One of the biggest complaints people have about Disneyland is having to wait in those oh-so-torturous lines for (okay, we admit — pretty amazing) rides. Sure, there are fast passes, but if you have no patience for waitin’ or don’t love rides in general, then you might think that the Disneyland experience just isn’t for you. But you know what? Some of the BEST times at the happiest place on Earth happen not on rides but while you’re seeking out the non-attraction magic that’s around every bend. Here are 10 ways you can have an AH-MAZING time at Disney parks without going on a single train, roller coaster or fairy tale-inspired ride.
1. Look for all the hidden Mickeys. All over Disneyland, California Adventure and Disney World, you can find *hundreds* of hidden Mickeys, from landscaping to motifs on wallpaper to tiny little Mickeys hidden on signs. Some are obvious; others are obscure. There are a couple of different books you can pick up on Main Street that will assist you with your quest (AKA give you clues on where to find them). This challenge will totes keep you and your eyes busy ALL day.
2. Eat *all* the Disney-inspired foods. Forget any and all diets in Disney territory and indulge in Disney delights all day long. Start off with a classic Mickey waffle (it’s a MUST), grab a freshly dipped corn dog or one of those MASSIVE turkey legs for lunch and then indulge at the beautiful Blue Bayou (located in the Pirates of the Caribbean) for dinner.
3. Try some of the enchanted drinks. While Disneyland is dry (unless you can somehow finagle an invite to Club 33), you’ll need to go to one of the hotels or California Adventure to get your drink on (in moderation of course). Grab a seat at the Carthay Circle for a classic cocktail or craft beer, visit Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar for a tropical elixir or hide out in the Cove Bar and order one of the drinks from their secret menu, like the Neverland Tea or the multi-hued Fun Wheel, above.
4. Trade Disney pins with the characters. Disney pins add so much flair (and a bit of whimsy) to your fave jacket, but if you’re like most, you can’t stop at just one. Next thing you know, you’re galavanting around the park with a lanyard laden with all sorts of pins around your neck. Pin trading will keep things interesting. It’s a way to exchange pins with cast members who display their pin collections that are up for grabs. You can even trade with characters to get special cast pins or Hidden Mickey pins. So cool. Warning: If you end up with 10 pounds of pins on your jacket, you may have gone too far.
5. Meet the characters (selfies optional). If you think that meeting characters like Minnie, Mickey, Elsa or Anna is just for little ones, you’re wrong. Way wrong. The characters we all know and love are there for everyone to engage with. Not only will you be charmed by coming face to face with an IRL version of your fave Disney characters, but it’s pretty much the best photo op ever.
6. Hit up the Disney gift shops. It’s pretty much impossible to walk out of Disneyland empty handed. Iconic hats, adorable shirts, retro posters and various kitchen tools will tempt you at every turn. While many of the shops sell similar things, there are a few places that have unique offerings, such as Disneyana or Off the Page (splurge-worthy original art), or head to the Mad Hatter for a fresh pair of ears.
7. Enjoy all the Main Street bands. There may be a whole lot to see at Disneyland, but there’s also so much to hear. Throughout the lands, there are extremely talented musicians playing a variety of genres of music, from Dixieland to Pirate songs to the catchy ditties performed by the world-famous Dapper Dans. Spend the day searching out music and actually staying put to hear the band’s sets.
8. Catch a hilarious show. Entertainment is a BIG deal at Disneyland, and the production level is way impressive. Currently, you can be delighted by The Royal Theatre presenting Beauty and the Beast and Tangled (it’s hilarious), the cameo-heavy Mickey and the Magical Map and the brand new (and epic) production Frozen — Live at the Hyperion. A big perk of seeing a few shows? You get to sit down for awhile!
9. Disney resort it UP. To have an amazing time, you don’t even need to have a ticket to the parks (seriously). Sometimes, you just need to chill at the hotel all day and soak in the sun (and the Disney magic). All three of the Disneyland resorts (Disneyland Hotel, the Grand Californian and the Paradise Pier) have pools and various perks. For an epic afternoon, book a cabana at the Disneyland Hotel, sip on a few fruity cocktails and relax. Throw in dining in their restaurants (taking in a character meal or two for added pixie dust), get a massage at the spa at the Grand Californian and take a hotel tour (and learn about all those added touches). Perfect day — done.
10. Seek out all those tiny, amazing Disney details. Many visitors get lost in the shuffle of going from ride to ride, never stopping to appreciate all the amazing little details Disneyland has integrated into everything. Don’t be that person. Take your time and soak it all in. Find the cute leprechaun house in Adventureland, check out the ancient petrified tree by the Rivers of America and read the windows on Main Street that pay tribute to the Imagineers that created all the Disney magic.
What’s your favorite thing to do at Disneyland? Tell us @BritandCo!
(Featured photos via @disneyland)