Disneyland Trip Report 2022: From Oregon to Wakanda!
I hope you enjoy my Disneyland trip report from December 2022, where I flew from Oregon to Disneyland to enjoy an awesome trip that featured a celebration of the movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever!” [This trip report was written by Peyton and edited by Michael].
Disneyland Trip Report 2022
Let’s of course begin with Day One of my trip, which began at 4:00 AM in the morning!
Day One — Travel Day — December 14, 2022
The first day of our Disneyland trip was what I originally labeled in our itinerary as the “most chaotic” day and it certainly lived up to this title! We started our adventure at about 4 o’clock in the morning and had to make sure our bag was packed and under the weight limits, check over my wheelchair and make sure it was safe for travel, and hit the road!
We made it to the Medford Oregon Airport (MFR) at about 7 o’clock in the morning for a 9:30 AM flight with Avelo! Fun fact: we arrived at the airport before the gate agents had even begun taking baggage!
My friend and I shared one checked bag, which made security at the airport a breeze and significantly easier than I expected it to be! The entire check-in and security process (including the search and battery verification for my wheelchair) took up only 20 minutes of our time, and we were at the gate and ready to go by 7:30 in the morning!
Avelo gate personnel and flight attendants were absolutely wonderful, made boarding the flight super simple and speedy and took great care of my wheelchair! We even got to watch them load the wheelchair into the undercarriage of the plane through the window!
The flight down was as smooth as pie and before we knew it, we were on the ground in Burbank, California! My wheelchair was ready and waiting for me on the tarmac when we deplaned, and although Burbank does not have jet bridges, Avelo personnel were more than willing to assist me down the ramp with a non-motorized push wheelchair until I could get to my personal device!
From there we went to baggage claim to retrieve our luggage and we were out of the airport within 30 minutes of arriving at the gate!
We were able to request a wheelchair accessible Uber (this is not possible in rural Oregon where we are from, so this was a really new experience) immediately upon landing, and our vehicle was ready and waiting for us when we exited the airport! Traffic was a breeze (we only hit one slowdown on the freeway) and we arrived safely at the Motel 6 Anaheim Maingate at about 1 PM! Luckily the hotel had a room available for us, as we were about two hours earlier than we originally scheduled for check-in!
Our original plan for this first day was to take some time to rest in our hotel room upon arrival, and spend the latter half of the evening in Downtown Disney since we didn’t have park reservations for that day. Given that we had arrived two hours earlier than we were originally scheduled for, we chose to go straight to Downtown Disney instead of taking time to rest and rejuvenate.
Our hotel was a ten minute walk from the Toy Story parking lot, so instead of taking the longer way and walking directly to Disney property, we chose to walk to the parking lot and take the free shuttle, and we arrived at the resort within about 20 minutes of leaving our hotel room.
While we were on the bus, I took a peek at the reservation calendar for the parks and saw that DCA had availability for that day, so as soon as we arrived on property we went straight to the ticket booths and purchased one day tickets to enjoy the park. This bonus time we got in DCA was absolutely magical and such a great, unplanned addition to our day!
We started out by walking directly to my favorite place in the entirety of both parks, which is Avengers Campus! This is one of my absolute favorite places because not only is the scenery very fitting to the theme, but the food in the area is always delicious and there’s almost CONSTANTLY characters out!
We spent most of the evening in Avengers Campus, as spending time in the Marvel side of the park was our main priority of the entire trip. We participated in the Warriors of Wakanda show almost immediately upon arriving, followed by the Ways of the Jabari, and later in the evening we did the Black Panther Memorial with Shuri (which was quite honestly my favorite experience of the entire trip)! We missed the holiday version of the Avengers Assemble show, but I wasn’t too worried as we still had two more days to catch it.
We also met a lot of characters in between these various shows, including big names like Black Widow, Loki and Captain America!
