A Disney Day Without Rides
I am a frequent visitor to Disneyland and there are some months where I am in the park at least three times. I have had many people ask me "How can you go so many times and not get bored?" or "Don't you get tired of doing everything?" I actually never get bored, but it can become repetitive doing the same thing over and over again. My solution? Mix it up a bit! There are some days when I go on different rides than the rides I visited the previous time. But mostly there are just some days where I don't even go on any rides at all! It's actually quite fun and entertaining and probably one of my favorite things to do when it's really crowded. Yes, you read that right! You can very easily fill up your day at Disneyland and California Adventure by not going on rides - and you'll have fun too!
Fire House on Main Street
The first stop at Disneyland has to be Main Street! It's the first thing you walk through when you enter the park, so you might as well enjoy it while you are there! There are many different types of shops that you can walk around and look at. Not in a shopping mood? Check out the Fire House located next to the bathrooms. You can walk inside and see a little bit of Disneyland history. If you see four men dressed in coordinated outfits, stop and take a listen. They are known as the Dapper Dans. They are an amazing Barbershop Quartet! You will not be disappointed with their vocal styling and song selections.
Another great option is to go see the show "Moments With Mr. Lincoln." It's located right by the main gate between the hat shop and the old bank.
If you are visiting the park closer to opening you will spot many Disney Characters waiting to meet you!
There is also a lot of live music including the Disneyland Band and the Ragtime Piano player located in the Coke Corner at the end of Main Street.
As I make my way out of Main Street, I typically go to Adventureland, which is on the left side. As soon as you walk through the entrance you will notice the world-famous Tiki Room! Why not go inside and watch the show? I personally love going here. I think it is one of the most underrated things at Disneyland. I love to watch the show while I enjoy my Dole Whip Float!
Just a little past the Tiki Room on the right side is a very giant bazaar looking shop. Inside there are many fun things that you can purchase. If you don't want to buy anything, you can still go inside for some unexpected fun! Throughout the connecting shops, you can rub Aladdin's magic lamp or get your fortune told by a shrunken head.
If you are in a climbing mood spend some time in Tarzan's Treehouse! This may be geared to little climbers, but you can't beat the view from the top. It's also a great place to take pictures.
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New Orleans Square
Next, I normally go to New Orleans Square because it's right next to Adventureland. If you have never walked around the shops in New Orleans Square, you are missing out! There are artists you can watch paint and draw caricatures and portraits. There is also live music and some characters that are frequent visitors to this area.
I love walking around this part of Disneyland because you feel like you are in a totally different part of the country! It is very cool.
Right across from New Orleans Square you can go on a canoe ride or you can hop on a raft and go explore the Pirates Lair (formerly Tom Sawyer's Island). On Pirates Lair, you can go explore caves and find some familiar scenes from the three Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It's also a great place to escape the crowds and have some lunch. There are a few eating areas on the island, but there is no food for sale so you will have to bring your own!
Now you can make your way on over to Critter Country, but there really isn't much to do there. So I typically skip this part of the park and go straight over to Frontierland! In Frontierland you can take a seat in the Golden Horseshoe. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show or some delicious food! You can also climb on the Mark Twain Riverboat and take a ride around the Rivers of America.
Want to try your hand at shooting? Well, there just so happens to be a shooting range game that you can play right next to Big Thunder Mountain called Frontierland Shootin' Exposition. I have never tried the shooting range but it always seems to be very popular. There is also Big Thunder Ranch right on the backside of Big Thunder Mountain on the way to Fantasyland. In Big Thunder Ranch, you can enjoy a petting zoo and some live music!
Fantasy Faire is very small but there is still lots of stuff you can enjoy! There are two plays that you can see: one tells the story of Rapunzel and the other is about Beauty and the Beast. Recently added is a Frozen play, but for this one to get a guaranteed seat you need to get a Fastpass, so I recommend getting there early to check the times.
You can meet some princesses as well too inside the Royal Hall. Outside the hall there will be a listing for what princesses will be there for the day. There is a very cute Figaro (the cat from Pinocchio) sleeping on a windowsill and every so often a bird wakes him up from his nap. It is really cute! There is also a very cool music box inspired by the movie Hunchback of Notre Dome that is a must to check out.
Fantasyland is right next to the Fantasy Faire, so might as well go there next! I like to take the walking tour of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. It's really neat inside. There are a lot of steps inside so if you are unable to walk it, you can take a virtual tour underneath the castle gates. There is also my favorite hat shop inside of Fantasyland, which is of course the Mad Hatter. Go take a look inside. There is a very special mirror - if you watch long enough, something really cool happens! Also the entire shop is Wonderland themed, which is always really fun to look at.
Next to certain rides inside of Fantasyland you will notice there are empty ride "vehicles" that you can sit inside and take pictures. You can take pictures inside of Dumbo, a tea cup, and Mr. Toad's car!
If you come at the right time you can participate or just watch the pulling of the Sword in the Stone located in front of the King Arthur Carousel.
On the side of Fantasyland you will find Snow White's Wishing Well. Every 20 minutes or so you will hear "I'm Wishing" play and it echoes along with the fountain next to it. You can throw change inside the well and make a wish.
Toontown is also a great place to visit; trust me, it's not just for children! Go walk around and look at all the neat stuff that. From the shops to the gigantic brownie sundaes, you can't go wrong. You can also walk inside various classic Disney characters' homes, like Mickey and Minnie!
