Spending an Off-Day at the Disneyland Resort

 

How do you spend an "off-day" at the Disneyland Resort? Here are a few fun ideas that won't take you off the property!

Welcome to this month’s Magical Blogorail Red loop. Today we are discussing fun things to do on your summer vacation outside of the Disney Parks.

Multi-day trips to the Disneyland Resort often include one or more “off-days” built in so you can rest up, relax and enjoy the Resort without venturing into the Parks. I’ve included my favorite day-off ideas which you can actually do in one day or stretch them out over several days.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Surf’s Up! Mickey & Friends Breakfast

Dine with a Character

You do not need to go into the Parks to enjoy a Character meal! Each of the three hotels in the Disneyland Resort feature their own unique Character meals. Start off the day with breakfast at Disney’s PCH Grill (Paradise Pier Hotel) for Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends. Or choose Storyteller’s Cafe (Disney Grand Californian) Chip ’n Dale Critter Breakfast or Goofy’s Kitchen (Disneyland Hotel). Goofy’s Kitchen also offers a Character Meal for dinner as well. This is a great way to get in a Character Meet n’ Greet without using up precious Park time.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort  Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Go for a Swim

Nearly all of the time in Anaheim, the weather will be appropriate for swimming. It’s so easy to take one of your “off-days” poolside, especially if you are staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel. The pools are fantastic and there is definitely enough here for a day’s worth of entertainment.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Disneyland Hotel pool

I have an entire post on the subject, Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools – What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!  In short, you can rent a cabana, receive poolside drinks and meal service, slip down a water slide, play organized games with resort cast members, relax in a whirlpool hot tub or lounge on a chaise and catch some rays. The pools are ideal for down time and we make sure to reserve a day of our trip for plenty of water play!

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort  Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Work Out

Feeling a little sluggish after the Park food? Get up and get moving. I’ve outlined all of the fitness options in my post Exercise on Vacation?! Getting a Workout, Disney-style at the Disneyland Resort Hotels. There is even a guided morning walk through the Park!

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Explore the Resorts

Make sure to take the time to explore the three different hotels of the Disneyland Resort. There are restaurants and gift shops and you don’t have to be a Resort guest to visit. I adore the Disneyland Hotel and have stayed here many times. Be sure to walk inside each of the towers and check out the unique theming inside the lobbies. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is breathtaking inside. I’ve yet to stay here but I’ve still walked through it several times just to admire the beautiful lobby. The Paradise Pier is fun…and Goofy (there is a Goofy statue inside, perfect for selfies).

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

If you are a Resort guest you can sign up to take a tour of the hotels. At the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa there is an Art of Craft Tour. Or try the Grand Quest, a scavenger hunt through the Resort hotel. Over at the Disneyland Hotel, try the Happiest Hotel on Earth Tour. There are several other offerings, just check with Guest Services on the days and times (some require advanced registration to participate).

From the Disney website:

  • Tales from the Hearth Nestle in for an intimate storytelling experience starring California wildlife at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
  • Disney’s Princess Story Time This enchanting experience invites little princes and princesses to view classic Disney animation and enjoy story time with one of the Disney Princesses.
  • Learn to Draw Mickey Class It’s your chance to be an animator! Learn to draw one of Disney’s most famous characters—Mickey!
  • Washcloth Creations Our in-house experts will show you how to make your very own magical creations out of a simple washcloth.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

A Day at the Spa

The Mandara Spa at the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is a heavenly way to recharge on your off-day. Enjoy a massage, facial, mani-pedi or a cleansing sweat in the sauna. There are dozens of special treatments to choose from that will have you rested, relaxed and ready for your next Park day.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Downtown Disney District

Shopping, dining and entertainment;  you could spend a lot of time (and money) at Downtown Disney. We always stop in at the LEGO Store where there are plenty of blocks to play and build with. The movie theater is a great place for soaking up the a/c for a few hours. And of course, World of Disney. You can’t miss this enormous store that includes hundreds of fantastic Disney souvenirs. I highly suggest doing your shopping on an “off-day” if you can.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort  Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Movies Under the Stars

On select nights the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disneyland Hotel host a Disney movie outside for their Resort Guests. Bring your own food and drinks to enjoy during the show.

A Night on Town

Check the kids in at Pinocchio’s Workshop for the night and hit the town…Downtown Disney, that is. While the kids play games and make crafts, you can take in the nightlight in the Downtown Disney District. Book reservations for the House of Blues in advance and take in a show. Or enjoy dinner at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and enjoy the live entertainment during your meal.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Wide open esplanade between the Parks is perfect for viewing fireworks at night.

Fireworks

If you just want to soak in a bit of the Disney atmosphere at the end of the night but don’t have a Park ticket for the day, stroll into the esplanade. This is the wide open space between the two Parks. Just before the fireworks show starts at Disneyland, other Guests will gather in this area and sit down to enjoy the show. Even though you can’t catch all of the action like you would from inside the Park, it’s still quite magical and a great way to close out your off-day before heading back in to the Parks.


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red  | Summer Fun Outside of the Parks Loop:

 What is your favorite way to spend an “off-day” at the Disneyland Resort? Share in the comments!

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12 replies
  1. Jennifer Kaufman
    Jennifer Kaufman says:

    This is such an extensive list! We just got back from Disneyland earlier this summer, and one of our favorite days was when we started at Storytellers for the Critter breakfast (soooooo fun!) and then swam, etc. And on SoCal trips we are never at a loss for beaches, etc to visit! 🙂

  2. Pam
    Pam says:

    I have never been to Disneyland so I am not as familiar with it as I am with Disney World, but I didn’t realize there was so much to do outside of the parks! Great list! I hope to make it over there one of these days 🙂

    • Julie Bigboy
      Julie Bigboy says:

      It’s not as easy to be completely immersed in Disney like you can at WDW, but it’s great that they still have a lovely resort where you can stay and not deal with the “outside world” 🙂

  3. Hayden
    Hayden says:

    Great tips, I am planning a West Coast vacation for 2016 and hope to visit Disneyland for the 1st time. Didn’t realize how similar Disneyland & Disney World are with the same “Downtown Disney” and Mandara Spa, etc.

  4. Mary at Capturing Magical Memories
    Mary at Capturing Magical Memories says:

    I am amazed on the activity outside the parks at Disneyland. My favorite moment was waking up at the Disneyland Hotel and looking out the window to see Goofy walking alone along the path and stopping to smell the flowers. What a place! I could just spend time exploring.

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