In honor of many upcoming trips to the cheery land of Disney, thought I’d post my favorites of this magical place. Grew up coming here as a kid every year on my birthday so it will always hold special memories in my heart.
Tips & Tricks
- Always dress smart with layers…Disneyland is in California the sunshine state, but it can still get chilly at night depending on the weather. Bring a light weight jacket and wear comfortable shoes since you’ll be walking around a lot all day.
- Be prepared and take water if you can to stay hydrated throughout the day. Don’t forget snacks since Disney still lets you bring in food.
- Don’t forget to apply sunscreen if you go during the day to avoid sunburning.
- Ride lines can also be a long wait so bring cards or download some fun phone app games to pass the time by.
- Don’t forget a portable charger for your phone if you plan on using this in line ( we always bring a heavy duty data bank)
- Take advantage of FAST PASSES – literally the key to trying to get on every ride in one day (very possible by the way if you have a strategy and game plan in mind when conquering the parks); Get MaxPass (new app that gives you digital fastpasses on the Disneyland App) the $10 is worth it and will save you so much time from not having to run around the whole park
- MaxPass can also be used for unlimited Disney Photopass downloads from the day (such a fun souvenir) plus you can check all the attraction wait times as well as make dining reservations at select restaurants
- Celebration buttons are a must, cutest souvenir to remember your special trip (get these at the town hall for free) They have all different kinds from I’m celebrating to Graduation to Happy Anniversary, Happily Ever After, Happy Birthday, 1st Visit, etc.
- Send yourself a postcard from the park (they have mailboxes everywhere on main street) my favorite are the ones from WonderGround Gallery; don’t forget your postcard stamps before you come
Main Street Electrical Parade – Love that they brought this back, the LED lights are spectacular…..the show is the same as the original, music and all. A must see in the summer! The best views are on Main Street or by Small World.
Fireworks Show – Disney has their fair share of different variations of their firework spectaculars, each unique and special. One of my favorite parts of Disneyland is watching all the colors spark over the Sleeping Beauty castle. Also a fun way to see Tinkerbell fly across the night sky if you stand in front of the castle. I think the best spots to watch the fireworks are on Main Street, Rivers of America by Pirates of the Caribbean and from Fantasyland by Small World
Fantasmic – Excellent show on the water of New Orleans right in front of Pirates. All the characters and princesses make appearances on the riverboat and floats. There’s lots of fireworks, festive music and they have movie reels on water projection screens like the World of Color
Mickey and the Magical Map Show – Cutest sing along show in the huge theater out front of Toontown in Fantasyland, fun to take little kids to, the singing and dancing numbers amazing (almost broadway quality)
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – The iconic landmark of Disneyland, love that they kept the sparkly roofing on the castle from the diamond celebration (such a beautiful touch). It’s always fun to walk through sleeping beauty’s castle, don’t miss it
Disney’s Holiday Festivities – PLEASE go to Disneyland during one of their holiday celebrations; I’ve personally been to every single one and the decorations alone all across the park are phenomenal (my all time favorites being Christmas and Halloween). The Haunted Mansion ride decked out themed Nightmare Before Christmas was a genius marketing move and so fun. Space Mountain is decked out as Ghost Galaxy. Love It’s A Small World Holiday when it’s all decked out in lights and Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle with the icicles is my absolute favorite. Always enjoy the Halloween parties….I mean any excuse to dress up as a Disney princess and you’ve got me, I’m in. Plus you’ll acquire so much candy from the adorable trick or treat booths spread all across the park. The special holiday treats you can buy throughout the park let alone are the main reasons I have to go every year.
It’s A Small World – Arguably my favorite ride, who wouldn’t want to take a cruise around the world? Of course I’m always a little bias when it comes to representing my ethnicities and think that the Ireland/Scotland/England and Japanese areas are the best. The pastel colors, the dolls, everything about this ride makes me smile with pure joy (in Fantasyland)
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run – Very neat architecture, newest land in Disneyland. The ride was fun and similar to Star Tours except you get to fly the ship. There’s 6 people to each ship and you’re given acting parts such as pilot, gunner and engineer. If you’re standing in line, you can even purchase a cute Star Wars soda
Peter Pan’s Flight – Can you blame me if I love Fantasyland more than any other? This ride though….first off, you get to fly in a pirate ship (who wouldn’t want to live this childhood dream?)…..and flying over little London town, so dreamy
Dumbo – Looks like a cheesy ride if you’re not 5, but you get a pretty neat view overlooking the park (in Fantasyland). This was my favorite ride growing up, I always try to ride the pink elephant.
