I know. Impromptu? That suggests spontaneity. Which isn’t something you see much of on this blog, given the number of pre-trip reports and countdowns we do. But I mean, I can be spontaneous. Watch this.
Oh sorry, I just mooned the mailman. Wait. That’s not the mailman. Father O’Shaugnessy? Ha, my B.
Anyways, yeah I ended up in Anaheim for work this past week and….Well, actually, I ended up in Burbank for work but I decided to brave the LA traffic and spend some time in Anaheim. I booked an early flight for the day before so I could have a day in Disneyland!!
And it wasn’t all fun and games, either. I was there on a research mission. I was checking out the Best Western Plus Anaheim Inn as this was the hotel we had booked for the Disneyland portion of our California Road Trip.
So in this post, I am going to lay out my day in typical weheartdisney fashion and talk a little about what it’s like to go solo at a Disney park. I may end up also doing some follow up posts in the future to review my hotel and using Disneyland’s MaxPass but that probably won’t fit here.
So, here’s what I did….
My phone alarm woke me up at around 5:00AM with “A Whole New World” and I tried my best to sneak out of bed without waking Nickie, but that’s impossible. Sorry, Nickie.
But yeah, I woke up, showered, got dressed, said my goodbye to Nickie and headed to Logan Airport. I arrived at the JetBlue terminal (terminal C), made it through security, and grabbed a coffee and turkey bacon and egg sandwich from Starbucks.
Soon enough, I was on my 8:03 AM flight to LAX. Being that this flight wasn’t AS early as my typical west coast flight and I was really excited for the day ahead, I started the morning with a movie (instead of sleep.) I watched Bumblebee and LOVED it. Good stuff. And Bumblebee was soooo cute.
When the movie finished, I connected to the Wifi and realized I had a bunch of work to do so I got that done whilst watching First Man (also very good). This work pretty much carried me through the rest of the flight. The total flight time was 6 hours, 39 minutes but I kept myself busy enough that it went by rather quickly.
When we landed, however, the pilot informed us we didn’t have an available gate so we had to hang out on the tarmac for a bit. And by “a bit” I mean over 40 minutes. UGH. I had some Disneylanding to do, pilot!
Once we did finally make it to our gate, I hurried through the airport to my rental car shuttle, got to the counter, grabbed my car, and made the hourish drive to Anaheim.
When I got to the hotel, the woman behind the desk informed me my room wouldn’t be ready for another hour. I was welcome to hang out in the lobby. Which I did. FOR ABOUT 10 MINUTES. After I finished up a little work on the laptop and gave my phone a small charge, I couldn’t take it anymore. I went into my Disneyland App, bought my ticket for the day ($129.00 if anyone is wondering) and made the quick walk over to Disneyland. As this was a research mission, I made a video of the entire 2 minute walk:
I will get into the hotel itself in a little bit, but the walk was indeed short.
I then walked up, made a right to Disneyland Park and was inside the park by 2:30! It all happened so quickly, it took a minute to register that I was actually AT Disneyland.
As I was making my way down Main St…
I continued down the research path and decided to buy Disney’s MaxPass for an additional $15.00. I wasn’t sure if I was going to need it, but we have never used the service and wanted to get an idea of how it all worked. I will do a section on MaxPass itself a little later in the post.
I saw at the top of my available FastPass list that I could get one for It’s a Small World that would be available right away so I quickly nabbed it and headed over that way. As I was walking further up Main St. I was reminded by the impending façade that Sleeping Beauty Castle was still under refurbishment.
I continued on my walk and I ran smack dab into this.
Smack dab. Why did I just say “smack dab?” I legit never say “smack dab.” It’s fun to say though. Smack dab.
But yeah, Matterhorn Bobsleds! I decided to take advantage of my status as “single guy” and ask the cast member up front for a single rider pass:
And I was directed into the single rider line, where I made a quick call to Nickie and the kids to check in. Within 5 minutes, though, I was on a bobsled. Not bad, considering the standby wait time was 40 minutes.
The Matterhorn was definitely a good first ride of the day – a good use of solo status, a Disneyland-only ride, AND an actual working Yeti. Those are rare in the southeastern United States.
Since I was still within my FastPass window, I walked over to It’s a Small World.
As was going to be the trend for the day, I was given the front row of a boat. Which definitely intensifies the feeling of “look at this guy, he’s by himself.”
While I like both of them, I do prefer Disneyland’s version of Small World to the version in Walt Disney World. For a couple of reasons. For one, I really like how parts of it are outside.
Much of it feels a lot like the Disney World version…
But amidst all the dolls and the singing and what not, they have sprinkled in a little more Disney with characters populating a number of the scenes.
And obviously, adding Ariel to ANYTHING makes it better.
While I was on the attraction, I video chatted with Owen and Nickie so I could take them with me through part of the ride. I also checked MaxPass and scored a Big Thunder Mountain FastPass for later in the day (after 5:00 PM).
I also checked some wait times on the Disneyland app and noticed the Pinocchio’s Daring Journey was under 10 minutes so it looked like I was staying in Fantasyland for a bit.
