Make the most of your visit to Disneyland, California with these practical tips!
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On last summer’s California road trip, our main destination was Disneyland! My kids and husband had never been before, so this was exciting for us all! Disneyland is every kids dream right? So after a weeklong drive, we finally arrived and were ready for a great adventure!
Admittedly before we went, we really didn’t do a lot of research, and in hindsight summer may not have been the best time to go. There were SO MANY people here…I knew it would be busy, but I was not prepared for just how busy it was. Some moments we were in wall-to-wall people, and in line ups for up to 2 hours in the sun. It was a really long day, and we enjoyed our time here, but I think next time we would choose a different time to visit (I’m not even sure when that is…I’ve heard it is always busy). We learned a lot and would do some things differently, so I thought I would share our experience with you in case you are planning your own trip.
The biggest lesson we learned is to go in with a plan! Disneyland is very big, and there are a lot of attractions that you don’t want to miss. We didn’t plan well so we did end up missing more than we wanted. I would recommend researching the park layout ahead of time, then planning a route for your day. Keeping in mind things like FastPasses…see my tips below for more info.
You might find that the most popular attractions like Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Space Mountain will dictate your day. But there is SO much more to the park than just these popular rides (although all of these rides are SO awesome you won’t want to miss them). Take the time to visit smaller attractions, check out playgrounds and try some delicious snacks. And take breaks! Disneyland is very big, and the weather can be very hot, so make sure you take moments throughout the day to recharge!
Without further ado, here are some tips and tidbits I learned from our recent visit. There is a lot to see and do, so be prepared so you can enjoy your visit!
Things you need to know to make your visit more enjoyable!
- Buy your park tickets on-line. This saves so much time!
- Park Hopper Passes: If you are planning on seeing both Disneyland and California Adventure buy Park Hopper Passes which will allow you to visit both parks in the same day.
- Check resort opening and closing times: To make the most of your day, know the park hours.
- Get a park map as soon as you enter, so you can plan out your visit. We referred to ours endlessly.
- Get there early so you can get to the most popular attractions before they get too busy.
- The busiest attractions were Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Space Mountain.
- Use the Disney FastPass+ service! This complementary service lets you reserve your place in line for popular attractions while you enjoy other areas of the park. You can reserve access to select rides, attractions, character greetings and entertainment at no extra charge! Basically these passes get you into select popular attractions without having to stand in the long general access lines. And with the purchase of a park pass, you can start making selections as early as 30 days before you arrive. Keep in mind that you can only reserve 3 FastPasses per day, so get them early and choose wisely!
- Ride Height Restrictions: Make sure you check the height restrictions for the rides. There are a few rides that younger kids can’t go on if they are too small. We learned this the hard way when my youngest, who was 6, wasn’t able to ride the Indiana Jones ride.
- Download the My Disney Experience Mobile App. This app is really worthwhile to have on your phone before you even get to the park. With it you can plan your stay, have a GPS map at your fingertips, buy theme park tickets, get wait times and show times, find out where your favourite Disney characters are for picture taking and much more.
- Pictures with your favourite characters: I thought you would be able to just see Disney characters walking around the park, available for pictures, but this is not how it happens. Characters have set times and places for picture taking, so find out when and where they will be so you don’t have to stand in line for a long time. The Disney app is really great for this.
- Line Ups: Be prepared that the line ups to the popular attractions are very long, sometimes up to 2 hours! When possible use FastPasses, but if you don’t get them in time don’t worry, the line ups are managed fairly well. Just go into them well prepared with snacks, drinks, hats and sunscreen.
- If you don’t want to carry cash, consider buying a Disney gift card to store your money.
- Pack the essentials: sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, good walking shoes, bandaids, wet wipes, tylenol, cameras, phones, chargers.
- There is great and free wifi around the park.
- Fireworks are a great way to end the day at Disneyland! They start at 9:30PM. Be aware that right after the fireworks, exiting the park can be a challenge due to the volume of people trying to leave at the same time. There were moments where we were stuck in wall-to-wall people, so hold everyones hands tight and don’t let go!
- Ride Tip! A great time to go on rides, especially the popular ones, is when the fireworks are going on! At that hour, most of the people in the park are there to see the fireworks, so most of the rides are fairly empty. We were able to go on quite a few of the popular attractions during this time!
- Dining Tips! There are healthy meal options all around the park, including fresh fruit snacks, vegan & dairy free & gluten free options. We found the food to be very good all throughout the park, and really appreciated all of the healthy options. There are plenty of treats too, and some of our favourite eats and treats were the Dole Whips and the churros!
- Outside snacks and beverages are not permitted in the park.
Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Disneyland, but would like to go again to see what we missed! But I hope these tips help you plan your visit…if you have any other tips, please feel free to share them in the comments!
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In case you missed any other posts from our California Road trip, you can see them here:
Driving the Oregon Coast
Visiting Alcatraz Island
Tips for Visiting Universal Studios
Our Kendall-Jackson Winery Tour
Have a great day!