I have a confession to make. I go to Disneyland without the tadpoles. Sometimes I hop away with just Leap, and sometimes with friends. I often go with visiting relatives (I do make a pretty good tour guide), and sometimes I simply go by myself. For some reason, this fact surprises many people. They believe that Disneyland is just for kids or that an adult can only have fun there with kids, but I believe Disneyland is just as fun (perhaps even more fun) for adults. Whaaatt?!? Is Disneyland for adults?
Kids are always playing in fantasy and adventure and dreaming about tomorrow. Adults only get to visit those states of mind, and Disneyland makes it easier and more approachable. You know you deserve that Mickey pretzel. Let me convince you that a guilt-free, kid-free journey to Disneyland should toadally be in your near future. Plus events such as Food & Wine make it so easy to want to break away with some adult friends and relatives to have a little kid-free fun.
Keep in mind that as Disneyland reopens in phases during and following the pandemic, not all of the attractions (such as shows and parades) and tools to save time (such as FASTPASS and MaxPass) discussed below will be available. We can say one thing. Even with limited capacity, physical distancing and masks, we adults need to escape to Disneyland more than ever! Hop over to our Disneyland reopening post for all the details and what to expect.
Why We Leap for Joy at Trips to Disneyland for Adults
1. It was Walt Disney’s plan to make Disneyland for adults (as well as children).
You see, Walt Disney had a problem. He had children, but he could not find an amusement park to take them to that he could also enjoy. The kids might be on a ride, while he sat on a bench and watched them. He wanted to create a magical place where parents could have fun, too, and that dream developed into Disneyland — where all family members are happy to go spend time together. And he did such a good job that adults want to visit even if they do not have children or do not necessarily always want to take them. Thank you, Walt!
2. You can go on your favorite rides.
You and the children in your life may enjoy different rides. Perhaps you love thrill rides, but your tadpoles do not meet the height requirements and you may or may not have someone to supervise them in the park. Or perhaps the opposite is true. Your older children might be all about the thrills, while you enjoy a slower pace. If you go without the kids to satisfy your wishes, then when you do take them, you can be 100% there for them. You'll be happy to go at their speed and do their attractions, because your Disney needs have been met. See, I can justify anything to make it better for my tadpoles! I'm told good parents take care of their own needs as well as their children’s needs. Perhaps there is no better place to do this than Disneyland.
3. You can take advantage of Single Rider benefits.
Going with adults also makes it easier to hop in a Single Rider line to reduce wait times. Single Rider is offered at Incredicoaster, Goofy’s Sky School, Grizzly River Run, Radiator Springs Racers, Indiana Jones Adventure, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Star Tours, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. You can sometimes qualify for Buddy Passes for single riders or small groups at Monster’s Inc. and Toy Story Midway Mania!
4. You can max the MaxPass.
MaxPass is an optional way to book FASTPASS from your smartphone though the Disneyland app. It has a daily fee associated with it (or an annual fee for Annual Passholders), but the convenience, ability to skip the lines and the free, unlimited PhotoPass downloads make it worth it. We have found that the return times are often earlier than those given out at paper FASTPASS distribution machines. The maximum waiting period between making FASTPASS reservations is shorter with MaxPass.
When I visit alone and use MaxPass to reserve FASTPASS for one person, I find that I get much earlier return times than for larger groups searching at the same time. There may be one ticket available for an earlier return time, or I can get the jump on another guest’s cancellation. Score! Since many FASTPASS rides have height requirements, you can get your money’s worth when using MaxPass for all the “big rides” without your youngest companions slowing you down or keeping you from going full throttle.
5. You can see your favorite shows and parades or revisit old favorites.
You might wax nostalgic for the Enchanted Tiki Room or want to catch a certain parade, while your kids have been there and done that and are onto new adventures and rides. They might not want to camp out for a good spot for a parade or fireworks when there is so much other fun stuff to see and do. When you go without them, nobody can tell you "no" or whine. It is oddly freeing as a parent to get to do exactly what you want, because if you are like us, you are always giving and making sure everyone else is happy.
Part of the fun of visiting Disneyland as an adult is reliving some hoppy memories of past visits when you were little. Maybe you had a favorite ride from your childhood that brings up positive memories, but your family has different favorites. You can ride your favorite rides or meet your special characters when you aren’t responsible for everyone else’s desires.
