I’m sure it’s different for everyone. It depends on how many times you’ve visited, what you enjoy, or who you’re with.
For me though, it’s almost always the same.
Here is MY perfect day at the Disneyland Resort:
The day starts early at Disneyland Park. Maybe not rope drop, but soon after. My goal, though, isn’t the same as the masses that are pouring into the Happiest Place on Earth. I’m not running to Fantasyland or to one of the E-tickets.
My first stop is the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café. I’ll grab a cookie or muffin and a large Diet Coke (I have no financial relationship with The Coca-Cola Company), then find a table at the outer edge of the patio.
There I will sit, enjoying my caffeine of choice, listening to the Main Street music loop, and watching the excitement of the families as they head off to their adventures.
After the soda is gone and the crumbs are cleaned up…and maybe a bathroom break…I’ll take a walk around the park. I’m not sure why, but I always start out my perfect day going clockwise around the park, strolling through Adventureland or Frontierland first.
I’ll usually skip Critter Country and Toontown, but otherwise a grand circle walking tour around Disneyland is in order, just to take it all in and see what’s new.
With that complete, it’s time to see if any Disney friends are in the park and to make lunch plans. If we stay in Disneyland Park, a French Dip Sandwich (no horseradish) at the French Market is what I must have. If we decide to cross the Esplanade to Disney California Adventure, then a Lemon-Oregano Chicken Skewer (no cucumber salad, extra rice) from Paradise Garden Grill is in on the menu….as long as the regular menu is being served.
With lunch taken care of, it might be time to hit an attraction or two. It doesn’t matter what attraction, because there will always be another trip to catch anything we’ve missed.
After the excitement of the attractions, it’s time for some relaxation inside the air conditioning of the Carthay Circle Lounge. More than one Carthay Manhattan and the rest of the day is wasted, so I’ll stick with just one.
If we’re still in Disneyland Park at this point in the day, an ice cream cone from Gibson Girl is a worthy substitute, especially if it can be enjoyed while watching the afternoon parade.
Since this is my perfect day, it has to include the Flag Retreat Ceremony at Disneyland Park, so I’ll check the times guide while I enjoy my Manhattan and/or ice cream cone, and we’ll head off to that next.
As the sun goes down, it’s time for us to start thinking about dinner. Nothing fancy….maybe a walk over to Tangaroa Terrace at the Disneyland Hotel, something in Downtown Disney, or the Chicken at the Plaza Inn…which I’ve been smelling ALL DAY. Yes. It will be the chicken.
Any perfect day at Disneyland, even mine, has to end with fireworks…of course, Remember Dreams Come True would be preferred, but any fireworks will do.
Then it’s a quick trip through the Emporium…not buying…just looking, then the long line for the tram or bus.
Now that I write it all down, it doesn’t really look like much, but it is.
I’ve spent the perfect day in my happy place. I’ve taken a walk around the parks. I’ve enjoyed some park entertainment. I’ve eating some good theme park food (and maybe drink). I may have even gone on an attraction or two.
The perfect day, though, really isn’t about any of that.
The perfect day is about the feeling I get when I watch a young family’s excitement as they see Sleeping Beauty Castle for the first time; the prefect day is about sharing an attraction or meal with a friend; the perfect day is about the patriotism I feel while watching the Flag Retreat; the perfect day is about being tired at the end of the perfect day; and the perfect day is about knowing you’ve done what makes YOU happy.
As I said in the beginning, your list is probably different, but no matter how many attractions you hit or fine dining experiences you enjoy, I hope the basics are the same: take in the excitement around you, share it with a friend, honor your country, enjoy your day to the fullest, and do what makes you happy.
That is the perfect day.
Tom is the host and producer of the DIS Unplugged: Disneyland Edition podcast, plus Disneyland Editor of The DIS. He enjoys traveling with his wife and teenage son. At this point, their favorite destination is Alaska, with a FIFTH cruise there planned for the Summer of 2019. In his spare time he volunteers with Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and help found his son's former Cub Scout Pack. His favorite Disneyland attraction is Space Mountain.