Grab your oversized Mickey ears — we’re off to Disneyland! As the self-proclaimed happiest place on earth, the park’s reputation precedes itself. With fun for the young (and young at heart), the magical destination has something for everyone.
The best part? Wherever you call home, there’s a Disneyland within plane, train, or flying-carpet distance. North America has locations in Orlando and Anaheim, Europe has a park in Paris, and Asia has locations in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. No matter which park you’re headed to, there are the 10 things you can’t miss on your Disneyland experience.
First things first — if you’re visiting a Disneyland theme park for the first time, it’s important to arrive with a ticket and a strategy. Guests can book in advance or at the park itself. Once you’re in, make sure you don’t miss out on any of the classic experiences (like exploring every park’s castle) by grabbing yourself a map to get started.
2. Swing by the castle
While every Disneyland is a little bit different, every park’s magical castle is a must-see. Visitors to the Anaheim, Hong Kong, and Paris can snap a picture of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, inspired by Princess Aurora. Tokyo’s park features the Cinderella Castle, which is based on the original in Orlando. Shanghai’s Enchanted Storybook Castle is the largest and most modern castle to date.
3. Tick all the boxes on classic rides
Embrace your inner child and experience a few of the park’s most iconic rides. Aside from the famous roller coasters at each park, there are also a few local versions of park classics. If you’re in Paris or Anaheim, you can jump into the swirling chaos of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups or enjoy the cute kitsch of “It’s a Small World.” Hanging out at Shanghai’sDisney Resort or Disneyland Hong Kong? Then dive into the imagination of Christopher Robin and discover “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.”
4. Opt for light-speed lines
If time is of the essence and you’re only at the park for a short time, consider grabbing a Fast Pass when booking your tickets. Whatever your location, with this handy time-saver by your side, you’ll be able to make like the Millenium Falcon and speed to the front of lines for rides, park attractions, and even the character meet-ups!
5. Tempt your taste buds
You’ve probably worked up an appetite from all the excitement of the rides, so refuel with some Disneyland treats. The menus are pretty consistent across parks, so you can look forward to some classic standards like popcorn and ice cream. From Disneyland Tokyo’s multicolor soft serve to churros, dessert is covered. To make sure your meal is appropriately Instagram-friendly, don’t forget to pick up one of the many Mickey-shaped items like Disneyland Shanghai’s chicken nuggets and pizza.
6. Get some face time with your favorites
Donald, Goofy, and Minnie — no matter the park, the gang’s all here. And since Disneyland’s mascots are famous for never breaking character, you can live out your childhood dreams of meeting these classic cartoons. You’ll also find the freshman class of characters at your Disneyland of choice. Popular new heroes like Elsa and Anna from Frozen are ready to entertain the younger generation, too. If you’re at the Anaheim location, you can even meet new characters like the Star Wars crowd-favorite BB-8.
7. Document the thrills
Want to relive the magic of the rides and adventures once you’re back at home? Don’t forget to grab a photo or two from the post-ride booths. Each park has its own spin on the classic Space Mountain rollercoaster, so once you’re done enjoying the ride, you can reminisce for years to come.
8. Explore the neighborhood
Aside from the classic park area itself, it can be worth branching out and exploring a little. Each Disneyland parks takes the fun to another level and offers guests dozens of restaurants, cinemas, and pretty much anything you could dream up. There are even Disney-themed day spas — what more could you ask for? Additionally, some locations even feature park extensions like Tokyo’sDisneySea and California’s Adventure Park.
9. Dine in style
It’s hard to go hungry at Disneyland. After all, there’s food around nearly every corner (really). From restaurants and street carts to quite a few fine dining (themed, of course) restaurants, there’s something for everyone. If you’re in Shanghai, head to Lumiere’s Kitchen for a delicious patisserie afternoon tea. If you’re in Paris, enjoy a meal fit for post-pumpkin Cinderella at Auberge de Cendrillon.
10. Be your own Sleeping Beauty
If you’re heading out to the park for a day or two, why not stay the night? In Hong Kong you can spend the night at the Disney Explorers Lodge, which is even more exciting than your average themed hotel. Here, the hotel incorporates the jungle concept into guestrooms, with suites based on each of the four unique tropical climates of Asia, South America, Africa, and Oceania.
11. Bag a birthday bonus
Combining your birthday and the happiest place on earth is the recipe for the perfect day. Not only will you get to enjoy the usual rides and adventures, you also get an extra gift from Disney. Mention your special day at any park and you’ll receive a badge that ensures all park characters give you a special birthday shout out each time they see you.
12. Go souvenir shopping
It goes without saying, a pair of iconic Mickey or Minnie ears are almost part of the Disneyland guest uniform. Stopping to grab some souvenirs is an experience in itself, with nearly every Disney film and TV show represented. There is literally something for everyone, from Simba-shaped backpacks to Cinderella-themed phone cases.
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