A statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse with Sleeping Beauty's castle behind them at Disneyland.

Grandma Goes to Disneyland for the First Time

The first and last time I visited the Happiest Place on Earth, I believe I was about nine years old. It was during the holiday season, and I remember the childhood wonder of it snowing in California alongside Sleeping Beauty’s castle while proudly wearing my Minnie Mouse Santa hat ears.

My grandma’s memory of Disneyland is much different, making it to the parking lot with my grandfather in 1961, only to find the park closed, and since then, never making her way back.

So I was ecstatic to be the lucky caller to win a family four pack to Disneyland and California Adventure during Pixar Fest while listening to Dave & Mahoney in the morning on X107.5.

A couple of weeks later, my grandmother, brother, boyfriend and I had the vehicle loaded and were on our way to California for what was guaranteed to be a memorable and magical two days.

The first day we took on the big guns that is Disneyland, armed with MaxPass and weeks of me cramming in as much information as possible into my brain prior to try and take it all in, in a single days time. Undoubtedly, the first thing we had to do was grab my grandma a “First Visit” button before heading off to Frontier Land for Indiana Jones!

While I loved the changes made to Tomorrow Land to include Star Wars, particularly the very animated Storm Troopers, which was impressive considering the helmets, my grandma was far from a fan of the pitch black twists and turns of Space Mountain, or the Matterhorn for that matter. Understandably so, as I never noticed how rough that bobsled ride really is, but I guess that’s the last thing on your mind when you’re nine years old and have a yeti reaching towards you. I was happy to see the following day that Harold, the former Matterhorn yeti, has found a new home with the Guardians of the Galaxy in California Adventure.

Without a doubt, showing up early, fully utilizing the Disneyland app with MaxPass and hopping to different ends of the park to avoid high traffic times in each land made all the difference. The longest we waited the whole day was a mere 30 minutes for the Peter Pan ride as a way to kill time between our next FastPass and the fireworks show that evening.

  • Did the ride for your FastPass suddenly go down? Don’t delete it on the Disneyland app to claim another! It will turn into a FastPass good for any ride that utilizes the FastPass system in the park for the remainder of the day!

We covered so much in so little time, including everyone’s must-sees and so much more! Including time to leisurely stroll down Main Street, look for hidden Mickeys and find new displays I didn’t even know the park housed. We finished off the evening with ice cream cones as we enjoyed the firework show, complete with Buzz Lightyear and the house from Up flying across the castle. Pure perfection.

There is a very good chance that we all fell asleep before hitting the pillow that evening.

Day two we boarded the shuttle, all of us ready to take on California Adventure for our very first time. One of our first missions was making our way to Guardians of the Galaxy- Mission: BREAKOUT! which already had guests lining up at as soon as the park opened. The perfect way to pass the time before we were able to make our way to Radiator Springs, my grandma’s must visit with Cars being her favorite Pixar film.

Not knowing what to expect we were all a little nervous and excited for this gut dropping ride. We were not disappointed! It became the group favorite and we even made it a point to ride one more time before we headed back to Vegas, exhausted.

  • Two day, no park hopper ticket? Be sure to do Disneyland the first day. With so much to take in you’ll want to be at your best and most energized to take on the fun, and the crowds!

Much of California Adventures felt under construction with most of the soon to be Pixar Pier behind cleverly themed walls to hide the new amusements that would be coming soon. Ultimately I think the way it worked out was for the best, allowing us enough time to head home and recoup before getting back to the grind the following morning, and in desperate need of a weekend to recuperate from a wonderful weekend.

Have any insider or pro tips for taking on Disneyland?


Written by ashleighrenay

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