13 June 2017

Solo Trip to Disneyland and California Adventure

What's a girl to do who loves Disney theme parks, but has limited time and budget during a whirlwind 4-day trip to Anaheim/Southern California?

Obviously, let the husband do his own thing for the day and go to the parks solo (slashing ticket prices in half by purchasing one instead of two! Bet you never saw a "Saving Money at Disneyland" blog post that recommended leaving beloved family members behind in order to save money before!) AND go to two parks in one day in order to experience the best of both without using any more time than necessary.

It should be noted that the fact that I went alone to the parks was a completely willing choice on both sides for Angel and I. Sure, if there had been more time and money, I would have loved to experience the parks with him, but during our short time in the area, I really, really wanted to experience the parks, while he isn't such a big theme park fan, so spending time with his relatives and visiting his old neighborhood was more important to him.

Disneyland and California Adventure Solo Trip

Because I didn't have a phone or any way to contact him once we got separated (we were sharing one active phone for our month in the USA), I planned that I would stay until the park closed at 11:00 p.m. and he'd pick me up outside the gates of the park. If anything happened and he wasn't there to pick me up...I'd just have to live in Downtown Disney forever. No big deal.

I was at California Adventure bright and early and inside the park before official opening in the morning. The layout of the park was very unfamiliar--I knew I ought to get to Radiator Springs Racers first thing...but I had no clear idea on how to get there or where the fastpass station for that ride is set up. I ended up taking the long way to the ride, but once I got there, a long line had formed and they'd just opened up the single rider line, so I got in that line and was on the ride in less than five minutes. I hadn't researched California Adventure much at all, so I didn't know what to expect, but this ride was a perfect "Welcome back!" to Disney parks. So elaborate and fun and detailed. I absolutely loved it.

I then started walking toward Paradise Pier, where I stumbled upon the World of Color fastpass machines and grabbed one of those before riding The Little Mermaid ride.

Then I wandered through the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail before riding Grizzly River Run--I took a technique I'd learned from living in Asia and wore a disposable dollar store raincoat for the water ride so that I could cover up my camera and purse and ride without having to worry about finding a locker. I probably looked funny but oh well--the family group that I was with on that ride was very funny--the grandfather did tell me that if I was afraid of water that this probably wasn't the right ride for me. :P I love rapids-style rides and normally don't mind getting wet at all, but...I'm protective of my camera!

After that I went to Soarin' Around the World, which had a line, so I got a fastpass and wandered over towards Hollywood Land and rode the Monster's Inc. ride, before being lured into the special sneak preview of the new Pirates of the Caribbean. I can't resist a Pirates movie! Probably not the most strategic use of theme park time but I enjoyed a chance to sit down and the extended preview was fun--I was especially glad to see it because the busyness of our trip meant that I didn't get to see the new movie until a few weeks after it came out!

By then my Soarin' fastpass was open so I went to ride it--this was the ride where I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I teared up--when they were going over the Great Wall of China, and tropical islands that remind me of the tropical islands of Asia that I love so much.

I wanted to stay in the park until the Frozen stage show began, but it wasn't time to line up quite yet so I bought a lemonade to cool down with and wandered around a little bit to see all the sights--I got a 1st Visit button and explored a bit until it was time to go line up for the show. I so enjoyed the Frozen performance...and...again...cried. I've only seen the movie once, back when it first came out, so my memories of the film were hazy. I love everything about theater--the sets and costumes and props and dances...just watching any live show makes me want to plunge into the life of auditions and rehearsals. Ahh...what my town needs is a community theater that has roles for English-speaking Caucasians. ;)

As soon as the Frozen performance was finished, I sped quickly into Disneyland--and immediately realized that this park was much, much more crowded. The day I visited was May the 4th, and lots of people were in costume or Star Wars attire. I realized I'd have to be very efficient in order to get things done and ran first to get a FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad--it only had about a 20 minute wait until my time slot would open up, so I went from there to the Haunted Mansion and waited in the shade and got a bit of a rest while waiting for me to be allowed to pull another fastpass.

Once I had gotten my Haunted Mansion fastpass I went to ride Thunder Mountain (fun!), and then headed over toward the Matterhorn to grab a fastpass for that as soon as my Haunted Mansion fastpass became valid. Then I walked back across the park to ride Haunted Mansion (this was not the best park strategy if I were trying to limit steps for the day...but I was confident that Disney adrenaline could keep me going till 11 p.m., jetlag or no jetlag!)

I still had time after Haunted Mansion before my Matterhorn fastpass slot opened up, so I went to ride Winnie the Pooh and then bought an ice cream sandwich because Angel had made me promise not to go the whole day without eating. He knows me well--the combination of exorbitantly priced theme park food and too much excitement and eagerness to get to the next show or ride makes me a likely candidate for ignoring something like the need to eat. I got a fastpass to Splash Mountain because the time slots there were already quite late in the evening. And then I made my way over to the Matterhorn. I was excited to try this ride, as any rides that were completely different from rides at other Disney parks were a priority for me...but I wasn't a fan of the Matterhorn. Too bumpy for my preferences, so it wasn't much fun.

