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Disney for Adults

The Best Places to Get Coffee at Disneyland

There’s only one way to start your magic morning right at Disneyland and that’s with a steaming hot (or ice cold) cup of nature’s best creation: coffee. I know it’s a…

There’s only one way to start your magic morning right at Disneyland and that’s with a steaming hot (or ice cold) cup of nature’s best creation: coffee. I know it’s a little dramatic and downright grouchy to proclaim “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee,” but that sentiment rings true for me and many others. As a native to the Pacific Northwest and having lived in Seattle for the past 6 years, I can fairly say that I’m a coffee snob and a Caffeine Queen. I’ve made it my mission to find the best coffee in Disneyland and share it will all my fellow coffee lovers!

A Little Bit of Caffeinated Disney History: In 2013, Disney knighted Joffrey’s Coffee as the official coffee of Disney Parks and since then, the quality of drip coffee has increased substantially across Disneyland and Disney World. If you’re not in line for Starbucks, you can assume you’re drinking Joffrey’s. I happen to prefer Joffrey’s taste to Starbucks, so you can’t really go wrong! For all of you who share my love for freshly brewed goodness, here are the best places to grab a coffee at Disneyland.

For those of us who love a good cup of coffee to kick off our magic morning, there are plenty of places to find it at Disneyland and California Adventure. Here the 13 best places to get coffee at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Starbucks

Let me make me myself clear: Starbucks is never my coffee preference. I will drink it if it’s available, but it’s not my first choice. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and have lived in Seattle for the past 6 years where the coffee is good. We may have created Starbucks, but we’ve perfected the art of caffeination since then. However, I still enjoy an iced grande caramel macchiato every once in a while. If you want your Starbucks fix, there are three locations on property. Two of which are under pseudonyms to blend into the Disney atmosphere:

  • Market House: Disneyland on Main Street
  • Fiddler Fifer & Practical Cafe: California Adventure on Buena Vista Street
  • Starbucks: Downtown Disney next to World of Disney

For those of us who love a good cup of coffee to kick off our magic morning, there are plenty of places to find it at Disneyland and California Adventure. Here the 13 best places to get coffee at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Jolly Holiday Bakery Disneyland

A true Disneyland classic. This where you can find light snacks, sandwiches, and the infamous Matterhorn Macaroon. They have a real cappuccino machine so you can order an espresso or a latte if you prefer something more than drip coffee. Also, I recently saw a Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake on the menu and I’m so ready for it.

The Dole Whip Donut - Disneyland for Adults: The Complete Guide #vacation #planningtips

Cappuccino Cart Disneyland

If the line is too long at Starbucks then head over to the small cappuccino cart right next to the castle.  They do freshly-made lattes and mochas and you’ll find unique treats like the once trending Dole Whip Donut here as well.

For those of us who love a good cup of coffee to kick off our magic morning, there are plenty of places to find it at Disneyland and California Adventure. Here the 13 best places to get coffee at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Hungry Bear Restaurant Disneyland

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Hungry Bear serves cold brew. The coffee itself isn’t too bad, but, if they’re serving a “specialty cold brew” made with honey and vanilla syrup, don’t do it! It sounds delicious, but man, it was bitter and bad. It could be that the proportions were off on my batch so I might be willing to give it another shot. Otherwise, just stick with regular coffee here. It’s hardly ever crowded and you get a beautiful view of Tom Sawyer Island with the new railroad track running right by you.

For those of us who love a good cup of coffee to kick off our magic morning, there are plenty of places to find it at Disneyland and California Adventure. Here the 13 best places to get coffee at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Cappucino Cart California Adventure

This cart is nearly identical to the one in Disneyland. There’s always some fancy treats in the display case and the line is usually pretty short. The location is perfect because it’s at the entrance of Pixar Pier. If you need coffee you won’t want to go all the way back to the park entrance to get Starbucks or Schmoozie’s.

For those of us who love a good cup of coffee to kick off our magic morning, there are plenty of places to find it at Disneyland and California Adventure. Here the 13 best places to get coffee at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Schmoozie’s California Adventure

You know what Heaven is? Getting an iced hazelnut latte from Schmoozie’s then heading into Animation Courtyard for a midday cool-down. In my opinion, Schmoozie’s has the best coffee in all of Disneyland. The Cast Members know what they’re doing here. If you want a coffee indulgence, try the Make Mine Mocha, a frozen chocolate espresso with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

For those of us who love a good cup of coffee to kick off our magic morning, there are plenty of places to find it at Disneyland and California Adventure. Here the 13 best places to get coffee at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Flo’s V8 Cafe California Adventure

Schmoozie’s may have the best coffee, but Flo’s is the best place to enjoy your coffee at Disneyland. The atmosphere is adorable, the crowds are thin in the morning, you get a great view of Radiator Springs Racers and the food is fantastic. Flo’s serves regular Joffrey’s drip coffee, but for me, it’s not the quality of the coffee that makes it great, it’s the whole experience. Watching the racers zip by while guests leisurely wander the area in the warm Cali morning. *sigh* So lovely.

Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Shop California Adventure

Pro Tip: Order a scoop of the Espresso Chip and a cup of drip coffee for a DIY affogato. Or, how about a hot fudge sundae and a latte before the 9:00 PM showing of World of Color? Yes, please! The yummiest place for an after dinner pick-me-up!

For those of us who love a good cup of coffee to kick off our magic morning, there are plenty of places to find it at Disneyland and California Adventure. Here the 13 best places to get coffee at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Hearthstone Lounge Grand Californian Hotel

Hearthstone serves coffee all day. In the morning, it’s a full-service coffee bar complete with fresh pastries and hot cocoa. Later, it transforms into a full-service lounge and coffee bar. If you want to take a break from the parks, head into the hotel via the not-so-secret entrance from California Adventure and take a load off at this lounge. Last I visited, I had a very special caffeinated beverage called the Cold Brew XO. Joffrey’s cold brew coffee with a splash of XO Patron coffee liqueur and heavy cream. It was so good.

For those of us who love a good cup of coffee to kick off our magic morning, there are plenty of places to find it at Disneyland and California Adventure. Here the 13 best places to get coffee at the Happiest Place on Earth!

