Disneyland California is the original Disney Park curated by Walt Disney himself. The park opened in 1955 and currently sees an average of 18.6 million guests annually.
The thing I’ve come to love about all the Disney Parks is their inclusivity to both solo travellers, families with young children and couples. There’s most certainly something for everyone, and the original Disneyland in California is no different.
Helen and I love visiting Disneyland, California, as a couple. There’s plenty of romantic things for us to do here, including in-ride competitions, fun souvenir photos and incredible evening experiences.
In this post, we’ll be sharing our favourite things to do in Disneyland, California, as a couple based on our numerous visits to the park over the years. Of course, there’s something for all budgets and tastes in this list, but as always, we’d love to hear if you have a romantic thing to do at the park that we’ve missed – let us know in the comments if you do!
Table of Contents
- 1. Take A Picture In Front Of The Castle
- 2. Compete Against Each Other on Buzz Lightyears Astro Blasters
- 3. Take a Gentle Ride Through The Haunted Mansion
- 4. Get Matching Character Ears
- 5. Head On A Dinner Date At One Of The Many Restaurants
- 6. Share a Pineapple Churro
- 7. Get A Caricature Together
- 8. Get Photo’s At Every PhotoPass Opportunity
- 9. Book A VIP Tour
- 10. Take A Romantic Sail On The Mark Twain River Boat
- 11. Play Games At Pixar Pier
- 12. Watch Fireworks Together
- 13. Ride The Ferris Wheel On Pixar Pier
- 14. Spend The Night
- 15. Wear Matching T-shirts & Outfits
- 16. Visit On Or Near Valentines Day
1. Take A Picture In Front Of The Castle
The castle at Disneyland in California is based on Cinderella’s Castle and wasn’t curated until 1971, 15 years after the park opened.
The castle is the smallest of all castles featured at any of the Disney parks in the world and stands at just 58m tall.
I find that no trip to any Disney park is complete without several photos in front of the castle. You can opt to take these photos selfie-style yourself, ask a fellow guest to take a picture of you or ask one of the Disney PhotoPass photographers.
As you can photograph the castle at several angles, we often opt to walk around in different locations, giving you a diverse background and reducing the number of people within the shot.
These photos are the perfect free souvenir that can be put into a basic frame or a special Disney branded one (you can pick these up at the park for around $25 inc tax).
Of course, if you’re feeling super romantic, you could opt to propose in front of the Disney castle. If you do, be sure to purchase a Disney PhotoPass+ in advance and get a Disney photographer to capture the moment.
PhotoPass+ costs $78 for one week’s worth of photos, although upgrades are available for different packages should they be required. You can also get PhotoPass+ included in the MaxPass+ purchase for $15.
Either way, these moments are the ones to be remembered and should be captured in any way you can.
2. Compete Against Each Other on Buzz Lightyears Astro Blasters
Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters is a ride that is suitable for all ages (including babies). This slow-paced ride takes you and your partner in a slow-moving buggy through a dark world in which you’ll need to attack Zurg and his pesty friends by shooting them with a laser beam.
In doing so, you’ll help Buzz in saving the planet (and who doesn’t want to do that!). As you shoot Zurg and his pals, you’ll get several points. These points are totalled up on the screen in front of you on your buggy. Compete with your partner to see who can score the most.
Achieve the ultimate 999,999 max outscore to be rewarded with a sticker by a cast member as you leave the ride.
Competition on this ride has become somewhat of a tradition between myself and Helen. We love it because it’s part of the Disney experience and is a free thing for couples and families to do when visiting Disneyland.
However, be warned that plenty of other families and couples alike have a soft spot for this ride, so you could easily find yourself waiting over an hour to board. Consider purchasing the Disney MaxPass to get a FastPass and minimise your wait time instead.
3. Take a Gentle Ride Through The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion is another slow-paced ride in Disneyland suitable for all ages, although it has a somewhat different feel to it when compared to Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.
Don’t let the darkness and ghosts put you off from taking a seat on this ride with a loved one; the fear of the ride can see you snuggled up to each other tight and be a whole lot of fun!
The ride is incredibly popular with long-time Disneyland fans, so expect to wait for anything up to an hour for a chance to ride. Especially around Halloween when the ride is made extra spooky for guests.
Luckily, The Haunted Mansion ride only lasts nine minutes, so if you are scared of things that go bump in the night, you won’t have to wait long to see daylight and the Disneyland castle again.
4. Get Matching Character Ears
Nothing is quite as fun as getting matching Disney outfits, or at the very least, matching Disney character ears. These make for great fun around the park and great photo opportunities during your visit.
You can purchase character ears in various styles. Helen and I managed to pick up Disney branded hats with the ears on top, which were perfect for our visit at the height of summer and protected our heads from getting burnt.
Alternatively, you can always pick up matching Disney ears on the day and have a whole lot of fun trying different pairs out to find which ones work best for you and your partner.
