If there’s one truth about Disneyland, it’s you’re never too old to enjoy it. Growing up in Northern California, I’ve had my fair share of childhood trips to the Happiest Place on Earth, and as a kid, Disneyland was truly magical. Coming back to visit decades later, despite almost getting run over by strollers (seriously they rule the land), Disneyland still retains its magic for me. For those of you who are going sans kids, here’s a complete guide to Disneyland for adults, how to make the most of your time here, and most importantly how to embrace your inner kid.
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Motion Sickness Precautions
Let’s get the negative parts out of the way first. One of the biggest things I noticed was that the rides affected me a lot more than before. Indiana Jones, one of my favorite rides was a lot more jerky than I remembered. A tried-and-true method for warding off motion sickness is Seabands or if you want to bring in the big guns Bonine works wonders.
If you’re prone to motion sickness, here’s a list of rides that you may want to avoid depending on what type of movement affects you the most.
- Space Mountain – unpredictable drops and curves in the complete dark, occasional strobe lights
- Matterhorn -jerky, a small potion in the dark, the Fantasyland side is a bit smoother
- Big Mountain Thunder Railroad – jerky, sharp turns, mild drops, mostly outside
- Splash Mountain – one 50-foot drop at the end
- Indiana Jones – not very fast, but can be incredibly jerky
- Pirates of the Caribbean – one medium drop at the beginning
- Star Tours – motion simulation ride, uses 3-D glasses, high probability for motion sickness
- Mad Tea Party – spins around, can control how fast you spin
- Astro Orbiter – constant spinning motion, controllable up-and-down motion, not for the height-adverse
- Dumbo The Flying Elephant – a milder version of The Astro Orbiter, constant spinning motion, controllable up-and-down motion
- King Arthur’s Carousel – spinning motion, basic carousel
- Roger Rabbits’s Car Toon Spin – spinning (though the speed is controllable) jerky at times, bright lights
If you do get sick during your time in Disneyland, you can always head to the First Aid at the end of Main Street U.S.A next to the Baby Care Center, where there are always nurses on hand to assist you, as well as a quiet place to lie down.
Embrace Your Inner Kid
One of the things I love about Disneyland is that no mater how old you are, you can still embrace your inner kid. The moment that we entered the ticket area and could hear the uplifting park soundtrack, I turned into a giddy kid once again. Maybe it was because this park and I have so much history, but I swear I saw Mustafa look starry-eyed more than once.
- Toontown – speaking of kid-like shenanigans, we almost skipped over Toontown, but I’m glad we stopped by. By the time we arrived in the late afternoon, the crowds of kids had eased up and we could easily explore Mickey’s hometown without the pint-sized madness.
- Fantasyland – you’re never too old for Fantasyland classical rides like It’s A Small World, Alice In Wanderland, Peter Pan’s Wild Ride or Storybook Land Canal Boats (a personal favorite).
- Mad Hatter – Midway through our visit, we headed over to the Mad Hatter to get Mustafa his first pair of Mickey ears (complete with his name embroidered in gold on the back, obviously). I got a pair of sparkling Minnie ears in solidarity and we wore them the rest of the day. My only regret? Not buying them earlier.
One of the benefits of going to Disneyland without kids is that your schedule is a bit more flexible and you can take advantage of rest time to recharge during the day whenever you need it. Whether it’s in the form of a sit down lunch at a full service restaurant (make sure to make a reservation ahead of time) or watching a show, it’s important to have proper breaks during a long Disney day.
Here are some of the best spots to rest and recharge.
- Enchanted Tiki Room – a classic musical show that is put on by talking birds
- Great Moments With Abe Lincoln – another classic show that is hardly ever crowded
- Disney Gallery – next to the Abe Lincoln show, this is a great spot to browse original Disney art and escape the crowds
- Disneyland Railroad – catch a ride on the this train that circles the perimeter of the park, and can be a great way to get from one land to the next without having to fight the crowds on foot, stops located in: Main Street U.S.A, New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toontown, Tomorrowland, passes some recreated landscapes surrounding US natural parks/rivers
- Disneyland Monorail – goes from Tomorrowland to Downtown Disney and back again, can stay on for a round-trip
- Sailing Ship Columbia – take a leisurely ride in a 18th century ship around Tom Sawyer’s Island
- Mark Twain Riverboat – cruise the Rivers of America on a 19th-century paddle boat
Coffee In Disneyland
There are several spots around Disneyland to get a decent cup of coffee throughout the day that will help give you the much-needed energy to make it through the park in one piece.
