If you’re a local, you probably know DL like the back of your big, white Mickey glove. You know all the tips and tricks to work the lines and the FastPass system, all the quality food and shopping, and the exact best times to go. And, you gave up staying for more than three hours years ago. So, just for fun, how do you keep it fresh when you visit your home away from home? Play tourist.
Any good tourist gathers information before booking their trip, and while you’re taking a new approach to your usual Disneyland adventures, you can do the same. Go old school and order a vacation planning DVD. Sure, all the info is available online, but getting anything good in the mail is a rarity these days, especially anything as well packaged and designed as this. Pop some popcorn, put in the actual DVD, and tune into things you may not have known before. You can even check out the section on Walt Disney World in Florida (maybe that’s your next big adventure). Or, if you just can’t slow it down that much, download the mobile app and take it from there.
In order to do Disneyland as a real tourist, give yourself permission to make a weekend of it. Better yet, put your local knowledge into play and make it a mid-week stay with lighter crowds and lower prices (hey, no need to throw all your expertise out the window, right?). A Disneyland Hotel will give you the true traveler experience and make it easy for you to zip back and forth between the parks and your resort for rest and refreshment.
When you arrive, dedicate some time for hanging out in your hotel. Swim, do those tours they offer in the lobby, and watch the outdoor movies. Take advantage of the merchandise delivery options (shop in the park, and your goodies will show up at your hotel for you). In short, relax. Be on a little vacation.
While you’re playing tourist at Disneyland, you’ll see the parks like the out-of-towners do: dawn ‘til dark (with a little break back at your room to restart your engines). Wake up early and “rope drop” the gates. Heck, participate in Magic Mornings and get there even earlier! But determine to see it all over the course of a couple consecutive days. This is the time to forget about your usual ways and get crazy. Bring snacks, rent a locker – that kind of thing. Enjoy the novelty of being a tourist, knowing you can return to your tried and true visiting methods next time around.
Call ahead for reservations to those places you never eat at. When was the last time you actually sat down at Blue Bayou and enjoyed a scrumptious heap of jambalaya? Or met up with your favorite princesses at Ariel’s Grotto? A tourist wouldn’t think twice about booking those tables, but why should they have all the fun? Make the call. At the very least, plan a couple of sit-down meals during your visit. Save the corn dog cart and the churro stand for next time. You know you’ll be back.
When Disneyland is a regular (and awesome) part of your life, your way of visiting it might seem strange to outsiders. You probably don’t go on a lot of rides, right? And if you do, they are secondary to just “being there.” This trip, get back to your first love. Peter Pan is amazing, but you never actually go on it because the line is so long. Step right up. The hills of Splash Mountain are so exhilarating, but getting wet is gross when you have to sit in your car all soggy in homebound traffic. Not this time! This is when you can – and should – do it all. As a tourist, you’re lousy with time and dry clothes, so HAVE FUN!
The same goes for shows and entertainment. The Jedi Training Academy is magical to watch. You don’t need a kid onstage or even a kid in your party to love the spectacle. Just keep your eye out for the one spunky girl who slays Darth Vader like her puppy’s life depends on it. Then line up on the sidewalks of Main Street. Even if you’re not a parade person, stand there and clap with everyone else for once. Wave to Chip and Dale like a first-timer. Even if you’re a local, there’s no shame in actually enjoying all the things that make Disneyland Disneyland. So go ahead and tear up during the fireworks. That song? “Kiss Goodnight?” Wow. Listen to that song.
Then go back to your hotel, have a night swim, sleep in your huge bed with super tight sheets, and wake up and do it all again tomorrow.