6. It’s the remedy for not getting to go as a kid.
Grandma Frog was a Midwestern froglet of the 1950s. She dreamed of being able to visit Disneyland, but the closest she ever got to Disneyland was watching it on television until she was an adult and could take herself (and my dad) there for her honeymoon. She overcompensated for this “childhood loss” by taking my siblings and me often when we were young froglets, and she passed her love of Disney on to us. Now she still goes every chance she gets. It’s like she is making up for not getting to go as a tadpole. She and I go without the kids (don’t worry, she is a loving grandma who is also always jumping to go with the tadpoles too), and it is great bonding time for us when we aren’t caring for everyone else in our brood. I swear it keeps us both young at heart.
7. You can bond with friends and family members.
Disneyland makes a great family trip for the adults in the family. It is almost like being kids again! All of your problems melt away and you can have new adventures and live out fantasies together by sharing a day at Disneyland. Celebrate a big birthday, special event or anniversary at Disneyland to make it more memorable. Take a sibling trip or make Disneyland the destination for a reunion. Maybe you and your siblings or buddies have all grown up with "Star Wars" and want to spend time in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It can be a lot easier taking several hours to visiting the cantina for adult drinks, building a lightsaber, building a droid, riding rides, shopping and posing for pictures with your lightsabers around the land. You can all geek out together.
We see many adults with matching Disneyland spirit jerseys and their ears on, sharing their favorite treats and taking photos at iconic locations and the many decorative walls in the parks. Many local adults meet up with friends at Disneyland after work to unwind and relax.
8. Meet new Disney-loving friends.
If you are alone in your love for Disneyland when it comes to other adults in your life, but you want to share the joy of Disney with someone, then there are social media Disneyland meet-up groups that allow people to find other Disney-addicted adults who want to visit the parks and make new friends, even if it’s just for part of the day. It's a great, no-pressure way to share the love of Disney with like-minded people and keep the magic alive and live vicariously through others (by sharing photos and memories) when you can't be in the parks.
One of our readers from Florida made his first trip to Disneyland. He joined a Southern California-based Facebook group of adults who often visit Disneyland solo but like to meet up with others from time to time. He got some hoppin' tips from the Undercover Tourist site and his new online community. Plus, he made friends along the way. By trip time, he had a string of people excited to finally meet up with him in the parks. They met up for a ride or a meal, they showed him the ropes and shared their favorite treats with him. It made his trip super magical. It certainly was more special being able to share it with new friends rather than spending five days alone in the parks. We love that at a shared love of Disney can connect people who live on opposite coasts!
9. It can be romantic.
Leap and I really enjoy visiting Disneyland with the tadpoles, but we also enjoy having an occasional date night at Disneyland to focus on us. And we are not alone. There are many couples holding hands, getting snuggly on rides, wearing matching T-shirts or ears, getting engaged — yes, we’ve seen several couples get engaged there! — celebrating weddings or anniversaries or enjoying a nice meal at a table-service restaurant.
The most romantic restaurants are Blue Bayou or one of the resort hotel restaurants such as Napa Rose. At Disney California Adventure Park, there are a number of bars and nice restaurants where you can enjoy adult drinks and a romantic atmosphere. You can go wine tasting in the park or explore the fun and colorful drinks at the Lamplight Lounge — be sure to check out the hidden menu drinks on our post on secret menu items before you visit! Carthay Circle is a very special place to have a nice, romantic meal in the dining room. Or, you can share some bar bites and drinks in the swanky lounge. You can enjoy a nice glass of wine and some Italian dishes (perhaps recreate the spaghetti scene from "Lady and the Tramp?") at Wine Country Trattoria.
Do you like to dance? Grab your partner and hop to The Royal Swing Big Band Ball on Saturday nights at Disneyland Park. Dance like your children aren’t watching! We enjoy staying in the parks late to catch the fireworks, Fantasmic! or World of Color, something we cannot always do when we have sleepy froglets who need to get to bed. Plus, you can tell people that you still see fireworks in your relationship (at least literally). Recapture that spark! Our romantic things to do at Disneyland post has some suggestions if you would like to plan a romantic visit to the Happiest Place on Earth, because the couples who play together, stay together.
10. You can stay in the park longer and lighten the load.
Some tadpoles or kids with special needs require breaks from the parks. They may get overstimulated or may only be able to handle a half-day in the park without leaving for nap time. Adults are more likely to be able to power on through and get a full day in the park. You can really get your money’s worth of nighttime entertainment from a full-day visit.
