Here are the top 10 Things to Do at Disneyland Resort in California on your next Disneyland vacation to make sure you experience a little bit of everything.
My family loves spending time at the Disneyland Resort in California. It’s a short flight from our home in Seattle and we’ve found it to be more magical than several other Disney Parks. We’ve been going since my oldest was a toddler and each time is a completely new experience.
Top 10 Things to Do at Disneyland Resort in California
Throughout all our Disneyland trips, we’ve narrowed down some of the best things to do at Disneyland that are always a hit with our family. Of course, there are plenty more amazing things at Disneyland, but these are the ones that immediately jump out to me.
1. Go Shopping
Yes, I put shopping at the top of my list. While we enjoy every single item on this list (and many more) the shops at Disneyland are just so cool and fun to look at that I had to talk about it first. My personal favorite place to shop is the Disney Dress Shop in Downtown Disney. That’s where you can find vintage-inspired dresses that are themed after Disney movies and Disney characters.
For the rest of my family, they can’t get enough of the shops at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. That’s where you can find wooden Star Wars toys, really nice costumes, authentic-looking Jedi robes, and more.
2. See the Frozen Show at the Hyperion Theater
Our family enjoys live theatre and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this show the first time we saw it. However, it blew me away! It’s hands-down one of the best shows we’ve seen at Disneyland or Walt Disney World. They do an abridged version of the movie, so it’s perfect for kids with shorter attention spans. Plus, they have special effects and songs that the whole audience knows by heart. It seriously is a magical show!
3. Ride on “It’s a Small World“
Yes, I know the song drives some people nuts, but this 8-minute ride is pure bliss for me. Maybe it’s because my family is obsessed with travel, but we all seem to have smiles plastered on our faces and our eyes light up when we transition from country to country. There are so many things to look at that I can ride it several times in a trip and notice something new. And it gets little updates every year or two so it’s fun to spot the changes. If nothing else, though, it’s the perfect excuse to sit down and just take a few moments to geek out that you are at Disneyland!
4. Walkthrough Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
Many people mistakenly think that Disneyland has Cinderella’s Castle. That’s just not true. In fact, it’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and it’s still marvelous. Earlier this year, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle went through a complete facelift and it’s definitely worth checking out. You’ll head up the stairs and see little dioramas and moving images depicting the story of Sleeping Beauty.
5. Draw a Disney Character at the Animation Academy
We first discovered the Animation Academy several years ago when we were looking for a quiet place for our son to nap so we didn’t need to leave the Park. They have a real Disney animator show a group of people how to draw a popular Disney character step by step. They have a new character to draw every 30 minutes. Now that our kids are older, they sit next to us, and we all attempt to draw characters like Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Jack Skellington, and more! There have been times that we go back and do it 2-3 times because it’s fun to learn artistic tips and tricks! Plus, it’s the ultimate rainy day activity!
6. Explore Batuu
The newest place to play at Disneyland is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Now, I’m not listing it because it’s new and has been hyped up. It’s actually amazing. We’ve explored it on 2 separate vacations so far and it hasn’t disappointed us. This is where you can build a custom lightsaber and/or droid, play hide and seek with Rey, and try to help Chewbacca fix his ship.
There are lots of PhotoPass photographers on-site to take photos in front of the Millennium Falcon and around Batuu, but there are also tons of spots for cool selfies. The main attraction right now is Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. My family has done all the positions (yes, my toddler piloted our ship once!) It’s one of my favorite Disneyland rides because everyone on board is usually laughing and really getting into the spirit of the ride!
Of course, you don’t want to leave Batuu without trying the blue and green milk and deciding which one is your favorite! And if you come back at nighttime, it’s one of the best places to see fireworks at Disneyland.
7. Hang Out in Cars Land
I’m going to let you in on a secret: I’ve never been a fan of the movie Cars. It’s always just been okay for me. But, my boys love all 3 Cars movies and so they are starting to grow on me. However, I’m not exaggerating when I say that walking through Radiator Springs was completely surreal. It’s like being on a working movie set.
My family loves eating at the Cozy Cone. That’s where you can get mac and cheese in a bread cone, churros, and the most amazing corn on the cob. If you’re going to Disneyland with a toddler, you will probably ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters over and over! I recommend that you go to Cars Land during the day to do the rides, take photos with the characters, and eat, but then also come back right at dusk. They do a whole presentation of turning on the neon lights and it has such a retro-cool vibe. You won’t want to miss it!
8. Look for Hidden Mickeys
While searching for Hidden Mickeys has been around for a while, my kids are just starting to get old enough to play along. Sometimes they point out Mickeys that aren’t hidden at all, but they have started to find real Hidden Mickeys as we walk around the Parks. What’s awesome about this is you can play inside the Parks, in Downtown Disney, or even at a Disneyland hotel. It’s a great way to refocus tired kids or to make your wait time go a little faster. You can even ask cast members to tell you where a few Hidden Mickeys are. That’s how we found the smallest Hidden Mickey at Disneyland!
9 Get a Loaded Dole Whip at Tropical Hideaways
Yes, you can definitely get Dole Whip right outside the Enchanted Tiki Room and it is delicious. They even have the floats there. However, the loaded Dole Whip is next-level yumminess! You can get two flavors swirled together (they have raspberry, orange, and pineapple) or you can stick to one flavor. They sprinkle in tropical fruit, crunching crystalized hibiscus, coconut flakes, and more. And then they stick in chocolate Pocky sticks! These are large enough to share, especially with kids. We have been known to get these for breakfast. I mean, it’s almost like a fruit smoothie, right?
10. Take Photos with Mickey Mouse
Did you even go to Disneyland if you didn’t grab a selfie with Mickey? There are several places to meet Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. The first place you’ll see Mickey is right in Town Square at Disneyland. He usually hangs out on a corner for photos at designated times throughout the day. And at Disney California Adventure, you can find him in his 1920s-style clothing right as you enter the Park. But, our favorite place to take photos with Mickey Mouse is in his house. This is where you can take photos with Classic Mickey, Sorcerer Mickey, or Steamboat Willie. Be sure to check wait times, as they can be crazy long or sometimes there’s barely a line. We’ve been known to get right back in line and Mickey has magically changed clothing!
And there you have it! Ten of my favorite things to do at Disneyland with my family. There’s something for everyone and there’s always room for a little magic in our lives.
Guest Post: Marcie Cheung is a Seattle-area mom and she loves visiting Disneyland with her husband and two boys. In between trips, she runs three travel sites, including the Disney site Marcie and the Mouse.