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Growing Old Is Mandatory, But Growing Up Is Optional - Walt Disney {Disneyland California 60th Anniversary}

I have been home from my third Hong Kong contract for about two weeks now, and immediately started back at Disney World swimming with Ariel, however, this week was a little different. Mike and I both finally finished our Bachelor Degree's and chose to celebrate our college graduation in style; at Disneyland California. 

Mike and I stayed at the Disneyland hotel (I would absolutely recommend this) in the Adventure Tower, where the bed was a magical music box, and that was my absolute favorite thing. 

The first day we got there, we walked around Downtown Disney a bit, which was located right between our hotel and both Disneyland and California Adventure.

whale sharks!! they are everywhere!

trying to open the disney vault....

That evening for dinner, we did my favorite Disney activity we did our whole vacation, Goofy's Kitchen. This is similar to Chef Mickeys in World, and it was so much fun! We had booked our reservation time about two months in advance, and picked an earlier dinner. It was nice and quiet, which meant we had a lot more time with the characters. 

buffet style food, where the was more dessert than food, but it's fine because i ate three plates of garlic mashed potatoes anyways...
The meet and greet with the characters was so fun! When the server brought our cupcakes to celebrate our graduation, Chip insisted we shove them into each others face (reenactment below).

Pluto also decided to feed us fun concoctions. Mike got lemon-blueberry tart, spanish rice, and ribs all mixed together.

Pluto then followed up with feeding me mashed potatoes and chocolate pudding, also mixed. The whole thing was just super silly and fun, just as a character meet and greet experience should be. 

After dinner, we decided to head to the parks for a bit. We went to Disneyland first and almost immediately were ready to leave again because it was packed with people. We rode Buzz Lightyear (which I finally beat Mike on), Mr. Toad, Star Tours (where I of course was the rebel spy) and Finding Nemo, and that evening, we headed over to Cali Adventure for World of Color Night time show.

I somehow managed to get a Pluto ticket every single day we went into the parks #skill

 World of Color, VIP seating! /Thanks Kevin for the hook up!

Since the parks are so close, we walked back over to Disneyland to catch the late Paint the Night Parade, with a corn dog from the little red wagon. This was a great idea since most people had seen the earlier Paint the Night and headed home already. 

This parade brings me such joy to see since it is extremely similar to the one in Hong Kong, which opened during my second Hong Kong contract. 

After the parade, we ventured back to our hotel for a very small amount of time before we were right back over to Disneyland for extra magic hours (since we were staying at the Disney resort, we got to enter the park at an earlier time than the other guests).

My number one tip when visiting a Disney resort is to start your day off with trying to fit in as many rides as possible to ward off the crowds later. The bigger the attraction, the longer the line usually gets, so do it early.We started our day with Hyperspace mountain and the Matterhorn.

Major shout out to Parkbound for our adorable, custom Disney buttons
 After we figured we would try one of Disneyland California's signature snacks, a churro (which Mike has never had, and that is obviously unacceptable) while we waited in line to meet Tinkerbell (actually her attendant). 

Rachel and I were in Hong Kong on my first contract together, and now she is hanging out in Disneyland California, so we had to fly on over to say hi (oh yeah, and tinkerbell and Fawn too). 

We headed toward Mickey and the Magical Map for another Hong Kong connection, where hearing the preshow music I instantly froze (it's the same as Hong Kong's).  

Thanks Kia for the VIP seats!

The show was great, and it brought back all the feels of Wondrous Book in Hong Kong, since this was the show that one was based off of. After the show, we went in search for some characters finding Mickey and Minnie in their 60th anniversary attire and some of the princesses at Disneyland's version of Princess Fairytale Hall. 

For me, meeting characters is something I hold near and dear to my heart (for obvious reasons), so this is something I highly recommend spending a little time doing during your trip. For the ultimate meet and greet experience, check out my Character Tips to gain a little extra magic from your Disney visit. 

"they just can't get my nose right..."

Lunch was amazing because we went to New Orleans Square at Cafe Orleans and had a monte cristo sandwich (basically a deep fried doughnut with ham and cheese inside) and Tiana's gumbo all with a mint julep (which I sort of thought tasted like liquid toothpaste, but Mike thought it was more like melted mint chocolate chip ice cream). It was then time for a few more rides, like Indiana Jones, Alice in Wonderland, Snow Whites Scary Adventure, Pinocchio's Daring Adventure,Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Winnie the Pooh, and Big Thunder Railway.  

mint julep

The Soundsational Parade was phenomenal, with the music similar to Hong Kong's as well. While we watched the parade, Mike munched on another California signiture, a Matterhorn Macaroon. I did not realize this was coconut flavored, and I am really not a fan of coconut, but he loved it.

After parade it started to get crowded again so we retreated to the hotel for some rest time before heading back for dinner. Pro tip, if you have the time, I always recommend going back for a little wind down time. Get away from the crowds, take a dip in the pool, relax for a bit, then head back to the park refreshed and ready for the evening activities.

Dinner was incredible deep fried chicken and mashed potatoes (I had a lot of mashed potatoes on this trip...) from Plaza Inn.

After dinner, we waited for the fireworks that never happened. Apparently the weather conditions were too windy, so the fireworks were cancelled. wahhhh....