The Coffee House The Disneyland Hotel 

This little nook is the perfect pit stop if you’re staying at the hotel or exploring the property. I like to enjoy my coffee on the steps of the wedding pavilion located closer to the Paradise Hotel. Picture perfect morning routine! The Coffee House is also the only place where you can find a Dole Whip with a shot of rum at Disneyland. YAS.

For those of us who love a good cup of coffee to kick off our magic morning, there are plenty of places to find it at Disneyland and California Adventure. Here the 13 best places to get coffee at the Happiest Place on Earth!

La Brea Bakery Downtown Disney

Ever had a Nitro Brew coffee? It’s basically a cold brew on tap so the coffee comes out super smooth. La Brea Bakery serves this yummy drink and also has the option to either sit down or use their quick service line for breakfast on-the-go. It’s my first choice for a quick breakfast on my way into the parks. Freshly baked pastries, sandwiches prepared to order, and fantastic coffee!

For all you coffee lovers out there, never fear! Each of the locations I listed has decent coffee whether you’re a lover of Folger’s or a lover of French Pressed. Also, although I feel like I can survive on cold brew alone, it’s better if you hydrate and eat healthy throughout the day. Coffee will perk you up, but healthy snacks will sustain that energy. Be sure to read my guide to Energizing Disneyland Snacks to keep the magic alive throughout the day!

What’s your favorite place to grab a cup o’ joe at the parks?

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For those of us who love a good cup of coffee to kick off our magic morning, there are plenty of places to find it at Disneyland and California Adventure. Here the 13 best places to get coffee at the Happiest Place on Earth!

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Disney’s California Adventure for Adults: The Complete Guide

90’s babies have grown up and the challenge to market to our interests has surfaced for a lot of companies. I don’t want to speak for everyone in my age…

90’s babies have grown up and the challenge to market to our interests has surfaced for a lot of companies. I don’t want to speak for everyone in my age group, but one way to strike a chord with us is to tap into our childhood nostalgia. If we visited as kids, we want to revisit the memories of vacations and if we didn’t, we probably still watched Disney movies. In response to “grown-ups” gaining an interest in the parks, I’ve written a series on what to do at Disneyland as an adult.

This park was a little easier to write about than Disneyland proper. First off, California Adventure is not a “dry park” like Disneyland. Meaning, alcohol is sold in this park and there’s a lot of it. If you don’t like to drink there are plenty of thrill rides and entertainment to peak your interest. Now that Cars Land has been added and the transformation of Paradise Pier to Pixar Pier is complete, this park is becoming a rival to Disneyland.

This article is focused on California Adventure so be sure to check out my previous adult guides to Disney:

Events

Most of the festivals at California Adventure appeal to an older demographic because they tend to be food & beverage-centric. We love posting pictures of beautiful cocktails and dishes on Instagram so why not make it easy for us? It’s basically free advertising for Disney anyway.

Food & Wine Festival: This is the baby version of Epcot’s Food & Wine in Disney World. Instead of featuring snacks and cocktails from around the world, this festival puts a spotlight on California-inspired food and beverages. I paired their version of the “frushi roll” with a wine slushie and all my Disney dreams came true.

Warm Bourbon Cider with a Homemade Marshmallow (Festival of Holidays) - Tons to do at California Adventure for Adults #disneyland #vacation #planning

Warm Bourbon Cider with a Homemade Marshmallow from Festival of Holidays

Festival of Holidays: This is my favorite festival at the parks. The food and entertainment si inspired by holidays from around the world like Hannukah, Christmas, Diwali, and Kwanzaa. Last year they featured bands like Mostly Kosher (Hannukah tunes), an all-female mariachi band, and an a cappella group that sang both Kwanzaa and Christmas songs. It was a ton of fun and I’m hoping to go back next year!

Pixar Fest (2018): I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney kept some of the elements of Pixar Fest for next year and beyond. The festival featuring Pixar-inspired beverages, food, and entertainment has been a hit. You can check out my full guides to Snacking at Pixar Fest and Entertainment for a full review.

Lunar New Year (2018): This year they rang in the Year of the Dog with food, entertainment, and character meets inspired by the holiday and culture that surrounds it. Obviously, Pluto was the star of the show. I’ll keep everyone updated if they decide to bring this one back next year!

Attractions

Soon California Adventure will feature a land devoted entirely to the Marvel canon. They’ve already transformed Tower of Terror into Guardians of the Galaxy and they’re getting ready to close down Bug’s Land to make way for more action-packed attractions.

Radiator Springs - Tons to do at California Adventure for Adults #disneyland #vacation #planning

Attractions with Single Riders: If your travel group doesn’t mind being separated, use the Single Riders Line. This will cut down your wait time considerably.

  • California Adventure: Radiator Springs, Grizzly River Run, Goofy’s Sky School (strange, but true)
  • Disneyland: Matterhorn, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, Space Mountain
Thrills

Incredicoaster: The Incredibles hype made it possible for Disney to transform California Screamin’ into an incredible roller coaster. Overall, the ride is the same as it once was with some elements added to fit the Pixar Pier environment. It’s the only large coaster on property with an upside loop.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Listen, I’m a Tower of Terror purist. When I heard they were transforming it into Guardians of the Galaxy, I was not amused. However, the Imagineers did a great job with the re-imagining this attraction. The technology is fantastic, the ride is smooth, and I’d say it’s more thrilling than Tower of Terror. I approve of this reinvention, but if they change it in Disney World, I will protest.

Guardians of the Galaxy | Green Monorail Destinations

Radiator Springs Racers: This ride is like Epcot’s Test Track on steroids and an absolute must-do. The architecture and rock work alone is magnificent and the attraction features animatronic cars that look almost lifelike.

Pixar Pal-Around: Formerly called Mickey’s Fun Wheel, now with Pixar themed gondolas. If you seek a bit of thrill, try the swinging cars that rock in and out while you rotate. Even some grown-ups find this Ferris wheel a little too intense.

Chills

Soarin’ Around the World: There are plenty of attractions that will help you wind down after a morning of coasters and high-speed rides. Soarin’ is a spectacular ride for all ages, but adults seem to appreciate the technology. The ride is relaxing and gorgeous.

