Top 10 Disneyland Rides at Night


Some attractions at Disneyland are better at night. Actually, just about all of the ones that take place at least partially outdoors are better at night. That’s probably because Disneyland, overall, is better at night. During the evening, Disneyland comes alive with vibrant color from the show lighting, fireworks, and other nighttime entertainment that just seems to give the park a jolt of energy.

Not only that, and maybe it’s just me, but it seems like aspects of the Disneyland experience are “heightened.” The background music is louder, the scents are more fragrant, and Disneyland simultaneously feels more tranquil yet somehow more alive. In short, Disneyland is just flat out better at night.

While I can’t entirely put my finger on why the whole experience is just better at night, there are some specific attractions I can point to as being better at night, along with reasons why they are better at night. Here’s the list of the top 10 Disneyland attractions that are better at night… (more…)

My Top 10 Disney Experiences (So Far)

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Someone recently asked me what my all-time favorite Disney moments had been. Having been going to the Disney theme parks all of my life and having numerous major life milestones occur there, that’s a difficult question to answer. Not only that, but favorite is somewhat of a moving target. Moments that seem significant today may fade with time, while other, seemingly less-memorable experiences can grow over time. Still, I thought it would be a fun topic to take on, and while these are all personal enough to just me that they really won’t help you plan your trips in any way, I thought it would be fun to share my top 10 moments.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to visit the Disney theme parks often (that’s my mom and me next to Minnie Mouse in that above photo, by the way!), and have had some great experiences and made some great memories along the way. There are a lot of experiences that were really amazing that didn’t make it on the list. Things like our first visit to Hong Kong Disneyland (for those who have asked–this trip report is still coming soon!), dining at Club 33, touring the Cinderella Castle Suite, and photographing the sunrises in almost every Disney theme park in the world, among other experiences, all are incredibly fond memories of mine, but all miss the list.

Here’s what did make the top 10… (more…)

Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party Planning Tips

Dreamy Sunrise Over Cinderella CastleBefore we traveled to Walt Disney World the week between Christmas and New Year's, which is notoriously the busiest week of the year, a lot of people asked us whether we were crazy. Yes, of course we are, but that had nothing to do with our decision to visit during that week. The decision to bear those brutal crowds was made easy for us thanks to the extended operating hours and impressive New Year's Eve fireworks shows. And although we're not fans of large crowds (I'm betting not many of you have

During the Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Disneyland & Disney California Adventure will be open for 24 consecutive hours beginning on May 23, 2014 at 6 am until 6 am on May 24, 2014. This is an extension of the “Disney Side” promotion (it’ll likely be promoting Disney’s Malificent, too) and since the Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party falls on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, it’s the perfect time to take a long weekend trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland! We participated in the events of “One More Disney Day” (the 24-hour Leap Day event in 2012) and Monstrous Summer (the 24-hour Memorial Day party in 2013) and both were a ton of fun. They were also great, unique opportunities for photography. This is not a hard ticket event, so a normal, single day ticket will entitle you to visit the parks for the full 24-hour party!

Based upon our experiences at the parties, here are some tips for enjoying these special events if you’re going to be Walt Disney World or Disneyland, and also some tips for those of you watching the fun from home! While this planning guide is a great primer, if you want a better idea of what to expect during the 24 hour event, I strongly encourage you to read our trip report from 2012′s “One More Disney Day” 24 hour event. Even if you’re not going, there are some pretty photos from the event! This post was originally written for the first party, and it has been updated for each of the two parties since.

Also, check out our general Disneyland Trip Planning Guide and Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide if you’re not a “regular” at either park for more general planning tips. With that said, here are our Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party tips! (more…)

Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante Review

Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante is a quick service restaurant in Disneyland’s Frontierland that has a Mexican menu. Although it’s technically counter service, much like Plaza Inn, it’s sort of a ‘buffeteria’ style location with higher quality options on actual plates and with real silverware. It’s also priced slightly above other counter service restaurants in Disneyland, but the portion sizes and ambiance make this forgivable.

Beyond just the buffeteria style, Rancho del Zocalo is a lot like the Frontierland version of Plaza Inn. As opposed to the Main Street and Sleeping Beauty Castle view at Plaza Inn, you get a nice open-air Big Thunder Mountain/Frontierland or romantic “star light” view at Rancho del Zocalo. (I’ve been out of the dating game for a while, but if I were looking for a cheap, romantic place at Disneyland to take someone, the inside area at Rancho after dusk would be near the top of my list!) In place of high quality American comfort food that’s fitting of Main Street, you have high quality Mexican (comfort?) food that’s fitting of Frontierland.

Of course, nothing is more important to a restaurant than its food, but that great ambiance is what keeps us coming back to Rancho del Zocalo. This is something Disneyland counter service restaurants seem to nail far better than their Walt Disney World counterparts, and Rancho del Zocalo is no exception. (more…)

Cafe Orleans Review

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Cafe Orleans is a table service restaurant in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square with a Creole-inspired menu. It features both indoor and outdoor seating, and truly is reminiscent of a New Orleans cafe. In terms of pricing, it falls between two other restaurants in New Orleans Square: the excellent French Market and Blue Bayou, the restaurant “in” Pirates of the Caribbean. In terms of cuisine, it’s the best of the three restaurants, and arguably the top table service restaurant in Disneyland (park).

Cafe Orleans opened with the original New Orleans Square in 1966 and was originally called Creole Café. Walt Disney chose an ice cream counter inspired by The Happiest Millionaire as well as an antique espresso machine purchased by him and his wife Lilly in Italy. This espresso machine remains in Cafe Orleans today. Another notable piece of decor in Cafe Orleans is an oil painting of Philippe Duc d’Orleans, which is an original of the French nobleman for whom the city is named. While Walt never lived to see Cafe Orleans open, he influenced its design, some of which remains intact today. Over the years, Cafe Orleans has alternated between being a counter service and table service restaurant at various times. Due to a Sara Lee sponsorship, the name changed to Cafe Orleans in 1972 and it began serving specialty sandwiches, fritters, and ice cream concoctions. In 2006, it became the table service restaurant that now exists today. Various other changes have occurred to Cafe Orleans over the years; Disney author Kevin Yee used to work there, and he has an exhaustive history of the restaurant on his site.

With dark woods, paintings and photos lining the walls, and beautiful stained glass, the inside dining area feels like an upscale cafe. However, we opted to dine outside because even the nice interior cannot trump the ambiance of New Orleans Square. (more…)