Southern California remains one of the most popular places to visit during the summer months. Being a world famous theme park, Disneyland is no exception. You can expect crowds and lines and seas of strollers when you visit. By planning out your day, however, your next visit can still be manageable.Here are a few of the tips and tricks I learned by working at Disneyland Resort and being a frequent visitor.
Buy Your Tickets Before You Visit
If you are heading down to Disneyland, make sure you have your tickets for your trip in your hands or on your phone before you get to the Main Entrance. The lines at the ticket booths can be an experience in itself and will cost you valuable time in the morning. Why? The morning is the best time to knock out some of the more popular attractions than by waiting later in the day.
One day tickets do not have any discounts on them. You are best off by buying them online, through the Disneyland App or at your hotel front desk. Ensure if you are buying a one day ticket that you are aware of the ticket type you need to purchase. Check if you need a value, regular or peak ticket. If you buy the wrong ticket type, you will be turned away from the Main Entrance and made to buy the correct ticket. Always buy from an officially licensed or approved Disney vendor.
Take Advantage of Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hour
What is Magic Morning? If you have a 3, 4, or 5 day ticket, you are able to get into Disneyland Park one hour earlier than the public into Fantasyland or Tomorrowland on select days. The rest of the park opens during regular hours. If you have a family, this might be the perfect time to hit up Peter Pan, Star Tour of maybe Space Mountain. Keep in mind you can always obtain a Fast Pass later on.
If you are a Disneyland Resort Hotels Guest you have an extra hour in California Adventure and Disneyland Park all days of your stay (from the day you check in until the day you check out). Store your bags early or pre-register at your hotel, obtain your room keys and take advantage of the extra hour. Note that California Adventure and Disneyland Park have different days and hours for the extra hour. Like Disneyland, California Adventure does not have all its attractions open early, just the Carsland and Pixar Pier areas.
If you want to avoid the crowd, go to the theme park opposite of the extra hour. You will find it relatively empty for the first hour or two of general park opening. My plan is to typically begin in Adventureland or New Orleans Square with Pirates of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion on days I know it is going to be busy at Disneyland. For California Adventure, I always begin with Soaring Over the World or single rider Radiator Springs Racers.
If you are planning to visit Star Wars Galaxy Edge, I would use my extra hour to walk over to the land entrance during the extra hour and hope to get in early in the morning. Yes, I promise a post is forthcoming about it! I just haven’t been happy with the post and have been in the process of rewriting it several times.
Once the afternoon hours hit or it gets too hot to do anything, plan on slowing down your pace in the theme parks. Take the time to enjoy the Enchanted Tiki Room and a Pineapple Dole Whip, ride It’s a Small World or see the Frozen musical. Your body will thank you by resting your feet and taking the time to indulge in some air conditioning.
Most people do not want to leave Disneyland once they enter it, but even if you only have one day, take two hours out of your day to go back to your hotel and take a power nap. I have seen countless families with sleepy, cranky and miserable kids trying to power through the day only to pay for it later. You are on vacation to enjoy the park not have it become a tireless chore. Night is one of the best times to enjoy the fireworks or parades.
Order Food Through the Mobile App
Don’t feel like bringing snacks with you? Don’t want to carry a wallet around? Take advantage of ordering food through the Disneyland App. You can split your party up, find seats at the quick service restaurant and have one person go to the pick up window when the alert notifies you that your order if ready.
TIP: If you have special items like baby’s milk did you know you can store that free at the Baby Care Center? There are also Mother’s rooms available there in case you need to nurse.
Don’t Carry Souvenirs Around
If you are a guest at a Disneyland Hotel you are able to send your items back to your hotel! If you are not a guest of a property hotel, don’t worry you can have several stores hold your park bought souvenirs until you are ready to depart for the day. Not having to lug those items around will help you lighten the load of items you already have.
If you are on the hunt for a specific character, use the Disneyland App! If will tell you when and where you are able to find your favorite characters for the day. Mickey and Minnie are always two of my favorite. They can always be found in Toontown at their houses. Mickey’s house in particular is the perfect place to hide away from the heat and enjoy the nice cold AC inside his home while you enjoy some cartoons and wait to see him.
When you are looking for a character or waiting for them, please remember that a lot of other people are excited to see them too. Be courteous to the host or hostess helping them and have your cameras, Photopass cards and autograph books out and ready to go when you get to the front of the line. Be aware that sometimes you may be in line for a character and may find the line has been cut off or the character has to leave to check in with Mickey or prepare for the parade. He’s a busy mouse after all and everything is subject to availability.
If you are using Disney’s Maxpass service, your photos from all Disneyland Resort Photopass Cast members are included! Ensure to purchase Maxpass by midnight to get the deal! You can always preview your photos on the official Disneyland App.
Enjoying Fireworks and Other Shows
If you are on the hunt for the perfect spot for fireworks, I like to recommend the end of Main Street or It’s a Small World. You usually have the most space and don’t have to wait for hours before hand to secure a spot. If there is any hint of wind at all keep in mind there is a minimal chance the fireworks will go off. Firework fall out can not go out into the city of Anaheim. It’s not in it’s own area like in Disney World!
Looking for a parade seat? Try the end or beginning of the parade route. You can usually find some space along Main Street or by It’s A Small World about an hour before the parade begins. If not, try by the Matterhorn. If you have a stroller, you may be asked to move it.
Lastly, be aware that the World or Color and Fantasmic are best enjoyed when you are able to obtain a Fast Pass for it! You can enjoy the World of Color without one, but its a better experience if you can see if up close and in person. There may be dinner packages available if a Fast Pass if unavailable for the day you want! Fast Passes are always available on a first come, first serve basis.
Enjy your trip to Disneyland Resort by having sun block, hats, a camera, charger for your phone and patience. These tip and tricks will hopefully help you plan your day and know a little bit more about what to expect! Until next time, happy travels!