The Perfect Day at Disneyland

by Jenna Kahl, contributing writer

I have been writing articles about traveling to the Disneyland Resort with young kids for more than a year now and, as I reflect on the topics that I have covered, it occurred to me that I have never asked myself why I love traveling there. It's a tradition in our house that before we take off in the family car or in the days leading up to the trip we take the time to ask each of our girls "What do you want to do at Disneyland?"

So now it's my turn!

I love to get to the park early. I am not in a rush nor I am anxious to hit up the dark rides in Fantasyland or snag a FastPass for Space Mountain, but I love stepping through the gates when Main Street is still wet and there is a chill in the air.

First stop for me is breakfast at the Plaza Inn. I personally enjoy starting a day at the Disneyland Resort off with a big meal, and one-on-one time with characters is always a plus as well. While it's not on the menu all the time the Bananas Foster French Toast is amazing!

Now that I am delightfully full, and have smuggled two or three chocolate milks from the buffet for the kids, it's time to officially start the day. I have a soft spot in my heart for New Orleans Square, so kicking off the day with a walk through the winding streets a ride on Haunted Mansion and a journey on Pirates of the Caribbean always sets a magical tone for the rest of the day.

Next up is my sense of regret for eating such a big breakfast as I walk past the beignets and promise myself that I will return later in the day. I look forward to not only delight in the light sugary confections, but apply a thin film of powdered sugar all over my grey yoga pants.

Still full, a little guilty and ready to seek out some adventure, the next stop takes us to the "World Famous" Jungle Cruise, where I hopefully get a Skipper who is not only funny, and engaging but loud enough to be heard over the engine and my children's constant commentary. After making it safely back to the "pair of docks" my head and heart turn to the Enchanted Tiki Room where I will not only enjoy myself, but effectively play "In The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Tiki Room" in my head for the remainder of the day. A sucker for the Adventureland Bazaar, I will now inevitably find myself perusing things I don't need, as well as the salt and pepper shakers decorated to look like Adventureland trash cans that I will convince myself that I do need.

Next on the agenda, in a world where my timing works, although it rarely does, is a stop at the Royal Theatre for a wonderful break and a show. Every one I have seen here has been fantastic and, in true Disney tradition, it is hard to pick a favorite but Tangled would be at the top of the list.

Feet rested, spirit happy, it's time for a snack and, although I promised myself earlier in the day that I would return to the beignets, I will have now convinced myself that we have wandered too far and I must chose a more geographically friendly snack—or Starbucks if things are going downhill fast.

With a little caffeine or Mickey bar in my system I find myself drawn to the Storybook Land Canal boats. This ride is one of the few Fantasyland rides that I will wait a substantial amount of time for and, for the life of me, I don't know why other than my fascination with how lifelike everything seems. Being so close to "it's a small world" and, hopefully discovering that the wait is less than 15 minutes, I will venture around the world and hopefully replace the "Tiki Room" song with another oh so hard to forget classic, "'it's a small world' after all."

Mickey bars are always good. Photo by Jenna Kahl.

At this point in the day, my children are either soldiering on or melting into unidentified shadows of the babies I once carried. With that in mind another show, with popcorn in hand, is always a welcome respite and Mickey and the Magical Map at the Fantasyland Theater never ceases to entertain me time and time again. Following the show—and a quick spin around the Matterhorn Bobsleds to check out the single rider line wait time—I either take a chilly ride that, without fail, hurts my back (but I return to every time anyway), or go with my husband and kids as they trek over to Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters.

I think I might be one of the few people who enjoys volunteering to hold a parade spot, but that's me. I will venture over to Main Street U.S.A to scope out a spot, hopefully it's for the Paint the Night Parade, spread out my vinyl tablecloth and people watch until the lights dim and the magic begins (the new parade policy means I don't have to wait for hours anymore).

Now I know you might be saying to yourself that I missed tons of rides, skipped lots of signature attractions, and my approach to a day at Disneyland is a waste of a ticket. But, alas, this is a peek into my perfect day, and heading back to the hotel post parade full, happy, only partially exhausted, and ready to come back the next day is just fine with me.



  1. By DisneyGator

    That's a nice, easy going day. For me, we'd have to add in Splash Mt, Space Mt, swap out Jungle for Star Tours, and then add fireworks (without them being cancelled) for it to be a perfect day me/us.

  2. By familymemories

    I loved what you shared! Disneyland Resort was part of my childhood. So visiting is like going back home. Your day sounded wonderful.

  3. By OrangeB

    This sounds like a wonderful day to me!! I'll be embarking on my very first DL trip this summer, after YEARS of WDW trips as a kid. Everything was always a rope-drop mad dash to the rides/fastpasses at WDW: wonderful fun, but not quite how I want to do it this time! I'm most looking forward to taking it slow on this first visit, and really enjoying the feeling of being in DL. I will be there at opening too, but not to dash! I love that feeling that swells up in you as you walk up Main Street first thing in the morning: everything is so clean it GLOWS, excited people are everywhere, there are wonderful Main Street smells, there is happy Disney music playing, there are smiling Cast Members waving, there's a CASTLE in the distance, there's this sense that you somehow stepped into another world...there's absolutely nothing like it! I love that feeling, and can't wait to slow down and experience it fully at DL!

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