Why Disneyland Is So Special To Me

On this exact date last year I arrived home from the most amazing trip to Disneyland, and I’m feeling a little bit sad about that. If I could go anywhere right this second it would be there.

One of the questions I get asked the most when I tell people that I’ve visited every Disney park in the world is ‘what’s your favourite?’, and I always decline an answer as its impossible to single out just one park as being better than all the rest, but Disneyland is the park that has a special place in my heart; the sort of place that has me crying when I enter and when I have to leave.

I was fortunate enough as a child to spend a lot of time in Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris, even making more than one visit some years, right up until I was about 5 or 6 years old, and then the Disney trips stopped. My sister and I were old enough to appreciate what the rest of the world had to offer, and so that’s exactly what my family did, and I wouldn’t change that for a second, but it meant that I actually had very few Disney memories other than what I’d seen in pictures or could vaguely remember.

In 2008, we went to California for the first time, and part of this visit was to go to Disneyland. I was just coming up 14, and I remember both my sister and I being ridiculously excited when my parents told us. This was where my first ‘adult’ Disney memories were made. We went back again in 2010, and again I remember just feeling so excited and happy, and at home when I stepped through those gates. There was magic.

As I’ve grown older, and my love of Disney has quite clearly grown also, I’ve come to realise other reasons why Disneyland is so special to me. This was Walt’s park, although he would say that Disneyland is our land *stifles a sob*, and you can feel that nostalgia through the whole park. He walked down Main Street USA, he stood in front of that beautiful little pink castle, and you just know that this was exactly what he created, his vision.

There’s a different feel to Disneyland than there is to WDW. It feels calmer, more effortless. From the Disneyland park to California Adventure, there’s not a single fault in my eyes, and even though it was 10 years ago now that I saw it all for the first time, I feel like I’m seeing it with fresh eyes every time.

Disneyland, you are perfect.

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How I Upped My Disney Style

You don’t even have to know me particularly well to know that when it comes to planning Disney trips, one of my top priorities is outfits, which I guess is a little bizarre considering I don’t really think of myself as a fashion blogger as such, but honestly nothing gives me more of a buzz than putting together the perfect park look, and the comments that I get when I’m wearing it.

As with anything in life, my Disney style is something that has progressed and developed with time, and I was totally honoured by the number of people who mentioned me in a recent #disneybloggerschat as someone who’s style they really admired/loved, because ultimately its something that I love, and its so nice that other people appreciate it too.

Let’s go back 2-3 years *reminiscent harp sounds*

The funny thing is, I still look back on some of these photos and think ‘wow, this is a LOOK’, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve come so much further since then, and here are a few of the ways I’ve upped my Disney style.

Finding inspiration

I plan all my looks around the day, whether its the park I’ll be in, the characters I want to meet, the walls I want photos in front etc – I even take it as far as thinking about the poses and photos I’ll want. This might sound silly to lots of people but its a big part of what makes me happy and its driven me to want to improve my looks so much more.

It doesn’t have to be all Mickey ears

Sure, I’m the girl who in the past has been known to take 6 pairs of ears on a 2-3 day trip, but more recently I’ve been enjoying mixing up my headwear with some cute baseball caps, hair clips and bows, and even just different hairstyles. My head feels a little bare without, but it opens up so many more options!

Think outside the box

This Sorcerer Mickey Disneybound from November is probably one of my favourite looks of all time. The whole look was born out of a skirt design that I’d had in my head for maybe 2 years, which when I finally got round to making I fell in love with. This high-low chiffon midi drapes just like Mickey’s red robe and its got a dramatic element to it too, but its also super comfy, kept me nice and cool in the Florida heat and its just something a little different from my normal style.

There’s more to park style than just Disneybounding

I often get caught up in the idea of Disneybounding, but not every outfit has to be a Disneybound. I generally go about 60:40 Disneybound to non-Disneybound, but it all depends on how I’m feeling and what my plans are. For me personally, I’m not much of a t-shirt person, so that’s why I tend to lean towards bounding, but I do like to balance things out.

Don’t be afraid to make your look (or get someone to do it for you!)

For my Disneyland trio back in May, I took inspiraton from my childhood Minnie Mouse dress, and made myself the perfect Minnie skirt!

