February 2022 was the first trip I was able to make back to Disneyland since September 2018. If you would have told me back then that my next trip to Disneyland would be under this collective of circumstances, I would not have believed it. Despite that, I’m grateful for what brought me back, and that is what this post is about.
Going into this trip, both Levi & I knew it would be emotional. The last time we were at the parks together was July 2018, and that trip was emotional for other reasons. There may come a day where we discuss that topic further as I do think there are important lessons from that story, as well as how & when we got back in contact, but for now we are going to refrain – if you need a refresher on my boundaries, click the link to Disclaimers Moving Forward.
Disney Day 1
Levi flew in to Phoenix on the 11th. The next morning, we took miss girl to boarding, picked up the food we had called in ahead of time from Snooze, and arrived back at my place to finish packing and pack the car (successfully keeping the little miss in the dark that we were going somewhere without her). We drove the ~5 hours westbound and made it to our hotel around 3p.
Once we had a quick dinner via room service & got our bags unpacked, we changed to head into the park for the evening before our dinner reservations for our Anniversary.
We made it to the park, I changed my shoes from flats to my heels in the esplanade, and then we walked through park gates. It felt very surreal.
The first PhotoPass person we encountered had us do a prom-esque pose and it turned out really cute, so I’m here for it.
Once we got pictures in front of the train station, we walked hand-in-hand down Main Street, USA, which was an experience that had its own set of deep emotions tied to it.
After getting pictures and doing a couple of rides, we made our way to Grand Californian for our 8:30 reservation at Napa Rose. Dinner was absolutely amazing and we got everything our hearts desired to eat (note from the link – they do rotate the menu options).
We each got a Central Park West to open the adventure & accompany our starters – he ordered the butternut squash ravioli and I got the diver scallop. With the main course, we got glasses of wine to go with the filet he ordered and my pot roast. To close out the meal he got the up-side down pear cake and I got the creme brûlée.
To answer the inevitable question by this point of the post, yes, dinner was expensive. Disney Rewards were key here. If you read my Walt Disney World – Part 1 and Walt Disney World – Part 2 posts, you already know we had a lot of pricey restaurants & merch on that trip, Rewards are to thank & there will be a post coming on that part of the adventure coming.
After dinner we debated going back into the park, but it was already after 10 and we knew we wanted to rope drop California Adventure the next morning, so we walked back to the hotel.
Disney Day 2
We started our morning by making it to California Adventure in time for rope drop. As one does, our first order of business was Radiator Springs Racers & a picture with the Cars Land sign.
As it was Sunday, I had planned – clearly not well enough – to get Cars themed waffles from Flo’s because waffle Sunday must continue even if I’m not home. Unfortunately, through the reopen, waffles had not made it back and I was actually very sad about this. Internet is free and I did not use my resources. Whoops.
We decided to pivot breakfast plans and instead mobile ordered from Pym Test Kitchen. Mobile ordering food easily became my favorite post-closure park adjustment when my mom & I went to Disney World and that continued with Disneyland. I got the Impossible Quantum Garden Breakfast and Levi got the Ever-expanding Cinna-Pym Toast which weirded me out because it had blue flakes. Both items were delicious and had amazing presentation.
We continued our day going on rides & looking through shops. Midday we went by the hotel to change because it was H O T before heading to Downtown Disney for a late lunch at Ballast Point on our way to our later afternoon Trader Sam’s reservation.
Like the hooligans we are, we split an Uh-oa, and for our second round I got a Krakatoa Punch and he got a Zombie. On our way back through Downtown Disney we stopped in a lot of stores and my one rule at the start of the day was that my credit card does NOT make an appearance after Trader Sam’s, which I held to.
After drinks we went back into the park and I absolutely crushed Web Slingers (scored 240,000). We also did the Silly Symphony Swings. We ended up back in Cars Land for a Bacon Mac & Cheese cone, a ride, and souvenirs before wandering back to Avengers Campus to close the day with Guardians.
That night as we left the park, we got a Pirates of the Caribbean Thomas Kinkade puzzle in Cars Land, and we purchased a Tangled canvas painting by Thomas Kinkade that we had seen earlier in the day at Off the Page. It was the last one they had & we did not see it anywhere else in the parks, so naturally it had to come with us. It now lives on a wall in my apartment that will be featuring pin boards & my ear headbands in the coming weeks.
