As with a lot of Southern California residents, Disneyland has always been one of my favorite places to go. Especially when I have a day off or get off work early and have nothing to do. Having an annual pass gives one the ability to go whenever they want, stay as long or as little as they want and most importantly, take their time experiencing all of Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure's attractions because you don't have to worry about getting in everything before the day is over.
However, not everyone who visits Disneyland is an Annual Pass holder and for those unfamiliar with the atmosphere, it's easy to let aching feet, screaming children and large crowds get in the way of your enjoyment. Thankfully, as a frequent Disneyland goer, I have come up with a list of tips that will help you get the most out of your experience at the Happiest Place on Earth.
One of the most important things to remember when planning a trip to Disneyland is to plan ahead. I cannot stress this enough!
- The first thing you want to do is try to pick a day that may not be crowded. With all the new attractions and summer right around the corner, the Parks are sure to be fulled with tourists and locals alike. Obviously it's impossible to know crowd levels ahead of time and you might end up wrong no matter how much you plan, but you can be sure than If it's a weekend, a holiday, summer vacation, or if there's a special event in the parks, that it will be crowded.
- Second, plan your day around the things you want to do. There are over 50 attractions between both parks and getting in all of them will be a challenge. It would be best to plan either the night before or that morning which shows you want to see and find out what times they are. That will allow you to plan everything else around it. You'll also want to plan which fast passes you want to get and in what order. There are many attractions such as Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Radiator Springs Racers that will run of fast passes quickly, so you will want to get those in first.
- Another very important thing to do is to check the weather before you go and wear/ bring the right clothing. Rainy days also happen to be the BEST days at Disneyland.. most people leave when it starts raining! But, if you are prepared for rain and don't mind getting wet, you'll experience shorter lines, less crowds and more fun!
- Lastly, keep in mind that some restaurants, such as the Blue Bayou and Ariel's Grotto, require reservations. If dining at one of places is a must for you, be sure to check reservation schedules online in advance. The Blue Bayou needs up to 60 days in advance.
While LA is one of the nations top fashion capitals, we don't need to dress to impress at Disneyland. As I stated above, check the weather for the day you plan to visit Disneyland and plan your attire accordingly. You will endure a lot of walking/standing, so make sure your shoes are comfortable and provide enough support. If you plan on staying all day, it might be a good idea to bring a second pair of shoes (and socks) just in case. You'll also want to wear comfortable/ weather appropriate clothes and bring a jacket for later on. You'll have a miserable time if you're unprepared.
Pack Food and Water!
Food and Drink at Disneyland can be expensive, especially for families who are staying all day. Be sure to pack a few snacks and waters to last the day, but don't over pack. You'll want to be able to comfortably fit whatever you bring into a backpack or purse that you'll be carrying around all day. When I am planning an all day adventure to Disney, I like to eat a big breakfast beforehand, enough to hold me over until mid afternoon and eat an early dinner/late lunch and I pack a few snacks to eat between meals. That way, I am only buying one meal at the park and possibly dessert (it's really hard resisting the deliciousness of Ghirardelli.) Don't forget to bring water! A bottle of water at the park is over $3 and you'll definitely go through more than one. Most restaurants, however, will give you a free small cup of ice water if you ask. Keep yourself hydrated and well nourished.
Utilize FastPasses.... Often!
For the most popular attractions, Disney has implemented Fast Passes, which allow guests to use their park entry tickets to enter a free ride-time reservation system. Instead of waiting in the usual 2 hour line for Space Mountain, you can get a Fast Pass and return at a later time (it will be indicated on your fast pass).You can have multiple fast passes at a time, but you'll have to pay attention to the time at the very bottom indicating when you're allowed to get another one (usually its about 2 hours from the time you got the last). Keep in mind that there are only a certain number of fast passes available per ride per day so you'll want to make sure you get as many of those rides done earlier in the day.
Fast Passes are now necessary if you want to see Fantasmic or World of Color, and even those shows are done at night, passes are available at park opening and WILL run out quickly!
Single Rider Lines: Some rides have single rider lines, which are normally for people riding alone. But if there are no fast passes available and you don't mind getting separated from your party, you can utilize these lines as well. You'll wait in line with your party but once you get to the boarding queue of the ride, you'll most likely be separated. I almost always do single rider on Radiator Springs Racers! It cuts the wait time from over 2 hours to about 30 minutes!
Let's face it, Disneyland is tiring, especially when you plan on being there from open to close! Be sure to take breaks when you need them. There are many benches and seating areas all over the park. You could also take a ride around the park on the Disneyland Railroad or ride down Main Street on the Trolly.
Be sure to take advantage of the Baby Care Center if you have kids ages 3 and under. Parents can bring their babies in there to nap, eat, or change them. And if you happen to run out of diapers, you can purchase some there!
For those who get a really bad case of the afternoon sleepies, you could take a nap in the First Aid Center. Just tell them you don't feel good and they'll let you lie down.
Don't Follow Crowds
It's a popular theory that if you start left and work your way to the right, it will be less crowded because everyone else does the opposite. But that isn't always the case. The best way to avoid big crowds is to go the opposite way they're going. Don't go into the longer side in a ride queue just because everyone else is, the shorter ride will get you the same ride experience. If a big crowd is going toward New Orleans Square, wait until later to go there to avoid frustration and heavy traffic.
When entering the park, head toward the farthest lines. These tend to be the shortest because most people flock to the closer lines. The same goes for restaurant and tram lines. You'll wait less if you walk just a little further.
Not only is it important to know WHAT you want to do but you also need to know WHEN to do it.
- Rides are better to do earlier in the morning because the lines are shorter. Arrive as soon as the park opens and you will have at least a couple hours of fairly short lines while most people are still making their way to the park.
- Peter Pan is one of my favorite rides in the park, but because its so popular, the line is usually ridiculous. It's best to hit this ride early in the morning or during the afternoon Sound-sational Parade.
- Nearly everything is less crowded during fireworks, parades, Fantasmic and World of color. Most families with kids will want to see all the shows, so this is prime time for you to hit as many rides as you can.
- Don't hit any rides in New Orleans Square or Frontierland right after Fantasmic... you'll be in a world on pain and agony!
- Fantasyland closes during fireworks so be sure to get those rides in before or after.
- ToonTown also closes with the fireworks but it does not reopen, so you'll have to get that done earlier in the day.
- Rides don't close when the park closes, just the entrance to the line does. Hop in line right before closing and you can get in that last ride.
- EVERYBODY goes to Space Mountain at the end of the night! Get it done earlier to avoid super long lines.
- Save your shopping until the end of the night. All the shops on Main Street, Buena Vista and World of Disney (in Downtown Disney) stay open one hour after the park closes. So you can get your souvenirs at the end of the night rather than carry them around all day!
- Most people start leaving the park right after fireworks. If you are not planning to stay until closing, it would be best to start heading out before the fireworks end or you'll get stuck in a huge crowd!
© 2016 Cierra Hoaglin