Return from California Part 2 #illumedati

Hey everyone, it’s Whatever Wednesdays…  I talked about Legoland and Sea World in my previous post. Let’s talk about Disneyland/California Adventure now and continue on with my Return from California post.

Disneyland - Small

Stock Photo from: Pixabay

Return to California Part 2

Disneyland/California Adventure

Ok… so remember how I said I had been saving up for this vacation for awhile….? Buy experiences, not things, right?

Well, we decided to splurge and stay at the:

Grand Californian

The reason for this was because we had 2 little kids and my father-in-law would require a wheelchair for Disneyland/California Adventure. He was able to get around ok at Legoland and Sea World, but we thought Disneyland/California Adventure would be too difficult for him.

You can rent a wheelchair through a 3rd party at the Grand Californian (Deckert) and you just get the wheel chair at the front desk. It can be used all around the parks, but also can come out of the park back into the hotel. This last part was important to me. If you rent a wheelchair at Disneyland Park, you can’t take it off the grounds. This is fine for those getting back into cars and going home, but since my father-in-law would have to walk back from the exit to the hotel, I felt this was the best option.

Any other considerations?


I also thought the kids might get tired in the middle of the day and need to go back to the hotel for a nap or just to relax bit —- and I was right. We came back to the hotel once on the first day, because the kids were tired and we were freezing. Tuesday was really cold, in the low 60s for most of the day, dropping to low 50s early morning and late evening.

So basically that was my rationale for choosing the Grand Californian. All that said, the hotel itself is excellent. The room was a 1 bedroom suite with two queen beds in the bedroom, and a nice pullout couch. The bathroom had dual vanities, an illuminated magnifying mirror (for makeup), and a overhead shower with wand. It even had a little patio overlooking the pool area and the California Adventure Ferris Wheel.

The little patio area would have been great for sitting outside to enjoy some wine or dinner. Unfortunately, for the time we were there it was too cold, especially since we’re from Hawaii. Anything under 80 is too cold for my family, especially my wife and the kids. Also, by staying at Grand Californian (or Disneyland Hotel, I think), you get access to “The Magic Hour” which lets you go into the park one hour earlier than normal admission, which park this is depends on the day.


Long story short, it was very nice hotel — and probably a little too nice for me. You’re paying a very high price for convenience. However, if you’re going to splurge on anything, I think it’s a good option, there is a lot of value in being so close to the park(s). If there is a particular ride you really want to do, then the Magic Hour will probably help there. Radiator Springs Racers, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Soarin’ Around the World always seems to have very long lines while we were there.

Before we move on, let’s talk about a few ancillary things:

Before we go any further, I wanted to talk about the Disneyland App. Don’t hesitate.

The Disneyland App is essential for navigating Disneyland/California Adventure. It gives you a map, constantly updated wait times on ride, where certain characters are, etc. Pretty much any info you any is available on the app. Additionally, you can add MaxPass (which include Photopass now) right from your phone, or make dining reservations (but not the premium stuff).

Another thing I wanted to talk about is Wheelchair Accessibility. Pretty much every ride is Wheelchair accessible but some may require the ability to transfer or walk short distances. Make note of this, this information is available on the app as well. In order to make access easier, you can bring your disabled individual to the helper at the ride with a line and ask to come back. Usually you can come back in 30 minutes. Also, you can come back anytime after 30 minutes also, but you can’t have more than one reservation at a time. You have to use your previous reservation (or have it removed) before you can do another one.


Before I forget, I wanted to talk about Photopass. If you want to use it in order do the FastPass stuff, then you’ll need it for every member in your party. However, if you just want Photopass, only one person needs to buy it. So I bought it every day for $10/day and all the Photopass pictures were linked to me. I was also the person in charge of the app and navigation so it worked out well.

Pro tip:

Screenshot your QR code for PhotoPass and make it your lock screen. Then all you need to is turn your phone on in order for the photographer to scan it.


I think out of both parks, my kids liked Disneyland better. In particular, they really liked the “smaller rides” which would include Peter Pan’s Flight (x3) and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey (x5). Interestingly, they didn’t like the similar type rides of Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Alice in Wonderland, or Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (all only x1 each). Peter Pan seemed pretty popular because the line was usually longer than that of the others. My son loves King Arthur Carrousel, I think he went on it 5 times total.

I managed to get my daughter to try Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (x1). She screamed like a banshee the whole time we were on the ride, but she had a lot of fun I think. For those who don’t know, even though Space Mountain, Star Tours, and Splash Mountain get a lot of hype — the locals tend to favor Big Thunder Mountain in terms of pure speed and exhilaration. Its line also tends to be shorter. Matterhorn Bobsleds and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are probably equal in terms of speed and exhilaration, but Matterhorn tends to have a longer line as well.

The kids didn’t like Pirates of the Caribbean at all. They thought it was boring.  Mickey’s Toon Town was also kind of a bust as well. The only thing they wanted to do in there was to go to Mickey’s House and Meet Mickey.

They did love “it’s a small world” though. We went on it 3 times over the three days. They also loved Autopia (x2) and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (x2). Lucas really liked Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, but only enough for one ride.

California Adventure

I thought the kids would like California Adventure more than they did. However, the thing they liked the best in California Adventure was The Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure — which is a ride similar to Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. I think they went on that on 4 or 5 times.

My son, who loves carousels, also liked King Triton’s Carousel, but we only went on that one once. We were able to do Toy Story Midway Mania once, which I think they kids really liked. It was my favorite out of all the rides. However, it has a long line most of the time — and is kind of far to get to.

In Cars Land, the kids liked Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, and we went on that twice. We also did Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters once, but they didn’t like it enough to do it again. We didn’t get to do Radiator Springs Racers because the line was long, and Kylie didn’t want to go without Lucas. However, from what I’ve heard, it’s considered the most fun ride at California Adventure, along with Soarin’ Around The World. We didn’t go on that one either, for the same reason.

However, we did manage to catch a few street shows while we were at California Adventure, which were the Army Men, the Newspaper Trolley (with Mickey), and the DJ Car. Kylie really enjoyed doing “training” with the Army men and dancing with the DJ Car.


Disneyland/California Adventure is very expensive, but there really is nothing quite like it.

The Grand Californian is very expensive… however, it’s hard to beat its convenience.

Use the Disneyland App.

If you get Photopass, make good use of it.

Whatever Wednesdays Sensei


Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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