When visiting Disney, many families head straight for the E-ticket rides, from Space Mountain to the Matterhorn to Dumbo. But in doing so they not only spend a whole lot of time in long lines, but they miss out on so many magical moments and memories that can be made at the "happiest place on earth.' Though these attractions are less popular, they are just as special and endure in family memories far longer than that forty-five minute line to get on Indiana Jones.
Here are twelve of my family's personal favorite Disneyland memory makers that are a bit off the beaten track.
One of our favorite things to do is to escape the chaos of the crowds and take a ride on either the Mark Twain or the Sailing Ship Columbia. It's a slow, relaxing journey that is a welcome break in the day.
For something on the morbid side, there is the Pet Cemetery located to the left of the classic Haunted Mansion ride. There are graves for dogs, cats and even skunks with odes that read; "Rosie She was a poor little Pig but she bought the Farm," and "Beloved Lilac Long on curiosity...short on common scents."
Hitch a Ride
While most walk down Main Street, there are various different modes of transportation that will take you down the always crowded walkway. It's wise to take advantage of this since your feet will be exhausted by the end of your day. You can hitch a ride on a old-school fire engine, a horse-drawn streetcar or a horse-less carriage. It's a great memory to make, sitting there and relaxing while you are whisked down Main Street.
You have to be very well-connected to be allowed entry into the elite Club 33, the private club within the walls of Disneyland. But it's a fun memory to try to find the club's entrance. It's located in the New Orleans Square area, but I won't give away exactly where it is, you'll need to search that out for yourself.
Get Lost on Tom Sawyer Island
I'm always surprised how many families that I know that do not set foot on Tom Sawyer Island when they go to Disneyland. Yes, all those E-ticket rides can be very alluring, but to let the kids run around in the caves, rope bridges and paths of this big playground is a great opportunity for some good old-fashioned play. There is also a pirate element on the island which adds a bit more of an intriguing element to the island.
There is a very special horse that is featured on the King Arthur Carousel in Fantasyland, and his name in Jingles. Jingles was Walt Disney's favorite horse on the merry-go-round and was named that for the faux gold bells that hang from its neck. The horse was given a make-over a few years back. Images are bestowed on its saddle honoring Mary Poppins, as well as a panel that commemorates Disneyland's 50th anniversary. But be warned, this horse isn't just Walt's favorite but patrons as well. It can be a bit competitive to ride Jingles, but it is worth it.
The Sword in the Stone
King Arthur's "sword in the stone' resides in front of the King Arthur Carousel. A couple times of day (depending on the time of year, since it doesn't happen daily), Merlin will come and there will be a ceremony with audience members attempting to pull the sword out of the anvil (not a stone, but an anvil in this case). But regardless of whether the ceremony is happening or not, my daughter is always delighted in trying to pull it out. But no, it never works, thankfully.
The Disney Gallery
Every time we go to Disneyland we make sure to stop by the Disney Gallery at the entryway to Main Street. It's like a mini museum with an always interesting exhibit of Disneyland art and inspiration. Last year we saw the Mary Blair show which was totally amazing.
Snow White's Well
Hidden to the right of Cinderella's Castle is Snow White's Grotto. Not only are their marble statues of Snow and the dwarfs there, but the wishing well is musical. At different times you can hear the original tune "I'm Wishing" coming from the well. It's a magical moment when your Snow White loving little one hears that for the first time.
Enchanted Tiki Room
There is always a line for the Dole Pineapple Whips outside of Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, but for some reason, not that many people take the time to visit the 150 or so animatronic birds that reside inside. On a hot day, it is one of the best respites that one can get. It's cool, calm, and relaxing and there is never a line.
Disneyland Fire Department
To the right of City Hall is the Disneyland Fire Department. Above was Walt Disney's personal apartment, but underneath is the faux fire house. Inside resides a shiny red fire engine that kids, especially mine, like to climb on. It's old-school fun and a sweet ride to check out.
One of our favorite things to do is to go on Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes. They are real canoes with real human power steering them. And there is something so fulfilling about going on a canoe ride in the midst of high octane visual stimulation.