We are life long Mainers and in 2019 my husband took a job in Southern California. We are back in Maine now (thanks to Covid-19), but my 3 year old and I spent 5+ days a week at Disneyland for 2 months before they shut their doors in mid March.
I'm a Disney addict. I always have been. I became a travel agent last year and specialize in Disney vacations. When my husband's job was moved to Anaheim, I instantly bought an annual passport. Being from the east coast, we had only ever been to Disney World. Since Disneyland is the original Disney park, I knew I had to dive right in and experience it as much as possible.
I'm going to try my hardest to not compare Disneyland to Disney World, as this will be a whole separate post at a later date as I have so many thoughts on it!
Max Pass is worth the extra money.
Max Pass is kind of like a Fastpass. You can reserve a spot on some of your favorite rides directly from your phone. Here's the catch: you cannot make Fastpass selections in advance. You can only choose your Fastpasses once you are inside the park. It is also important to note that some of the more popular rides, like Peter Pan's Flight, do not offer a Fastpass option.
Maxpass also gives you access to all photos that are taken of you and your family at the parks. At the time of this blog post, Maxpass is an extra $20 per person on top of ticket pricing, per day.
If you are going to Disneyland on a day with high crowd levels, the Maxpass is 100% worth the extra money. If you are going on a weekday with lower crowd levels, I wouldn't consider it necessary unless you plan on purchasing multiple photos. We very rarely ever used Maxpass on weekdays and were able to do most rides in both Disneyland and California Adventure throughout the course of the day.
If you can, plan your trip around Christmas to see The Haunted Mansion Tim Burton-fied.
We first visited Disneyland at the beginning of January and didn't realize the Haunted Mansion was decked out with The Nightmare Before Christmas decor until we were on the ride. And let me tell you what -- it was freaking amazing! I have never been a huge Tim Burton fan, but this setup was absolutely incredible. I almost wish they kept it this way year round to be honest.
That being said, if you are a huge Haunted Mansion fan you may be disappointed if you visit the park at the end of January through some of February. This is when they close the attraction to remove all of the Nightmare Before Christmas decor and turn it back into the Haunted Mansion that we all know and love. This is also when the ride goes through refurbishments. This past year, the ride closed towards the end of January and wasn't scheduled to re-open until the end of March/early April due to major refurbishments on top of their yearly scheduled maintenance. So we only got to experience the Haunted Mansion once in 2 months of visiting.
California Adventure may be my favorite Disney park.
If you are a Pixar fan, California Adventure Park is the place for you. They have Pixar Pier where you can ride the Incredicoaster, meet your favorite Toy Story Characters, and more.
If you are a foodie or love a nice cold adult beverage, both are plentiful at this park. The fresh baked sourdough bread bowls filled with your favorite soup at the Pacific Wharf Cafe are to die for. If an ice cold margarita is more of your style, head on over to Rita's Baja Blenders for an ice cold treat.
Favorite rides for littles Inside Disneyland: Alice in Wonderland and the Gadget Go Coaster in Toon Town
The best rides at Disneyland, in my opinion, are the nostalgic rides like Snow White, Pinocchio, and my son and I's personal favorite: Alice in Wonderland.
I've always been an Alice in Wonderland fan and this ride didn't disappoint. You hop onto a colorful caterpillar as your adventure down the rabbit hole begins. The colors on this ride are so bright and vivid. The cards marching around and the queen screaming "off with their heads!" were always my son's favorite parts. We would do this ride 2-3 times a visit.
Another must do is the Go Gadget Coaster. My son had JUST hit the 35 inch height requirement and this was his first roller coaster. It was mellow, but still a blast. I will post a video below of my son's day at Disney. Halfway through, you will see his face on the roller coaster and then his review of it at the end. It's hilarious, I promise it won't dissappoint.
Favorite ride for Adults: Incredicoaster (in Disney California Adventure park)
Disclaimer: I personally did not do this ride as I do NOT like thrill rides. My husband and my sister rode this ride together and said it was probably one of the best roller coasters they have ever been on. It takes off incredibly fast. The ride is smooth and you even go upside down. I really regret not trying it and plan to once Disneyland opens again.
Toy Story Mania in California Adventure is worth the wait.
If you can't snag a max pass for Toy Story Mania, it is worth the wait. My three year old waited patiently several times for 60 minutes or more just to ride this ride. It is 3D and interactive. You get to play multiple midway games with your favorite Toy Story characters. You can't beat it!
If you are wondering if Disneyland is worth the trip from the East Coast, it is 100% worth it. If you visit when crowds are generally low, you would probably need 3-4 days max to experience everything that Disneyland & Disney's California Adventure have to offer. We can't wait to be back at Disneyland with all our favorite characters soon!