Animation Courtyard: I appreciate this hidden gem so much I wrote an entire post highlighting why it’s the best attraction at Disneyland (in my honest opinion). With large projection screens featuring clips of Disney movies and sweeping orchestrations, it’s the perfect place to catch your breath before heading back out into the sweltering sun.

Animation Courtyard - Tons to do at California Adventure for Adults #disneyland #vacation #planning

Dining

Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge: “Hollywood, 1939. Amid the glitz and the glitter of a bustling, young movie town at the height of its golden age.” This restaurant is inspired by the real Carthay Circle and yes, it’s quite romantic. If you’re looking for a cocktail, the first floor has a lounge that does not require a reservation. Up the stairs is the main dining room which splits off to secluded dining areas and private dining nooks reserved for large groups. This place shares the same Chef from the Grand Californian’s Napa Rose, Andrew Sutton, so you know the food is perfection. Carthay Circle Dining Room - Tons to do at California Adventure for Adults #disneyland #vacation #planning

Wine Country Trattoria: The atmosphere is inspired by wine countries in Italy complete with an extensive wine list. I love the outdoor seating, covered in winding vines. I suggest the Spaghetti Aglio Olio. Delish!

Alfresco Tasting Terrace: Before you enter Wine Country Trattoria, take the stairs on your right. The rooftop lounge feels secluded and removed from the park hustle. You will have access to the same wine and appetizer menu from Wine Country plus a great view!

Sonoma Terrace: If you’re not in the mood for a lounge setting, near Wine Country Trattoria is a quick-service bar with outdoor seating. They serve some snacks like cheese plates and Bavarian pretzels along with wine and beer.

Lamplight Lounge (Formerly Cove Bar): As we say goodbye to Cove Bar, we greet Lamplight Lounge with open arms. The re-conceptualized lounge is stunning and features unique cocktails, sushi, and the old Cove Bar favorite: Lobster Nachos. There’s even a secret door that leads to a private dining area. I’d give this place a 5 star rating if they didn’t charge $20 a dish. Yikes!

Lobster Nachos from Cove Bar now available at Lamplight Lounge - Tons to do at California Adventure for Adults #disneyland #vacation #planning

World of Color/Paint the Night Dining or Reception Party: The World of Color package is temporarily unavailable until the show is done with refurbishment. Hopefully, it will be back soon! Much like the Tomorrowland Lounge, for an additional cost, you can indulge in specialty cocktails and snacks then watch the Paint the Night parade from a private viewing area. The dining packages are a great deal if you already plan on eating at either Wine Country Trattoria or Carthay Circle. Great way to beat the crowds and have a unique experience!

Coffee

I feel like I can never write a post without mentioning my one true love, coffee.

  • Starbucks (Pseudonym: Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe): Located towards the entrance of the park and shares a building with Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream (also delicious).
  • Schmoozie’s: Best iced coffee available at California Adventure, in my humble opinion. You can also indulge in one of their frozen blended mochas.
  • Gourmet Coffee Cart: Located at the Pixar Pier entrance. This will have always have a shorter line than Starbucks and they also have some breakfast pastries and other goodies.

Coffee at Disneyland - Tons to do at California Adventure for Adults #disneyland #vacation #planning

More Libations

There are a lot more places that serve alcohol in this park, so I made a short-list of every place you can find it. You can do a “Drink Around California” excursion akin to the “Drink Around The World” at Epcot. Best of all, you can get your drinks to-go and carry it around the park. Just like Vegas! Here’s evidence of me carrying around an Island Sunset from the (now deceased) Cove Bar. Pacific Wharf Beer Cart - Tons to do at California Adventure for Adults #disneyland #vacation #planning

Pacific Wharf Cafe: Grab an infamous soup in a bread bowl and either a “hazy” unfiltered IPA or a blood orange blonde beer.

Rita’s Baja Blenders: Frozen or on the rocks? These margaritas go well with some tamales from Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill.

Mendocino Terrace: I’ll take a cheese plate and sparkling white wine!

Bayside Brews: A Mickey pretzel and beer kiosk. Perf!

Karl Strauss Beer Truck: Need I say more?

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta: Pizza and beer, or, pizza and sangria. The choice is yours.

Lucky Fortune Cookery: Tofu and the Japanese beer: Sapporo

Paradise Garden Grill: Two kinds of Dos Equis and red sangria!

Smokejumpers Grill: Waffle fries and beers!

Flo’s V8 Café: The 50’s style diner serves wine and beer, but I’d opt for a milkshake here.

Carthay Circle Restaurant - Tons to do at California Adventure for Adults #disneyland #vacation #planning

Carthay Circle

Maybe you think I’ve drunk the Disney Kool-Aid, but I think the parks have a lot to offer to both young and old! Whether you seek thrills, a relaxing day out, or frozen margaritas, you have a ton of options. Make it a honeymoon, a trip with friends, or go rogue and do a solo Disney trip. All you need is a touch of magic,  a shot of tequila and a sprinkling of pixie dust to make the perfect Disney vacation for grown-ups!

Pin for later!Incredicoaster, specialty brews, and food festivals? Yes, please! California Adventure has turned into a playground for grown-ups and there's so much more to come! #disneyland #vacation #california #disney

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Downtown Disney for Adults: The Complete Guide

Downtown Disney is my favorite place to visit the minute I land in Anaheim. There’s no cost of admission and there are plenty of options for food, drink, shopping. It’s…

Downtown Disney is my favorite place to visit the minute I land in Anaheim. There’s no cost of admission and there are plenty of options for food, drink, shopping. It’s basically a big party and bustling with street performers. It’s the perfect way to get you excited about your vacation. If you have some time before checking into your hotel room drop your bags off at the front desk and visit for dinner and drinks! Even though it’s not quite as expansive as Disney Springs in Florida, Downtown Disney has a lot to offer. It is also designed with an older demographic in mind.

