The Happiest Place on Earth

Disneyland: The Happiest Place on Earth. My mom took me there several times when I was very young. The last time I was there was in 1996 where we sat on Main Street, U.S.A. and watched one of the final performances of the Main Street Electrical Parade. That was over 20 years ago! Now we’re in 2017 and I am pleased to say I had the privilege of visiting Disneyland once more. What a blast!

 

Warning: this is just a post about Disneyland. No life updates.

 

It was a Thursday evening in Orlando where I got a ride to MCO (Orlando International Airport) to begin my trek to California. Before I went to security I made sure to drop by the USO to check it out and get some snacks (that USO was surprisingly very nice! Disney, Universal, and Sea World were some major donors for furnishings).

Orlando Airport USO
I made my way to the gate of my Frontier Airlines flight (cheapo airline for sure) and found any available spot to sit. A lady ended up sitting next to me and we chatted for a short time. Turns out she would also sit in front of me on the plane. So #LAselfie was the joke of the night as we took a selfie with her camera. It had been a while since my last nonstop flight across the country. What a long trip! Finally we landed in a dump of an airport called LAX (ever heard of it?). So I made my way out of the terminal and to the roadway where I found my way to the USO at LAX. This USO is a 24/7 location which thankfully saved me a bunch of money on lodging. Surprisingly it was not very busy, but I was alright with that.

 

Friday arrives quickly. Actually, Friday arrived by the time I got settled into the USO. So it’s 5:30am and I am wide awake waiting on my ride to pick me up at 7:30am. Let’s not forget 5:30am equates to 8:30am EST. I got to know the USO ladies and other workers really well. Haha! One of the older ladies made a fresh pot of coffee for me because I told her I loved coffee and had already had two cups. What a nice lady. I also got to study all their challenge coins, maps, and patches. Thrice. 7:30am rolls around and my friend from college, Mel (shout out to Mel!), arrives for pickup. I went ahead and snuck out some coffee and breakfast items for her since it’s an early morning and going to be a long day. We do a quick catch up, get out of LAX, and hit the highway. We’re going to Disneyland!

 

We arrive at the Disneyland Resort and end up parking behind the hotel I will be staying in. After a good walk and a long line at security, we get through Downtown Disney and we see it; the Disneyland Railroad Station marking the grand entryway into Disneyland.

Arrival to Disneyland
We made it! I pull out my company ID and pass and get our tickets printed to get into the park. Through the tunnel and into Town Center we go. Main Street, U.S.A. has greeted us with the sites, sounds, and smells that Walter Elias dreamt would greet guests forever. Main Street, U.S.A. is my favorite area of the Magic Kingdom (original and at Walt Disney World). Bug is the cast member that gives us a ride to Sleeping Beauty castle (Bug is a horse, by the way).

Bug took us to the castle
I am just excited to be able to see everything, so the attractions are not necessary at the moment. We do get a Fastpass for Indiana Jones. Unfortunately, we go to use our Fastpass and the attraction is broken. Also, Pirates of the Caribbean is WAY better in Disneyland than at Walt Disney World.

 

It’s mid-afternoon and we head over to Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (where I’m staying). One nice thing about being a cast member is that we get discounts on hotel stays. During the time I went we had the holiday special where we got 60% of the hotel.

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel
In the lounge
Funny thing is that the cheapest option at Disneyland was this hotel with the club level. Um, okay. So this turned out to be a much better deal than anticipated. Club level allows its guests to utilize the exclusive club lounge which serves complimentary breakfast, has snacks all day, a personal front desk cast member, coffee/espresso bar, free appetizers and drinks in the evening, and a dessert hour. Cool experience! So we end up checking out my room and the view, go to the lounge for snacks and coffee, and walking around figuring out where stuff was. Never checked out the pool, but my room had a view of it. Ellis would have been proud.

