- Disneyland has plenty of secrets to uncover as you walk through the two theme parks.
- Some of the lesser-known things to do at Disneyland include peeking inside Walt Disney’s apartment, walking through Sleeping Beauty Castle, and even paddling a canoe.
- Here are my favorite little-known things you can do at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
Disneyland has welcomed generations of families, including my own, since its opening in 1955. And while most repeat visitors have their own traditions and things they love to do when they pass through the gates to the Happiest Place on Earth, even the savviest of park guests don’t know everything there is to do at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park.
Lesser-Known Things to Do at Disneyland
In fact, some of the best things to do at Disneyland are the secret ones—the lesser-known parts of some of the most popular park attractions and locations. Here are a few of the unique things you can do at Disneyland that many people don’t know about.
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1. Take a Bakery Tour at Disney California Adventure
Disney California Adventure Park is a glorified (and Disney-fied) version of California, especially in the San Fransokyo Square area of the park, which is themed after the Disney movie Big Hero 6. I love this new area, especially at night when the lanterns and bridge are lit up.
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With the Bakery Tour, you can get a glimpse into a working replica of Boudin Bakery in San Francisco, and see how Disneyland’s tasty sourdough bread is made. During the tour, you’ll get to sample some fresh bread that was baked on-site too. I like picking up a loaf of bread to take back home with me, especially the cute Mickey Mouse-shaped loaves.
2. Paddle Your Own Canoe at Disneyland Park
Did you know there’s one attraction at Disneyland that’s fully self-powered? The Davy Crocket Explorer Canoes are completely propelled by guests and cast members, and the boats are not on a track, unlike other boats that travel along the Rivers of America.
The attraction is often overlooked by guests for more thrilling rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Pirates of the Caribbean, but these canoes should be on your list of things to do next time you go to Disneyland for the pure joy of a serene trip around Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. And don’t worry if you get tired while paddling, your canoe guides have enough strength to make it around the river in a full boat of people without much help.
3. Peek Inside Walt Disney’s Apartment at Disneyland Park
Just after entering Disneyland you’ll find the Main Street Fire Station in the main hub near the train station. Above it is a second-floor apartment where a small window light is always on. That apartment is where Walt Disney and his wife Lillian would stay whenever they were at Disneyland.
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If you book Walt’s Main Street Story Tour, you’ll have the chance to go into this normally off-limits area and see where Walt Disney and his family enjoyed their private moments in the park. A highlight of the tour is getting to see the view from the window where Walt looked out onto Main Street USA, usually before going into the park to greet guests himself. As a fan of the theme parks and Walt Disney, my favorite part of the tour is learning details about Disneyland that I didn’t know before.
4. Spot the Test Wall of Bricks at Disneyland Park
There’s an unusual wall in a secluded corner of Main Street USA where a variety of bricks seem to be stacked in a haphazard way. This is known as the test wall and is a bit of Disney history in plain sight.
The wall is said to have been used to show Walt Disney and others who were working on building Disneyland a few options for how bricks could look on Main Street USA. But with supplies and time running short, the test wall actually made it into the park. You can find this little slice of history on the right side of Main Street USA between Starbucks and Disney Clothiers.
5. Watch Cars Land Illuminated Every Night at Disney California Adventure
With three attractions and multiple dining spots, it’s no surprise that Cars Land is one of the most popular areas of Disney California Adventure. Every night, the themed area’s neon signs light up and you can hear the fan-favorite song “Sh-Boom” playing throughout the land.
Guests often line the street or dance in the middle of the street during the music and watch everything come to life at night. It happens at a different time each night (coordinated to sunset) so be sure to ask a cast member when the lighting will take place. I like to ask about timing early in the afternoon, then arrive about 10 minutes before the lighting takes place to get a good spot to see all of the neon come on.
6. Walk Through Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park
Most guests know you can walk through the tunnel of Sleeping Beauty Castle into Fantasyland, but there’s also another entrance into the castle that leads to a walkthrough attraction. Look for the small opening just behind the castle in Fantasyland that leads into a dark corridor where you’ll be able to see displays showing the story of Sleeping Beauty.
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The walkways through Sleeping Beauty Castle are narrow and can be very dark, so if you’re taking kids to the park you may want to consider whether it’s appropriate for your little ones. I enjoy this walkthrough because it’s often not too crowded and the details in the display are beautiful.
7. Snap a Photo with a Petrified Tree at Disneyland Park
You can spot a genuine petrified tree with a unique history in the heart of Frontierland near The Golden Horseshoe dining spot. Walt Disney originally bought the tree to be displayed at his home, but in 1957 his wife Lillian gifted the tree to Disneyland. There’s a small plaque that tells the history of the tree, and it’s a cool spot to take a photo and marvel at another nod to Walt Disney’s legacy in the park. This is the one thing I tell all of my friends and family about when they ask about weird things at Disneyland, because it is truly a strange sight to behold.