Everyone loves a Disneyland vacation.
Before you go, though, make sure to do some research to make the most of your time in the happiest place on earth.
The Best Disneyland Tips and Tricks
There are plenty of little-known tips and tricks to ensure you save time, money and your sanity while in the park. I have saved you the trouble of searching for these little tidbits, and compiled them in this handy-dandy post.
The Best Time to Go
This is the kind of wait time you want to see while in Disneyland. Unfortunately, it is getting harder to come by.
We decided to go at the end September, thinking this was going to be the perfect time of year to go.
I had visions of us being able to cruise through the lines at our leisure, however that was not necessarily the case. Although there were rides with only a 10 – 15 minute wait, the majority of the more popular rides (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Radiator Springs Racers, to name a few) still had a good 30 – 60 minute wait time.
As we found out, Disneyland no longer has a specific time of year where there are no crowds.
However, if you are looking for lower crowd levels visit the park between September and December (avoiding the Christmas holidays) and the second week of January – early March (again avoiding any holidays and/or school breaks).
Due to school and work schedules not everyone can visit Disneyland during the “lower-crowd seasons”.
So how do you make the most of your visit when you know the park is going to be extremely busy?
No matter what time of year you go, the best tip is to avoid the weekends!
Evenings (anytime after 6:00pm) are also a really great time to enjoy the rides with minimal wait times.
If you do happen to be visiting Disneyland during the summer you will be happy to know the park is open until midnight. This means more bang for your buck, as you get to explore the park a lot longer during this season.
I can’t imagine there would be a lot of little kids awake at 11:00pm, so this just might be a prime time for rides!
If you wake up and see rain while on your vacation in Anaheim, don’t let it dampen your spirits. Rain keeps many people away, but the rides still operate! Just be sure to wear a poncho. 🙂
When in doubt use an app! Apps like Disneyland Wait Times will help you avoid the long lines at your favorite attraction.
Use the FASTPASS!
I can’t stress this enough.
Not until the third day did we realize that FASTPASSes are free. Free!!
You insert your Park ticket into the FASTPASS kiosk, and you will receive a FASTPASS ticket with a return time to enjoy the ride at minimal or no wait times!
There are a few things to note about the FASTPASS:
- Not every ride offers the FASTPASS option.
- The kiosks are spread out through the parks (the maps you receive upon entering tell you where a few of them are), but they can typically be found near or close to the entrances to each ride that offers one.
- Once you receive your FASTPASS ticket you have to wait until the time printed at the bottom in order to use it for the selected attraction.
- You also have to wait until a determined time (also on your ticket) to get another FASTPASS for another attraction.
- The FASTPASS tickets go quickly. On the Friday we were there all the FASTPASSes for the Radiator Springs Racers attraction were completely gone by 10:00AM!
So get in line early if you are going to try to get a FASTPASS for your favorite attraction. Fortunately the FASTPASS lineups move quickly!
Buy the Park Hopper Tickets!
Whether this will be your first time visiting Disneyland or your 10th, I highly recommend a hopper pass.
This will allow you to enter both parks (Disneyland AND Disney’s California Adventure) in one day. We used them to further alleviate crowd control.
Disneyland is extremely busy during the scheduled parades, which we found was the perfect time to sneak over to the California Adventure side to take in some rides!
Don’t go for less than three days (I highly recommend four).
Hubby was squawking because I bought a 4 day Hopper Pass, wondering how we were going to fill our time. However on the third day he was glad I did, for we would have missed out on so many fabulous sights if we were there for any less days.
Having at least a three-day pass allows you time to really explore the parks. It is especially helpful when the crowds are high, for you spend a LOT of time standing in one small area and tend to miss out on everything else…like the shows!
Watch the Shows!
Along with the daily parades, both parks offer truly wonderful theatrical shows. If you get a chance I highly recommend:
- Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular (it truly was spectacular!) located in Hollywood Land at the Hyperion Theater (Disney’s California Adventure)
- World of Color (amazing!) also in Disney’s California Adventure in and around Paradise Bay
- Mickey and the Magical Map (really well done and full of Disney characters and well-known songs) at the Fantasyland Theatre in Fantasyland (Disneyland).
- Mickey’s Soundsational parade, also in the Disneyland Park.
Utilize the Photographers!
There are Disney photographers everywhere. Use them! I am sorry that I didn’t get more ‘professional’ photos done while we were there. Even though I took a lot of decent pictures, it is never easy getting one of the whole family (well at least not one that turns out)
Instead anytime you see a Disney Photopass photographer milling about, get them to take your picture.
Although they are there to take professional photos, which you pay extra for, depending on how busy they are they may be willing to take a photo on your camera as well – it doesn’t hurt to ask!
If you opt for the professional photos (which I highly recommend) they will give you a card that you can load up with as many pictures as you wish (I ended up with three different cards because I kept forgetting to hand over the original one). When you get home you can view them on your computer and buy the prints or digital images of your choice.
Meet the Characters!
If your kids are as character crazy as mine are (umm, which kid isn’t!?), I highly recommend a character dining experience. Yes it is pricey, but it is a really cool experience (for all involved)!
As you are dining the characters come over to your table and stay for a photo-op and a little chat. The fun part is, you never know which character will be arriving at your table.
Character dining is available at Ariel’s Grotto Restaurant, in Disney’s California Adventure, and at Goofy’s Kitchen, in the Disneyland Hotel. We were able to get reservations at the latter and were really impressed by not only the ‘entertainment’, but the service, food and drinks as well.
Tip: Try the Pinacolava!
There are also plenty of opportunities to see your favorite characters throughout both parks for free, although you will most likely end up standing in another line to do so.
If you are on the hunt for a specific character, use Disneyland’s website ‘Finding Mickey‘ to help locate their whereabouts.
Ask for a Pin!
If you are visiting the park for a special occasion (a birthday, first time visit, etc.) head to Main Street City Hall to receive a free celebratory button. The characters are very well rehearsed in making sure they notice someone wearing a special pin, and will often take the time to talk to your child about it.
Take note of height restrictions!
I couldn’t wait to take my kids to Disneyland for the first time, however I am so glad I waited until they were A:) old enough to remember the trip, and B:) tall enough to ride all the attractions.
At 43″ tall our son was able to go on all but two rides (one in Disneyland and the other at Disney’s California Adventure). As he was willing to try anything and everything, even this small limitation made him unhappy about the situation!
So my suggestion to you is to wait until your children are tall enough to go on the majority of the rides. It will save you a lot of grief, and you will get more out of the price of your ticket!
If you have some further tips and tricks of your own that you wish to share, please feel free to do so in the comments.
Or, at the very least, let me know what your favorite ride at either park is!
Don’t forget to Pin this for future reference: