I grew up in a small farming town in Idaho. It was religious, conservative, smelled constantly of wheat/grain/harvest dust, but there was also an interstate, so we at least had a steady stream of people coming in and out. Actually mostly out, 80% of my high school peers had “escape” as an item on their after graduation checklist.
So, when one of my friends proposed a road trip to Los Angeles, I was a little hesitant, even at the age of 23. After all, I knew only a handful of things about California: Katy Perry wrote a song about it, the people were incredibly liberal, LEGOLand was a thing but, most importantly California was where Disneyland enlightened people’s lives on the daily.
Like every kid in the entire world, I dreamed of visiting Disneyland someday. Ideally, it would have been when I was still in grade school and could then brag to all of my friends, but that never happened. At least, not until I was a grown adult. And when I finally made it to Disneyland for the first time, brag did I ever.
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Remember to Bring Tissues
I can’t remember if it was after we’d parked, or as we were buying tickets, or when I first laid eyes upon the statue of Walt and Mickey on Main Street U.S.A, but I wept like a small child.
Honestly, all the hype I’d had to endure all of my life was 100% true. Disneyland was absolutely incredible, even just its atmosphere. Even surrounded by children who didn’t appreciate where they were, being mobbed by crowds, with the sun beating down on me, everything was rose colored.
Every time I saw something I recognized, my stomach would knot up with excitement and I’d have to stop and snap a picture, blow my nose, and scream internally. I think I almost fainted when I spotted Merida for the first time since she’s my favorite Disney princess. Every day, for the rest of my life (or, at least, until I head back there again), I’ll regret not waiting in line to get my photo taken. One of my bucket list items, since that day, is to return to Disneyland and dedicate an entire day just to photo-ops.
Prepare for Crowds
Yes, of course, this is a no-brainer, but I don’t mean to cast it in a negative light.
I, myself, have a HUGE aversion to large crowds and worried about them as I visited Disneyland for the first time, but for some reason, they didn’t bother me as much when I was within the enchanting embrace of the Disneyland gates. I didn’t see the big families, slobbery babies, or long lines, as the horribly unpleasant things they are in the outside world. Instead, I felt like I was sharing an experience with all of these strangers. We were all enjoying the magic of Disney together, and because of that, I didn’t care so much about waiting 30 minutes for every one of the 8 times I went on Splash Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean.
Half of the time I was there, I barely noticed the number of people or the wait times. With the way the park is formatted, its genius environment and peppy atmosphere make sure your attention is being pulled one way or another, even when only standing in line for some attraction.
Honestly, even if, for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to make it onto any rides or other attractions, I would’ve probably had a pretty satisfactory day just strolling through the park checking out all of the incredible small details everywhere.
Not Just For Kids
In recounting my absolutely fanatical experience to friends and family back in that small town after I visited Disneyland for the first time, I was surprised by how many of them brought up the fact that Disneyland was supposedly designed for families, namely those with young children. This blew my mind a little bit, what kind of outlook must someone have to really feel this way about Disneyland?
Alright, to be fair, the animatronics, music, costume characters, feeling of childhood whimsy and wonder, may not exactly be for everyone.
Certainly, if you’re visiting with a family of your own, you might spend more time keeping track of the kiddos rather than enjoying the scenery. Which is why I suggest this: book a trip for yourself, yourself and your significant other, yourself and some friends… just go. No kids, no obligations. Get pictures with all of the Disney princesses, ride every attraction, buy something at every gift shop. Allow yourself to leave your adult responsibilities at the ticket office, and let them be babysat by someone else for a while. Your childhood self will thank you.
I think one unfortunate thing a lot of people are led to believe is that as they get older, spontaneous fun is only allowed for children. That suddenly, because you have an education, a full-time job, a mortgage, a car payment. Suddenly anything frivolous or simply fun just to be fun isn’t allowed anymore. And, honestly, as a grown adult who cried like a baby at Disneyland, I have only one thing to say to those people:
You’re dead if you aim only for kids.
Adults are only kids grown up, anyway. ~Walt Disney
Enjoy Your Visit to Disneyland for the First Time
If you think calling it the “Happiest Place on Earth” is just a slogan you’ve got it wrong. Whether you’re an adult or child there is something unique about Disneyland that allows you get away from the world, be the best version of yourself, and let your imagination run. There isn’t anywhere quite like it in the world.
As you plan your trip, whether it’s with a bunch of adults or your family, take a look at a few other sets of tips to make your first trip to Disneyland the best it can be!
- 21 Disneyland Resort Tips & Tricks
- Disneyland Resort’s Must Do Activities That Aren’t Rides
- Downtown Disney – Food, Fun & A Little Disney
When was when you visited Disneyland for the first time? What’s your favorite part of your trip? Leave a comment below.
For more information about Disneyland check out these great books on Amazon including The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017, Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Disneyland® Resort’s Best Kept Secrets, Fodor’s Los Angeles: with Disneyland & Orange County.
Traveling to Disneyland Soon?
About the Author
Kelsey enjoys the simple things in life, whether they be the smell of the mountains, long road trips, or cuddling up with a soft friend in the evenings. She graduated with a degree in Visual Arts, and dedicates her time to both drawing and writing like a single mother of two unruly twins. You can find more ramblings on her blog Holobun. Don’t forget to follow her on Instagram as well.