This is only one part of my Disneyland for Adults Series. Be sure to check out the rest of the guide here:

Entertainment

Splitsville: This is a brand-new bowling alley restaurant and lounge recently replaced House of Blues this year. The retro concept is gorgeous and it’s open until midnight for all you night owls. With crazy cocktails and bar food, this is a great place for a night out with friends or a friendly date night! And don’t worry, House of Blues just moved down the street if you miss the old concert and restaurant venue.

Splitsville - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

Star Wars Hyper-Reality Experience: This experience is for Star Wars fanatics over the age of 10. This is a “fully immersive” experience where you’re sent on a mission for the rebellion. You get to see, touch, and interact with the Star Wars environment along the way. Your travel group can go as a unit or join another party if you’re traveling solo is sent undercover on a mission for the rebellion.  You can find tickets for the experience here.

A Capella Groups and Street Performers: Every few steps you’ll run into either a singing group, a band, and entertainers. The performers heighten the energy which gives Downtown Disney a party atmosphere.

Downtown Disney Entertainment - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

Shopping

The Disney Dress Shop: They added this new shop to Disney World and Disneyland and I’m absolutely in love. Finally, an adult version of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique! (Without all the Fairy Godmother’s, of course.) The dresses, mostly designed by Her Universe, are inspired by the retro/Dapper Day aesthetic with a Disney twist. Some of the dresses and accessories are sold throughout the parks as well. If you like vintage, you’ll love this.

Disney Dress Shop - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

WonderGround Gallery: Gorgeous Disney-inspired art pieces like custom Vinylmations, giclées, mugs, and more. Also, if you fall in love with a giant painting, Disney can ship it to your home so you don’t have to worry about bringing it on a plane.

Sephora: There’s nothing too different about this Sephora, except perhaps, that it’s placed on Disney property. So it’s somehow more magical, eh?

Disney Home: More Mickey mugs for me! This store has taken all of the Disney themed home goods from around the parks and placed them in one centralized store. The products change throughout the year to fit the seasons.

Disney Home Store - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

Pandora Jewelry: If you’re a charm junkie you can get all the Disney park-exclusive charms here. I was never too big on charms, but it’s the coolest idea if you’re looking for something to collect every time you visit the parks. Even though they’re spendy, it’s good quality jewelry.

Coffee

The most important meal of the day! I’m gutted that my favorite place to get coffee, Haagen-Dazs, is now closed but I’m delighted that they’re replacing it with Salt & Straw. There are two other reliable sources for coffee in the area.

  • La Brea Bakery: A great place for iced or hot coffee! Plus, there’s a ton of options for breakfast like freshly baked goods, oatmeal, and sandwiches for meals on-the-go. The best place to start off your Disney day!
  • Starbucks: Unlike the Starbucks inside the parks, there’s no secret pseudonym for this location. It’s not my favorite coffee, but I know plenty of others who drink Starbucks and nothing more. FYI, you will not find the Disneyland You Are Here mugs at this location. You may find others like the California or Orange County cups here.

La Brea Bakery - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

Dining

Salt & Straw: Opening late 2018! This specialty ice cream shop started near my hometown in Portland, Oregon and will surely be a great late-night treat after a day at the parks! I have a feeling that Disney acquired Salt & Straw because Universal opened Voodoo Doughnuts, another Portland favorite albeit less family-friendly, at both of their locations.

Ballast Point: Opening late 2018! Disneyland is opening their first brewery and outdoor beer garden. This brewery is popular among Californians and based out of San Diego. The menu will also be inspired by SoCal cuisine.

Black Tap Burgers & Beer: Opening late 2018! This is a great option if you’re traveling with a mixed group of drinkers and non-drinkers. Black Tap is another local chain that will add to the new Downtown Disney vibe. The diner themed restaurant will have tons of burgers, including a vegan option, and their signature “CrazyShakes” topped with piles of cotton candy and candies.

Uva Bar: This is my favorite place in Downtown Disney. It’s an outdoor bar located right in the middle of the walkway, between Catal and Build-A-Bear. It’s a great place to take in the atmosphere, listen to the street musicians, and people watch. However, if you’re looking for a quiet dinner, this might not be a great choice.

Catal Bar | Downtown Disney | Green Monorail Destinations

Catal Restaurant: With menu items like assorted paellas and filet mignon, Catal is slightly more upscale than Tortilla Joe’s. Outdoor seating at Catal is located on the 2nd floor and a prime spot for taking in the sights and sounds of Downtown Disney. Some say they’ve caught the Disneyland fireworks from upstairs.

Naples: Due to lukewarm reviews, Naples is getting a lot of renovations. Reopening Fall 2018, Naples will have a new outside bar and patio and also 3 new wood-burning pizza ovens. This means that the food is also getting an upgrade. I can’t wait to have a glass of wine and gorge myself on a freshly made pizza under the Southern California stars.

Naples Downtown Disney - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen: This is an optimal venue for a date night. There is nightly jazz and gumbo, all set under an open-air atrium design. If you’re in a hurry, they have an express window that serves yummy cajun fried goods and their popular beignets.

Tortilla Joe’s: For a lively night out this place is an old standby. Fresh guacamole is made tableside and there’s a dedicated tequila bar where you can get margaritas made frozen or on the rocks. On Saturdays, an all-female mariachi band wanders the restaurant. Loads of fun!

Coming in the next few years, Downtown Disney will have a brand new hotel in place of Rainforest Cafe and ESPN Zone (both have already closed down). Once the hotel opens, this area will hardly be recognizable and I honestly can’t wait. They’re slowly transforming it to what Disney Springs has become in Disney World: a shopping and food mecca for young adults. I can’t wait to watch this place transform over the years!

What’s your favorite adult-friendly thing to do at Disney? Comment below!

Pin it for later!Downtown Disney is the best place to visit the minute you land in Anaheim. There’s no cost of admission and there are plenty of options for food, drink, shopping. It’s basically a big party and bustling with street performers. Make it a date night or night out with buds! #disneyland #downtowndisney #datenight #girlsnightout #nightlife

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10 Disneyland Hotel Activities for Adults

Long gone is the assumption that Disneyland is just for kids. You know who has to bring those kids into the parks? Parents! And it’s not just for parents either….

