Dreaming of Disneyland - Part 1

Toronto is slowly getting warmer but we've been hit by what's being called a "Second Winter" and I'm not having any of it. I'm dreaming of a far away land I got to visit late last year. A wonderful, child-like place, where dreams come true and magic seems to come alive before your eyes. A place called Disneyland.

IMG_2024

I had never been to Disneyland before. I'd not even been to many amusement parks when I was a kid. Me and my family all get pretty sick on roller coaster rides so we weren't big park people. But the fantasy aspect of these over the top, seemingly other worldly places, really appealed to me so I had always peeked over the fences, and stared off into the distance at these huge fairtale kingdoms that seems such a mystery to me.

IMG_2022

When I would travel to Europe, the Gothic towers and medieval building that I saw there brought me back in time and made me feel like I was in another world. Disneyland makes you feel the same way. From the moment you walk through the gates, you enter into another universe. But more than just feeling like you're in another world, you are in another state of mind. I think as adults, especially those of us who are new to the adult mind set, there is a wanting from time to time to receded back to childhood. To a time when we didn't need to worry about money and jobs and taxes and rent. But we push that aside and try to move forward, to grow up and get ahead. But as you come into this new land, suddenly you are allowed to act like that little kid again. And no one will say boo. You can be who ever you want to be. And that's perfectly perfect. No will stop. In fact, you are encouraged to don those Mickey ears, princess dresses or funny costumes and act as crazy as you wish!

IMG_2430 2

On my first trip to Disneyland I was lucky enough to have two little ones hold my hands and lead me through this wild and wacky wonderland. They made sure I had a special pirate hat on before we entered, so I would "fit right it" and they were absolutely right!

Oh! And if it's your first time at Disneyland, be sure to tell one of the staff members at the gate when you arrive and they will give you a cool button that says "My First Visit!"

IMG_2024

What made my first trip to Disneyland even more incredible was that they had just opened up the park with all their Christmas decorations and rides transformed for the holidays. Main Street USA will be the first thing you come across as you make your way into the grounds. Red and green bobbles dotted the skyline and Christmas wreaths hung off the buildings. Lights sparkled in the windows and everything just seemed wonderfully cheery. It was as if the world was smiling.

IMG_2526 2

I am possibly THE MOST enthusiastic person when it comes to the holidays. And while I usually plan most of my trip's activities to the last detail, we hadn't finalized our Disney plan so I didn't realise all this would be happening when we were going to be there. And I was blown away. There were Santa's and snowflakes. Handmade candy canes hung in the sweet shop windows, Christmas ornaments glowed on lush green trees and even jolly carollers sung song down Main Street. I walked along, mouth agape, as we peaked into all the amazing window displays along the street. I was already in heaven.

IMG_2536 2

Main Street USA's look and overall design is inspired by Walt Disney's hometown of Marceline, Missouri at the turn of the Century (c. 1910). Walt remembers this time period as being "carefree" and wanted to recreate this whimsical feeling for his visitors as the first thing they experience when they enter the park.

IMG_2525 2

Stop along the street at the Jolly Holiday Bakery for some quick grab and go treats. The Bakery is one of the most amazing shops at the end of the street. It is home to many little Mary Poppins trinkets and completely feels like something plucked right out of the film. The treats behind the glass are also mouthwatering delicious and all look amazing!

Bert and Mary Poppins cheer us on Photo Credit: Flickr Loren Javier

You can also find a Starbucks Cafe hidden away among these adorable little shops along the street, although the better coffee (for a better price) is actually to be had right in front of the castle! Can't beat the view! But if you're looking to stop and get a nice sit down breakfast to start your Disney Day off right you can grab at the Carnation Cafe. Sweet retro designs and lovely brunch style menu!

IMG_2510 2

The Plaza Inn is another great choice breakfast treats! A littlemore upscale but you can't beat the rich Victorian atmosphere and incredible architecture!

A Christmas Fantasy Parade: Santa Claus Photo Credit: Flickr armadillo444

After we grabbed our morning treats we were lucky enough to catch the Christmas Parade! The route is plotted out for you on the map you're given at the entrance and there's no real "best place" to see the show. It's fantastic no matter where you find yourself! Although, if you manage to snag a bench or somewhere to sit, you might find yourself a bit more comfy while you watch the amazing costumes and dancers go by :)

IMG_2087

The Christmas Parade was so joy full! It perfect blend of Disney favourites and Christmas classics.

Where would we walk? Where would we run? If we could stay all day in the sun? | A Christmas Fantasy Photo Credit: Flickr chris.alcoran

Being the die hard redhead that I am, I, of course, was the most excited to see Ariel and Prince Eric. They looked pretty awesome. Although, I have no idea where the green dress comes from (it's not from the movie - maybe it's a Christmas thing) I loved it and she looked beautiful.

So this is love | A Christmas Fantasy Photo Credit: Flickr chris.alcoran

I find it very strange but also kind of impressive how the actors capture the essence of the characters in the simplest movements and even in just their smiles. The Ariel smile is so different from the Snow White smile and Belle bows down in a different way than Cinderella. Fascinating.

Dancing ballerina | A Christmas Fantasy Photo Credit: Flickr chris.alcoran

After the parade was almost finished, we decided it was time to make a break for it before the crowd dispersed, and hit up some rides! I was pretty nervous...up till this moment I think I had forgotten that I would have to at least try and go on a few rides...So, I mustered up some courage with the help of my comrades and we set our sites on the Little Nemo Ride Voyage!

What happens next? Do I survive my very first amusement park ride? We'll find out in PART TWO >>