A few years back, everything that I wore in Disney would have been something that I’d bought, but now probably 1 in 3 of my outfits features something that I made myself, whether its the ears, the skirt, or a t-shirt I designed, and the main reason I started making things for myself was because I had ideas in my head that I couldn’t buy in reality, so I turned into my own fairy godmother.

Just being yourself

I can be in tulle skirts one day and denim shorts the next, I’ll probably always be in Converses regardless. That’s just who I am as a person. I have an incredibly varied personal style, and I never wear anything in the parks that I don’t feel completely comfortable in, which means you’ll see me in all sorts!

Growing in confidence

As cheesy as it sounds, one of the biggest boosts in my style is the boost in my confidence. Even two or three years ago I would not have been the girl who could stand in front of hundreds of passers by and go through a range of poses while having my photo taken. My style and my confidence have grown side by side, and while to many people I’m sure planning Disney outfits and photoshoots seems ridiculous, its 100% helped me grow as a person.

I can’t wait to share more looks over more trips!

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RunDisney Paris 2017: Day 1

Yes it’s only been a week but once again I’m coming to you from another trip as I’m in Disneyland Paris for the RunDisney weekend!

We had an early start to get the first flight out of Southampton to Paris, which was lucky as due to strike action CDG was crazy busy and we had to wait quite some time to get through passport control! Once we were through and eventually managed to find our hire car company, we were on the road to DLP, and headed straight Hotel Cheyenne where we waited for my sister to arrive before walking into Disney Village. First stop was lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, then we went to the Health and Fitness Expo to pick up our race kit.

I had mixed feelings about the expo. I thought it flowed better this year in how it was set up, but it felt very very empty and I was really surprised at how few exhibitors they had. It just felt a little scarce, although much better for my bank balance! Dad and I picked up our challenge bibs and tshirts, and Mum and Hannah got their 10K ones, then we walked into Disney Village for a bit of window shopping before getting the bus back to the hotel so we could finally unload all our stuff into the room before heading back to the parks.

Somewhat controversially, we actually went into the Walt Disney Studios Park first of all, as it was closing early due to the 5K in the evening. Amazingly, we managed to do the Ratatouille ride with less than a half an hour wait, and also RC Racer and even Crush’s Coaster in a fraction of what I would consider the normal wait time to be. After Crush’s Coaster, the park was past its official closing time so we were guided towards the exit, so we headed over to the Disneyland Park.

Once in the park, my family stopped for ice cream while I walked around the castle hub taking photos of the 25th anniversary decs, then we went into Adventureland to do Pirates of the Caribbean, via a quick detour through Aladdin’s Enchanted Passage. I don’t think I’ve ever queued that long for Pirates, although it was probably only about 20-25mins, but after the refurb I didn’t want to miss out. We then walked the loop through Fantasyland and into Discoveryland for Buzz’s Space Ranger Spin.

Once we’d saved the universe, we took up spots for Illuminations. I had hoped that the audience would remain seated but unfortunately everyone started to stand so on our feet it was.. Honestly, I don’t think it blew me away, and I don’t think it was any better than it’s predecessor Dreams. It was an early park close of 8.30pm, so we headed towards Disney Village but as the 5K was still ongoing it was total carnage. We battled our way through the crowds to the wondrous place that is Earl of Sandwich, grabbed sandwiches and headed back to the hotel on foot.

In the morning we’ll be doing the 10K, stay tuned! 

My Disney Park Pet Peeves

Its no secret that I love a trip to Disney. Every trip, to any park gets me so excited to be back in the magic, but occasionally there some things that other guests do that grind on me a tad and today I’m gonna have a little vent.

Guest who give CMs complicated cameras

There’s nothing wrong with having a fancy camera, but if you’re going to give it to a cast member to take your photo, at least have it turned on and set up how you want it. One time I saw a girl give a CM her Instax mini, still in some weird complicated case, and the poor woman had to try and work out how to get into the thing, and then work out how to actually use it.

People who sit down in queues

My sister is the biggest culprit for this. Now I totally get sitting down if there’s been an announcement of some kind of delay, but if you’re in a line that’s moving steadily (albeit slowly), I don’t see any point – all that happens is that you have to stand up again every few minutes to move forward, or do an awkward butt-shuffle along the floor.

Smoking outside of designated areas

Yes, I’m looking at you Disneyland Paris.. Disney are nice enough to let you smoke in the parks, the least you could do is stick to the set areas, rather than doing it in every line or public area.

Ruining the magic

Just because you know that there’s someone beneath the fur, doesn’t mean you have to make sure everyone else knows. Hearing guests say things like ‘that’s a different Cinderella than the one we saw yesterday’ loud enough for every kid in the vicinity to hear is not cool.

Being rude to CMs

There’s nothing cool about rude to staff in any situation, and Disney is no exception. Cast members will always do whatever they can to help you, but they aren’t responsible for a long wait time, closed rides, or whatever it is that has annoyed you. I hate seeing guests who think that they can throw a tantrum over any little thing and get their own way, and hurling abuse at CMs is just disgusting.

Line jumping/saving

I have absolutely no issue with people needing to duck out of queues for a quick toilet trip, and I also don’t mind if you bring your kid into the line a little bit later because they’re not good at long waits, but nothing is worse than 5-6 people pushing through saying that they’re family are further down, when it was just one person saving a spot for the rest of the group.

Walking around in chains of 4+

There’s nothing wrong with being a big group, but if you’re all walking side by side and no one can get around you, just be a little bit considerate of those who might want to get passed.

Holding up your iPad

It crushes my soul a little bit when you’re trying to watch a show or fireworks, and you can’t see because everyone’s just holding up their phone and filming something that the majority of them won’t even watch back. This feeling is tenfold when there’s that one person who holds up an iPad..

Apologies if this has come across as a minor rant, but I’m sure we all have those little things that bug us! What are yours?

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Tomorrowland

With the recent rumours that Disney may be announcing the replacement of Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World with the Tron ride that’s taken Shanghai Disneyland by storm, of course the Disney community has been throwing round a whole bunch of opinions – some people are desperate for some newness, others are already mourning the potential loss of a ‘classic’ Tomorrowland ride. On this particular matter, I stand fairly central; I don’t particularly like change, but I did love the Tron ride at Shanghai, and I think it would be a fabulous addition to WDW. One thing I can be certain of, however, is that Tomorrowland needs SOMETHING.

Walt imagined Tomorrowland to be the ultimate step into technology, and at the time, it definitely was. Look at the Carousel of Progress. It absolutely epitomises Walt’s dreams of the future, but the final scene has now hit the 21st century – virtual reality gaming, voice controlled homes – that’s the life we’re all living now. That doesn’t take anything away from my love of the Carousel, but it does indicate that times are changing, and an update is needed.

At no point had I ever believed Tomorrowland to be dated, or at least that was until my trip to Shanghai Disneyland last year, and as soon as I laid eyes on Tomorrowland the first thought that ran through my head was ‘this is how it’s meant to be’. I appreciate that the park is newer, so of course it would have better technology and a cleaner look, but it had what I can only imagine was Walt’s desired feeling: that you had stepped into the future.

Of course, the focal point of Shanghai’s Tomorrowland is the Tron Lightcycle PowerRun ride, but even the classics like Buzz Lightyear featured better tech and just felt so much cooler. The Tron ride itself was in a league of its own; it’s not dissimilar to Test Track in Epcot, but the look and feel just comes across so much sleeker, and it’s one hell of a ride!

Tomorrowland Speedway, on the other hand, does not get me excited. It’s a ride I have quite happily skipped on my last few trips and I wouldn’t shed any tears over the loss. I saw a tweet that summed up exactly how I feel:
I don’t feel like Walt would be proud of Tomorrowland as it is right now. It’s classic, but classic always implies age; being dated. Sure, if they were gonna replace Space Mountain, or the beloved PeopleMover, I think I’d feel differently, but what’s futuristic about a little car that you can drive around a track? Now give me a lightcycle..

To be honest, I think my main concern about the change happening would be the construction affecting the rest of the park, but I don’t think I’d lose any sleep. Tomorrowland is too much like today.

