Carnation CafeMy Disneyland trip this year was based mostly on being able to attend the D23 Expo, but we did have two almost full days and one evening to spend in the Park, and we definitely made the most of it!  Considering the crowd levels, I think we accomplished a lot in the time that we had.

Our first day was nearly a full day in the parks, as we had landed, taken a shuttle from the airport to the Anabella Hotel, and were in line for the Carnation Cafe by 11:30am.  If you’ve been a fan of Rays of Disneyland for very long, you know that starting a trip at the Carnation is our longstanding tradition.  There is something about this place that just makes me so happy.  I could honestly sit there all day just watching people and listening to the sounds of Main Street.

Next up, after a relaxing lunch, was a ride through Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters for our second tradition of the day.  We even saw R2D2 on what was supposed to be his last day in Tomorrowland as we were making our way toward Buzz… definitely a treat!  After a sweep through the Little Green Men store and Star Traders we were on to one of our must-sees on any trip, Pirates of the Caribbean.

Royal Street BachelorsWe lucked out with a relatively short line at Pirates and were on the ride within 10 minutes.  I had seen the new Blackbeard waterfall effect on the Disney World version of Pirates but was curious to see if I thought it was better in Disneyland.  It was, but I still prefer the Davy Jones version.  However, it was so great to be back on this classic, which is so much more rich with detail in California than its Florida counter-part.  Out of the Bayou and back into the daylight, we took the opportunity the roam the streets of New Orleans Square.  We knew that we had limited time in the parks and lots of things we wanted to accomplish, but I’m really glad that we took the time to grab a Mint Julep and some beignets and take a few minutes to sit and listen to the Royal Street Bachelors perform.  At the end of their set, with the strains of Jazz music floating off into the sweet Disneyland air, we went on, this time in the direction of the Haunted Mansion.

Soundsational MickeyThe rest of the afternoon was very relaxing and wonderful… and full of lots of great Disney shopping. ;-)  We were able to get a great spot to watch Mickey’s Soundsational Parade and only had to wait about 20 minutes for the parade to start.  However, it would have been worth a much longer wait than that… I absolutely loved this parade!  It was such a refreshing return to classic Disney entertainment after the strangeness of the street celebration that replaced the stunning Parade of Dreams a few years back.  I just can’t say enough great things about this parade, it was magnificent.

Little Mermaid ModelWhen Soundsational was over, it was time for us to head over to California Adventure, in hopes of catching a ride on the new Little Mermaid attraction and Toy Story Mania before our reservation for World of Color dining at Wine Country Trattoria.  I don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting everything in the park to be so torn up.  I knew that the new entrance had been unveiled and it was pretty, if not a nearly exact replica of the turn-style at Hollywood Studios in Disney World, but past the gate, it was so sad to see the Golden Gate Bridge gone, as well as all of the cute little shops that used to line this area.  I’ve mentioned it on here before, and while I know I’m definitely in the minority, I will miss the California Adventure that used to be, although, especially after seeing the model of Buena Vista Street at the Expo, I am excited for what this park will become.  When we got over to The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, it was a walk-on!  I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a line at all, as the rest of the park was really pretty busy.  I hope this attraction doesn’t suffer the same fate of many other California Adventure rides, with less than lack-luster crowds.  I did think that The Little Mermaid was a great new take on the classic dark rides of Fantasyland.  After a stroll through the new Embarcado Gifts and the Blue Sky Cellar it was already time for our Trattoria reservation.

Wine Country TrattoriaLast time we saw World of Color we did the dining package at Ariel’s Grotto and it was really nice.  The Trattoria was equally wonderful and possibly even had a better atmosphere.  I love that we got to sit on the covered, second-level patio for World of Color dining and the food was wonderful.  We a very nice, relaxing meal, and even had a chance to get in that ride on Toy Story Mania after our meal.  Unfortunately, apparently some magical, little food poisoning bugs were at work in my dinner and by the time we were finding a spot in the reserved seating for World of Color I was sick… really sick.  With only about 15 minutes until the show I had to drag myself out of the seating area and into some of the most magical restrooms on earth.  I was so disappointed!  World of Color was definitely on the top of my must-do list for the trip, and even though I was able to see it last summer, I couldn’t wait for a second viewing.  So, super bummed and still a little green, we trudged back to the hotel.

Even with a disappointing end to the evening, it was a really wonderful first day in the parks, and the promise of an exciting Expo first day lay before us.

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