Things to Do at Disneyland: The Top 11 You Will Love

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    Best Things to Do at Disneyland

    Mickey and Minnie Mouse Welcome Visitors to Disneyland
    ••• Mickey and Minnie Mouse Welcome Visitors to Disneyland. Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

     At Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, you'll find two theme parks facing each other across a central plaza: Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. You can do all these things at Disneyland or California Adventure.

    I'll start with some less-known things to do at Disneyland and work up to the ones that people like best.

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  • 02 of 12

    Take a Tour

    Walt Disney's Private Apartment Above the Disneyland Fire Department
    ••• Walt Disney's Private Apartment Above the Disneyland Fire Department. ©2013 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    You may be anxious to get started playing at Disneyland, but they also offer some nifty tours that include a chance to Walk in Walt's Footsteps, discover the magic with your whole family or enjoy a seasonal adventure. 

    Find out more in the Disneyland tour guide.

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  • 03 of 12

    Celebrate a Birthday, Anniversary or Special Occasion

    You Can Celebrate Your Birthday Any Day of the Year at Disneyland
    ••• You Can Celebrate Your Birthday Any Day of the Year at Disneyland. ©2012 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    If you're going to Disneyland for a special birthday, honeymoon, anniversary or another occasion, but you don't have to celebrate alone. And you don't have to pay a penny extra, either.

    When you arrive, stop at Disneyland's City Hall or California Adventure Guest Relations to pick up a souvenir birthday or celebration button. And here's something not everyone knows: No one is going to check your ID to be the actual day or your birthday or anniversary.

    Wear the button and you'll feel like a celebrity for sure, with Cast Members and other guests offering you best wishes all day. In fact, I have seen people sing happy birthday to a random stranger wearing one of those pins. It's just one of the ways to celebrate your birthday at Disneyland.

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  • 04 of 12

    Celebrate the Holidays

    ••• A Christmas Fantasy Parade. Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

    In some respects, every day feels like a holiday at Disneyland. It's like Fourth of July every time they set off the fireworks.

    Disneyland also gets gussied up for Halloween, and Mickey Mouse hosts a Halloween Party that has its own parade and fireworks.

    The park also celebrates Christmas, with holiday-themed overlays at it's a small world and Haunted Mansion, handmade candy canes and holiday treats.

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  • 05 of 12

    Watch the People

    ••• Goofy Gets Dressed Up for Summer Guests. ©2011 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    People-watching is one of my favorite things to do. If you sit down to do it, you can rest at the same time.

    Some of the best spots to observe your fellow humans are the benches around the "hub" between Main Street USA and the castle. In California Adventure it's Paradise Pier or in Hollywood Land.

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  • 06 of 12

    Go Shopping

    Shopping at Disney California Adventure
    ••• Shopping at Disney California Adventure. ©Betsy Malloy Photography

    You'll find a themed store outside many of the most popular rides full of tempting souvenirs.

    You can also get a Mouse Ears hat in scores of styles or buy designer items with a Disney theme.

    You'll find lots of shops along Main Street USA and in the alley near New Orleans Square. The

    Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique near the castle sells costumes to suit the finest of princesses.

    In Downtown Disney, several shops sell Disney-themed items, too.

    The Disney Gallery on Main Street or Off the Page in California Adventure are the best places to head to score that special collectible - or try the World of Disney Store in Downtown Disney.

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  • 07 of 12

    Have a Meal

    Mickey Mouse Pancakes at Disneyland
    ••• Mickey Mouse Pancakes at Disneyland. Courtesy of Disneyland Resort

    You'll find plenty of places to eat in the parks and just outside them, too, from a simple pretzel and a fountain drink to a full, sit-down dinner. Most are first-come, first served, but a few require reservations. Find out about your options.

    You can also have a meal with a side-helping of Disney characters at the Disney hotels and inside the theme parks. All the details about character breakfasts and other ways to meet them are here.

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  • 08 of 12

    See a Show

    A Scene from Frozen at the Hyperion Theater
    ••• A Scene from Frozen at the Hyperion Theater. Scott Brinegar/Disneyland Resort

    Disneyland and California Adventure have some great live shows featuring singing, dancing and sometimes a little audience participation.  If you aren't into rides, you could easily spend an entire day just watching the shows. Check our your options at Disneyland.

    Our favorite? The Frozen show at California Adventure. California Adventure has other options, too - including the World of Color, a water-and-lights show worth staying up late for.

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  • 09 of 12

    Watch a Parade

    Pixar Play Parade at California Adventure
    ••• Pixar Play Parade at California Adventure. Courtesy of Disneyland Resort

    In most places, you're lucky to see one parade a year, but at Disneyland, you can watch two or three in a single day.

    In Disneyland, Mickey's Soundsational Parade is one of their best in years, replaced at Christmas by a seasonal version.

    Even more spectacular is Disneyland's  Night parade. Over at California Adventure, it's the Pixar Play Parade.

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  • 10 of 12

    Watch the Fireworks

    Disneyland Fireworks from Rivers of America
    ••• Disneyland Fireworks from Rivers of America. Carlos/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

    Disneyland has fireworks about 250 times a year - and they're some of the best you'll see anywhere, launched using low-smoke, low-pollution, quieter technology. They're not just pretty, they tell a story, too. And your eyes might just pop out of your head, trying to keep up with all the amazing projection effects that go with them. Find out where to watch them, inside or outside the park.

    Perennial favorite Fantasmic! also offers a generous helping of fireworks and special effects.

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  • 11 of 12

    Meet Disney Characters

    Goofy Signing Autographs at Disneyland
    ••• Goofy Signing Autographs at Disneyland. ©2016 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.


    What could be more fun than meeting your favorite Disney character in person? Minnie and Mickey Mouse have residences in Disneyland's Toontown where you can drop in and the Star Wars characters hold meet and greets in the Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland.

    You'll also find a whole host of other characters around the parks and at special character breakfasts. Get some tips on when and where you can meet them, and how to make your character greeting special.

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  • 12 of 12

    Enjoy the Rides

    California Adventure, Disneyland Rides, Los Angeles, CA
    ••• Rides at Disney California Adventure. Mark Downey / Getty Images

    Rides are the reason most people go to Disneyland, and they've got a broad range of options, from gentle boat trips to the white-knuckled, scream-yourself-silly kind.

    The Disneyland Ride Guide and California Adventure Ride Sheet have all the details, lists by type, height restrictions, and photos.

    What Next?

    After you've done all that, you're ready to start tackling the 8 Things That Absolutely Must Be on Every Disneyland Fan's Bucket List. And 11 Things You Didn't Even Know You Could Do at Disneyland.