Disneyland in January

My whirlwind Disneyland adventure began immediately after the Star Wars 10k! After a quick costume change, I was back and ready for my day at the parks!

I was really excited for my day. I have done 2 other Disneyland races but normally I fly in on Saturday, do the expo scramble, hit the park like it’s going to disappear and then bed, race, gone! This trip, I had the entire day to spend at Disneyland and just enjoy the magic.

First up, Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour (*note – I am going to be vague only because I do not want to ruin it for you!). I figured there would be no better way to “see” the park.

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I checked in, received my name tag and listening device and picked my lunch. I had a few minutes to just sit and relax so I took that time to finally eat my post race breakfast.

We started the tour at the Firehouse – Walt’s original Disney apartment. From there, the magic (and chills) just began to wash over me.

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It was really cool to listen to clips from the past and hear Walt talk about his vision of Disneyland. We proceeded down Main Street and our guide pointed out little things along our way.

We stopped at the main “hub” and little extras I had never noticed at the castle (probably because I am always running around and don’t have the time to notice). We walked across the drawbridge and into Fantasyland! We made our way around the park with stops at Alice in Wonderland, Matterhorn and monorail, Lilli Belle train car and Pirates!

While waiting for the group during a pit stop, I noticed where I was. Being near Pirates, I knew Blue Bayou was around (I’ve eaten there the two other times I was at DL) but I never noticed this door. This will probably be the closest I ever get to Club 33!

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It was now time for the biggest part of the tour – the Disney Dream Suite! I laughed, I teared up, I got chills… if I ever got to stay here, I don’t think I would be able to sleep from excitement. It was simply amazing…

Fun fact: did you know the Haunted Mansion is based of a house in Baltimore?!?! I will try to find out more of the history and see if the house is still around! How cool!!

Anyway, after the Dream Suite, it was time for Walt to say good-bye. We headed to the partners statue and listen to Walt for one last time.

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Then it was lunch time! We headed to the Jolly Holiday Bakery for lunch. Our pre-ordered lunches were waiting for us – yum! While eating, we received our second tour keepsake (the pin pictured was my name tag for the tour) – a beautiful pin that opens and has the opening day speech inscribed.

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I would HIGHLY ¬†recommend this tour. It was amazing. I had no idea what to expect – but I am glad I didn’t know. It was incredible to be immersed this way in the magic without having much of an idea of “what’s going to happen”.

After lunch, I decided I was going to try to catch the Dapper Dans in action. I have never seen their “show” at either park and gosh darn it – it was going to happen! I lucked out and had a cast member help me find them. I joined the small crowd watching and just enjoyed listening. You don’t hear or see this kind of act everyday! As people left, I was in the front of the crowd and to my surprise, the Dans asked if I could help in a song (I really can’t sing and dislike crowds looking at me). I joined them “on stage” and was told when they pointed to me I should say “you”. Luckily, a cast member was there and was able to snap a pic of me with the Dans.

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After this awesome Disney experience, my day was made even further when I got to meet:

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By this time, my friends joined me and it was time to hit some attractions I had never done before (or Disney World doesn’t have). We did a carriage ride up Main Street then headed to the Launch Bay in Tomorrowland.

We did Autopia (where I got my drivers license!) and found Nemo on the Finding Nemo Voyage. We then rode the carousel and I discovered Disney sells pickles! (How I didn’t know that is beyond me but they were so good!).

Dinner was at Cafe Orleans where I could get my beloved Monte Cristo sandwich and Mickey beignets (yum!).

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After dinner, I picked up a tasty Dole whip to hold me over until we made it to California Adventure Park. I seriously just collect food when I’m at any Disney park…I don’t buy things – I buy food!

I managed to book the World of Color Dessert Party for the night I was going to be there. I was really excited – I had never seen WoC before and neither had my friends. Before checking in, we hit up Ghirardelli and Boudin Bread Factory (free samples of chocolate and bread – yes please!)

It was then time (or by this time my knee was telling me it was time) to head over to where we needed to check in for the World of Color Dessert Party!

It was wonderful! We were first in line and were the first ones seated. Once at our table, we were brought bottled water and cheesy breadsticks. All three of us had menus showing us what would be on our dessert plate. I was also pleasantly surprised – we could could order both adult beverages – the World of Color Cooler (the blue drink) and champagne (did not last long enough for a picture – oops). I had also arranged for my friends to be surprised with best wishes – they just got married this past weekend so I had to do something to mark their special day while I was with them in Cali!

The show was awesome! I was worried it would be hard to see because the fast pass area was right in front of us. You couldn’t even tell people were there. You could even feel the heat from the pyrotechnics during the show (it was a little chilly). I sang along with the music and danced (or hopped) in my chair. I loved it!

After the show, our waiter brought over boxes, extra water and hot tea to go! I loved ending my long Disney day in this way.

Fast forward to Sunday morning (what you thought I was done?! Silly!) – it was half marathon day. I was going to participate as a spectator. I purchased the Spectator Viewing Party package.

The event started at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney. There was a breakfast buffet set up along with coffee, tea and juice. You could purchase alcohol as well (mimosa anyone?!)

By the time I was finishing my plate, the first wheelchair finisher was crossing the line (I “slept in” on half marathon day):

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Then I headed down to Main Street to cheer on the runners! It was so cool to be on Main Street during the race and not be running! I saw my friends running and cheered them on and stayed until the last few runners had passed me by. Then I decided to play on Main Street since who knows when I’ll get to do this again!

I headed back to the ESPN Zone to warm up and wait it out while my friends did the long, boring miles between the park and the finish.

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I should half marathon like this more often!

Once I was alerted my friends had passed the 15k mark, I headed out to the special cheering section for the viewing party. I was expecting the bleachers but what we had was so much better! We had lounge style seating – comfy seats with ottomans so we could lounge! It was awesome. We also had a great view of the finish line and the last few steps runners would take before finishing.

I loved cheering on the runners. I know by that point myself I need to dig deep (even that close to the finish).

It was a whirlwind trip but not nearly as crazy as my Disneyland trips normally are. Jammed packed with new experiences, I loved every minute of my time out in Cali.

I would highly recommend Walk in Walt’s Footsteps and the World of Color Dessert Party. I enjoyed the Spectator Viewing Party and would recommend it if your curb crew includes older or younger people (the nicer seating was much nicer than a cold bleacher). With breakfast and parking included, it could make for an enjoyable morning if your crew will be waiting awhile.

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