One of my fondest memories of Disneyland is during the summer of 2009. Fantasmic! had been closed for a few months and the new Maleficent dragon was supposed to show up any day. My dad and I decided that we would be there the first time the dragon appeared. With this in mind, we had to go to Disneyland practically every night — what a chore, I know. After exhausting my entertainment options, I decided to start bringing a book and found that Disneyland was one of the most interesting places to read.
The Disneyland Railroad may be closed at the moment, for the development of Star Wars Land, but, at the time, it was chugging along. A little fact about the railroad is that you can get on it and you don’t really have to get off, except for the occasional meal and bathroom break. It was there, on the CK Holiday, that I read the entirety of To Kill A Mockingbird. The setting of the train and the people watching opportunities made for an incredible reading experience.
It’s been a number of years since I’ve had time to try my hand at Disneyland reading again. The park has definitely changed in atmosphere since 2009. Obviously, the best reading situation involves a certain degree of silence, a rare occasion at Disneyland now. We used to refer to the days of low attendance as “off-days” and the long times of low attendance as the “off-season”, but neither of these seem to occur anymore. Disneyland only increases in popularity with each passing day and there is hardly a day in the year when it won’t be reasonably busy. This is great for Disneyland, not so much for the potential reader. With this in mind, I set out on a mission: to find the best places in Disneyland to take a book. I took my trusty copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and began my journey.
The two factors that create an optimum Disneyland reading experience are setting and silence. Sure you can find a random corner in Disneyland, out of view from it all, and get a good read, but it sort of negates the fact that you are at Disneyland. Yes, you can set up right in front of the Partners Statue and read, but even the most focused reader will probably have a hard time paying attention with all the noise and activity surrounding them.
The first place I found is also probably one of the most coveted seating spots at Disneyland. On the east side of Main Street USA, adjacent to the Silhouette Studio is a porch with a bench and a few chairs. Regulars will know this as the most sought-after parade seating spot. If you got there early enough this could be the reading spot from heaven. The setting is incredible, you get to watch as both first-time guests and regulars traverse down Main Street towards their first rides. You get prime viewing of the parade and the Main Street Vehicles as they pass by. The only thing you don’t really get is a large amount of silence. You’ll find that there is hardly a dull moment, something that may be trouble for the more solitary reader. If you’re like me and can read despite some external noise, this is the place for you... if you can nab it.
The next stop on my reading tour was the patio outside of Rancho del Zocalo, adjacent to Big Thunder Mountain. Through most of the day, this remains a largely unpopulated area and gives you good access to both food and restrooms. The setting is also very engaging — if you decide to look up from your book, you can see guests as they return from their wild ride on Big Thunder, exhausted from the thrills. This sight is always entertaining, except for the occasional screaming. As for silence, you’ll find that if you can block out the area music and passersby you can focus nicely on your book and get some good scholastic fun out of it. The only times of day when you won’t find this level of peace is during meal times when people rush to get their Mexican food and converse about their day at the park.
Nearby to Rancho is our next stop, the patio of the Riverbelle Terrace, is an area that provides similar pluses to Rancho. The patio has more foot traffic and steady use by diners, but an even more entertaining setting and, if you can hold onto it, a good view of Fantasmic! (when it returns, of course). I might also add that the food at the Riverbelle Terrace is one of my personal favorites. A more out of the way option for reading and eating is the Village Haus restaurant, though the proximity to Dumbo may lead to a few more screaming children than other locations, but it's Disneyland and screaming children are to be expected.
Probably the most out of the way location to read is a little alcove to the right of the exit for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. You won’t find much scenery, besides the last turn of the Pooh ride, and you’ll be sitting on the ground, but in my search for a quiet location to read, this wins hands down.
But in terms of finding the most accessible, semi-quiet, location for reading that also boasts good scenery is the area around New Orleans Square Station. Currently, because of the work being done on Star Wars Land, the station is simply a place to tour one of the parked trains which means it isn’t heavily trafficked. From this location, you can view the crowds going into Haunted Mansion and entering Critter Country. You also have good access to food at French Market and you’ll be able to hear the jazz band that plays there intermittently. While I was scouting this location, I spied a fellow reader, Joe, who was enjoying a book from a bench adjacent to the station. Joe told me that this is his favorite place to read from and I’m inclined to agree.
So grab a book and head down to the resort on a weekday afternoon and enjoy yourself. Hopefully one of these locations will be a good start, but I’m sure you’ll find your own favorite place to read. Once the trains are running again, you can get a taste of a more dynamic reading experience and some more occasional entertaining stops through Splash Mountain, the Grand Canyon, and Primeval World. I’ll hopefully be doing a similar reading tour through Disney California Adventure sometime soon, so be on the lookout for that.