All the Secret Entrances and Off-Menu Items That Make Up the Ultimate Disneyland Day
How to sneak into the Haunted Mansion, find hidden Mickeys, and steer Mark Twain’s Riverboat at Disneyland.
On October 16th, 1923, Walt and Roy Disney signed a contract to produce a series of animated comedies, officially founding “The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio.” One hundred years later, that family-run outfit is still around, but these days, they do a little bit more than cartoons.
For Disney’s 100th anniversary, the company has introduced a ton of themed things to do at Disneyland, from new food options to a Disney 100 museum exhibit and glammed-up Disney platinum decor. You probably didn’t really need the excuse, but if you’re planning to head down to Anaheim to celebrate Disney’s 100 years, we’ve put together a list of fun tips, tricks, secrets, and bucket list things to do to help you have the best day at Disneyland and California Adventure.
Disney100 Platinum Medallions
Dedicated Disneyland fans will already be familiar with the MagicBand and MagicBand+ products and bracelets that let you interact with several special features around the parks and resorts. You can use it as your ticket, your room key, and a credit card; it lights up during nighttime shows and helps you track virtual bounties in Galaxy’s Edge. For Disney’s 100th anniversary, they’ve added a series of platinum medallions around Disneyland, the Disneyland Hotel, California Adventure, and Downtown Disney, which come to life when you make a circular gesture with your MagicBand+. Or, if you don’t feel like buying yet another product, just hang out near a medallion, and someone will surely come along and activate it before too long.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
As you wait in line outside the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular show, you may spot a well with a sign on it that reads: “Warning: Do Not Pull Rope.” Give into temptation and give it a tug anyway. You’ll see why.
Despite its listing in the park map, this cool Disneyland attraction continues to be missed by the masses. Animation Academy mini-classes are offered throughout the day—totally free of charge. The classes involve an animator showing you the step-by-step process of how to draw a Disney character. You’ll receive a paper, a pencil, and a writing surface to hone your skills.
Disneyland After Dark
On select nights, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park separately host ticketed parties once the park closes to the general public. The parties are themed, and you can dress up accordingly. Expect curated food and drink to fit the theme, live music, parades, fireworks, and more. But the best part is that certain rides remain open, which means much shorter lines.
The Haunted Mansion
The secret passageway that cast members refer to as the “servant’s entrance” takes guests from the side of the house straight to the hallway and the ride’s “doom buggies.” If you can’t locate it, politely pull aside an employee to get the deets, and don’t forget to say, “Pretty please.”
Birthday Celebration Button
Pick up a Celebration Button to indulge in ego-fueled birthday love all day long. The festive personalized button grants you access to overzealous cast members excitedly celebrating you as you peruse the park. You can also score a free dessert at many Disney restaurants (and maybe a glass of champagne!).
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
Within the walls of the Sleeping Beauty Castle resides a lesser-known attraction filled with secrets. Dimly-lit hallways reveal projected scenes from the movie, while under-the-radar offerings beg for you to uncover them, like finding the wooden door that releases the sound of a beast laughing, scratching, and banging when the handle is pulled.
The Candlelight Processional
This December gathering is basically a mass cast-member choir parading down Main Street, faux-candles in hands, making their way to the circular center, where hymns follow and a celebrity—whether Disney-related (Dick Van Dyke, Kurt Russell) or not (Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald)—retells the story of Christmas. A lovely tradition that dates back to 1958. But be warned: sometimes it rains, and if that happens, it isn't rescheduled.
The Lilly Belle Train Car
On certain occasions, the Lilly Belle—Mrs. Walt Disney’s private car for entertaining guests back in the day—takes VIPs around the park. If you time service and your special connections right, you can get a chance to board the 1928 train car, where you’ll learn intimate history and see special artifacts like Walt Disney’s “smoking jacket.” It’s rumored the Grand Circle Tour offers the chance to board the parlor car, along with a BTS look at the Disneyland Railroad.
