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Today we’re talking Disneyland Tips!
I feel like I’ve been gone for so long. I planned to be good and have blog posts scheduled for when I was away, but the anticipation got to me and I barely kept up with my usual schedule, let alone having extras to cover my absence. Oops.
I’m back now, and I’m ready to share my top 10 Disneyland tips & hacks I discovered while trying to make the most of this trip.
We had four and a half days and a mission to experience everything in Disneyland, California Adventure, and Downtown Disney. Anywhere we could save time or move more efficiently, we did it!
Keep reading to find out my best tips for beauties on-the-go doing Disneyland!
Make the most of the FastPass system.
I know, this Disneyland tip is totally overdone, I mean, it’s everywhere. Regardless of it’s prominence, many guests still miss out on the amazing power of Fastpasses.
So here’s the tip: you should always have one on hand. After you grab one, check to see at what time you will be able to get another- it’s stated right there at the bottom of your ticket! If you don’t have your FastPass ticket handy, the rule is that you can get a new FastPass as soon as the ride timeframe for your current one rolls around, or after two hours elapse, whichever comes first.
To be super efficient, grab a new FastPass as soon as your current timeframe begins, but before you actually use the FastPass. That way, you’ll keep the train moving to maximize the number of FastPasses you have in one day.
If you decide to skip a ride, no harm done. It’s not like they’re going to charge your credit card or anything.
Have a general plan, but no need to do it “The Amazing Race” style where you must check in at certain points at specific times.
Having a plan is a smart idea. But having a too-detailed itinerary causes more anxiety then efficiency.
If your day is planned out in 6 minute increments, then you’ve gone too far. Remember, this is supposed to be fun. Keeping a schedule while dealing with crowds, growling tummies, and a family’s worth of bathroom breaks will definitely not come stress-free. Have a general idea of what rides you want to hit, what shows you want to see, and possibly where you would like to eat. But for the sake of vacation, no need to treat it like a marathon.
If my dad only listened to one of my Disneyland tips, I’d want it to be this one.
Be flexible when dealing with the most popular rides — be open to riding it first thing when the park opens, or possibly getting a FastPass for it later.
As of the date of this post, hands down the two most popular rides are Hyperspace Mountain at Disneyland and Radiator Springs Racers at California Adventure. FastPasses for these rides sell out within the first couple of hours of the parks opening. Get one first thing, or forget about it.
But sometimes, the standby line is shorter than you’d imagine. Therefore, while everyone is dashing for the FastPass machines only to receive a return of 4:30-5:30pm when it is only 9:00am, (true story, this is the time I actually got,) it just might be worth it to grab a FastPass for something else, and then hop in the standby line. It all depends, but remember to be flexible!
Another thing to note is that both of these rides have a single rider line, so if you are willing to ride separate from your party, this is a great option.
If you aren’t staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, try to choose one within the block of the main entry gate.
The Disneyland official website lists a multitude of “Good Neighbor Hotels.” It sounds great; who wouldn’t want to stay in a Disney-approved hotel for not-Disneyland Hotel prices?
However, it’s not always evident just how far away these hotels actually are. Everything looks close and dandy on the map shown, but Disneyland is a big place with only one main entrance gate. If you stay at a hotel around the corner from the park, you’re in for quite a walk.
Alternatively, you’re at the mercy of those dreaded shuttle busses. Sometimes they’re around, sometimes they’re not, sometimes they’re late, and oftentimes you’ll just miss them.
Choose a hotel within the block of 1400-1650 South Harbor Blvd. I stayed at the Grand Legacy at the Park for this trip (1650 S. Harbor Blvd.) Whenever we wanted to head back to the room to grab our jackets, take a shower, and ice my feet, it was just a quick, 7 minute walk that never involved waiting for a bus.
Download the Disneyland app, but take what it says with a grain of salt; it’s not always completely accurate.
Now that everyone and their toddler owns a smartphone, it was only a matter of time before Disneyland introduced an app to save the day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very helpful, but use what you see on the app as a guide and not a definite plan maker. I find it great for quickly locating the nearest restroom or looking up restaurants without unraveling your huge paper map.
Wait times for rides and the FastPass return time can change by the minute, and the app doesn’t always update that fast. Avoid planning an across-the-park trek based on a short wait time you see on the app. It likely won’t be so short when you arrive. *Bonus Disneyland tips – If you’re thinking of doing something, trust me, you’re not the only one. If you see a teeny wait time on the app, so did 1000 other people.
