and Mickey’s house. We even stopped into a shop and bought a couple of plates to add to our collection we started when we were living near WDW.

We strolled through Fantasyland, noticing that nothing was really decorated there, and took the back way leading to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Big Thunder Ranch. Ah, this quiet trail is one of our favorites, especially at night. New Orleans Square was next and it was also decked out. We made our way to the Haunted Mansion to experience Haunted Mansion Holiday for the first time. Woo hoo! The night was picking up!

Next: Wow—is this the same ride???

It’s about time to wrap up this first day, and the sooner we can get to our Napa Rose dinner.

The Haunted Mansion Holiday version was one of the top three attractions we wanted to experience this trip. Because of the holiday crowds, we set our expectations low, which worked out very well for us. So we got in line – it was about 45 minutes long – but it was festive and fun being with the crowds and we also noticed that waiting in line at night is a lot easier than during a hot summer day. We really love doing the HM at WDW at night – it seems to add to the atmosphere – and this was a first for us – doing the HM at DL at night. We liked it.

The teens behind us were cracking us up talking about if one friend with a big head married another friend with a big head – just imagine how big their kid’s head would be. LOL. Their conversation inspired the teen novel I’ve started writing. It was Saturday night and you do get a lot more teens hanging out together at Disneyland – just like I did when I was their age. And then I was sure I spotted a celebrity – well maybe 50% sure. LOL! Okay, so maybe she just looked like Patricia Wettig and her daughter. What can I say – it was dark out.

Anyway, I don’t know if I can do this ride justice. It was so much fun and we couldn’t believe the time and effort and money Disney must have invested in this ride to transform it like that. WOW! AMAZING! We especially loved the ballroom scene all decked out for Christmas with its own Christmas happenings going on just for this holiday version.

After the ride, we were so done and decided to head back to the hotel. But, of course, strolling through Downtown Disney we had to stop and listen to this South American band called “Alturas.” They were fabulous. We love the adult and eclectic music that DL Downtown Disney features. We can only hope that DD at WDW will have a transformation similar to this one. Kids were enjoying the music, too, dancing with their parents. Maybe teens weren’t as into it – didn’t see a lot of them – but it was early yet and the teens were still in the parks.

We crawled into bed, but I didn’t sleep well. Something about the pillows being scratchy and making too much noise. Note to self: bring pillows from home on next trip.

Next: Christmas Gifts

About Kathy

Novelist & Music Producer