2015 marks sixty years of Disneyland welcoming and entertaining families. From new parades and special treats, the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebrations mark this milestone starting Friday, May 22. You can read more about the celebration plans on the Disney Parks Blog but in my opinion the best way to celebrate sixty years of fun is to experience the things that make Disneyland special.
Getting out to Disneyland is part of making the magic happen for your family. For example, you can save up for such a trip with a rewards card. With the American Express Gold Rewards Card, you earn Membership Rewards points on every day family purchases You can also ear two Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent on travel related purchases, as well as gasoline, grocery, and drugstore visits. Another bonus is booking through AMEX’s Online Travel Booking tool. Not only can you earn one additional Membership Rewards point for every dollar charged to your Gold Rewards Card, you can choose to redeem your Membership Rewards points towards airfare and even our car rental (something we did on our last trip to California).
Whether you’re driving to Disneyland or Walt Disney World, checkout our Disney road trip essentials video:
Here are 60 things to do in Disneyland to celebrate 60 years:
- Enjoy a pineapple juice in a souvenir Enchanted Tiki Room Tiki cup. My kids still use their cups in the backyard at home.
- Ride the monorail just to see the park from a different perspective. If you’re lucky you can get a seat in the driver’s car.
- Send your free space cadet photo via email when you exit the Astro Blaster ride. The same ride exists in Walt Disney World but I believe Disneyland is the only one equipped with the ability to email your photo.
- Ask for a Jungle Cruise map. The kids have received captain certificates when sailing on the boat but according to Growing up Goofy you may be able to score yourself a map of the route.
- Catch a glimpse of the Evil Queen looking out the window above Snow White’s Scary Adventure
- Disney takes their ride cues and turns them into an experiences. The Indiana Jones Adventure offers some fun interactive features line has a few fun interactive features. For once break the rules and ignore the “Do Not Touch” sign in the obelesque room and hear what happens.
- Pressed Pennies make a great souvenir (and something we had listed in our free/inexpensive souvenir list). Grab one for your favourite attraction or character. You can find a Disneyland pressed penny location list here (pdf file).
- Vacations are about staying up late and sleeping in. Break the rules and eat something sweet for breakfast. My pick would be the Matterhorn Macaroon.
- I have yet to test this to confirm it to be true but using this code sheet you should be able to decode the glyphs in the Indiana Jones Ride.
- Get a special occasion button in the Main Street City Hall. I’m not sure if they’ll have a Jubilee buttons but a Celebration button or Honorary Citizen of Disneyland would still work. Plus for a limited time you can pick up a #Canada150 button at the Canadian pavilion in Epcot.
- Check out the interesting things in the bazaar store across from the Jungle Cruise. I’ve heard there’s a magic lamp in the store and with a rub (and $1) it will reveal jokes.
- Enjoy a (non-alcoholic) mint julep at the Mint Julep Bar, a side window in New Orleans Square. Pair that up with some Mickey shaped beignets.
- Look for the brass spike in the ground. (Hint: Somewhere in Fantasyland near the castle). There are many mixed thoughts on what this spike represents but it is significant to Disneyland.
- Make a wish at Snow White’s wishing well; listen for her singing.
- Take a ride down Main Street in a horse-drawn street car, early automobile, fire engine or omnibus.
- Are you worthy? Try your luck at pulling the Sword out of the Stone, located in front of Kin Arthur Carrousel.
- Use the Queen and King bathrooms in Fantasyland, modeled after the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland.
- Steer a remote controlled jungle cruise boat near Rainforest Café (fee required).
- Whether you’re staying onsite or visiting the park for the day you have to make a trip to Downtown Disney. No matter what time there’s always something happening. Take a break and check out the street performers, live musicians, or maybe do a little dancing.
- Kids can enjoy story time at the Grand Californian fireplace in the early evening.
- Walk through Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
- Eat something Mickey head shaped like a pretzel, mini waffles, or my favourite, ice cream stick.
- Stay up late and watch the Fantasmic show unfold on the water in front of New Orleans Square. Good versus evil. Pirates. Fire breathing dragons and Mickey. It’s worth the wait.
- Disneyland lights up the night as part of their 60th anniversary celebrations with an new evening parade, Paint the Night. Another reason to stay up late.
- Pixie hallow at night
- Take the Red Trolley Car through California Adventure.
- Let it go! Visit the Crown Jewel Theatre (temporarily replacing the Muppet Vision 3D) and join Elsa, Anna & Kristoff in a fun musical sing-a-long.
- If you have active kids take them to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Here they can complete tasks and earn Wilderness Explorer Badges toward becoming a Senior Wilderness Explorer.
- Grab a photo in the fish net hanging off the side of the pier near the Pacific Wharf Café
- Catch Goofy conducting the fountains in Paradise Bay. Three different shows with three different pieces of music are played each day
- Enjoy an “off menu” boozy drink at the Cove Bar above Ariel’s Grotto (kids are allowed, they just can’t sit at the bar)
- For the auto enthusiasts, grab a drink at the Cozy Cone in Cars Land in a souvenir cone cup.
