10 Disneyland Tips, Tricks, & Secrets

Whether you’re new to the resort or a daily guest, these tips can ensure an exciting and fresh experience!

1. Custom Coaster Soundtracks

If you’ve been to Disneyland several times within the past 20 years, you’ve probably noticed a few different Space Mountain soundtracks.

  • 1996: The original Space Mountain on-ride score is introduced.
  • 2005: Space Mountain’s refurbishment in celebration of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary features a new score by composer Michael Giacchino.
  • 2007: Rockin’ Space Mountain is introduced in tandom with Rockin’ California Screamin, both featuring tracks by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (conveniently placed before the Grammy’s, where their album Stadium Arcadium was nominated for the Album of the Year).
  • 2009: Ghost Galaxy is introduced and, among other enhancements, includes a new “piratey” theme.

Most of us carry a portable music player with us at all times, be it a smartphone or an iPod. Why not create a soundtrack of your own! Pop those headphones in and tryout some different songs for the various Disney coasters. Might we suggest Madonna’s “Dress You Up as the new Space Mountain theme?

2. Starbucks Gift Cards

In 2011, the entrance to Disney’s California Adventure (DCA) was redesigned, adding Buena Vista Street and one of the most popular, world-renowned franchises to the Disneyland Resort. Located in the Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe on Buena Vista Street, guests can find Starbucks and experience a defining sense of self at anytime in DCA! Best of all, guests don’t have to be shy about whipping out that Starbucks gift card that is buried in their purse/wallet/yoda-backpack. Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino!

UPDATE: As of September 25, 2013, a new Starbucks on Main Street at Disneyland opened, replacing Market House Coffee.

3. Happy Hour!

Need a rest… and a drink? Head to Downtown Disney for Happy Hour where many of the DCA bars and restaurants serve up spirits at discounted prices. One of our best finds includes discount draft beers at the House of Blues from 2-5pm, saving your money for those neon necklaces and Glow With The Show‘ Mickey Ears you’ll be buying later in the evening.

4. Walk, Don’t Tram

While we understand that you will be walking around all day long, a little warm up is not a bad idea. After parking in the Disneyland Parking Structure or the Toy Story Parking Lot, skip the tram and enjoy a little stroll. Both parking lots are only a 10-15 minute walk from the park and will help you to avoid an unnecessary line. Lord knows you’ll have plenty of those to look forward too…

5. Unlimited Refills at Market House Coffee

Since Disneyland’s Grand Opening in 1955, Market House Coffee on Main Street has offered free same-day coffee refills to guests that present their receipt. This is a great tip that will help you get through a long day of walking, standing, and waiting in long-lines; keeping your energy level up for more walking, standing, and waiting in long lines.

According to the OC Register, Market House Coffee will be undergoing renovations and reopening as Starbucks in late 2013. Whether or not the new location will honor the refill tradition remains a mystery.

As mentioned in above, Market House Coffee was replaced with a Starbucks location, thus ending the free refills tradition.

6. 2nd Fantasmic

Dying to see Fantasmic? Hate being stuck in the nose-bleeds? Catch the 10:30pm showing of Disneyland’s Fantasmic! Patient Disneyland guests will find it much easier to find a prime spot for the 10:30pm show right after the 9:00pm crowds funnel out of the area. Granted you’ll be waiting around a bit, your view will be worth the wait.

If you really want a great spot, file in behind the left-hand light tower. While it may seem that your view may be obstructed, the light tower will raise just before showtime, providing you with one of the best seats in the house!

7. Single-Rider

Can’t wait to hop on that E-Ticket attraction? Head for the single-rider line! This old tip may be news to some new Disneyland guests as well as a refresher for those Orange County Annual Pass Holders that may need a quick coaster ride between running errands. Sure it will break apart your party but you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of jumping on Radiator Springs Racers and Space Mountain within minutes!

8. Grab DCA Fast-Passes First

If you’ve purchased a Park Hopper ticket, head to Disney’s California Adventure first thing in the morning and grab a World of Color Fast-Pass. It should be no secret that World of Color is one of the most sought after shows at the Disneyland Resort and grabbing a Fast-Pass will ensure you get a chance to view the spectacle. The beauty of grabbing this Fast-Pass is that it does not have an effect on normal Fast-Pass distribution, therefore you can rest assured that you will be able to collect one standard DCA and one Disneyland Fast-Pass as well!

9. Hidden Hotel Dining

Disneyland and DCA are full of long lines for mediocre food. If you can escape the parks for a bit, there are a great many hidden dining gems within the hotels and Downtown Disney!

Need a snack? White Water Snacks located in Disney’s Grand California is home to everyday market items, fruit, chips, and refrigerated goodies. Many of the large Downtown Disney restaurants have a smaller “to-go” style counterpart built in. Feel like pizza but want to pass on table service? Napolini offers Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria pizza by-the-slice. In the mood for Mexican? Taqueria at Tortilla Jo’s serves burritos and tacos out of a Chipotle style assembly-line. If you feel like a sandwich, stop by Downtown Disney’s newest gem, Earl of Sandwich! If the California Adventure and Downtown Disney bar scenes seem a little too chaotic, head over to Hearthstone Lounge located in Disney’s Grand California or Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar located in the Disneyland Hotel. A little out-of-park discovery can go a long way!

10. Scavenger Hunt

Disneyland is home to rich history and exciting secrets, and while new Disneyland visitors will already have a ton of action items on their plate, returning guests and Annual Pass Holders may want to take part in a pseudo-scavenger hunt! Here is a little list of a few items to keep you busy:

  • Hidden Mickeys – Undoubtedly the most revered treasures of all, Hidden Mickeys are abound in nearly every attraction in the park. Keep your eye on the the golf ball in Soarin’ Over California!
  • Walt & Roy Disney’s Golden Initials – Located on the balcony of Gallery/Dream Suite are the initials of Walt & Roy Disney.
  • Walt’s Apartment Light – Located above the Fire Station next to City Hall, the light is left on as a memorial in Walt’s remembrance.
  • Crypt Dated 1764 – Rumored to tie Pirates of the Caribbean / The Rivers of America to the Haunted Mansion. Located around on the Rivers of America walkway, in front of the Haunted Mansion.
  • Port of New Orleans – Keep your eye out for the sails and mast of a ship behind New Orleans. Easiest to spot from the New Orleans train station.
  • Eeyore Parking Lot Sign – Located in the queue for Indiana Jones. Ask the cast member at the front of the theater room for assistance.

For a great list of Hidden Mickeys and Park Secrets, head over to or pick up the Disneyland Detective and Disney’s California Adventure Detective books.


Image Source [Disney Tourist Blog]


Kyle Starr is the writer of and The State of Gaming. Find Kyle on Twitter at @_kylestarr.


2 thoughts on “10 Disneyland Tips, Tricks, & Secrets

  1. Pingback: disneyland tips | Hotel Travel Zone

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