Finally got some time to put this together - I went with a friend about six weeks ago, first trip to DL for both of us (and first time in the US!) - we had a great time, here's what happened.
Day 1: Sunday, November 13th
Checked in at Ramada Maingate in the early afternoon - great motel, nothing fancy but clean and comfortable, and can't beat the price and proximity to the park. Went into the park to have a quick look around, grabbed a Haunted Mansion fastpass to use in the evening, then headed off to see a Ducks game at the Honda Center. Returned around 9pm, went on Jungle Cruise (great at night!) then over to Haunted Mansion. I'm a big fan of Nightmare Before Christmas and absolutely loved this ride. Definitely my favourite dark ride in the park. After that we saw the late showing of Fantasmic! which was excellent - can't say I've seen anything like it before!
Day 2: Monday, November 14th
Got to Disneyland around 9:45, went through the shops to get to the front of the rope drop (can't remember who gave that tip but it's a good one) then straight to Peter Pan. Did the rest of the Fantasyland dark rides while we were there, six rides under our belt within the first 20 minutes! I have to say, Peter Pan was good but I wouldn't want to wait more than 10-15 minutes, and judging by the line there later in the day the wait gets much longer - ouch!
First proper 'ride' was the Matterhorn. Noobs that we were, we spent 10 minutes trying to find the fastpass machine before realising it didn't have one (duh). Great ride, I love rollercoasters and it's always a bonus when they're themed well. Next stop was Big Thunder Mountain, next to no wait for this so with a bit of running around, by 11am we'd done eight rides. Decided to slow down a little with a trip on the Mark Twain and we were lucky enough to be asked up to join the captain up in his cabin. Very cool, lots of fun to ring the bell, blow the whistle and steer the ship (yeah I know it's on a rail but Disneyland is all about imagination, right?).
Following that we caught the first holiday edition of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, those guys are hilarious, loved the reveal of their Christmas tree. Headed over to Tom Sawyer Island where we had a lot of fun seeing how many of the caves we could fit through (answer: almost all!). We maximised the value of fastpass during the afternoon, running a tight schedule of:
1. Grab fastpass - only 40 minute wait as it's a slow day
2. Go on smaller rides to fill in time
3. When another fastpass is available, go get that
4. Go on ride from step 1, walking past the suckers who didn't get a fastpass and have been waiting for 45 minutes. When the ride is finished, it will almost be time to get another fastpass, so rinse and repeat.
Managed to do Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones (when it's working this is another favourite), Haunted Mansion and Star Tours multiple times in the space of a few hours with this method, squeezing in Winnie the Pooh, the Tiki Room and a daylight viewing of the Jungle Cruise as well.
Later we went up to Small World to see the lighting ceremony, before finding a spot to watch the parade. As we were near the end of the parade route there was a fair wait for this to start, and a lot of kids getting antsy by the time the first float rolled around.
Once the parade was over we did one last run of Indiana Jones (it was working again) before seeing the fireworks. I've seen fireworks plenty of times, but can say without a doubt that the Disneyland fireworks are ten times better than anything I've experienced before. Some light shopping after this then back to the motel.
Day 3: Tuesday, November 15th
California Adventure day. Started with Grizzly River Run, then got so wet we decided to do it again straight away and spend the rest of the day drying off. Grabbed a WoC FP then another for Soarin', and made our way to Toy Story Midway Mania. About a half hour wait, which is the longest we waited for anything the whole time we were there, but Mr Potato Head made it bearable. Great ride but possibly a little too short, and the line is too long to make it worth going back to improve your score.
Picked up a FP for California Screamin' then had a go at some of the midway games on the boardwalk. These were fun but a bit overpriced, and the prizes weren't all that great. Went over to Goofy's Sky School, very short wait (not sure why this has FP by Toy Story doesn't) then back to the rollercoaster (making sure to pick up another FP before we went on, of course!). Loved California Screamin' - incredibly smooth and very fast. Next stop was Mickey's Fun Wheel and some motion sickness, made worse by the decision to ride the rollercoaster again.
