Diving into Disneyland's Delights - Part 2

After stepping through Disneyland's gates for the first time my belly had been filled up with delicious treats and my eyes had seen a wonderful parade but it was only a matter of time before my head would have to endure its very first ride. I was immensely nervous for this but I didn't want to miss out on any possible experiences so, at the sight of a very small line at the Finding Nemo Voyage, we booted down in that direction and lined up for an underwater adventure!

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I had never really been on any sort of real amusement park ride before. I had been on a few carnival attractions but that was about it. But, being the over prepared traveller I am, I had done my homework! Thank you Disneyland Bloggers! I had read that this was one of the less scary and nauseating rides in the park. This was also one of the most popular rides and the fact that the line was so short was almost unheard of so we couldn't pass up this opportunity. There was only about two submarine's worth of people ahead of us and the kid's were very excited to get onto the ride. Usually the lines are just too long and they don't offer a Fast Pass option so despite being annual pass holder even the kids hadn't been on this ride before! Right off the bat, I was amazed at how impressive everything looked. Bright yellow, super realistic submarines popped their heads above the water and I could make out vibrant coloured shapes swimming below.

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Finally, it was our turn. The submarines are operated by the Nautical Exploration and Marine Observation Institute (N.E.M.O.) crew cruise! I was afraid I would be really claustrophobic once inside but it didn't feel as small as I thought it would. In fact, everyone got their own seat and their very own porthole to view the underwater world outside. I will say, it TRULY does feel as though you are in submarine. So take that for a pro or a con as you see it. Once everyone is inside, you take off and you begin to travel across the sea floor. As you cruise along, you see animated sea life pass by. You begin just below the surface but as the ride continue it simulates you delving deeper and deeper into the ocean. Bubbles float up above to give you illusion of sinking. This made me feel incredibly sick. I cannot emphasis how much an effect like can fool your eye into making you think you're actually sinking when the submarine isn't moving at all. Cudos to design and development of the ride but when you're a wimp like me, it sucks. But, all I needed to do was shut my eyes and then I felt fine. Unlike other rides where you would have to get off to feel better, anytime the effects would make me feel dizzy, I simply shut my eyes and boom, problem solved. It was great. Thankfully those downward sinking illusions didn't happen more than a few times and most ride you just got to sit back, relax and watch this truly other worldly underwater experience unfold in front of you.

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The ride takes you and your fellow cruise members along a journey that follows Dory and Marlin on their quest to rescue Nemo! You travel through all the famous scenes from the movie. Hold on tight as you swirl through the East Australian Current, get spooked as you creep through the silent graveyard of sunken ships, get mesmerized by a school of jellyfish and even get lost inside the belly of a whale! A unique part of this ride is that depending on where you sit in the submarine, you will see Nemo appear in different locations during the journey. Some people might see him inside the whale, others swimming in between the jellyfish. Everyone will see him the same number of times but this way each one of you will have a slightly different experience. Or, if you frequent this ride again and again, it's something new to experience every time!

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage Photo Credit: Flickr Loren Javier

After the ride pulled back into the station and we all stepped back out into the fresh air, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I felt pretty good. I was ok! I might have had a few freaked out moments, but I survived! And if anything I was excited to try more! Although, I have to say, there are a few points in the ride when it's pretty scary and the younger kids we had with us got pretty freaked out. So, it might not be the ride for your family if you've got really small children, unless they're really brave. But, it was a really long ride and I felt like even if we had to wait longer in line it would have been worth the wait. It was so well done and details in the rides were stunning. Definitely a great way to start the day!

Matterhorn Photo Credit: Flickr Loren Javier

As the Matterhorn loomed before us in the distance and the morning was still on our side, Dan and Katie decided that they would get in the single riders line and go for a quick run. Although I had gotten pretty pumped up from the Nemo ride, I was smart enough to know my limits. Considering I usually get sick on a bumpy car journey, I thought a toboggan race through a simulated Swiss mountain might not be the best idea. But I happily waited in line with them and marvelled at the wondrous mountain above and googled a bit about the history of this notable attraction.

Matterhorn Bobsleds Photo Credit: Flickr Jonathan Abourbih

The Matterhorn is one of the most famous rides in Disneyland. Built in 1977, it was originally designed as a disguise to cover the mounds of dirt that had been displaced during the building or Sleeping Beauty's Palace and Tomorrowland. Walt had always loved the real Matterhorn Mountain as he had frequented it during his visits to Switzerland and thought a toboggan themed ride would suit his family theme park perfectly. Disneyland continues to amaze me in all its clever designed elements. The trees which surround the Matterhorn get smaller and smaller the higher you get. This is called "foreced persepctive" and creates the illusion of the mountain actually appearing larger than it really is. Pretty neat. Pretty neat.

The Holidays Hit The Matterhorn Popcorn Stand Photo Credit: Flickr Loren Javier

Once Dan and Katie got on the ride, we bid them adieu and went to go grab some of that famous Disneyland popcorn. Even the popcorn stand was all decked out for Christmas!! The popcorn was absolutely addictive. Served in vintage red and white popcorn boxes it felt like you were back at Disneyland in the 1960's. I loved it. Pro Tip: (the single rider line for the Matterhorn is SUPER fast!) Dan and Katie were in and out in under 10 minutes! After they rejoined the group we were ready to head off to Fantasyland. This was the part of the park I was the most excited for! So I clicked my heels so hippity hopped on over...

The Heart of Fantasyland Photo Credit: Flickr Tour Departing Daily

Here is a land of imagination, hopes and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young and the young at heart, to those who believe that when you wish upon a star your dreams do come true.

