We recently spent 3 days at Disneyland in California. Check out our top tips to make the most of your time
1- The 100% best tip I can give is to purchase your Disneyland tickets in advance. Ticket lines at the park can be time consuming and trust me, you’re going to spend enough time queuing once you are inside the park!
2- If you are flexible on dates, try to spend Monday-Wednesday at the parks. We noticed a huge surge of people on the Thursday who had arrived for long weekends.
3- Disneyland properties are expensive. There are plenty of hotels in Anaheim that have access to some sort of Disney Shuttle. Our hotel was a 5 minute walk to the Disney Parking lot where we caught the Disneyland tram.
4- The main Disneyland Park is a lot busier than California Adventure. I found that as magical as Disneyland was I preferred California Adventure due to there being less crowds.
5- Be prepared to spend your day queuing for rides. Our only theme park experience before this was Universal California where we arrived for opening and got all the rides done with very little queuing. At Disney, there are no quiet times. only busy and busier and just pure crazy! Most rides had wait times of at least 45 minutes within the first hour of the park opening. Get yourself to the ride you want to go on most as soon as you are in the park. (Or you can check out my next tip)
6- Fast Pass EVERYTHING you possible can! If you are tight on time or just don’t want to waste time standing in queues you can skip them with a Fast Pass. Rides that had Fast Pass options whilst we were there are as follows:
Disneyland: Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road, Hyperspace Mountain, Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones Adventure, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin & Splash Mountain.
California Adventure: Tower Of Terror, Soarin’ Over California, Radiator Springs Racers, Goofy’s Sky School & California Screamin’.
With the Fast Pass you scan your park ticket and the machine gives you a piece of paper which has a time allocated for you to come back on the ride without having to queue. The longest wait time we saw was at Radiator Springs Racers, the wait was over 75 minutes!
7- Download the Disneyland app. (There is no free Wi-Fi at Disney so make sure to check your data plan wont charge you an arm and a leg for using the internet abroad). I found the wait times on the Disneyland app to be much more accurate than on the ride boards. For example it said we had a 20 minute wait to meet Mickey in his house….we were there almost an hour! When i checked the app it said wait time 60 minutes but the sign outside still said 20 minutes.
8- Depending on the time of year you may want to take along a warm hoodie with you to slip on in the evening when the sun goes down. You can rent lockers at both parks from $7 per day. We did this on our first two days and left things like my bag and hoodies so we could walk around the park without too much stuff. We just kept some cash and our phones/camera on us. The temperature really can dip in the evenings.
9- Whilst in Disneyland our must have snack has got to be the Popcorn and the Dole Whip! Sadly i have photos of neither because they went straight into my belly! There are various popcorn stands around the park but the infamous Dole Whip you can only find at the Tiki Juice Bar which is tucked away behind the Jolly Holly Bakery at the beginning of Adventure land. Whilst at California Adventure, the must have snack has to be Ghiradella ice cream sundaes! Now these really are an expensive treat but worth every cent.
10- This is an obvious tip but please wear the comfiest shoes you own! I wore my usual every day trainer pumps on the first day and I’m now currently walking round with a big white plaster on my foot because i got blisters so bad! These were broken in trainers that i wore everyday at home! I had to switch to my gym trainers which i luckily had packed for when we get to New Zealand! Make sure you also pack plenty of blister plasters in case any incidents do occur. Feet swell up when they are hot! Lesson has definitely been learnt!
11- If you are on a tight budget, Disney DO allow you to take in your own food and drink. All they ask is that you ideally consume it in one of their designated picnic areas.
12- Take a water bottle with you. Disney has cold filtered water fountains all around the Park where you can fill up for free instead of forking out almost $4 a bottle! And if you do forget then at least you only have to buy that first bottle before refilling the rest of the day.
13- Food in Disney wasn’t as expensive as we expected. Burger, fries and a drink for 2 came in under $15 per person. More expensive than outside the park but not as crazy as it could’ve been.
14- Selfie sticks are not permitted at Disney and they will be taken off you at security so leave them at home or in the car.
15- Those Minnie ears you see people walking about with…you can buy them pretty much any store in the park. I bought mine at the big gift shop on the left of Main Street. They have a huge selection! At one point i was walking round the store with 4 different sets of ears! They cost around $25 each. If you are on a budget but don’t want to miss out, why not check the likes of Amazon or try Etsy where there are some really unique designs for much cheaper prices.
16- Make sure all your cameras and phones are fully charged. You do not want to end up running out of juice at times like these! You could also pop one of these portable chargers in your bag in case anything does need a recharge.
17- Keep your eyes peeled! Around every corner there is potentially another character waiting to meet you. We almost missed Lightening McQueen because he was tucked away off the main drag in Cars Land.
18- When you do get to meet your favourite characters, there will be a Disney Photographer there to capture the moment for you but there will also be a cast member who will happily snap a picture for you on your own camera or phone. I recon they done pretty well!
19- The Disneyland App also has information on where to find your favourite characters so you never miss a photo op.
20- Although the park closes at say 9pm, if you join the line for something at 8:59pm and there is a 70 minute wait, then you will be in the park as long as it takes for you to go on that ride. It is a good way to get on some of the rides that have had crazy wait times all day.
21- Another tip for trying to avoid the queues is to jump on the rides whilst the parades are on. Most people want to see these so the rides quieten down a lot. This tip is useful if you are there more than 1 day as it means you can catch the parade the next night instead.
Do you have any top tips you think we should add to our list? Comments as always below.