Disneyland, Disneyland California Adventure Park & Paradise Pier Hotel Review


I can tell you this will be a super long reading. My poor brain is going a million miles a minute remembering everything i want to write down and tell you all. I saved receipts, address’s, buttons, names, everything. I wanted to tell every family where to get the best deal on a hotel, ice cream cone, drink or even mickey hats. Most of all, i just want everyone to see how much fun this one magical place is. Never in our lives have we ever had such an amazing time as a family. Our smiles never left our faces.

Lets begin on the arrival. Just following the road signs to get to Disneyland is exciting. Just knowing that you are inches away from meeting the famed mouse himself will make you want to pee yourself. (or just me.) I felt like i was 5 again. My girls were speechless just gazing out the windows at all the people and traffic. I could see our hotel ahead of us and it took everything not to scream like a girl in anticipation.

We pulled into the massively tall hotel (The Paradise Pier) well before our check in time. I could see people lined up to leave and bell hops getting cars and luggage. I could hear my brain repeating a taunt “you’re leaving and I’m staying..na na naaa”.  Its amazing how this place changes a 29 year old into a toddler.

I walked in, while my family stayed in the car, and was almost immediately met by a desk clerk. He deserved a raise with the way he helped me with all my paperwork. I was suppose to check in and then go find this other place to get my tickets and the breakfast coupons, etc. He went ahead and printed all my tickets out right there plus gave us our keys. This way we could park (for free with your stay!), and go ahead to the park. When our room was ready, we would get a text on our cell and go right to it. How convenient?!

We parked the car and started on our journey. Lets pause for a moment as i tell you some key things to bring to Disneyland California:

  • Money belt– its easy to keep on you, hard for someone to steal, and hides under clothes. Plus hands free.
  • Stroller– need i say more? Lots of stroller parking at each ride too!
  • Water Bottles– Pack your own water if you can. Even just one bottle for each family member that you can refill at any water fountain. It will save you $3 a bottle on the park!
  • Sunscreen– i don’t care if it looks cloudy, wear it!
  • Simple Clothes– you will get wet, dirty, messy, etc. Wear something that is easy to change and wont over heat you. We even let our girls wear their swim suits under their clothes. (There are small water parks for the kids).
  • Hats– Unless you are going to buy one there, wear one. Even if your hair is long, you will want a hat.
  • Backpack – or similar. You will want to buy things, win stuff, etc and you want to remain hands free. Bring a good backpack for the adventure.
  • Comfortable Shoes– they don’t have to be running or walking shoes either. Just something that will keep you going for the whole day. My favorite shoes are Nike Comfort Sandals.
  • Cell Phone or Walkie Talkie Device– Keep in touch, don’t get lost. Take either cell phones or walkie talkie devices.

So off we go! We walked to Downtown Disney District not knowing what it even looked like or had. As we rounded the corner it was like someone smacked us with awesomeness. Restaurants, cafes, and even Lego Land shop all right there by the Disneyland Monorail (which takes you to the center of Disneyland).

Getting on the monorail you will have your bags checked, tickets scanned and then you can get ready to board the monorail. Its a fast easy ride, stroller and wheelchair accessible. You get a birds eye view of the park and Disneyland District. When it stops, you are right over the Finding Nemo Submarine Ride.

Now i want to break this up in segments so i can tell you about each aspect:

Disneyland Park:

As soon as we seen what it was we were neck deep in, we still had no idea how large this park was. You could not cover Disneyland in one day. You need about 3 or 4. The 1st ride we went on was the one i made my husband promise we would not go on. And instead, we did. The Tea Cups. Ariel made a statement that even after riding The Little Mermaid Carousal about 20 times, the Tea Cups were still her favorite. Next the girls were determined to blend in and get a set of mouse ears. We choose the sequined headbands with red bows. The price tag for 2 of them was $43 and some change. I assure you i may have pooed myself on that one. Gulp. That was when i realized we were in California lol. But the girls looked adorable and happy. Off to the Storybook Land Canal Boats (where we rode the Ariel!), Snow White’s Scary Adventures (Ariel was a bit scared on this one), Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, King Arthur Carousel, It’s A Small World, and Casey Jr Circus Train.

Jasmyne and hubby even rode the Matterhorn Bobsleds!

We definitely missed a few rides and attractions there in Fantasyland. We did not see any princess’s at all sadly. I am not sure if we just rounded the wrong corner or they were all on lunch, because we saw none on the 1st day anywhere.

But the day was not over. We headed to Frontierland to ride Big Thunder Mountain. Ariel and i watched as hubby and Jasmyne screamed around each bend. They both came off the ride with huge smiles. We did get to see Mark Twains Riverboat , Tom Sawyer Island and Sailing Ship Columbia.

I take back the part about seeing characters, we did get to see Princess Tiana from Princess and The Frog, in the New Orleans Square singing. She didn’t stay out at all though. No pictures or book signing unfortunately. The girls were just in awe that she was real, so that was ok. Plus it was scorching hot so maybe she couldn’t be out too long.

