By David Platt, your Mouse Master specialist
1. Ride in the front of the monorail
Did you know you can ride up front with the driver on the Disneyland Monorail? All you have to do is ask the driver nicely. If you’re successful, you’ll be treated to panaromic views of the Disneyland® Resort. The front of the monorail holds a maximum of four people, so you may need to wait for the next monorail if another group is already waiting.
2. Captain the Mark Twain Riverboat
Want to man the wheel of the Mark Twain? Ask a cast member working the dock nicely, and he or she may just put you in touch with the captain who will grant you honorary captain access to the wheelhouse. You’ll get to steer the ship and ring the bell. A nice bonus: you get to sign a guestbook and receive an honorary captain’s certificate.
3. Get a Jungle Cruise Map
When you disembark from you Jungle Cruise boat, ask a cast member if they have any maps available. They may make you ‘work’ for it, in the form of telling a joke, but you’ll be rewarded with a nice free souvenir.
4. Say hello to a Disneyland cat (from a distance)
A lot of people think this one is an urban legend, but it’s true—there are about 200 feral cats that live on Disneyland Resort grounds. While they’re most active at night, it’s not unusual for eagle-eyed observers to spy a feline slinking around during the day. I’ve had the most success finding them over in the Critter Country area, near the Rivers of America.
5. Ride with the conductor on the Disneyland Railroad
Ask the conductor nicely, and he or she may let you take a ‘tender ride.’ You and one guest will get to ride on a small seat directly behind the conductor. Warning: this can be a difficult one to get. You can only do tender rides from the Main Street, U.S.A. train station, and only if that train is not scheduled to take on water at the New Orleans Street train station. They also won’t do tender rides if it’s too hot, as it can get extremely warm in the tender seats.
6. Ride in the Lilly Belle train car
This is perhaps the biggest ‘get’ on this list. Many Disneyland® Park buffs still haven’t scored this elusive freebie: ride the historic Lilly Belle Presidential Train Car, which is only out on certain days—when it’s not too hot, not too rainy, and not too cold. The stars have to align exactly right. Visit the Main Street, U.S.A. train station first thing in the morning and ask if it’s running that day. If so, you may be rewarded with a coveted ticket which will tell you what time to return for your ride. There are rumors that the Lilly Belle may be put into retirement for good very soon, so give it a go while you still can!
7. Find Hidden Mickeys
Perhaps the best known of all the ‘Disneyland Resort freebies,’ looking for hidden Mickeys can take over an entire vacation if you let it. Hidden Mickeys are loosely defined as anything that looks like a profile of Mickey’s head—a large circle topped by two smaller circles representing his ears. These hidden Mickeys have been hidden all over the Disneyland Resort. There are a myriad of websites, apps, and books devoted to finding hidden Mickeys.
8. Find Walt’s apartment
When designing Disneyland Park, Walt Disney had an apartment built for himself above the firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A. He spent many a night there dreaming up many of the things we know and love today. While the apartment isn’t open to the public, there’s always a lamp shining in its window to symbolize Walt’s presence always being in Disneyland Park. It's become our family's tradition to stop and say 'goodbye' to Walt at the end of every trip.
9. Find the Country Bears
Lots of people still miss the Country Bear Jamboree, which went away to make room for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh many years ago. But did you know if you look REALLY carefully, you can still find an homage to the Country Bears? While riding Winnie the Pooh, keep an eye out behind you right before the ride ends, and you might just see Max, Buff, and Melvin.
10. Play Musical Chairs with the Mad Hatter and Alice
This one is the best, seriously. It's probably my personal favorite unadvertised thing at Disneyland Resort. Every afternoon next to Refreshment Corner at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., the Mad Hatter and Alice suddenly appear and start an impromptu game of musical chairs with the kids. They do an exceptional job of making it fun and entertaining, even when a kid gets eliminated. It's a real testament to their skills that out of the half a dozen times that I've seen this, I've never seen a single child in tears after they're eliminated. It's not in any entertainment guide anywhere, so how do you know when to show up? In the morning, stop by Refreshment Corner and ask the piano player entertaining guests outside. He plays piano during musical chairs, so he'll know what time it will take place that day.
I'm David Platt, your Mouse Master Disney Destination specialist. I'm delighted to bring you the latest news on Disney Destinations.