OpEd: The Perfect Disneyland (& California Adventure) Day

in Disney, Disneyland Resort

DLR Perfect Day Header

Credit: ITM Reporter Rebekah Barton

With the Disney Parks closed right now, all we can do is dream about the day the gates reopen and we can experience the magic firsthand again. If you’re anything like me, you don’t know quite what to do with yourself when you don’t have an upcoming Disneyland trip on the calendar. 

Disneyland entrance
Credit: ITM Reporter Rebekah Barton

The best cure for the Disney blues is, of course, daydreaming about your next visit to The Happiest Place on Earth. Here’s a glimpse into my perfect Disneyland day and what I miss most about Disneyland Resort while the gates are closed.

Always start the day with rope drop. 

A rope drop to fireworks kind of girl, I like to start the day at Disneyland Park. I’m a history buff at heart and one of the reasons I love DLR is that it’s the park Walt Disney literally built from scratch. Every time I walk onto Main Street, U.S.A., I feel a childlike giddiness that sets the tone for my entire day. 

From the smell of coffee wafting out of Starbucks (always my first stop, by the way!) to seeing Sleeping Beauty Castle at the end of the street, there’s nothing like a Main Street, U.S.A. morning. 

Fantasyland first. 

Unless I’ve got an early Rise of the Resistance boarding group in Galaxy’s Edge, all the best Disneyland days start with Fantasyland. Although Disney Parks were created to guide guests through “today, tomorrow, and fantasy,” fantasy is my personal favorite. 

Meeting Princess Ariel
Credit: ITM Reporter Rebekah Barton

A lover of princesses, glitter, and flying pirate ships, I never leave Disneyland Park without riding the Mad Tea Party (completely open air at DLR for those who are used to the covered Disney World version), Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and stopping by The Royal Hall for my three-year-old to meet her favorite princesses. 

Trek to Adventureland and Frontierland. 

Before leaving for Disney California Adventure, my perfect Disneyland day includes quick stops at my two all-time favorite rides: Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain. I’ve recently added Smuggler’s Run to my list of must-dos (check out Chewbacca mode next time you visit Batuu!), but POTC and Splash Mountain have had my heart since I was tall enough to ride. 

Pirates of the Caribbean DLR sign
Credit: ITM Reporter Rebekah Barton

Off to Hollywood Boulevard. 

After checking all of my Disneyland favorites off the list, it’s time to head to Disney California Adventure. California Adventure is my favorite Disney park at night, so ending the day there is always a highlight for me. 

Off the Page window

Before we go to Pixar Pier, we always stop to meet Anna and Elsa (three-year-old daughter, remember?) and walk through Elias & Co. and Off the Page, the latter of which holds a special place in my memorabilia-loving heart. 

No perfect day at Disneyland Resort is complete without a visit to Pixar Pier, where we always make sure to ride the iconic Pixar Pal Around Ferris wheel. It’s a great all-ages ride for the entire family! Even my six-month-old adores it (when she doesn’t fall asleep riding). 

Pixar Pal Around
Credit: ITM Reporter Rebekah Barton

Stop by Soarin’.

I’m a huge Soarin’ fan, so no perfect day at California Adventure is complete without using MAXPASS to ride. I also love the Northwoods-themed souvenir shop directly across from the attraction!

End the evening at Cars Land. 

I adore Radiator Springs when it’s lit up after the sun goes down. Steak fries and a burger from Flo’s V8 Cafe always hit the spot before World of Color (if we make it that late with two kids three and under!).

Cars Land at night
Credit: ITM Reporter Rebekah Barton

What are your favorite things to do at Disneyland Resort? Tell us what your perfect Disneyland day looks like in the comments!

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