“To all who come to this happy place, Welcome!” -Walt Disney
After working at Disneyland for over eight years you would think I would have known everything to do at the parks, but I think it’s safe to say I’ve learned more being an annual pass holder in just a few short months. It’s a whole new world being on the other side of the magic carpet, so to say. Now that we have become “regulars” I want to share all our favorite tips for your next trip to Disneyland. Here are my suggestions…
1. Download the Disneyland App on your phone. You can make dining reservations, check show times, find out wait times for rides, check to see where your favorite characters will be, locate bathrooms, guest services, tours, hotels, park times, and even see your pictures from photo pass. It’s pretty much essential to your trip!
2. Add the MAXPASS to your ticket. You may be rolling your eyes at me now, but you will thank me later!;) The Disney MaxPass is a feature that combines FastPass with Photo Pass all on your phone. No more running to rides to get a fast pass ticket. All you do is pick a ride on your app, select a time that you want to go on the ride and book the fast pass. After an hour you can book your next fast pass wherever you may be. You also get unlimited downloads of any photo pass pictures you take throughout the day. If you are just visiting for the day, then you can add this feature on for an additional $10 to your ticket price. If you are an annual pass holder then I suggest doing it for the year, which is a $75 add on. If you have the Disney Signature Plus Passport or the Disney Premier Passport this is already included in your pass. Listen people, I would not mislead you, IT’S WORTH THE MONEY!
3. Make a list of the top 5 rides and the top 5 shows/characters you want to see, then you can plan your day accordingly. If you only have a day or two, you want to make the most of your time, so having a schedule is a good idea. Look up show times or character appearances on the Disney App (because you downloaded that after step 1), then map out where your top 5 rides are located. Try to stick to one park for at least half the day before switching to the other. Say you wanted to ride Small World, see Mickey’s Magical Map and find Alice in Wonderland. These are all in the same area so you could easily go from one right to the next within a few minutes. But if you are trying to see the Frozen show and ride Thunder Mountain in the same hour you need to re-think.
4. Visit characters before dusk! Most characters are out in the morning and afternoon, not too many stay for the evening. So if your daughter really wants to see Tinkerbell do not wait until 6pm to find out she has flown back to Neverland for the night. Again, check the app for the character appearances, but also know they are subject to change slightly if Snow White catches a cold from Sneezy.;)
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5. Time your trip. I know most people are able to take vacations during spring break, summer, maybe even winter break. But just know that if you are on vacation during those times, chances are most of the United States is also on vacation, so it is going to be crowded. I am not saying don’t go, but if you can try to plan it during a non-peak time, that would be more ideal. Weekdays are better in comparison to weekends, although there may be less options for show times or fireworks. The least crowded months tend to be mid January to end of February, then again after spring break is over until June. July and August are the hottest and busiest months then slows down again after school starts back up in September. October used to be a slow month, but Halloween has become more and more popular time to visit. Then once the Christmas decor goes up it gets pretty busy again. So choose wisely and know whenever you decide to go don’t be shocked if you are not the only ones that had the same idea!;) LOL
6. Pack snacks & water. We never leave the house for a Disneyland day without snacks and water bottles! Because things do add up quickly, we like to save a little money by eating some of our own food. I usually have one lunch box for just cold food and one for crackers and granola bars. It’s also super nice to give the kids some applesauce or fruit while waiting in line for a ride. It distracts them and also allows you more time to play before having to sit down for a meal. Water bottles can easily be refilled at a water fountain or restaurant, which also saves you a little money. If you want to know what other things I pack in our bag, go HERE.
7. Whistle while you wait. Ok, maybe not whistle, but play games while you wait in lines. We like to play “thumb war,” “rock, paper, scissors,” and “I spy” with our kiddos if they start to get antsy. I see older kids playing the “heads up” game in line and that is always a good one to play (you can get that app on your phone). If you turn everything into a game then the waiting goes by so much faster.
8. Utilize the “Parent Swap” feature. If you have one child that is able to go on a ride but the other is too little, or doesn’t want to go, don’t worry about one parent always missing out. As soon as the first parent gets in line ask an employee for a “parent swap.” Usually the employee will scan the ticket on your phone so that after the first parent finishes the ride the second parent can then go back into the “fast pass” line, scan the ticket again and that child gets to ride the ride twice. A total bonus!
9. Be Flexible. Things happen; rides break down, characters get switched, rose gold ears get sold out. It’s all part of it…so roll with the punches! Disney is a magical place for those that choose to see the magic. If you are a party pooper and hate standing in any lines then maybe theme parks aren’t for you. There will be lines, even on the least crowded days, but if you plan ahead there will be less waiting.