We spent 9 days at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for the Diamond Anniversary kickoff and 24 hour day. If you haven’t been to the Disneyland Resort in a while – or even if you have – this is a GREAT time to go. The Paint the Night parade is worth seeing (over and over again!), and there is so much more to see and do than ever before. Here are 11 tips for getting the most of your visit! We have plenty of videos and our Mousesteps YouTube Show #148 embedded in the article. You can find even more of our videos in our Disneyland 60th playlist.
– Choose Your Tickets Carefully – If you are planning to visit both Walt Disney World and Disneyland within one year, consider the Premiere Passport for at least one member of your family. There are both food and merchandise discounts – especially handy at Disneyland, where counter service locations are included and merchandise is still 20% off instead of 10%. We saved at least $70 on food and $60 on merchandise this trip. There are also possible resort discounts on both coasts, though availability is always limited. Even if you are purchasing a standard multi-day ticket, you might want to bump up to 4 days from 3 days for only an additional $15.00 (or from 4 to 5 days for another $15.00). There are many ticket options for both California residents and outside of California. I do recommend the park hopper add-on, it really helps to be flexible.
– Book the World of Color Meal Package Ahead of Time – We almost always book a Carthay Circle World of Color lunch. For just $39.00 per adult plus tax and gratuity (AP discounts are also accepted), guests receive a soft drink, appetizer, entree and dessert from a set menu. I believe dinner is $59 plus tax and gratuity, we are booking that with friends for August. Lunch has been a tremendous value, saving us money on the meal and giving us a great World of Color location. You still want to arrive early for World of Color, at least for the first show – we arrived almost an hour early and just barely snagged the spot we wanted. On the other hand, the second showing that night was empty enough that they were inviting guests in without Fastpass tickets. Make sure you ask for the World of Color package when booking. We never have had to mention it before, but were told we needed to for now due to the popularity of the new show.
Carthay Circle at Disney California Adventure
8 oz Angus Burger at Carthay Circle as Part of World of Color Dining Package
Lemongrass Coconut Broth Accented With Tangerine – World of Color Starter
World of Color
– Buy Disney’s Photopass Before Leaving Home – We have never purchased Photopass in Florida due to the cost, but it is still just $69.00 for pre-purchase (buying at least 2 weeks ahead) at Disneyland. As long as it stays that price, we will continue to utilize it for most of our trips. Photopass includes attractions like Space Mountain, Tower of Terror and Radiator Springs Racers. We also used it for character photos, and special pictures that include balloons or Tinker Bell. We have been busy adding borders to our original 214 photos so that we can have a CD sent to us.
Don’t Leave Home Without a Photopass Voucher – We Exchanged it for the Photopass Card at Disneyland
– Stop for Special Diamond Photo Locations – Only 2 special Diamond photo locations had opened before we left on this visit: at the Matterhorn and California Screamin’. You can always have photos taken with your own camera, but it is nice to have borders with Photopass pictures too. We were told 3 or 4 more were coming, and I know the Grizzly River Run location has opened.
Jeff and I Climb the Matterhorn at Special Photo Location
We enjoyed this California Screamin’ Photopass Location!
– Meet Disney Characters in Special Diamond Outfits – The “Fab 8” (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Chip & Dale, Pluto & Goofy) all are in special Diamond outfits! You can find them in Town Square.
Chip and Dale in New 60th Outfits
Daisy Duck Shows Off New 60th Outfit
– See the Second Paint the Night Parade – While we were visiting, guests waited 3-5 hours or more for the first Paint the Night parade. We were able to grab a spot an hour early for the second public night at the “it’s a small world” Mall, but it wasn’t a great one and were in a pretty tight crowd. Our view was of the back of the parade as it headed toward Main Street. But with the second parade, plenty of spots were always available right after Disneyland Forever ended. The parade starts just over one hour after the fireworks end, and the crowd is much lighter. The only issue we had one evening was when the second parade had a technical glitch, and the main parade music didn’t play. They did continue with the parade and it was gratifying to see so many guests clapping and keeping time for performers. But it could have ended up with a parade no-show as well. If you have multiple nights, go for the second parade. Did I mention how fantastic Paint the Night is? It is now my favorite nighttime parade, ever. I can’t wait to see it again!
Mack the Truck in Paint the Night Parade
Ariel Helps Paint the Night
Belle In Paint the Night Parade
Here is the Paint the Night full parade with the Matterhorn in the background.
– See Disneyland Forever Fireworks on Multiple Nights From Different Locations (But Mostly From Main Street) – Disneyland Forever is the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen at Disneyland. Even if you only want to see it one time, make sure to see it early in your visit. There are times when the fireworks do not go off due to wind. During our stay, Disneyland Forever played every night – I saw it most from our suite balcony at the Hampton Inn Garden Grove (it was a perfect view, we were very fortunate in the room we were given). But we also saw it several times at Disneyland, from both Main Street and the “it’s a small world” Mall – and once from a security line in the Esplanade. There is also viewing from near Fantasmic, which we did not see this trip. The view from “it’s a small world” Mall is fine, but it is NOTHING like the “ooooh” effect we had on Main Street near the Emporium. However, we couldn’t see the Matterhorn effects from that particular location (we did from “it’s a small world” Mall). So see Disneyland Forever more than once, and move around to different locations. But mostly those locations should be on Main Street, because it is incredible from there.
Disneyland Forever Fireworks
Hidden Mickey During Disneyland Forever Fireworks
– Choose the Single Rider Matterhorn Option – Due to the Matterhorn upgrades, the line each day was abominable – just like the snowman inside! We did make it into the park early one day and waited together, but otherwise used the single rider line a number of times. It was much quicker for us.
Here is our video of the Matterhorn!
– Visit Rides with New Additions – We hadn’t visited Disneyland in a year and a half (the longest we’ve gone in a very long time), so there was more new to see than usual. Alice in Wonderland and Big Thunder Mountain were both new to us, even though they were upgraded last year. Both were always worth visiting, and even more so now. The Hatbox Ghost was just added last month to the Haunted Mansion and looks fantastic. The Matterhorn also is a must-do, but it is just as bumpy as before. And Peter Pan will re-open in July, a little later than originally planned.
Take a look at the new Hatbox Ghost in our video.
– Other Diamond Anniversary Must-Sees – I hate to say it, but we didn’t see all of these. Even with 9 days, it wasn’t enough to catch everything we wanted! The Dapper Dans sing a new song; the Mad T Party is now the Mad T Party Diamond Celebration; the Red Car Trolley News Boys show has a new song; and Minnie appears in that show in a new Buena Vista Street dress. She doesn’t last long in it, blink and you’ll miss her! But you can meet Minnie – along with other characters including Oswald – at Disney California Adventure.
Here is a video of Minnie in her new dress!
There are also some Diamond Annivesrary food and drink items, but we didn’t try any and I cannot recommend one way or the other.
Sleeping Beauty Castle at Dawn at End of 24 Hour Day
Sleeping Beauty Castle at End of 24 Hour Day
While there were some glitches during the 24 hour celebration and the parks were busier than I’m used to, our visit was memorable and we are looking forward to our summer trip. We won’t spend as much time in the parks as we did in May, with other area attractions also in our sights this time around. But Paint the Night, Disneyland Forever and the World of Color Carthay Circle dinner are some of what I’m looking forward to most! Here is our Mousesteps Weekly YouTube Show #148, where we talk about much of the Disneyland 60th (not Disney California Adventure yet). And consider Disneyland for an upcoming trip!