While making capricious New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and spend less time on our devices, remember, a commitment involving something you enjoy, specifically Disneyland, is much easier to keep. From new lands, expanded parking, rare popcorn buckets, and a slightly new-look Matterhorn, there are countless reasons to visit Disneyland Resort in 2019. When doing so this year, there are several attractions and distractions you really ought not miss.
Some of the included pertain to new experiences. Others are items are often overlooked and avoided by guests intent on other avenues. Expand your own visit with any and all of the following:
It’s not open yet, certainly. Once it is, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is likely to be the biggest thing to hit the resort since, well, since it opened. In the months following the debut, Batuu, and Disneyland itself, will be a tough ticket. Crowds will be otherworldly. Likely, by year’s end, the fanatics will mostly have their fill, and guests can get a look, if not a ride on one of the new attractions.
Visit as soon as you are able. Between Avatar and Cars Land, Disney Imagineers are doing amazing work with the new and semi-recent concepts.
For most, a visit to a Disney Park is a whirlwind of characters, churros, collectible merchandise, and roller coasters. With the wealth of magical demands on one’s time, it can be difficult to find room for a proper meal. Given the creativity that goes into a Disney dining venue and experience, you really ought to.
Wonderful options await in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, with delightful character dining at each resort hotel property. Yes, sitting down for a meal necessarily sacrifices valuable park time. The difference between a Blue Bayou, or Cathay Circle, dining and a Refreshment Corner hot dog is exponential (no offense; the hot dogs are wonderful).
Tropical Hideaway is the latest addition to the Disneyland dining lineup. We’re not saying do it every visit, but a well-spent hour within an exceptionally creative Disney restaurant is well worth occasionally forgoing a FASTPASS or two.
Take a Guided Tour
First-time, sporadic, even frequent guests benefit from the incredible behind the scenes glimpse afforded by a professionally designed and delivered Disney tour. Disney Cast Members bring a passion to their jobs like no other. Joining one in a small-group or private go ’round of the Happiest Place on Earth affords guests a rare and magical opportunity.
Whether you can recite the entire Haunted Mansion narration word for word (please don’t), or even know what the light above the fire station represents, a tour is an amazing means of being introduced to, or rediscovering the magic.
Fair warning: the tours are not for everyone. They cost money, in addition to your park admission, and take up a fair bit of your Disney day. These are the oft stated reasons why many guests have never done one. Chances are, though, there is a tour that highlights one of your own specific Disney interests. Love the Disneyland Railroad? There’s a tour for that. Passionate about Disneyland history, the holidays, Happy Haunts? See each privately, or as part of a group, in the knowledgeable hands of a fellow Disney enthusiast. If you’re willing, it’s an experience you will never forget.
Wait in Line
Blasphemy! Disney regulars make an art out of evading lines, even for fabled E-ticket attractions. With a well-formulated foundation, experienced guests can determine, on the fly, whether one ride on Space Mountain will be worth everything else they must forgo that day. More often than not, lately, crowds dictate skipping many, even all, of the most popular rides.
Reluctantly, some of us haven’t gone on Peter Pan’s Flight in decades. Worse, there are living breathing humans who have never ridden Radiator Springs Racers, or even set foot inside Disney California Adventure. On a busy day, a Disney Parks visit is necessarily a series of compromises. One best-practice is to not dwell on what you’re missing. Try to focus on, and appreciate, everything your not.
A two-plus-hour wait for any attraction is ridiculous. But, they do happen. Regularly. Try to not commit to any single ride that is going to set fire to the few hours you have. Some days, even with copious FASTPASS usage, riding the best rides requires an investment. On some days, it’s just worth it.
Again, no one is suggesting you get into a 100-minute Space Mountain stand-by queue. Space Mountain is glorious, and you should try to ride it every visit. But, you, your family, and your commitment to the memory or Walt Disney call for better planning. Rather than skip every attraction with a line, however, and run the risk of missing all of the classics, pick a more appropriate battle.
Unless you are an Annual Pass holder with zero children, give yourself to the occasional line. Just be choosy. Big Thunder Mountain on the worst day loads faster than “it’s a small world” on almost every day. 45-minutes in the Matterhorn line are far better spent than 30 waiting for Dumbo. Make hard decisions without sacrificing everything you came to enjoy. Maybe choose Star Tours over Splash Mountain, but don’t skip both due to simple, if understandable, impatience.
Attend a Festival or Special Event
Those disgusted with the idea of shelling out for a guided tour are going to loathe this idea equally. The thought of paying for a ticket on top of a regular admission may be as maddening as it is unattainable. After Hours events, truly, are not for everyone. The costs involved in a regular Disney visit have become prohibitive for many. Those with the gumption and good fortune really ought to consider attending, and likely already have.
The feeling of having a Disney Park to yourself is worth the extra cost of admission for some, or Disney wouldn’t be doing it. The wonderful news is the Disneyland series of Festivals does not require an extra ticket. It’s not exactly the same experience, in that these events are astoundingly well attended, but it costs a bit less.
The Food and Wine Festival, Halloween Time, the Festival of Holidays, each present an extraordinary additional layer of Disney magic. Between rare food items, limited-edition merchandise, and a blanket of extra Disney creative decor, timing your visit to coincide with a special engagement is well worth the minimal extra effort.
Purchase a Souvenir
Too often we deny ourselves an integral, long lasting, memory-enhancing aspect of a Disney visit. So wrapped up in mansions, mountains, macaroons, and the Mouse, many fail, or outright chose not to make time for gift shopping. Suggest to some that you skip Pirates of the Caribbean in favor of some lengthy browsing in the Emporium and watch the tears start falling, even among adults.
Understand, you do not have to sacrifice one for the other. Shopping does not have to be the all encompassing headache we make it out to be. With the new World of Disney store in Downtown Disney District, you needn’t waste a single park-worthy minute. World of Disney stays open after park closing on every day of operation. Get your thorough fill of the parks, then shop once they’re closed.
Grab yourself a character sweatshirt. Buy a meaningful plush for the kids. A Mickey Mouse spatula will bring memories of your glorious trip flooding back, even from thousands of miles away, every time you use it. You will harvest your own precious moments, and photos are indispensable. Taking just a moment to procure something truly special for yourself and/or family is arguably better than the time you spent in line for Peter Pan’s Flight.
Plan Your Next Trip
Everyone with properly honed Disney empathy knows the sensation of exiting Disneyland at the end of a visit on the verge of tears. There is nothing that can be done about this condition, and truly, why would you want to? Guests can stave off much of the pain attached to this heart-rending experience by having at least some notion of when they are coming back.
You will still suffer nigh-uncontrollable emotion, but having a even a glimmer of a future visit makes the hurt so good. It’s impossible not to countdown the minutes of a waning Disney vacation. Having even a merely conceptual return trip to look forward to could save your sanity and relationship with your children.
Go to Disneyland. Experience and love Disneyland. Return as often as you can. A Happiest New Year to you all.