For years, Lia and I have been longing for a Disneyland Scavenger Hunt that we could play with our game-loving friends and family. We’re the kind of people who get aggressively competitive on game night. Like, Lia once faked an ankle injury during a game of Laser Tag on the streets of San Francisco just to slow down her brother in law, who had teamed up with me on the opposing team. It was the week of our wedding. And for the record, it worked.
We needed something to make our Disneyland trips EPIC. To give us an excuse to DESTROY one another. But sadly, we couldn’t find a Disneyland Scavenger Hunt that wasn’t either laughably easy (basically glorified games of I-Spy) and/or designed for kids. So, we made our own!
Although Lia was once a Cast Member at Walt Disney World in Florida, Jeremy grew up going to Disneyland in California – and today, we live just a few hours north of Anaheim. Which means we squeeze in trips whenever we can (afford to)!
In this post, we’ll be sharing our favorite do’s & dont’s for your next Disneyland trip, plus a taste of the Scavenger Hunt that we created after our most recent trip to Disneyland.
Table of Contents
In this post, we’re sharing a sample of our complete Disneyland Scavenger Hunt – a quick version with 12 Challenges and 30 points. The full game has 50 challenges for a total of 100 points, and is meant to be played in teams. If you’re looking for an all-day activity, we strongly encourage you to check out the full Disneyland Scavenger Hunt.
But don’t worry: you can get a printable version of the 20-Point Disneyland Scavenger Hunt Preview and an answer key fo’ free. Just subscribe below and we’ll send you that printable goodness!
Psst: Looking for more Disney posts? We’ve got a bunch! Check these out:
- How to Do Disney: A Disney Parks Guide by a Former Cast Member
- 10 Tips for Soothing Your Post Disney Depression
- The Disney World Resort Bar Crawl: A (Former) Cast Member’s Guide
About the Disneyland Scavenger Hunt
Growing up in California generally means a few things are givens in your life: a predilection for Mexican food, a love of the beach, and a nostalgic love for Disneyland.
My first experience with Disneyland started when I was just an infant. Even though I obviously didn’t remember anything, maybe I felt a connection to it throughout my life on some extremely subconscious level.
I visited again around 10 when I was really into Beauty and the Beast (I didn’t know what Stockholm Syndrome was yet), Aladdin, Hercules, and The Lion King. (Really quick, can we all just agree that those last two movies REALLY need to have something substantial in Disneyland?? Like come on Disney. We have “Song of the South” but no love for Simba? Mufasa didn’t die for this sort of treatment! OK, I’m rambling.)
Like most kids, I was taken to a new world of magic and wonder, one that would forever hold a special place in my heart. Fast forward about 20 years, and I still have the same childlike wonder as I did then.
But let’s face it: as an adult, Disney is no easy task. It’s like American Ninja Warrior meets a marathon meets the Standing in Line Olympics.
You can no longer just embrace the magic. Instead you have to wait in line, spend money, balance exhaustion/hunger/stress, herd cats (when traveling with a group), deal with crowds, and all the while attempt to have fun. Disneyland is WORK.
Or is it? Good question, me!
Awhile back, we put together our Walt Disney World Scavenger Hunt. Obviously, the next step was to create a matching set – we needed one for Disneyland, too!
With Lia’s Cast Member history and my Disneyland experience, we crafted an epic game to be played over the course of one action-packed day (or two less-intense days).
Our goal was to create a Scavenger Hunt that’s fun for adults, involves experiences that you may never have had before, expose plenty of Disneyland “secrets” & Cast Member insider tips (courtesy of Lia, who is a former Walt Disney World cast member) and of course, to shower you in Magical Pixie Dust. What’s Magical Pixie Dust, you ask? Well, you’ll find out in one of your challenges…..
How to Play the Disneyland Scavenger Hunt
The complete Disneyland Scavenger Hunt has 50 challenges, totaling 100 points. Some tasks are easy, like “spot this thing” and some are more difficult and require planning, skill, luck, and a little bit of Disney Magic. Each challenge is designed to help you discover something new, experience something you’ve never tried before, and see a whole new side of Disneyland!
In this post, you’ll find a shorter version of the complete game: a taste of the real deal. A sample. A preview. Whatever you want to call it, it’s free! Did Christmas come early this year?!
Both the short version and the complete Disneyland Scavenger Hunt are designed to be played in teams. Choose your team members wisely, and make sure you have at least 1 teammate who’s comfortable talking to strangers … or in front of crowds.
The Tasks in the game will take you through both Disneyland and California Adventure. And yes, we included Pixar Pier! We included a mix of easy tasks, challenges that will require you to engage with the parks in new and unusual ways, and some things that might just take a little bit of luck.
Also, remember: this is a game, and games aren’t fun if you cheat! Put your phones on Airplane Mode so you aren’t tempted to Google stuff. All of the answers, hints, background story, and suggestions you need are provided on the Answer Sheets. The fun is figuring it all out!