There is also a part in the middle where you can blow up fireworks, bust out of a jail, break some china, and try to lift a dumbbell off the floor! It's a really cool interactive experience where you get to push buttons and play with everything. This is also a great place to take some silly pictures.
Also if you are a Star Wars fan checkout the store right next to Star Tours, It has everything Star Wars you could possibly want.
Other Great Things To Check Out
- Pixie Hallow
- Captian Eo
You can check out times for all of the parades and firework shows at the front gate where the park maps are!
Another great option, especially if you are tired, is to get on the Disneyland Railroad! You can get on/off at Main Street, New Orleans Square, Toontown, and Tomorrowland.
As soon as you walk into the park you are walking down Buena Vista Street. It kind of reminds me of Main Street but it is definitely has a more California feeling. There are lots of shops and food places to enjoy along Buena Vista.
My personal favorite addition to the street is the Starbucks! Yes it is a real Starbucks, they serve all the normal drinks and food items and they accept Starbucks gift cards as payment. The cups are special too. On the back it is Disney themed. The first time I saw this I totally freaked out; it's really cute! There is also a Red Trolley that you can take from Buena Vista to the end of Hollywoodland (next to Tower of Terror)!
Hollywoodland has lots of really cool things to check out! This is probably where I spend the most time when I come to California Adventure.
If you have children then check out the Disney Playhouse Live on Stage for shows.
My favorite place is the Animation Building. It is located on the right side of the main street next to the Disney Playhouse Live on Stage building. Once you step inside it is truly magical! The first thing you will notice are a bunch of screens that show artwork from some of the most beloved Disney movies, as well as music from that film playing along. You could spend hours just watching all of the different screens change.
There are several other parts to this building. A fan of Finding Nemo? Check out Turtle Talk with Crush! In this "human tank" Crush gets to view us in our natural habitat and has some questions he would like to ask us! You can ask him questions as well because this is an interactive experience.
I highly recommend going through the Sorcerer's Workshop! Here you get to try your hand at animation and get to view some really awesome displays. This actually has three different parts.
The next part that you get to walk into is the library in Beats' Castle. You can take a quiz to see which Disney character you are most like. You also get to watch the petals fall from the enchanted rose, along with some other unique features!
The last stop in the workshop is Ursula's Grotto! In here you get to sing or act out some of your favorite Disney scenes. At the end you will be shown what you have acted/sung. You are sure to have a great time inside.
After the Sorcerer's Workshop, why not try out your drawing skills? A Disney cast member will teach you how to draw a Disney character in the Animation Academy!
Once out of the Animation Building, you can head over to Muppets 3D Vision. Sit inside a theater and watch a 3D show put on by the Muppets just for you!
Or if you prefer, go catch a showing of the Aladdin Musical. No matter what you decide to do, you will have a great time.
Take a walk through Radiator Springs in Cars Land. This is the newest addition to California Adventure and it sure was worth the wait. Inside you will find everything from the movie and more! Take a look in the shops for Cars Land themed souvenirs as well as some things you can buy for your car. Also Cars characters such as Mater, Lightning McQueen, Sally, and many more come out and take a drive through town. You can meet them all and get your picture taken with them outside the Cozy Cone Motel.
I recommend walking around both during the day and at night. During the night Cars Land really comes alive; everything is lit with neon signs. It is an amazing sight to see - you won't want to miss it!
Take a walk along the Pier. There is a lot to look at. You can watch people on California Screamin or watch the water show that goes off every so often presented by Goofy where World of Color takes place. Another great thing to watch is the Mr. Potato Head that is in the line for Toy Story Mania. He tells jokes and is the life of the party.
Further on down the Pier you can try your hands at some classic Boardwalk games. There are also lots of characters and street performances that take place in this area of the park!
The Golden State
This part of the park is where Grizzly River Run is. On the way from the Paradise Pier into the Golden State there is a section that looks like the seven sisters in San Francisco (the seven colorful victorian houses that are side by side). It is really neat to look at.
There really isn't much to do in this part but I think that scenery is totally worth it! It is so pretty in this part of the park; it looks like you are in Northern California.
You can check out the Wilderness Explorer part but it is geared toward children and there is a lot of walking involved. Don't get me wrong there are really neat things to look at inside just be prepared to be active!
Other Great Things to Check Out
- World of Color
- Mad Hatter Dance Party
- Blue Sky Cellar
- Sourdough Factory Tour
Go on a Hidden Mickey search in both parks!
Another great way to pass time and have some fun is to go on a hunt for Hidden Mickey's! They do not exist only on rides. Search both parks high and low for that famous three circle silhouette. You can find them on the floor, in shops, outside of rides, practically everywhere! You can ask cast members for help or buy a Hidden Mickey book.
A Brief Recap
Shops at Main Street
Buena Vista Shops
Moments with Mr. Lincoln
Play School Disney
Disneyland Rail Road
The Enchanted Tiki Room
Bazar Shops in Adventureland
It's Tough To Be A Bug
New Orleans Square
Blue Sky Cellar
The Golden Horseshoe
Sourdough Factory Tour
The Golden State
Shops in Frontierland
San Francisco Houses
Big Thunder Ranch
Mark Twain River Boat
World of Color
Mad Hatter Dance Party
Sleeping Beauty's Castle
Mad Hatter Shop
Snow White's Wishing Well