I love Disney’s California Adventure. I love Disneyland. I am “one of those” people who can quote any Disney movie, owned multiple stuffed Disney characters, and was on my way to collecting all of the Disney movies ever created. For 3 years, I worked at Disney’s California Adventure: I worked 6 days a week, varying from 4-hour to 18-hour shifts, and I spent almost all of my free time before and after shifts playing in the Parks. I was living the dream!
Normally, I stay away from most questions asked on Facebook. My feed tends to fill up with people asking for recommendations for homeowner upkeep, stuff for their kids, and places to visit. I don’t own a house, I don’t have kids, and unless their trips are taking them to Utah or along the I-15 corridor between LA and Salt Lake City, I still consider myself a newer traveler and only offer my opinion if I feel strongly about something they’re asking.
However, a blogger that I follow posted a question on Facebook, asking which Park to take her kids to: Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure. As per usual, people started to comment and give their opinion.
So did I.
I did it. I commented and gave my opinion. I said something along the lines of: do your research. Look at the rides, shows, parades, and food in each Park and determine what your family would rather see. When in doubt, default to Disneyland: The Mothership. And after a few back-and-forths with a few other commenters, she decided on Disneyland. Now, I’m pretty confident that my comment had absolutely NO influence upon her decision, but it got me thinking.
Am I turning my back on my roots? On the place that provided my livelihood for 3+ years? The place where I once was paid to rollerblade and take pictures with kids?
Not at all. I love Disney’s California Adventure and it will always be a part of me, but if given a choice between it and Disneyland, I will ALWAYS choose Disneyland…and here are a few reasons why!
Some of my earliest memories take place at Disneyland
Back in the day, you know, long before ToonTown was even a thing, there used to be so many lesser-known character interactions. Since the amount of Disney movies and cartoons were still minimal, there wasn’t as much variety with which characters you would see out and about. And there was still ROOM for said character interactions to actually take place within FantasyLand or whateverLand they were associated with…none of this stick-all-the-princesses-in-one-location mess.
When I was about 6, my family visited Disneyland (we always had passes growing up…back when they didn’t cost you a kidney) and we participated in one of my favorite character interactions at the time. In FantasyLand, you can find King Arthur’s Carousel smack-dab in the middle, with The Sword in the Stone right in front of it. During the day, Merlin used to come out and meet guests at the Sword. He scoured the audience that had congregated, looking for the one person who could pull the Sword from the Stone. Only the pure of heart and mind would be able to pull it. After having one of the strongest-looking men try to pull the Sword, Merlin chose me! I ran up and with the roaring support of the large crowd that was surrounding me at this point, I pulled the Sword from the Stone! I couldn’t believe it! Here I was, a 6-year-old little girl and was able to successfully pull the Sword when a very strong man couldn’t!
Once the Sword was pulled, music filled our ears and I was suddenly draped in a heavy, velvet cape, a too-big crown was placed on my head, and a scepter thrust into my hand. Merlin had adorned me in “typical” regalia for royalty. We took a picture together and (here’s where I date myself) then Merlin put the polaroid in a fancy, aged scroll, declaring that I was “Queen Rachelle.” I have the scroll somewhere and will cherish it forever. Maybe it will become a family heirloom!
Disneyland Castle is the image we all saw at the beginning of every Disney movie
Remember when I said at the start of this post that I could quote almost every movie? Yeah, that’s no joke. I loved Disney movies and got so excited every time we stuck a tape in the VCR. Remember that little jingle as the blue screen appeared, then the white castle, then the white “rainbow” over the castle? Then, when technology improved, we actually got to see Tinkerbell doing her thing and making the “rainbow” happen? And nowadays, the actual colorful castle with a moat and usually a little village or whatever fit the movie (thinking about the live-action Beauty and the Beast)? As much as I love California Adventure, there’s no way we’d be able to have the large grizzly bear from Grizzly River Run at the start of those movies!
We all revert to our inner child as soon as we enter Main Street, USA
As a Cast Member, I’ve been present for numerous Park opening ceremonies: they’re amazing! Characters come from everywhere, singing ensues, and even sometimes, confetti. No matter how many times I’ve seen this spectacle, I get so excited and just want to run down Main Street, USA, doing cartwheels and other acrobatics that, in real life, I would probably shatter a hip or two. I once went to Disneyland with my mom and sister, just a quick girl’s trip. When they open the Park, there’s usually a long red velvet rope that the Guests get to hold and carry as they enter the Park as the “first Guests.” We were right behind those folks, and as soon as the opening song started and they began walking, we tore off over to TomorrowLand, angry voices behind us, yelling that we had to slow down. Whatever. We were 5 again.
My trip feels unfinished when I only visit Disney’s California Adventure
The last time I was at the Disneyland Resort was for my nephew’s birthday, and due to timing restrictions, I was only able to visit Disney’s California Adventure with them. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to adequately describe the hole in my heart when I finally realized that I wasn’t going to be able to return with them the next day to “finish” my Disneyland Resort experience. I needed to scream on Space Mountain. I needed to yank on the rope in the Indiana Jones ride. I needed to fly with Peter Pan. I needed to sing along with the Pirates of the Caribbean. I needed to practice my driving skills at Autopia.
And with that, I think I need to start planning a trip to Disneyland with all this talk about it! Have you ever been to Disneyland before? Any Disney Park? What are your thoughts?