Indiana Jones – By far my favorite “big kid” ride…..love that you’re in a jeep four wheeling through some crazy scenes—the skulls, the snakes, the creepy Aztec looking tiki doll heads, the flaming fire, the huge boulder chasing you down a hole…..kind of wish the danger were real because that’d be a gnarly experience to battle through (in Adventureland)
Storybook Land Canal Boats – Another cute fantasyland favorite, those miniature towns get me every time and the lit arch ways you pass under at night from Casey Jr.’s is so romantic (my favorite town is the new frozen one of course)
King Arthur’s Carrousel – Everyone needs to ride on the Mary Poppins horse Jiggles at least once, it’s the best one with the glimmering gem stones and bells (the golden hoofs are a nice touch too) also in Fantasyland
Mark Twain Riverboat – Love the casual stroll across the Rivers of America on this gorgeous boat that makes me feel like I’m strolling down the Mississippi river amongst New Orleans (in Frontierland)
Matterhorn Bobsleds – Iconic mountain of Disneyland…..personally the ride isn’t the best with all the back and butt whiplash you experience, but the Swiss alps aesthetic keeps me coming back—love that it makes me feel like I’m in Austria especially with the workers dressed in the cutest costumes (in Fantasyland)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Way fun roller coaster, love the scenery as it reminds me of Arizona or Utah because of the rock formations (In Frontierland)
Lilly Belle Railroad Train Car – Newest favorite, look how gorgeous….the cool part is you’ll need reservations to see this beauty. Part of the back train car of the Disneyland Railroad which has stops on Main Street, New Orleans Square, Toon Town and Tomorrowland.
Alice in Wonderland – In Fantasyland, love all the cute characters throughout the ride. Slow moving and great change of pace after all the big rides or after a heavy meal. My favorite was always the little white rabbit.
Tiki Room Juice Bar – Two words “Dole Whip”….what’s not more refreshing on a warm summer day than pineapple soft serve (very iconic dessert) in Adventureland. Choose the soft serve (whip) or dole float (ice cream in pineapple juice)
Bengal Barbecue – Must try the new tropical Jungle Julep drink, cousin of the Mint Julep. Super fruity smoothie/icee like consistency. Very delicious with hints of orange, grape, pineapple and lemon. The kabobs are a delicious snack too. My top favorites are the Safari Skewer (bacon wrapped asparagus), Bengal Beef Skewer (beef skewer in sweet zulu sauce) and Chieftain Chicken Skewer (chicken skewer in Polynesian sauce). Located in Adventureland across from Indiana Jones & Jungle Cruise
Tropical Hideaway – My newest food favorite, this place came alive after the took out the Aladdin Oasis section. This is my other go to comparable to Bengal BBQ. The baos are delicious and the perfect snack. I loved the beef one and my second favorite was the chicken. I will definitely be coming back to try all the Dole Whip cousins. Pictured is the raspberry and pineapple dole whip and the orange and pineapple dole whip, yum! I love the mixed flavor dole whips even better than the original
Cafe Orleans – Mickey beignets are a must, super cute and always loving the NOLA vibes. They come with delicious berry compote sauce which reminded me of Knott’s boysenberry pie. Try the Monte Cristo sandwich, very classic New Orleans (grilled ham and cheese sandwich). Located in New Orleans Square. We also got the steak & potatoes and Bourbon chicken dishes with the chicken gumbo
Olga’s Catina – One of the newest dining experiences in Disneyland and the only place now serving alcohol in this park. Olga’s was very nicely designed and set up. It felt like being in a real bar and I almost forgot we were still in the park. They’ve got a ton of cool drinks to choose from, but the limit is 2 per person. We chose to order two non-alcoholic (hyperdrive punch it! – Powerade mountain berry blast, white cranberry juice, black cherry puree and sprite & Carbon freeze – Powerade lemon lime, wild strawberry/blueberry and green apple popping pearls) and one alcoholic concoction (Jedi mind trick – Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit and Rose Vodka, John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, Bols Blue Curaçao, White Grape Juice, Lime Juice, and Grapefruit Bitters). My favorite was the Carbon Freeze (yellow one featured below)
Golden Horseshoe – Apparently the ice cream nachos are a thing, who knew? Is Disney on the secret menu phenomena kick like Starbucks? Also love their ice cream floats, try this cool new cherry cola one for the Fantasmic celebration. In Frontierland. The park rival of Gibson Girl on Main Street USA
Stage Door Cafe – Funnel cakes in Disneyland are huge and amazing. The strawberry funnel cake is so delicious! They are huge so bring friends to share with.
