Disneyland is full of whimsy, magic and so much more. It’s not just a theme park; it’s a step into your favorite childhood movies, a chance to be a kid again and a celebration of all that makes you the character you are.
And despite what you may think, it’s not just for kids. Disneyland is the perfect setting for a romantic adventure full of twists and turns (literally).
Even more so this year, as Disneyland rolled out a new monthlong Valentine’s Day theme – Jan. 22 through Feb. 18 – complete with romantic decor, yummy treats and a special scavenger hunt.
We had never been to Disneyland before and, honestly, Mike wasn’t 100% sold on spending a full day of our SoCal vacation at a theme park. But it didn’t take much to convince him we had made the right decision once we arrived!
Learn more about our date at Disneyland and follow us on a virtual journey through the areas of the park we explored. We’ll provide you tips, tricks and even some hidden secrets that will make for an unforgettable experience!
Wait, let’s back up. Before you even get to the entrance, do yourself a favor and download the Disneyland app and create an account. You don’t want to waste time (like we did) standing at the park entry registering.
Once you physically enter the park, the app will allow you to purchase the Disney MaxPass, which is your ticket to Instagram-worthy photos and fast-track entry to attractions at both Disneyland and the adjacent Disney California Adventure Park (more on this park to come).
For just $15 per person, you can cut time waiting in line AND get digital downloads of your attraction photos and every picture that the park’s professional photographers take of you – sent right to your phone.
Snag your first photo op as a happy couple at the entrance’s Mickey flower “portrait”.
Main Street, U.S.A.
Alas, here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy. Or at least that’s what the archway says at the entrance to Main Street, U.S.A.
If you’re visiting during the Valentine’s Month celebration, stop by the “sweethearts” photo moment in Town Square, then visit one of the shops to purchase a scavenger hunt map and stickers ($6.99) to search for the hidden valentines throughout the park.
When you complete Minnie’s Valentine’s Surprise scavenger hunt, return your map to the shop to receive a set of souvenir Valentine’s day cards – the epitome of young love. Remember elementary school romances? These cute Disney valentines will make you and your significant other feel so nostalgic.
Along Main Street, you can also pick up your first Mickey-shaped candy. These delicious suckers are available at many of the shops. While you’re there, be sure to tell the cashier if you’re celebrating a special occasion (like a birthday, anniversary or honeymoon) and if it’s your first time visiting. They’ll give you free pins to wear! Ours said “Happily Ever After” and “1st Visit”.
If you go to the Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner, you can check out one of the hidden secrets in Disneyland: the most famous lightbulb in the park. If you look up at the entrance, you’ll notice one of the lightbulbs is half-red and half-white.
According to a park historian we met, when Walt Disney visited the park and saw two red lightbulbs next to one another, he told the Imagineers to design a solution around this. Hence: a bulb that is both colors. (If you walk around the corner, though, you’ll find two side-by-side red bulbs that seemingly went unnoticed by Walt.)
Beyond Main Street and encircling the Walt and Mickey “Partners” statue are the entrances to the various “lands”. If you only have one day to do Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park, you won’t get to all of the lands, so consult your map to decide which attractions you’re most interested in.
We started our adventure in Tomorrowland and headed to Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters for a little friendly competition. (Guess who the winner was?!)
If you’re looking for more of a thrill, be sure to check out the famed Space Mountain. Although more tame than many modern rollercoasters, this indoor ride is a blast!
By now, we were hungry for lunch, so we made our way next door to Alien Pizza Planet – yet another nod to our love for Toy Story. We tried the pizza (of course) and the bow tie pasta, which were both delicious.
Unfortunately, Sleeping Beauty’s castle was under construction during our visit (and will remain closed through the spring), BUT we did run into one of Disney’s famous couples near the entrance of Fantasyland!
Cinderella and Prince Charming were two of the many characters we saw posing for photos with guests throughout the park. Among others, we saw Buzz Lightyear, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and The Mad Hatter.
It’s amazing how spot-on some of these characters are – it really was like seeing the cartoons come to life. And they’re so good at staying in character when they talk to you too! Cinderella asked me, “Did you also lose your glass slipper?”
After our chance meeting, we made our way to the whimsical “it’s a small world” ride, a quintessential Disneyland experience. The song-filled boat ride took us on a tour around the globe, as nearly 300 animatronics dolls that represented children from different countries sang the classic song.
After the ride, we treated ourselves to a Mickey-shaped pretzel from a nearby snack cart, then found a professional photographer in front of the Mad Tea Party. This is such a great photo op! Be sure to take some photos before you bite into Mickey’s ears.
We meandered through the rest of the park, but the sun was quickly setting, so we headed toward Disney California Adventure Park to get there before dark.
Before you leave Disneyland, there’s one more cute photo op, which many people don’t know about. If you walk past a park employee selling balloons, you can ask to hold them for a photo!
Even better, try to find a professional photographer to take a picture of you and your significant other with the balloons. We were in a bit of a rush when we came across them – I didn’t even have time to take my camera off my neck!
Disney California Adventure Park
If you’re on the fence about whether to buy the Park Hopper ticket, let us make the decision easier for you: Do it! You only get to experience half the magic when you visit just one park. There’s so much more to discover in Disney California Adventure Park!
We reserved FASTPASS entry for the Incredicoaster and, while waiting to get in line, caught a show at the Pixar Promenade. The Pixarmonic Orchestra was AWESOME!
These extremely talented musicians not only played to perfection, but they were full of contagious energy that lifted some of our exhaustion. (It’s tiring being kids again!)
We listened to them play as the sun set – a romantic start to our evening at “the pier”.
Time to get our adrenaline going again with the Incredicoaster – a ride based on, you guessed it, The Incredibles.
With speakers in the cars narrating, we zipped our way around Pixar Pier in a high-speed chase to catch Baby Jack-Jack.
While there were fewer photo ops in Disney California Adventure Park, you’ll get your money’s worth from the fast-track entry and the attraction photos. Just look at this gem from the Incredicoaster!
Funny enough, Mike was filming our ride on Space Mountain with his GoPro and was also holding it while the photo was taken – although this guy’s facial expression was a little funnier!
Next up: Midway Mania, a Toy Story-themed 4-D game, similar to Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters in Tomorrowland. The line for Midway Mania was quite long – about 40 minutes – and there was no FASTPASS available, but it was 100% worth it. Just trust us: You’ll love it.
We made one final pit stop in Pixar Pier for a snack at Señor Buzz Churros before heading to Cars Land.
If there’s one area in Disney California Adventure Park that’s truly immersive, it’s Cars Land. You’ll feel like you’re stepping right into Radiator Springs. The attention to detail is incredible – from the Cozy Cone Motel and Flo’s V8 Cafe, right down to the freshly paved road you walk on.
We even got to “meet” Mater and Lightning McQueen. We totally geeked out in Cars Land. It was such a fun way to end our date at Disney!
Disney’s celebration of couples
We hope this blog post inspires you to get your ears on and head to the Happiest Place on Earth this year! There’s no better time to visit Disneyland than 2019, during the 90th anniversary of Disney’s most iconic couple: Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Happy Valentine’s Day and, as always, safe travels!
Stay tuned for a video on our date at Disneyland!