Disneyland is not just for the kids and with the big 5-0 looming it was the perfect place for a milestone birthday.

As soon as the shuttle bus pulled up at Disneyland my wife was out the door and running for the gate. It was her 50th birthday but from the look of rapture on her face she was channelling her five-year-old self again.

“Well the first thing we have to do is get you a button,” beamed the motherly-looking ticket seller who happily scrawled a name, surrounded by a pair of mouse-ears, on a ‘Happy Birthday’ button. For the rest of the day every single employee enthusiastically proclaimed “happy birthday” to my wife, and it made her feel very special, every time.

Desperate to be in the Disneyland of her childhood when she used to watch the Mickey Mouse Club on television, she made a beeline straight to Fantasy Land. The spinning tea cups at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party were first on her must-do list and didn’t disappoint.

The cup colours were bright, the occupants cheerful and I couldn’t help but get caught up in it all and spun us round and round to the strains of my beloved’s peals of laughter. The fun was infectious.

Next was Peter Pan’s Flight, straight through Wendy’s bedroom windows and we were flying through the night sky, transported into the story and gazing at the wonders of the Lost Boys, Peter Pan and Captain Hook below. A gentle boat cruise through Its A Small World After All followed and we couldn’t wipe the smiles from our faces or the repetitive song from our minds. After the manic Toad’s Wild Ride we decided to catch our breath and grab some lunch.

My better half’s eyes grew as big as those spinning tea cups when she spotted the My Disneyland Birthday café. Of course we had to go to this pretty-as-a-picture place. The serves were as generous as the happy birthday greetings – three huge pieces of chicken and vegetables were stacked high and the waitress happily provided a second plate for sharing. Birthday cake (one large piece shared) was deliciously rich.

With the first rush of fun behind us we could afford to be more strategic and headed for the thrill rides which are the most popular and therefore have the longest lines and wait times. These include Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Indian Jones Adventure. But you can dock your ticket for a ‘fast pass’ and return at an allotted time to avoid the lengthy queues.

Our One Day Park Hopper pass allowed us to move between the two Resorts, Disneyland and the nearby Disney California Adventure. There we encountered Cars Land, Hollywood Land, the Tower of Terror and a 45-minute musical production of Aladdin, which was as good as you would see on Broadway. At one point the leading players flew over the audience on a magic carpet. You have to hand it to Disney – it’s hard to find better.

We ended our jam-packed day at Soarin’ Over California, strapped into a seat on an enormous platform that hoists you in the air and then rises and falls in front of a wide projected panorama of California in all its glory. We rocketed past the Golden Gate Bridge to soar high above the clouds and then, like Olympic downhill racers, we weaved through snow-topped mountains, plummeted to within inches above the ground as we skimmed alongside the State’s sunny vineyards. The spectacular ride concludes by finally landing in the middle of a dazzling recreation of Disneyland’s famous fireworks – a fitting grand finale for my beloved’s special day.

Thanks to Disneyland Resort and our US train travel was courtesy of International Rail 1300 387 245.