An hour from Los Angeles, you’ll “leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy” for about two hundred bucks and a mean sunburn.
Before I get any further, I should say I don’t have kids or a strong affinity for the Disney brand or even particularly enjoy large crowds. However, this should definitely be on your list. When you walk around you can’t help but think of el viejo Walt and his vision for a picture-perfect world. His very 1955 vision, which was adorable and charming.
Just like the way your grandparents te pintaron su tremenda casa en el Vedado pre-1959, and then when you go see it you find that it’s a tiny shack with no windows or doors, Disneyland may be a bit underwhelming if you’re expecting Disney World. So don’t compare them. I walked in expecting Cinderella’s Beverly Hills Castle and when I saw it was a shitty Van Nuys duplex it made me sad. On the bright side, I found out later that the Castle wasn’t Cinderella’s at all, but Sleeping Beauty’s. Claro, ella se pasa el día durmiendo y no tiene tiempo to build out the house and add unos ‘efficiency’.
Disneyland is magical even if you can see it from the freeway. And yes it is expensive, but in the end it’s worth it if you’re looking for an excuse to be silly for a day.
If you go: The entrance fee fluctuates between $97 and $124.
What to have: Put your name down for lunch at the Carnation Cafe before the rush. They’ll give you a pager and you can walk up and down Main Street while the kitchen turns over. Have your Dole Whips while watching the show inside the Enchanted Tiki Room. For dinner, head back to Main Street to the Jolly Holiday Street Cafe and grab a table on the elevated patio for a view of the parade.
What to ride: Everyone says to hit the big rides first, but I prefer to head into Fantasyland because I can get through a bunch of attractions…and feel like I got my money’s worth by the time I stumble into New Orleans Square for Pirates and Haunted Mansion.
Small World tip: Every hour on the hour, It’s a Small World turns into a cuckoo clock, so be sure to pop over to see the windows suddenly the open and the dolls conveyor out. Although this is the perfect 10 minute ride to cool off during the day, you must ride it at night at least once to get a whole new experience.
Walt & Cuba: Did you know that Walt Disney vacationed in Havana’s Hotel Nacional in 1931? Room 445 was named after him and it’s rumored that this trip inspired a character named, Bongo. Visit the blog TheCubanHistory.com for more on Disney’s Cuba connection.
Photography courtesy of Maggie Gonzalez.