By Pin Trading Diva
It seems that every time I visit a Disney Park I find something new and interesting. Whether it’s a new food item (I remember my first Dole Whip – AMAZING!) or seeing a parade like Paint the Night for the first time – there is an abundance of new experiences to be had in every trip! In my small 4 years of being an Annual Passholder, I’ve had the opportunity to try, see, and even taste some pretty magical things which leads me to write this article. I’ve composed a list of what I think are special Disney Park experiences that are off the beaten path to most vacationers, yet very worthy of being put on a Disneyland Bucket List. Read on and let me know if you’ve been able to cross these off your list!
- Finding Patrick Begorra’s House (The Little Leprechaun)
Hidden deep in the jungles of Adventureland, at the roots of a lively tree, lies a historic structure that has stood the test of time. It is a tiny little home belonging to that of Mr. Patrick Begorra – the Little Man of Disneyland. In 1955, this friendly, yet territorial leprechaun found Mickey and his friends uprooting some Anaheim orange trees (and in part his home) to build the Happiest Place On Earth – much to his demise. To assuage Patrick, Mickey flies him all the way out to the Disney Studios to meet with Walt himself and oversee the blue prints of Disneyland’s construction. There, ties are settled and Patrick Begorra allows Disneyland to be built, so long as he gets to keep his small little home inside the trunk of a tree, hidden from the public’s eye (unless you know where to look!).
Yes – this fancy little tale (all depicted in the Little Golden Book “Little Man of Disneyland” and Superhero Diva’s article here) shares the whimsical tales of hidden house hunting. Next time you are over by Indiana Jones be sure to keep an eye out for this fella’s house – you might just get lucky!
- Hidden Mickey Hunting in Cars Land
For this bucket list item, we drive on over into Cars Land in California Adventure for some seek and find fun. While there is a plethora of hidden mickeys to be found all over Disney Parks, there is a tricky (yet satisfying when found) series at Ramone’s Paint & Body Shop. Outside in the windows of the store lie a collection of car hoods, each with a unique paint job.
Hidden very carefully in each hood is a hidden mickey waiting to be found. Now I’ve found my fair share of hidden mickeys – you might say I’m a hidden mickey aficionado! Yet I still have yet to find ALL of the hidden mickey’s on those hoods! This challenging yet fulfilling list item may take a few minutes – or a couple hours, but that’s the fun of it. So try to spot them all next time you’re in Cars Land!
- Musical Chairs with Alice and the Mad Hatter at Coke Corner
Each morning down at the Coke Corner on Main Street – a surprise celebration is waiting to happen. Alice and the Mad Hatter travel all the way from Wonderland to play a Very Merry Unbirthday Game with guests! Kids mostly (but I’ve seen some adults) are gathered ‘round to play a magical game of Musical Chairs (music provided by the live Pianist). Watching the little ones’ dance and skip from chair to chair is absolutely one of the most adorable things I have had the pleasure of witnessing at the Disneyland Resort so check with a Cast Member the day of your vacation to make sure you don’t miss this cute opportunity!
- Steering the Mark Twain
It is possible to conquer the waters that are the Rivers of America. While any guest knows they can hop aboard the Mark Twain for smooth sailing, a lot of people don’t know that you also have the opportunity to view the Rivers of America as more than a guest – as a captain!
Provided you ask a Cast Member politely, you can actually steer the Mark Twain yourself. Most of the time guests aren’t aware of this luxury and never even think to ask about it. When that happens usually a Cast Member selects a family at random to steer the boat – but they will allow those who request it on first.
If you get a green light from a Cast Member, then you make your way up to the Captain’s Quarters at the tip top of the ship. There you can get acquainted with the helm, the horn, and the fantastic views of nature’s bounty. There is even a log book to sign and date and everyone in your party gets a certificate for piloting the ship.
This one of a kind experience is at a halt during the Star Wars Land construction so keep an eye out for when the Rivers of America are back in service – then you can cross this off your Disneyland Bucket List!
- Learn ALL the Words to the Haunted Mansion Spiel
“Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion. I am your host, your…ghost host.” Next time you are at the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland try your hand at being the Ghost Host! If you aren’t an experienced rider, for me I’ve ridden the attraction dozens of times, you may need to explore the mansion a few times to memorize this spiel. But once you’ve got it down it is SO MUCH FUN to educate other guests by mouthing the words. It really makes you feel like part of the Haunted Mansion Family!
