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What are Your Disneyland Park Must-Do’s?

Erin Glover

by , Director, Publicity, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Those of us who visit Disneyland park a lot are often asked, “What is something you [or I] must do at the park?” I’ve given this some thought, so I wanted to share my own personal list of Disneyland park must-do’s. Now, I know this is a very personal list – it will vary for each person. So, let me know in the comments … what is your own must-do list for Disneyland park? Hold on, Disney California Adventure park fans – that’s for another time!

Stop #1 – Disneyland Railroad

Disneyland Railroad at Disneyland Park

Sometimes my visit begins with the classic grand circle tour, and sometimes that’s how it ends. Sometimes it’s in the middle, whatever – the point is that no visit is complete for me without a ride on the Disneyland Railroad.

Stop #2 – Market House, Main Street, U.S.A.

Hear me out … I’m a coffee fan with a theme park problem. Starbucks plus Disneyland equals a happy me. So yes, this is a recent addition to the must-do list.

Stop #3 – Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Main Street, U.S.A.

Ice cream is only behind coffee on my list of obsessions, and there’s something extra-delicious about ice cream from Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor … am I right?

Stop #4 – Indiana Jones Adventure, Adventureland

“Indiana

Yes, I chose to go to Adventureland first and yes, I walked right past Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and the Jungle Cruise – both of which I’ve loved ever since I wore acid wash denim and permed my hair. But if a choice has to be made, I’ve got to ride Indiana Jones Adventure. Feel free to discuss.

Stops #5 and #6 – Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, New Orleans Square

Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Park

Obviously.

Stop #7 – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Frontierland

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park

Confession: I’m a thrill ride person, so you’ll see another mountain on this list later. And the recent refurbishment of this classic attraction has only made it more awesome.

Stop #8 – Big Thunder Ranch Petting Farm, Frontierland

Goats! Come on, they have goats!

Stop #9 – Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Fantasyland

A classic, and it’s only at Disneyland park. Must. Do.

Stop #10 – “it’s a small world,” Fantasyland

The music, the history, all the Mary Blair art and design … this attraction, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary, makes me happy every time.

Stop #11 – Space Mountain, Tomorrowland

Another confession: this is my favorite attraction in all of the Disneyland Resort. And when it’s taken over by a ghost during Halloween Time, I love it even more.

Stop #12 – Little Red Wagon, Main Street, U.S.A.

You’ve got to eat, and when you’re at Disneyland park, you’ve got to eat a corn dog. No excuses.

Okay, so that’s my list. I know you all have your own, so fire away!

Comments

  • The corn dogs are good. The fried chicken is better! A trip to the park is never complete without a visit to the Plaza Inn. Also, my husband and I always ride Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters and make sure to pose our goofiest for the ride photo!

    I have to admit, Market House was always my first stop before Starbucks came in, but now I tend to pass it by. I can get Starbucks anywhere, but there was only one place to get my hazelnut Nescafe!

    • You’re right, that fried chicken is pretty amazing …

  • 1. Plaza Inn: if you get there early like us, there’s no better mid-morning break that stopping at the Plaza Inn for the character breakfast. You can really fill everyone up with fantastic food (including omelets!), and the characters come to you.

    2. Casey Jr. This is in my top 5 rides at the park, one of the “originals” that still stands today. Basically, it’s like a roller coaster for really little kids. But the music is so fantastic, and the ride so mellow and smooth, it’s just pure happiness from start to finish. Many people skip it–either because they don’t know it’s there, or they assume it’s too kiddie–but it’s one of the best things Disney ever accomplished.

    3. For dads who need a break: the Arcade near the Space Mountain exit. Robotron, Centipede, Qix AND Wreck it Ralph? Uh, YES PLEASE!!

    • Good points about Casey Jr.!

  • If I do the following on my visit, I leave a very happy camper.
    My must-dos are:

    1. Disneyland Railroad – do a once-over of the park.

    2. Peter Pan’s Flight – I remember riding it as a child and it was so magical. Every time I ride it and fly over London and NeverLand, I relive my childhood.

    3. It’s a Small World – how can you not?

    4. Pirates of the Caribbean – again, how can you not?

    5. Jungle Cruise – love the cheesy jokes from the guides. Every ride is different 🙂

    6. Star Tours – the new re-vamped Star Tours is soooo awesome! I love the original, but I love the new one even more.

    7. Fireworks – Disneyland fireworks are the best. I love the “Remember… Dreams Come True!” fireworks.

    8. Fantasmic! – best show ever! The music, the effects, the characters, it cannot be beat!

    Honorable Mention: Captain EO. I love love loved Captain EO from childhood to adulthood.

    • Good list!

  • Stop 13: the fireworks. The most magical way to end your day! – The Disney Pin Princesses

    • Excellent add.

  • Great list!