When we had our fill of fun in Avengers Campus, we headed over to Pixar Pier to catch the sunset in front of the Pal-A-Round, since we still had about an hour before the Panther Memorial. If you’ve never watched the sunset behind Pixar Pal-A-Round, this should absolutely be on your must to do list as it was one of the most incredible views in the park!
We were exhausted by the time we reached the end of the Black Panther Memorial ceremony, so we caught one more round of the Ways of the Jabari show and headed back to the hotel for the evening, since we knew we were in for a very early morning! The journey back to the hotel went just as smoothly and it was a very successful evening!
Day Two — DCA Day — December 15, 2022
Day two of our trip was, to say the least, a huge success and we had so much fun on this particular leg of the adventure! We had a later start than we originally intended due to some technical difficulties, however we were out the door of our hotel by 9 AM and on the Toy Story shuttles by about 9:15!
One of the best parts about having a hotel that is so close to the major parking lot is the free shuttle, and this was a lifesaver so many times during our trip! This particular morning was the morning that we realized we were having some major technical difficulties with the Disneyland app, so we were able to use the free shuttle Wi-Fi to at least get the screenshots of our tickets, photopass and other important information that we needed to get our day kickstarted!
By the time we got into the park, I was absolutely starving, so we went to grab some “Impossible Breakfast Sha-warm-up“ before it disappeared at 11 AM! I can honestly say this was one of the best breakfast foods I’ve ever had in the parks, and it will absolutely be my go to food item every morning on our next trip! This particular menu item had hashbrowns, impossible sausage, dairy free cheese and omelet style eggs, with some spicy maple syrup to go with it!
Since we were already in Avengers Campus to get our breakfast, we chose to do a quick walk-through to see what characters were out and about that early in the morning! We had a great interaction with none other than Doctor Strange himself, and I’m always amazed at how well the cast members can adjust to each guest during meet and greets! This was a great interaction to start our day for sure!
We didn’t hang out around campus for very long, but since the main priority of our trip was enjoying the Wakanda Forever celebration, we chose to head over to the Avengers Superstore to check out the costumes they had on display from the film! It was so cool to see outfits that were used in the film up close, and it really gives you a different perspective of just how much time and effort goes into putting together a project such as Wakanda Forever!
We spent about an hour and a half looking at the costumes and browsing the shelves, but since we had a DAS (Disability Access Service) reservation, we chose to come back later to purchase our desired trinkets.
Our first ride of the day was Webslingers, so we circled back to Avengers Campus now that we had waited long enough to reach our return time. Since there’s a separate wheelchair accessible ride vehicle for this attraction, we actually got to participate twice in a row without having to wait in the line again, however on our second time through the ride it actually broke down! We were stuck in our ride vehicles for about 30 minutes before things were back up and running again!
By the time we made it off of Webslingers, it was beyond time for another food break, so we headed on over to the Flavors of Wakanda booth over by the Superstore! This was another very delicious meal and beverage combination, and I am so sad that these food items were only around for the holidays! We both had the Peri Peri Chicken which was the perfect combination of spicy and savory!
The rice was absolutely delicious, and it was a perfect match for the flavor of the chicken! I also loved adding the lime wedge to the rice for that extra pop of flavor! I chose to complement my meal with the Dawa, which essentially was a Wakandan version of a Moscow mule!
We had about an hour and a half until we need to head back to the hotel for a break and for a wheelchair charge, so we headed back over to Pixar Pier to catch the Pal-A-Round and Midway Mania! Both of these attractions actually had a surprisingly short wait time, so we didn’t even need to use our DAS pass for these two!
We were done with these rides by about 2:30, so we ended up heading back to the hotel a little bit early to get some extra charge in my wheelchair! By this point in the day, we had already done about 10 miles so we were more than ready for a break!
