Despite what your judgey friends and family might say, there is absolutely no shame in planning a vacation to Disneyland for adults only. Of course, you might be asking yourself, “Is Disneyland fun for adults?” to which I’d say that the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, I’d even say that it’s likely to be more fun than going with kids. You’ll have the freedom to ride whatever you want without worrying about rider swaps and height requirements or having to ride Winnie the Pooh twelve times because one of the kids is obsessed with it (unless you are too, in which case go for it). With plenty of amazing attractions, shows, and food – plus the soon-to-open Star Wars land – the park is every bit as fun for grown-ups to enjoy. My Disneyland guide for adults features my favorite activities, eats, spots to take a break, and tips for making the most of your visit. And before we get any further…this post is about Disneyland park aka the original in Anaheim, California. If you’re heading to Walt Disney World in Florida, you’ll want to skip over to this guide to the parks in Orlando. If not, keep on reading to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the top things to do in Disneyland for adults.
- 1 The best Disneyland rides for adults
- 2 The best shows at Disneyland for adults
- 3 The best dining for adults at Disneyland
- 4 Must-try snacks at Disneyland
- 5 Other things to do at Disneyland
- 6 Awesome photo spots at Disneyland
- 7 Places to relax at Disneyland
- 8 Star Wars land for adults
- 9 Other Disneyland for adults tips
The best Disneyland rides for adults
Thrill rides are always my answer to this question. While families with kids are stuck outside the entrance getting small kids measured and/or dealing with rider switches, you’ll be able to breeze right into the queue on some of the most popular Disneyland park rides. Even though Disneyland’s thrill rides are somewhat tame by roller coaster standards, they’re still a lot of fun, and no visit would be complete without hitting the many mountains. The Matterhorn is a classic Disney coaster, and is unique to Disneyland, so you’ll definitely want to hit that one if it’s your first visit. Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Space Mountain round out the collection of thrills (and mountains) at Disneyland in addition to being my perpetual favorite Disney rides. Another one of the best Disneyland rides for adults is Indiana Jones Adventure in – you guessed it – Adventureland. While it’s one of the top rides in the park hands down, I’m willing to bet that Indy is a lot more familiar to adults than kids these days, so you’re likely to have a stronger connection to the ride than a youngster would. Fun fact for those of you who’ve visited Disney World before: Indiana Jones has the same ride system as the Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom but somehow manages to be about 37x better. Don’t skip it. Indy also sometimes offers a single rider line, which is easier to take advantage of on an adult Disney vacation because it’s less desirable to get split up when you have young kids in your party. Don’t just limit yourself to the thrill rides though. You’ll also want to hit Pirates of the Caribbean in New Orleans Square. Out of the three Pirates versions I’ve personally ridden, this has been my favorite. Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters in Tomorrowland is another tame ride, but it allows you to get some healthy competition going. You might feel a little bad about destroying your kid by 500,000 points, but when you’re competing against other adults, there’s no reason not to go all out. You can even make a bet that the lowest score treats everyone to Mickey Bars or popcorn to give the game some stakes.
The best shows at Disneyland for adults
Disneyland attractions aren’t just about the rides. There are so many other things to do for adults at Disneyland. First and foremost is the fireworks show at the end of the night. This is where being taller than kids works to your advantage – you might actually get to catch a glimpse of the projections on the castle during the show. Disneyland’s central hub has lots of trees and Sleeping Beauty Castle is shorter than you might be used to from visiting other parks, so you’ll want to get there early to snag a spot with a good view. Fantasmic! Oh my goodness, Fantasmic! (The exclamation point is part of the show’s title, though to be honest it also aligns with my feelings about it.) I’d never been particularly wowed by the Disney World version of Fantasmic!, but Disneyland’s (the original) is an absolute must-see. You’ll be wowed by the Columbia sailing ship’s transformation into a pirate ship complete with swordfighting in the rigging and other fantastic show elements. Like the fireworks, getting there early and being tall both help you snag a view. I’d even go so far as to say that if you have to choose between Fantasmic! and the fireworks, go with Fantasmic!.
