Any time I find myself back in California, I always make time for at least one day at Disneyland. This time around, I had set aside 2 days, but it was so hot I decided to cram 2 days of fun into 1 instead. That being said, I was with the perfect people to do it. My mom and little sister are Annual Pass holders and total Disneyland pros. If anyone could successful get me through 2 Disney parks, it’s them. Here are a few of their tips, plus some tasty treats we tried along the way.
Now it goes without saying, “the early bird gets the worm.” This holds especially true for Disneyland. In fact, it is entirely possible to shop, eat and hit all the big rides in Disneyland and be finished by 1:30 or so, leaving you with plenty of time to check out California Adventure. This, however, is only doable if you get a jump start on the day. Be sure to check out my video to see how =)
DOWNLOAD THE APP
The Official Disneyland App is by far the best theme park app we’ve ever used. Aside from providing a map you won’t constantly misplace, it provides you with accurate ride wait times and show schedules. You can also make reservations at certain restaurants or even order food in advance and avoid all those pesky lines. While this is all pretty awesome, I’d have to say my favorite feature on this app is the MaxPass.
MaxPass is relatively new and this was my first time using it. It’ll run you an extra $10 per person, but it is worth every penny! With this pass, you can reserve FastPass times on your phone instead of having to dash to the actual ride to get them. My little sister used to be our runner, but she can happily retire now. It also comes with an unlimited Disney PhotoPass. You know those happy cast members who take pictures of you with their cameras and then edit in some cute characters, but you never get them because you don’t want to spend money on pictures and would rather have them use your camera? Well, with this pass they scan your phone and have the pictures sent directly through the app. Then you can just download all you photos from the day at no additional charge. How awesome is that?!?
Somehow every trip to Disneyland is a different experience and that’s one of the many things I love about going. Some things change and some don’t, so you always get a bit of the familiar along with the new.
Haunted Mansion is hands down our favorite ride. We could ride it again and again and never get tired. From about mid-September to early January, the mansion undergoes its Nightmare Before Christmas makeover. It’s seriously the best reason to go to Disneyland during that time. The rest of the year, you get the classic Haunted Mansion… which is also pretty awesome. You can catch a glimpse of the infamous Hatbox Ghost and perhaps even enjoy the tunes of the Cadaver Dans while you wait in line outside the mansion.
Fantasyland is probably my favorite “land” in the park. Though most of the rides there are for the kiddos and the lines are way to long to wait in if you don’t have any kiddos of your own… It’s just a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy the architecture of all the little shops, rides and of course Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. It’s also a great spot to come across some of your favorite characters. This time around, I ran into one of Mary Poppins’ penguins who not only took some adorable pictures with us, but also swept my sister of her feet with a little dance. It was the best character experience I’ve had by far!
In between snacking and FastPass times, it’s always fun to drop by Toontown. Although I don’t usually ride anything there (another zone for the kiddos), it’s the best place to get a little “Goofy” and take some silly pictures. My sisters and I always like to change it up and find new spots to take pictures in. It’s also a great place to take pictures with Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the gang.
California Adventure has been slowly undergoing the long overdue makeover it’s been in dire need of. I’ve always felt this park to be lacking in that certain Disney magic you find at Disneyland, mainly because many of it’s attraction had nothing to do with Disney. Now with the incorporation of Marvel & Pixar, it’s actually becoming a park worth spending a day at and I was really excited to check out some of it’s new features.
Tower of Terror was always hands down my favorite ride, so I was a bit sad to see it go. However, I’ve got to say Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout! is no second rate substitute. In fact,I think it’s actually more thrilling because the drops are more sudden and almost impossible to anticipate. If you liked Tower of Terror, you will LOVE this new Marvel makeover.
California Screamin’ was another favorite, simply because it’s just a great rollercoaster. Now that it’s been transformed into the Incredicoaster, you get the same awesome coaster with a Disney flair. I’ve heard that it’s particularly cool to ride at night when it’s all lit up, but the wait time is also longer. I opted to ride it during the day, which was still pretty fun. Chasing Jack Jack throughout the ride definitely gets your adrenaline pumping.
