Disneyland, A Celebration of Disney Nostalgia
When Walter Elias Disney first opened Disneyland, little did he know it would be the first of many Disney Theme Parks magically sprinkled all over the world. Could he have seen his park in Hong Kong or Japan? For Walt, there were no limits, just possibilities. As he sat on a bench at the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, watching his daughter, he had those possibilities go through his mind, and on July 17, 1955, he opened up the gates to an American dream come true, Disneyland.
I have been going to Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort since 1972, a year after it first opened. My mother, Catherine and I would go each year and stay at the Contemporary Resort. I continued into my adult years visiting Disney World and eventually working there from 1995 through 2001. It was and still is, a sacred place for me, full of memories and magic that I continue to enjoy even now, as an adult and guest again. But there is a special feeling you get when you walk into the gates of Disneyland. There is a feeling of nostalgia and magical energy as you walk down Main Street, USA. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is much smaller than Cinderella’s in Magic Kingdom, but that does not make her any less beautiful. After all, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is the original, the living blueprint of many other castles to follow in her footsteps from Orlando to Tokyo, to Paris to Hong Kong and beyond! The famous grandeur of Hollywood has been there too from Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra to Queen Latifah and Charlize Theron. The castmembers at Disneyland hold a lot of pride for their special park, as they should, it was where Walt Disney himself roamed the streets, walked through the castle, road the rides, and stayed overnight with his family in his apartment above the Main Street Firehouse. His energy can still be found there in every corner of Disneyland, some Disney enthusiasts even claim to feel his spirit there. This girl definitely has!
As the years have gone by, many rides have come and gone, but if you carry the grand nostalgia of true Disney, then you will be very happy at the original rides that are still there, since 1955. You can still enjoy King Arthur’s Carousel, Peter Pan’s Flight and Snow White’s Scary Adventures, to name a few. I was thrilled riding Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (which I loved in Disney World as a kid) and experiencing Alice In Wonderland, where a caterpillar takes you through Alice’s story. Storybook Land Canal Boats and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage were also favorites of mine since I never saw them in my Florida vacation spot! To experience Disneyland and attractions I never got to see was such a thrill for me. For the first time since 1972, I got to enjoy the experience of a theme park for the very first time!
One of the key things I love to tell people, is pay attention to the little details! As with all Disney theme parks, they can be found throughout every park. I was drawn to a certain horse on the King Arthur’s Carousel. She was beautiful, she had golden bells all over, and a face adorned with gold and red roses. Later I found out, her name was Jingles and she was a special horse designed to pay tribute to Julie Andrews! It was such a thrill for me. My mother has since passed away, and yet on that beautiful sunny day, she led me to this horse, Jingles, for some more memories to make! It is a ‘magical moment’ I will never forget. So be sure to stop by and say hello to Jingles, and all the horses. I was told Burt’s horse is right behind her, with a gold tooth. Articles I have read, all noted that he was Mrs. Disney’s favorite horse and a gold tooth was put on so she would be able to spot him! Go to City Hall for a list of the horses’ names!
Other rides to enjoy were The Haunted Mansion, It’s A Small World, which shows little dolls of your favorite beloved Disney characters throughout the boat ride and many more! Star Wars fans will love the shops full of galactic souvenirs in Tomorrowland with a fast and fun Space Mountain ride redone as Hyperspace Mountain to tie in with the Star Wars theme. I am a ‘slow ride’ girl, but there are many thrill rides to enjoy too such as Matterhorn Bobsleds and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Some more details to look for, and I purposely won’t put photos so you can enjoy finding them yourself, is keep an eye open on the animals from the movie Sleeping Beauty. There are lifelike statues honoring these special animals from the Disney animated classic around the front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle! Okay! Okay! I will show one photo since there are a few other animals for you to spot! Be sure to find the Disney Family’s Coat of Arms above the castle entrance, the light, that stays forever lit above the Firehouse to honor Walt Disney, the original bench he once sat on and if you look above in Fantasyland, you just might see the Evil Queen peering out her window. There are many hidden surprises around Disneyland, simply inquire at City Hall and speak to a wonderful and knowledgeable Disney Castmember. It will add fun to your vacation with the kids and help you to slow down and take it all in!
While I have a gluten free diet, it can be challenging to find places to eat who cater to those with allergies. When it comes to Disney, have no fear. You can eat in a worry free environment at almost any restaurant, be it sit down dining or quick service. Just ask a castmember for a gluten free/allergy menu and if you have other concerns, a head cook or chef can come out and speak to you. Disney takes their guests’ food allergies very seriously, and whether you are cruising with Disney or running around their many theme parks, they will accommodate you, with a smile. So simply ask for a menu where ever you dine. My favorite was Village Haus Restaurant in Fantasyland. I went two days in a row! I cannot have gluten or egg, even more challenging, but not for Disney. They made me a wonderful grilled chicken sandwich in a lettuce wrap and for my second visit I had a delicious angus burger, also in a lettuce wrap. It was yummy and though some sauces and condiments contain gluten, they gave me other alternatives. The cook even came out to see how I enjoyed everything. It was a yummy, and pleasing dining experience. So stop by Village Haus, you may even spot Pinocchio too!
While visiting Disneyland, be sure not to miss the wonderful fireworks and Paint the Night Parade. Depending on when you go, be sure to check times for both the fireworks and the parade, never assume since showtimes change quite often due to time of year and weather. This parade was spectacular! The lights,the costumes and choreography was like watching a lit up show on Broadway. It absolutely took my breath away and this seasoned theme park girl was full of Disney magic and pixie dust at the end of the parade.
Disneyland is currently celebrating its Diamond Anniversary Celebration, 60 years of magic, now until September 5, 2016. Be sure to check with Disneyland because all events, celebrations and showtimes can change suddenly without notice. If you can escape reality and play at Walt Disney’s original Disneyland, I certainly encourage it. The park and castle are decorated for the big 60th anniversary and there are many souvenirs to collect too. I love collecting the pins and if you are a Disney Vacation Member, while supplies last, they are handing out special limited edition Disneyland Diamond Anniversary pins to DVC members. So come to Disneyland and enjoy the celebration.
No matter what time you decide to go and make Disneyland a part of your family’s scrapbook of memories, anytime is the right time for pixie dust and some nostalgia of one man’s dream, who made wishing upon a star possible for all of us.
“Make everyday a new adventure”….
June 27, 2019
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