People are often surprised to learn that Leap and I occasionally enjoy a date night at the theme parks. Yes, without the tadpoles. They are further surprised to learn that we find romantic things to do at the theme parks, especially Disneyland. The Resort, like its counterpart in Orlando, has plenty of fun date options and opportunities for romance.
With the Valentine’s Day celebration and the Disneyland After Dark Sweetheart' Nites approaching, we thought we would share some ideas about romantic things to do at Disneyland for Valentine's Day, or any day of the year. So take note, so that you can plan a special date night for you and your sweetheart at the Happiest Place on Earth!
Romantic Things to Do at Disneyland
Hire a Babysitter
OK, hiring a sitter isn't all that romantic, but you'll need to do this if you want to escape the little ones for a few hours. Depending on the age of your children, you can find a babysitting option that will meet their needs. If you are staying on-site, you can talk to the front desk about hiring a sitter. Another option option is to travel with a group of family or friends and either enlist the help of Grandma to babysit or take turns watching the group of kids so that each couple can have one night off. Once you know the tadpoles are happy and entertained, you can relax and enjoy your night out.
Fine Dining and More
There are many very nice restaurants to choose from in the parks or hotels. In Disneyland Park, the most romantic restaurant is Blue Bayou, located on the water in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. But you don’t have to spend a ton of green to be romantic! Rancho del Zocalo hosts a room alight with star lanterns and you'll find a nice, romantic atmosphere in the evening. At Carnation Café, you can sit in the gazebo while you enjoy the sights and sounds of Main Street.
Our favorite table-service restaurants are over in Disney's California Adventure and Disneyland's Resort hotels. Carthay Circle in California Adventure is our favorite for ambiance, service and quality of food — whether we want to make reservations in the dining room, or just pop into the lounge for some drinks and tasty bites.
The view of the Disneyland fireworks from the terrace is fantastic, so if you can time it right, you could enjoy this treat. First, decide which night you want to visit and check out the showtimes for Disneyland fireworks. Then, try to snag your reservation for before that time. If you can pull this off, you will sweep your partner right off his or her feet! If the shooting stars do not align for this, a private booth is also very romantic. The Lamplight Lounge is a California gastropub with tasty food, fun fizzy adult drinks, Pixar artwork and memorabilia, and a cool vibe. It has limited advance reservations, but you can be seated without a reservation. We prefer the bottom level, especially if you are a Pixar fan (and who isn’t?). The exterior seating has fire tables and views of the water. You can’t go wrong.
You don’t even have to enter the parks to have a romantic evening. Disney's Grand Californian Hotel has a romantic, yet casual lobby. Even if you are not staying there, you can hang out near the fireplace, sip drinks from the bar and listen to piano music. Leap and I have even brought a deck of cards to play together while we relaxed. The Napa Rose restaurant and lounge are very nice places for a romantic dinner with delicious food.
Over at the Disneyland Hotel, Steakhouse 55 is also just right for a date night. Be aware that it is not within everyone’s budget, so we recommend curling up together on a chaise in the lounge and having some drinks and appetizers. (It has an Afternoon Tea, and if Leap needs some hints at what would pull my heartstrings, he would make a reservation and take me there! Hint, hint.) Trader Sam’s has an outdoor fireplace lounge area that is also a nice place to get cozy while you listen to some live music and enjoy some tropical drinks that make you feel as if you’ve gone on a Jungle Cruise.
Take Pictures Together
If you have Disneyland MaxPass, it includes unlimited downloads of PhotoPass photos. You can take sweet professional pics together at iconic spots around the park. Grab a free Happily Ever After button and use it as a photo prop!
Go Wine or Beer Tasting
You don’t need a trip to California's Napa Valley to go wine tasting. You can enjoy a nice glass and an Italian meal at Wine Country Trattoria. Not hungry? You can taste wine from California and around the world and pair it with a cheese platter at Mendocino Terrace. The upstairs Alfresco Tasting Terrace is now reserved for annual passholders and their guests. Alfresco Tasting Terrace serves wine, fun cocktails and Tuscany-inspired small bites and appetizers. Sonoma Terrace offers draft beers, craft beers, hard cider and wine selections at its shady patio.
During festivals, such as the Food & Wine Festival, Festival of Holidays and Lunar New Year, you can enjoy themed beverages served from festival booths. The Food & Wine Festival in particular offers plenty of opportunities to taste wines at restaurants or festival marketplaces, and even attend seminars and meal pairings for an extra-special experience with your loved one.
Wear Matching Shirts or DisneyBound Together
If you are both Disney fans, you'll be the cutest couple in the park if you wear matching shirts. We see many couples in their matching Minnie and Mickey shirts or channeling their favorite Disney couples through their wardrobe. While adults cannot dress in costume, they can use their street clothes to wear the color scheme, style and pattern of a character. We see a lot of couples dressing up together on Dapper Day!
Send Sweet Surprises
Remember the days when your partner would surprise you with flowers just because? Send some flowers or another treat he or she would enjoy to your hotel room. You can order romantic packages sent to your room (if you stay on-site) that include rose petals, candles and chocolate covered strawberries, but if you plan ahead and pack some items from home, you can probably manage this yourself and save some extra money (and you know how we frogs love saving some green!). You can also hop into the candy shops for chocolate covered strawberries, rose cake pops and other romantic treats for sweet in-park surprises you picked out yourself.
