10 Must Do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers

10 Must Do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers - Mickey Balloons

Last October I took my first trip to Disneyland Resort – such a dream come true. I was lucky to visit with my friend Nick who is a bit of a Disneyland pro and he was able to show me the sights and let me in on some absolute must-dos! I thought I’d put down my 10 must do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers in case anybody has a trip planned!

10 Must Do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers

Consider a MaxPass

Before you even step through the gate (or actually just after you do) you might want to consider a MaxPass – Disneyland’s answer to the electronic FastPass. Disneyland currently operates a system that sits somewhere between the paper FastPass system and Disney World’s FastPass+ system. Without MaxPass, you have to visit the rides to manually get a paper fast pass ticket. With the MaxPass, you can book each Fast Pass electronically. It means you can book a fast pass for a ride the Disney Californian Adventure while standing in Disneyland. MaxPass is currently priced at $15 a day but I found it so worth it. It means you don’t have to hop from attraction to attraction to get the next FastPass and you can snag that elusive Radiator Springs Racers FastPass while chilling out in Cafe Orleans!

It will be worth checking the crowd calendars for your visit to see if you want to budget for a MaxPass,

Stop by the Fire Station in Disneyland Park

Entering Disneyland for the first time is such a magical experience and something to be savoured. When you come to the bottom of Main Street, there’s a fire station on the left and above that is Walt Disney’s personal apartment. It’s worth stopping by outside the fire station to say hello to Walt or even just recognise the place that he would watch all his guests enetr the park.

Take in the Original Main Street and Castle

Like I said, entering Disneyland for the first time is something to be savoured. The same applies to walking down the original Main Street USA. Pay attention to the shops, the fixture and fittings on the upstairs level. I love the arcade style shops, Jolly Holiday at the end of the row, the ice cream shop. Taking a seat and people watching was one of my favourite things to do here.

Even though Disneylands Castle is nowhere near the size of the other parks, it is no less special. This pint-sized Castle is teeny by dreamy and is of course located at the end of Main Street USA. Be sure to take a wander through it to soak it in!

Ride the Original Rides

There are still so many of the original opening day rides at Disneyland and you’ll want to ride them! Snow Whites’ Scary Adventure and Mr Toad’s Wild Ride are two of the opening day rides that are no longer available at Disney World (and Mr Toad’s is in no other park at all now!). Other opening day rides include Peter Pan’s Flight, Mark Twain’s Riverboat (where you can now meet Princess Tiana), King Aurther’s Carousal, Jungle Crusie and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party are all worth a spin!

Disneyland has some many original concepts and it’s so exciting for any Disney fan to know that Walt had a personal hand it coming up with these rides. All these feelings can be summed up just by riding one ride that you ABSOLUTELY CAN’T MISS – the Disneyland Railroad. Make sure your ride the entire loop so see some wonderful touches that Walt personally had added in!

It’s also worth riding the Matterhorn and Alice in Wonderland – not opening day rides but brought in very early in Disneyland’s history!

Look out for Wandering Characters

One of the biggest charms of Disneyland is that the characters just wander around – and they’re not bombarded! We saw Belle and Beast riding the carousel and then went for a walk with them in Fantasyland, had a cup of positivi-tea with Alice and Hatter and met Gaston lurking around the castle! The characters are really good at managing their own crowds – one woman tried to cut into our conversation with Hatter to get a photo and he was having none of it until he’d finished his cup of tea with us.

The vibe around characters is a lot more chilled here – probably something to do with the majority of guests being annual pass holders – this is totally normal for them!

Stop by Cafe Orleans for Pommes Frites and the Monte Cristo Sandwich

This list is about to get a bit food heavy – but with good reason and I couldn’t write a guide about the 10 Must Do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers with including this next bit. The Pommes Frites and the Monte Cristo sandwich are the stuff of Disneyland legend! We made a reservation for Cafe Orleans just by walking up in the morning but it can also be done via the Disneyland App, 60 days in advance.

The Monte Christo sandwich – a croque-monsieur sandwich which is a battered turkey, ham and Swiss cheese treat dusted with powdered sugar and served with berry purée is just a taste sensation. Combined with Pommes Frites – topped with garlicky Parmesan served with Cajun spice remoulade – you’ve got a meal big enough to share! Even then I struggled to finish my Monte Cristo!

While we’re here, a word on Cafe Orleans… Its the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the park. You can sit inside and check out some of the vintage Disney artefacts or out on the patio where you can watch the world go by. It’s also home to the original espresso machine that served Walt his coffee – so if it’s your thing, you might want to try an espresso at the end of your meal.

10 Must Do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers - Mickey Beignets

Try the Mickey Shaped Beignets

One of my favourite Disneyland snacks has got to be the Mickey Shaped Beignets, available from the Mint Julep Bar, located in New Orleans Square. Topped with powdered sugar, these beignets not only look good but taste amazing and make the perfect breakfast to start your day in Disneyland. They also offer seasonal flavours – during Halloween season it was pumpkin spice and at the time of writing this blog post, it’s butterscotch beignets on offer.

While you’re at the Mint Julep Bar, you’ve also got to try the New Orleans Mint Julep – a refreshing mint drink with a hint of lime! It’s a Disneyland staple!

10 Must Do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers - Incredicoaster

Ride Incredicoaster in the Dark

The most iconic ride in Disneyland Californian Adventure has got to be Incredicoaster (previously Californian Screamin’). Ride with the Incredibles as they try to find and chase down Jack-Jack. It’s not just about speed, you experience many things that use all your senses (no spoilers!) but this is exactly why it’s better at night. seeing the blur of Californian Adventure as you blast off and ride through tunnels and loop the loops only enhances the experience. Obviously, if you can ride it both in the day and at night do both but if you only get the chance to do one or the other – make it a nighttime ride!

Race through Radiator Springs

Think Test Track at Epcot but with everything from the theme to car ride heightened by 100%. Even if you’re not a Cars fan, you’ll fall in love with Radiator Springs Racers. Like I’ve said, the theming is excellent and this ride is perfect for all the family who loves a little thrill. Don’t worry if you’re not a ‘ride’ person – even my none ride loving friend loves Radiator Springs Racers – this is a reason alone for it to be added to my 10 Must Do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers list!

10 Must Do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers - Cosy Cone

Stop by Cosy Cone Motel for an I-cone-ic Snack

Disneyland is full of tasty (and very Instagram-able) snacks. One of my favourites is the mac and cheese cone from the Cosy Cone Motel. It comes in a bread cone that is edible leaving barely any waste. If mac and cheese isn’t your thing – there’s also churros, popcorn, ice cream, ‘route’ beer floats and pretzels!

One more thing…

You may notice a few omissions from my 10 Must Do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers list, such as watching the night parade – Paint the Night which is one of the best Disney parades I’ve ever seen!- or the World of Colour firework show. These things are seasonal and not available all the time which is the only reason they haven’t made the core list! I’d also recommend seeing Fantasmic if it’s on(usually weekends only) and keep an eye out for any castle firework shows! Make sure you check the schedule before you head to Disneyland.

So those are my 10 Must Do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers. Disneyland is a very special place and I’m still so grateful to have been able to visit.

Don’t forget, if you’ve got a Disney trip planned and need help or have any questions, be sure to join our Facebook group – #CLROhana – to connect with other Disney Park fans who have lots of tips for every Disney Park around the world!

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10 Must Do’s at Disneyland for First-Timers