Spending an Off-Day at the Disneyland Resort


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There are tons of ways to get the Disney “magic” without stepping foot inside of the Parks! I recommend building one or more “off-days” into your multi-day trip to the Disneyland Resort so you can rest up, relax and enjoy the Resort without venturing into the Parks. I’ve included my favorite day-off ideas which you can actually do in one day or stretch them out over several days.

What’s Outside of Disneyland Park?

Disneyland has a footprint inside the city of Anaheim. The Disneyland Resort is comprised of three Resort Hotels (Paradise Pier, Grand California Resort & Spa and the Disneyland Hotel). There are two Parks, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park. And there is a Downtown Disney District with shopping and dining. Just outside of the Disneyland Resort, within walking distance, are “Good Neighbor” hotels, restaurants and suburban homes. I’m giving you some ideas on what to do on an off-day of your vacation that will still keep you in the “Disney bubble”.

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No Disneyland ticket? Not a problem! There are tons of things (many of them FREE) to do at the Disneyland Resort without paying for a ticket.

1. Dine with a Character at a Disneyland Resort Hotel

You do not need to go into the Parks to enjoy a Character meal! Each of the three hotels in the Disneyland Resort feature their own unique Character meals. Start off the day with breakfast at Disney’s PCH Grill (Paradise Pier Hotel) for Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends. Or choose Storyteller’s Cafe (Disney Grand Californian) Chip ’n Dale Critter Breakfast or Goofy’s Kitchen (Disneyland Hotel). Goofy’s Kitchen also offers a Character Meal for dinner as well. This is a great way to get in a Character Meet n’ Greet without using up precious Park time.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort
Meeting Pluto at Surf’s Up!

2. Plan a Day for the Pool

Nearly all of the time in Anaheim, the weather will be appropriate for swimming. It’s so easy to take one of your “off-days” poolside, especially if you are staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel. The pools are fantastic and there is definitely enough here for a day’s worth of entertainment.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort
Disneyland Hotel pool

I have an entire post on the subject, Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools. In short, you can rent a cabana, receive poolside drinks and meal service, slip down a water slide, play organized games with resort cast members, relax in a whirlpool hot tub or lounge on a chaise and catch some rays. The pools are ideal for down time and we make sure to reserve a day of our trip for plenty of water play!

Tips about Spending Time at the Disneyland Resort Pools


 3. Work Out

Feeling a little sluggish after the Park food? Get up and get moving. I’ve outlined all of the fitness options in my post Exercise on Vacation?! Getting a Workout, Disney-style at the Disneyland Resort Hotels. There is even a guided morning walk through the Park!

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

4. Explore the Disneyland Hotel Resorts

Make sure to take the time to explore the three different hotels of the Disneyland Resort. There are restaurants and gift shops and you don’t have to be a Resort guest to visit.

  • I adore the Disneyland Hotel and have stayed here many times. Be sure to walk inside each of the towers and check out the unique theming inside the lobbies.
  • Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is breathtaking inside, with its towering lobby and elegant rooms.
  • The Paradise Pier is fun…and Goofy (there is a Goofy statue inside, perfect for selfies).

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

If you are a Resort guest you can sign up to take a tour of the hotels. At the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa there is an Art of Craft Tour. Or try the Grand Quest, a scavenger hunt through the Resort hotel. Over at the Disneyland Hotel, try the Happiest Hotel on Earth Tour. There are several other offerings, just check with Guest Services on the days and times (some require advanced registration to participate).

From the Disney website:

  • Tales from the Hearth Nestle in for an intimate storytelling experience starring California wildlife at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
  • Disney’s Princess Story Time This enchanting experience invites little princes and princesses to view classic Disney animation and enjoy story time with one of the Disney Princesses.
  • Learn to Draw Mickey Class It’s your chance to be an animator! Learn to draw one of Disney’s most famous characters—Mickey!
  • Washcloth Creations Our in-house experts will show you how to make your very own magical creations out of a simple washcloth.


5. A Day at the Spa

The Mandara Spa at the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is a heavenly way to recharge on your off-day. Enjoy a massage, facial, mani-pedi or a cleansing sweat in the sauna. There are dozens of special treatments to choose from that will have you rested, relaxed and ready for your next Park day.

6. Downtown Disney District

Shopping, dining and entertainment;  you could spend a lot of time (and money) at Downtown Disney. We always stop in at the LEGO Store where there are plenty of blocks to play and build with. The movie theater is a great place for soaking up the a/c for a few hours. And of course, World of Disney. You can’t miss this enormous store that includes hundreds of fantastic Disney souvenirs. I highly suggest doing your shopping on an “off-day” if you can.

No Disneyland ticket? Not a problem! There are tons of things (many of them FREE) to do at the Disneyland Resort without paying for a ticket.
Pick up Disney themed snacks inside Downtown Disney District.

7. Movies Under the Stars

On select nights the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disneyland Hotel host a Disney movie outside for their Resort Guests. Bring your own food and drinks to enjoy during the show.

8. A Night on Town

Hit the town…Downtown Disney, that is. You can take in the nightlight in the Downtown Disney District by enjoying a free outdoor concert. Or enjoy dinner at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and enjoy the live entertainment during your meal.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort
Wide open esplanade between the Parks is perfect for viewing fireworks at night.

9. Fireworks Spectacular

If you just want to soak in a bit of the Disney atmosphere at the end of the night but don’t have a Park ticket for the day, stroll into the esplanade. This is the wide open space between the two Parks. Just before the fireworks show starts at Disneyland, other Guests will gather in this area and sit down to enjoy the show.

Even though you can’t catch all of the action like you would from inside the Park, it’s still quite magical and a great way to close out your off-day before heading back in to the Parks.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red  | Summer Fun Outside of the Parks Loop:

 What is your favorite way to spend an “off-day” at the Disneyland Resort? Share in the comments!

No Disneyland ticket? Not a problem! There are tons of things (many of them FREE) to do at the Disneyland Resort without paying for a ticket.

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Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).


12 thoughts on “Spending an Off-Day at the Disneyland Resort

  1. This is such an extensive list! We just got back from Disneyland earlier this summer, and one of our favorite days was when we started at Storytellers for the Critter breakfast (soooooo fun!) and then swam, etc. And on SoCal trips we are never at a loss for beaches, etc to visit! 🙂

  2. I have never been to Disneyland so I am not as familiar with it as I am with Disney World, but I didn’t realize there was so much to do outside of the parks! Great list! I hope to make it over there one of these days 🙂

    1. It’s not as easy to be completely immersed in Disney like you can at WDW, but it’s great that they still have a lovely resort where you can stay and not deal with the “outside world” 🙂

  3. Great tips, I am planning a West Coast vacation for 2016 and hope to visit Disneyland for the 1st time. Didn’t realize how similar Disneyland & Disney World are with the same “Downtown Disney” and Mandara Spa, etc.

  4. I am amazed on the activity outside the parks at Disneyland. My favorite moment was waking up at the Disneyland Hotel and looking out the window to see Goofy walking alone along the path and stopping to smell the flowers. What a place! I could just spend time exploring.

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