- We all have favourite rides but why not breakout and try a ride you’ve never been on before or one you haven’t been on since your first visit.
- Hunt to find a hidden Mickey, run a family competition to see who can find the most.
- Play a comical version of musical chairs with Alice and the Mad Hatter in the afternoon at Coke Corner on Main Street.
- Grab a pair of Disneyland ears, the most popular Disneyland souvenir. There are many fun customizable options, including ones that light-up and interact with World of Color, but I’m partial to the original.
- Steakhouse 55 is listed as one of the best restaurants in Disneyland but it can be pricey for a family. Instead try visiting for breakfast. You can say you ate at Steakhouse 55 without the high price tag.
- Try pin trading. This is one of our favourite activities. Buy a bulk batch of pins on eBay to get you started.
- If you’re lucky enough to be a guest at the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel (and its Disney Vacation Club Villas) take advantage of the private viewing deck, which overlooks Paradise Pier and offers a very unique view of World of Color. It’s only accessible with your room key.
- If you have a child who is eager to ride the “big kid rides” but isn’t tall enough, ask the cast member for a future fast pass rider. When my son was too small for Indiana Jones he received one of these passes to be used as a fast pass when he was tall enough. The card has a place to write the date to keep as a momento.
- We love running a friendly little family competition on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride. To boost your score try to hit the “invisible” 50,000 point target in between Zurg’s breast plates (roughly) for the “Z” on his chest.
- Trader Sam’s on the property of the Disney Hotel may not be very big but the entertainment behind their specialty drinks is a must see. Pair that with pupu platter.
- Grab yourself a copy of the Buena Vista Bugle when you’re exploring the shops and restaurants of California Adventure. I’ve heard that a new four-page issue is printed every few months, making a great souvenir.
- Like those old carnival mechanical fortunetellers? Have your fortune read by Shrunken Ned in the South Seas Traders, Fortune Red in New Orleans Square and Esmeralda on Main Street.
- Popcorn is a snack staple when we’re in the park and to celebrate 60 years of popcorn grab yourself a batch in the special Mickey head shaped container.
- You’ll find all sorts of ice cream treats in Disneyland and California Adventure but one treat you can’t miss is a sundae served in a souvenir Red Trolley cup from Clarabelles
- If you’ve been to other Disney parks you may notice some familiar rides but the Matterhorn is completely unique to Disneyland, no other Disney theme park has this attraction. My son and I stood in line for over an hour to ride this favourite when it reopened a few years ago. A family favourite.
- If you’re staying on-site at Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa or the Disneyland Hotel, splurge on a pool day and book a cabana. You’ll feel like royalty.
- Enjoy sangria with salsa and chips at Tortilla Jo’s in Downtown Disney and watch the kitchen prepare their handmade tortillas.
- Visit the shops in Disneyland to source some retro art prints for the 60th Plus when I purchase these collector pieces with my American Express Gold Rewards Card, I receive coverage under the Purchase Protection Plan, insuring my eligible purchases against accidental physical damage and theft.
- It’s A Small World. Again and again.
- Create your own animation within the hands-on Sorcerer’s Workshop exhibit in Disney’s California Adventure.
- Step back in time and listen into 1890 telephone conversations on the Party Phone Lines located within the Market House on Main Street.
- Visit the circular area exiting Innovations and stand in the center to hear your voice echo.
- Build and race your own LEGO car invention outside the LEGO store within Downtown Disney.
- Make sure your phone is always charged to capture those special moments. According to Red Tricycle the Main Street Photo Supply Co offers Disneyland guests free phone charging.
- Ride the California Screamin’ (one of our Junior Style Bloggers favourite rides) to hear the four different countdowns voiced by Neil Patrick Harris.
- If you love a good spin, seek out the purple teacup or the orange teacup with the diamond. Rumour has it that they are the fastest spinning cups on the Mad Tea Party ride.
- Strike a pose for the camera or go hands-free when dropping in the Tower of Terror.
- View California Adventure from the heights of the Mickey Ferris Wheel. You’ll have to ride twice, once in a standard car and the second time in one of the moving cars.
My suggestion would be to work your way through the whole list but if you don’t have time my family shares with you their top five favourite items from the list:
We covered a lot of our favourite Disneyland activities and even listed a few we have yet to experience but I’m sure this list is far from exhaustive. From park access and hotel rooms to souvenirs to dining, a number of travel savvy writers, including myself, share some great ways to save on your next family trip to Disneyland over at Trekaroo. Plus they’re giving away a family vacation at Disneyland, a perfect opportunity to start working on your own “must do” list. What would be on your “must do/see/eat” list in Disneyland?
This post is sponsored by American Express Canada but all opinions and experiences expressed in this post are my own.