By Diane Ako
First, let me preface by saying that we all struggled through spring break with head colds. Murphy's Law dictates that Olivia would get a head cold the evening before we flew out of Hawaii. She started sniffling at bedtime and woke up with a juicy head cold.
Just as naturally, Murphy's Law dictates she would quickly share the love with me. Of course, nothing can go perfectly smoothly.
Head colds couldn't dampen our enthusiasm for Disney, though, so on our very first full day, we visited Disneyland. I could see the Matterhorn and Tomorrowland from the I-5 freeway and I started hooting and hollering in the car about how happy I was. I'm pretty sure I like it more than our kid, though she is a close second.
I love the first minutes of walking into the park after a long absence. I get very excited about the promise of fun and thrills. Walt Disney was so smart to build an empire on imagination.
The good: We actually got on nine rides on the first day. I'm no expert, but for a crowded Sunday during spring break season, this seems pretty decent. We spent six hours at the park, but our average wait time for each ride was 25 minutes. The rest of the time was spent on water and food breaks, or simply walking from ride to ride around the 85 acre park.
There are eight themed areas within the park, but our favorite is still Fantasyland. "Enchanted tales of childhood adapted from classic Disney animated films come to life in this timeless realm of imagination. Within this magical Old World setting, guests can fly to Never Land (Peter Pan’s Flight), see an elephant fly (Dumbo the Flying Elephant), navigate an out-of-control motorcar (Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) or attend a mad tea party (Alice in Wonderland)," according to the website.
At age six and a half, Olivia is just starting to be too old for some of these kiddie rides. There were a couple rides she said were too young for her, but yet she enjoyed most of the rest of the rides. Then again, her head cold played a factor.
A tip: There's a big ride board in Main Street that lists estimate wait times for rides. Check that frequently, or download one of the number of free apps that update wait times. While we didn't get on every single ride, nor even the major rides, we were happy with a continuous flow of smaller rides.
The challenging: It was a Sunday and it was very hot, which made for a slightly wilted time. My two other visits to Disney as a parent have been during spring break and October, and I recall extremely hot weather and long lines for the former, and chilly and stormy weather for the latter.
What we did in the middle of the day was take a lunch break at Downtown Disney, at a nice restaurant called Uva Bar & Cafe. The price was probably comparable or only slightly more than within the park, and it was certainly worth it for the quiet, air conditioned, no-line experience in the heat of the afternoon.
We then shopped at Downtown Disney for the same reason - to wait out the lines. I suppose if one was staying in one of the Disney properties it would be easy enough to hang out at the pool or the room during this time, but we are at our friends' house in Irvine.
How convenient that just a few days before we arrived, Starbucks Coffee Company and the Disneyland Resort opened a new company-owned Starbucks location at Downtown Disney.
We found the ride lines started easing up ever so slightly after 4 o clock, enough for us to have a few more rides before calling it a day.
We then were shuttled to Disney's off-site parking area, and while the shuttle service is excellent and speedy, that just takes another 10 or 15 minutes to account for.
All in all, a nice day at Disneyland. I guess I like so much because the rides haven't really changed since I was a child coming here with my mother. Mom and I came here a handful of times, and it was always fun. These exact same rides bring me back to my youth.
I hadn't thought much of the park in the last couple decades, but having a child made me want to recreate that feeling. Sometimes I'd sit down for a ride with Olivia and spend a lot of time looking at her face to see her reaction. The awe and wonder on my child's face was enough to make all the travel, time, and expense worth it.
I suppose Walt Disney said it best on July 17, 1955 during the park's dedication: "Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America … with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."
If you go:
Published rate for ticket prices start at $92 per day for this park. For more information go to https://disneyland.disney.go.com.