Photos by Seth Kubersky
Recently, I shared some of my favorite ways to start a morning at Disney California Adventure. Today, let’s look at the flip side of the operating day. While crowds are arriving early every day at DCA’s front gate since Cars Land‘s arrival, some of the park’s highlights can only be experienced after dark. Here are my top five ways to finish off an evening at DCA:
Drinks With a View
One distinct advantage DCA has over its older brother across the Esplanade is the ability to imbibe alcoholic beverages as you tour. You’ll find spots to whet your whistle all around the park, from Carthay Circle’s swanky downstairs lounge to the imported beer kiosk near the Paradise Garden Grill. Nothing beats having a finely crafted cocktail in the night air, enjoying the park’s cleverly Imagineered aesthetics, and DCA has a couple of ideal evening watering holes.
I’ve already extolled the romantic virtues of the Alfresco Lounge at Golden Valley Winery, which has a second-story view down Route 66 to the stunning Cadillac Mountain range. Another great spot for a beverage is the Cove Bar behind Ariel’s Grotto; simply cut through the restaurant lobby to reach this often-overlooked gem. In addition to the standard extensive drink list, the Cove offers a small menu of large appetizers; the lobster nachos are big enough for four or more to share. Best of all, the bar recently rescinded its policy of levying a $10 cover charge during World of Color performances, making it a great place to watch the show, provided you don’t mind an obtuse perspective of the water screens.
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photos by Seth Kubersky
As every experienced theme park commando knows, the Unofficial Guide’s number one tip for visiting Disneyland on a busy day (like during 2013’s spring break season) is “arrive early, arrive early, arrive early.” But the flip side is our paradoxical suggestion to stay late during extended operating hours, in order to take advantage of evening entertainment and shorter attraction lines.
Following both recommendations can result in spending a solid 16+ hours inside the park, if you enter at 8am and depart at midnight (a standard peak-season operating schedule). If that sounds more like a death march than a vacation to you, you’re not alone. That leads us to our most frequently overlooked essential epigram of touring intelligence: take a nap! A few minutes (or hours) of shut-eye in the middle of the afternoon will not only re-energize you for the evening, but also offer an escape from the worst wait times of the day. By the way, this advice is just as crucial for adults as it is for children. Even if you never take a nap at home, take the time for a lie-down any day you spend over 8 hours touring. Trust me, you’ll thank us!
Unlike the sprawling Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort is compact and easily accessible from numerous off-site hotels, making it easy for many guests to walk from the park gates to their rooms in less time than it take to retrieve a vehicle from the parking garage. If you are staying on property or within a short stroll of Disneyland, there’s absolutely no excuse not to take a mid-day rest in your room.
However, there are still plenty of visitors who can’t or won’t leave the Disneyland Resort and return again later that day. When you need to recharge, but don’t want to walk off property, where do you go? If you can’t retreat to your room, there are still some quiet corners amid the resort’s chaos where you can catnap. For starters, here are four of my favorite spots to sneak forty winks around the Disneyland Resort.