    I have been a life long WDW fan but made my first trip to Disneyland this past summer. Good move on heading right to Indiana Jones. This was my favorite attraction that is absent from WDW. I know Dinosaur is very similar but Indiana Jones is a much better total package in my opinion. Also glad to see Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride make the list. I will say that I believe the WDW version with two tracks was better, I am glad that Disneyland has kept this gem alive. My only gripe is no Splash Mountain!

    • I have a thing about water attractions … but my friend and colleague Tyler would agree with you on the absence of Splash Mountain.

  • I loved the Mine Train,Pack Mules, riding the Stagecoach, Flying Saucers, Swiss Family Tree House, Fire Engine, Skyway, Motor Boat Cruise, Mike Fink Keel Boats, Flight to the Moon, People Mover, Captain EO, Surreys. STILL HAVE TICKETS! Sorry, I’m OLD!

    • I wish I could have experienced some of those!

  • My first time there was in August1956, then 20 times after until 1987(last). Living in Ks, I WAS EXTREMELY LUCKY to do that in those times! HOPE to see it once more in my lifetime but doubt it. Still have tickets & stubs from those years! ALWAYS WANTED TO LIVE THERE. It TRULY is “The Happiest Place On Earth”. Walt’s death is in my scrap book! I had Davy Crockett EVERYTHING ….as a kid! Have 2 G-Kids now that NEED TO see it sometime, but KNOW I can’t afford to show them, so I take them on rides on U-Tube! Next best thing I guess. #LOVE DISNEYLAND at age 63!

  • Yours is a pretty good list, Erin. I would add live entertainment to my list. My favorite – Billy Hill and the Hillbillies – are no longer at Disneyland, but there is still Mickey & the Magical Map (looove the trumpet player), the plays in Fantasy Faire, and of course, the Disneyland marching band!

    • Great point. Love the Disneyland Band and all the rest you mentioned.

  • Astro Blasters!!!

    • Yeah!

  • Okay….I’m gonna do 10, but there are way more!
    1) Just stop and take in the beauty of Main Street.
    2) Meticulously come through each shop and prepare my mental list of souvenirs that will be leaving with me.
    3) Jolly Holiday Bakery for something sweet with coffee.
    4) Critter Country for Winnie the Pooh ride. So special to me in so many ways.
    5) Haunted, Pirates, and Dole Whip on a bench facing the castle….and probably in that order.
    6) The Hungry Bear Restaurant for my Fried Green Tomato Sandwich with a gorgeous view.
    7) Fireworks
    8) Fantasmic (Memories of when my Grandmother took me for the first time)
    9) Photopass pictures everywhere.
    10) Ride the Train around the park to say goodbye.

    • I know what you mean! I intended to only list 10 myself, but it was too hard!

  • I have a bit of a different approach/agenda, although it really boils down to my mood and the weather on any given day.

    I take a lot of photos while at DLR, and I wander all over the parks in search of interesting shots, hidden gems, overlooked details, etc. I can do that all day, without ever setting foot on a ride! So my day in Disneyland would not be complete without a photo spree! That is a must-do!

    If and when I tear myself away from the camera and venture onto some rides, Pirates of the Caribbean is a must-do, for sure, as is any version of Haunted Mansion.

    If there is any kind of holiday season or seasonal overlay going on, I will be fully immersed in it. Christmas trees? I’ll hunt them all down. Pumpkins? I’ll count each and every one on Main Street. Springtime Roundup, Disney rabbits and Easter egg hunting in the park? Sign me up!!

    When it comes time for some sustenance, I have been known to snack on pineapple spears, gingerbread cookies and peppermint ice cream (but not all at the same time 🙂 ), but the Plaza Inn chicken meal is too good to pass up. That is a must-eat.

    And when I have had my fill of food, fun, frolicking and photos, I will find a bench in Town Square and people watch for a while.

    • Totally agree. Some visits are really just a cup of coffee and enjoying the atmosphere from a bench.

  • I’ve got several must-dos: Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Small World, Splash Mountain and others. But most of all, I have to stop outside Walt’s apartment and say thank you.

  • Just going to Disneyland is enough for me!!!

  • Love the Railroad, in my opinion every Disney theme park needs a Railroad!

    Epcot Center Railroad, Hollywood Studios Railroad, DOWNTOWN DISNEY RAILROAD!!

  • I’ve been an annual pass holder for many years now and my attraction must do list has changed now that I go with DH and 2 DSs (20 months and 4). BUT, no trip is complete without a treat from Pooh Corner! I always buy something to eat on the spot and something else to take home so that I can continue my Disney magic the next day! And during the summer a Mickey Premium ice cream bar is at the top of my list!

  • My must-ride is the Jungle Cruise. I love the environment, the cheesy humor, and that the skippers are so committed to their characters.