Lamplight Lounge (formerly Cove Bar) has offered secret menu items for years. Order the Mickey’s Fun Wheel for a strong, Instagram-worthy concoction. The drink, one of several off-menu delights at the moment, is Disney’s version of an Adios MF: vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and blue Curacao, plus lemonade, and a few other splashes.
Winnie the Pooh's Nightmare
The mounted bison, buck, and bull moose heads are a throwback to old Disneyland. Buff, Max, and Melvin were the MCs of the Country Bear Jamboree in Frontierland that ran from '72 until 2001. The toddler-friendly Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride took its place, but this animatronic trio survived. Look for them as you leave the Heffalumps & Woozles honey room.
Disney Coast to Coast
This accomplishment takes major time and money investment and some serious training if you aren't already a runner. But if you complete half-marathons at both Disneyland and Disney World in the same year, you earn a special medal. At the very least, do a 5K or 10K walk inside and outside the park; whatever the route, you'll still see sides of the place you didn't know existed.
It’s almost become a cliché to boast about having eaten here, but for nearly half a century, this has been the best way to lord your Disney elitism over envious friends—in large part because the initial membership costs $25,000, while you’ll have to pay $10,000 annually thereafter. The food is good, but not exactly great. Crashing the exclusivity of it all, including movie props and costumes only located inside, is what makes it a must.
Walt Disney's Apartment
Again, good luck. Disney’s private home away from home looks down upon the Main St. roundabout from atop the nearby fire station (the light is always left on, in tribute). It’s typically only seen via V-VIP tours—and even then, it isn’t always included or approached for more than a glimpse. It’s still something of a mecca for those who think the innovator might someday be cryogenically unfrozen and reside here once more.
The Mark Twain Riverboat
Again, if you ask the right cast member very nicely, you could get escorted to the wheelhouse of this iconic ship, where you’ll be allowed to “steer” the boat (it’s on a track) and blow its mighty whistle. Don’t forget to add your name to the guest book, which lists thousands of other honorary drivers dating back to when the park opened.
The Temple of the Forbidden Eye
The always interminably long line for the Indiana Jones Adventure ride, as well as the crash course itself, hunches over part of what used to be the parking lot closest to the main entrance. In order to maintain its longstanding tradition of tucking Easter eggs away throughout the park, Disney engineers kept one of the signs from the original Eeyore lot visible as you shuffle through the movie-room portion of the queue.
Toy Story Midway Mania
Ever wonder how the monthly high scores for this 3D shoot/smash/toss-'em-up contest are always in the hundreds of thousands, even millions, yet you can't crack 50k? That's because those shooters/smashers/tossers know all the spots to blast to make higher point values appear, like popping the rising balloon comets three times during Rex & Trixie's Dino Darts portion, which will cause more comets to zip in from the sides and explode in the middle.
The Hidden Cheshire Cat
You’ll have to time it right because it’s not a given the cat will make an appearance on your visit, but if you look at the mirror in Fantasyland’s Mad Hatter shop on the right day, you might just see a grinning cat looking back at you. Be patient and look for several minutes or longer, and you may just notice the Cheshire Cat appears—if only for a moment. The trick is to find the right mirror. Hint: look for the caterpillar!
Bar Crawl the Resort
There will never be alcohol openly served inside the Magic Kingdom, per Walt's orders; only in Club 33 can you get a proper drink. But there are more than two dozen other places to imbibe on Disney property, from the Alfresco Tasting Terrace in California Adventure to the Uva Bar in the heart of Downtown Disney. It might be difficult to hit all of them in a single day, given the exclusivity of a few (see 1901 Lounge), but try to hit at least 10 and then see how Splash Mountain feels.
There are more than 100 Mickeys hidden throughout the park, from manhole covers in Toontown to a silhouette of one in the Big Ben clock tower on Peter Pan's Flight. You've got the rest of your life to find the rest.