disney_hotel_poolI don’t think I will ever outgrow the Disneyland. Resort in Anaheim. An L.A. native, I grew up with Disneyland and love the classic rides plus the new attractions that have been added over the years. I’ve been bringing my three kids here since they were infants and they’re Disney fans too.

Although we live just an hour from Disneyland, we like to spend the night so our visit feels even more magical (plus we get more play time at the resort!). We recently spent two days at the Disneyland Resort to check out the new attractions at Disneyland and California Adventure, and to see the upgrades to the Disneyland Hotel.

Upon check-in, we each received two FASTPASS tickets valid through Sept 5 (regular FASTPASS tickets are time sensitive). All hotel guests get these super FASTPASS tickets. Our room wasn’t ready so we left our bags with the Bell Hop and went straight to California Adventure to see the new Arial – Adventures Under the Sea attraction. The line moves quickly because you ride in cars that are constantly in motion. Aboard the pastel-colored clamshells (similar in design to the Haunted Mansion vehicles), you ride through colorful scenes depicting the Little Mermaid story.

Mid-afternoon, the hotel staff texted that our room was ready. Walking through Downtown Disney, we reached the Disneyland Hotel where we spent a few hours swimming and relaxing at the new tropical-themed pool area. The grounds are outfitted with cabanas, lounge areas and poolside food/bar service, making for a nice escape from crowds and noise.

Upgrades to the hotel and pool grounds incorporate original Disneyland features. For example, the pool’s slides are designed with a replica Monorail Car reminiscent of the hotel’s original Monorail station.

The “D-Ticket”-themed pool is situated next to the Monorail water play area. In late 2011, a new “E-Ticket”-themed pool will open at the Never Land pool site. The letter-ticket theme ties in with the historic ticket booths that were used in the early days of Disneyland.

disney_guest_roomThe pool-side Tangaroa Terrace restaurant, and Trader Sam’s – Enchanted Tiki Bar, sport a Polynesian architectural design that was in Disneyland’s early days. From Trader Sam’s (super cozy inside), we ordered drinks (wine for me, soda for the kids) and an appetizer (yummy panko-crusted Chinese long beans). Securing a table on the outdoor patio near the Hawaiian band, we ordered cheeseburgers and chicken from the adjacent Tangaroa Terrace. The menu also has sandwiches, flatbread pizzas and salads.

Afterward, we went to our fifth floor room in the Adventure Tower to change from our bathing suits. The hotel’s three towers were renamed after Disneyland’s Adventure, Frontier and Fantasy “lands.” Our spacious room also reflected Disney touches in the décor. They included features like bathroom faucet handles and toiletries carved with Mickey Mouse ears, and a headboard that lights up with images of stars and fireworks. When you push a button on the bedside lamp, a Cinderella tune begins playing, and the headboard lights up. The rooms easily accommodate a family of four or five. Two sinks and a shower/tub (with retractable cord for hanging wet swimsuits) comprise the main portion of the bathroom; the toilet is tucked away inside a stall.

For larger groups or corporate events, there are amazing suites that truly embrace the Disneyland ambiance. I toured the luxury suites, equipped with living and dining areas, wet bars, elaborately detailed bathrooms, and two or more bedrooms.

The Adventureland Suite, a two-bedroom hideaway, has masks hanging in the foyer and a grotto in the master bathroom. The Big Thunder Suite (inspired by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) offers luxurious yet rustic-style lodging. The children’s bedroom looks like a canvas tent. The Pirates of the Caribbean suite is decked out with pirate paraphernalia and furnishings.

Back in our room, I herded the kids over to California Adventure for “World of Color,” a sparkling water, lights and musical show (get your free tickets early in the day).

arial_clamshellsThe next morning, we hopped aboard the monorail and zipped over to Disneyland’s updated Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. Using FASTPASS, we skipped the outside line and entered the spaceport. Based on the Star Wars films, the 3-D Star Tours has over 50 storylines, making each experience a little different. We saw Star Tours three times in one day (FASTPASS cut our wait time from about two hours to 15 minutes!).

Later that afternoon, we watched “Mickey’s Soundsational Parade,” a high energy parade featuring six live drumline musicians and Disney characters.

Leaving the Disneyland Resort is never easy for us, but we’ll be back for more new attractions scheduled to open next year. The expansion project includes the 2012 opening of the 12-acre Cars Land, based on the Disney-Pixar movie, “Cars.”

The renovation includes a new entrance for California Adventure, and a new look for Buena Vista Street complete with a Red Car Trolley that travels from Buena Vista Street to the Hollywood Tower of Terror.

For more ticket information, visit www.disneyland.com/summer.