We  missed Mickey’s Toontown, & Adventureland, but did make it to meet Tigger & Pooh in Critter Country. I thought for sure Ariel would be shy but she hugged Pooh hard and high fived Tigger.  They did pictures and signed autographs. Tigger was great, he had personality and was definitely my favorite one.

Jasy and I tried to stand in line for the Splash Mountain but after an hour we backed out. It was too hot to stand in line for that long. Make sure you use your Fast Pass for that one! We headed over to The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh ride. It was a tad scary for Ariel but the colors were great. 3D actions and a great family friendly ride.

After running back to our hotel (see review below), we came back for the fireworks show (see review below). On our way to the Train Station we had to walk on Main Street USA. These shops were amazing. We didn’t go in any since we were on a time schedule, but when we reached the Coca Cola Corner my husband about fell. Talk about 1950 era. It was magical all in itself. We stopped in there and ordered drinks for the fireworks.

2 32 oz Cokes, 2 small lemonades= 13.22 with tax.

Off to the fireworks!

You can see all my Disneyland Pictures here.

By the way… it was my 29th Birthday.

  1. Pros– Magical place for all ages. Fun and easy simple rides for toddlers and adults. Check for Military rates and specials if you are an ID card holder. Also if it’s your birthday you get in free! All rides are included with your ticket.
  2. Cons– Pricey. Expect to have some spending money as food and drinks are not cheap. Souvenirs are also costly. Some lines can be long, try to use your fast pass on those.

I did take a video of Its A Small World ride!

Disneyland Fireworks:

You will never ever in a million years see anything more beautiful. I felt my heart swelling up watching them. It was my birthday and what a wonderful way to end it, seated up at the train station with the best view around. My girls had no idea what to expect, and when it started, their was utter silence from them yet both mouths were open and eyes popped.

You could see the castle lighting up, with the most elegant fireworks blasting overhead.

See all of my Disneyland Firework Pictures here.

Disneyland Adventure Park:

To get to the Adventure Park we had to walk through another hotel, Disneyland’s Grand California Hotel, let me say, if you have no toddlers, maybe teens or are their to ignite a flame, stay at that hotel. It was jaw dropping to just walk through. I could write a whole paragraph on the lobby and outside walk ways alone.

We entered in the gates by the Grizzly River Run and instantly Jasy and Hubby were in line. It was rather short and they waited maybe 20 minutes yet the sign said about a 45 minute wait. Ariel and I waited by one of the bridges in the shade eating frozen chocolate bananas (don’t pass these up!). There is a spot where you can walk up and wait for the waves to hit you.

We headed to Paradise Pier where we rode Mickeys Fun Wheel. Thankfully you can choose a stationary seat. I would have had things coming from every part of my body if we did the one that rocks and glides. Hubby and Jasy rode the California Screamin twice and would have rode it again if i didn’t drag them away lol.

We didn’t get to see World Of Color because it was booked until the 10:30 pm show. Also the Toy Story Mania! because the line was far too long. We didn’t even see Sunshine Plaza or Hollywood Pictures Backlot.

We did notice all the princess’s over at Cove Bar but when we reached it, it had a sign about paying to dine with them.

Right next to Ariels Grotto & Cove Bar though is Mickey Mouse (you cant miss him!) and you can meet and greet with him.

Also, if you are in need of ice cream, check the shop right there also. Its very cheap and you get huge portions. If you have a toddler, you will want to share one. These are big scoops for $2.

We walked around while High School Musical 3 parade seemed to be everywhere we were. It led us to the Bugs Land. It was scorching hot and we landed in the water park so it was perfect timing to strip the girls down to their bathing suits and let them go. We stayed there until it was time for the Pixar Play Parade.

We sat up in the Golden Wine Vinery seating so it made for a better view. (However if you want to interact with the characters, stay along the road.)

We heard the parade start and both of our girls were freaking out excited. There were squirt guns, bubbles, rats jumping, woody flipping on a pole, and so much more. Now the best part of this parade will be embedded in my brain for life. Imagine if you seen Brad Prit coming around the corner and he was blowing kisses at you. Well whatever reaction you would have, multiply that by 10 and you have what Jasymne did when she seen Buzz Lightyear . Yes. She totally did the fall to ground, scream his name, and cry but shake thing. My husband and i laughed so hard when Buzz waved and blew her not one, but two kisses. It was priceless.

I really wish we would have seen Muppet Vision 3D, Turtle Talk with Crush and Monsters Inc. Like i said earlier, you need at least 3-4 days for each park. Maybe 2 days each minimum.

I liked some parts of Disney Adventure California Park, but overall i loved Disneyland more. Disneyland had smiles everywhere. We even joked how they must pay them to smile because everyone at that park was super happy. They would say Happy Birthday Angela everywhere. Even random people would see my button and walk up to wish me a happy day. Disney Adventure was different. It wasn’t as happy lol. The people were nice but i would walk up to someone for help at Disneyland faster than the Adventure Park. Having said that, i did something that made me very happy.. I had walked up to get ice cream and a lady had lost her little girl and was trying to get help from the ice cream lady. Another family walked up to get ice cream and was incredibly rude and getting upset that she was helping the mom. Now to me, you can walk away and get your ice cream somewhere else because a child is more important. I did not expect any explanation on why i couldn’t purchase my ice cream, i was more concerned that mom find her daughter (which they did safe and sound), but i was glad to see the lady not worry about her sales and make sure that mom was helped out ASAP.