Long gone is the assumption that Disneyland is just for kids. You know who has to bring those kids into the parks? Parents! And it’s not just for parents either. Disney is for young honeymooners, groups of friends visiting SoCal, retired folks coming back for their annual visit, or solo travelers looking for an escape from reality. As someone who doesn’t have children and often travels alone, I’ve found tons of things to do in the parks that keep me coming back. So, I compiled a series of posts about what to do as a grown-up at Disneyland.

Now, I’m finally getting to my favorite part of the series! Disneyland Resort Hotels. Disneyland has three official hotels with a fourth hotel coming in 2021. All three are a little bit pricey, but even if a Disneyland Hotel is outside of your budget, there are a ton of activities, food, and drink to be explored at the resorts. Most of them completely suitable, if not made for, adults.

Check out our other three Guides to Disneyland for Adults here!

Paradise Pier

Paradise Pier is severely lacking in dining and entertainment and really doesn’t hold a bar to Grand Californian or The Disneyland Hotel. If you’re looking to stay at a Disney hotel, I would say due to the high prices, you’ll get a lower value compared to the other two. There other nearby hotels like Four Points Sheraton that would be a better choice. I will also say that it still has the Disney touch and it’s close to Downtown Disney, so it’s not a bad choice, just not the best one. There are two

Paradise Pier | Green Monorail Destinations

1) View the Fireworks from the Rooftop Pool: The firework viewing is the best thing about this resort. In true Disney fashion, they also pipe in the soundtrack while you watch. Arrive about 20-30 minutes early if you want a seat and there is plenty of standing room if you come late. This is technically for resort guests only, but I somehow found myself on the rooftop one night and I wasn’t turned away. I don’t know if everyone will be that lucky, however, so visit at your own risk!

2) Surfside Lounge: If you’re looking to a Disney bar crawl and hit up every lounge in the area, this will be the place to start off. However, if you’re looking for a good Disney cocktail, I suggest heading across the street to another resort or Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Hotel

Walt’s flagship hotel has fantastic park views and located just steps away from the monorail. The hotel is defiantly Disney in a way that’s neither cheesy or oversaturated. The rooms are filled with “magical” elements like the light-up headboards and Hidden Mickeys. If you’re a grown-up Disney fan you’ll love the theming and the historical elements scattered throughout the hotel. Last I visited, they were having a special showing of Disneyland’s opening day documentary in one of their conference rooms. It was extremely nerdy and awesome.

Disneyland Hotel Frontierland - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

Frontierland 3D Map in the Frontierland Tower

3) Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar: You’ll find the best mixed drinks at Trader Sam’s. On the patio, you’re treated to a live band and tiki torches. The indoor bar is very tiny so you will most likely have to wait in a line to be admitted. Even then, you’re not guaranteed a seat and you might have to cozy up to the bar. Once you’ve made it inside, you’re transported to an immersive tropical hideaway with really great food. Try the Chinese Long Beans or just get the sampler Pu Pu Platter. Also, I don’t want to give away too much, but if you order a Krakatoa Punch, you’re in for a surprise!

Trader Sam's - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

4) Rum Dole Whip – The Coffee House: This the one place on property that serves the classic Dole Whip with a shot of rum. Extremely dangerous! They also have coffee (duh) and specialty pastries and treats throughout the day.

5) Fancy Dining – Steakhouse 55: What’s more adult than a fancy steakhouse? The specialty is the 24 layer chocolate cake (YAS). If you want to be extra fancy, try the Afternoon Tea where you can indulge in a spread of scones and tea sandwiches. I have a preference to Napa Rose for fancy feasts, but I know plenty of others who enjoy this place.

6) Explore the Wedding Pavillions: Spread out among the finely tamed lawn are small wedding gazebos, usually abandoned, and ready for you take some Instagram pics in a picturesque setting. Sure, they may not be as grandiose as Grand Floridian’s wedding pavilions, but they’re still pretty cute. I’ve had the opportunity to run into a couple wedding ceremonies. I creepily watched from the bushes while the bride and groom made their happily ever after come true!

The Grand Californian

Napa Rose Terrace - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

Napa Rose Terrace

The most adult-centric resort is the Grand Californian and if you have the budget, this place is worth every penny. There’s poolside service, a gorgeous lobby to rest your feet, and a private entrance to California Adventure. If it’s not in your budget, you can still enjoy some of the things the resort has to offer.

7) Napa Rose: This is my favorite restaurant in Disneyland and the best place you can go for a quiet evening out. Everything is delicious and the service is excellent. On a slow night, I took my champagne to the firepits on the outside terrace. Right on the other side winding grape vines is California Adventure and you can hear the ambient music and chatter from the parks. Pure Disney bliss. If you don’t want to splurge on a full meal visit the lounge for cocktails and appetizers. I can’t suggest a single meal because the menu changes often and also because everything I’ve tried is so darn good.

Napa Rose Lounge - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

8) Get Up and Go Power Walk: This is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done at Disneyland. If you happen to stay at any of the resorts you have the ability to see the parks before anyone else that day. I mean, you still have to work for it, but it’s still pretty cool.  Every morning, a Cast Member leads a group of hotel guests through the special entrance of California Adventure and on a guided power walk. The Cast Member who lead my group worked in the corporate office and told us fun facts and stories about his life at Disney. I promise you it’s not that difficult of a workout either. As long as you can keep up with a quickened step for about 20 minutes, you should be good. I am definitely not an athletic person and I did just fine. To sign up, visit the Concierge at your hotel when you arrive and they’ll let you know if they have open spots.

9) Hearthstone Lounge: In the morning, grab a coffee or pastry and in the afternoon, grab a drink! The lounge is located inside of the lobby with decor that matches the rest of the resort. It’s a great place to escape to when you’re about halfway through your day and in need of a good, solid cocktail. Best cocktails to try: Pina CoLava or the Bourbon Flight!

Hearthstone Lounge - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

10) Mandara Spa: On my last two visits I booked a massage at Mandara and I’m officially hooked on this spa. Get a massage with your partner or a pedi with your best friend then relax in their steam room and sauna. It’s a great way to experience the luxury of the Grand Californian without completely emptying your bank account. Also, be sure to check out Groupon before booking here! I’ve found a few discounted packages in the past.

