Between Star Wars Land construction and overly successful marketing, Disneyland is running short on an essential commodity – space. The park is ensuring that every square inch is pulling its weight, but that’s not always a good thing for guests. But don’t lose hope, there are still a few relatively open spaces remaining for guests who need to escape the crowds.
Snow White Grotto
The name is a slight exaggeration. It’s more of a wishing well, which sings “I’m Wishing” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs every few minutes. There are also statues of Snow White, the dwarfs, and some woodland creatures surrounding a waterfall.
Main Street Cinema
Some of Walt Disney’s original Mickey Mouse cartoons (including Steamboat Willie) play in a continuous loop in the Main Street Cinema. It’s more of a tribute than an attraction, and it’s nearly empty most of the time.
Coming from the main entrance the little theater is on the right along Main Street USA, and guarded by Tilly the ticket seller. It’s also air-conditioned, meaning that even this location can draw in people on hot summer days.
Yes, weapons, even most toy weapons, are prohibited in Disneyland, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still buy a metal sword or dagger. The heraldry shoppe can even give some family histories from Europe if you have the right family name.
Going straight through the castle from Main Street, the shoppe is on the right immediately on entering Fantasyland. It serves as a good opportunity to stand alone and check out some medieval weaponry and family crests.
For a few patriotic guests, the attraction is a must, but for most people the animatronic president is a low-priority. That means there is always an open seat and plenty of room in the waiting area, where a Steve Martin-narrated video from Disneyland’s 50th anniversary plays on a loop.
Coming from the main entrance, Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln is on the right when entering Main Street. Not only is the show historical, but it’s also air-conditioned.
That list might seem a bit short. As a crowd-adverse Disneyland fan, I used to have a few more options for taking a breather, but some of those spaces have been put to productive use.
Until the end of last year, Aladdin’s Oasis (formerly known as Tahitian Terrace) in Adventureland was typically empty. The small dinner show that occupied the space was closed in the 90s leaving the area open for people who just needed a moment between waiting in lines. Now, it’s a quasi-restaurant serving boxed lunches and preferred seating for the Paint the Night parade.
Big Thunder Ranch was another sparsely populated area – home to the occasional special event and school band performance. Now, that’s gone, and will become Star Wars Land sometime in 2017 (or later).
Even time is against the crowd-averse Disneyland-goer with traditional off-seasons getting narrower and more people coming in the early morning.
Still, the list above list is not exhaustive (and it’s probably not permanent either). Most other underpopulated areas are dependent on the time of day. Although it’s more crowded than it used to be, the early mornings (before 10 a.m.) are still a decent time to find a lack of people. And for a limited time, the Disneyland Railroad is shut down for Star Wars construction, but the stations are still open and allow people to sit and learn some things about the historic rail cars.
Otherwise, the best solution might be to leave the park for a bit. The picnic area just outside the security gate is frequently empty, and there are some decently underpopulated areas in the Grand Californian Hotel. Of course, once Star Wars Land hits Disneyland, all bets are off.