One thing i am excited about with Disney Adventure is that in 2011, The Little Mermaid ride is coming. We are huge Little Mermaid and Aladdin fans (couldn’t you guess?), so we have seriously considered going back just for that itself. We were able to see the blue prints of it in the Winery and it looks really cool. Almost like the Its A Small World ride of Disneyland.

  • Pros: more adult/teen friendly. Toddler section at Bugs Land, Monsters Inc.
  • Cons: less smaller child/toddler friendly. Had to be certain height to ride most of them.
  • Look Forward To: New Little Mermaid ride coming 2011!

See all of my Disneyland Adventure California Park Pictures here.

Paradise Pier Hotel:

As soon as you walk in you will meet up with Goofy with a Surf Board. Perfect place for a photo opp!

This hotel was great for families. Everyone was uber friendly and waiting to jump at the sound of your voice. The view from our room (6th floor) was Mickeys Fun Wheel! The bathroom had Mickey shampoo, soap, conditioner and hand lotion waiting for the girls.  There were 2 beds, a desk, TV with fire proof safe, fridge, coffee pot, and so much more. Plenty of towels and pillows. The mattress was comfortable, it was very clean. Air conditioned, & free Internet.

What i liked were a couple things that simply made the stay even better.

  • Birthday Maid Service– not just any service, but the coolest birthday service in the world. This jolly maid brings me a birthday cake with candle that she made out of hand towels! She also brought chocolate coins with Disney characters on them. Then we left for the fireworks and returned to find jumbo mickey mouse rice crispy treats on our bed dipped in chocolate. I mean that was just awesome.
  • Room Service- You know how you watch movies and the room service guy has an accent and he pulls the silver lids off your food to tell you what each is? Well we had that. A smile never left my face as he described our macaroni and cheese with chili cheese fries with such a perfect french accent that i am sure his words alone made it taste even better.
  • Storytime TV– We never once changed the channel because Disneyland TV was on. It was Sleeping Beauty & her prince telling stories and giving behind the scene looks at things. We even got into it when it was telling the history and some secrets.

Other things the hotel had: Pool on the 3rd floor, vending machine room, game room, movie room, souvenir shop and restaurants.

We had breakfast with Mickey, Minnie, Stitch and Goofy at the Disney PCH Grill! It was an all you can eat buffet and as you ate, they came around for pictures and greetings. Plus throughout that time they would have the kids up to play games.

It was a great stay at The Paradise Pier hotel. Its definitely a family friendly hotel for all ages.

  • Pros: Even after you check out for the day you can keep your car parked on the lot till midnight. So you can enjoy the parks still and not worry about your vehicle. Close to Downtown Disney District, Disneyland and Adventure California.
  • Cons: The elevators are very slow. Room Service/food are pricey.
  • Don’t Miss: Mickey’s Breakfast!

See all of my Paradise Pier Hotel Pictures here.

See all the Disneyland Hotels.

Find great deals on package stays.

I hope you enjoyed my review. I had my brain racked writing it, so i am sure i missed some key points. If you have any questions, just leave me a comment. A couple things i wanted to mention, if you want to see all my pictures from Disneyland simply click here. Also, if you do have a “few” dollars and want some VIP seats and a great tour(s), just check out this link to see your selections.

Our trip was more than we could ever hope for. It was an amazing time, and it truly was a very magical place.

Special thank you to Disney Media department. Courtney & Michelle went far above what they needed to. They adjusted our original plans, re-accommodated us and even called us on the Sunday we were their to make sure we were taken care of. To me that shows what kind of people and customer service Disney employs.


Disneyland California did provide our tickets for 2 days, hotel, character breakfast, special seating for Pixar Parade and Fireworks in exchange for a review.

Comments (17)

  1. Paradise Pier just sounds like an awesome name. You gave some really great ideas! For those who go for their first time this is a great post because we don't know what to expect!

    $43 for some ears!!!?!? What! I am definately gonna have to save some money for that trip lol.. Being in a special places helps you spend though, and they love to rack up those prices don't they!

    Awwww Jasy likes buzz light year? that's so cute and she got TWO kisses 🙂

    It sounds like your birthday truly was magical with that birthday maid service!!!!! I wish I could have been there with ya 🙂 I love the video of the ride, thats super neat!!

    What a great review! I feel like Disney Land is my new best friend 🙂
    I'm glad the little girl was found and thats great that the ice cream lady helped. YOU ARE SO SWEET 🙂

  2. Awesome detail!!! It sounds like you had an amazing time. I hope someday I can have an opportunity to take my kids there. I went to the one in florida as a kid and reading your review just sparked all those memories but so much more!!! Awesome job and great review!!!

Comments are closed.