During my trip, the app showed consistently incorrect information for Soarin’ Over California (now Soarin’ Around the World,) and Hyperspace Mountain. For these rides, the app continuously said FastPasses existed. Though upon looking at the ride itself, FastPasses were indeed available.
This was the case in the weeks leading up to and for the duration of my trip. If something seems off, go and check it out yourself.
Make reservations for restaurants far in advance.
I wish I discovered this one much earlier than I did. Disney makes it super easy to search for restaurants, look at the menus, and select reservation times with with their online reservations system. Reservations open up 60 days prior to the reserved date. As soon as the date of your trip is 60 days out, start checking that website and deciding where you want to eat.
We started checking the website for reservations about three weeks prior to our trip, and most of the best reservation times were already booked. If this happens to you, no worries. Check back diligently every day like and something better is sure to open up. Just snag it as soon as you can!
*Bonus Disneyland tips – Filling out your credit card information is required to make a reservation, and Disneyland charges $10.00 for no-shows. Make as many reservations as you’d like while, but don’t forget to cancel the extras at least 24 hours in advance.
Once we arrived, we were very thankful that we make it a point to get good reservations. At each restaurant, guests were routinely turned away because the restaurant was completely booked.
Sharing snacks gives everybody more, for less.
Perhaps if you have young children in their “non-sharing” phase, this won’t work too well.
If at all possible, avoid purchasing individual items for each member of the family. Disneyland snacks are like the parks… large. For a small person like me, eating a whole snack myself totally kills my appetite for dinner. Two snacks for myself and John would have to roll me out the gate.
We wanted to try as many of Disney’s offerings as possible without making ourselves ill. Instead of each of us having our own snack, we always purchased just one snack at a time to share. I ate a few bites, and John ate the rest. This way, we each got to indulge in more treats without getting sick or ruining those dinner plans we spent so much time refreshing the reservations page to acquire.
When you see that water costs $3.00 per bottle, you’ll wish you packed your HydroFlask. When the temperature rises to 88° after a surprisingly chilly morning, you’ll wish you hadn’t brought along your heaviest coat.
As you pack your day bag, think light and multipurpose. Packable jackets are your friends. So is an old scarf, that can be used as a scarf, or as a blanket, or a sunshade, or a barrier between your butt and the ground when you sit on the sidewalk to watch the parade.
Oh, and bandaids; you’ll need those. No list of Disneyland tips would be complete without me advising you to pack plenty of bandaids.
Pay attention to scheduled shows and performances, and watch them strategically.
Performances and shows dazzle constantly at Disneyland. You know what else is constant at Disneyland? Tired, aching feet and the need for a break.
When I was younger, 3:00 PM was mandatory nap time. We would go back to our room, take a shower, and rest before returning to the park for dinner. As much as my 8 year old self felt like that was a complete waste of precious Disney time, it really did make everyone’s life easier. It made the time we spent in the park more enjoyable and efficient.
Moral of the story- you need breaks. As adults, a hardcore nap in your hotel bed may be unnecessary, but you’re surely tired from running from north to south, and east to west gathering FastPasses. What is a better place for a rest than nestled in a seat comfy seat in an air conditioned theater?
We always planned to watch a couple of shows per day, if not only to see the show, but to get off our feet for a while and cool off with a frozen lemonade. Parades and larger shows like Fantasmic and World of Color are obvious ones, but there are plenty to choose from. Try Mickey and the Magical Map at Fantasyland Theater, and don’t miss Frozen Live the Hyperion Theater.
Be nice to cast members; they’ll happily go the extra mile for a smile
Example A – While waiting in line for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, the ride broke down unexpectedly. A cast member immediately came through the line and let us know what happened. We asked politely if we could have a FastPass for later, and he happily scanned them onto our tickets.
Example B – At the Carthay Circle Starbucks ordering behind a particularly nasty group of patrons. They gave the the cast members quite a hard time over nothing, really. When our turn arrived, we approached with a smile, because hey, it’s Disney, we should all be happy. Surprise, when we picked up our order, they had given us an extra cookie in our bag for free. It pays to be nice.
So there you have it, 10 of my best Disneyland tips for making your trip the best it can be. If you have any tips and tricks, please leave them in the comments so I can be in on the secret too!
That’s all my Disneyland tips for today!
If you like this post, definitely check out this one >> Disneyland on Christmas and Thanksgiving – Crowds, Food, Attractions, & more!
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Till next time. ♥︎
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FTC- Not sponsored. All Disneyland tips included are my own opinions. Some links may be affiliated.