Family Life


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My first trip to Disneyland

Cinderella's castle at Magic Kingdom Disneyland

Trip To Disneyland - Parents CanadaI’m Davis and I’m 12 years old. I have wanted to visit a Disney park since I was small, and thanks to my Aunty Jane and the nice people at Disneyland, I have finally had my first adventure.

They say that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. It is! It began with my mom, my aunt and I flying to Los Angeles, California (LAX airport) and arriving mid-September to stay at the Disneyland Hotel, one of the three Disney properties. It was perfectly located so we could easily walk to the two parks that connect through Downtown Disney. At the hotel, we were welcomed by Goofy – that was cool.

I had a quick swim at the hotel with its many awesome slides and then we were off. We walked through Downtown Disney with all its shops, thousands of decorated pumpkins and every variety of restaurants before I saw what I had been waiting for… the big entry gates to both parks: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Which one first? Disneyland Park won out for our first day.

I have no interest in princesses, hugging Mickey (okay, maybe a little hug) or having my face painted. I wanted the rides! All of them.

Disneyland Park took our whole day and we still wanted more, so we went back in the evening for their seasonal Mickey’s Halloween Party. It was a highlight for all of us. It’s a special nighttime event where Disneyland Park transforms into a spooktacular evening. The Frightfully Fun parade with the headless horseman started the fun as he rode down Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A.

Everyone was dressed up as they visited trick-or-treat stations scattered throughout the park. Halloween Screams, a supernatural firework display is all part of the adventure. At Disney, they call their staff “cast members”. Some of them gave us the inside story about what goes into making Disneyland so Halloween perfect. It’s called “overdressing”, which means the decorations are layered for each particular season.

They are given two weeks to transform both parks into Halloween and then Christmas. It’s all done at night when the park is empty. They have special items you can buy for each season, such as ugly Christmas sweaters, which I couldn’t wait to buy for my mom.

Once Halloween is over, out comes 10,000 poinsettias, 150 Christmas trees and hundreds of thousands of lights. The Disney hotels are part of the fun with a lifesize gingerbread house (200 pounds of gingerbread) that sits in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa.

Day one was so perfect, I couldn’t imagine that day two would be as great, but it was. On day two we visited Disney’s California Adventure Park and concentrated on the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! ride. It was outstanding, and even better at night when they have a Monsters After Dark sequence – it’s the elevator ride that goes up and down. My stomach did well, my mom’s, not so much but that’s okay cause she’s old. My aunt wouldn’t go on, at all.

Both parks are so different. What really surprised me was that the rides weren’t everything the way they are in other amusement parks. It was all the other things that blew me away. The decorations, the shops, the theme of Halloween everywhere.

So, here’s my takeaway: Disneyland is mindblowing. The attention to every detail, the smells (all good), the rides, the decorations, the music – such a great experience. I will remember it always.

Davis’s “Must Experience” Ride List:


Jungle Cruise
Indiana Jones Adventure
Pirates of the Caribbean
Disneyland Railroad
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Splash Mountain (you may get wet, sit at the back for less wetness)
Haunted Mansion (at nighttime it’s extra spooky)
Finding Nemo
Submarine Voyage
Star Wars Launch Bay
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Matterhorn Bobsleds


Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark (do this ride at night)
It’s Tough To Be a Bug! (my aunt’s favourite, not really a ride, but a show)
Radiator Springs Racers (best ride and Cars Land is amazing)
Grizzly River Run (be prepared to get wet)
Toy Story Mania! (we all loved this ride)
California Screamin’ (a roller coaster)


The Disneyland Resort in Southern California is in Anaheim California (about 40 minutes from LAX, Los Angeles’ airport). It is the original Disney park. It boasts two theme parks – Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Disneyland has three on-site resort properties. Disneyland Hotel (where we stayed), Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, which has just been renovated with hotel rooms that have thought of everything (yes, loads of plugs for your devices) and showers instead of bath tubs. All are attached to Downtown Disney and all are walking distance to the parks (no buses required).

Walt Disney World Resort is in Orlando Florida. It hosts four theme parks and is larger than Disneyland. In fact, the whole area of Disney World is the size of Ottawa. It has more than 20 Disney Resort hotels, ranging from Value to Deluxe.

Lineups: Use the new MaxPass app to schedule your rides or use the kiosks at the ride itself. It will print out when you can use your FastPass. We also lined up in the singles line. You don’t ride side-by-side but your wait time is a lot shorter

For Us Canadians: Please visit for everything Disney from a Canadian perspective.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Winter 2017.

a man carrying two children

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