Seven Things You Must Do on Your First Trip to Disneyland

So it’s a brand new decade, and you’ve decided that it’s time for your first trip to Disneyland! If not now, then when, right?

Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure

Planning any sort of Disney vacation is a massive undertaking (to say the least), but it can be especially daunting when it’s your first time.It’s nearly impossible to see everything in a single trip to Walt’s original park, which is what keeps people coming back again and again.

To help you navigate this complex land, we’ve compiled our list of the seven things you must do on your first trip to Disneyland.

Stay On Property

Unlike Walt Disney World where there are about thirty Resorts from which to choose, Disneyland has just three Resorts. There’s really nothing like being fully immersed in the Disney bubble for the duration of your stay. All three — Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel — are connected to the parks via a walkway that goes through Downtown Disney. That’s right, NO shuttles or buses to deal with!

Disneyland Hotel ©Disney

An added bonus for guests staying at Disney’s Grand Californian, you’ll have direct access to Disney California Adventure from your Resort’s doorstep. Disneyland Park is also located just across the main entrance from Disney California Adventure, making park hopping here a total breeze.

Eat Something Distinctly Disneyland

Disneyland takes classic theme park foods and kicks them up a notch with inventive variations and limited time offerings. Corn Dogs are an iconic theme park eat and are, in our experience, done best at Disneyland. We’re talking made-to-order and hand-dipped, like those found at The Corn Dog Castle located in the Pacific Wharf area of Disney California Adventure.

Corn Dog Castle

Churros are also serious business over on the west coast and blow the ones in Walt Disney World out of the water.  Carts are found throughout the parks here and feature everything from classic churros to specialty ones, like the recent Santa’s cookies and milk churro and Churro Gears from Maurice’s Treats.

Churro Gears at Maurice’s Treats

Bengal Barbecue in Disneyland Park will make you rethink your preconceived notion  of theme park eats completely. This walk-up counter is serving up fresh grilled meat and vegetable skewers. Our favorites include the hot and spicy Banyan beef skewer as well as their signature side, the Tiger Tail breadstick.

Tiger Tail from Bengal Barbecue

Ride Attractions Exclusive to Disneyland

Of course there are plenty of iconic attractions here, but did you know there’s even some you can’t find at any other place in the world? Radiator Springs Racer is a marvel in theme park innovation, and this Disneyland exclusive also happens to be one of the most expensive theme park attractions in the world.

Radiator Springs

A classic dark ride is also a must for your first trip. Located in Fantasyland, Alice in Wonderland is a trippy journey into her curious world aboard a caterpillar car and is the only ride of its kind in the world.

Alice in Wonderland

Ride Pirates of the Caribbean

Part of the charm of Disneyland is knowing that Walt personally had his hand in so many elements of its development and planning. The last attraction Walt was personally involved in before his death, Pirates of the Caribbean, is the epitome of classic Disney and a must do for first timers.

Walt Disney, right, and Disneyland Ambassador Julie Riehm listen as Blaine Gibson shows them a pirate’s head during a tour of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in 1965. [The Walt Disney Company]
This also happens to showcase one of the earliest forms of animatronics. There may be different versions of this attraction across the globe, but this was the first and is our personal favorite.

Enjoy an Adult Libation at Trader Sam’s

The Jungle Cruise-themed bar and lounge Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar is located at the Disneyland hotel and is an absolute must for a first time visitor. This immersive spot is an ode to the classic tiki bars of the 1950’s and houses knowledgeable bartenders in an interactive setting. The cocktails here are inventive, delicious, and strong.

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar

Visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

With the land’s E-ticket attraction, Rise of the Resistance, now open, a stroll through Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Explore the sights and sounds of Batuu in this otherworldly and unprecedented theme park land. Hop aboard the iconic ship on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run or arrive early for a shot at snagging a coveted boarding group for Rise of the Resistance.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Even if you don’t get the opportunity to rides these attractions or snag a reservation at Oga’s Cantina, there’s plenty to do and (maybe more importantly) plenty of provisions to grab along your journey. No stroll through the Black Spire Outpost is complete without a Ronto Wrap in one hand and some Blue Milk in the other.

Spiked Blue and Green Milk

Dine in Carthay Circle

Located in Disney California Adventure, Carthay Circle may be a tough reservation to get, but if you can, you’ll revel in the old school glamour and romance of perhaps one of the most unique theme park dining offerings.

Carthay Circle

Far removed from the theme park hustle and bustle just outside, this fine dining spot is an homage to an era of old Hollywood long gone and features a menu of gourmet eats and craft cocktails.  The restaurant is a reproduction of the iconic Theater where Walt’s first feature length film, “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs,” premiered in 1937.

Carthay Circle

There’s so much more to discover at Walt’s first theme park, but our guide will hopefully help you navigate this amazing place.

What do you consider a must do for a guest’s first visit to Disneyland Resort? Share with us in the comments!

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