The next day was California Adventure day!

Once again we got up at a ridiculous hour to go to extra magic hour and ride every ride possible to beat the crowds later. We ran to Cars Land, but the ride was down, so we changed directions and headed for Tower of Terror.

It was pretty similar to the one at Disney World, but still epically fun since we rode in a basically empty elevator, with no one in the parks yet. Cars was back up and running at this point, and we headed  back over for Radiator Springs Racers. This ride is amazing. It is so well done and the track is super fun (and we ended up riding it three times total throughout the day).

Cars land in general is just incredible. It feels like you stepped straight into the film. 

bacon mac and cheese cone & chicken verde cone (best snack the whole trip)

Later in the night we got to watch what is called the "shaboom" moment, where they turn on all the lights after sunset, and it is precious. This moment happens everyday at the exact time of the sunset, and one of the best places to catch is at Flo's V8 Cafe. The music they play in Cars Land in lots of old classic 50's songs which take me back to the days of dancing around the living room with my sisters.

Other rides of the day at California Adventure included Toy Story mania, Journey Under the Sea with Ariel, Monsters Inc., Soarin, King Triton's Carousel, and my new favorite roller coaster, California Screamin. 

mike beat me on toy story mania and totally crushed it

The Red News Car Trolley show was really fun because it reminded me of one of my favorite shows, Newsies. They were all super strong entertainers and I really enjoyed their performance. Make sure you check your times guide for when this show will be performing since it often changes.

The only character we really wanted to meet at this park was Oswald (no this is not long eared Mickey Mouse), who ended up somehow having an arm wrestling contest with Mike, haha. 

Some other characters we got to meet with were the princesses during our dining experience at Ariel's Grotto. I was so excited for this and was totally decked out in mermaid gear. When we first came in we got to meet Ariel.

When the princesses came out they did a little dance with the royal announcer (who also sang!). 

The meet and greet aspect was ok, but the food was amazing.I'm pretty sure Mike and I both had about 55 rolls each (and of course mashed potatoes). 

Another incredible treat we had eaten earlier in the day was the make your own ice cream bar. We picked vanilla ice cream with milk chocolate coating and the whole hand of sprinkles (which included blue pop rocks and I will never eat ice cream the same way again because it was so yummy).

Mike's favorite activity while at California Adventure was checking out the equivalent to the program he did at Animal Kingdom; the wilderness explorers. We had fun running around completing all the tasks to get our senior explorer badges.

 We took the test to find out what our spirit animal was (patronous?). I was a swimming squirrel (because naturally, what else would I be, haha) and Mike was a bear. 

yay senior wilderness explorer badge!

We said our farewells to California Adventure, and tried our luck for our last chance to see the fireworks at Disneyland again.

The fireworks were cancelled yet again to wind, but instead they had this mini castle show. We were pretty sad to be able to experience a Disney firework ending to our trip, but all in all the trip was great!

The next day was our last day, and we started by checking out Tangaroa Terrace in our hotel for banana french toast, and it did not disappoint. Mike got the loco moco which was like a hamburger patty on rice, with an egg on top. I had the banana pancakes, and when I finally stopped singing Jack Johnson, they were devoured. 

We had decided the best way to get around LA was probably just to rent a car, and somehow managed to get a free upgrade with a Cosco membership to a mustang, and we figured "when in LA"...

We drove around Burbank a bit and saw some of the Disney creative studios space, where I saw a picture from "Golden Mickeys" in HK and almost made me cry.

We also saw WB studios and some other backlot areas. It is much smaller than you imagine the area to be, and they are weirdly just in the middle of the normal, everyday streets you drive by.

WB water tower in the background

Next stop was the Chinese Theater (the real one, not like the one at Hollywood Studios; although it is really accurate!) and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Harry Potter

Jen Lawrence and I have the same size hand!

my giant feet next to baby ruby slippers....


alan menken 

For whatever reason, most the stars we ended up taking a picture with were either Disney related or fictional, haha. Also located in this area was Jimmy Kimmel live, some TMZ vans, the Dolby Theater (Academy Awards home), and the El Captain Theater.

Another item on my bucket list was to see the Hollywood sign.

We decided to end our trip at the Beach, starting with the Santa Monica Pier and beach.

(oops, it's 2016)

 Driving just a little bit down the road was Muscle Beach and Venice Beach, where there is all this outdoor workout equipment, and being the body builders that we are (not), we had to check it out.

Mike killin it....meanwhile...

I can't reach...

The beach itself was really pretty too, and it had an extremely unique boardwalk. 

There were lots of little stores and small ice cream shop places where you could find art, and food, and what I like to call food and art; deep fried oreos. It was out first time to try them and they were so delicious.  

We stayed (and froze!) and watched the sunset together on the beach.

Our very last to do list item was In N Out burger and ordering from the secret menu. It was delicious and I would absolutely eat it again any time.

After this, we headed to the airport, where we left at ridiculous hours, just in time for us to get home and head to work the next day. Overall, California was magical, and it was really neat getting to visit during the anniversary. I did enjoy it, but for now, it's nice to be home.

Thanks for all the fun, Disneyland...

Click here for Character tips

Disneyland California 1 Day Park Itinerary found here!
Disney's California Adventure 1 Day Park Itinerary found here!

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