Saturday, March 16, 2013
Romantic Spots at Disneyland Park
As you, my readers, know, I love Disneyland. My parents and older sister all worked there when they were teenagers, and I grew up in Southern California, attending Disneyland often.
Last night my hubby and I enjoyed a nice dinner at the new Carthay Circle Restaurant and then strolled around both parks for a date night. It was very enjoyable and romantic.
It got me thinking about all the quiet, romantic spots in Disneyland that I enjoy. I've read other lists, but, though some are spot on, I don't always agree with all the spots listed. Haunted Mansion? Not so much.
Let's make this interactive. After you read through my list, tell me your favorite spots!
So, here are 10 spots that I think are romantic and special if you happen to go on a date at Disneyland. (or just some quiet spots for a breather during a long day enjoying the park . . .)
10. The walk by the Rapids in CA Adventure--Now, rapids don't sounds relaxing or romantic, but the pathway that meanders by the rapids can be both. Unfortunately, at peak times, it gets heavy with foot traffic, but you can find benches or little niches here and there to enjoy the area. The path is surrounded on both sides by pine trees and the Grand Californian Hotel. It has the feel of the Sierras and Redwood Forest. You will either find piped, soft banjo or guitar music playing relaxing folk songs, or you might luck out and get there when there is a live musician playing acoustic guitar to songs like "Riders on the Storm." Either way, the sound of rushing water from the rapids, the soft music, wind rustled pine trees, and shade spotted path all lend themselves to an enjoyable pause and look around. My favorite time of the day for this spot is in the late afternoon when the breeze picks up and the rapids crowd starts to dwindle.
9. Pirates Cove Island--My husband did not agree with this one, so maybe it is just me, but I think the little picnic areas all along the edges of Pirate Cove Island (or Tom Sawyer Island to anyone over 30 like me) are so nice. Bring your lunch or picnic food over to the Island, hunt out a secluded bench or picnic table and put your feet up. Watch the Mark Twain, the canoes or the ducks swim by on the Rivers of America and watch the crowds streaming around across the way in New Orleans Square or Frontierland. This is a great spot for a relaxing lunch. I like the picnic benches across the Island that face Frontierland, as they offer a little shade and are away from the loading and unloading dock. They close the island before the sun sets, so this is not a night spot.
8. Snow White Grotto--My friend got engaged here. I mean what is not romantic about a stone well with the song "I'm Wishing" playing every so often? Fountains surround, the castle backdrops your spot nearby, and swans swim around. It is usually not very crowded, though occasional character appearances or tour groups may cause a temporary swarm. You can find this spot on the right of the castle as you face the front drawbridge. Take a penny and make a wish in the well.
7. The Big Wheel in CA Adventure--The line can be long for this ride, so go early or just buy a snack to enjoy in the line if you go when it is crowded. I personally LOVE the swinging gondola on the wheel, but I know many of my friends hate it and get queasy even thinking about it. There is a stationary gondola also offered on the wheel. Great views are offered at either and you get to sit for awhile next to the one you love. This is a great view at any time, though you get more snuggling and pretty lights in the chill of evening.
6. The Fireplace in the Lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel--If you haven't wandered around the grounds of the beautiful Grand Californian Hotel, you need to do that. Whenever we buy annual passes, we try to stay here once a year and do a mini vacation with the kids. We eat breakfast at the Storyteller Cafe and enjoy the great ameneties at the hotel. One of our favorite things to do is find a cushy rocking chair in front of the fireplace in the lobby and just talk. Especially after a long day in the park, it is easy to just melt into the seats and chat with your spouse. There will often be a live piano player in the lobby to make the experience even more special. If you do happen to have your kids with you, just nearby and in eye view if you sit a little further back from the fire, is a little kid seating area and a TV playing classic Mickey cartoons. Have them sit and enjoy Mickey while you get a moment or two with your sweetie.
5. The side of Flo Jo Cafe walkway where you can view Racers in CA Adventure. This has to be done at night to be romantic. During the day, you will just see swarms of people and, though a cool backdrop on the ride, it isn't "pretty." At night, though, they light up all of Cars Land just like Radiator Springs, but the "canyon" and red rock environment of the Racers Ride is lit up beautifully. Since the viewing area is a bit removed and off the main road, you can find some quiet, enjoy the lighting and sit to chat with your date. There is either seating on the side of Flo's Cafe where you can snack and still see the view from your table, or you can just go stand by the Racers viewing area and take in all the Disney magic and beautiful lighting for a few moments.
