Touring Disneyland can be hectic. There is so much to do that guests often find themselves rushing to attractions, shows, parades, and restaurants. Sometimes I find I need a little break from the hustle and bustle of the park. Around the park are some interactive hidden gems that provide entertainment and a bit of a break for just a little extra money. Luckily these extras don’t break the bank. All are under a buck, and some are even free!
On Main Street I like to venture into the Penny Arcade, which is also part of the Candy Palace, for some fun and games. In the doorway are game machines like the Esmeralda fortune teller. For twenty-five cents she will give you a fortune card that includes some lucky numbers. Also near the entryway is the True Grip Challenge, for a quarter you can test the strength of your grip. Apparently I am not very strong, I always rank as a “butter fingers”. For another quarter, check your power-pep appeal with the Electricity Will Do It machine; see how long you can hold on as “volts” of electricity course through your hands.
Also in the Penny Arcade are eight antique motion picture machines, also called Mutoscopes and Cail-o-Scopes, which show a flip picture movie for a penny. I always get a couple chuckles out of the stories here. These are also easy for children to look through because there is a raised step for them to stand on to view inside the machine.
Towards the back of the shop is a Pinocchio marionette machine. Once a quarter is deposited a song will play and guests can press buttons to move the arms and legs of Pinocchio to make him dance. Next to the Pinocchio machine is the Welte Orchestrion, which was recently restored and plays songs every seven minutes. Best of all the orchestrion is free! Another free experience in this store is watching the candy makers. I always find it fun to watch the candy makers craft delectable treats sold at the Candy Palace. I also usually give into temptation and buy a few as snacks.
Two other free opportunities are found on Main Street. The Main Street Cinema offers a cool place to take a break from the crowds and enjoy some Mickey Mouse cartoon classics. Then in the Main Street Magic Shop is a neat detail; on the wall is an old telephone in which you can hear the famous magician Harry Houdini.
Near the Sleeping Beauty Castle in the Fantasy Faire is another free opportunity, Clopin’s Music Box. Just wind the crank and the music box will play “Topsy Turvy” and the scenery will come to life. Be sure to look inside and try to spot the characters that are present at the Festival Fools that you might not expect to find in that scene.
Frontierland is my favorite places for under a buck fun. Inside the Pioneer Mercantile store are two experiences, each only cost a quarter. First is Woody’s Ho-Down, which is similar to the Pinocchio game on Main Street. Once the song starts to play, the player or players press buttons to move the marionette’s arms and legs to make him dance. The second opportunity tucked in a corner of the shop is the Nelson-Wiggen Orchestrion. Unlike the orchestrion on Main Street this one costs a quarter. It plays a variety of songs from the early 20th Century like “Shine on Harvest Moon” and “By the Light of the Silvery Moon.” I like this one better because it is in a less trafficked area and offers a better view of the instruments playing inside the machine.
The Shootin’ Exposition in Disneyland offers more fun for under a buck. Fifty cents will buy 25 shots at about 100 different targets in the town of Boot Hill. Some targets move and are a little more difficult to hit; fortunately for bad shots like me, there are some easy to hit targets as well. When targets are hit shooters are rewarded with a variety of rewards from sounds, movements of targets, or lights.
In New Orleans Square tucked into an alcove on Royal Street by the Pieces of Eight shop visitors can find Fortune Red. Fortune Red is a pirate who holds a treasure map and for a quarter he will share a fortune card. While he is predicting the fortune you will hear a familiar pirate tune and the map will light up as Fortune Red points to it. The fortune card offers some advice and a little Jolly Roger history.
Pirate Treasure and Fortune with Red.
In Adventureland in the shops next to and in the Bengal BBQ seating area you’ll find Shrunken Ned. If you are a fan of corny humor you’ll like this one. Shrunken Ned Jungle Witch Doctor is similar to Esmeralda and Fortune Red, but this time since he is a witch doctor he will analyze your hand and give you some advice. Shrunken Ned will give you a ticket with his advice, which like the other fortune teller type machines makes a cheap souvenir. Shrunken Ned’s advice will cost you fifty cents.
In the same shop area of Shrunken Ned’s is Aladdin’s Other Lamp. For fifty cents rub the lamp and adventurers will receive the wisdom of the Genie and have their future revealed. Not a bad deal! Listen carefully though because this fortune telling machine does not print out a ticket.
All of these paid for experiences do require change. Change machines are located in the Penny Arcade/Candy Palace, by Shrunken Ned in Adventureland, and at the Shootin’ Exposition. There is a change machine in the Penny Arcade that will give out pennies for quarters.
Each of these experience offer Disneyland guests a little something extra to their day for little to no extra money. I love that these little experiences not only add a fun quick diversion and break but add extra storytelling to the land they are in. To me that extra little magic is worth an extra buck or two.
I am a lifelong Disney fan. I have traveled to Walt Disney World numerous times, I still long for the Epcot of the late 1980's. In recent years I have experienced other Disney destinations like Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and the Disney Cruise Line. I teach middle and high school science in a small town in Wisconsin where I live with my husband and my miniature schnauzer. I spend most of my time dreaming of my next vacation.