    My must-eat snacks are the beignets at the Mint Julep Bar and, if it’s hot out, the frozen apple juice at Edelweiss Snacks.

  • Our first trip last May was awesome! As vacation club members we visit WDW every year but added a trip to Disneyland and sure glad we did, can not wait to come back, I must say that at the top of my list is the monte cristo sandwich and the PARMESAN FRIES at Cafe Orleans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fantasmic is a little different than the disneyworld version and I would have to say my number one pick for Disneyland and Disneyworld!! Love it!

  • I can’t miss hugging Mickey, riding Indy, having a huge pretzel and cheese sauce while watching the afternoon parade and stopping a moment on the way out to find Walt’s Apartment and say “Thank you!”

  • “In the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room…..” I’m surprise there isn’t more love on this list and in the comments for this classic. For me, it’s right up there with Pirates and the Haunted Mansion. It is always the first attraction I go to when I enter the park. Nothing gets you in the mood for a day at Disneyland like enchanted singing birds 🙂

  • I did not see the Monorail on anyone’s list , just wish it still went through the Disneyland Hotel. Also on my list is a stop to sit and people watch on my porch, also a trip around the Rivers of America on the front of the Mark Twain

  • Here’s my ‘problem’ – the whole place is a must-do! We only get to DLR once a year at most, so when we’re there I want to do everything! I guess that’s why we always need a few days, so we can experience as many attractions as possible (my favorite is Splash Mountain) and also see shows and just people watch. After more than 20 visits, I still see something new every time… last year I saw the flag retreat ceremony for the first time ever and it was awesome. If I had to do it all in a day I would need some extra caffeine to be sure, because I hate to miss anything!

  • I agree with Dondi – Tiki Room is on the top of my must-do when I visit. (Space Mountain is my favorite attraction, but I find that I can skip it for the next visit more easily than a visit to Tiki Room.) I like going to the very last showing when I can manage to stay until close, and then walking down Main Street when almost no one else is there.

  • I like to do the Mountain Tour: Splash, space, thunder and the matterhorn. My 7 year old is just getting to the age where she is dying to complete the tour in 1 day. She is probably one of the youngest to every ride matterhorn before the refurb. She was 1! (21 mos.) Over all my favorite rides are Indiana Jones and splash mountain. I had an aversion to splash for a while becasue I did not want to get wet but I am over it. Love those bunny hops!

  • I’m sentimental so I try to do what I did as a child. Whistling along with the birdies in the Enchanted Tiki Room, visiting Snow White and the dwarves in the grotto, pedal to the metal on the Autopia and riding the Mountains during the day and again at night (because my dad was CERTAIN they were faster at night!)

  • Erin…any gluten-free corn dogs in Disneyland yet?

  • I live on the east coast of the country, so Walt Disney World is more accessible to me. But, we went Disneyland in December 2013 and it was just wonderful. My must do’s:
    1. Indiana Jones Adventure (one of the best things Disney has ever done)
    2. Mr. Toad
    3. Alice in Wonderland
    4. Ride in the front of the monorail
    5. Space Mountain
    6. See the light in the window of Walt Disney’s apartment and the dedication plaque in Town Square
    7. Autopia
    8. Gluten-free pizza at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port
    9. Mickey and the Magical Map
    10. Stay until midnight when the park closes late!

    I’m hoping to go back later this year for Disneyland’s 60th and the D23 Expo!

  • 1. Jolly Holiday OR Plaza Inn (breakfast)
    2. Jungle Cruise
    3. Indiana Jones (single rider or fastpass)
    4. Pirates of the Caribbean
    5. Haunted Mansion
    6. Splash Mt.
    7. Big Thunder Mt.
    8. Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin
    9. Small World
    10. Blue Bayou (early dinner)
    11. Star Tours
    12. Space Mt
    13. Meet the Avengers in Innoventions
    14. Disneyland Railroad
    15. Hungry Bear (dessert)
    16. Fantasmic!
    17. Fireworks (my favorite ever is Remember Dreams Come True)

  • Good thread….here’s my “must-do” list:

    1. Pirates of the Caribbean
    2. Haunted Mansion
    3. Splash Mountain
    4. Indiana Jones and the Forbidden Eye
    5. Blue Bayou
    6. Jungle Cruise
    7. Disneyland Railroad
    8. Corn Dog Wagon
    9. Star Tours
    10. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
    11. Big Thunder Mountain
    12. All of the Fantasyland Attractions (Snow White, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, Alice, etc.)
    13. The Enchanted Tiki Room
    14. Stroll up and down Main Street USA
    15. Matterhorn
    16. It’s a Small World
    17. Buzz Lightyear
    18. Bacon Wrapped Asparagus at Bengal BBQ
    19. Finding Nemo
    20. Autopia
    21. Fireworks!

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