- Riding the Lilly Belle
When the crowds are low and the train is in full operation, pending the construction of Star Wars Land, it is possible to ride on the special car dedicated to Lillian Disney, known as the Lilly Belle. To read more about this one of a kind experience, check out my article on “Experiencing the Lilly Belle” here. And if you want to know more about the Disneyland Trains, and even how to ride the tinder for a round, check out “Riding the Rails at Disneyland” here.
- Sunset at Cars Land
One of the most beautiful things to experience in Disney California Adventure is Cars Land at sunset. Disney makes a big deal out of this each day as they play music and turn on the lights to the street signs and neon signs on Route 66. That in between time where the sun is still in the sky, but night is on its way and the street lights are lit, really sums up what I would call a magical moment. The colors in the sky mixed with the colors on the street blend together to make a painting quality view of one of the most impactful views in California Adventure.
- Watching Rapunzel’s Hair Light Up at Night in Fantasy Faire
After capturing sunset in Cars Land and night has fallen, head over to Fantasy Faire in Disneyland. There in the center of the promenade is a statue of Rapunzel’s Tower. In daylight, you will notice that Rapunzel herself hangs out the top of the tower as her hair flows down the side. What many don’t know however, is that at night, her hair lights up! Yes, every few minutes or so the “Flower Gleam and Glow” melody plays and slowly from the top of her head, Rapunzel’s hair starts to light up as it travels down the side of the tower. It is a beautiful sight to see and one that you should check off your Disneyland Bucket List the next time you are in the park!
- Lobster Nachos at the Cove Bar
It is always a goal of mine to try a new food item at Disneyland or California Adventure when I go. But there are a select few items that I love so much that I get them almost every time. There is of course the classic Dole Whip, which you should try at least once in your lifetime, but putting that on your Disney Bucket List may be something that is overdone by the masses. Something unique to try are the Lobster Nachos at the Cover Bar in Paradise Pier in California Adventure. These lobster and cheese covered nacho chips are so delicious that sometimes my mom and I will order separate plates so we get a serving all to ourselves! And if seafood isn’t your thing, feel free to substitute chicken or beef for the lobster. Tasty, and big enough to make a meal, the Lobster Nachos are a staple at the Cove Bar and deserve to be tried on your next visit!
- Find the Mary Blair Doll on It’s A Small World
Mary Blair was the designer of the It’s A Small World attraction in Disneyland. She contributed the color scheme and childlike style to the attraction that has warmed the hearts of millions. As a tribute to the woman, there is a small Mary Blair doll located in the Paris section of the attraction (look for the Eiffel Tower) in honor of her French heritage. Next time you take the boat ride around the world, keep your eyes peeled for Mary and be sure to check it off your Disneyland Bucket List!
- Watch the Fireworks in an Unusual Location
It is typical to take in the fireworks show from Main Street or directly in front of the castle, but why not try a different location next time you are in the park? Maybe take in the show while on Big Thunder or Splash Mountain. Try climbing up Tarzan’s Treehouse for a heightened view of the fireworks. If you want a fancy seat for the show, make reservations for the Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge Experience where you sit where the old Skyline attraction used to be, and you even get dessert! The great thing about an all-encompassing firework show at Disneyland is that you can appreciate it from all angles – so look for a new view!
- Open or Close Out the Park
A photographer’s dream is to get a Disney photo of the Castle, Main Street, or even Cars Land with little to no people in it. A really great way to achieve this shot is to open or close out a park. This means that you are either the first people into the park (consider Magic Morning Hours) or you wait until you are the last people to leave the park. If you are wanting to close out the park, you will have to wait for EVERYONE to leave, which will mean having a lot of patience. But it is absolutely worth it! Having a picture of you as the only person down Main Street is a one of a kind photo that is worth all the trouble. Try opening or closing out a park next time you visit!
So there you have it folks! These are my must dos for fullfilling my one of a kind Disneyland Bucket List! Whether you do all of them, or maybe try just one – you are bound to have a new and exciting experience the next time you are in a Disney park!
And if you need help planning for your next Disney vacation, take advantage of our FREE Disney Diva Travel Agent, Patricia at All for Dreams Travel!
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