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Be a Disney Princess with Your Girlfriends!

Story by Carly Milne 

Let it be known that I'm a 32 year-old woman with a solid career, in-the-flesh friends, wonderful family and a thriving social life. I feel it necessary to explain this to you because of what I'm about to follow it up with: I adore the Disneyland Resort. I don't just love it, I crave it the way most people crave sweets. I actually went through a phase where I went every Sunday for an entire year. And while I'll admit that may have been overkill, I've still retained my joy for The Happiest Place on Earth since cutting back to one trip a year.

Enter my friend Sandra. She's well aware of my quirky obsessions, but having never experienced me in full Disney mode, she actually requested that we make a pilgrimage to Anaheim so she could see me in full Mickey glory. Who am I to say no? I even took it so far as to suggest that we turn ourselves into Disney Princesses for 24 hours. But just so she didn't get the wrong impression of my maturity level, I decided we should split our princess time two ways: first as adults, then as kids.

The Adult Way:

The Disneyland Resort is only about a 45-minute drive outside of Los Angeles (on a good, no-traffic day), but even so I feel it necessary to fully immerse myself in the Disney experience by spending the night in Anaheim the day before our theme park excursion, ensuring we'd be there for rope drop the next morning (this is when they play Walt Disney's opening speech on Main Street, then drop the rope that sections off the park to visitors until they're ready to roll for the day.) So to start our Disney odyssey, Sandra and I checked in at the Grand Californian Hotel. The Grand Californian is situated on the Downtown Disney strip, just a short walk away from the parks themselves... and if you're lucky, your room will overlook Disney's California Adventure. The hotel really is amazing, built with a California craftsman aesthetic that carries through from the dramatic lobby area - complete with cozy couches and a centerpiece fireplace perfect for bedtime stories - all the way up to your room.

Sandra and I stayed just long enough to drop off our bags and took off for the AMC Theatres for a showing of Sex and the City. We'd assumed that in the throes of the movie's release that chances were the least occupied theatre would be in Downtown Disney. And we were right. We shared the theatre with a handful of die-hards and paid homage to Carrie and the girls with bottled water and a bag of popcorn, then spilled out into the California sunshine to let our wallets do the walking through the shopping district. We sniffed all the candles in Illuminations, tested body lotions in Basin, snooped through stylish offerings at Vault 28, and drooled over jewelry at Something Silver.

Finally, we had an appetite for dinner at Napa Rose. Napa Rose makes its home in the Grand Californian and continues the Californian theme through its menu, focusing on locally-sourced cuisine and wines from the Napa Valley. Master sommelier Michael Jordan chose the perfect wines to go with our meal starting with Portobello Mushroom Bisque "Cappuccino" and Brandied Thyme "Froth" alongside Winter Endive & Duck Confit Salad, followed by our mains: Roasted Breast of Pheasant on a Ragù of Butternut Squash, Wild Mushrooms, Parsnip and Pecans, and Braised Short Rib of Angus Beef with Pumpkin Risotto, Baby Brussel Sprouts and a Rich Zinfandel Wine Sauce. Everything was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

As if that weren't enough, the icing on the cake came in the form of a visit to the Mandara Spa. After showering down and unwinding in the steam room, I partook in one of the best hot stone massages I've ever experienced, while Sandra detoxed with an Elemis Aroma Spa Ocean Wrap - made with freeze-dried seaweed - that left her glowing by treatment's end. It was the perfect way to wind down our adult princess day.

The Kid Way:

By 7am the next morning Sandra and I were ready to be kids. We leapt out of bed and hurriedly dressed and primped so we could take advantage of early entry, a treat offered to Disney hotel guests that grants them access to Disneyland a full hour before regular guests. It's the perfect opportunity to knock out all those attractions that have never-ending lines, like the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in Tomorrowland, or Peter Pan's Flight in Fantasyland. We were able to ride many of the attractions that get overloaded during busy park days, then made our way to the Carnation Café for a quickie breakfast. The bakery has a multitude of delicious offerings ranging from healthy muffins to not so healthy but oh so delicious cinnamon buns. It was the perfect fuel we needed to work our way through Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin... you name it, we rode it - and squealed with girlish glee as we did.

By lunchtime Sandra and I decided to make our way over to Disney's California Adventure, where we hunkered down at the Farmer's Market for lunch. The meal of choice? Smoked turkey legs so large they beg you to wear a Viking helmet while you eat them. They were perfect for on-the-fly eating, as we didn't want to waste precious riding time, and the refreshment stand had fresh fruit, veggie sticks, pickles and more - a great alternative to the burger-rama style of eating. After tearing through Tower of Terror, California Screamin', Grizzly River Rapids and more, we made our way back over to Disneyland for pot roast and salads at the Plaza Inn - the perfect spot to dine and peek through the trees at the passing parade.

Our grand finale moment as kid princesses came in the form of VIP seating for Fantasmic!, Disneyland's mixture of live action, animation and fireworks that takes place on Tom Sawyer's Island. The show is so popular that purists set up camp on the Rivers of America hours before the show starts, but VIP seating gives you the best view in the house without having to stake your claim. With a fabulous unobstructed view of all the action, we clapped and cheered along with the crowd as Mickey took us on a journey through his imagination. The crowd cleared after the show, and continued to thin the closer we got to closing time - making it easy to walk on many of the best rides in the park. As the clock struck 12, Sandra and I begrudgingly - and exhaustedly - headed for Main Street toward the exits, our inner children properly satiated.

If pressed, I don't think I could choose which princess way was better. So when you plan your Disneyland Resort escape, make sure you make time to indulge both of your princesses. You won't regret it.

Read more of Carly's articles on GoGirlfriend:


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