Let’s start with a completely original thought that absolutely no one has had before: Disneyland is a pretty cool place.
I have a lot of nostalgia for Disney’s animated movies from the ’90s and earlier, and two Disney animated movies ranked among my favorites released last year. Mickey Mouse is and always will be a part of me. All this to say I love Disney, which makes me like many, many others out there. Star Wars is timeless. More importantly, I absolutely love Guardians of the Galaxy, which should be no surprise to anyone who’s read a certain pair of posts on this blog.
Between leaving California in a month and the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout, I didn’t really have a choice. My wife and I spent the weekend at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, and it was even better than I hoped it would be. I didn’t expect to spend nearly 30 hours on my feet between Saturday and Sunday, but that’s what happened. Those two days may have left me too exhausted to do much of value over the following couple days, but the long, tiring days were worth it—and then some.
We went on a lot of rides and did a lot of other things, so I’ll try to keep my thoughts on each as brief as I can.
All the rides/events that follow are in the order in which I did them with the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout. It was the reason my wife and I went this weekend, so of course it comes first.
Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout
This ride is, as the movie’s mixes might have you believe, awesome. A lot’s been said about the lines over the weekend, but that really wasn’t much of an issue. All that mattered was getting to the park early and getting in the FastPass line—because yes, the standby line was legitimately at a four to five hour wait within minutes of the gates opening on both Saturday and Sunday. But spending about 45 minutes in the FastPass line solved that problem. It didn’t do much for people who weren’t inside California Adventure around opening, but anyone expecting to arrive later and have a painless experience with Mission: Breakout wasn’t thinking clearly.
The ride’s experience starts by entering Tivan The Collector’s home and viewing a bit of his private collection before Rocket interrupts and lets riders know he’s going to need their help to free the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Rocket animatronic is great, but it’s all just setup for the ride itself—and it’s excellent.
Mission: Breakout’s series of ascents and drops are exhilarating, and every new time flying out of your seat is even more exciting than the last. There are multiple experiences with different drops and soundtracks, but the end result is the same: uncontrollable, child-like screams of terror and elation followed by watering eyes and massive smiles. I only got to go on it twice, but I would’ve gone many more times if it had been possible.
Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout became my favorite theme park ride this weekend, and it isn’t even close.
This was the first of many rides to introduce me to Disneyland’s love of pure darkness on its rides. Hyperspace Mountain is dark and disorienting and a lot of fun for Star Wars fans and non-fans alike.
Pirates of the Caribbean
I liked it more than I liked the movies it (somehow) spawned. That’s not really saying much, but it was a pleasant enough experience.
This one would’ve been better if I hadn’t spent the intro portion next to people who were quoting the whole thing, but it was still fun.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a decent roller coaster. Its drops aren’t severe and it’s more of an experience than a thrill ride, but it was nice.
Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
I love The Little Mermaid, largely for its high quality songs. So a ride featuring several of its high quality songs was always going to be worth it for me. The fact that the car behind my wife and I happened to hold a dog having the time of its life made it even better.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
Like Finding Nemo? Like cramped areas that are mostly underwater? This ride’s for you.
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Use your blaster to shoot targets Toy Story style. Anyone who’s been to Universal Studios Orlando will be comparing this one to Men In Black Alien Attack, and Astro Blasters sadly falls behind in that comparison. It’s still fun, but it mostly made me think of the similar ride I enjoyed more.
Splash Mountain is fun, whimsical, and easily my second favorite ride between Disneyland’s two parks. The experience in the front is better (and wetter) than in back, but it’s a great time no matter what.
My cover as a Rebel spy was blown, but C3PO managed to guide everyone on the ride with me to safety. Good job, C3PO. I’m not crazy about 4D rides, and Star Tours did nothing to change that.
Radiator Springs Racers
I’d heard a lot about how great this ride was. It was okay, but the fun of the fast-paced portion of the ride was only enough to get this to a slight net positive after accounting for the amount of Cars nonsense we had to sit through to get to it.
Cheesy puns abound on this nice break of a ride. I went on it twice, once at night and once during the day, to see if there was any real difference in the content. There wasn’t. Do yourself a favor and go on it once—but only once.
Main Street Electrical Parade
Bright lights, repetitive music, and massive crowds. The Main Street Electrical Parade was nice to see, but I would’ve been just fine not having seen it.
World of Color
California Adventure’s World of Color, on the other hand, is a must-see event. It’s a bit of a Disney retrospective, animated and live action, that takes a look at some of its biggest films in brightly hued splashes of water.
It might not sound like much, but it’s a sight to see.
Tarzan’s Tree House
A quick walk through the story of Disney’s Tarzan provided a nice, relaxing start to our second day at Disneyland. There were some great looking displays, but in the end it was just something to walk through.
Snow White’s Scary Adventures
A dark ride with an abrupt ending that was a bit more on the scary side than I expected. Not for adults, of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a kid or two had some nightmares after this ride.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
I’d heard a lot of good things about Matterhorn Bobsleds leading up to my trip, and I heard more about them passing by strangers in the park. I finally went on the ride Sunday morning and *shrugs*
Monsters Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue
Want to experience the story of Monsters, Inc. in just a couple minutes? This ride has you covered.
Enchanted Tiki Room
I didn’t know what this was, just that it was going to get me off my feet for 15 minutes. That was my favorite thing about it.
Grizzly River Run
No theme park would be complete without a white water rapids style ride, and Grizzly River Run is a pretty good one.
Indiana Jones Adventure
Another pure darkness proponent among the Disneyland rides. It was even more disorienting than Hyperspace Mountain for me, and it did more to make me sick than Star Tours could ever hope to.
I wasn’t a fan.
Soarin’ Around the World
Speaking of not a fan, Soarin’ Around the World was a mistake. I thought there was going to be movement through space rather than a VR style stable position with moving images. There were many times on this short ride that I wanted to unbuckle my seatbelt and get the hell off, but the desire not to break myself and potentially die beat out the discomfort the ride provided.
Goofy’s Sky School
Don’t trust Goofy to fly you anywhere. That probably doesn’t need to be said. In all seriousness, this is a good ride in a style I don’t really care for.
California Screamin’ isn’t my favorite roller coaster, but it’s a good one. It has a nice combination of speed, twists, turns, and inversions that make it worth your time.
- Mickey Mouse pretzels are delightful and delicious.
- Lightsaber churros are the perfect combination of two great things.
- Theme park turkey legs will always be a great/terrible choice.
- Pineapple Dole Whip is phenomenal, but the float would’ve been a lot better if the pineapple juice hadn’t been warm on the verge of hot.
- Free Boudin sourdough bread and Ghirardelli chocolate samples for the win.
- Baby Groot sourdough bread is adorable to the point that I felt a little bad eating it. But only a little.
- Mickey Mouse sourdough is a little less adorable but equally wonderful to eat.
To sum up: Disneyland is awesome, but more than anything else it just made me want to go to Disney World and get an even bigger Disney Parks experience. Soon enough…
Let me know your thoughts about Disneyland, Disney World, Mission: Breakout, and the undeniable adorableness of Baby Groot in the comments.