โ€”Walter E. Disney, July 17, 1955

In Disneyland there are seven main areas to visit: Adventureland, Frontierland, Main Street USA, Critter Country, New Orleans, Toon Town and Tomorrowland. Fantasyland is one of the originals. It stands right in the center of the park and is the place where you'll find all the most iconic rides. In the middle of Fantasyland is King Arthur's Carousel, complete with a sword in the stone. If you're lucky and come by at the right time of the day, you'll see Merlin come by and help a child pull the famous sword from the stone.

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As you walk through Fantasyland you begin to feel as through you've stepped out of California and been transported into a Bavarian Village somewhere just south of the Swiss Alps (which fits right in, seeing as we've just come from the Matterhorn). Fantasyland originally had more of a Renaissance design to it but in 1983 it was renovated to have a slightly more modern feel while still being European and maintaining that far away, land atmosphere. The concept behind this design was that they wanted the environment to match the homelands of their princesses. And it does. From Belle to Snow White, either of these ladies could easily be seen buying bread or reading a book here behind the archways or running through the turrets hiding from an evil sorceress. I loved just walking through Fantasyland's streets. I didn't need to go on the rides or even eat the food (but that's a big plus) just being in this place made me feel like I was in my own fairytale. It was magical.

Cheshire Photo Credit: Flickr Emily Burnett

When I was growing up, Alice in Wonderland was one of my favourite Disney films so I was so excited to go on the ride. I had always imagined what it would have been like to go down the rabbit hole and now I was going to get that chance! The little girl inside of me was going crazy! The psychedelic colours and other worldly plants that seemed to grow out of the ground blended in with the real trees creating a strange intermingling of real and fake realities.

Caterpillar Car at the Alice in Wonderland Ride Photo Credit: Flickr Loren Javier

We waited for our turn (only for about 5 minutes) and then jumped into a a grumpy green caterpillar car and set off on our journey into the world of Alice and her Wonderland.

Alice In Wonderland Ride Photo Credit: Flickr Loren Javier

One of my favourite parts of the film was the singing flowers and they were brought to life for me in true to form animatronic fashion. They were absolutely exquisite, yet held that same deadly charm they did in the film.

A Very Merry Un-Birthday to You Photo Credit: Flickr Don Sullivan

The glowing animatronics seemed to have a life of their own. I would hate to be here at night when this place is empty and these little ones are still moving about. I have to imagine they come alive just like the toys in Toys Story. I will say, that for as much as Disneyland is geared towards kids, these rides are pretty freaky! I mean, I loved it. But I love weird freaky things. I love those spooky haunted house rides at the fair but I can't believe more kids aren't scared! Maybe when you're a kids you have a different way of seeing things. Either way, I loved this ride: trippy, silly, dreamy = wonderful!

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Our next stop was the iconic Mad Tea Party! Iconic for two reasons. One) because it is so beautiful. The colourful tea cups and vivid lanterns hung from above make this area look like a scenes plucked from a Monet painting. And Two) Because so many people are know to get motion sickness from this ride. So, once again, I decided to sit this one out. But I had I alot of fun photographing these dummies ;)

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Something neat I found out is that when Disneyland celebrated its 50th anniversary it honored its original 1955 attractions with special plaques and painted different vehicles on those original attractions gold. Since the Mad Tea Party is one of these attractions, look out for the gold and raspberry painted tea cup and sit in that one for an extra special ride! It actually doesn't do anything exceptional, but it has that special meaning. Other golden painted vehicles are a golden horse on the Carousel, a Golden Dumbo, a golden Congo Queen on the Jungle Cruise and a golden pirate ship from Peter Pan's Flight.

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After the tea cups, We weaved our way through the crowds and took in all the sights around Fantasyland. We didn't have much more time to spend here as we wanted to head down for lunch in New Orleans. We decided to forgo lining up for more rides but as it was my first time and they didn't want to take away from my experience, we walked around all the attractions so I could see all these amazing rides up close before we headed off.

Daily Disney Photo Credit: Flickr Joe Penniston

Dumbo the Flying Elephant is another one of those iconic rides that is so ingrained in my mind as being Disneyland. Just getting to look up and watch those silly elephants fly by was so much fun. Even if I didn't get to ride them, I could feel what it would be like to be a kid on the ride. To believe in that moment that you were flying, that life wasn't so serious and you can just let go for one moment can just get free and silly and just be a big flying elephant.

Storybook Land Canal Boats Photo Credit: Flickr Loren Javier

On our way out, we past by the Storybook Canal Boats and It's A Small World. I got to return to ride It's A Small World later on in the evening but didn't get to ride the Canal boats. Next time. They looked really relaxing and impressive.

It's a small world... Photo Credit: Flickr Anna Fox

It's A Small World was transformed for the holidays from its usual colourful facade and was painted white and gold. Super classy. At night through, it changes all sorts of colours and truly comes alive. All-in-all, Fantasyland was by fay and away my favourite of all the lands. It was exactly what I wanted from Disneyland. It gave you that Princess, Castle, Magical, Fantastical feeling all wrapped up in one little package! MAGNIFICENT!!!

Toad's Ever-Absurd Acceleration Photo Credit: Flickr Andy Castro

Overall, I was astounded by all the attention to architectural styles and typography to be found in all the signage and building facades. I guess I shouldn't be really though. For the price you pay at admission I suppose they can hire enough designers to get all this stuff done right. But the fact that their hold themselves up to that kind of standard and they demand that they DO get this stuff right is pretty impressive. It means that even if we don't know it, we're getting a better experience for it. WE feel more immersed in the fantasy. It feels more real. It feel like magic.

NEXT UP! Lunching in New Orleans and Pirates on the Rivers of America!