Monday, January 28, 2013

Going to The Promised Land; Part One

One of the first things I thought when the Tofu Muchacha finally told me where we were moving, after months of uncertainty, was “California? That's where Disneyland is!!”

I'm not kidding. She was there, and she can attest.

You see... As many of you know if you've been reading this blog is that I've been to Walt Disney World in Florida many times. I consider it my favorite place. My happy place. My... ehem.. “Laughing Place”. Still, I'd never been to Disneyland. Before moving here, I'd only been to California twice at all, and one of those was for work, and the other was on the Great Piano Adventure (LINK). It was always my secret shame as a Disney Fan. A Disney lunatic who'd never been to where it all started? To some degree I felt like a fraud.

At the same time, I was longing to go there. To see, first hand, the places Walt Disney himself conceived. To walk the roads he walked. To touch the doors he touched. More than anything in my fandom of "Disney", Walt was my favorite part. He's inspired me with his creations for my whole life, and I always felt incomplete as an acolyte without having visited, witness, his great creation. The movies can come to you. Disneyland is a pilgrimage.

Sounds dramatic, probably, and it is. I take this very seriously.

I moved to California on December 7th and from that point I started plotting my first trip down the state to Disneyland.

First off... I should mention for those of you not from California... Sacramento and Anaheim are not close. It's 415 miles from my house to Disneyland. That's a SOLID drive. Even going 70 the whole way (fat chance), it's 6 hours, and that's not taking into account the god-awful Los Angeles traffic. Google Maps calls it 6 and a half hours. Every person I spoke to estimated closer to 8. For whatever reason that 90 minute difference just seems like a lot to me. It's the difference between driving from Cincinnati to Detroit and Cincinnati to Atlanta. Detroit just seems closer. (All together: “That's because it is!”)

So my point is.. whether the drive is six or eight hours, it's not a “go on a whim for an afternoon” kind of distance. It does require at least a little planning, and basically a whole day for travel if you're driving.

It seemed that all my weekends for the first month were accounted for from the start. Christmas, then visitors, and birding, and fun. All fun, don't get me wrong. I love having visitors, and I love my new (slightly) cheaper hobby of birding. Heck... I haven't even had a chance to set up my workshop yet. It's just been busy. Then, the TM's job presented me with an opportunity to make myself scarce. She's this work event, you see, and she warned me that she'd be swamped for a whole weekend with planning.


Now, obviously, I'd rather have had the TM with me. In fact, she's been to Disneyland a bunch of times, though not for a while, so it'd be cool to have been on the other end of the “Park Knowledge” thing for once. Still, this was a great chance for me to go, and stay out of her hair while she worked. (Since we don't really know anyone, we've been spending a TON of time together, which is awesome, but we are also both proponents of doing our own thing from time to time.

Now that the weekend was determined, I set about planning the actual trip. I went on the Disney Parks website and priced out a stay of 2 days and it was mind-bogglingly expensive for a 2 night trip for one person in the middle of slow season. Yikes. Anyway, I ended up getting a decent deal on a hotel just off property and I bought my park hoppers separately.

Then came the big decision... On a whim, I decided to check out the cost of flights, and I found a round trip into Santa Ana (Orange County/John Wayne Airport) for about what gas would have cost me for the full round trip. I realized that with cabs to and from the airport, and airport parking, I'd still be a little in the hole, but the extra time I'd have at Disneyland was the key to my decision. I'd get into DL at 5:30pm instead of 11:30pm on Thursday, and I could stay until 5pm on Saturday instead of having to leave a noon. That's 11 additional hours in the parks. A whole extra day.

It was a no brainer. Done.

So I now knew my whole itinerary.

Fly in. Grab a few hours on Thursday night in the park. Do Disneyland the entire next day, and do California Adventure on Saturday before my flight, still having from 9am to 4pm at the park before having to leave for the airport. Sounded amazing to me.

This is the plan. And I will say that it was a good one. The first night I got there and flew into Santa Ana as the Sun was setting over Disneyland. I could see the Matterhorn from my window on the plane, and I was getting antsy already. Fortunately the lady next to me was nice.

One thing I assumed the entire time was that it'd be sunny and warm. I was wrong. It rained pretty much the entire time I was there. Turns out, this was possibly my biggest advantage. Disneyland, far more than WDW is often crowded with local teens with too much time on their hands. Nothing keeps the hoards of emo, skinny-jeaned children at bay like pending rain. The place was just about empty. It was amazing.

My goal for my trip was to start with the rides that don't exist at Walt Disney World, and then after checking those off, moving on toward old favorites.

Later this week, Part 2.


  1. DAMN IT, DAN! A blog about Disneyland that is only about the anticipation of Disneyland but doesn't get into actually BEING at Disneyland? You are a tease, sir. Hurry up and write part 2.

  2. Looking forward to your next post. I haven't been to Disneyland since I was 8 years old (30-something years ago!) But I faithfully travel with my family to Disney World every year. In fact, we leave this coming Saturday morning to make the 11 hour drive to Orlando for our annual week at Disney World. It is my favorite place on earth. (Second favorite is the Great Smokey Mountains.)