However, be sure to prepare your budget in advance if you do. For example, Mickey and Minnie ears at Disneyland, California, cost $29.99 plus tax which brings the cost of two pairs to almost $70!
That said, they are yours to keep forever and can be worn on multiple future trips or placed inside a cute memory frame as a reminder of your fantastic trip together.
5. Head On A Dinner Date At One Of The Many Restaurants
There are more than 120 restaurants at the Disneyland Resort in California. These are situated across many Disneyland Hotels, The Downtown Disneyland District and inside the two parks Disneyland and California Adventure.
With more than 120 restaurants to choose from, you can bet there’s something for every taste, from Asian to American to Mexican and Italian; Disneyland Resort in California has it all.
You can use the Disneyland Resort website to decide where you might want to go together in advance and even book a table if you are due to visit the park is within the next 60 days.
We opt to use the website to filter based on our budget and where we’d like to eat (hotel, in a specific park or downtown). After this, we are left with a range of different restaurants and cuisines from which we can choose.
My favourite romantic restaurants at Disneyland California include;
- Napa Rose, which is situated inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. This California fare inspired restaurant serves some incredible dishes, however, this is one restaurant you’ll likely want to budget for as the majority of entrees cost in excess of $45.
- Surfside Lounge, situated inside the Paradise Pier Hotel, this is a more affordable table service restaurant which is ideal to visit if you’re looking for a couples meal on a budget during your visit.
- The Lamplight Lounge, which isn’t quite a restaurant but is an incredible bar situated inside Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure Park the bar is based on the incredible Disney film Coco.
In my opinion, the foodie delights are a big part of an adult visit to a Disney park. From the different flavoured popcorn in Tokyo Disney through to the Dole Whip at Walt Disney World.
The latest foodie craze to hit Disneyland Resort in California is the Pineapple Churro. What better way to spend quality time with you’re loved one than over a sweet treat on a bench in one of the most magical places on earth (if you’re feeling peckish, consider getting one each!).
Pineapple Churros are only available to purchase from the cart in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in the main Disneyland park and currently cost $5.25 plus tax.
Consider adding the delicious melted marshmallow dipping sauce for an additional $1.00 (honestly, this is totally worth the extra buck!).
7. Get A Caricature Together
In my opinion, the very best personalised gift you can get from Disneyland California is a caricature from one of the Cast Members offering the service on-site.
Better yet, they are relatively affordable – as far as personalised stuff at Disney goes anyway!
The cost of the caricature is per person and varies whether you have a full-body, just a face and colour or black and white. During our last visit (2019), the prices were as follows;
- Black and white face only – $15
- Black and white full-body – $20
- Color face only – $20
- Color full body – $30
Consider sitting and getting a caricature to take home as a memory of your visit to Disneyland together.
Sidenote: We have one from a previous visit framed in our office. I smile every time I look at it.
8. Get Photo’s At Every PhotoPass Opportunity
A trip to Disneyland is all about making memories, especially if you’re visiting with a loved one. Luckily, both Disney Resort Parks in California have plenty of incredible photo opportunities.
Whether it’s with a character, in front of the castle or at Pixar Pier, you can be sure there’s a photo opportunity for you and your partner.
You’re welcome to use your phone or personal camera to take photos at all the photo spots around the park; however, the Disney PhotoPass+ can also be a fantastic investment.
The Disney PhotoPass+ entitles you to digital copies of all your photos taken by a Disney cast member or Disney camera. In addition, you can upgrade to get your pictures on a disc for a small additional cost.
We’ve found that the quality of the photos taken by cast members far exceeds those taken on our own personal camera as they have a super expensive camera with all the correct settings (based on lighting and the photo shot) ready and waiting for you.
A PhotoPass+ package costs $78 + tax for unlimited photos for a whole week at the resort. Alternatively, you can add the upgrade to your MaxPass+ (if you’ve purchased that service) for an additional $20 per day.
9. Book A VIP Tour
Unlike Walt Disney World, where there are a variety of backstage tours and VIP tours (the photo below is from our backstage tour of Epcot, Dolphins in Depth), there is only one at Disneyland California.
Which is the traditional VIP tour, in which you’ll have a personal concierge to take you through the park. Unfortunately, this extravagant couples experience at Disneyland isn’t for those on a budget as it’ll cost $2,550 for a minimum of six hours.
However, the VIP Experience comes with various perks, such as the ability to skip the line on all the rides within parks and table reservations at any restaurants on-site. You can also skip the line at all the photo opportunities, including characters and VIP seating for the parade, shows and incredible nighttime spectacular.
A VIP tour is undoubtedly a once in a lifetime experience at Disneyland and something you and your partner will no doubt remember forever.
The tour can’t be booked online. Instead, you’ll be required to contact the reservation team by phone or email.