We had to be back into Avengers Campus by about 5 PM to catch the Black Panther memorial again, so before we knew it our break was over and we were back in action! We arrived just in time and lined up at the memorial for the show. Right before it started, a cast member informed us that Shuri would be doing a meet and greet immediately after, so we make sure that we were standing in a spot where we could easily get out of the show and go straight to the meet and greet! Since the show is super quick, we were able to head straight over and we were second in line for the meet and greet!
Our meet and greet with Shuri was absolutely my favorite moment in the entire trip! She had so many great ideas on how we could integrate Griot into my wheelchair and it was so much fun getting to interact with my absolute favorite character on such a personal level! We had enough time during our interaction for me to tell her how much of an inspiration she was to me during some pretty dark times in my life, and I’ll fully admit I cried through the last half of our interaction! It was at this moment that I realized that our plan for the next day of our trip was going to go out the window.
By this point we had about three hours until the World of Color – Season of Light performance and light show, so we headed on over to the Animation Academy building for a place to sit indoors and just relax for a bit since we were pretty well exhausted. The line to meet Anna and Elsa was fairly short, so we went ahead and did that interaction to kill some time and we had a great experience!
The sisters are so friendly, and it also gave us an opportunity to say hi to one of my cast member friends! We were in this building for about an hour which gave us plenty of time to warm up, so we headed on over to the viewing areas for World of Color!
We weren’t originally planning to be in the viewing areas two hours early, but it was absolutely worth it! We got an amazing spot in the yellow viewing area, which also doubles as handicap accessible seating and was pretty much front and center! The holiday version of this show is absolutely spectacular and I am so glad that we finally got to see it in person! If you’re a fan of Christmas music, you would absolutely love this show! The atmosphere was brilliant, and there were even soap clouds that were released and shaped like hearts and Mickey Mouse!!
To round out the day, we made a quick stop at Starbucks in Downtown Disney on our way out for a quick warm drink, and headed back to our hotel since the goal was to rope drop the next morning!
Day Three — DCA Unplanned Day — December 16, 2022
Day three of our trip was our final day in the park, and it’s safe to say that it did not disappoint! I got up at about 3 o’clock in the morning because we were scheduled to be in Disneyland proper that day, but we had both decided that we would prefer to go back to DCA after our incredible experience yesterday!
Now you might be wondering what reservations have to do with getting up at three in the morning, but the window from about midnight the night before your scheduled reservation to about 6 AM is the best time to score a new reservation if it’s been sold out previously.
This plan worked perfectly for us, and we were able to switch our reservations back to DCA for the night! Since we have another trip scheduled for fairly soon, it made more sense for us to switch our reservations around based on what we know we would enjoy the most.
6 o’clock in the morning rolled around way too early, but we were determined to rope drop and soak up every possible ounce of time that we could in DCA! Given that the switch was not part of the original plan, we didn’t have a schedule for the day, which opened us up to really participate in the spontaneous side of Disney and it was an awesome experience!
It also happened to be Avatar: The Way of Water release day, so every guest who entered either park got a free button! I love the Avatar franchise, so this was an extra special magic touch to an already wonderful day!
As per usual, we headed straight to Avengers Campus for some more breakfast Shawarma before trying to assemble at least a basic guideline plan for us to follow for the day! It didn’t take us long to realize that the wait times for every single Pixar Pier ride was under 10 minutes, so we headed straight there!
First, we hopped on Jessie’s Critter Carousel since it was an attraction that I could take my wheelchair on fairly easily, and we had a blast! The cast members were amazing and they let us ride twice in a row since there were no other wheelchairs waiting in line, and that was a super fun experience! From there, we hopped onto Midway Mania before finishing our grand trifecta with the Pal-A-Round once again! Can you tell what our favorite ride was?
From there it was time to head back to Avengers Campus to catch the Warriors of Wakanda and Ways of the Jabari shows since we were there for the Wakanda Forever celebration anyway, and we also took some time to meet a few more characters while things were fairly calm and quiet.
After the shows and a few more meet and greets, I wanted to take an opportunity to get some pictures of the celebration gardens, as Black Panther has a very special place in my heart.