As soon as that was over, I no longer had any fastpass time slots hanging over me, so I just started getting into line for whichever rides I felt like trying out. I did Autopia and the Storybookland Canal Boats (first of all, boat rides are my all-time favorite, and so are miniatures, so this was one of my favorite rides of the day!).  I wandered into the Sleeping Beauty Castle and rode Alice in Wonderland.  As I was walking, I passed by a group of pirates on their way to a performance, and one of the pirates told me he liked my hair, so the perfect day just became even more perfect. I passed by some guests who were saying, "Disney employees are just the worst!" but clearly I have no idea what they were talking about. I had only good experiences the entire day! I figured I had time for one more ride before heading back to California Adventure for World of Color, so I got in line for Pirates of the Caribbean. The line was long, but I mean, who am I to pass up a Pirates ride?? That cannot be.

Passing by the Blue Bayou restaurant brought back happy memories of my 25th birthday dinner at the Blue Bayou in Tokyo.

Then it was back into California Adventure--I stopped for a bread sample and a free square of Ghirardelli chocolate before getting myself a little spot to watching World of Color from. See, Angel, I did eat! I enjoyed the show, but I was rather mystified by how nearly everyone around me had their phones out recording the entire show while they were watching it. I love to take videos myself...but I can't imagine ever watching something like a video of a water and light show. Seeing it in real life is good enough for me, but a phone-quality home video of it just sounds not entertaining. My favorite part of the show you couldn't guess...the Captain Jack scene. So predictable...

And then it was back to Disneyland to squeeze in a few more rides before closing. I rode the Finding Nemo Submarine, used my Splash Mountain fastpass, then raced to do the Jungle Cruise and Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters before closing.

I got to see just a bit of the Main Street Electrical Parade before heading out of the park at 11:00 p.m. Angel was there waiting for me and I was filled with excitement as I told him of the day's adventures. I think he was very glad that he didn't go to the parks with me for the day, as that fast-paced adventure of trying to squeeze both parks into one day would not have been the right fit for his slightly less-energetic self. I didn't even take time to eat a real meal the whole day, so once we got back to his aunt's house, I realized I was starving and ate a bagel with cream cheese before bed. We had to be up early and on our way to Joshua Tree the next morning!

Have you ever gone to a theme park by yourself? What the coolest theme park you've ever been to?


  1. I have been to Disneyland in Paris so I have been fan of Disney. Hollywood studio really looks fun. Pirates of Caribbean looks interesting.

  2. So cool. I am living vicariously through you. I have NEVER been to Disney in my life, it is a dream of mine, I love hearing about other peoples fun trips!

  3. I only once was to Disneyland Paris. Would love to do the Radiator Springs ride =p For me & hubby that kinds of agreement is usually done in regards to shopping malls, but I've also been to the cinema alone before

    Have a great week :)

  4. I would absolutely LOVE to go! It is so much fun to hear the stories of other trips because i can't make it myself. I also love your hair!

  5. Wowie, girl! You packed so much in! How fun that you were able to have your Disney time! <3

  6. I love Disney parks too and totally enjoy going solo every now and again. Glad you got your fun time squeezed in!!!

  7. I absolutely love doing the Disney parks solo! And I'm off to Disneyland for only the second time in July, so this post has me super excited for my upcoming trip!

  8. How fun! I've never gone to one on my own, but I don't really like a ton of rides so it might not work so well if I was on my own. haha I can see it being fun for some though!


  9. Love that you went by yourself and had a great time :)

  10. This looks like so much fun!! I think going alone is more fun sometimes! haha

  11. Awww I LOVE the idea of going to explore Disneyland on my own. I don't like being tied to someone else's schedule hahaha

  12. It looks like you had so much fun! I love that you got to go alone - you can really experience everything YOU want that way!! Disney is the best no matter what age you are! :)

  13. Dan and I LOVED Radiator Springs. It was our favorite part!

  14. I hate all theme parks except Disneyland. I love it! The last time I went they were still building California Adventure, so I haven't been there. The Alice in Wonderland ride broke down while we were riding it which made it a fun little adventure. Pirates is my all time favorite ride. I can't wait to go back soneday!

  15. Such an exciting day! I would probably do the same thing if I was in your shoes, I LOVE disney and even though I've never been to Disneyland I feel like I know it very well. I would want to conquer it alone to get the most done in such a short period of time!

  16. I have only ever been to Disneyland Paris which I think is like the tiny wimpy version of a proper Disney theme park. It was pretty fun though! I managed to bypass the Disney thing somehow when I was young so it doesn't have the nostalgia factor for me, but I have to say the park looks so lovely.

  17. I haven't been to a theme park by myself before, but this looks like SUCH a great day! I haven't been to Disney in CA before either. And it looks awesome!!

  18. Aww this sounds like the best day ever! For real! I don't know if I would ever be brave enough to go to a theme park by myself, but I don't know why. It sounds like you had a fantastic time!