10. Take A Romantic Sail On The Mark Twain River Boat
Even Walt believed that a 14-minute sail on the Mark Twain riverboat around Tom Sawyers Island was romantic.
The boat set sail four days before Disneyland opened to the public in 1955 for himself and his wife Lillian to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
Named after the pen name of none other than Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (the book upon which the island the boat sails around is based), the Mark Twain riverboat is as romantic now as it was almost 70 years ago.
There are four decks to choose from onboard; my personal favourite is the Texas / Sun Deck, which boasts incredible views out over the water.
However, suppose you’re looking to marvel at the incredible engineering of this historical reproduction of an American classic. In that case, I suggest heading to the Main Deck instead, from which you’ll be able to see the boiler and pistons that run the paddle wheel.
11. Play Games At Pixar Pier
Pixar Pier is the ultimate place to hang out with a loved one on date night, complete with a Ferris wheel, rollercoasters, popcorn and games.
The area inside the California Adventure Park opened to the public in 2018, replacing the old Paradise Pier, which initially opened back in 2001.
At Pixar Pier, you’ll find a host of different carnival-inspired games that you can play alone or with a loved one to try and win a prize (because is there anything more romantic than winning a cuddly toy from a carnival game and passing it to your loved one?
The games include;
- Bullseye Stallion Stampede
- La Luna Star Catcher
- WALL-E Space Race
- Heimlich Candy Corn Toss
Tokens to play the games can be purchased from various sales points across the park; with each game costing $4 per person to play, it’s a relatively inexpensive yet romantic thing to do when visiting Disneyland.
12. Watch Fireworks Together
Helen and I have seen hundreds of fireworks displays over the years; nevertheless, nothing quite compares to the experience of watching the fireworks together at a Disney park, and Disneyland in California is no different.
The actual performance and schedule of the fireworks tend to change frequently at Disneyland, California, so it’s worth keeping an eye on an up-to-date Disney news website as to what show to expect when during your visit.
Alternatively, if you’re travelling within the next 30 days, you can check the exact schedule online at the Disneyland website.
As a general rule, the fireworks show start between 9pm and 10pm and last around 20 minutes. There’s a range of different places you can watch the performance from, and some have better views than others. If you’re looking to make the fireworks at Disneyland something remarkable, consider booking a table for the dessert party viewing.
13. Ride The Ferris Wheel On Pixar Pier
I mentioned earlier in the post how the opening of the Pixar Pier at Disneyland’s California Adventure back in 2018 brought a host of new romantic activities to the park. But, let’s face it; nothing quite says romance like a ride on a ride Ferris Wheel.
The 150ft Ferris Wheel was inspired by the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island and provided guests with the opportunity to see the resort – and indeed, the surrounding area’s of Anaheim from above.
However, Disney is one step ahead once again, making this ride unique with some of the gondola’s onboard the Ferris Wheel to swing and slide along the interior curves of the loop as the wheel turns.
The entire journey around the wheel takes around ten minutes. We always try and ride around 5pm as the sun sets, bringing an additional romance element to the experience.
It seems like most other guests have the same idea, too, so you may find the wait is slightly longer during these times (usually around 30 minutes). Although, there is often a shorter line for the fixed carts, which don’t curve and swing inside the interior curves of the loop as the wheel turns (which may be better suited to those scared of heights and falling).
14. Spend The Night
Consider extending your romantic trip to Disneyland Resort in California by staying on-site in one of the three incredible hotels.
All three of the hotels on-site are four stars and usually retail for around $300 per night for a standard room based on two people sharing (the prices are higher during peak season – Christmas and New Year, for example).
There’s a whole host of benefits to staying on-site at a Disneyland Resort property during your visit, including the ability to enter the parks one hour before the general public. Along with the ability to send store purchases back to your room for free – saving you from having to carry them around the park.
15. Wear Matching T-shirts & Outfits
Nothing says we are here together than matching t-shirts and outfits; you will see that pretty much everyone does this and is classed as cool, not corny!
You will undoubtedly get a lot of positive responses from fellow guests on your choice of t-shirt, funny or cute! We have seen this in various ways, from colour matching, wearing matching t-shirts or even dressing like a character together (be aware of the rules on dress up and costume while in the parks).
For those who love Disney and plan to go time and time again, this can become a tradition in itself that you always have a special outfit or t-shirt you wear on your trips.
You can find so many on eBay, Etsy and even in the Disney Stores themselves to make your outfits look amazing!
16. Visit On Or Near Valentines Day
The ultimate way of having a romantic day at Disneyland, California, is by visiting near Valentine’s day, roughly 1-2 weeks before the big day; you can see a slight change in some decor and even photo spot opportunities.
Mainly based in Main Street, U.S.A, you can find a large heart wreath that exudes love and romance where you can sit or stand to have a picture with your valentine. You can then go on to the rest of the parks to discover new treats that have been brought out just for cupid to cast his love arrows.