Pixar Pier is a great spot to snap some magical pictures and maybe win some cute prizes you can’t fine in stores. Ever since our trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, we’ve become obsessed with these carnival games. So we decided to try our luck and actually came out of it with a super cute Eva plushie! My little sister has also won a couple of times on her previous visits, so I definitely recommend tying them out. It may be your lucky day =)
Disney treats are constantly changing, which helps keep things interesting and fresh. It’s also a bit of a downer when you miss out on something you’ve been dying to try. Talk about severe FOMO. Luckily I was able to get my paws on a nice selection of delicious items this time around (some seasonal, some not).
If you love adorable sweet Disney treats, then the Main Street Coffee Stand needs to be your first stop of the day. Located on the left side of the Sleeping Beauty castle, this little stand serves deliciously adorable donuts that sell out EVERY SINGLE DAY. So to ensure you don’t miss out, I suggest you head right over as soon as the park opens. I was lucky enough to indulge in not one, but two donuts! The insanely popular Pineapple “Dole Whip” Donut does in fact live up to it’s unofficial name. With a runny pineapple jelly-like filling and fluffy meringue topping it’s every Dole Whip lovers dream.
My favorite, however was the Up Donut. This fluffy rectangular donut comes coated in a sky blue vanilla frosting, topped with a white chocolate picture of the Up house and decorated with tons of rainbow chocolate “balloons.” There’s no filling, but the thick sweet frosting more than makes up for it. Super sweet, but also super magical.
Of course you can’t leave Disneyland without trying one of their famous churros. This time around, I stopped by the Haunted Mansion Churro Cart for a seasonal Carrot Cake Churro with cream cheese dipping sauce. I think this may be my favorite churro to date. There are lots of churros to choose from, so I recommend using the app to check out the menus for the various churro carts in the park.
Lunch is always a tough call with so many different restaurants to choose from. This time we went somewhere I had never been before, the Red Rose Taverne. Here I got to immerse myself in a corner of Belle’s “little town,” and indulge in a delicious plate of Slow-Cooked Beef Poutine ($10.99). This came with waffle-cut fries lathered in gravy and topped with cheese curds, slow-cooked beef and pickled onions. I also got a cup of Gaston’s Famous Brew ($4.99), which is made to look like beer but is actually a delicious apple-mango punch topped with passion fruit foam. Now if only the made an “adult” version =) Finally, I had to try the Grey Stuff ($5.49) and I am happy to report that it was in fact delicious. To be more specific, it was a raspberry-filled red velvet cake hidden under a mountain of grey white chocolate mousse. It was the perfect lunch and since everything came at the recommendation of my mom and sister… everything was delicious!
Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff can be found at Pixar Pier in California Adventure. They have a cute selection of cake pops, caramel apples and rice crispy treats. I picked up an Eva cake pop ($5.49) because how could I not? It was a simple plain vanilla cake pop, but it was so moist and not too sweet. Plus it was absolutely adorable.
But, the MUST HAVE item at this shop is one of their Memory Refreshers ($6.49). These slushies come in 5 different flavors inspired by the movie Inside Out. For the indecisive, I recommend Rainbow Unicorn. It comes with all the flavors (Mellow Yellow, Hi-C Lime, Fanta Blue Raspberry, Fanta Grape, and Fanta Cherry), it’s really pretty and it comes topped with rainbow nerds. My mom and sister recommend Sunshine in a Cup, which features Fanta Blue Raspberry and Mellow Yellow topped with yogurt Popping Pearls. To be honest, they’re all pretty tasty so you can’t go wrong. There is even a Secret Menu if you want something a bit more unique.
Checking out Disneyland and California Adventure in one day is totally doable, but it does require some planning or some navigating by a park pro. If you have the time, I recommend taking two days to explore the parks, there’s more than enough to see and do. If not, you may not be able to ride everything, but you can definitely hit all the big ride and have an amazing time. Hope these tips help you on your next amazing Disney adventure.