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Disneyland Day 3

Another day in the California sun! Today we were up and into California Adventure for opening at 9am, and after joining the crash of people getting fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers, stopped at Flo’s V8 Cafe for the sweetest breakfast of brioche French toast and a milkshake, then went back to get in line for Soarin’, which we only waited about 25 mins for.

Once we’d landed, our fastpass time had already come round, so we had another race around Ornament Valley, then went on a bit of a character hunt and met Nick Wilde before leaving the park to hit the RunDisney expo, via Sephora at Downtown Disney.

After all the classic expo moments – bib pickup, tshirt pickup, expo browsing – we went back to the hotel to dump my bits before going back into Disneyland, where we were greeted by Belle in the entrance area. We then headed towards Fantasyland, via Snow White’s wishing well and the teacups to take some photos, then grabbed some snacks and sat in front of the castle for a bit to eat and enjoy the sunshine.

Next up, we headed to Fantasy Faire, where we met Aladdin and then waited for Rapunzel, before picking a spot to watch Soundsational, but as the start seemed delayed, and because we wanted good seats for Mickey and the Magical Map, we abandoned the parade and instead hung out at Fantasyland Theater until they let us in, which was worth it for the seats we got. If you know me well, you’ll know this is my all time favourite Disney park show, and I’ve missed it so much so of course I cried through the whole thing. It was also Sarah’s first ever time seeing it and she did the same..

After recovering from the show, we had fastpasses for the Matterhorn, then went into Tomorrowland and did Star Tours then grabbed dinner at Red Rocket’s Pizza Port – hello pasta load – and then called it a night as I’ll be up at 4am tomorrow for the Tinkerbell 10K! Stay tuned folks!

Disneyland Day 2

You’d think after how tired we were last night, we’d have slept right through til 8am this morning. Nope..

We were up about 6:30-7am ish, and got into the Disneyland park just after 9am, and headed straight for Toontown, where we waited for it to open at 10am. You might think this is crazy, but the empty Toontown photos we took were 100% worth it! After our little photoshoot, we met Minnie in her house, then Mickey in his, before heading back out of the park and hopping over to California Adventure.

First on the agenda was food, having not had any breakfast and given it was passed 11am. We ate at Pacific Wharf Cafe, which involved amazing freshly baked sourdough bread, then wandered over to the Hyperion Theater for the 12:30 showing of Frozen.

The staging of the show was really impressive, and the cast was great, but while the performance overall was pretty good, I did miss Aladdin.. It was, however, nice to sit down in some air con for an hour! From there we headed to Paradise Pier and kicked ourselves back into gear with a ride on California Screamin’, then queued about 15 mins to get into the famous Cove Bar for those all-too-Instagrammable cocktails.

We actually only ordered one actual cocktail between the two of us, and a non-alcoholic lemonade mocktail (which we actually preferred due to the candy floss!), but we had an amazing table on the waterside looking out over the pier and Mickey’s fun wheel and it was perfect. Drinks finished, we went back to the pier for a few photos, then walked back to Buena Vista Street where we met Mickey and Donald, Sarah grabbed an ice cream and I picked up a cookie sandwich on our way back to Paradise Pier for our fastpasses for Toy Story Midway Mania.

After the ride, we hopped onto the Little Mermaid ride to kill 15 mins before heading to Cars Land for the other fastpass we’d picked up earlier in the day – Radiator Springs Racers. This ride blows me away every time with how amazing and impressive it is, and I’ve only ever done it as a single rider before so it was nice to actually get to sit with someone I know!

After Racers, we went to Animation Academy and both drew very questionable attempts at Olaf, then went back for another round of California Screamin’ before grabbing dinner at Lucky Fortune Cookery, which is a great place for when you’re not in the mood for burgers and pizza! Then to kill time before World of Color, as it was a little too cool for us to sit and wait for 40 mins without jackets, we went on Voyage of the Little Mermaid again, which was so quiet that the cast members were happy (and very entertained) to let us ride it three times in a row without actually getting off. We didn’t have the best view for World of Color, but it wasn’t that important for Sarah and I just wanted to see it at some point, and knew I wouldn’t any other evening with the early nights I’ll be needing for the races!

Show over, we cut through the Grand Californian as a shortcut back to the hotel, and are calling it a night as we’ll be back in the parks early tomorrow!