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Fresh Adventures for a Disneyland Regular: New and often-overlooked experiences can heighten a ‘typical’ theme park day

in Disney, Disneyland, Disneyland Resort, Theme Parks

Despite living in Orlando, I’ve been fortunate enough to become a recent Disneyland regular, traveling to California a few times a year for a number of grand openings and other special events. From World of Color to The Little Mermaid to Cars Land and beyond, the last few years have been among the most exciting in Disneyland Resort history. But not every visit to the original Disneyland park has to be packed with experiencing new rides, shows, or other attractions. In fact, sometimes it’s best to make a trip for an “ordinary” day at the park.

I did just that last week, in town for Disney Interactive’s unveiling of Disney Infinity. I preceded that special event with a couple days of “normal” time at Disneyland. During that time, I had no particular schedule, able to wander the park freely and take in a few sights I’d never seen before.

January begins the “off season” for most theme parks, following heavy Christmastime crowds. Disney often takes the opportunity to freshen up parts of its parks, this year including the Main Street Train Station, hiding work behind a picture-perfect tarp. It’s something I’d never seen before as my Disneyland trips are usually during busier times.
Getting into Disneyland has become a bit of a hassle lately, as a result of ticket scams going around the area. Because discounted multi-day tickets have been unofficially rented out on a daily basis (against Disneyland policy), Disney has answered by checking the ticket of each and every person who approaches the turnstiles to see if they have single or multi-day tickets, sending them in different directions. Those with multi-day tickets are being photographed to match their faces with the tickets to ensure only one person uses each for admission. Cast members standing in front of the turnstiles are rather in-your-face about asking to see tickets, not the usual Disney friendliness and not the best way to start a day.

Once inside, Disneyland is as magical as ever. And this year, Christmas seemed to stick around longer than usual, with Sleeping Beauty Castle still covered in “snow” a couple weeks into January, a sight I didn’t expect to still see.  Christmas is a particularly enjoyable time in the park so it was nice to have a chance to experience a little bit of it, even nearly a month after the holiday.

Nearby Fantasy Faire is getting closer to completion with vibrant tents springing up. This will surely be a new experience for me next time I visit.


  1. hale-bopp

    I was at Disneyland and there was no line so I went on the Storybook Land Canal Boats just because I could. I had never been on them before and was really impressed with the landscaping and models, so impressed I went right to Casey Jr just to see them from a different perspective. Very nice rides.

  2. Pam

    This is excellent! Even with going to Disneyland my whole life, countless times, I always manage to find something I’ve never done before. I was able to cross Casey Jr. off my list not too long ago. My husband and I sat on the caboose facing backwards and it was a lot of fun. I’ll have to remember to ride it again on my next trip in just over a week. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Lexie

    January is the best and only time to visit the park. We went for my Moms 80th Birthday and did the slow tour around the park and saw so much and did new exciting things we never did in all the years we have been going. We were approached by staff who have made our trip with special offers and privilages. It is so quiet in January and even though some rides are closed, its well worth it to enjoy all that you want without crowds. Hint on off season if you go over early AM they will let you in to Main Street and its a blast to shop, eat breakfast and see everything with just a few others in the park before 9 am. Then at 10 they opened the rest of the park and you can be first in line for your favorites. We did this each morning and it was worth getting up for , unforgettable memories! Thanks for making my day with your beauitful photos., I miss Disneyland every day.

    1. Chaz

      Awesome tour, Ricky. This just makes me want to go back to Disneyland even more. And I have to agree with you about the Roger Rabbit ride. My family developed an aversion to Toontown for quite some time, so when we finally decided to check out the place again, I was pleasantly surprised by that ride, especially the queue.

      Anyways, do you know if the Blue Sky Cellar in Disney California Adventure will be updated for the new Fantasy Faire? If so, is there any chance of seeing a post on the new exhibit?

      1. Ricky Brigante

        The Blue Sky Cellar has reopened with a Fantasy Faire update. But I will be offering one better next week with a preview INSIDE Fantasy Faire!

        1. Chaz

          Awesome! I can’t wait!

  4. Blattman

    Riding Casey Jr. Train has always been fun. I like the caboose where you can ride backward or being in the Monkey Cage.
    Did you do the Alice in Wonderland ride since you said you don’t have much in Fl other then teacups

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Yes, we always make sure to ride Alice in Wonderland. It’s my wife’s favorite ride!

  5. Fred

    Great trip report! 🙂

    The plus side of the princess Fantasy Fair is that it will give families a reliable place to find and meet the princesses all day long. (Just like Mickey’s movie barn in Toontown is a reliable place to find Mickey.)

    Little kids LOVE meeting the princess, and having a place to reliably find them is a plus. Some people don’t want to “hunt” for them (Thus, the reason for Mickey’s movie barn, there is a designated place to find him in all day long.)

    Also, you have to realize that on a hot summer day, the indoor venue will be a very good thing for the princesses.

    Characters will continue to roam free on Main Street and in various other areas of the park.

  6. Malcolm I.

    You’ve never had a Disneyland Mint Julep?! I’m so glad you’ve corrected this! It’s a must everytime I’m in the park. In fact, you can even think of it as the precursor to Butterbeer, as you can get it nowhere else (that I know of). A Disneyland classic 🙂

  7. Vees Mommy

    When I was 5, we started going to Disneyland every year with my dad’s work until I was 22 (I’m now 47). After that we would go every few years when my kids were younger. After a few years we stopped going because money was tight. I then had another child and in 2008, when she was 1 1/2, we went. Everything seamed to look different. The following year we got annual passes and have gone at least once every month since. Having a little one made me see the park in a whole new way. I see on facebook some of the adults complain about things like how Bugs Land doesn’t fit the California theme, or some of the other rides and I tell them ‘If you had a little one, you wouldn’t care because they love it.’ Disneyland changes when you see it through the eyes of a child.

  8. Great review, Ricky. I recently took an Australian exchange student to the Disneyland and it was a kick to re-live the experience of seeing Disneyland for the first time through his eyes. He was not as familiar with American history, so sharing the significance of “the Rivers of America”, “Great Moments with Mr Lincoln” and “Main Street USA” made me remember what a genius Walt Disney was.
    Another often overlook attraction is Tarzan’s Treehouse. There are great views and some very clever scenes. The interactive play area is great for the hyperactive kid in all of us. “Tarzan” was one of my exchange student’s favorite Disney movies.

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