Growing up in Southern California, I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland all throughout my childhood. Every time I’ve gone, I’ve learned or experienced something new, and acquired opinions of my own about the best things to eat, see and do at this magical place.
I absolutely love all the well-known Disney favorites such as the Dole Whip and churros, Pirates of the Carribean ride and nightly firework show. However, I believe there are many gems Disneyland offers that are often overlooked.
If you ever have the blessing of visiting this magical wonderland, here are some things to try that maybe you haven’t experienced before:
Boysen Apple Freeze: Frozen apple juice with boysenberry syrup, topped with mango whipped cream. A great substitute for the famous “Dole Whip,” you can find it sold in Fantasyland at “Maurice’s Treats” near the Royal Theatre.
Cream cheese stuffed pretzels: These Mickey-shaped delicacies can be purchased in Tomorrowland or on Main Street, U.S.A.
Raspberry Rose Mickey Macaron: A raspberry French macaron filled with fresh raspberries and a raspberry mousse, in the shape of Mickey, of course. This sweet treat can be found at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe on Main Street, U.S.A.
Five-Cheese Ravioli: Topped with pesto and toasted pine nuts, this is my absolute favorite mid-day meal. You can find it at the Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta buffet on the far west side of Disney California Adventure park, or DCA (adjacent to Disneyland park).
Canoes: Did you know in the summer months you can paddle canoes around the Rivers of America? This is the same river that the Mark Twain and Sailing Ship Columbia sail around. Each canoe holds 20 people and are powered completely by your paddling.
Main Street Vehicles: Instead of walking down Main Street, U.S.A. you can take a horse-drawn streetcar, fire engine, horseless carriage or omnibus.
Shooting Range: Near the entrance into Frontierland is a shooting range. When the park first opened in 1955, this shooting range used real bullets, which were soon changed to blanks, and today they are lasers. It is still a fun activity to put your shooting skills to the test.
Frozen-Live: Have you ever imagined what it would look like to see Elsa build her ice castle in real life? This show, located at the Hyperion Theater in DCA, will make your eyes grow twice their size in amazement. Although the movie Frozen has been quite overplayed throughout the years, the special effects in this performance are so mind-boggling, it is a must-see.
Buttons: If you go to City Hall right when you enter Disneyland park, you can ask for free buttons to celebrate your birthday, marriage, first-time visit, graduation or any special occasion you want!
Jungle Cruise map: When you disembark the Jungle Cruise boat, you can ask any one of the skippers for a free map of the Jungle Cruise rivers.
Trading pins: While trading pins are not free, you can approach any cast member and trade your pins for theirs. This way you can obtain many rare and precious pins uncommon to the stores that sell them.
Art Class: The Animation Academy in DCA holds free art classes every 30 minutes where an animator teaches you how to draw a popular Disney character. As a plus, you get to keep your masterpiece.
Additional Tips and tricks
Special experiences: If you talk to the right cast members, you can experience things not many people get to do. You can steer the Mark Twain Riverboat, blow the whistle of the train on the Disneyland Railroad, or get into restaurants that usually have to be reserved months in advance.
Entertainment while waiting in long lines: Did you know there are hidden Mickeys dispersed throughout the entire Disney property? From rock formations in the walls to shadows on the ground, you could spend your entire Disney trip looking for hidden Mickeys and never find them all.
My family would also pass the time by guessing how many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we could find (just look for the BYU attire).
Whether you have been to Disneyland a hundred times or not at all, I hope my all-time favorites will give you a new experience when you get the chance to visit.