 

Friday evening comes and we’ve eaten all the appetizers, so dinner is not necessary (maybe a snack). The Hyperspace Mountain there is awesome! We ride that and find a spot for fireworks. The Main Street Electrical Parade is also going that night. By the way, the fireworks at Disneyland were pretty weak. So the end of Friday is approaching and we check out Main Street, U.S.A. at night before heading out. Mel goes home and I head up to my room. First day of several has finally come to an end! Check out the fireworks finale video.

 

This will be an eternal post if I go through every detail of each day, so I will spare you all of that. Saturday I woke up really early again, but got to go to breakfast at 6:30 when not a lot of people would be there. Another friend is coming to Disneyland, so I wait for her to arrive. Alysia is a family friend from Quantico way back in 2003. I’ve been to California three times in the last four years, but we always miss each other to grab coffee and catch up. Saturday was a lot of fun as we got to see Disneyland and California Adventure.  Cars Land was incredible and the ride there was a lot of fun. We got to

Route 66 outside Radiator Springs
ride the roller coaster too! Midday we go to the lounge for snacks, coffee, and rest. Later that night we go to watch World of Color at California Adventure, so we go there really early and got some spots to watch. Showtime arrives and they cancel it. CANCELLED! Very disappointing.

 

Sunday rolls around and it’s a day to myself. I’m going to do whatever I want. This is a fun time to just enjoy the sites, scenery, and atmosphere. Of course I ride some attractions too. Later that night I finally get to see World of Color. This show ended up being way longer than I thought it was gong to be, but it was awesome! See the finale below. The whole things is awesome,  but if you’re short on time, go to the last 45 seconds.

I do also get to see a friend from camp. Shout out to Gabby for meeting up at Downtown Disney with the family!

 

Monday. This was one of the best days of the trip. I go into Disneyland for the extra magic hour (this is also the day of check-out. Sad face.). Initially I was going to ride some stuff, but once I got my coffee and walked around, I decided to check out what kind of tours they had to offer. There was only one tour going, but it was one I wanted to do. So boom, I signed up for the tour that was to leave less than ten minutes from then. They had a decent cast member discount too! I got my nametag and earpiece then met our tour guide, Rachel.

Disneyland Dream Suite with our tour guide
Shout out to Rachel for doing a great job tour guiding! We rode some classic attractions, learned some interesting facts, and toured the Disneyland Dream Suite. We also got lunch! After the tour ended I was able to hang out some more and then got to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade on the curb of Main Street, U.S.A.. Last time I did that was 20 years prior as a 5-year old kid with a wild imagination (I was also evil). Waiting for the parade took a long time, but I made friends with a couple and their daughter. She talked a lot, but somehow we made plans to go to space when she visits Walt Disney World in Florida one day. Here’s to space exploration plans while waiting for a parade.

The Main Street Electrical Parade

After the parade, I made my way back to the hotel to pick up my stuff from bell services. Uber was only a four minute wait. Headed back to LAX to sleep at the USO. Holy moly, there were boots everywhere! There weren’t just fresh military folks, they were straight up Marine boots. Lots. I took a chair and made it my home for the night before the rest of them arrived (I know what happens when there are a billion marines and no space). I didn’t sleep exceptionally well that night, but free lodging isn’t always unicorns and rainbows. I am thankful for the USO and their service. Tuesday morning. Through security. Back at the dump airport (LAX). Headed home. Home. That’s the order of events in a nutshell. I did go back to the Orlando USO for snacks and to wait for my ride. So I guess that’s it.

 

Disneyland was awesome! I really like how much historical value is there and how much more immersive the experience is. Another awesome thing is how there are cast member discounts everywhere. At Walt Disney World you can’t even get a discounted coffee at Starbucks in a park, but at Disneyland they will. Disneyland cast loves seeing Florida cast. There are a lot of questions that follow, but it is great to share stories, tips, and likemindedness. We love the company. Main Street, U.S.A. is way better in Disneyland than at the Magic Kingdom. They have this awesome music box!

 

So I am back in Florida and doing Florida things. Life continues. I am thankful for the opportunity to go to Disneyland for a minimal amount of money, and for safe travels. Too bad all you suckers I invited didn’t come with. Oh well.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

rejoice.always

 

 

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