Disney Day 3
Valentine’s Day in the park was an experience in and of itself. I had managed to get us 8:30a reservations at Carnation Cafe, which was a huge accomplishment and made that the first stop in our day.
This morning was very calm as we had already processed the initial emotions of being back in Disneyland together on Saturday evening. After breakfast we got pictures in front of the partners statue before making our way to rides & churros.
Following a morning of rides and browsing shops, we made our way to Jolly Holiday to collect a mobile order for lunch before taking a midday break back at the hotel – also avoiding the cavalcade for the Super Bowl MVPs. Later in the afternoon we made our way back to the park for more rides, food, and to get checked in for Sweetheart’s Night.
Neither of us had done an after-hours event before and were really excited to share this experience. Leading up to the event we had seen a couple sneak peeks of some of the photo-ops and character sightings and knew it would be perfect.
The first order of business when we got back into the park was our Lightning Lane return for Rise of Resistance. We ended up being held in the room with the Storm Troopers for about 15 minutes, and I personally think this is one of the coolest places to get ‘stuck.’
Following that ride we picked up our mobile ordered lobster rolls from Harbour Galley and sat on the patio that is wrapped around by the river to eat. With food on board we made our way to Tomorrowland to get checked in for the Disneyland After Dark event.
After getting checked in, we made our way over towards Adventureland to ride Pirates and Jungle Cruise. After Jungle Cruise we made our way to the Tropical Hideaway for Dole Whip and the PB&J Mochi (which was surprisingly good). I am a big fan of the adjustments they made on Jungle Cruise & the use of the space for the Tropical Hideaway.
Following the food stop, we decided to go on Matterhorn and in my opinion that was a mistake. That ride is not the same ride I remember taking my 80 year old grandmother on in 2018 and that unfortunately became the last ride of the night – we had planned to also do Space Mountain.
As we got off Matterhorn and the park was cleared of everyone who was not there for the event, we sought out the site for our most important photo-op – the Tangled lantern scene.
Back in 2017 is when the Rapunzel & Flynn comparison started, so hearing that there was a photo staged for one of the most significant scenes in the movie was a part of the event we were most looking forward to.
The above photo is CLEARLY pre-COVID because we’re up close & personal / not masked with face characters. Also note my same shirt from Disney Day 2 of this trip & how early in the Loki-look-alike hair growth journey Levi was.
We absolutely resonate with the characters in individual personality and in their relationship having an outward appearance of being between people who are opposites. I have also said to him many a time that I always knew the ‘Eugene’ side whereas his public presentation is more like that of Flynn.
ANYWAY, enough with the mushy explanation. Have some mushy pictures & then we will close out this post.
After we got those adorable pictures, we did another ride, went to the photo spot by Haunted Mansion, and then closed out our must-do events in the shops of New Orleans Square.
The prompt here went from smiling to deadpan and we actually startled the Cast Member with how quickly we adjusted.
When we got back to the hotel, my back was screaming at me from the not-very-arch-supportive shoes I wore all day long. Comfy? Yes. Supportive? No.
Overall, the After Hours event was great and I’m so glad we decided to follow the impulse & buy tickets.
Tuesday, Feb 15 we took our time checking out of the hotel and then went to Downtown Disney for final purchases, lunch at Naples, and to snag coffee for the drive back to Phoenix. The rest of the week was incredibly busy with Trujillo wedding prep and general life things. The following Waffle Sunday at home was really nice and featured Levi before he flew back and my parents before they started their drive.
Fun Facts & Little Accomplishments:
- Both full days in park we walked over 10 miles each day
- We had many churros on this trip. Disneyland Churros > Disney World Churros. No contest
- My red anniversary shoes are the same brand as the ones I wore for Dapper Day Spring 2017 at Disneyland but not the same shoes
- Levi made it all day long on Valentine’s Day in a white shirt and didn’t spill anything on it
- Pre-planned – we splurged on small, complimentary, everyday wear jewelry pieces on this trip
- I finally bought one of those damn Mickey-shaped foam soap dispensers