Mandara Spa - The Complete Guide to Disneyland for Adults

Whether you’re drinking at a resort or taking in a spa day, there are plenty of things to do at any of the hotels. And most of them don’t require the price of admission or even a one-night stay! Take the day off and do some shopping at Downtown Disney, grab some lunch at Napa Rose, take a walk around The Disneyland Hotel, and cap off your night at Trader Sam’s! Also, if you’re traveling with kids they can join you for most of these endeavors, so there’s no need to find a babysitter on date night. 😉

Pin it for later!You don't have to splurge on a stay at The Grand Californian to enjoy the tasty cocktails or full-service spa. All three Disneyland hotels have a ton to offer couples, friends, and even solo adventurers! #disneyland #disney #california #californiaadventure #cocktails #nightlife #solotravel

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Disneyland for Adults: The Complete Guide

Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland sparked when he was sitting on a bench watching his kids ride a carousel. He decided at that moment that his calling was to create a…

Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland sparked when he was sitting on a bench watching his kids ride a carousel. He decided at that moment that his calling was to create a park that everyone could enjoy, both kids and adults, together. Over the years, this idea has adapted with the times. We’re seeing more adults enjoying Disneyland, whether they have children or not. In doing so, Disney has responded by adding food and entertainment to keep the attendance high and their new and modern audience engaged. As a frequent guest, I can attest there are plenty of things to do at Disneyland as an adult with or without kids! I’ve highlighted food, events, trends, and entertainment that makes Disneyland great for couples, groups of friends, or solo trips.

I intended to write one post including an Ultimate Guide to Disneyland as an Adult, but it was enormous, so I’ve broken it up into four parts. Be sure to check out the other three!

Haunted Mansion - Disneyland for Adults: The Complete Guide #vacation #haunted mansion #planning

Attractions

Single Riders Lines: First and foremost! You can turn a 90 minute standby line into a 20 minute wait using the single rider queue. If your group doesn’t mind being separated that is. Occasionally, you’ll get lucky and board together or at least in the same car.

Rides with a Single Riders Line:

  • Matterhorn
  • Splash Mountain
  • Indiana Jones
  • Space Mountain
  • California Adventure: Radiator Springs, Grizzly River Run, Goofy’s Sky School (strange, but true)

Thrills

The Mountain Rides – Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Matterhorn: The Mountain Rides are the best thrills Disneyland has to offer. Space Mountain tends to be the most popular with the longest wait. Unless it’s the middle of summer then Splash Mountain will also be crowded. Pro Tip: If you can, try to time your ride on the Matterhorn during the fireworks. You get a view of the castle and fireworks up close and it’s a pretty cool experience. I’ve somehow managed to do this twice.

Matterhorn Mountain | Green Monorail Destinations

Indiana Jones Adventure: The perfect ride for 80’s/90’s babies. It has a bit of a thrill factor and throwback to some of our favorite Harrison Ford moments. The vehicle throws you around quite a bit so if you have any chronic back pain or motion sickness, I might avoid it.

Star Tours-The Adventure Continues: Disney has been updating this ride since the new movies came out and it now features some of our favorite new lands and characters. This attraction will satisfy your Star Wars needs until the new Star Wars land, Galaxy’s Edge, opens in 2019.

Haunted Mansion: This one is somewhere between thrill and chill. It has the “spooky” factor, but it’s no Hollywood Horror Nights at Universal. It’s still an all-time favorite for most. The technology was very innovative at the time it was built and proves to be impressive today. I’m also a big fan of the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay that happens every Christmas.

Chills

About halfway through the day, I start to feel overwhelmed with crowds and heat so I seek out calming dark rides, the railroad, and log ride attractions. You gotta pace yourself a bit if you want to last until closing!

Tom Sawyer Island: This is easily one of the most beautiful and underrated areas in Disneyland. The island is hardly ever crowded and features activities or hideaways that you can explore. I like it because it’s a great place to relax. Buy a chimichanga at a nearby food cart and venture to the island for a quiet picnic!Disneyland for Adults: The Complete Guide #vacation #planning #organization

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln: This attraction was Walt’s pride and joy. Abraham Lincoln was one of the first Audio-Animatronics and I can only imagine the reaction it got the first time guests saw a robot stand up by itself. This show is filled with so much American and Disney history you could just burst.

The Enchanted Tiki Room: If you’re already standing in line for a Dole Whip, you might as well stick around for the Tiki Room. Another classic that has been open since day one at Disneyland. The air conditioning is welcoming and there’s never a long wait to see the show.

Coffee

The most important meal of the day! Many of us, whether we have kids or not, depend on coffee to make our day a little more magical.

  • Starbucks (Pseudonym: Market House): I’m a Seattleite so I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks (a bit of a coffee snob), but it will definitely do the trick.
  • Cappucino Cart: Located right next ot Sleeping Beauty Castle. The line is generally much shorter than Starbucks and they feature have specialty donuts and treats. It’s where you used to be able to find the Dole Whip donut.
  • Jolly Holiday Bakery: This is where you’ll find the famous Matterhorn Macaroon and other specialty treats and sandwiches. Great place for a quick breakfast!

Dining

Disneyland may never accept alcohol into this park because every time they mention the concept, people lose their minds. This is due to the idea that Disney once intended Disneyland to be a “dry park.” That was a long time ago and they certainly allow alcohol at Club 33, so we may see a change in the future. Never fear! You can still walk 50 yards across the Esplanade and grab a cocktail at California Adventure if you so desire.

Insta-Snacks: It seems like every week Disney is cooking up another trendy dish for people to snatch up and post on Instagram. Many will scoff at those who #doitforthegram but I say bring it on! I love looking at pictures of food, especially when it’s Mickey shaped. Lately, the hype has been the Dole Whip donut and Disney World’s Millenial Pink Champagne and both are limited-time treats (I believe the donut is no longer available). Keep your eyes peeled for Insta-worthy snacks around Disneyland. The most common place to find beautiful treats are Jolly Holiday Bakery and the cappuccino cart.