Being another non-Disney World attraction, I was psyched to get right on. And once again, I was in the front row. In front of a child and her mother. Hey, everyone. Look at me. I am intruding on people’s dreams.
I still had a little time before my next FastPass window opened up, so I decided to take advantage of another single rider line at Space Mountain. On my way to Tomorrowland, I caught a glimpse of the earlier Mickey’s Soundsational Parade.
From the quick look I got, it seemed a really cute parade. But enough already, let’s blast off! Pew Pew!
The single rider entrance is actually at the exit of the attraction, so I meandered around to the back…
…and pretty much walked right on.
Space Mountain, actually, is one of those attractions where I think the Disney World version is better. I prefer the single seat rockets to the double-seaters.
I was getting hungry at this point and being at Disney, I decided to have dessert before dinner. I had my heart set on this new Chocolate, Butterfinger and Peanut Butter cup donut so I walked around asking multiple characters, “where are the donuts?” “Where are the donuts?” “WHERE ARE THE DONUTS???”
Finally, a cast member told me to check the donut cart in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Well, in front of the picture of Sleeping Beauty Castle in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Remember?
Anyways, they DID NOT have the donut I was looking for. But they had this little guy.
I still asked about the other donut, but the girl said they might be back next week. So I opted for the Mickey Donut (there was a Minnie one as well). And while it wasn’t a Chocolate Peanut Butter Donut, it WAS still good. Thing was filled with chocolate mousse.
Now that dessert was over, it was time for dinner. And Owen asked if I could try Bengal Barbecue as it was a place we did not try on our last trip and he was thinking about having it this summer. And bonus? This place was available as a mobile order option. So I put my order in through the Disneyland app when I first reached Adventureland and by the time I got to the counter, my order was ready.
I ordered the Bengal Rice Plate, which comes with jasmine rice, citrus-miso slaw and a choice of two skewers. I went with the Bengal Beef Skewer (with Zulu sauce) and the Pork Belly Skewer (with Hoisin sauce.)
It was rull good but I am not sure it would qualify as a meal. They even categorize it as a snack on the Disney site. So. All I am saying is…good thing I had that donut.
While I was at Bengal Barbecue, I checked my app and while my FastPass for Big Thunder was not ready yet, my window had opened to get another FastPass so I scored a Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster FastPass for less than an hour away.
When I finished my meal, I noticed a 10 minute wait at…
Soooo…I mean, of course I went in. And in under 10 minutes, I was aboard the Yangtzee Lotus.
Our skipper was pretty great – he told all the usual jokes but he did it with a pretty great deadpan delivery.
I noticed on my app a short wait (10 minutes) for Snow White’s Scary Adventures so I walked over to Fantasyland. On my way, I couldn’t help but snap this pic of the Rivers of America.
I was in Fantasyland soon enough and ready to be scurred.
And yes, I was once again in the front row.
After getting off Snow White, I stopped in at the Mad Hatter in Fantasyland to see some of the new ears offered. The donut ones were pretty popular as I saw a bunch of people wearing them in the park. The Up ears are also adorbz.
After I got out of the shop, I still had like 15 minutes until my Buzz Lightyear FastPass but I headed over to Tomorrowland to stop off at Star Wars Launch Bay. I ran into this guy as I was walking in.
I was soooooo close to getting in line for a meet with Darth Vader (wait was 30 minutes) because I had PhotoPass included with my MaxPass, but I decided not to. And NO, it wasn’t because I was scared. Well, it wasn’t ENTIRELY because I was scared.
I did take a nice long look at the Galaxy’s Edge model, though. Mmmmmmm, Galaxy’s Edge.
When I got out of Launch Bay, it had started raining a little bit so I found some shelter and checked my phone. I saw a FastPass for Star Tours: The Adventure Continues available for later (8:30), which worked out perfectly since I was planning on going back to the hotel shortly. I grabbed it and walked over to redeem my Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters FastPass.
I like this ride. One, because it’s fun. And two, because since they are individual cars that only hold two people, I sat by myself. Translation: not in the “front row.”
Oh, my score? It was embarrassing.
When I walked off, the window to redeem my Big Thunder Mountain FastPass was open. So I walked over to Frontierland.
When I got to the attraction, it was down. Womp. Well, sort of. My FastPass had now become one I can use on any attraction. ORRRRR. Or. I could wait for Big Thunder to come back up. Which actually seemed the better option since I was planning to come back later that night. And we all know Big Thunder is wayyy better at night.
I did make use of my time near the attraction, though, to check out the entrance to Galaxy’s Edge. I couldn’t see much, but still. Much excite.
Also much excite? Pretzels. Pretzels are much excite.
As I was walking into Critter Country, I considered jumping in the single rider line for Splash Mountain but I saw a 5-minute wait for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which is essentially a walk-on so I….walked on.
And while they tried to put my in the front row here, I let the mom and daughter in back of me jump in front. I just couldn’t take the front row anymore.
OK, I really had to go back to the hotel at this point. So I headed towards the exit. Well, first…
I can’t stop taking Rivers of America pictures, obviously.
