- I’m originally from California and have been visiting Disneyland since 1989.
- When I need an energy boost, I grab a baked potato or a Dole Whip and people watch on Main Street.
- I always send a compliment to the cast to spread kindness and celebrate Disneyland’s helpful employees.
My very first trip to Disneyland was in 1989. My family loaded up our car and drove to Southern California.
In the 33 years I have visited the parks have grown and certainly look different. But there are still magical things to do around every corner.
I always drop the parks and hit the fantasyland rides first
I’m an early riser, so jump rope (queuing in parks before they officially open) is something I always do.
I grab a coffee and once inside I always head to Peter Pan’s Flight as the wait times are usually longer in the afternoon.
If you don’t even want to deal with the Peter Pan morning queue, head to the other attractions in Fantasyland and see how high you can ride before wait times exceed 15 minutes.
Try the new flavors of Dole Whip at Tropical Hideaway
The Tropical Hideaway at Adventureland often adds new Dole Whip flavors to its menu, and trying them out is one of my favorite things.
The quick service point does not offer mobile ordering, so just head to the Dole Whip counter on the left side.
Grab a flavor new to you (my favorites are raspberry and mango) and sit by the talking parrot for a cold snack in a fun environment.
If the seats near Tropical Hideaway are too crowded for you, head to the tables near the Enchanted Tiki Room exit. There are usually a few free places there.
Admire the views on the Mark Twain Riverboat
One of my favorite late afternoon experiences is a leisurely ride on the Mark Twain Riverboat.
The 14-minute boat ride is one of Disneyland’s most peaceful attractions, especially when I need shade or a place to rest my feet.
Seating is very limited on the boat, so be sure to line up early in the queue to get a chair on the main deck.
I always take a picture with my favorite characters
When my favorite characters are in the parks, I head straight for the queues.
In the fall, California Adventure transforms its Paradise Gardens area into the “Coco”-themed Plaza de la Familia. Miguel can be found in the Recuérdame (Remember Me) area.
While in this area, check out the food and merchandise options, or leave a keepsake note on the Memorial Wall to honor your loved ones.
Load up on a high-carb baked potato
When I’m hungry but don’t want to eat at a sit-down restaurant, I head to Troubadour Tavern near Fantasyland.
The Tavern offers one of Disneyland’s best and most filling snacks: the loaded baked potato. For $8.49, it’s the perfect balance of well-done potatoes with lots of bacon and cheese on top.
I like to pair it with a Joffrey’s iced coffee from the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, especially when I need a late afternoon pick-me-up after a full day at the parks.
Collect pressed coins for an affordable souvenir
Save your change and bring it to Disneyland, where you’ll find pressed coin machines in almost every store.
It’s no secret that prices are going up at the parks, but pressed pennies are still one of the more affordable souvenirs. You will just need quarters and pennies, as the average price is $0.51.
Disney changes designs regularly and themes vary from country to country.
Walk through Galaxy’s Edge and interact with park employees
I could spend hours in Batuu (the fictional planet that serves as the setting for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge) discovering the unique aspects that make it one of the most detailed locations in the parks.
My favorite thing to do in Galaxy’s Edge is interact with the cast members, what Disney calls its park employees.
Disney cast members asked me about my Batuu animal purchases or stopped me mid-sentence to swat a fly thrown at the wall. If you hang around the country long enough, you might be able to get a shot with Chewbacca, Vi Moradi, or even Kylo Ren.
And if you feel hungry after those interactions, pair a Ronto Wrap with Meiloorun Juice for a refreshing snack.
Challenge a friend or family member to see who can get the most points in Toy Story Mania
California Adventure offers Toy Story Mania, which is the perfect ride for friendly competition.
I usually challenge my husband and kids to see who can get the most points during the ride.
It’s immense fun, and after aiming and firing your toy gun at the massive screens, a sore arm is worth it for the bragging rights.
I usually try a new cocktail every time I visit the parks
Every time I visit Disneyland, I try to sit down and enjoy a new cocktail at various restaurants.
My favorite I’ve come across so far is the seasonal watermelon margarita with a tajin rim from Lamplight Lounge.
Other favorites include the rum-washed Dole Whip from Tangaroa Terrace at the Disneyland Hotel and the mai tai from Craftsman Grill.
I always take advantage of the fun photo opportunities at Disneyland
My favorites are the empty teacup in front of the Mad Hatter shop, the It’s a Small World blue wall, and the empty car in front of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Most often, there are actors nearby who you can ask to take a photo of you and your group.
If photographers ask you to do something weird like reach out, make sure you do it because it usually means they’re adding a special effect or character to your final photo.
Splurge on a character meal – they’re worth it
I love to splurge and for me dining with Disney characters is such a fun thing to add to a trip to Disneyland.
My favorite character restaurant is Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park inside the Plaza Inn on Main Street. Over the years I’ve seen characters like Minnie, Captain Hook, Fairy Godmother, Pinocchio and Rafiki.
It’s a buffet breakfast, but there are hot options like Mickey waffles and made-to-order omelets as well as pastries, juices, and desserts.
Don’t be afraid to let the servers know of any special requests, the chefs are happy to cater for allergies. And don’t forget to pick up your special macaroon before you leave.
Walk through Downtown Disney with a treat
On each visit, I try to walk around Downtown Disney and just take in the sights and smells.
The shopping, dining, and entertainment district outside of the theme parks includes a mix of shops, restaurants, kiosks, and occasional food trucks.
There’s usually free entertainment, and there’s nothing better than people-watching with fresh donuts from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen or a shake from Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes.
I like to pay a compliment to the cast before I leave
Every time I visit Disneyland I try to give the cast at least one compliment, which is a quick and easy way to recognize a cast member who was helpful or added a little pixie dust to your visit.
The majority of park employees are helpful and kind, so I usually take the time to praise them in the designated section of the Disneyland app.
Just go into the app, tap on the spyglass to search, and type in “distribution add-on.”