We went this past Friday and it was the perfect day to go. It wasn't very busy. There were still lines, but the average wait time was 15 minutes.
Since we had Free hopper pass, we decided to explore California Adventure a lot more than Disneyland. I have only been to California Adventure once before when it first opened in 2001. I didn't think it was that great. But since then, they have put in a lot more rides. California Adventure caters more to the adult audience. They serve alcohol, which is not available at Disneyland. The rides are more grown-up, although there are still a few rides that kids and adults can ride together. There are also a lot more places to eat.
Hands down my favorite ride is Radiator Spring Racers. I cannot begin to describe how amazing this ride is. Not only does it feel like your getting your bang for your wait time (You spend about 3 minutes on this ride). The design of the ride is entertaining and interesting. You really feel like you're in a race. The wait time was 60 minutes through out the day. We were very fortunate that we got a Fastrak pass early in the day, so we only waited 15 minutes. I highly recommend getting on this ride at night. The view is breathtaking.
On the lines of bangs, if you want a great deal on food I suggest Taste Pilot's Grill. We were lured in by the amazing smell of burgers. I almost went with a bread bowl somewhere else, so glad I went here instead. There are about five burgers you can choose from, including chicken and vegetarian. They give you the meat and bun with fries. You get to load up your burger. There is a whole area where you can get vegetables and different sauces. They even had grilled red peppers. My burger ended up being huge because of this. We spent $27 for the two burgers and 1 drink. We both felt stuffed afterwards.
As a kid, I used to hate watching the shows because it took away from precious ride time, but as an adult I love it. There are three really great shows. At Disneyland, Fantasmic and the Fireworks cannot be missed. At California Adventure, World of Color is amazing. I love these water shows. I actually get teary eyed when I see them because of how wonderful they are. The music choice is solid. For that moment, I am carefree. For World of Color, you do need to pick up a Fast Pass to be able to watch it. I like this system because it guarantee's you a spot. Fantasmic and the Fireworks, you just have to get there early. I really wish they would come up with a better system because in order to get a good view, you have to wait hours beforehand.
They had the Christmas decorations up. I'm so glad that my birthday falls around the Christmas decorations. They put them up right after Halloween. Halloween is also a good time to go if you do Mickey's Halloween party. The Haunted Mansion turns into the Nightmare Before Christmas. They had a few new surprises this year.
There were so many photo opportunities at California Adventure. There were photographers and characters everywhere. The lines of course are long for these, but I think it is worth the wait.
We had free hopper passes, but I actually don't recommend buying a hopper pass. You really don't have enough time to do both parks. It wasn't very busy, but we had to prioritize what we wanted to do in both parks. We got to all our favorite rides, but we couldn't do a lot at Disneyland. If you are spending two nights at the resort, I would just get one pass per day.
Parking is now $17. That, of course, is irritating as it was $16 just a few months ago. Every year the prices go up. Plan ahead and stick to a budget. You can easily overspend.
I love Disneyland!!! I can't wait to go again.