- I fell in love with Disneyland when I was 10, went on to work there, and moved a few minutes away.
- Every time I visit, I love riding Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and watching the nighttime parade.
- The mac-and-cheese cones and the seasonal churros are some of my favorite park treats.
Disneyland has always been a big part of my life.
I've been obsessed with Disneyland ever since my first trip at 10 years old. So when I was accepted into the Disneyland College Program in the fall of 2016, I jumped at the chance.
I was fortunate to work on Main Street in the heart of Disneyland at the Emporium and Candy Palace.
My program ended in 2017, but I couldn't stay away from the magic. Now, I live a six-minute drive from the parks, and I try to go as often as possible.
Here are my favorite things to do when I visit.
Take an empty stroll through Grizzly Peak first thing in the morning.
Most park guests are rushing toward Avengers Campus and Cars Land first thing in the morning, but I love to take a moment and appreciate the peace of the empty park.
Grizzly Peak, the section between Soarin' Around the World and Ariel's Undersea Adventure, is usually quite empty in the morning. It makes for the perfect spot to leisurely stroll before getting swept into the business of the day.
I love to collect my thoughts here and start mapping out what the rest of my day is going to look like.
The seasonal churros are a must.
Churros are by far one of my favorite snacks at Disneyland, and new flavors are released seasonally.
My favorite churro stand is right next to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in California Adventure Park. It almost always has seasonal churros in addition to classic flavors.
I love riding Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.
If I can only ride one attraction in California Adventure, it's always Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.
The whirling square dance through Mater's Junkyard in Cars Land is without a doubt, my favorite ride in the park.
One of the best things about it (other than how fun it is), is the wait time, which is usually one of the shortest in the park.
If spinning rides aren't your thing, you may want to sit this one out.
Snack on a bacon-mac-and-cheese cone at the Cozy Cone Motel.
In Cars Land, I love heading over to the Cozy Cone 3 stand at the Cozy Cone Motel and grabbing a bacon-mac-and-cheese cone.
The savory treat is all kinds of delicious. It's a bread cone filled with mac and cheese and topped with crispy bacon bits.
If you're a multitasker like me, the cone is perfectly portable and easy to eat while you wait in a long attraction line.
Disneybounding is a favorite pastime of mine.
Adults aren't allowed to wear full costumes that resemble the Disney, Marvel, or "Star Wars" characters in the parks, so Disneybounding is a way for fans to honor their favorite characters.
Disneybounding refers to taking normal clothing and wearing them in a way that resembles a specific character's style. If you've ever seen someone running around the parks in a red polka-dot dress and mouse ears, they're probably Disneybounding as Minnie Mouse.
I love Disneybounding, it's a way for me to feel immersed in the magic of Disneyland.
Sip on a michelada from Bayside Brews.
If you're 21 or older, Bayside Brews is a great place to grab an alcoholic beverage. It has one of the wider selections of beer available in California Adventure.
One of my favorite things to get at Bayside Brews is a mango-cart michelada (a Mexican-inspired drink made with beer, lime, and spices). It's spicy and sweet, making it the perfect refreshment when you need an afternoon break.
I would recommend mobile-ordering the drink to save yourself some time, the stand usually has a long line.
You can learn to sketch characters at the Animation Academy.
I'm no artist, but I absolutely love learning how to sketch different Disney characters at the Animation Academy.
The free classes are fun, and the employees do a great job of teaching you step-by-step how to draw your favorite characters.
At the end of the class, you get to take your sketch home, which also makes for a great free souvenir.
This is the perfect activity to do at the hottest point of the day as the Animation Academy is indoor and air-conditioned.
I always snap pictures with my favorite characters.
I love to go character hunting at the parks. Some of my favorite moments of the day are when I get to interact with the characters.
Mickey and the gang are available to meet almost every day, but you never know who else you might find while roaming around.
Haunted Mansion is one of my favorite rides.
Haunted Mansion is a staple Disneyland attraction, and it's always my go-to ride.
Whether it's Haunted Mansion Holiday (the "Nightmare Before Christmas" overlay throughout the Halloween and Christmas seasons) or the classic attraction, I never miss it.
I have such great memories of riding Haunted Mansion as a child, and I love that I get to reexperience them as an adult.
You're never too old to experience a Disneyland parade.
It's so fun to dance to the parade music and wave at all the different characters that ride past.
I love all the parades, but the nighttime parades are always my favorite. There's something magical about sitting on Main Street and watching all the sparkling lights.
You usually have to camp out early to grab a spot on Main Street, but if you don't feel like waiting, you can usually snag a spot closer to It's a Small World.
I love ending my nights at the parks with fireworks.
No matter how many times I have seen the various Disneyland firework shows, I never get sick of them. In fact, I still get emotional every time I watch them.
Main Street gives you the classic view of the fireworks behind the castle, but don't discount watching from Fantasyland or over by It's a Small World.
Projections light up the facade of It's a Small World, and you'll get 360-degree views of the fireworks.