Disneyland in Anaheim is a short drive from Los Angeles, and a portal to a strange utopia where you can experience life like a child, even if you don’t bring a child with you. In fact, don’t bring a child with you. You’re now an adult who can do whatever you want, and this makes Disneyland a very different and wonderful place.
Go on a weekday
If you absolutely hate lines and crowds, check Is It Packed before making Disneyland plans (and also while you're there — it has real time updates of the wait times for all attractions). The best days to go are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and if you can wait until the crowd prediction is “Ghost Town,” you’ll have the best chance for very short wait times.
You can also take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner down from Union Station in Downtown L.A., which is a beautiful train ride, and there’s a shuttle from the Anaheim station straight to the parks. If you’re driving, park at Downtown Disney for direct access to the parks via tram, minus the parking fees!
First things first
Your first stop before entering the park should always be Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. It’s a pretty excellent spot to prepare for your adventures. Depending on the drinks being ordered, there are special effects that happen throughout the bar.
After a drink or two, make the short walk to Downtown Disney and jump straight onto the tram to the park.
Once in Tomorrowland, check your app for ride wait times to secure FastPasses. (I’m a huge Space Mountain fan, so I get a FastPass before riding anything else to ensure my peace of mind.) With your favorite FastPass in hand, it’s time to mill about the rest of the park. Buzz Lightyear is a fun way to get competitive with your friends. No grudges in the Happiest Place on Earth!
Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean have very fast-moving lines that are cool and shady if it’s sunny, or you can ride Indiana Jones as a Single Rider to skip the line. You might not get to sit with your friends, but you’re not a kid, so you don’t care. Winnie the Pooh is a psychedelic winner of a ride.
And if it’s melting hot out there, you can put your electronics in a free locker by Splash Mountain, get soaking wet, and go get a Dole Whip at the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland. This is like the PG version of the bar you started out at, and it has a beautiful variety of animatronic birds who sing slightly culturally uncomfortable songs.
Is it 4 p.m. yet? If so, Carthay Circle has opened and it’s calling your name to the other park. Unlike Disneyland, California Adventure has alcohol. You can have a late lunch in the beautiful art deco second floor, but the bar downstairs is the place to have a snack and a beverage. They have a robust California wine and beer selection, and sometimes they have deviled eggs. Who doesn’t love a deviled egg?
For the rest of the R-rated guide to Disneyland, including how to spend last call at the park, visit Fodor's.