As I stood in line for the washroom on a flight to Los Angeles, I overheard a flight attendant ask the older gentleman in front of me if he was headed to Disneyland. He chuckled and stated that “nobody went to Disneyland without kids.”
He was wrong.
People may think Disneyland is a vacation destination exclusively designed for kids, but there are plenty of adults who also enjoy visiting the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
When my younger sister and I planned a trip to Southern California recently, she confessed that she had always dreamed of visiting Disneyland. Even though she was more than 30 and now the mother of two children, she still wanted to live the dream — with or without her kids. Adding a couple of days at Disneyland seemed to be the best solution.
When you are travelling without kids, you’ll want to approach the parks a little differently. Here are a few recommendations for top spots for adults at Disneyland. These can be useful for those visiting the parks without kids as well as those who want to enjoy a little adult-oriented relaxation during a family trip.
Dining — No need to survive on chicken nuggets and fries when you are travelling without the kids! There are several good dining options right inside the park.
The best restaurant in or near the park and a great choice for a romantic evening out is the Napa Rose Restaurant inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. The attire is casual and the place is upscale pricey, but their Smiling Tiger Salad and truffled mac and cheese are exquisite. They also have an excellent wine selection with 35 sommeliers on staff, including the GM who has earned the prestigious rank of grand sommelier. For dessert, try the Tahitian vanilla Crème brûlée.
In the Disneyland Park, consider eating at the Blue Bayou restaurant in New Orleans Square. They serve seafood, chicken and beef entrees and are quite well known for Monte Cristo sandwiches at lunch. The atmosphere is unique because the restaurant is in the bayou portion of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Shows — Disney knows how to put on a great show and hires some of the best professional dancers and singers to perform inside the parks. Too many families who visit the parks miss out on these shows. There are many performances to enjoy throughout the day, but here are a few personal favourites.
At Disney’s California Adventure, be sure to check out the new World of Colour night show and Disney’s Aladdin — A musical Spectacular.
In the Disneyland Park, the top shows are Fantasmic and the Magical fireworks show.
Rides — It’s hard to imagine even the most jaded curmudgeon not enjoying the Soarin’ Over California ride in Disney’s California Adventure Park. Other favourites for kids of all ages in the California Adventure Park include The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, It’s Tough to be a Bug and the California Screamin’ roller-coaster.
In Disneyland, Indiana Jones Adventure, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railway, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain and It’s a Small World are popular rides with grown-up guests.
Take a break —It’s always nice to take a little break from the parks and there’s no better way to do that than by spending an afternoon at the spa. The Mandera Spa at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa offers relaxation massage, facials, aroma stone therapy and many other treatments designed to relax and rejuvenate.
I had a hot stone aromatherapy massage that was divine and my sister enjoyed a relaxing Balinese massage.
If visiting a spa isn’t your thing, consider an afternoon at one of the championship golf courses near Disneyland.
There are also several excellent shopping malls in close proximity to the parks that offer a great change of pace for a morning or an afternoon.
World of Color — The latest and greatest news from Disneyland theme parks is the premiere of a new night-time spectacular at Disney’s California Adventure Park called World of Color. The show just premiered on the evening of June 10 and was accompanied with a red carpet celebration that included visits from some of Hollywood’s top stars.
World of Color uses more than a thousand fountains, projections, lasers, fire and music to bring to life some of Disney’s most loved animated movies. There is some incredible technical wizardry that makes it one of the best shows in either park.
To guarantee yourself a great spot for the show, consider purchasing a World of Color picnic lunch that includes a boxed lunch and fast passes to the best viewing area in the park.
Picnic meals may be ordered online at: www.disneyland.ca or by walk-up purchase at the Sonoma Terrace, Golden Vine Winery. Picnic meals purchased online will include reserved viewing for the first show and walk up picnics will include reserved viewing for the second show. They are not available for order via the Disney Dining dedicated line. A picnic lunch will cost US$14.99 per person.
You can also get a free fastpass to watch the show at the kiosks by the Grizzly River Run ride in Disney’s California Adventure. For the moment, you need to get up early to get the pass.
Spring and summer Disney deals — Disney has two current offers that could save you money on a spring or summer visit.
The first deal gets you two more days and nights free when you purchase a three-day package that includes park tickets and accommodations at one of the three Disneyland hotels or at several Anaheim area hotels. Basically, you pay for three days and get to stay for five.
The other offer is up to 40 per cent off a Disneyland hotel stay.
These offers must be purchased by Sept. 1 and travel must take place by Sept. 26.
Vacations may be booked through travel agents, online at www.disneyland.com, or by calling the Walt Disney Travel Co. at 1-800-854-3104.
Debbie Olsen is a Lacombe-based freelance writer. If you have a travel story you would like to share or know someone with an interesting travel story who we might interview, please email: DOGO@telusplanet.net or write to: Debbie Olsen, c/o Red Deer Advocate, 2950 Bremner Ave., Red Deer, Alta., T4R 1M9.