We think our Scavenger Hunt would be a great activity for both adults and kids, but there is one task that is 21+. Also, the game designed to be CHALLENGING! So, take a good hard look at your kid and really consider whether or not you want them on your team. You don’t want any dead weight. You want to WIN.
As always… arrive early, pack some snacks, wear shoes you can walk for miles and miles in, maybe make a team shirt or 2 (your team ABSOLUTELY must have a name – bonus points if it’s a terrible Disney pun) and get ready to annihilate your friends and loved ones!
But first! Let’s talk about Disneyland strategies. Here are 15 tried and true Disneyland tips (and 5 that are all hearsay).
Pro Tips for Visiting Disneyland
1. Find when it’s empty
As a teacher, I know this isn’t always feasible; however, if you have a more flexible schedule, check out isitpacked.com to see when the part is emptiest. In general, you’re looking at February.
2. Look Up Early Magic Hours and arrive right when the park opens
Early Magic Hours (EMH) is when hotel guests (and others who paid a higher ticket price) get in an hour early to either Disneyland Resort or California Adventure. But if you’re not staying at a resort, don’t feel TOO jealous: only a handful of things are actually open that early.
But hey, we gotchu. Here’s how to take advantage of Early Magic Hours as a non-resort guest: look up which park is doing EMH, and start your day at the OPPOSITE park. Let all of those EMH chumps ride Mission: Breakout while you start your day outrunning boulders on Indiana Jones. Ha!
3. Download the Disneyland App
This app is actual magic (isn’t everything at Disney though?). It gives regularly updated wait times, character trackers, facilities locations, AND you can book for FastPasses there (more on that in a bit). Be sure to attach your Disneyland tickets to your profile for faster services.
4. Upgrade your tickets
There are two ticket upgrades you NEED for Disneyland: Park Hopper and Maxpass.
- Park Hopper grants you entry into both parks, and if you aren’t doing both parks, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. Each park on its own is just slightly too small – but combine them, and you’ve got a MASSIVE amount of park to explore.
- Maxpass is the new (optional) version of Fastpasses. It used to be that you’d run to a ride, pick up a paper ticket, then come back in a few hours to redeem. The downside? You couldn’t get a new one until you redeemed the one you got. With Maxpass, every two hours you can choose a digital Fastpass to be redeemed later. This greatly increases the amount of passes you can grab. But prioritize your rides, because Fastpasses WILL run out around 6 PM.
5. Utilize the single rider line
Ask yourself what matters more: riding as many rides as possible, or spending more time with your park companions but riding less stuff? Guess which one Lia and I always pick? Here’s a hint: rides over brides.
If you’re like us and your ultimate goal is to ride ALL THE THINGS, Single Rider is for you! Basically, you’ll get to skip the line and fill in a seat, usually next to some other chump who wanted to actually sit next to their friends and family. Odds are you won’t wait longer than ten minutes for any ride, which makes this one of the best ways to get into popular rides without waiting!
The following rides use Single Rider, so you shouldn’t prioritize their Fastpasses:
- Indiana Jones
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Incredi-coaster (Formerly California Screamin)
- Grizzly River Run
- Goofy’s Fly School
6. Postpone your souvenir shopping
If you’re trying to get your Disney Swag on, don’t waste precious riding time (or backpack space) with shopping. All of the stores stay open an hour after closing, and World of Disney stays open until after midnight! This is also the perfect way to waste time as you wait until traffic clears while thousands of people all head for the exact same parking structure exit. Because LA already has ENOUGH traffic.
7. Go quick service for lunch
Disneyland has a ton of quick service food stops and restaurants, where you’ll order at a counter or stand instead of getting waited on. This is a huge time saver!
Don’t be fooled by the daunting lines at the churro or turkey leg carts: grab and go food is served up quickly, since freakishly efficient Disneyland is all about economy of time (as a Cast Member, Lia experienced this firsthand, from hitting insanely specific time goals on loading and unloading rides, to randomly setting up cones whenever crowds were getting too thick and slowing down the flow of traffic).
What we’re trying to say here is: food carts and Quick Service restaurants should be your choice for lunch. If you’re like us, a big sit-down meal midday will slow you down, and you need to keep your energy up! That said, if you’re the kind of person who takes 2pm naps, maybe switch things up and do sit down for lunch and quick service for dinner instead.
Here are a few of our picks for on-the-go quick service food stops:
- Jolly Holiday: Mostly to satisfy your sweet tooth…or do it for the ‘Gram! This is one of my personal favorites. It’s also the home of the most photogenic Macarons in Disneyland.
- Bengal Barbecue: Grab a skewer on your way to Indiana Jones. You’ll need the snack for that line. (Unless you’re doing Single Rider, in which case, wolf that sh** down.)
- Royal Street Veranda: You’re in N’awlins – opt for the gumbo. If you’re craving chowder, there’s Boudin in DCA. This isn’t the most mobile friendly food, but it’s worth the struggle.
