There are many monumental first moments in life that you remember forever: your first friend, first heartbreak, first car, and, my personal favorite, your first family vacation to Disneyland! Yearly family vacations were highly anticipated for me and my siblings. With four children, only two years apart each, and full-time jobs, it was important for my parents to schedule time throughout the year for us to spend quality time as a family. Some families jet off to their lakehouse, but for ours, the only option was the happiest place on earth, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. I remember jumping on the Disneyland Monorail to the iconic Autopia and Dumbo the Flying Elephant. It was the ultimate vacation and so worth it. The joy from my first Disneyland experience is not shared by me, only, so we connected with a few of the Sales team members at ESSENCE to share their experiences at Disneyland.
Senior Director of Partnerships Nicole Haynes recalls her first time at Disneyland at nine years old. “We had just moved to California from Toronto; it was a family trip,” she said. “My two brothers and I were beyond excited to experience Disneyland! I had the most fun riding Space Mountain because, like most 9-year-olds, I was a dare-devil.” It’s A Small World was her most exhilarating experience, “There were songs and vibrant colors. I loved how different countries and cultures were represented by song.”
The experience was so eventful that the memories for Nicole and her family did not stop there. “I have been back several times since I live in LA. Last year, I took my daughter for her 8th birthday. It was her second trip, but first with close friends. I booked a VIP Tour, which I highly recommend.” And how did her daughter and her friends enjoy it? Nicole shared, “ (VIP tour guide) gave suggestions based on our likes and planned the day so we could hit multiple parks: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.” It’s safe to say her daughter’s Disneyland experience will be one she and her friends will not forget. When asked if she was planning another trip, she said, “Yes!” She is looking forward to creating more memories with her daughter.
The rides and experiences at Disneyland only get better with time! Disneyland Resorts is constantly finding ways to revisualize experiences and keep attractions relatable to younger generations. One attraction that I am most excited to see is Tiana’s Bayou Adventure! Inspired by the all-time favorite animated Disney film, “The Princess and the Frog”. The experience is themed around Tiana and Louis’ final kiss and follows them through a musical adventure. This music-filled water attraction will open in 2024.
We wanted to know what other attractions at Disneyland excited the ESSENCE staff most, so we asked Shantelle Guyton, a Director of Partnership to spill details about her recent cross-country trip to Disneyland with her son. Not surprisingly, she shared that her favorite part was, “Everything Star Wars. Amazing experiences and I loved every moment of it.” She has wanted to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for a while and is already planning her next trip back west to visit again!
When we think of Disneyland, we think of beautiful, unforgettable childhood moments. For us here at ESSENCE, the nostalgia is real! I remember my Dad reenacting Captain Jack as we entered the Pirates of the Caribbean; or ‘The Pirates of Jamaica’ as he recalled it. Reliving these childhood memories with the ESSENCE staff made me feel more connected to my colleagues. “My first time at Disneyland was magical because it was a place I always wanted to visit!”, Dominique Dickerson, a Sales Planner, tells us. “I truly felt like a princess the first time I went as I was about eight years old and obsessed with Cinderella at the time! This memory of feeling so much joy stuck with me, and I recently felt the magic again with my family! Almost a decade later, I still felt the same no matter the age!” Dominique, who now lives in LA, hopes to continue this tradition of attending Disneyland with her family and friends forever!
For some, Disneyland is so good that they “spin the block” yearly! “I was 7 years old and went with my mom, sisters, cousins, and aunts. Had an annual pass from 9yrs-13yrs old.”, Jill Molina Gaffaney, Director of Partnerships, tells us. Some people enjoy Disneyland for the rides, but it’s clear what part of the experience stole Jill’s heart. “I remember loving the fruit on the fruit stands (random, I know, but the grapes were great). I also loved the DOLE Whip Pineapple soft serve, churros, and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls (sold at a little place by Pirates of the Caribbean).” Her favorite ride? “I loved the Submarine Voyage (now known as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage) ride a lot as a kid because I liked mermaids, and there was a mermaid scene.” Like many of us, Jill is thinking about taking another trip. “If I go, [I’m] seeing my nieces experience it for the first time.
With so many memories to make this Summer (and beyond), California’s Disneyland Resort has to be on your list! Book a stay at the plush Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and indulge in a royal 3-course breakfast at Disney’s Princess Breakfast Adventures. There are so many options at Disneyland to create memorable experiences for your family, like the newest attraction at the Disneyland Resort: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway; located in the newly reimagined Mickey’s Toontown. It’s the perfect area for families with little ones! So what are you waiting for? Build your vacation now at Disneyland.disney.go.com.