Decided to go on something a little gentler so over to the Little Mermaid ride - very well done but seemed quite short. Although there were only short lines when we visited I couldn't help but think that I wouldn't want to wait more than 15 minutes for any of the non-thrill rides at either Disneyland or CA. Then time for lunch at Paradise Garden Grill. Nice kebabs but too much sauce. A quick go on the zeppelins then went to Soarin'.
Over to A Bug's Land next, mostly kiddie rides I know but the theming was excellent, and It's Tough to be a Bug! is very well done, even if it might be scary for the little ones. Grabbed a FP for the Hollywood Hotel then went to see Aladdin. Enjoyed the show but it lacks the charm of the movie, in my opinion. Monster's Inc ride was after that, followed by Muppet-vision 3D. I love the Muppets, and had a blast in this one. Having the Statler and Waldorf animatronics in the theatre, as well as the penguin orchestra was the icing on the cake - highly recommended! I would say that the Hollywood Backlot seems a bit empty. Maybe they need one or two open-air rides to make it feel like there's people around.
My travel buddy wasn't feeling well so we went to the Animation Academy building, Turtle Talk with Crush is a definite highlight, still not sure how they do it so convincingly in real-time. Last stop was the Hollywood Hotel - far, far better than I expected. Just goes to show how Disney can take a run-of-the-mill 'drop' ride and turn it into a complete experience with story and effects. Definitely the best ride at CA I reckon (maybe tied with California Screamin').
We went to Downtown Disney for dinner, then back into the park in time for WoC. Found a decent enough spot to see the show (not keen on the whole 'line up for two hours' thing), again just thrilled by how well done it was. Walked back to the motel with the mother of all blisters thanks to still-damp shoes from Grizzly River Run to get some sleep before another day.
Day 4: Wednesday, November 16th
The plan for this day was pretty simple - see the rest of Disneyland and return to our favourite rides, plus take the cameras for photos. Started the day with Finding Nemo. This was OK but again I'm glad we didn't wait too long. Then did all of the Tomorrowland rides. This part of the park definitely looks and feels dated, clearly in need of a makeover sometime soon. Did the monorail loop then caught the train around the park to Toontown, where we walked though Mickey's house (turned back when we saw the photo op line) and squeezed through Chip N Dale's treehouse. Roger Rabbit was next, not a bad ride but a great queue.
Last stop in DL was Small World. This was a little disappointing, to be honest - I know a lot of people love this ride but it's aged poorly and needs a major overhaul. Just seemed a little tacky, but maybe that was the holiday overlay.
The rest of the day was filled with photo-taking (as well as quite a few rides) at both parks, before a final fireworks viewing in the evening. Overall it was a great few days at Disneyland, and I'm already planning another trip for 2013 - excited to see how Cars Land and Buena Vista Street turn out.
Appendix: Will I Fit On The Ride?
This was my biggest concern going in: that I'd have to get off a ride because I was too big for the restraints. So here's a quick guide based on my experience. For comparison I'm 5'8" and about 300 lbs. I fit into an economy airline seat OK (no seatbelt extender) but I've got a fairly solid build (i.e. big gut and legs).
Basically I had no issues on any rides at all, however a couple are worth noting as being potentially troublesome for larger folks:
- Space Mountain: I fit, but it was pretty tight because of my big legs. Kind of uncomfortable but I was still able to enjoy the ride.
- Goofy's Sky School: another tight fit but the restraint came down OK and I could ride the ride.
- Soarin', Hollywood Hotel, Star Tours, Indiana Jones: these all use seatbelt restraints - basically if you don't need a seatbelt extender on a plane you will be fine (beyond that I'm not sure).
- California Screamin': very generous restraint for a rollercoaster, saw a few guys who were bigger than me and they had no trouble either.
Everything else should be fine, anyone with mobility issues might struggle getting in or out of the seats in Matterhorn or Splash Mountain but there is plenty of space once you're in.
We went to Universal Studios too, I was bit concerned about The Mummy ride but ended up fitting on it just fine. Happy to answer any further size-related questions/concerns in the thread.