In a time before the plague, that seems decades ago, I took a whirlwind vacation with my auntie. We’re going to call her Dory because my auntie loves Disney and looks great in blue. She also might seem a bit forgetful at times but has a kind heart.
When I plan a Disney-centered trip, I pack magic into every minute of the day. My method comes complete with printed schedules to optimize the full experience. For this and many other reasons, Bee refuses to set foot on a Disney property with me. Relaxation is not the goal of this trip!
Dory’s first adventure was to navigate LAX with the current construction. If they are trying to imitate the Winchester Mansion’s hallways to nowhere and bottleneck confusion, they have succeeded. Once I had Dory safely in the car, we navigated our way up to Universal Studios to join the residents of Hogsmeade.
What is your Hogwarts House? I’m a Slytherin due to my determination and ability to talk to snakes using a high-pitched squealing that enforces serpent distancing. Find out your official house, wand, and Patronus at the official Wizarding World just for fun. We shopped for magic neeps, books, and postcards. What is a neep? Sounds like the utterance of someone who just discovered a mouse in their sock drawer. We visited Hagrid’s hut for a short ride on a Hippogriff before hiking up to Hogwarts Castle.
With our legs a little wobbly after our daring flight, we stopped by Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom before lunch at the Three Broomsticks. As Hermione says, “it’s awful trying to have a pee with Moaning Myrtle wailing at you.” We found it quite a laugh to hear the ghostly voice commenting from the U-bend. Time for another frozen Butterbeer? Absolutely. Gilly water and classic English fare restored our sense of adventure enough to brave traffic back to Anaheim. Perhaps, I should grab some gillyweed for our next adventure. Insert ominous diving foreshadowing.here. Yep, my YouTube channel is nothing but hotel room tours. While Paradise Pier is Disney’s lower-cost hotel, they still capture that sense of magic that comes with staying on the property. The hotel shows its wear around the older fixtures and carpet but maintains a clean appearance. Regardless, Dory and I still wipe down every surface with Clorox wipes like we’re preparing the room for surgery. Remember when you could buy Clorox wipes anywhere? Ah, we lived in a world of cleaning supply excess.
Staying on the Disney property has several perks. I enjoy the TV channel dedicated to Disneyland news and information, extra magic hours, and having any purchases from the park sent back to the hotel. That last one is a lifesaver for staying light and agile while running around the parks. Ride like the wind, Bullseye!
If you don’t know about Disney’s Extra Magic hours, it is a benefit that allows hotel guests to enter the parks an hour before the general public. You must check the schedule to see which park has extra magic on which mornings. You can use that time to get on rides that usually have the most extended wait times and FastPass sellouts. Speaking of the Fastpass program, we opted for the Park Hopper tickets with Fastpass+ to be able to access Fastpasses through the phone app instead of the ticket queues. We were able to look at what was available for later times while waiting in line at another ride. Overall, it made for less waiting and more riding in both parks. Who wants to waste time in a long line unless they’ve got a Dolewhip to eat?
The big event for the evening was the World of Color show, which we had watched once before from a less than advantageous viewing area. As a special treat, we reserved seats for a dessert party that allowed us to enjoy prime placement accompanied by signature Disney desserts and drinks. My feet appreciated the chair, and my taste buds tried to experience a little of everything presented. Luckily, it came with a to-go tray for late-night snacking magic. Pro tip: If you can pre-order the special occasion Mickey cake with a meal reservation, do it! That cake was vanilla pudding, cake confection mastery. Although there were still areas of the show that were not visible from our table, we were able to view enough that I didn’t feel as though we had missed anything. Due to weather, the 1030PM Fantasmic show was canceled, and we were grateful to be in our warm beds by midnight. The schedule leaves no rest for wicked queens, witches, or step-sisters.
Within Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, we shopped for Rebel supplies while avoiding the Strom Troopers of the First Order. I used the Play Disney Parks App to scan crates to see their contents, hack door panels, and answer questions about the Outpost for the Resistance. You can choose to support the First Order and work for the dark side instead. Based on the fellow users playing along, you could see if the outpost is leaning more toward Resistance or First Order. It is geek heaven for any age. I saw many people who had custom-built their own lightsaber or droid as part of a fully interactive experience. However, we did not partake due to the price of $200 and $100, respectively. Everywhere we looked, there were creatures, foods, and characters to fully immerse you in the Star Wars experience. We had Ronto wraps next to a droid turning a giant spit over a fire. Several park guests had dressed like characters you’d see in Black Spire. Central to the outpost was a large gallery with items from the Star Wars films.
When it was finally our turn for the Rise of the Resistance, Dory and I eagerly walked to the far edge of Black Spire. As recruits for a secret mission to assist the Resistance, we boarded a transport ship that was captured by a Star Destroyer and awaited interrogation by Kylo Ren. As the doors of our transport opened, we found ourselves in a giant docking bay filled with Storm Troopers. The transition was so well done that the looks of amazement were consistent across our entire group. Once we were separated into groups and locked into an interrogation room, Kylo Ren himself made an appearance. Luckily, rebels broke us out of the interrogation room and loaded us into hovercars to escape. As our car made its way to escape pods, we narrowly avoided blaster fire and wove around the giant feet of AT-ATs. We plummeted down an elevator shaft before making a final escape. As corny as the expression sounds, I really felt like I was in a Star Wars movie. Until you can visit for yourself, there are some ways to experience from home.