Disney has long been known as “the happiest place on Earth,” but not everyone sees it that way. Granted, if you’re a kid, it’s pretty hard not to love the Disney parks. But if you’re an adult, there’s a good chance you fall into one of two categories—you either love it or hate it. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If you know how to navigate the parks, you can have a great time, even as an adult that might not be able to suspend the disbelief as easily as used to. In this article, we’ll specifically cover Disneyland, but we’ll plan to offer similar tips for the other Disney parks in the future.
Food makes everyone happier, so if you know where to eat when visiting Disneyland, you’re already a leg up. If you want a hearty meal that isn’t typical theme park food, Bengal’s Barbecue has plenty of meat options for you carnivores. The Blue Bayou Restaurant is a favorite for those with a taste for Creole and New Orleans fair, but the wait times can be brutal if you don’t have a reservation. Hit up the Royal Street Veranda for the same bowl of gumbo they serve at the restaurant, without the wait! You’ll find no shortage of sweets for dessert throughout the park, but do yourself a favor and pick up some beignets from the Mint Julep Bar.
Drinking can provide just as much happiness as food, and in a park that caters to families and children, finding a good cocktail can be a bit of a challenge. The truth is, Disneyland is a dry park, so you won’t have any luck finding booze inside the park itself. But you can find alcohol at all three hotels on the property, as well as Downtown Disney and California Adventure. If you want a specific recommendation, you can’t go wrong with ordering a drink from Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar—it’s probably the most fun you’ll have sipping a cocktail.
One thing that usually does not inspire happiness is a huge crowd. By now, most people know to set up their Fast Pass ahead of time, and while that will help you avoid the lines on a few rides, it won’t help you much in terms of planning for shows or dinner. Plus, if you plan to ride something that you don’t have a Fast Pass for, you’re at the mercy of the lines once more. If you don’t mind splitting up with your party, consider hopping in the Single Rider lines on attractions that offer them. Even without a Fast Pass, these lines will drastically cut down on your wait time. When you enter the park, you can ask for a schedule, which will give you all sorts of info on the shows planned for the park that day. This is especially handy when planning your trek around the park, even if you don’t plan to see any shows (go to dinner when everyone else is at a show!).
Finally, on days when you’ve had just about as much “happiness” as you can possibly take, look around for areas of the park that provide some seclusion and opportunity to catch your breath. The mineshaft near Big Thunder Mountain and the Mark Twain Riverboat both provide some reprieve from crowds and a chance to relax.