9/10 Denise’s Corner – 10 Top Disneyland Favorites, Walt Disney World Roundup

It's been 3 weeks since my last "Denise's Corner". I was hoping to add columns from California, but our schedule was packed! I'm getting back into the swing of things in Orlando, with 200 photos of Halloween at the Magic Kingdom.

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Halloween at the Magic Kingdom 

I also added a Fantasyland update, along with a look at Downtown Disney. And during the pin event "The Florida Project" this weekend, we found artwork that shows Dumbo and Timothy Mouse as the characters on the Disney Fantasy stern (that has not been announced yet). But keep watching for more Disneyland articles, including photos from another visit to Club 33.

While I'm still in a California state of mind, I thought I'd do a top 10 list of some of my Disneyland favorites.  I first visited Disneyland in 1992 and have made over a dozen trips there. I've been asked numerous times over the years why I'd go to Disneyland when I'm at Walt Disney World so often. My answer? The experience is not the same. Yes, there is a Main Street and a castle. But there is so much more to Disneyland.

It's hard to come up with 10 favorites, I could easily make another 10!  The bulk of this list applies to the main Disneyland park, but Disney California Adventure also makes a couple of appearances.

1 – Personalized Greeting at the Park Entrance – I'm so glad that Disneyland hasn’t yet adopted the finger scanning system that Walt Disney World has had for years. Upon entering the park, the Disney Cast Member slides the guest’s pass through the machine, and often will say something like (in my case) “Thank you, Denise”. On my birthday, I was greeted with a “Happy birthday Denise!”.  The Cast Members don’t always use guest’s name, but it’s a wonderful touch when they do.

2 – Main Street Transportation – There is an abundance of options on Main Street if you want to try out one of the Disneyland vehicles. From the Omnibus to Horse-Drawn Trolley and more, Main Street is teeming with a variety of transportation modes! One Saturday there were even two Omnibuses passing each other. Main Street transportation lasts until sometime in the mid-afternoon (we were told until 3pm for the Omnibus). Enjoy our video of a ride from the Omnibus down Main Street!

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Omibus View

3 – Mary Poppins and Bert with the Pearly Band – It definitely makes for a “Jolly Holiday” when you view this show! I had never seen it before, and now I have twice. We happened upon it by accident, but you can ask at City Hall for the times.  Mary and Bert dance their way through a variety of songs, including Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"" and "Jolly Holiday". We have a full video of the show!

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Mary Poppins, Bert and the Pearly Band

4 – Unexpected Character Moments – At Disneyland, you don't always know where characters will be. We found Peter Pan (known online as "Spieling Peter") teaching guests how to flip coins into the Wishing Well, watched Pluto dance with his leash in 90 degree heat on Main Street, and walked past Cinderella as she spent quality time with the only little girl who knew she was there. Cinderella even led the girl by hand to see some flowers!  We enjoyed all the magical moments we had with Disney characters (click the link for some of Jeff's favorite moments, including video!)

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Spieling Peter

5 – Dining – Walt Disney World has a wider variety of table service restaurants, but Disneyland has long ruled in the counter service category. While we missed going to one of our favorites this year – Riverbelle Terrace, for the carved turkey sandwiches – we were able to get to many of our old haunts, and found a few new favorites at DCA.  We enjoyed (as always) the Countdown Chicken Fusilli at Red Rocket's Pizza Port, the fried chicken at the Plaza Inn, and pot roast at the French Market while sipping on mint juleps. But what really surprised us was the Paradise Grill at Disney California Adventure. My favorite meal there was the beef kefta (of the three we tried) – just stay away from the baklava!

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Beef Kefta, Paradise Grill

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Pot Roast and Mint Juleps, French Market

6 – Flynn's Arcade – 80's video games AND 80's music? I'm there!

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Flynn's Arcade, Disney California Adventure

7 – Fantasyland – There are about a dozen rides in Fantasyland, and I can't choose just one favorite. The Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction is incredible (and unfortunately was closed while we were there), but dark rides abound.  Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and Pinocchio are three reasons to visit Fantasyland in themselves. The Storybook Canal Boats and Casey Jr. Circus Train make it feel like time has turned back to the 50's. This is one great land – AND, Disneyland still has Toontown Fair.

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Matterhorn View, Casey Jr. Circus Train

8 – Billy Hill and the Hillbillies – I first enjoyed this unique group back in the late 90's at the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. Combining comedy in the vein of Wally Boag with expert fiddle playing, it's always a treat to see them in action.

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Billy Hill and the Hillbillies

9 – Main Street Cinema and Penny Arcade – Two of my favorite childhood attractions from Walt Disney World are still available at Disneyland. The Main Street Cinema shows 6 shorts continuously, and is a great respite from the heat. And you really can get enjoyment for just a penny at the Penny Arcade! I love the machines where you can watch pictures flip, creating a short movie.  And for a quarter, you can make Pinocchio dance – just like Jeff did on our last trip!

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Pinochio at the Penny Arcade

10 – Club 33 – This is a private, members-only club and you need to otherwise know someone to be able to dine here.  It's a special experience, not to be missed if you have the opportunity!

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Club 33

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Club 33

While typing this up, I added to my list mentally.  Here are another 7 not-to-be-missed favorites:

Fantasmic
The new Soundsational parade (the best parade I've seen in years!)
Space Mountain with onboard music
Finding Nemo Submarines
Trader Sam's (at the Disneyland Hotel)
Riding in the front cab of the monorail
Dumbo flying in "Magical"

Don't even get me started on the holidays! Ghost Galaxy Space Mountain, pumpkin carving at Big Thunder Ranch for Halloween, Haunted Mansion Holiday, and even real reindeer for Christmas!

My biggest disappointment this year was merchandise. It seems each year that more and more of the same merchandise is sold both at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. I didn't buy anything in the parks this time around. One upside – it did save me money!

If you have hesitated in going to California to see Disneyland because you've already been to Walt Disney World, definitely reconsider!  There is so much more in the area to see as well. We enjoyed the Venice Canals, Santa Monica Pier, a Tim Burton exhibit in L.A. and Sea World San Diego this trip – and 4 visits to In and Out Burger.

Have a great week!  We will be bringing you more Halloween coverage from Walt Disney World, and so much more.

Denise