13 Ways to Make Each Trip to Disneyland Memorable

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In Southern California, it seems like everyone—at one time or another—has had a Disneyland annual pass. And I have had a Disneyland pass for a solid 9 years now. But the plan right now, is when my pass expires in May, to not renew it. We just aren’t able to go nearly as often as we used to… And as my time at the Happiest on Earth comes to a halt pause, I’ve been reminiscing like crazy of this place that I love so much. And as I’ve been looking through 10 years worth of Disneyland trips I’m reminded of a question I get asked all the time is…

How do I keep going without getting bored?

And to answer this age old question, I’ve written up a list of ideas for you that can truly enrich your Disneyland experience. And please pardon me as I get sappy and sentimental with a post full of photos from the past. 🙂

1. Rainy Days

Go on a rainy day. This is one of my favorite “secret” tips. It’s a widely known fact that the residents of southern California are ever fearful of water falling from the sky and scatter at the first raindrop—making these days the best Disneyland days. No lines, no crowds, no heat… just a few raindrops and breaking records on quantity of rides! Better yet, go on all the water rides, especially Splash Mountain and River Rapids, more than likely you won’t have to wait in any lines. And if you really don’t want to get totally soaked, stop by the store on the way for some $1 ponchos!

Rachel and Me before Grizzly Rapids, 2010

ponchos at disneyland 2010

2. Monorail Ride

Start your day off right with a ride into the park in style, up front with the Monorail conductor.

Riding up front with Joyce, 2006

monorail april 2006

3. Dress Up!

Disneyland has a few unofficial dress up days like last weekend’s Dapper Day, but one of my favorites was when my girlfriends and I dressed in matching shirts with our favorite Disney characters for my bachelorette party.

Bachelorette party, 2007

disneyland bachelorette party shirts

4. Iconic but Unique Photos

Speaking of photos in front of the castle… Whenever you go to Disneyland, you pretty much have to take a picture right smack in front of the castle. But now that that spot’s practically a mob scene, I would totally recommend branching off to the sides of the castle to get your favorite family photo. Plus, your family moment will be much more intimate than fighting for space in front of the castle.

Rachel’s Disneyland maternity photos, 2013 (link)

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5. Holi-Days

Enjoy the different seasons. From Halloween to Christmas. Not only is the parked decked out in its finest, but there’s extra shows to see and ride overlays to experience. My favorite Christmas time show is the Candlelight Processional—my favorite—usually held the first weekend of December. And of course starting in the fall, Haunted Mansion turns into Jack Skellington’s stomping grounds until the new year. As well as Small World decking the halls with bells of holly.

Candlelight Processional, 2009

candlelight processional 2009 5659

6. Take the Train

Take the train all around the park. Ask to sit up by the engineer (2 people max) or better yet, get there early enough to reserve a trip in the Lilly Belle—the parlor car decorate by Lillian Disney herself—and the caboose to the C.K. Holiday train.

Lilly Belle ride, 2008

lily belle caboose

7. Scavenger Hunt

Go on a scavenger hunt. Find Hidden Mickeys (great Hidden Mickey book here) or use the Wishing Stars app.

Joey finds a Hidden Mickey on Mulholland Madness, 2006

hidden mickey joey 2006

8. Show Time

Don’t go on any rides, just enjoy the shows. From the 3D shows to the parades to stage productions like Aladdin, just spending the day at shows can really take up the whole day. And a great way to enjoy the parks in the summer, away from the crowds and in the air conditioning! My favorite 3D show is Muppet Vision in California Adventure. But of course my all time favorite show would be the Fantasmic production on the Rivers of America. Favorite by far!

The Ryan family before It’s Tough to Be A Bug, 2014

tough to be a bug 2014

9. Ride Photo Poses

Diversify your “ride photos” with different poses and reactions. The sleepers always crack me up.

Korey, Kory, Lauren, Ashley, Gaby, and me on Space Mountain, 2008

space mountain 2008

10. Birthday Celebrations!

I love celebrating birthdays at Disneyland. Wearing your birthday pin always gains the affections of all the cast members and ensures that your day will be a happy one.

Rachel’s first trip to Disneyland, 2009

rachels birthday 2009 5734

11. Free Snack Food

Take advantage of the only free stuff Disney offers: Ghiradelli chocolates and sourdough bread in California Adventure’s Pacific Wharf. Actually, this isn’t really a way to mix up your trips, but something to enjoy every trip. (RIP Tortilla Factory 😦 )

First trip to Ghiradelli’s Chocolate Shop, 2012

california adventure ghiradelli square0023

Fine Dining

Speaking of food, another fun way to make a few trips feel extra special is to dine in at the nicer restaurants the park offers. Whether its Blue Bayou, the restaurant within the Pirates of the Caribbean… or its neighbor: Club 33.

Andy and I have dined at Blue Bayou quite a few times, usually celebrating our anniversaries or during our honeymoon. Here’s a photo from our one year “dating anniversary,” 2006.

blue bayou dinner jan 2006

And I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since our first ever experience at Club 33. Read more on that trip here, and a full photo tour here.

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Friends & Family

By far, the best way to diversify your trips to Disneyland is to go with different groups—from friends to family. I can’t tell you how many friendships were formed within these park gates… But specifically, go with different ages. From usually going with adults the first half of having a pass… it’s such a different experience (obviously haha) going with kids. You see the park in a whole new eye opening, jaw dropped-in-awe experience. This may seem oh-so-very obvious to most… but it’s only been in the last 5 years that I started going with kids (thanks Eli!). And for this Disney-fanatic, I love sharing the joy and wonder in the parks with these little kiddos. I think my heart grows in size every single trip.

Eli watching the Pixar Play Parade, 2010

eli-california-adventure-2010-pixar-play-parade

Okay, I need to stop this post now even though I can go on and on… plus I’ve made myself cry like 6 times just writing it and going through all these old photos.

For a few more ideas check out these posts on Mice Chat

Do you have any special Disneyland adventures to share? Comment below! I only have a few trips left and I want to get it all in!

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