SBC22 in Anaheim, California is just around the corner! And with the convention center being literally across the street from Disneyland Resort, many Southern Baptists and their families will be taking advantage of the opportunity for some great family memories at the parks. As a former Send Network planter and now SBC pastor of a church in Los Angeles, I’m thrilled to be welcoming everyone to our great state. And as Disneyland annual passholders for the past decade, my family has a lot of experience with how to best navigate the parks. Consider this my best advice and a helpful guide to all planning on attending the parks around the annual meeting.
First, make sure to take advantage of the special pricing the SBC Executive Committee has worked out with Disney for dates between Thursday, June 9th and Monday, June 20th. The parks aren’t cheap, so any discount you can get is a big win. You can buy the special tickets here. You may purchase up to 6. The parks require both a ticket and a reservation for your desired day for each person if you purchase separate from the above link. If you purchase from the SBC link, you’ll automatically receive a reservation for the day you get your ticket. Also, I recommend paying for Genie+. It’s the new “fast pass” service and will guarantee you get on most if not all of the bigger rides in one day.
Second, decide how many days you’d like to go. If you only go one day, make it Disneyland since it’s the classic, unless you’ve already been to the Magic Kingdom in Orlando and have never been to California Adventure. Also, make it Disneyland if you love Star Wars and haven’t been to Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars land). It’s truly an incredible land and the best of both parks. Getting 2 days is great because you can do one at each park. 3 days is probably the sweet spot, with cheaper tickets available and you can do Disneyland twice (it’s still more magical).
Third, decide how you’ll get there. Unlike Orlando, the parks are in the middle of a metropolis. If you’re staying at any of the convention hotels, you can walk to the main gates within 15 minutes. The parking prices at the hotels are all the same or a little less than Disney parking (you can’t escape paying for parking in SoCal). If you come from farther away, there are two main Disney parking lots: Mickey & Friends/Pixar Pals lot, which has tram service, and the Toy Story lot, which has bus service. Try for Mickey/Pixar since the tram service is more efficient. Both cost $30/day.
Lastly, decide what you’d most want to do and see. Getting inside the parks 30 minutes before “rope drop” (when the rides officially open) is the best way to get on the rides with the longest lines (Rise of the Resistance, WEB SLINGERS, Radiator Springs Racers, etc). The parks aren’t nearly as busy before noon; so take advantage of it!
Below are highlights for each park, including a ** if the attraction is exclusive to the California Parks (ie: not at Disney World):
- Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land) – If you love Star Wars, you gotta go. It’s a tad bigger in land and more open than in Orlando, but nearly identical
- Rise of the Resistance Ride – Absolutely incredible experience. Unlike anything else. If you like Star Wars, make sure you don’t miss this. Seriously, do it!
- Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run Ride – Who doesn’t want to fly the Millennium Falcon? It’s awesome
- The Matterhorn ** – It’s a classic and exclusive to Disneyland
- Disneyland Railroad** – Yes Orlando has one, but it’s different. They added a large section years ago when they added Star Wars land
- Pirates of the Caribbean – It has drops the Orlando one doesn’t
- Space Mountain – IMO faster than its Orlando counterpart and you ride side-by-side
- Haunted Mansion – A different design than Orlando, but basically the same ride
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage** – Unique and fun for the whole family
- Autopia – The track is cooler than Orlando going through trees and great scenery
- Snow White’s Enchanted Wish** – Brand new for Fantasyland. Little ones will love
- Casey Jr. Train** – A smaller train ride younger kids (and I) love in Fantasyland
- Storybook Land Canal Boats** – Another small boat ride exclusive to California
- Toad’s Wild Ride** – This Fantasyland ride ends in hell. That is not a joke
- Mickey’s Toontown** – CLOSED for a year-long refurbishment!
- Most of the rest of the Disneyland rides all have similar Orlando counterparts
DISNEY’S CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE
California Adventure will be the most unique park to those who’ve only been to the Orlando parks. It’s a little like Hollywood Studios in Orlando, but with lots of exclusive other CA-themed lands.
- Avenger’s Campus – Brand new! If the family loves Marvel, you can’t miss this land!
- WEB SLINGERS Spider-Man Ride** – Newest ride in either park. Fun advanced technology ride that is competitive
- The Amazing Spider-Man show** – A short show outside the WEB SLINGERS ride. It’s very fun, and Spider-Man flies through the air (it’s a life-size robot!)
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT!** – Like the Tower of Terror in Orlando but better. Trust me. Also, the Guardians theme/story is great. Up and down and up and down!
- Cars Land – The gem of California Adventure. If you like the Cars movies, you’ll love this land. Especially go at night when the neon is all lit up. It’s awesome!
- Radiator Springs Racers** – Probably the most popular California Adventure ride. Adults and kids alike love it. A can’t miss
- Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters** – It’s just ok. Small kids will enjoy
- Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree – Same ride as Francis’ Ladybug Boogie in Orlando, but better theming. Fun for all
- Pixar Pier – An area themed for both Pixar and the Californian piers. Great area
- Incredicoaster** – An extremely fun roller coaster themed for the Incredibles. If you like big roller coasters, don’t miss it
- Toy Story Midway Mania – Same as Orlando. Still fun
- Pixar Pal-A-Round (Swinging & Non-Swinging)** – Who doesn’t love a Ferris wheel? And the swinging option is SERIOUSLY fun and freaky
- Goofy’s Sky School** – Ok this looks simple, but it is actually really fun. Also, the top of the ride is the scariest in the park for me! For adults and kids
- Lots of other fun pier rides in this area, like a carnival
- Grizzly River Run** – Solid river raft ride if you get hot (June in SoCal is usually overcast and mild)
- Soarin’ – Just like Orlando. Still great
- Monsters, Inc** – A simple ride dark ride. If you’re kids love Monsters Inc. you should do it. If not, you can skip
- California Adventure has many more open and accessible eating areas (remember, Disneyland opened back in 1955 when modern crowd control wasn’t a thing!) and lots of great food in the park
I hope this is helpful! If you have any other questions feel free to DM me on Twitter @djjenkins. May God give us a great convention and blessed times in all we do!
DJ Jenkins is pastor of Anthology Church in Studio City, California.