Let’s face it. The crowds, the heat, the excitement… a day at the Disneyland Resort can be exhausting. Even if you’re not traveling with young children, a nap can be essential. And sometimes the idea of walking or riding the Monorail back to your resort hotel seems impossible.
For those of you valiant souls planning to spend the entire or better half of a day at Disneyland or California Adventure, here are the best places to grab a cat nap in the parks.
1. Animation Academy
Location: Disney California Adventure, Hollywood Land
It doesn’t get better than this. This is my personal go-to resting place in the Disneyland Resort.
Animation Academy is a hidden gem in DCA. It looks like a shop from the outside, and it’s easy to miss the entrance.
Upon entering, you find yourself in an expansive dimly lit and well-air-conditioned room, beautifully illuminated by screens of different shapes and sizes circling the top of the walls. Different famous scenes, typically accompanied by the corresponding hit song, from the various Disney animated films play on a loop across these screens. What really makes it fantastic, though, is that some screens display the final version of the film, while others show a prototypical hand-drawn version of the scene or sketches and mockups from the brainstorming process. It’s a beautiful way to illustrate the process the animators go through as they craft the films.
There are several offshoots from this room to explore, where you can sing karaoke to your favorite animated films, enjoy Turtle Talk with Crush, or play with old animation techniques like rotoscoping. If you’re at the park for more than one day, or are a fan of animation or film, I definitely recommend spending time here.
But back to the big room. This is your napping place. You’ll see plenty of other people using it for the same purpose, so there’s no reason to feel awkward about lying down for a nice bit of shuteye. Sweet dreams!
2. The Disneyland Railroad
Location: Disneyland, Main Street USA, New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toon Town, Tomorrowland
The Disneyland Railroad travels around the park on a continuous loop all day long. You’ll be sitting in a covered car, enjoying the breeze of movement or the air conditioning of the Grand Canyon or Splash Mountain tunnels. It’s relatively quiet, as most people listen to the voice narration. With the steady movement of the train rocking you to sleep, what’s not to love?
3. Main Street Cinema
Location: Disneyland, Main Street USA
This space is small, but so few people recognize it as an attraction, that it’s almost a secret spot. It’s as dark as a movie theater, and air-conditioned as such. Sit down on the floor and let the early black-and-white cartoons of Mickey Mouse lull you to sleep.
4. Fantasyland Theater
Location: Disneyland, Fantasyland
Fantasyland Theater is located in between It’s A Small World and the entrance to Mickey’s Toon Town. Currently showing Mickey and the Magical Map, you can rest your eyes while your family enjoys this audience favorite (Stitch steals the show!). Unlike the Frozen musical in DCA, which requires a FastPass to reserve your seat, you can always stroll in to find a seat somewhere here. The show runs for 20+ minutes and has multiple showings during the afternoon. The theater is outdoors, but shaded and breezy.
5. Mark Twain Riverboat
Location: Disneyland, Frontierland
Enjoy a cruise around the Rivers of America on Frontierland’s very own steamboat. There’s plenty of seating on the paddler wheeler inspired by the ships that famously traversed the great Mississippi River. The round trip itself is less than 15 minutes, but you can board ahead of sailing time to sneak in some more shut eye.
6. For Small Kids Only: Any Long Line
Location: Both parks, as long as you have a sleepy child and a willing adult
If you’re visiting with young children, chances are they’ll need a nap. As long as you’re willing and strong enough, any long line is a perfect place to carry your kids around as they sleep in your arms.
This is also a good way to optimize your FastPasses. Unless you’re extremely lucky and skilled, you’re not going to be able to get a FastPass for all of the popular rides. You’ll end up waiting in line for one or two of them. The key is to be as strategic as you can about which rides you get FastPasses for and at which times. If you’re going to have to wait in line, you might as well choose a ride with an interesting queue, or one that will allow your child to get some much-needed rest.
Below is a list of the rides that tend to have the longer wait times. This is also a short list of the rides worth getting a FastPass for (although I’ve noted in parentheses which rides do not have FastPasses):
Options in Disneyland:
- Fantasyland: Peter Pan’s Flight (TOP CHOICE): This is a can’t-miss attraction, and most Disneyland locals will tell you they’ve never seen the wait time below 45 minutes. If you’re not going to get to the park within the first hour of opening and run straight to this ride, you’re going to have to wait at least 45 minutes. There’s no FastPass, either, and the queue is boring and narrow. Regardless, I promise you the wait is worth it, especially if you have little ones.
- Adventureland: Indiana Jones Adventure (First Runner-Up): This ride can have wait times of 30 – 75 minutes on busy days. I recommend getting a FastPass, unless you plan on riding late at night after the Fantasmic rush. The queue was built specifically with anticipated long wait times in mind, so it’s meant to keep your mind and senses stimulated.
- Tomorrowland: Space Mountain or Star Tours (Second Runner-Up): Both of these queues do a great job at theming, and they’re mostly air-conditioned, which can make carrying a sleeping child much more bearable.
- Critter Country: Splash Mountain (Honorable Mention): This ride has short wait times at night (for good reason), so if you can, ride it then. The queue is pretty boring, but it is mostly shaded.
Options in Disney California Adventure:
- Soarin’ Over The World (TOP CHOICE): The bulk of this queue is indoors, air-conditioned, and very quiet. It’s perfect for sleeping and you can even lean your back against the wall in some places.
- Toy Story Midway Mania (First Runner-Up): This ride is the equivalent to Peter Pan’s Flight in Disneyland. It’s an awesome ride that everyone loves, and it takes a small miracle to see a wait time under 45 minutes. Oh, and there’s no FastPass either. The queue is all outside, although shaded, and it’s a boring zigzag queue with virtually no in-line entertainment (you only pass by the audioanimatronic Mr. Potato Head for a few minutes).
- Tower of Terror (Second Runner-Up): This will probably only work if you have a child that can sleep through thunderstorms. While the first part of the queue is relatively quiet, in the middle you enter a pre-boarding room where you watch the video that explains the backstory of the ride, which typically elicits good-natured laughs. After that, you enter what is supposed to be the basement of the hotel, complete with large pipes and lots of steam noises. It’s worth including in this list, however, because it’s cool and air-conditioned, and the theming is decent enough to keep you entertained while you wait.
7. Bonus Spot: Fireplace Lounge
Location: Downtown Disney, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
You have to actually physically leave the parks for this one, but it can be a welcome respite for anyone shopping in Downtown Disney, especially during the cooler months. The Grand Californian Hotel is accessible from Downtown Disney or from Disney California Adventure across from the entrance to Grizzly River Run. There are two fireplace lounges in the lobby with chairs and wraparound wall seating.
What do you think? Have you napped in one of these spots? Did I miss any good napping places? Let me know in the comments!