We sat in the celebration gardens for almost an hour soaking up the atmosphere, the beauty and the tribute for Chadwick Boseman. This is one of the most touching things that I have experienced firsthand, and sitting in the garden filled with tributes to T’Challa and his legacy touched my heart and on a very profound level. I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry during the time we spent in the garden.
After some time had passed, we chose to go back to the Superstore so that I could purchase the shirt that I had had my eyes on for the entire duration of the trip. Of course, it was a Black Panther themed shirt with the same markings as Shuri’s suit, so I bought it with the intention of changing into it when we went back to the hotel for our midday break. Since we were fairly close to that side of the park, we headed on over to go see Elsa again and had a great interaction with her!
We had oodles of time that we weren’t really expecting to end up with, so the goal was to conquer as many rides as possible in a very limited amount of time. Thanks to the DAS pass (a truly amazing program that made this entire trip possible) we were able to conquer Soarin’, The Little Mermaid and Silly Symphony Swings all within about 45 minutes.
Given that we were going to try and stay for the 10:15 PM World of Color showing, we decided to head back to the hotel at this point so that we could get a quick nap before the evening kicked off. We ended up back at the hotel at about 12:30 PM.
We were back in DCA at almost exactly 2 PM and did our standard beeline for Avengers Campus, new clothing and all! There were so many characters out to meet this afternoon, we couldn’t decide where we wanted to start! In typical Disney fashion though, it was decided for us when the first character that we ran into was none other than Shuri herself. It was at this very moment that I remembered that I had made a bracelet for her before we even left for the trip, and it had been riding around in my wallet this entire time.
Knowing we would have another opportunity to meet Shuri later in the evening, I made a very last minute decision to just leave the bracelet out of the metaphorical picture for now. She was a big fan of our matching suits, and we had a whole conversation about potential design modifications for my wheelchair! Given that I’m not a huge fan of the “image“ of being wheelchair-bound and not being able to stand to greet my favorite characters, this was a super special interaction that will stick with me for a very long time.
After meeting Shuri, we figured we would wander around the other half of DCA for a while and try and catch some other characters that we hadn’t met yet. We were able to find Mirabel and had an absolutely amazing interaction with her, and of course had to ask for some tips on interpreting prophecies from Bruno! We both had so much fun with this interaction and Mirabel is definitely on our list of characters we want to meet on the next trip!
We had reached the point in the day where there weren’t all that many characters out, so since we found extra time on our hands we circled back to do The Little Mermaid again! The cast members on this attraction are always amazingly kind and welcoming, and let us do the ride three times in a row which was super awesome! This particular attraction is pretty far up there on my list of favorites, so I loved having the opportunity to spend so much time on the ride! By the time we were done on the ride, it was almost time for the Black Panther memorial show again, so back to Avengers Campus we went!
As always, the memorial was an amazing experience, and the rush to cross campus to catch Shuri at her meet and greet was terrifying, but we made it just in the nick of time! Fortunately, since this would be our last meet and greet with her for the duration of our trip, we were able to give her the bracelet that I had made. Doing so gave me the opportunity to say thank you for the guidance that her character has offered me in my life, a sentiment that has even more meaning after my grandfather‘s passing, a week after we got back from this trip.
I couldn’t stop crying after this interaction, so we figured this was just as good of a time as any to stop for dinner and to reflect in the gardens again now that it was nightfall. We both chose to get the Wakandan Pork wrap from Shawarma Palace and it was absolutely delicious, so this definitely ended up on my list of foods I would recommend to anyone and everyone! We also went ahead and ordered a pair of Cosmic Orbs, which I honestly didn’t have high hopes for, but these turned out to be an amazing dessert also!
We took a few more moments to go ahead and regroup ourselves before heading back to Pal-A-Round since we wanted so desperately to ride it after dark! This attraction is particularly intimidating at night since it’s harder to see the ground, so if you are sensitive to heights I cannot recommend making this decision! The park lights at night are absolutely beautiful, but there’s just something terrifying about not being able to see the ground when it’s so dark!