4. Fireworks Viewing from the back of Fantasy Land/by Casey Jr.--Some of you might think I'm crazy for not recommending the fireworks from Main Street, but I am not a crowd person. Though you get the full music and lighting effect of the fireworks show on Mainstreet, you also get a lot of people and, inevitably, someone standing in front of you affecting your view. I like to go stand by Casey Jr. and watch the fireworks there. You have to turn to the castle to catch the pyrotechnics from time to time, but most of the fireworks, and all the larger fireworks, are launched from behind Small World and the Toon Town area. If you look in that direction, you get most of the action. There are tables where you can sit, and the crowds are a fraction of a fraction (is there such a thing?) of what you would get on Main Street. Unfortunately, you might have a harder time getting out of the park right away when the fireworks end (they close off the castle drawbridge during and for awhile after fireworks), but if you plan to just go on a few rides and leave about 45 minutes later, you'll be great. Plus, you'll avoid the crazy tram ride lines that way. I highly recommend viewing fireworks from a ride if you can time it correctly. I've viewed them from Thunder Mountain (which is currently closed at the time I wrote this post), the Tea Cups--which is a great ride to be on during the parade, by the way, and Casey Jr. Train, and they are all fun places to view the fireworks. If you want the music, the narration, the lighting and the full effect, you have to join the many people on Main Street, and it is worth doing at least once. If you just want to sit with your honey, escape the commotion and see some pretty lights in the sky, go to my spot, relax and enjoy the moment!
3. Carthay Circle Restaurant and the surrounding terrace--As I said, my hubby and I enjoyed the new Carthay Circle Restaurant in CA Adventure for the first time yesterday. I had salmon and he had a ribeye. They were both delicious. What we loved most was the departure this restaurant had from being very "Disneyland Parkish." Though we have eaten at Club 33 and Blue Bayou, both very nice restaurants for the Disney visitor, the tables are usually all close together and the food is very standard. Carthay felt much more luxurious and special, and the food was definitely different from other park food. The pace was slow, the waiters were pleasant and helpful, and the nod to classic Hollywood in the 30's was fun. If the terrace isn't open when you go, ask the waiter or hostess if you can go stand on the terrace and they will open it. We did and then enjoyed several minutes snuggling and watching the visitors and views from our perch above. It was magical and fun. I recommend this experience for dinner time when you can get the lights view.
2. The Dining Patio in the Back of CA Adventure--Okay, the resort map I found online doesn't even LIST the name of this eating area. They added this location when they remodeled the park last year. It is in the back of the park by Goofy's Sky School. There is a huge terrace with pretty decent food choices. The best part of this area though is the shade and live music offered. We have stopped here several times to listen to various bands play live-- Big Band style music, Irish band music, and folk music. They were all FANTASTIC and it is never very crowded. If you have kids, they can dance around and play while you keep an eye on them, relax and listen to the live bands play fun and soothing music. If you go at normal times for lunch or dinner, you should catch a performance.
1. Rancho del Zocalo at Night--Seriously I love this place. The food is ho hum, though I do LOVE the Mexican Chicken Caesar Salad I order every single time. I grew up and still live in Southern California, so I'm a Mexican food snob. The tacos and refried beans they serve cafeteria style never had a chance. However, the ambiance is AMAZING at night. They have colored glass lanterns and metal cut lanterns all hanging fabulously overhead. It is so romantic and dreamy. One area has an indoor/outdoor fireplace (shared on one wall) if you can snag one of those two lucky tables. We always sit by the wall that hugs Thunder Mountain so my boys can wave at the trains that go by while my husband and I enjoy the dim, colored lights and outdoor patio. There is no waiter, so you aren't hurried as you relax and listen to the acoustic guitar strums of Spanish music being piped onto the patio. This used to be a little bit off the beaten path, but now that the new Fantasy Fair opened nearby (as of this week, actually), there might be a bit more foot traffic. So sad! I love my little hidden patio with romantic lights.
So those are my favorite romantic, quiet spots. I know everyone has their own ideas. What about you? Is there a spot I didn't mention that you love? Share with us in the comments!