Plan a Romantic Surprise
Being romantic does not have to cost you a pretty penny. If you are stealthy, you just might be able to pull off a ride surprise. Once, when we got off of Space Mountain and were looking at the monitors for our photo, we saw that the train in front of us was part of a marriage proposal. He held up a sign that said, “Will You Marry Me?” just as the camera flashed. The other friends or family in the car were in on the surprise as they wore matching “Awwww!” facial expressions. And once she saw the photo, he got down on one knee, pulled out a ring and popped the question.
You might be able to pull something off that your partner will not discover until he or she sees the ride photo. Maybe a valentine heart that says “Kiss Me” or “Be Mine” will do. Just be sure to hide it until you get on the ride and then have it ready to go. Aim for a front seat. Watch our YouTube ride videos to prepare!
Disneyland is a popular spot to pop the question, and there are so many ways to do it. We saw another adorable (and matching!) couple get engaged when they met Mickey Mouse at his house in Toontown! We've also hoppened upon engagements in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Millennium Falcon. This just goes to show that what's romantic to one couple can be very different to another, and Disneyland seems to have something romantic for every couple.
There are other ways to make a romantic gesture. Make a wish at the wishing well at Snow White’s Grotto, get your picture taken together inside a teacup or snuggle up during the nighttime shows, such as World of Color.
Hold hands as you walk around the park or cozy up on the scary or dark rides. You may be tempted to steal a kiss on the dark rides, but remember, there is no place hidden from cameras — even in the dark rides they can see everything that goes on — so keep it sweet. The Little Mermaid in California Adventure is sure to make him want to “Kiss the Girl.” The Pixar Pal-a-Round offers nice sunset views of the area and may offer you some alone time if you get your own gondola. One of the best rides for couples is Astro Orbitor in Tomorrowland. You sit nestled one in front of the other and can snuggle the whole ride. Plus, you can soar up high to get a great view of the park.
Any of the boat rides, such as Pirates of the Caribbean or Storybook Land Canal Boats, are reminiscent of a gondola ride — except “it’s a small world.” We don’t think there is much that's romantic about that one (although we heard of someone getting engaged there, so what do we know?). We save that one for the kids.
While you are not going to really get a chance to slow dance, if you and your partner like upbeat music and dancing, then you have a couple of choices. On Saturday nights, you can swing dance at the Royal Theatre in Fantasy Faire in Disneyland. At different times of the year, there are dance parties in either park. There is always plenty of live music to listen to as you stroll through Downtown Disney, and some of the hotels also have music.
Eat Romantic Treats
Share a delectable dessert such as some chocolate-covered strawberries or even a hand-dipped ice cream or strawberry heart-shaped macaron from Clarabelle's in Disney California Adventure. Leap knows that a Disneyland caramel apple is the key to my heart!
If you would like to share ice cream at Gibson Girl on Main Street, you can be romantic and save money. I know Leap jumps at those opportunities! Here’s how: One scoop of ice cream is $4.79, but two scoops of ice cream are $5.49. That’s double the ice cream for just $.70 more! You can even get different flavors for those scoops, and ask for another cup and spoon if you don’t want to take turns. The parks also sell some homemade Valentine's Day treats such as heart rice crispy treats and more.
You can share a booth and a shake at Flo’s V-8 retro diner while you watch the hills of Radiator Springs and Cars Land light up after dusk. Who says it has to be fancy to be romantic? Once the lights turn on at dusk, either park feels more romantic, but we think it's especially romantic during Valentine’s Day at Disneyland Park. All of the nighttime lights at holiday time are also romantic. What can we say? We are suckers for all things Disney and good lighting!
Visit on or Around Valentine’s Day
Beginning about a week before Valentine’s Day, you might see a cute Valentine's photo opportunity on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland (and about two weeks leading up to it). You might run into surprise sweetheart character couples. On Valentine's Day you might see additional Valentine's photo frames with PhotoPass photographers.
Princesses and their rarely-seen princes may join together to greet guests and royal subjects. Usually they are off ruling their kingdoms, but the princes often join their princesses for Valentine's Day. It might even be a different sweetheart couple who is not a prince or princess! Ask cast members who work with characters where you might find the sweetheart couple of the day, because these rare appearances will not appear on the Disneyland app. You’ll see romantic balloons and special treats in the parks, and many couples in their matching Disney shirts, ears or other accessories.
Sweethearts' Nite, a Disneyland After Dark Party returned in 2019, and took place two separate nights on Feb. 12 and 13, 2020. If it returns for 2020, grab your sweetie for dancing, dining and double dating with Disney couples. Partygoers gain access to the park as of 6 p.m. The party goes from 9 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Around the park, you'll find Valentine's-inspired décor, food, beverages and merchandise offerings. Do you and your loved one still see fireworks? Well, you will for sure at Sweethearts' Nite. The pyrotechnical spectacle will help you feel the love in the air.
You'll encounter sweet snacks and desserts to enjoy yourself, share or give to a loved one. Don’t froget that tadpoles enjoy Valentine’s Day too! Celebrate with a balloon or special treat!
Just being at Disneyland makes you feel young and playful. We prefer having Park Hopper tickets because we literally hop back and forth between parks, but you can definitely make a romantic date by staying in just one park or in the hotels. Couples who play together, stay together! Just ask Mickey and Minnie. Making a park date can rekindle your closeness and help you focus on just your partner so you can rejuvenate and jump back into family mode.
We hope you've enjoyed our ideas of romantic things to do at Disneyland. Have a tip you want to share? Leave it in comments below! And don't froget, nothing says romance like a trip to Disneyland. Surprise your sweetie with discount Disneyland tickets from your favorite frogs.