You’ve been to Disneyland before.
You’ve ridden all three Mountains (Space, Splash, and Big Thunder), had a Mickey ice cream bar, and seen the Fantasmic show. You’ve ridden the classics like Mad Tea Party, the Matterhorn, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. You’ve had the “It’s a Small World” song stuck in your head for an entire day. You’ve even tried the Monte Cristo at the Blue Bayou Restaurant.
But now you’re thinking of planning your next trip, and you’re wondering if there are any experiences you’ve missed before, right?
Here are my top 5 experiences that you may have missed before:
1. Mickey-shaped Beignets at the Mint Julep Bar
Instead of making a beeline to Space Mountain in the morning, take a stroll over to New Orleans Square. Go to the area behind the French Market Restaurant, near the Railroad Station. Look for a little window with the Mint Julep Bar sign, and order a batch of Mickey-shaped beignets and a cup of coffee. Have a seat for a few minutes and enjoy a peaceful start to your day!
2. Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes
This attraction is not open every day; and when it IS open, it has reduced operating hours. But if you can catch it just right, it’s a perfect ride for all ages! It’s not a thrill ride, but it’s still thrilling for young children. And adults can appreciate the historical aspects of it: this ride opened on July 4, 1956! Each canoe can hold 20 guests, and everyone gets an oar. Young children and non-swimmers also get a life vest. Then everyone gets a lesson on paddling, and you’re off! There’s no track, no special effects – just you and your fellow park-goers paddling a canoe around the river, and it’s a really nice time. There are two Cast Members on board to help steer things, and to provide a running commentary on the sights along the river (a la Jungle Cruise). You’ll find the dock across from Splash Mountain, next to the Hungry Bear Restaurant.
3. Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
If your kids are anything like mine, they love the rides but get tired of standing in lines all day. This place is the perfect antidote to whiny children! Ride the raft to the island, and then let your kids go explore for a while. There are caves, a treehouse, a fort, a footbridge, and more! Mom and Dad can kinda stroll around, and let the kids take the lead. They are thrilled with each new discovery, and getting to just roam around. I recommend planning at least 30-45 minutes here, and everyone will be refreshed when you head “back to Disneyland”.
4. Disneyland Railroad
This is another attraction with historical significance: it was one of the rides that was here on Disneyland’s opening day, and always had a spot in Walt’s heart. You can use the Railroad to travel from one “Land” to another, but I really recommend taking a ride all the way around the park so you can see it all. This is a favorite for small children (try to get a seat in the front row, so they have a good view), and it’s also a fine spot for a little nap. There are even some surprises along the way, like a view of the Grand Canyon!
5. Big Thunder Ranch
To be honest, I have walked past this area on many trips, and really only noticed the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ (which is really good, if you have the chance to try it). But on my most recent trip, I made a point to go inside and check it out, and I was really impressed! There is a large area with a petting zoo, character spots, picnic tables, and even a stage.
The petting zoo has a horse, a cow, and a number of goats. The animals all seemed pretty happy, and the kids were having a ball! There’s also a large sink area where you can clean up afterward.
I visited the area in the springtime, and the character area was having a Spring Round-Up with rabbit characters: Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh, the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, and Roger Rabbit were all there, in addition to Mickey and Minnie in springtime outfits. There were practically no lines, and it was a really fun experience. Even the Disney Cast Members were having a good time!
Since there are picnic tables, my group took this opportunity to sit down in the shade and have some snacks and bottles of water. There were some coloring pages and other craft activities available for little ones to pass the time, and during our visit there was a Jazz ensemble from a high school playing on the stage. It was a really nice and relaxing time, and then we were ready to head back out to the lines!
If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland in California, I’ll be happy to help you make the most of your trip! My name is Brenda Arnold-Richard, and I’m a Travel Planner with Travel with the Magic. Email me at Brenda@TravelWithTheMagic.com, and let’s get started today!
I also specialize in Walt Disney World in Florida!