The Dole Whip Donut - Disneyland for Adults: The Complete Guide #vacation #planningtips

Blue Bayou: The coolest thing about this restaurant is that it’s located inside Pirates of the Caribbean. The “nighttime” environment is dark, moody, and incredibly romantic. However, much like Rainforest Cafe, you’re paying for the atmosphere, not the food. Unless, of course, you’re talking about the Monte Cristo. It’s the only thing worth shelling a pretty penny for.

Cafe Orleans: What this place lacks in atmosphere, it gains in food quality. The menu is absolutely incredible and catered to an adult appetite. They serve the same famous Monte Cristo as the Blue Bayou and also the infamous Mickey beignets. If you can’t get a reservation at Blue Bayou, try this one! (I like their entrees better here anyway!)

Mickey Beignets - Disneyland for Adults: The Complete Guide #vacation #planning #tips #organization

Carnation Cafe: This restaurant has been around since the park’s opening in 1955. It’s lead by Chef Oscar Martinez, the longest-tenured Cast Member who just celebrated 60 years with Disneyland. If you’re a Disney nut like me, you’ll love the sentimental values of this restaurant. If you’re a foodie (also like me) you’ll love the food here. They serve comfort foods like fried pickles, baked potato soup, and Walt’s favorite meatloaf.

Fantasmic! Dining Package: If you plan on having dinner at either Blue Bayou, River Belle Terrace, or Cafe Orleans, you might as well book it with the Fantasmic! Dining Package. The package includes a 3-course meal and a reserved spot in the preferred viewing area. Unless you want to camp out for an hour, it’s difficult to find a clear viewing spot for the show so the dining package is the way to go.

Fantasmic | Green Monorail Destinations

Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge Experience: For an extra price, you can indulge in some Disney snacks and watch the fireworks from a private viewing area in Tomorrowland. The reservation allows you to come and go as you please, from 8:00-10:00 at night. Great option for a group of friends!

Events & Entertainment

Disneyland After Dark: This year Disneyland launched a special-ticket event series where they keep the park open late to host a themed night-out. The first theme was Throwback Nite where guests were encouraged to wear their Dapper Day best and the second was Star Wars Nite. Each event hosts themed entertainment and photo ops. You can check out the official website here for any updates regarding upcoming events.

Late-Night Shopping: The shops on Main Street usually remain open after close for about an hour, so don’t rush out after the fireworks! It’s the perfect time to peruse the stores and collect your souvenirs. It’s also the best time to get your castle pictures since the crowds will have died down.

VIP Tours: This is a fantastic idea for big Disney fans or frequent visitors who are looking for something unique to do. The most popular tour is Walk In Walt’s Foot Steps, which takes you on a guided tour through the history of Disneyland. I hope to someday take The Grand Circle Tour which explores Walt’s love for trains and also where you’ll get to ride in the special parlor train aboard the Lily Belle.

Golden Horseshoe Review: If you’re looking for a fun date night this campy dinner show might be a good option. If your party is full of introverts you might want to try Blue Bayou though! The show involves a little bit of audience interaction, so don’t be surprised if they call you out!

Photo Shoot: I’m a big fan of perusing Disney Instagram’s before dozing off. Now that everyone has semi-pro phone cameras, a lot of Disney fans have gotten creative with their photography. There are dedicated walls and popular spots to take selfies and portraits around the parks and it’s a fun way to pass the time. For inspiration, Disney Style explored some fantastic places to take your Disneyland photos.

My generation was born in the height of Disney’s second golden era with classics like Beauty & the Beast, Toy Story, Lion King, and so on. It makes our heart melt when we hear the sweeping orchestration I Can Go the Distance or watch Ariel and Prince Eric dance together in Fantasmic. More grown-ups are visiting without children and those with children are enjoying the parks more than ever. Disney seems to have taken advantage of this and as time progresses, so will the parks. I’m interested to see what they will add to spark the interest of future generations!

Also, if you’re looking for tips for visiting Disney World in Florida as an adult, head over to Lissy Through the Looking Glass for Disney for Adults -7 Things to Try if Thrill Rides Aren’t Your Thing.

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Disneyland is no longer just for kids! Here's a complete planning guide for visiting Disneyland as an adult. Grown ups can have tons of fun too! #disneyland #california #vacation #coffee #planning #organization

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Entertainment Guide to Disneyland’s Pixar Fest

I’m not a big fan of overlays or the over-saturation of seasonal festivals. I give exception to the holiday overlays like it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion, or Epcot’s…

I’m not a big fan of overlays or the over-saturation of seasonal festivals. I give exception to the holiday overlays like it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion, or Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival,  but other than that I think they’re kinda cheap and lazy. I probably wouldn’t feel this strongly if Disney didn’t raise the ticket prices every year and CEO Bob Iger didn’t have the potential to earn 423 million dollars in bonuses while his employees go hungry. End rant.

But I digress, because here’s the thing, despite all the politics that Disney has been haphazardly battling, I absolutely fell in love with Pixar Fest last week. How do you keep pulling us in, Disney? How do you continually win us over with your spirit and tenderness and make us spend thousands on park tickets and food? Obviously, I was skeptical going in because I expected it to be a couple of banners and regurgitated old parades. And yes, it was basically that as far as the atmospheric elements.

But, I think it’s a good time merely for the fact that the festival is Pixar themed. The movies and the music from those movies captured our hearts, so naturally, if we see a Bing Bong themed parade float or hear a Dapper Dan rendition of You’ve Got a Friend in Me, you’ve won us over. Due to this alone, the festival had just the right amount of heart, charm, fun, and nostalgia. Watching the crowd light up when Owl City’s When Can I See You Again began as Tinker Bell lead Paint the Night preview was incredible. I’ve never seen so many Disney fanatics lose their mind over a parade. It was magical and we were all crying over our churros. The festival runs now through September 3rd, 2018, so take a look below at our guide to get yourself better prepared!

Pixar Fest Sign California Adventure

Atmosphere

There are some hidden touches here and there adding to the Festival, but not enough that will hinder your experience if it’s your first time. I know people who have only ever ridden the Haunted Mansion with the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay because it’s the only time they’ve ever visited. There are some decorations and of course, the giant Pixar Fest sign hanging above the entrances. My favorite touch is that the Esplanade (the large walking area connecting the two park entrances), which plays a fresh new background soundtrack featuring Pixar soundtracks as opposed to their normal backtracking. It’s a subtle and super sweet detail. And of course, there are the Pixar monorail makeovers. Other than that, there are themed banners hanging about and the new Pixar Pier sign has been branded on the future Incredicoaster.