I also stopped off at the Emporium and World of Disney (in Downtown Disney) to buy some souvenirs to bring back home. Picture taken post-trip.
And then I took the very short walk back to the Best Western Anaheim Inn.
They gave me my key at the front desk and I went up to iron my clothes for the next day of meetings, do some work, and chill for a bit. I also threw my bathing suit on and soaked in the hotel hot tub for a little bit.
I was really debating calling it a night as I was tired (I had already clocked over 20,000 steps) but of course I went back to the park. I mean. Of course. I suppose there are worse addictions to have. But I am not sure if there are more expensive ones.
Night had come, which always makes for a completely different experience.
As mentioned before, I had an anytime FastPass and wanted to use it for Big Thunder Mountain. I decided to go by way of Adventureland to get there since I kind of love Adventureland at night.
And while the Indiana Jones attraction was down for refurbishment, I did still have a reason to head ove that way…
For those that don’t know, this little house is the home of Patrick Begorra, the Little Man of Disneyland. Patrick Begorra was a character in a Disney Little Golden Book and his home has been recreated in this orange tree near the Indiana Jones queue. Keep a look out for it next time you are in line!
OK, off to the “wildest ride in the wilderness!”
I went right to the FastPass entrance, scanned my ticket, and while it was the FastPass line, it still took me about 10-15 minutes to get on.
I will say, though. Big Thunder at night is probably the best Disneyland ride for Walt Disney World-goers to ride right now. Like, at this moment. For one, Big Thunder is ALWAYS a good choice. Obviously. Especially at night. And the Disneyland version is superior in my opinion. The whole explosion sequence is so cool on the Disneyland version.
And. AND. At certain points during the ride, you can look over to Galaxy’s Edge and get a pretty good look at how construction is progressing. I couldn’t really get a picture of it, but trust me, it’s progressing.
My Star Tours: The Adventure Continues FastPass window was open once I exited Big Thunder so I moved quickly over to Tomorrowland and got into the FastPass line. On my way, I grabbed a FastPass on MaxPass for Haunted Mansion. Once in line, I’d say it probably took about 10 minutes or so to make it through. But I do love this queue so I was fine taking my time.
My StarSpeeder took me first to Jakku and then to Crait before safely landing back in Batuu. And no, I was NOT the Rebel spy. Pfft.
As I said, I did have a FastPass for Haunted Mansion but I was getting insanely tired. While it was only close to 9:30 Pacific Time, don’t forget I left the east coast that morning so to me, it was feeling close to 12:30. And I had a pretty busy day. Hella-overstimulated.
So I decided to leave and get some sleep since I had meetings the next morning. On my way out, though, I noticed everyone lining up for the Mickey’s Mix Magic show on Main Street. I mean. I can’t leave now.
So yeah, I stayed for the show. And I mean. Totally worth it. The show was like a 360 experience. Fireworks by the castle. Projections on all the buildings on Main Street. It even snowed a couple times. And everything was set to a soundtrack of remixed Disney songs.
It was a really cool show. The projections were great and the music provided some new takes on some old favorites. The whole crowd was really into the show as well, dancing and singing. I mean, they were. I wasn’t.
Fine, I tapped my feet a little.
Fine, maybe I sang a few bars of “Let it Go.”
Don’t judge me.
And I love how there really isn’t a bad spot to see the show. All up and down Main Street provides excellent vantage points. And they even project on the It’s a Small World façade and on water screens at the Rivers of America.
I took a short video to capture some of the music, projections, fireworks, and snow. Seriously glad I stuck around. But there was really no question. I was definitely not leaving.
But that was it for me for the night. While the park was still open for another hour and 20 minutes, I had to get some sleep. I broke free of my rodent captor and found my way back to the hotel. And I slept. Hardcore.
So, what was it like going solo to Disneyland?
All in all, it was a REALLY fun day at Disneyland. Travelling solo has it’s perks for sure. Single rider lines made it so much easier to get rides such as Space Mountain and Matterhorn Bobsleds out of the way without using a FastPass. Splash Mountain also offers single rider, but I didn’t feel like getting wet that day and Indiana Jones does as well, but it was down for refurbishment (there are also single rider options at California Adventure – such as Radiator Springs Racers and Incredicoaster.) If you end up travelling solo to Disneyland, definitely take advantage of single rider options.
Also, travelling solo enabled me to move at my desired pace. That pace being full-on maniac pace. I like the challenge of finding shorter wait times, using FastPass/MaxPass to its highest ability, and getting as much done as possible. I was able to knock out 10 attractions, 3 different snacks, a parade, shop for souvenirs, and get a little time at my hotel over the course of less than 1 day. So a benefit of going solo is being able to Disney like you want.
But, as I said, I did sometimes feel a little odd about being the old guy in the front row by myself. And pretty much every experience I experienced had me wishing I had my family with me to experience it. Disney is a big part of my life for sure, but its also one of the rare things all four of us completely enjoy. So while I had a lot of fun, it was tinged with a dot of bittersweet because they weren’t there. I am definitely looking forward to coming back with them (and 11 of our close friends…lol) this summer.