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Things to do in Anaheim CA - Visiting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland

Things To Do In Anaheim – Disneyland In A Day

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If you’re looking for things to do in Anaheim, it doesn’t get any better than Disneyland. Having been to both Disneyland and Disney World several times, I often find I prefer the smaller Anaheim park. Disney has taken the best rides and themes from the four major Florida parks and combined them into the two California parks.  It’s also very convenient to stay at the Anaheim hotels; you don’t have to pay to stay at a Disney resort to be close to the parks.  And, because it’s all Disney, spontaneous fun can happen anywhere.

Good Morning Disneyland!

Try to get to the park as soon as it opens, and head right to Tomorrowland. If you have a Star Wars fan in your family, you’ll definitely want to try to have them participate in the Jedi Training Academy.  Arrive at least 10 minutes before the show starts – check the Disneyland schedule for times.

Some tips to help get your child selected are:

  • Stand toward the center and close to the ropes.
  • Bring signs to show your Star Wars spirit.
  • Wear Star Wars themed clothes.

If your young Padawan is chosen, the child will be trained on how to properly use a light saber and will eventually battle either Darth Vader or Darth Maul. It can be quite intense and exciting for young kids! Adults will also love this show; it’s filled with dry humor and plenty of Star Wars jokes. If anyone in your family loves Star Wars, this show is not to be missed!

Things to do in Anaheim - Jedi Training Academy in Disneyland

Participating in the Jedi Training Academy can be a dream come true for young children.

Next, make sure to visit the new Star Tours ride while your skills at using the force are still sharp. Your goal is to deliver a rebel spy to safety and that spy may just be in your family! There are 54 total story combinations so you can ride again and again to experience a different adventure.

Another one of our favorites in Tomorrowland is the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride, where you compete with your children to see who can score the most points and win against the evil Zurg by hitting targets with your own personal laser gun. If the lines aren’t too long, you’ll want to ride this attraction a few times. Trying to beat your score is addicting for adults as well as kids!

Before you leave the land of the future, your kids may also want to blast off in an Astro Orbiter, and bigger kids and adults should definitely ride Space Mountain, an exciting indoor roller coaster, Space Mountain, which my daredevil kids really enjoy.

When you’ve finished exploring Tomorrowland, head out to your right and through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle to Fantasyland, home to every princess your child could ever hope to meet. The spot to find them all is the Disney Princess Fantasy Faire. One my favorite rides in this area is Peter Pan’s Flight, where you’ll climb aboard a pirate ship and fly over and through Never Land on an amazing adventure. For a more exciting ride, try the Matterhorn Bobsleds, a twisting, turning roller coaster that is not for the faint of heart. You might even see the Abominable Snowman!

Afternoon Adventures in Disneyland

At this point, you may be ready for lunch. Disney’s quick service kids’ meals are a good value. The portion sizes are reasonable and they come with a drink and a choice of sides, which range from fries to apple slices.

Post lunch, turn right after the Matterhorn Bobsleds to head to Mickey’s Toontown. This is the place to meet the Mouse himself, along with all of his friends. They’re all in or near their own houses, so stop by and visit with whomever you’d like. Don’t forget your autograph book!

Speaking of autograph books, here’s a tip: buy a photo album or spiral-bound sketchbook and some Sharpies at your local craft store before you leave on your trip to Disneyland. Have the characters sign the right side pages and then, when you get home, put the photos of your kids with the characters on the left-hand side.  It makes a great memory book and souvenir!

In Mickey’s Toontown, younger children will particularly like Gadget’s Go Coaster, a short, fast roller coaster with plenty to look at along the way. The lines tend to be short here, so they can ride as often as they’d like.

If your children get tired, you can head back to the hotel to take a nap, as it’s generally very convenient to get your hotel in Anaheim, no matter where you’re staying. However, if the family is up to it, press on.

Go back through Fantasyland and head to the right to make your way to Frontierland. Take a rumblin’, tumblin’ ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (due to reopen Fall 2013). Then make your way to New Orleans Square. In this area, start at the Haunted Mansion, which may not have changed much since you were a kid! The portraits still change and ghosts still join you at the very end. You also must ride the Pirates of the Caribbean. Sing along to “A Pirate’s Life for Me” and see how Jack Sparrow and his band pillaged the unfortunate towns where they docked.

A Spectactular Evening in Disneyland

Grab some dinner in the park or find a spot on the strip right outside of the Disneyland Resort called South Harbor Boulevard. You’ll be sure to find something that meets your family’s needs.

If your children are still awake and functional, you should definitely head back into the park after dinner to see the parade and/or Fantasmic!, an event that showcases many familiar Disney scenes through Mickey’s dreams using both live characters and video clips projected on water. It’s the perfect way to end your day in Disneyland and is truly not to be missed!

For a great hotel, check out Hilton Anaheim, which is right across the street from the Disneyland Resort. If you have another day in Anaheim, see my article about the Disney California Adventure Park.

Ellen B works for the Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand marketing team. She has two thrill-seeking sons, ages 8 and 10, who love sports, roller coasters, and all kinds of animals. They have already taken four family vacations to Orlando and Southern California theme parks!

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