- Red Rockett’s Pizza Port: If you’ve ever had a late, messy night out in any American city, you already know pizza and speed walking go hand in hand.
- Award Wieners (located in Disney’s California Adventure): Same principle applies here: hot dogs are excellent “Out of my way, I have places to be” walking & eating food.
- Red Rose Tavern: Look, I could easily give you the “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious” line, but … Oh hey, I just did! Oh well. It really is delicious.
8. Make reservations for dinner
In contrast to lunch, we think dinner should take some planning and preparation. Look on the Disney website and book a table at a nice sit-down restaurant before your trip.
Keep in mind a lot of restaurants offer Fireworks or Parade packages, so even if you reserve a table, you might have to wait a little bit (unless you spring for the package, you baller you). But think of it this way: if you DIDN’T reserve that table, you can kiss your delicious ribs from River Belle Terrace goodbye.
Looking for more tips and Disney strategies? We’ve got a whole post’s worth right here.
Disneyland Myths: Busted!
Now it’s time for Disneyland myths: things you shouldn’t do at Disneyland! Most of these are just for fun tips that have made their way around, but we’re here to rain on your 3 O’Clock Parade.
1. One of the Magic Tea Cups goes faster than the others.
Look, let’s lay this to rest right now: there is no tea cup that goes faster than the others. We think this myth started because ALL of the cups feel a lot faster than they look, but consider it officially busted.
2. You can get free coffee at Starbucks.
Nope. Just like in real life, Starbucks does not give free refills. Well, not anymore at least.
3. Yell “Andy’s Coming!” at a Toy Story Character and they will suddenly fall over.
Nope. Yelling this will NOT make the Toy Story characters fall down and “play toy.” They used to, but Disney deemed it unsafe for incredibly obvious reasons.
4. If you miss your Fast Pass return time, you’re out of luck.
Rushing across the entire park to make your Fastpass window? Relax, slow down and enjoy the walk! There is a grace period after your FastPass. Officially, there’s a 30 minute time limit after your Fast Pass return time, but most cast members will let you in whenever as long as you’re apologetic and not a d**k about it. They just want to regulate the amount of people coming on the ride at any one time. Remember, Cast Members are generally kind and friendly people! We swear!
Don’t abuse this one – just remember it if you royally screw up or end up stuck on a line or at a restaurant somewhere.
The Disneyland Scavenger Hunt
All right, time for the good stuff. We know why you’re here, and we’re gonna deliver!
One quick note: while we consider the Scavenger Hunt to be family-friendly, let’s just say adults may have the upper hand.
What you’re about to see is a small taste of a much bigger and more epic Scavenger Hunt that we created after our most recent trip to Disneyland. It’s got 50 challenges for a total of 100 points, and is meant to be played in teams: check out the full Disneyland Scavenger Hunt.
But because we love you, you can get a printable version of the 10 Disneyland Scavenger Hunt challenges and an answer key fo’ FREE. Just subscribe below and we’ll send you that printable goodness.
OK, ready to CRUSH your friends and family?! And we don’t just mean Turtle Talk … bad dum ssh.
Here’s the 12 challenge, 30 point Disneyland Scavenger Hunt!
- See a couple get engaged in front of the castle (3 points)
- Make a thunderclap and hear the Evil Queen laugh. (1 point)
- Take a drink at Walt’s “test brick” wall. (1 point)
- Find the light that’s always on in Walt Disney’s apartment. 2 Bonus points if the light is turned off! What’s that about!? (3 points max)
- Enjoy the hottest dog in the park. They haven’t won any awards, and they’re not happy about it. (1 Point)
- Walk onto a ride with NO line at all – WITHOUT using a fast pass. (2 points)
- Ask a Cast Member where their favorite Hidden Mickey is, and go find it. (max 5/5 points max)
- Ask a question during Turtle Talk with Crush. (2 point)
- Beat your whole party on Midway Mania. (2 points)
- Ask a Cast Member to sprinkle Pixie Dust on you. Bonus point: take a photo with them and tag it #CastCompliment on Twitter! (2 points max)
- Be on a ride that breaks down or has an Emergency Stop. (3 points)
- Tag @practicalwanderlust in a Disneyland photo or story on Instagram! (5 points max)
Total Possible Points: 30
Need some answers – or at least hints!? We gotchu. You can get a printable version of the 20-Point Disneyland Scavenger Hunt challenges and an answer key fo’ FREE by subscribing below.
Ready to take things up a notch? Head on over to buy the full 50-question Disneyland Scavenger Hunt right here!
We hope you enjoy your day at Disneyland. Oh and hey, if you’re doing our Scavenger Hunt, tag us on Instagram @practicalwanderlust so we can cheer you on (and maybe give you some hints … if you’re lucky)!
Psst: Looking for more Disney posts? We’ve got a bunch! Check these out:
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Disclaimer: During our most recent trip to Disneyland we received complimentary media tickets. Our Disneyland Scavenger Hunt is not endorsed by Disney and we created it independently. We hope they like it!