It is also much easier to move about the park without pushing a stroller. What a relief it is to leave behind the heavy backpack filled with everyone’s sweatshirts, water bottles, snacks and souvenirs. Your back will love the lighter load, and you will love the freedom. It is also easier to make a run for FASTPASS tickets when you are traveling with just adults. It is mentally easier to enjoy the day without constantly counting heads and making sure you have everyone. (Although some adults tend to get easily distracted and wander off too!)
11. You can splurge on snacks and meals.
Some of the table-service restaurants at the Disneyland Resort are nice, but on the pricey side. We often reserve them for date night or a night out with friends, since the tadpoles are happy with a corn dog or quick snack to keep them going. Even though the bars at the Disneyland Resort are pretty kid-friendly, we particularly enjoy visiting them when our kids are not with us. Other things you might splurge on is the MaxPass service or treats you don’t want your children to have themselves or see you eat. (Or, you know, just enjoy not having to share your Dole Whip!) There are perks to being an adult, after all!
Here’s our guide to our favorite Disneyland snacks in case you need some inspiration. Another fun way to try creative dishes is to visit during the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival held in the springtime. You can enjoy adult beverages, taste food from the festival booths or attend special meals, winemaker receptions and seminars. Some events are 21+.
12. You do not have children in your life.
Maybe you love Disneyland, but you do not have any children in your life. Don’t let that hold you back. Go! Have fun. There are many adults without children hanging out in the parks with friends or family members. Many like to get their ears on or DisneyBound — that is, wear clothing that channels the colors and style of a Disney character without breaking the “no costume” rule. You do not need children to access the rides, entertainment and yummy treats that Disneyland has to offer. There is a reason that adults can ride on every ride. There are no kiddie rides just for children. Everything at Disneyland is for everyone!
13. It is a mood-enhancer and stress-reliever.
We all have problems and stressors that we cannot always control in life. These problems may come and go, but when we are at Disneyland, those issues disappear for that day. We are in a hoppy place, and Disneyland offers the perfect escape from reality. Even once you have to return from Fantasyland back to “Realityland” (our least favorite land of all), your “Disney high” at least sustains you for a while and helps you stay positive and able to tackle the things you need to do. The mental break of visiting Disneyland is good for your health!
14. You can dress up and go trick-or-treating.
You see a lot of adults having fun (both with and without children) at the Oogie Boogie Bash Disneyland Halloween party and during Disneyland After Dark events. Remember how fun Halloween was when you were a kid, putting on a costume and going door-to-door for free candy? You can relive your childhood Halloween at Disney California Adventure's Oogie Boogie Bash!
At this after-hours Halloween party, you get to trick-or-treat for candy and dress up (plus meet your favorite Disney Villains). And during every day of Halloween Time at Disneyland you can meet villains and costumed character or enjoy special Halloween treats! It makes it almost like being a kid again!
The Disneyland After Dark parties are ticketed events that take place after the park has closed, usually starting at 9 p.m., which is definitely better timing for adults than kids. Each party has a different theme. Event themes have included Star Wars, Sweethearts' Nite, 90s Nite, 80s Nite, Pixar Nite, Villains Nite and Super Heroes. This is a great chance to stay up late in the park and dress up as a favorite character and meet rare characters. Spend time playing with and posing for photo-ops with your favorite adults who are really kids at heart too.
Dapper Day is an unofficial event at Disneyland that usually takes place twice a year. Guests dress up in their fancy and vintage clothes. It's fun for adults to get dressed up, plan group outfits and put a little Disney magic into their attire.
15. Everyone’s doing it. You are not alone.
Here’s permission to succumb to healthy peer pressure. Look around Disneyland and you will find so many adults of all ages having fun. There is something about Disneyland that makes everyone seem ageless. Adults wear Mickey ears, Disney hats, DisneyBound clothing that channels the essence of a favorite character or Disney T-shirts. Matching shirts with friends or family is popular. Disneyland is like a magical fountain of youth. It is my favorite place to spend my birthday and celebrate turning a year older. No matter how old you get, you can wonder and get excited as if you were a child (along with the benefits of staying up late or having a drink or two). And no matter how many times you go, you can always experience something new.
Do you believe in Disneyland for adults? Have you taken an adults-only trip to Disneyland? If you have any tips or stories, please share them in the comments below.
Related: Best Time to Visit Disneyland