- Market House – located on Main Street this Starbucks offers all the typical drinks, there is also another Starbucks in Downtown Disney if you want to grab a drink before you enter the park
- Jolly Holiday Cafe – serves hot and cold coffee beverages, along with seasonal caffeinated drinks, has a decent selection of treats including the Matterhorn Macaroon
- Carnation Cafe – sit-down service with delicious food, all-day coffee menu including espressos and cafe mochas, reservations recommended
Where To Eat In Disneyland
Being in Disneyland without little ones in tow means you can find restaurants that serve more than hot dogs and chicken fingers (though if that’s what you’re craving no shame in that). If you want to try Disney fine dining, the Blue Bayou restaurant is definitely a unique experience that you have to do at least once. True, the dishes cost a pretty penny, but the experience of dining in the middle of a nighttime bayou almost makes up for the steep price tag.
Here are some dining spots that are worth checking out.
- Bengal Barbecue – various meat (get the Safari Skewer-bacon wrapped asparagus) and veggie skewers
- Cafe Orleans – known for their Monte Cristo sandwiches, pomme frites, and Mickey beignets
- Blue Bayou – has a similar menu to Cafe Orleans, just pricier, but as mentioned above the ambiance is hard to beat
- Carnation Cafe – classic American comfort food inspired by Walt Disney’s favorite foods
- Plaza Inn – popular Character breakfast buffet, known for its fried chicken plate for lunch and dinner
The Best Disneyland Snacks
Disneyland doesn’t disappoint when it come to snacks, no matter how old you are. Whether you’re looking for something sweet or savory to nibble on, there’s a little something for every craving.
- churros – classic Disney treat, carts are found all around the park including Main Street and New Orleans Square
- dole whip – dairy-free pineapple-flavored frozen treat located right outside of the Enchanted Tiki Room, you can also get it in float form with pineapple juice
- caramel apples – can be found at the Candy Place in Main Street, can find special seasonal ones as well
- rice crispy treats – classic Mickey/Minnie ones, others decorated for the seasonal holidays, often dipped in chocolate
- popcorn – buttery, hot goodness, collectable souvenir buckets are available
- Mickey ice cream bars – classic vanilla with a chocolate shell
- pickles – for a semi-healthy treat these giant pickles are great and can be picked up at various snack kiosks around the park including Main Street by Market House
- Mickey-shaped beignets – come with an order of vanilla and raspberry dipping sauces, you can pick them up at Cafe Orleans or for quick-service head to Mint Julep Bar
- Matterhorn Macaroon – dipped in white chocolate this cookie honors the classic snow-capped ride
- giant turkey legs – hardly a snack, but it is definitely shareable
Top Disney Bars
Although Disneyland has a strict no-alcohol policy, there are spots just beyond Disneyland where you can get a cold beer, a classic cocktail or a glass of wine, while still having a touch of Disney magic. Here’s the best watering holes in Downtown Disney, the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel, and Grand Californian Hotel.
- Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar – a fun themed bar in Downtown Disney that boasts an extensive drink menu, specialty drinks come with a surprise show, food items available as well
- Napa Rose Lounge – the lounge area of the Napa Rose fine dining restaurant in the Grand California Hotel is perfect for a glass of wine and some small bites, no reservations are needed
- Hearthstone Lounge – beautiful, small lounge tucked into the Grand Californian Hotel, has small bites
- Surfside Lounge – located in the Paradise Pier Hotel, this is a great spot for grabbing quick bites and a drink or two
Where To Stay Near Disneyland
There is the trio of Disney hotels: the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel, and Grand Californian Hotel, but if you are looking for a more moderate price range these are great alternatives that are close by. If you don’t have a rental car, ride share companies like Uber and Lyft are great options for zipping to and from the park.
A 15-minute walk to Disneyland (you can see Disney California Adventure across the street), this hotel is a clean, spacious home base. The area is well lit, so you can feel safe coming home from the park late at night. The pool area is a nice retreat with two large pools, two hot tubs, and shaded cabana areas. A hot breakfast is included.
A bit further from the park, this 3-star hotel is modern, clean, and offers spacious suites complete with modern kitchenettes. A reasonably-priced option for families or travelers looking to have the convenience of a fridge, microwave, and stove top in their rooms. Walking to the park is a bit far (25 minutes or more), but a blink of an Uber ride takes you straight to the front gates.
A mid-range hotel that is a solid choice with amenities that include an outdoor pool, snack bar, and a complementary hot breakfast buffet. Suite rooms include a separate living room area with a sofa pull-out bed, that is perfect for larger groups. Ask for a back-facing room to avoid highway noise. Disney is a quick 11-minute walk door to door.
What are your favorite tips for Disneyland for adults?
*I was hosted by Disneyland, but all options as always are my own*