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Ruminations - Disneyland: Ten Things You Should Not Miss!

Ruminations - Disneyland: Ten Things You Should Not Miss!

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It’s no secret that Walt Disney envisioned Disneyland as a place where the whole family could enjoy themselves. And that is exactly what millions of us have done since it opened on July 17, 1955. For some guests, the big challenge is to see and do as much as possible during their stay. Yet, it always seems as though something is missed. You might know the feeling. It’s that kind of Christmas morning, after having opened all the presents. That was great, but somehow you think there is more!

Luckily, that little extra touch of magic is not so hard to find, as you’ll see with these ten things everyone should not miss during a visit to the “ Happiest Place on Earth”. So here we go and in no particular order...

If you’re looking for that Disneyland experience to take you back to that opening day, there is no simpler way than a trip along the Rivers of America aboard the stern-wheel steamboat, “Mark Twain”. From a comfortable chair on the bow, there is no better way to take in the magic. You get to see the hustle and bustle of river traffic, Frontierland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country along the way. And the view along the way still unfolds at the same pace it did back in 1955.

Photo: Roger Colton collection

If a voyage on the water isn’t your choice, then how about a ride on the Disneyland Railroad? Consider that Walt’s passion for trains played a key role in the park’s early design, and you’re right back to those early days. The Freight Train was one of the two train sets that circled the Park on Opening Day. It has the Caboose on the rear. Be sure to ask the Conductor if you can ride inside. That’s a treat you won’t find even at many railroad museums!

Photo: courtesy Elliot Fong

If you have ever wandered down Main Street, at one time or another you’ve heard the sounds of ragtime piano coming from the Coca Cola Corner. Spending a few minutes relaxing here with Rod Miller or one of his fellow piano players is always good for a smile and some toe tapping. It’s another one of those traditions guests have enjoyed for many years.

Photo: Jeff Lange

If you’re looking for something you might not have tried for a meal at Disneyland, explore Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port in Tomorrowland. Of course, you can get pizza, but there are plenty other tasty options including salads and pasta of all kinds. There is plenty of seating here -- both inside and out-- and with it’s out of the way location, it tends not to be quite as busy as other some of the other choices for dining inside the Park.

Photo: Disney

Don’t overlook Disney’s California Adventure! A visit to the Animation building and a few minutes in the Lobby watching highlights from many of the classic Disney animated films is a great experience for everyone. That moment from your favorite film might even pop up on one of the many screens around this great room!

Photo: Disney

For many people, Disneyland’s Tiki Room is a great place to spend a few moments relaxing in the cool of air conditioning on a warm afternoon. Would it surprise you to learn that that the California Adventure has a someplace similar? Check out “Seasons of the Vine” at the Golden Vine Winery on your next visit. You’re seated in the cask room of the Winery for a look at what happens during a year in the vineyard. Great music and a wonderful presentation offer a unique insight into a growing part of the California lifestyle and economy. And if you’re eligible, ask about wine tastings. A great way to learn a bit about some great California products while relaxing.

Photo: Disney

With the Grand Californian Hotel right next to California Adventure, it offers another lesser-known spot to sit down and relax for a few moments. Whitewater Snacks may be located next to the hotel’s very popular swimming pool, but it tends to be a quiet retreat with a good variety of snack, sandwiches and tasty treats -- all reasonably priced -- with both indoor and outdoor seating. I’ve always enjoyed checking out the photographs of vintage camping experiences here, while recharging before heading off for the rest of a day.

If you are a guest of the Grand Californian, you won’t want to miss out on what I think is one of the best free opportunities in the entire Disneyland Resort. Check in with the Concierge Desk for details on the “Art of the Craft” tour. I’ve enjoyed it several times, and learned a few interesting details about the hotel and the Craftsman style of decor that I was not aware of before. Frankly, it was fun and impressive, and a definite “not-to be-missed” part of a stay here.

Photo: Disney

On some recent trips to Disneyland, I’ve enjoyed dining at Hook’s Pointe at the Disneyland Hotel. It’s not hard to find, but it seems that most guests never do. And that’s all the more their loss. It offers a great menu with some wonderful wine selections, and a whimsical flair of decor you would expect from the name. The staff is very attentive and has even been at the ready to trade a pin or two!

Photo: Disney

Downtown Disney has all kinds of great shops and restaurants waiting to be explored. It seems I’m usually enjoying a light breakfast at the La Brea Bakery, hoping for another visit to Ralph Brendan’s Jazz Kitchen for great food and music. A room at the Grand Californian with a Downtown Disney view doesn’t hurt either. But just strolling along taking in the various musicians performing along the way is a fine way to enjoy a pleasant evening here. On more than one occasion, this has been the perfect way to end the day at Disneyland right before catching that tram back to the Mickey & Friends parking area.

Photo: Disney

There are plenty of opportunities to find your own special place during a visit to Disneyland. I hope that you get the chance to enjoy one of these ten or even create a special moment just right for you and yours on that next visit. From what I’ve heard over the years, Walt would have wanted it just that way.

Again, thanks to everyone for your continuing support of the Red Cross and other Tsunami Relief organizations. It’s enlightening to see that we all can still share when it is important to do so.

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