Leisure is the center of the Disneyland and Disney California Journey expertise. Fantasmic, World of Shade, Major Avenue Electrical Parade, fireworks, free-roaming characters, atmospheric musicians, and way more are a enormous a part of what make these theme parks particular. This information will cowl what you must find out about exhibits, spectaculars, and every thing else.
I’ll begin by sharing a narrative of a latest afternoon at Disneyland. We began by heading by way of Sleeping Magnificence Fortress, the place we noticed Mary Poppins and Bert stepping in time alongside the Fantasyland Pearly Band. As their efficiency wrapped up, Maleficent wandered providing a sardonic saying and drawing a crowd behind her as she headed to Fantasy Faire.
We then made our approach again to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the place we had been instantly stopped by Storm Troopers and briefly interrogated. After that, we individually noticed Vi Moradi and Chewbacca–the previous taking part in a recreation with friends and the latter main a mission of youngsters. Then Boba Fett handed by way of, posing sharp questions earlier than recruiting us.
After finishing our tour to Batuu, we reentered Fantasyland and instantly noticed Mulan holding courtroom and one other princess passing by way of–I don’t recall who. (There have been additionally a pair characters on Major Avenue after we first arrived, however I wasn’t taking notes for functions of this submit; it was simply an strange afternoon at Disneyland.)
From there, we made the trek over to Tomorrowland. That is usually Disneyland’s worst space for leisure (or something), however Captain Buzz Lightyear was assembly there for a restricted time. This character is admittedly a bit odd, reminding me a little bit of the Hiro from Large Hero Six meet & greet. This Buzz is obsessive about churros, presumably proving that he’s, actually, human and never a toy.
After a number of grand circle excursions of the park by way of the Disneyland Railroad and another early night enjoyable, we did dinner in New Orleans Sq., then raced as much as the Rivers of America to safe spots for the Disneyland Eternally Fireworks. The view from there may be solely so-so, however there are mist screens and music.
Extra importantly, this gave us a main view for the second displaying of Fantasmic. This nighttime spectacular is again and pretty much as good as ever–the quintessential Disneyland night leisure, in the event you ask me. We rapidly bounced again to Major Avenue when that was over, snagging a entrance row spot for the Major Avenue Electrical Parade shortly after that began.
In a single afternoon and night, we noticed extra leisure at Disneyland than over the course of a number of days at Walt Disney World. That is much less true of characters, regardless that they’re largely relegated to satisfy & greets within the Florida parks, however completely the case in terms of atmospheric acts.
It’s much more so the case with nighttime spectaculars. As famous above, Disneyland is presently displaying Fantasmic, Major Avenue Electrical Parade, and the Disneyland Eternally Fireworks. That’s extra main nighttime spectaculars in a single park than are presently proven in all 4 parks at Walt Disney World. (Hopefully Fantasmic will return quickly at DHS and even the scales.) That’s not counting World of Shade, which is proven nightly throughout the Esplanade at Disney California Journey.
This could underscore simply how a lot leisure at Disneyland is deep-rooted, ever-present, and all-encompassing. The ubiquitousness of characters and musicians makes the park really feel inhabited, and even in the event you’re not actively watching the night’s leisure, the nighttime spectaculars make Disneyland come alive.
All of this hopefully additionally makes clear that there’s extra spontaneity to the leisure at Disneyland. Showtimes and character look occasions are listed within the Disneyland app, however that’s simply a few of what you possibly can anticipate to come across whereas strolling the park.
Talking of the Disneyland app, the easiest way to plan character experiences is by opening that and clicking the map icon on the underside of the app. Because the title suggests, that’ll pull up the park map. From there, change the highest pull-down menu to characters.
The Mickey icons on the map will present you character areas, however we’d suggest switching to the listing view by clicking “Present Checklist” on the highest proper. That’ll provide the display pictured right here. From this, you possibly can faucet every character title to see their (approximate) look occasions. Alternatively, you possibly can kind “character” or “meet” into the search function and get an array of outcomes.
All of this merely scratches the floor. As a basic matter, character greetings are far much less regimented at Disneyland than at Walt Disney World. There are devoted meet & greet areas with orderly traces and set schedules, but additionally many extra which can be neither of these issues.
In reality, spontaneous appearances of free-roaming characters are a staple of the Disneyland expertise. Actually all of our greatest moments with characters at Disneyland have unfolded in organically, as characters like Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, or the Evil Queen wander the park.