It was after this attraction that we realized just how exhausted we truly were, so we headed back to Avengers Campus to just sit and relax for a few hours. I ran to grab one last Dawa and we sat by the Jeep for a good couple of hours watching characters interact with each other and with guests, as well as catching a couple of the shows that we had seen earlier in the day. This is one of my favorite things to do in the park, just sit and enjoy the ambience. If you find yourself with extra time on your trip, go to your favorite land and just sit and soak in the atmosphere.
Before we knew it the fireworks had started, so we watched them light up Avengers Campus before we headed off for the World of Color show! Even though we had seen it once already, the emotions of how magical Disneyland truly is had started to hit by this point, and I bawled through the entirety of the show. It’s safe to say that I am really excited to see what they do for the 100 year anniversary of Disney as a company, because if it’s anything like the holiday shows it will be truly magical!
Just like that, the show was over and it was time for us to exit the park for the final time on this trip! We ended up leaving at fairly close to 11 PM, and made it back to the hotel by about 11:30 PM which only gave us about four hours until we needed to leave to catch our flight home! Fortunately for us, we were able to pack everything up fairly quickly and get a few hours of shut eye in before what would end up feeling like the longest day of our lives.
Day Four — Travel Day — December 17, 2022
When you have a flight that leaves at 8 AM from an airport that’s over an hour away from your hotel, and you’re flying with a wheelchair, you know you’re going to have a long day. We woke up at 3:30 in the morning in the hopes that we would have ample time to pack the rest of our suitcase and hit the road before 5 AM, But of course nothing goes to plan when you’re on vacation!
Little did we know, this was just the first hangup in what would turn out to be a very chaotic travel day! We first scheduled our Uber at about 4:15 AM, which hypothetically would’ve put us at the airport 2.5 hours early if everything went according to plan. Unfortunately however, it took almost 45 minutes before Uber was able to find us a driver willing to take us all the way back to Burbank and also transport my fold up wheelchair! We arrived to the airport right at 6 AM, which still gave us plenty of time before our flight, But not with everything else we had coming down the pipeline!
Checking our bags was the easy part, and finalizing my needed seating accommodation was super simple, however security is where things started to get a little crazy! I’m used to heightened security measures when traveling with a wheelchair, but I have never gone through quite the regiment that we went through at Burbank for this trip!
The TSA agents were lovely and just following the guidelines that they are given, but the whole process took us almost an hour! I was asked to roll up my pant legs, take all of my medical equipment out of my wheelchair pocket, and I had to shift my weight from side to side so that they could check the cushion of my wheelchair. Fortunately we were good to go and we made it to our gate just in time!
The chaos doesn’t stop there though! When it comes time to board, I am informed that I will need to take the batteries out of my wheelchair. This wheelchair has been on a total of five different airlines prior to this, and I have never been asked to take the batteries out. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know that the batteries could come out. I had to make a choice between one of two options—either I get on the plane without the wheelchair and figure out how to get home after the fact, or we figure out how in the world to get the batteries out of the wheelchair.
I held up the entire line of a full flight (we were first in line to board) trying to get the batteries out of my wheelchair, and it took almost 10 minutes to properly remove them without damaging the chair (if you were flying Avelo from Burbank to Eugene on the 17th, I sincerely apologize!). To make matters even worse, for safety reasons I could not walk with my leg braces up to the plane entrance, so I had to be transferred into an aisle wheelchair that, of course, had a broken strap.
We finally made it on board the plane, and ultimately we departed about five minutes late! Of course, I do not blame the gate agents or Avelo at all as they were just following procedures, however it was more than embarrassing knowing that I was a big part of the reason our flight left later than it was originally scheduled to! Luckily for us, the rest of the flight went very smoothly and we landed safely back in Oregon!
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