The best dining for adults at Disneyland
Hands down, the Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square is the best restaurant at Disneyland for adults. The dining area resembles an outdoor square at night and if you’re lucky you might just get a table that allows you to watch Pirates of the Caribbean boats floating by. It’s absolutely gorgeous inside, and captures the atmosphere perfectly. My first visit was for lunch and emerging back out into the park in broad daylight was momentarily confusing because of how well the restaurant recreates nighttime. It’s also a perfect spot for a date if you’re looking for romantic spots at Disneyland with your significant other. Pro tip: If you want to try their famous monte cristo sandwich (highly recommended) you’ll want to book a lunch reservation. If your budget is more of the quick service variety or you forgot to make a reservation at the Blue Bayou, the Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland has great menu options for adults. The restaurant is themed after Beauty and the Beast, but the food doesn’t have any strong theme. Cheeseburgers and flatbreads fill out the menu alongside samosas and surprisingly tasty poutine. It’s a great spot for a group with different tastes since there are a mix of options. Grab a slightly lighter meal at Bengal Barbeque. This little spot in Adventureland is great for a meal or a pick-me-up during the day. You can get full entrees, or protein-packed skewers for a lighter meal.
Must-try snacks at Disneyland
Disney snacks are the best. It’s just a fact. And while lists of the best things to do in Disneyland are usually ride-centric, leaving snacking off of them is an actual crime. Here are a few that you have to try. It’s a scientific fact that when at Disneyland, anything mouse-shaped is magically even tastier, and that definitely holds true for the Mickey beignets served at the French Market in New Orleans Square. These powder sugar-loaded pastries are the perfect sweet treat. Even better? The pumpkin spice version offered during the fall are to die for. Dole Whip, a pineapple soft-serve snack has become synonymous with Disney parks and I don’t consider a visit complete without one. You can snag one at the kiosk in Adventureland and enjoy its pineapple-y goodness. Mickey Bars – These incredible mouse-shaped ice cream bars are delicious. It took me years to actually try one because, “meh, they’re just ice cream bars.” Well I was wrong and I missed out on years of enjoyment. These somehow taste 100x better than your typical ice cream bar and the flavor of the chocolate coating is a perfect match for the rich vanilla ice cream inside. Named after the Mary Poppins song, the Jolly Holiday bakery on Main Street is the go-to spot for those Instagrammable sweets you’ve almost certainly seen pictures of. Their colorful macarons are delicious and gorgeous, and their seasonal desserts are usually drool-worthy.
Other things to do at Disneyland
Don’t be shy about getting in line to meet a character. I actually find Disneyland’s character meet and greets to be better than Disney World’s and you can get all kinds of fun photos. Make sure you take a few minutes to meet the Mouse himself. If you’re competitive like me, take your visit up a notch with this intense scavenger hunt written by a fellow former Disney Cast Member. Beware: this isn’t your average “find a hidden Mickey” list. You’ll have to work to win, but it’ll be worth it. One of my favorite ways to pass time in the park – especially on crowded days when the lines for rides are long – is just exploring the little hidden details. Take a walk down Main Street and see if you can spot famous names on the windows or enjoy the lush jungle of Adventureland.
Awesome photo spots at Disneyland
- In front of the castle – This one’s pretty obvious, but no trip to Disneyland is complete without a castle shot. My favorite spot is right in front of it. If you’re really serious, you’ll want to take photos in the daytime and then come back at night for some shots with the castle all lit up.
- The Walt Disney bench – Walt reportedly came up with the idea for Disneyland while sitting on a park bench that has since been relocated right into the park. You can find it in a quiet alcove along Main Street and snap a photo of this little bit of Disney history.
- In front of It’s a Small World – The exterior of Small World at Disneyland is gorgeous. For extra beauty, swing by for a Christmas photo during the holiday season for extra special lights.
- In front of the Haunted Mansion – This Disney classic has a beautiful design and perfectly captures the foreboding atmosphere. Strike a pose with a scared face to show everyone how much fun you’re having.
- The Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland is gorgeous with its hanging lanterns and brightly colored teacups (I love them so much that I own this replica coffee mug). There’s even a cup to pose in outside of the ride if you just want a picture without actually having to take a spin.
Places to relax at Disneyland
Despite the fact that some benches have been removed from the park recently, there are still plenty of places to take a break if you need it.
- Take a break while riding – Just because you need to chill out for a bit doesn’t mean you have to forego attractions. Some of my favorite places to relax at Disneyland are actually on rides themselves. The Columbia and Mark Twain riverboat both offer relaxing circuits around Tom Sawyer’s Island and give you a nice break while enjoying some Disneyland fun. Just don’t confuse them with the canoes because you’ll be put to work paddling yourself around instead of relaxing. The monorail that departs from Tomorrowland is a classic experience and unlike the version at Disney World, you need a park ticket to enjoy it, so make sure you take a lap during a park day. The Disneyland railroad is another relaxing attraction that will not only give you a break, but save you some walking if you want to move to another area of the park.