Pixar Fest Incredibles Monorail Disneyland

Entertainment

Initially, I thought bringing back two former parades is a bit of a cop out, but they did add a couple of new floats and characters that are quite adorable.

Luxo Lamp Pixar Fest Disneyland

Luxo Lamp Float on Preview and Media Day

Pixar Pals Character Spot (Paradise Garden Grill at California Adventure): Throughout the day, this new spot features characters like Woody, Mike & Sulley, and Russel from Up. It’s a good chance to meet some friends that are more difficult to find.

PhotoPass Spot (Cars Land): The cars parked at PhotoPass spot at the “Welcome to Cars Land” entrance are dressed up and looking adorable!

Cars Land PhotoPass Entrance Dressed Up for Pixar Fest

Dapper Dans and Disneyland Band: The regular Disney musicians will perform some Pixar soundtracks and songs in their daily performances. A very cute touch.

Pixarmonic Orchestra (Paradise Garden Bandstand at California Adventure): This was the best discovery for me. The most adorable ragtime band that plays their renditions of Pixar songs and jokes in short, 30-minute sets. They were hilarious, ridiculous, and super talented artists. Here’s a short video I got of their performance last week.

Pixar Play Parade (Disneyland Day Parade): This is another old parade that they spruced up a bit. It was cute and all, but it was no Paint the Night, of course. They added a couple new floats and characters including Inside Out and Up. And also, you guys, the moment I saw Russell riding Kevin, I flipped the heck out. It’s so cute.

Joy and Sadness Inside Out Float at Pixar Fest Disneyland

Paint the Night Parade: If anything, I think the whole festival is worth it if you can catch this parade. Fans were furious when they prematurely removed this gorgeous and technologically advanced parade a few years ago. But now it’s back! Imagine grabbing a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate in your Coco souvenir mug and settling up for that 10:30 showing on a warm summer night. *sigh* Pure Disney comforts.

Mike Wazowski Paint the Night Parade for Pixar Fest in California Adventure

Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular: The special fireworks that feature all the beloved Pixar movies is full of heart. So much heart that the person standing next to me was sobbing through the entire show. I definitely teared up a bit myself, don’t get me wrong. It has that extra special Disney touch where they combined touching images, well-timed fireworks, and just the right amount of sweeping orchestrations to pull at your heartstrings and say  “Ok Disney, take all my money, you’re worth it.” The best part is that the same projections that are displayed on Main Street and the castle are also projected on the front of it’s a small world, the water features used in Fantasmic on the Rivers of America and The Matterhorn. So it’s easier to get a nice view of the show.

Reason being, Disneyland’s castle is much smaller than Disney World’s so the projecting mapping technology doesn’t work quite as well for big crowds. Disney had to figure out how to bring the same experiences of Disney World’s firework displays to Disneyland. Their solution is brilliant, which is to apply the projections to other areas of the park, not just the castle. If you want the castle experience, I had a great time watching from the middle of Main Street. I could see all the projections, have a bit of the castle experience, and didn’t have to wait 3 hours to see it. Also, there’s an awesome surprise during the Coco segment on Main  Street!

Green Alien Together Forever Fireworks for Pixar Fest in Disneyland

Pixar Shorts (Sunset Showcase Theatre – previously Muppet Theatre- at California Adventure): I never quite got over the fact that they turned the Muppet Vision 3D Theatre into a regular movie theatre to show previews (i.e. advertisements) for upcoming Disney movies. It seemed so unnecessary to me. I did really enjoy watching the Pixar Shorts in this venue, however. Throughout this summer, they are having a special showing of 3 Pixar shorts which are For the Birds, Lava, and Piper. This is actually quite cute because they made the show 3D and use other special effects like wind and wall televisions to add to the presentation. Best way to experience this? Grab an iced coffee from Schmoozie’s and settle in for an air-conditioned 20-minute break.

Pixar Shorts Disney Pixar Disneyland Green Monorail Destinations

Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar: This little cozy cove tucked away next to the Wine Country Trattoria is only open when the parks are previewing new attractions. The last time it was open was in 2013 they were displaying the new Starbucks that were moving into the parks. They’ve reopened the walk-through attraction to preview all the concept art and concept models for Pixar Pier and also play a short movie depicting the Imagineering process. It’s a cute display and also offers some escape from the heat for a short bit.

Pixar Pier Concept Model for Pixar Fest California Adventure

Souvenirs

In honor of Pixar Fest, California Adventure has opened their new souvenir shop, Knick Knacks, located on Pixar Pier (formerly known as Paradise Pier). They added some new merch to the shop and a kiosk where you can print some Pixar art and take it home with you. For more details on the special merchandise, you can visit Disneyland News.

Pixar Fest Merchandise California Adventure in Disneyland

Pixar Fest Merchandise California Adventure in Disneyland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pro Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Experience

  • No need to stand in line! If there’s a line for that Sulley Popcorn Bucket or the Paradise Garden Grill, come back later. Throughout the day, the line will come and go. Especially if it’s a bit later in the summer.
  • When To Go: Pixar Pier in California Adventure along with the renovated Incredicoaster and Lamplight Lounge (formerly Cove Bar/Ariel’s Grotto) will open on June 23rd. The parks are likely to be a madhouse the first week of opening so if you do visit during that time, I highly advise purchasing the MaxPass to help with the lines. If you have the chance, go later in the summer. Pixar Fest lasts until September 3rd and the crowds will go down closer to fall. And it will be slightly (slightly!) cooler.
  • Check out disneyland.com for parade and show times throughout the summer and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for future updates! (See how I snuck that in there?)

This festival won my heart and I have a feeling it will for you too! Hopefully, they can pull some more events like this in the future and it will only get better once Pixar Pier is open!

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The can't-miss guide to food, drink, and entertainment at Disneyland and California Adventure's Pixar Fest this year!  #disneyland #vacation #food

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