Clearly, you possibly can’t actually plan for that–nor do you have to attempt. That’s actually the fantastic thing about it. You gained’t have character hunters congregating in sure areas, lingering in anticipate “uncommon” appearances that occur in accordance with a set schedule. Nonetheless, we do have some basic recommendations on enhancing your odds of seeing characters.
Fantasyland is the very best space for seeing free-roaming characters. You’ll spend an honest period of time within the courtyard instantly behind Sleeping Magnificence Fortress just by advantage of the wait occasions commanded by Peter Pan’s Flight and Snow White’s Enchanted Want. It’s a near-certainty that you simply’ll spot characters on this space at random–with no concerted efforts–between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm most days.
Fantasyland being the busiest space of Disneyland, you’ll not be alone. Whereas face characters are good about “orchestrating” the gang and posing for images, a little bit of well mannered assertiveness may also assist.
Be conscious of if you arrived, permitting these earlier than you to get their images whereas doing gentle jockeying for place to make sure you don’t miss out. For those who merely linger behind the gang, the characters will usually assume you’re simply there to look at.
If you would like a much less aggressive expertise, the higher guess may be wandering across the stretch of sidewalk between Sleeping Magnificence Fortress and Alice in Wonderland within the mid-morning to early afternoon hours. Characters usually wander previous right here, completely unbothered by friends.
One other good spot is the other aspect of Sleeping Magnificence Fortress in Fantasy Faire. Crowds right here range significantly, however we’ve discovered it doable to catch characters with few different friends round as soon as Storytelling at Royal Theatre (additionally a worthwhile choice on the leisure entrance) performances have concluded for the day.
With that mentioned, we wouldn’t suggest planning for any of this. Don’t pencil “linger across the aspect of Sleeping Magnificence Fortress” into your itinerary, and don’t attempt to power it. You will have little management over who, when, or the place you see. Merely be conscious of the place characters seem most regularly, and perhaps modify your routes when criss-crossing the park to place you into place.
Character encounters at Disneyland are a lot extra satisfying after they’re really spontaneous. This isn’t Walt Disney World. Let the park unfold earlier than you in an natural trend. Don’t overthink or over schedule your day.
Atmospheric acts are throughout Disneyland. From our perspective, this can be a lot like free-roaming characters–there’s no have to plan for any of those, and doing so is harder, anyway. Quite, embrace an method of “deliberate spontaneity.”
Give your itinerary loads of respiration room at Disneyland so you possibly can merely get pleasure from being there with out feeling pressured to race off to the following cease. If you actually need to schedule every thing all the way down to the minute, pencil in some leisurely strolling across the parks, significantly Major Avenue and New Orleans Sq. at Disneyland, and Buena Vista Avenue and Avengers Campus at Disney California Journey.
Talking of which, that Marvel land at DCA has a whole lot of characters and leisure and it’s the one exception to the above rule. When you’ll have to wander to come across the random characters, you’ll additionally wish to have an thought of when the Superb Spider-Man, Dr. Unusual: Mysteries of the Mystic Arts, Guardians of the Galaxy: Superior Dance Off, and Warriors of Wakanda: Disciples of the Dora Milaje all happen.
Particularly, you don’t wish to miss Disciples of the Dora Milaje and Superb Spider-Man (which also called the Ceremonial Flinging of the Spider-Dummy in some circles). Dr. Unusual: Mysteries of the Mystic Arts is nice, but it surely’s a colossal ache to see on account of restricted viewing angles within the Historic Sanctum. (If in any respect doable, do one of many performances post-sunset.)
Proper now, the one devoted daytime stage present within the parks is Story of the Lion King in Disneyland’s Fantasyland Theatre close to it’s a small world. This replaces Mickey and the Magical Map, and was beforehand an interim manufacturing at DCA. Story of the Lion King is now considerably extra pleasurable, because of all-new choreography, set items and costume designs, together with authentic musical preparations.
Oh, and it’s now in a shaded theater with seating reasonably than in a standing-only venue within the blazing solar. That alone is an orders of magnitude enchancment–the present is now a pleasant break reasonably than an disagreeable viewing expertise.
Story of the Lion King has a solid of round 20 performers, together with extremely proficient singers, dancers, and drummers. It’s a reinterpretation of the Lion King, with a story-theatre method utilizing dialogue, track, dance and reside percussion to inform the story of Simba’s journey.
