Every time I tell someone that I’m going to Disneyland again, I get asked “aren’t you sick of that place yet?” And I always answer with the same answer. Absolutely not. I could never be sick of Disney. I think a lot of people are confused by the love that I have for the parks and the company because many see it as childish. I grew up with an annual pass to Disneyland and even at 22, I was working at Disney World. It’s always been something I have a deep love for and it’s something that I hope to share with my kids one day. That being said, I think many adults wonder what there is to do there when you aren’t with kids. And that’s where I come in. I’m here to give you a few ideas of what there is to do at Disneyland when kids are not involved.
Before you go:
Going to Disney is a bit of a process and there a few things that can make it easier so that when you do arrive, you can enjoy yourself. First and foremost, I highly recommend buying tickets in advance. There is usually a wait to buy tickets, making people very grumpy before they can even get in. I have seen multiple sites that recommend buying from third parties in order to get cheaper tickets. Be careful. Disney is catching on and if you buy more than a one day ticket, they take your picture and make you sign it to confirm that you are the one who purchased the ticket. I know Disney can be kind of pricey but if you want to be safe, buy on Disney’s site itself. It’s super quick and easy. I also recommend going during the week. If you can get the time off of work during the week during off season, you will find much much shorter lines. If not, aim for weekends during the middle of fall and winter. The weather is nicer and suummer and spring tend to bring in crowds with breaks in school.
Once you have your tickets purchased, I recommend checking out hotels. Staying in a Disney resort can be quite magical and although they are some of my favorites, they can be a tad expensive. There are more than plenty hotels within walking distance from the park that can save you the money of both the resort and paying for parking. Plus, this gives you the opportunity to come and go as you please without worrying about driving.
Lastly, although there are boards throughout the parks that tell you how long the waits are, I highly recommend downloading the app MouseWait, available for iPhones only. This allows you to see the wait times in real time without having to walk to the attractions themselves. Sometimes they are not updated very frequently but in most cases, it helps you decide where exactly you want to head!
Once you’re there:
Now this might sound silly but if you want to start your day off with a delicious breakfast, try doing a character breakfast. They are buffet styles, allowing you to eat as much as you want. I recently ate at PCH Grill in the Paradise Pier and had a wonderful time. They had an omelette station, pastry station, as well as the classic Mickey pancakes. There you have the chance to meet a few characters such as Stitch, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Daisy. If meeting characters is on your list to do, these are the places to do so. They come around to the tables meaning no lines. It’s a win win for everybody. Storytellers Cafe at the Grand Californian is another great character buffet. Here you can meet a few more unique characters such as Chip n’ Dale and friends. Quick tip: make sure to make reservations to ensure you get in. These breakfasts tend to get very busy, very quickly.
Once you’re stuffed with breakfast and ready to ride rides, there are plenty that don’t move painfully slow. At Disneyland, rides such as Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, the Matterhorn, Indiana Jones, Star Tours, and Splash Mountain all have a thrill factor that many adults are looking for. There are also the classics such as Peter Pan, Haunted Mansion, and Jungle Cruise that are a bit more mild but still bring that feeling of nostalgia. If you decide to go over to California Adventure (which I highly recommend), there is California Screamin’, Toy Story Midway Mania, Soarin’ Around the World, Goofy’s Sky School, Radiator Springs Racers, and Mickey’s Fun Wheel. If you have a strong stomach, be sure to check out the swinging gondolas on the Fun Wheel. It brings a thrilling twist to a once relaxing ride.
When it comes to rides, take advantage of the fastpass program. Although Disneyland does not yet have the technology that Disney World has, you are able to get fastpasses for rides, allowing you to cut your wait times in half. Recently they updated their program a bit and you are allowed to get new fastpasses after 2 hours rather than having to wait to use the first ones you get. This may not be as high tech as WDW but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
If you have enough energy at the end of the night, stay for the parade and fireworks. Recently, they brought back the Main Street Electrical Parade, a parade that has been performed since 1972. Seeing a piece of Disney history is something you won’t forget (too cheesy?). And watching the fireworks over the castle is the perfect way to end the day! If you feel that fireworks aren’t your thing, check out World of Color, a water show that is put on nightly at California Adventures. It’s more exciting than it sounds, I swear.
Food and Drink:
Although Disneyland does not serve alcohol, if you’re looking for a refreshing alcoholic beverage, be sure to hop over to California Adventures where you can get beer, wine, and margaritas. The number one hot spot to be sure to visit is Cove Bar, a bar right on the pier, overlooking California Screamin’ and the Fun Wheel. Here you can get a wide variety of red and white wines, sangria, beers, and specialty cocktails along with their famous lobster nachos. Cove Bar usually opens a bit later after park opening and there’s usually a line to get in so if this is something you’re interested, try to be one of the first there to fight the crowds.
Carthay Circle is another fine dining restaurant that you might want to stop by and check out. If you can swing a reservation, I highly recommend it. The decor is that of an old Hollywood theater, transporting you back in time. If you just feel like making a pit stop, check out the lounge located on the first floor. Here they have appetizers and cocktails to tie you over while you continue to explore the parks!
Last but not least, one of my favorite spots to check out is the Blue Bayou. Located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, this dimly lit, intimate spot brings some incredible menu items such as steak, jambalaya, and more importantly, mint juleps. They recommend making reservations up to 60 days in advance however this is not necessarily needed. I know that when I went for my birthday this past year, I was able to get a reservation about a week before with no problem.
If you decide you want to go during the spring, check out the California Adventures Food & Wine Festival. From March 10 to April 16 2017, stands are set up across the park where you can purchase all sorts of food and drink, alcoholic and nonalcoholic. It’s a fun way to sample gourmet food and drink without purchasing a full meal. This event does not require a separate ticket, all you’ll need is a park ticket to get in and then you are more than welcome to explore.
If you’re considering Disney as an adult, I hope this list helped sway you. It’s a truly magical place, no matter the age. I will be doing a Disney World for adults here in the near future so be sure to keep an eye out for that 😉 Is there anything that you do or any tricks or tips that I forgot to mention? If so, let me know in the comments. And even if there’s not, let me know what you think! XO