The internet is filled with lists and itineraries of what you should do at Disney Parks, including the itineraries we’ve created on this blog. Many of those plans mirror each other to a degree but it can still be overwhelming to have so many factors pulling in different directions. On top of that, most itineraries pack a park day to the brim when there are many other, more relaxing ways to enjoy a day at a Disney Park. With that in mind, we’re starting a new series on the blog called Top Five. I’ll be going through each of the U.S. and Tokyo Disney Park’s and giving my top five things to do at each park. Essentially, this series is a don’t miss this guide.
My top five can consist of attractions, shows, dining, or anything else I think of (it will mainly be in those first three categories). The main caveat is that these top five lists have to consist of tangible things to go and do. We certainly advocate wandering around these parks, enjoying the architecture, desing and detail. Heck, we named the blog after that! That’s just not what I’m going for in this series. Of course, I will bend the rules here and there since I made the rules. My grandma, a regular cheater in card games, would be proud.
I will also do my best to stay away from just listing five attractions. A theme park is certainly built around it’s attractions but we’ve already got the attraction ranking thing down in these posts. There will certainly be attractions in each post but not solely attractions.
We’ll start off this series in Disneyland before moving over to California Adventure. Disney’s original theme park has no shortage of choices, boasting the largest attraction roster of any theme park along with excellent entertainment, solid dining and a good amount of character throughotu the park. Starting with Disneyland makes me wish that I had made this a Top-10 instead of Top-5. But then my mind wanders to Hollywood Studios and I would be really clawing to be able to list 10 things I love about that park. That doesn’t make picking only five items for Disneyland any easier. For those looking for more in-depth itineraries for this park, we have both a one and two-day itinerary.
Addressing the elephant in the room, Disneyland opens Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in three short days and that isn’t making it on this list… Yet. We expect both rides (once Rise of the Resistance opens later this year) to be among the best any park has to offer. But, it won’t make this list until we’ve tried them and it will certainly help once the initial crowds settle down to a degree. For now, it’s left off the list.
Alright, let’s get to our five essential things to do at Disneyland!
Pirates of the Carribean
Disneyland’s best attraction seems like the easiest place to start. This adventure boat ride through a pirate’s life is Imagineering at their very best. The plot can go as deep as you’d like, with plenty of layers to explore. There are beautifully made animatronics and intricate set pieces in every scene. Thankfully, the attraction doesn’t have as long of a wait as some since the boats load quickly and hold many people. This is a timeless attraction that you can’t miss.
Enjoying Some Food in New Orleans Square
I went back and forth between this pick and the food on Main Street. This list is a little heavy on New Orleans Square (rightfully so) and I almost switched my pick to the Plaza Inn, Little Red Wagon Corn Dogs, and Carnation Cafe trio. Once I really considered the experiences, the New Orleans Square options won out thanks in large part to the atmosphere.
New Orleans Square houses three restaurants – Blue Bayou, Cafe Orleans and French Market. There is also a counter to buy Mint Julep’s and Beignets. Blue Bayou is the signature experience, sitting inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the prices are extremely high making us lukewarm on the restaurant.
Cafe Orleans, on the other hand, offers fair prices and exceptional appetizers and desserts. We like the entrees fairly well but they don’t measure up to the Pommes Frites and Mickey Beignets. Sitting outside at Cafe Orleans, staring across at the river across the walkway is a perfect experience for a sunny afternoon.
French Market is the counter-service restaurant of the bunch and offers Cajun food. The food is solid but the atmosphere is wonderful. Go to this restaurant for dinner and enjoy the live jazz music played in the outdoor seating area. All of these restaurants offer something unique in terms of food and atmosphere and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Fantasyland Mad Dash
Like I said, I get to bend the rules! Disneyland’s Fantasyland is incredible and home to an amazing amount of attractions. One of our favorite past times at the park is getting there at opening or going to the land in the last hour of operation and seeing how many of these attractions we can ride with minimal waits. Since I’m a night owl, I prefer doing this then and the land can be very empty if the hours are late enough. Some essential Fantasyland rides are Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Peter Pan’s Flight, Alice in Wonderland, it’s a small world, and Matterhorn Bobsleds. While those are the best of the attractions there, going on any attraction with a short wait is the goal and the most fun.
Disneyland’s long running nighttime spectacular is an exceptional show in an intimate setting. Guests line up along the Rivers of America and enjoy a trip through Mickey’s imagination. Fantasmic! is action-packed and heartfelt. Lining up along the river can be a hassle at times but it also makes the show feel more personal and unique. It’s one of the best nighttime spectaculars ever.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
With apologies to Disneyland’s other mountains, our last entry in this top five is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The reason this wins out over Space and Splash is due to the effects that were added to the attraction a few years back. Zipping around the mountain and nearly getting blown up on several occasions makes Big Thunder one of the more joyful experiences at Disneyland. It’s hard to ride without smiling or laughing.
Disneyland is full of wonderful attractions to ride and quality food and shows. Picking only five was difficult but a trip to the park wouldn’t be complete without experiencing these.
What would be in your Disneyland Top Five? Let us know in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland Resort? Check out our guide to help you along the way! If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email and like our social media accounts. You can find all of those on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Top Fives