Staying on Disney property: How to enjoy your Disneyland vacation without a park ticket

in Disney, Disneyland Resort

family on grand californian balcony

Credit: Disney

Disneyland ticket prices just increased, the theme parks will get busier than ever with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and it’s never been more expensive to be an Annual Passholder. Disneyland Resort has released a couple of deals for 2019 that guests can take advantage of to help alleviate the cost of your vacation. But sometimes, you may want to experience Disney magic without paying for theme park admission. Or you may be visiting Disneyland Resort over the course of a few days, and you may want to schedule a non-park day during your vacation.

There are plenty of reasons why having a non-park day in your week-long Disneyland Resort vacation can be a much-needed rest for your family. So whether you’re planning a longer stay on Disney property or you’re spending a weekend at your dream Disneyland Resort hotel when your annual pass is blocked out, here are some of our tips for enjoying Disneyland Resort without a park ticket.

Character meals

Safari dressed Mickey Mouse
Image copyright Disney

Character meals are perhaps the best way for your family to feel some Disney magic without entering the theme parks. Each of the three on-property Disneyland Resort hotels offers a character dining experience for you to enjoy. These meals are buffets and tend to last longer than the average meal, so they allow you to spend some time meeting characters and eating an array of all-you-care-to-enjoy foods at your own pace. Character meals are great options if you are traveling with family because they offer the opportunity to meet characters without waiting in line to do so. Plus, why wouldn’t you want to wake up in a Disneyland Resort hotel, roll out of bed, and have brunch with Mickey Mouse? Sounds great to me!

Time at the hotel pools

Disneyland Resort hotels
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Part of the reason why it’s great to stay at a Disney-owned hotel is the amazing amenities that come with it, including the pools. Disneyland Resort hotels have some pretty amazing swimming pools. From the rooftop pool at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel that offers breathtaking views during sunset to the impeccably themed pool at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disney pools offer enjoyment for the kids and adults in your party. Our top spot for a pool day is at The Disneyland Hotel. We suggest grabbing some food and a drink from Trader Sam’s and relaxing on one of the lounge chairs while your kids enjoy the Monorail-themed waterslide. We can easily spend an entire day at this pool.

Fine dining

A person standing next to a table with plates of food
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Did you know that Disneyland Resort hotels offer some of the best food in the whole resort? You can spend an evening feasting on an incredible meal at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa or at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel. While these can be pricey, the food and experience are definitely worth it. If you’re paying to stay on property at Disneyland, you may want to consider taking advantage of the impeccable dining that these restaurants provide.

View attractions right from your hotel room

Arial view of California Adventure Land
Image copyright Disney

If you’re willing to splurge on a Premium room at one of the three on-property hotels, you won’t regret it. Just because you’re not entering the parks doesn’t mean you have to miss out on attractions and shows. Some Premium rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa offer views of Disney California Adventure, so you can sit on your hotel room’s balcony and watch park guests ride several attractions inside the theme park. Some rooms at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel allow you to view World of Color from your room’s window. And numerous rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the Disneyland Hotel offer views of the Disneyland fireworks at night. How amazing is that?

Watch the fireworks from Downtown Disney

Arial view of downtown Disney
Image Copyright Disney

But if you can’t splurge on a Premium room this trip, don’t worry. You can still watch the fireworks from Downtown Disney or even the Disneyland Esplanade without entering the theme parks. We love having dinner at Uva Bar or Naples Ristorante and watching the fireworks as we eat, or grabbing a caramel apple from Marceline’s Confectionary and standing in the esplanade while the fireworks are going off. This is one of our favorite ways to see those breathtaking shows without braving the crowds on Main Street U.S.A.

Other activities at Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Resort hotels include the VOID (which now offers both “Star Wars” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” virtual reality experiences), live music at night, and the spa at Disney’s Grand Californian. You truly can relax and enjoy yourself at Disneyland Resort hotels without entering the theme parks, so consider a park-free day or weekend on your next vacation.

How do you like to experience Disneyland Resort without a theme park ticket? Share your tips with us!

in Disney, Disneyland Resort

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