What’s your favorite part of Disneyland? It’s a question that I get almost weekly. Most people are pretty surprised when I enthusiastically respond with, “Main Street!” Yes, my favorite part of Disneyland is the only land in Disneyland without attractions. I can’t help but smile every time I walk through the magic portals of happiness (aka, the tunnels beneath the Disneyland Railroad) onto Main Street. Songs like Old Timers Waltz and Sidewalks of New York play softly from the speakers. Children shriek at the sight of Mickey and Minnie meandering around Main Street and photographers take pictures of families holding Tinker Bell in their hands. The clacking of horses’ hooves fills the air and the shrill beep of the firetruck rings throughout the air. Guests circle around the Dapper Dans as they tap dance and wave their arms while singing “Walking Down the Middle of Main Street USA”. The colorful façades of the Main Street buildings twinkle in the daylight and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle stands majestic at the end of the street.
In this blog post, I’m going to explain everything you can do on Main Street in a day. This is the first post in a new series called “A Day at…” in which I will focus on all of the things you can do in only one land at Disneyland.
So what is there to do on Main Street besides walking down the street and continuing on to one of the many lands full of attractions? Allow me to enlighten you, and tell you everything you can do on Main Street in a day.
Arrive a half hour early before rope drop and head to Jolly Holiday for breakfast. I’ve only eaten at the Jolly Holiday for lunch, but everything I order is always amazing. Eat a leisurely breakfast while watching guests line up on Main Street for rope drop. My favorite time of day in Disneyland is early in the morning when everyone is rested and excited to start their day. Everyone is happy in the morning, and watching guests experience their first memories of Disneyland in the morning is magical.
After your relaxing breakfast, meander to the castle and take the typical Disneyland photo in front of the castle. Walk around to the side of the castle closest to Fantasy Fair and complete the Sleeping Beauty Walkthrough, taking your time to fully appreciate all of the colorful displays. Then stroll through the castle back towards the hub and across the draw bridge, listening to “When You Wish Upon a Star” playing softly in the background. If there are princess or the Evil Queen visiting with guests around Snow White’s grotto, take time to visit with one of them and get their autograph. Make a wish and throw a penny into the wishing well while you’re there.
Take in the fresh morning air while walking back to the hub and waiting for either a horse-drawn trolley or a streetcar to give you a ride back to the start of Main Street (if the Disney magic is in your favor, you’ll be lucky enough to catch a trolley with the Dapper Dans as they serenade you on your ride down Main Street). I recently rode on the Main Street cars for the first time only a year ago; I was always too busy trying to ride all of the attractions to take the time to take a ride down the street. Now, I realize that riding one of the street cars is one of the most magical Disneyland experiences I’ve ever taken part in.
After disembarking from your street car, take a picture with the Big Cheese (aka Mickey Mouse) himself if he’s out and about around the square (he normally is during this time of day). Take a peek inside the Magic Shop and maybe even get your silhouette drawn at the Disney Silhouette studio. Either continue shopping, or relax on one of the benches in the square until you hear the Disneyland Band marching down Main Street. Watch the show put on by the Disneyland Band in front of the train depot and clap along to your favorite Disney tunes.
Afterwards, head up to the train station and read the photos and plaques about Walt Disney’s love for trains. Then, head out to the stationary train (the trains will be shut down until Star Wars Land opens in a couple years) and ask the conductor any questions you may have. You can usually get into great conversations with them. Take a peek inside the Lilly Bell and sit on the open car overlooking the Main Street gates and watch guests walking into Disneyland for their first time.
After visiting the train station, head towards Carnation Café for lunch. Request an outside table and take the time to examine the photos of Walt Disney inside the restaurant while you wait to be seated. Enjoy your relaxing outside lunch while listening to the horses clacking down the street and the occasional sound of the band or Dapper Dans performing. Just like the Jolly Holiday, everything at Carnation Café is outstanding, but I highly recommend the Main Street Cheeseburger and fried pickles. I swear by the hamburger as being the best burger I’ve ever had, and I’m someone who hates pickles, but Carnation’s specialty fried pickles are to-die-for.
Because you’ll more than likely be in a food coma after lunch, head to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln where you can either enjoy the 20-minute performance, or take the time to take a well-deserved nap inside the theater. Then, walk down Main Street and stop at the blue and white building next to the silhouette studio (formerly known as the Wizard of Bras) to sit and watch the Dapper Dans perform their afternoon show. Afterwards, grab a frozen treat from one of the vending booths around the hub and relax at one of the benches at the hub or take it back to the porch of the Wizard of Bras if the treasured rocking chairs aren’t occupied.
Watch Mickey’s Soundsational Parade and sing along to Under the Sea and The Circle of Life, and wave to your favorite characters as they pass by on colorful floats. Then, head to the Penny Arcade and play some old-time penny games and get your fortune read by Esmeralda. Head to the Disney Gallery and slowly shuffle through the art gallery, taking in the unique, Disney artwork.
Head to the hub for Magic Hour (the hour before the sunsets) and either relax on one of the benches, basking in the beautiful glow of the sun against the colorful buildings of Main Street, or take more pictures in front of the castle as the sun descends. Watch as the neon lights on Main Street light up the sky when the last rays of the sun go down.
Walk the short distance to Plaza Inn for dinner. The dinner here is buffet style, but I recommend the fried chicken, as it was Walt’s favorite thing to eat in the park. Eat inside, enjoying the ornate Victorian style décor.
Then, head outside and grab a coffee from Starbucks or an ice cream from Gibson Girl and stake out a spot at the train station to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade (ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination is coming back to Disneyland early 2017!!!). Then, quickly head down to the center of Main Street to watch Fantasy in the Sky, Disneyland’s original fireworks show. Without a doubt, the nostalgic Disney music and sight of Tinker Bell flying across the sky is sure to bring a smile to your face and sure to be the perfect ending to your perfect day on Main Street.
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