It options distinctive preparations of “Circle of Life,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Really feel the Love Tonight.” Story of the Lion King makes use of colourful costume designs, surroundings, dancing, and Swahili to current a culturally-rooted twist on the story. We love Story of the Lion King. It’s extremely properly executed–a excessive vitality change of tempo from montage exhibits that retains the entire household engaged.
We’re not going to dive too deeply into the nighttime spectaculars, as now we have complete technique guides for these. For those who’d like viewing suggestions (or the place to keep away from), pictures suggestions, and extra, seek advice from the next posts:
The massive, universally-applicable recommendation to nighttime leisure at Disneyland is to see the later efficiency every time doable. This is applicable to Major Avenue Electrical Parade, Fantasmic, and even World of Shade. The second displaying is all the time much less busy.
There are some days when locals camp out hours upfront for the primary Fantasmic or Major Avenue Electrical Parade. That merely just isn’t doable for the later efficiency, for the reason that two aren’t separated by hours.
Even when they had been, there’s merely much less demand for the second showings. Company with FOMO flock to the primary, as do households with young children and locals who’ve work or college the following day and don’t wish to be out too late. The tip result’s usually far bigger crowds for the primary efficiency.
Major Avenue Electrical Parade, specifically, is infamous for this. There are occasions when the primary parade has folks lined up on a number of rows deep on the curb, with prime spots being lengthy gone even an hour earlier than showtime. In contrast, we’ve walked as much as a entrance row spot for the second parade proper earlier than it stepped off. We’ve had comparable experiences with World of Shade, significantly on chilly evenings.
It’s not fairly as straightforward with Fantasmic, because the smaller viewing space coupled with excessive demand and reserved seating for eating packages makes waltzing up on the final minute harder. Nonetheless, you possibly can seize a spot alongside the Rivers of America for Disneyland Eternally after which keep for Fantasmic, ready solely a half-hour or so.
That’s far superior to the hours endured by lots of those that stake out prime spots for the primary Fantasmic.
In fact, seeing solely second exhibits is less complicated mentioned than executed. For one factor, your days at Disneyland are seemingly numbered, so you need to watch the primary efficiency of one thing. If that’s the case, one choice is a dinner package deal for Fantasmic. One other is the digital queue for World of Shade, adopted by Park Hopping to Disneyland for MSEP and Fantasmic.
The opposite sensible problem is that crowds are decrease later at night time, so that you’re sacrificing quick wait occasions for a better leisure viewing expertise. We predict that’s largely price it, particularly in the event you arrive at rope drop or use Genie+ and Lightning Lanes to beat the crowds. Chances are you’ll suppose in any other case, although.
In the end, that’s the entire recommendation now we have for seeing stage exhibits, atmospheric acts, characters, nighttime spectaculars, and different leisure at Disneyland. There’s most likely extra floor we may cowl, however that is already over 2,000 phrases and extra in-depth technique undermines the salient level of largely letting the leisure unfold round you in a spontaneous and natural trend.
Clearly, that doesn’t apply to stage exhibits or nighttime spectaculars (the place having a plan is the savvy transfer), but it surely’s completely the case with characters and atmospheric acts. Severely, don’t overthink or overplan. Know what you wish to see and have an thought of the place and when it occurs, however don’t attempt to power it. Normally, Disneyland is a significantly better expertise if you go in with a tough plan of assault that’s extremely versatile, and easily let issues occur from there. This is applicable to sights, however particularly leisure!
Planning a Southern California trip? For park admission offers, learn Ideas for Saving Cash on Disneyland Tickets. Study on-site and off-site inns in our Anaheim Lodge Opinions & Rankings. For the place to eat, take a look at our Disneyland Restaurant Opinions. For distinctive concepts of issues that’ll enhance your journey, take a look at What to Pack for Disney. For complete recommendation, seek the advice of our Disneyland Trip Planning Information. Lastly, for guides past Disney, take a look at our Southern California Itineraries for day journeys to Los Angeles, Laguna Seashore, and tons of different locations!
Have any favourite leisure at Disneyland? Ideas on the free-roaming character expertise within the California parks? Technique or every other suggestions that we missed right here? Do you agree or disagree with our recommendation? Any questions? Listening to your suggestions—even if you disagree with us—is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas beneath within the feedback!