Southern California February 2016: Disneyland!

I’m delighted to say that today’s post is about the happiest place on Earth: Disneyland! When my brother and I went to Southern California in February, we spent a completely magical day at Disneyland. My family lived in Southern California when I was younger, so I’ve been to Disneyland dozens – or maybe hundreds – of times, but it hasn’t lost any of its magic. I don’t care how old you are – you’ll never be too old to have fun at Disneyland! Here are a few tips for your next Disney trip, based on my experiences over the years.

Make a Plan

Disneyland Matterhorn
Have you ever seen a prettier fake mountain?

When I go to Disneyland with my family, we map out a basic plan of which areas of the park we want to go to first and where we’ll go from there. We tend to start in Tomorrowland, move to Adventureland, and go to New Orleans Square around lunchtime. Then we spend some quality time in Fantasyland and end up in Frontierland around dinnertime. After dinner, it’s usually time to revisit our favorite rides, which are largely in Fantasyland.

Feel free to choose whatever order works for you; it’s simply helpful to have a general idea of what areas of the park you’re headed to next so you don’t waste time trying to decide where to go. When it comes to meals, try to choose dining options that are close to the attractions you’re interested in so you aren’t crisscrossing the park just to eat.

Another factor to consider in your planning is Fastpasses. Not all rides have Fastpasses and each guest can have only one Fastpass at a time, so be sure to pick which rides you want to use your Fastpasses on and go get those Fastpasses. We usually use them on rides like Space Mountain and Star Tours.

One more thing: Don’t be afraid to skip rides and attractions that you don’t enjoy. You don’t need to feel compelled to ride EVERY ride, every time you visit. For example, my brother and I don’t really love the Matterhorn or Splash Mountain, so we passed those up and instead used our time to ride (and re-ride) the attractions we like most.

STAR WARS

Disneyland Season of the Force Star Wars
Celebrate Star Wars at Disneyland!

Disneyland is currently celebrating the Season of the Force in honor of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I had no idea how extensive and how fun this would be until I visited in February!

Most of the attractions in Tomorrowland have been tweaked to fit the Star Wars theme. My brother and I rode Hyperspace Mountain (Space Mountain), watched “Star Wars: Path of the Jedi” (where they usually show Michael Jackson’s “Captain EO”), and enjoyed the new stories and locations on Star Tours. We also might have built lightsabers and bought Star Wars shirts.

If you’re a Star Wars fan or if you’re planning to go to Disneyland in the next few months (Disney Parks haven’t released an end date for the Season of the Force celebration), I highly recommend that you go to Tomorrowland first in the day. My brother and I got there early enough that we had a fairly short wait for the attractions, but by the afternoon, Tomorrowland was absolutely packed and lines were running well over an hour.

Food

Pineapple Skewer Disneyland
The life-changing, chocolate-covered pineapple skewer. I rarely take photos of my food, but this merited an exception.

Oh, the food. If you’re planning to eat in Disneyland, here are just a few of my favorites to check out:

  • Royal Street Veranda in New Orleans Square: I recommend the gumbo in a sourdough bread bowl. Both the steak and vegetarian varieties are good, although I personally prefer the vegetarian. The clam chowder is also delicious. The line is never too long, although finding seating can be challenging if you go during the lunch rush.
  • Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante in Frontierland: The Hacienda Caesar Salad. It sounds simple, but it’s really one of my favorite salads in the world. If you aren’t a salad person, try a Burrito Sonora. If you like Mexican food, you can’t go wrong here.
  • Snacks: There is no shortage of snacks throughout the park to keep you energized. Some of my favorites are churros, frozen lemonade (with or without a flavor shot), and ice cream (my brother encourages you to try the Nestle® Toll House® chocolate chip cookie sandwich).
  • The Candy Palace on Main Street, USA: Get whatever strikes your fancy, but here I must note the chocolate-covered pineapple skewer. I tried this for the first time on my last trip to Disneyland, and it was life changing. I bought it as we were leaving the park, so we stopped along Main Street so I could eat it. As I ate, I told my brother that it was one of the best things I’d ever eaten in my life, and I still stand by that statement. If you have any interest in pineapple and/or chocolate, get this. I cannot be held responsible for any resulting addictions.

Souvenirs and Gifts

Disneyland Carousel Horse
I love taking selfies with my noble steed on the King Arthur Carousel. I call this a “carouselfie.”

If you’ve been to Disneyland before, you know that many of the gifts and souvenirs are fairly expensive. My opinion on the matter, however, is that if you really want it, you should probably buy it. Be reasonable, of course, depending on your personal finances. It’s always fun to reuse and re-wear the things you get at Disneyland, too. That’s one reason I love my Minnie Mouse ears – I can wear them every time I go back to Disneyland!

There is no dearth of gifts and souvenirs at Disneyland, so you’re sure to find something you love, as well as something for that someone you left at home who needs a little gift.

Schedule Strategically

Disneyland Adventureland
I have never seen Adventureland looking so void of crowds.

If you can, try to visit Disneyland when it isn’t peak tourist season. The summer is busy, of course, and it’s also extra busy around holidays. Early February was a great time to go because the crowds were minimal. It’s also best if you can go to Disneyland in the middle of the week rather than on Fridays or weekends. We went on a Monday and really enjoyed the shorter lines!

That’s it for this time, but don’t worry – this isn’t the last you’ve seen of Disneyland on At Home & Abroad!

Written by Caroline Larson.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Caroline Larson.

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