There are tons of ways to get the Disney “magic” without stepping foot inside of the Parks! I recommend building one or more “off-days” into your multi-day trip to the Disneyland Resort 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.
What’s Outside of Disneyland?
Disneyland has a footprint inside the city of Anaheim. The Disneyland Resort is comprised of three Resort Hotels (Paradise Pier, Grand California Resort & Spa and the Disneyland Hotel). There are two Parks, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park. And there is a Downtown Disney District with shopping and dining. Just outside of the Disneyland Resort, within walking distance, are “Good Neighbor” hotels, restaurants and suburban homes. I’m giving you some ideas on what to do on an off-day of your vacation that will still keep you in the “Disney bubble”.
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1. 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.
2. 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.
I have an entire post on the subject, Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools. 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!
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3. 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!
4. 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, with its towering lobby and elegant rooms.
The Paradise Pier is fun…and Goofy (there is a Goofy statue inside, perfect for selfies).
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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. A Night on Town
Hit the town…Downtown Disney, that is. You can take in the nightlight in the Downtown Disney District by enjoying a free outdoor concert. Or enjoy dinner at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and enjoy the live entertainment during your meal.
9. Fireworks Spectacular
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:
- 1st Stop – Saving Up for Disney | YOU ARE HERE!
- 2nd Stop – The Delightful Life | Top 10 Things to do at Walt Disney World – Outside the Parks!
- 3rd Stop – Superheroes and Teacups | Take a Break from the Sun at DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park
- 4th Stop – Adventureland Pam | Summer Fun at the Disney Water Parks
- 5th Stop – Adventures with Toddlers & Preschoolers | Legoland Florida
What is your favorite way to spend an “off-day” at the Disneyland Resort? Share in the comments!