- Tom Sawyer’s Island – The little island in the middle of the Rivers of America is a quiet escape in the middle of Disneyland. You can explore the pathways and structures that play tribute to the stories of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn or just enjoy a quiet spot in the shade.
- Duck into the Main Street Cinema – This theater on Main Street is a great air conditioned spot for a break. It screens old Disney animated cartoons. They’re less than 10 minutes long, so it’s easy to duck in for a quick visit or stay as long as you want. For a slightly longer commitment, check out the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln show a the Opera house nearby.
- Grab a seat at the Harbour Galley – This restaurant in Critter Country offers a seating area right along the Rivers of America. You can hang out in this slightly off-the-beaten-path location and enjoy view of the Columbia and Mark Twain passing you by.
Star Wars land for adults
I missed the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge by a couple weeks on my last trip, and I’ll be eternally jealous of everyone who’s getting to check it out. In its early days, the only way to access the new land is by booking a timed reservation in advance – and your departure will reportedly be enforced by actual Storm Troopers. Is it terrible that that almost makes me want to overstay my time and turn myself in just to be escorted out by the marksmanship-challenged baddies? Only one of the rides is currently open, but word on the street is that it’s incredible.
Another major change is that for the first time in its 60+ years, you can now buy alcohol in Disneyland. Oga’s Cantina is serving up some specialty drinks, and I just really want to hang out in that bar.
I’m still quite a ways from getting to visit myself, so if you’ve been, let me know what you think! I’ll live vicariously through you.
Other Disneyland for adults tips
- You have every right to enjoy yourself as the kids do. Don’t be shy about hopping in line to meet a character or ride one of the Fantasyland rides.
- But maybe don’t shove in front of a kid who has been patiently waiting for the parade to start or trip them so you can be first in the line to meet Moana.
- Since you don’t have kids with you, take advantage of the single rider lines. They’re available on Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, and Matterhorn. Make sure to check to see if the single rider lines are operating the day you’re visiting there as they’re not always available when crowds are lower. I have yet to see the Indy single rider line going, but I’m told that it’s regularly open.
- Make sure you use the free Fastpass service to save yourself some time. Most of the top rides offer the opportunity to reserve a time to return to a shorter queue later allowing you to check out other rides, grab a snack, or just explore.
- Wear your best walking shoes to avoid blisters and sore feet. My picks are here, including the life-changingly awesome pair that had me feeling like I was walking on clouds at midnight after walking more than 12 miles parkhopping between Disneyland park and California Adventure.
- Bring a refillable water bottle. You’re going to want to stay hydrated and buying bottled water is expensive. Toss a bottle in your daypack and refill it at drinking fountains throughout the day so you never have to go without water. Your body and your wallet will thank you.
- Don’t forget sunscreen!
- Most third party ticket vendors aren’t legit, so beware when trying to buy cheap tickets. However, Undercover Tourist is an official Disney partner, so their tickets are real. I’ve used them on my last few trips and it’s nice to save a few bucks.
Do you have any other tips for Disneyland for adults? Let me know in the comments so I can check them out on my next visit. Don’t forget to save this info for later on Pinterest!
We weren’t able to do near as much as I wanted to a Disneyland due to crowds when we were there, but I completely agree about going as an adult. I love taking my kids, but it’s a blast on that rare occasion that I get to visit the parks with just my hubby and a girls trip would be a dream!!!
I love Disneyland, and I totally agree that it’s more fun going as an adult than as a kid! What’s the picture of the pink and purple dessert though? It didn’t look like the mickey ears ice cream or the macarons you described!
Those are Cheshire Cat tails also from the Jolly Holiday bakery.
Love Disney! Have never been to the CA Park, but have gone to Florida and Paris, which are totally different. Gotta get to CA soon!
One of my friends posted yesterday that he doesn’t understand adults who love Disney. PFFFT!! We went to Disney World a few years ago and it was SO much fun! I’d love to go to the original Disneyland… and totally up for going without kids!
Great read! I’ve only been to Disneyland not Disney World, but I’ve been trying to convince my boyfriend to go to Disneyland with me – I’m definitely going to show him this post!