I'm a Disney fan. I'll admit it. Yet it was with a little apprehension that I travelled to Disneyland Park. Sounds stupid doesn't it - nervous about visiting the most magical place on earth. But there was a little voice in the back of my head that said it just wouldn't live up to my massive expectations.
I shouldn't have worried. Walking through the park turnstile and seeing Mickey standing in the corner, all my nerves faded away. It was bigger and more spectacular than even my overactive imagination could have dreamed up.
Seeing my favourite Disney characters parading through the streets, walking beneath the archway of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt without getting strange looks... it's a cliché that's been wheeled out so many times, but I felt like I was a kid again.
Describing it to someone who has never been to the park, it's hard to know where to begin. Should you start with the history, the attractions, or the unique magic that has permeated each and every corner of the park? There's an air of innocence about it that can't be summed up easily.
Created by Walt Disney in the 1950's, Disneyland was designed to allow visitors to witness their favourite stories come to life, to actually interact with the characters they knew and loved.
It's a testament to Walt's artistic vision that so many of his original rides still remain today. Opening rides such as Peter Pan's Flight and The Pirates of the Caribbean, inspiration for the billion-dollar movie franchise, have stood the test of time and are still pulling in the big crowds.
Divided into eight themed lands, Disneyland Park has something that will appeal to any age. Frontierland for example has the styling of pioneer-era America; Fantasyland is where you'll find beloved Disney characters such as Snow White or Sleeping Beauty; Adventureland brings a little bit of the jungle to downtown Anaheim; and Tomorrowland has a futuristic space-aged theme.
I was expecting pretty big crowds, so the long waiting lines didn't really phase me. I had a (not so secret) weapon anyway - Fast Pass. It's like making a reservation for a ride. Available at most of the major rides, you swipe your entry ticket in a machine and wait for your allotted ride time to go back. You bypass the line, and get to spend time on other rides knowing the big one is already reserved.
People think that Disneyland is just for the kids, but it's not. One of the things that surprised me was the age range at the park; everyone from babes in arms to grannies on scooters... and nearly all wearing daggy hats and Mickey t-shirts.
Thinking back on my initial nerves I don't know what I was so worried about. I've come home well and truly swept up in the magic, and rekindled my love of Disney. More than just a theme park, Disney is an enduring icon of music, magic, creativity and colour, and Disneyland is the complete embodiment of it all.
If you feel you've lost your inner child, Disneyland is the place to help you find it.
IF YOU GOBEST FOR:
Disneyland is for any age. Don't be fooled into thinking it's just a place for kids.WHERE TO STAY:
For the full Disney experience, you can't go past the Disneyland Hotel. Located right next to the park and Downtown Disney, you'll spend less time travelling and more time enjoying the attractions. Another perk to staying at a Disney hotel is Magic Mornings. Simply show your room key on entry to the park and you'll get to enjoy select rides a full hour before the park opens to the general public! Magic Mornings is available on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday only.DON'T FORGET:
Make sure you use the Fast Pass. It's a whole lot better than waiting in line. Better still, if you don't mind riding by yourself, ask the attendants at major rides if there's a Single Rider line available. It's a very handy way to bypass most of the line, so you can spend more time enjoying the rides!DON'T MISS:
Downtown Disney, a shopping and dining precinct located at the entrance to Disneyland Park, is the perfect place to relax after a long day exploring the park. Downtown Disney is home to great bars and restaurants, including the House of Blues, along with trendy boutique stores and galleries.GETTING THERE
Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.com.au) operate regular flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Cairns and Brisbane to LA via Auckland.
The writer travelled courtesy of Air New Zealand and Disneyland Resort.Related -
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