Disneyland—the Happiest Place on Earth—has always held a special place in our hearts.
I grew up going to the California Disney parks, and Disney was a huge part of my childhood—but that’s another story. It wasn’t until Chris and I began dating when I realized the magic that Disney can and does have on adults. Sure, Disneyland was absolutely magical when I was a kid. But when Chris and I started going to Disney together, that magic transformed for me, and I realized just how special the parks truly are.
Chris and I had our first Disney date two months after we started dating, and it has been a part of our relationship ever since. From annual Disneyland getaways to our epic first-ever Walt Disney World trip (to even concocting plans for the international Disney parks?!), we’re undoubtedly addicted to Disney.
So here it is: my blog post with my best advice for your first-ever trip to the Disneyland Resort. The best part about DLR is that there is always something new to see—especially for a first-timer! So grab a cup of coffee and read on as I share my tips for your first visit to Disneyland.
If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland, you already know that it is the Happiest Place on Earth. The parks are magically filled with hundreds of beautiful sights, smells, and sensations, and there is no way that you could possibly see everything in only one day.
Relax! That’s how it’s supposed to be. If the magic of Disneyland could be summed up in 12 hours, there’s no way people would visit as often as they do. So enjoy yourself! Don’t rush it. Breathe in the churro-scented air, gaze up at the windows on Main Street, U.S.A., chat with the cast members as you stand in every ride queue, and realize where you are. Grab a “First Visit!” button from City Hall and smile!
Have a General Idea of What You Want to Do
You do not by any means need to plan out your entire day(s). I remember when Chris and I were planning our WDW trip, everyone said that you need an itinerary for every day: fast passes, dining reservations, parade times, and fireworks seating all had to practically be memorized!
Disneyland isn’t like that. With around 70% of attendees being Annual Passholders or locals, there’s no way the parks could require us to have each day planned out every time we visit.
However, it is a good idea to have a general idea of what you want to do. Want to eat at a specific restaurant, like Carnation Cafe on Main Street or Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square? You should make a reservation 2-8 weeks ahead of time, just to be sure. But when it comes to what to ride or watch, just have an idea of which lands you want to conquer and go through your day accordingly. Grab your fast passes for Space Mountain and Indiana Jones when they’re available, utilize the single rider lines if you want to, and know what time the parade will come through.
Having a general plan for your day will help you worry less so you can have way more fun! But don’t forget that this is your time to escape reality, so take advantage of strolling through the park in the evening and people watching on a bench in the afternoon.
Don’t Miss the Hidden Gems
There are so many hidden gems throughout the Disneyland Resort, and don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for them!
There are hidden Mickeys everywhere, names of notable Disney Imagineers and Legends on the windows on the second story of Main Street buildings, and fun Easter Eggs (references to things in the Disney universe) throughout rides and attractions. So grab a caramel apple, take a seat somewhere, and look and listen. You never know what you’ll see or hear!
Some experiences we love include
- Watching the neon lights turn on one-by-one in Cars Land while listening to “Life Could Be a Dream.”
- Sitting on the corner of Main Street and counting how many “family reunion” t-shirt groups we can see
- Strolling through New Orleans Square and gazing longingly at the entrance to Club 33
- Buying a caramel apple at the Candy Palace and eating it while watching a nighttime parade
- Ride Dumbo at night to take in all of the Fantasyland lights from a new perspective
- Grab a gingerbread cookie and hot cocoa from the Grand Californian during Christmastime
Decide When You Want to Visit
Are you planning a trip for the middle of summer, or are you visiting during the holiday season? Are you a Halloween or Christmas fan? Do you want to go for Mickey’s birthday or Disneyland’s anniversary? Is Easter or Spring Break your scene?
Take a look at the average weather for Anaheim during the time you’re planning to visit. Chris and I have gone in the middle of summer during Disneyland’s July heat, and we’ve visited in the winter on rainy days. It all depends on what you want to see while you’re there (and when you can fit the trip into your schedule).
For a first-time trip, I suggest getting a two day, one-park-per-day ticket. If you can swing it, go for three days with the park hopper option. But ultimately, do what is in your budget and best for you.
And that’s it! That is my advice for any Disneyland newbie. And just for fun, here are a few things I always love to eat, ride, and do 🙂
- Try a Monte Cristo sandwich at least once.
- Ride Space Mountain at least TWICE.
- Be surprised at the boulder every time you ride Indiana Jones (it always gets me!!)
- Thank and compliment cast members who are simply sweet or go the extra mile.
- Tell every dressed-up little girl she is a beautiful princess!
- Meet characters (and show them you’re excited!): bow at the Queen of Hearts, address Dr. Facilier properly, and tell Tinker Bell you know the water fairies where you’re from.
- Eat a churro every time.