Please don’t invite me to Disneyland. I don’t go to Disneyland for myself, I go there for my children. I don’t go to Disneyland to stand in line next to children on leashes. I don’t go to Disneyland to see the characters, I haven’t seen most of the movies. I go to Disneyland for Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World and those giant pickles that leave you happy but dehydrated.
It should be noted that my very simple needs go largely unmet. We decided to spend the 4th of July at Disneyland. Since we go there approximately every five years we make sure to take a VIP tour. A VIP tour is ridiculously expensive however it’s for up to 10 people and we took advantage and had nine of us and you can do two days worth of Disney in one day of a tour. I personally have decided that I’d rather go every five years, skip the lines and all of the stress.
Nine of us, four children and five alleged adults headed out to Disneyland at 1.30 in the afternoon on a sunny 4th of July. Because we had a tour we also had valet parking at Disney’s Grand Adventure so we rolled right in and headed to the lobby where we met our guide Jorge who was beyond fabulous.
We told him the day was for the kids and that we’d just go wherever they wanted. We started by buying our park hopper passes (honestly – if I had it to do over again I’d skip California Adventure), which required just a quick phone call and then we entered the park through the hotel.
The kids went on Grizzly River Run, had a great time and got soaked. Then we all went on California Screamin which was fun but made some people a little nauseous, followed by Ariel’s Under Sea Adventure, which immediately transported me into a very Disney mood in the loveliest possible way. We also hit Radiator Springs Racers, Toy Story Midway Mania and Tower of Terror.
After California Adventure we went to Disneyland where we saw a parade comfortably because tours get reserved seating right at the end of Main Street. The parade was fine for me but I think you need to be a pretty big Disney fan to really love it. The seats were comfortable.
From the parade we cut through stores and one “tunnel” that isn’t really a tunnel so that some of us could go on The Indiana Jones Adventure followed by Space Mountain and Splash Mountain.
Rides that have Fast Pass allow VIP tours to simply enter the Fast Pass line. Rides that don’t have Fast Pass allow you front of the line access. I think our longest wait was 15 minutes, most attractions had no wait for us.
We headed back to California Adventure for a memorable dinner. We had a reservation for 7:30pm so that we could get to the 9pm light show in plenty of time. We sat down and ordered and then waited and waited some more. In fact we waited an entire hour for our food, most of which was inedible. They ruined salad. I don’t know how the folks at Wine Country Trattoria managed to ruin salad but they did. When an hour had gone by and we didn’t have any food I asked for a manager. Dahlia the manager arrived just as the food did and when I mentioned to her that we’d waited an hour for food her response was, “Oh, so you just wanted to let me know?” And then she shrugged and walked away. I won’t even talk to you about the quality of the food. Just don’t do it. You’ve been warned.
VIP experience over. Full Stop.
We were now late to the light show, which we had reserved seating for (thank you Jorge!) so we had to run through crowds and beg for entry.
I’m sorry I kicked your toddler over but we really wanted to see the light show. Signed, Everyone at Disneyland tonight
— Jessica Gottlieb (@JessicaGottlieb) July 5, 2015
People were packed in tight and a little aggressive but we made it to our seats and caught the entire light show followed by the fireworks. If the only thing we got from the VIP tour was the seating that would have been plenty. It really was magical. I periscoped it (that’s why the video is vertical) and I have some video but you really need to experience this yourself.
There are people who will love Disneyland only because it is Disneyland and it’s magical to them. For the rest of us there are VIP tours and assigned seating. That was where the magic was for me.
To arrange a tour call Disney Special Activities at 714-300-7710. The website says the cost of Disney’s VIP Premium Tour Service varies between $360-500 per hour depending on the season. It was right in the middle for 4th of July with a six hour minimum. Not outrageous and worth every penny.
In case you’re wondering the answer is, “No. I did not get a chance to go on It’s A Small World or Pirates of the Caribbean but I did eat two pickles and enjoyed every salty bite.”