Candy Palace – Order a World of Color slushy off the secret menu, it’s almost too beautiful to drink. The best slushy. Right off the beautifully decorated Main Street USA
Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor – Crowd favorite for ice cream and sundaes, the waffle cones are to die for. Also on Main Street USA
Blue Bayou – Inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (not my favorite place and kind of pricey, long wait, plus annoying reservations but it’s next to the famous Club 33) in New Orleans Square; has similar food to Cafe Orleans if you’re looking for a not as expensive option with the same cuisine. I always order the Monte Cristo and they have the best chicken gumbo soup
Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port/Alien Pizza Planet– Cute themed with Toy Story for now, but not sure how long this will be called Pizza Planet. Love the pastas especially the Count Down Chicken Fusilli (like fettuccine alfredo), Terra Nova Vegetable Pasta (has a slight spicy kick to it) and Mars-inara with meatballs; please pass on the pizza (tastes like microwave frozen stuff)….you can thank me later (in Tomorrowland by Space Mountain)
Earl’s Sandwiches – Technically not in Disneyland, but this Downtown Disney favorite needed some recognition (the Hawaiian bbq sandwich is delicious)
Tortilla Joes – Also in Downtown Disney and they have the best chicken flautas. Also loved their chicken street taco plate – the sauce has a little kick to it
French Market Restaurant – Love the french dip or pulled pork sandwich! Super filing dinner choice located in New Orleans Square and conveniently located to the Mint Julep bar. Also the corn chowder is a favorite.
Mint Julep Bar – Yummy mickey mouse shaped beignets (sugary powdered doughnuts), they have peppermint ones during Christmas time
Uva Bar Catal – Located in Downtown Disney, loved the mimosa flight with pineapple, peach, cranberry & orange. My favorites were the peach and cranberry!
Troubadour Tavern – the best snack in the park, bacon and sour cream stuffed baked potato
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen – Downtown Disney, the best New Orleans food besides the original place itself. Love the gumbo so much and the beignets. We got the bolognese ravioli, pasta jambalaya and grilled medallions of beef (filet mignon, mashed potatoes, green beans all in a nice rich wine sauce).
Naples Ristorante e Bar – Newly renovated look, such a cute Italian restaurant in Downtown Disney. I loved the spaghetti with meatballs and meat sauce.
Haagen Dazs – Another Downtown Disney location. This ice cream is phenomenal and one of my favorites. Pictured is the banana split dazzler – three scoops of vanilla ice cream layered with bananas, pineapples, strawberries and hot fudge.
Salt & Straw – Part of Downtown Disney, but they have the best ice cream! My all time favorite has been the peppermint bark cocoa Williams Sonoma collaboration from xmas. So delicious! My other go to classic flavor is the chocolate gooey brownie. Yum!
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beers – Located in Downtown Disney; super fun place serving classic foods (burgers & shakes). We had the Texan Burger with a potato roll, prime burger, bacon, aged cheddar, crispy onion rings, sweet baby ray’s bbq sauce, lettuce, tomato and mayo. Came with Idaho fries on the side. It was super filling. This trip wouldn’t be complete without trying a crazy shake, we got the Cookies & Cream Supreme with a vanilla frosted rim, crushed Oreos, cookies & cream sandwich, whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.
World of Disney – Downtown Disney shop that literally carries everything you can find in the parks. The one stop shop for all your Disney favorites. These mickey shaped gummies below are my absolute favorite candy in the entire world and I’ve only seen them sold at Disneyland & California Adventure.
Disneyland’s Half Marathons
If you have a chance, put one of these races on your bucket list they are amazing! My favorite is the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, but someday I’ll go to Florida to run the Princess Half Marathon. The medals are amazing!
Have fun enjoying the happiest place on Earth <3