How To Absolutely Nail Your Trip To Disneyland
Disneyland is fun, but it also requires some serious planning and stamina.
Disneyland is legit the happiest place on earth (the official tagline says so) but the crowds, lines and layout can be a little overwhelming for a first time visitor. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back – use the tips below to totally nail your trip to Disneyland.
Do your homework
Make sure you do a little bit of planning before you visit. Realistically, you probably can’t do everything so try to identify one or two bucket list rides for you and anybody else in your group. While you’re researching check if any rides or attractions are going to be closed while you’re there – it can be seriously disappointing to arrive and realise Splash Mountain is down for refurbishment.
Disneyland is a major tourist attraction with some seriously enthusiastic fans, and you can totally take advantage of this when you’re planning your trip. If you have some particular requirements it’s almost certain that a Disney fanatic has already researched it, written about it or has left a review somewhere about it.
Disneyland requires some serious stamina. Wear your comfiest shoes and pack like you’re going on a hike. That means trying to keep your bag as light as possible while still thinking about sunscreen, sunglasses, painkillers, a light jacket and a small bottle of water to refill throughout the day.
Make sure you’re as comfortable as possible because if you manage to stay in the park until closing time you can usually sneak in one last ride. If the park closes at 11pm and you join a 40 minute wait line at 10.59pm you’ll still be able to get on the ride. The stores also close an hour after the park does, so you might want to save souvenir shopping for after hours to maximise your day.
Get there early and grab your Disneyland FASTPASS
Getting to the park early gives you the best chance of seeing everything you want to see. It’s also the best time for sorting out your FASTPASS strategy. FASTPASSes are totally free and allow you to save your place in the line for bigger rides rides and attractions.
When you get to the park, designate one member of your group to go grab FASTPASSes for shows like Fantasmic, and for World of Colour or Frozen over in the California Adventure Park. Once you’ve picked up those, you can still use the FASTPASS service for rides, so grab a pass to one of the bigger attractions like Indiana Jones or Space Mountain.
When you’ve got a FASTPASS for a ride you can usually get another one in around two hours – check your paper ticket for when you can get another one. Once you’ve got your FASTPASS plan sorted, try and tick off some of the more popular rides first thing so you can be more relaxed throughout your day.
Make getting up early easier by planning your visit to Disneyland towards the end of your trip. This will give you more time to adjust to the time zone. And definitely make sure you stay as close to the park as possible.
Disneyland is in Anaheim, which is a long drive from other parts of Los Angeles where you might consider staying for the rest of your vacation, like Silver Lake or Santa Monica. Plan when you’re visiting Disneyland and check into a hotel in Anaheim for your visit.
Let the magic happen
Planning is key but don’t go overboard. Make sure you have time to soak in the Disneyland magic – you don’t want to be so busy grabbing a FASTPASS that you miss walking past Mary Poppins or seeing Snow White surprise a little kid by joining them on the Dumbo ride. I’ve never been anywhere that has greater attention to detail than Disneyland – keep your eyes peeled for Hidden Mickeys and try to catch the Evil Queen peeking out her window in Fantasyland.
Disneyland also delivers some truly next level people-watching. Make time in your day to sit on a bench, munch on a corn-dog and watch the streams of visitors passing by. You won’t regret it.
Use longer rides to your advantage
If you’re planning on a big day at Disneyland save some of the longer rides for the afternoon when you might need to ease-up. It’s A Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Disneyland Railroad are some of the longest rides in the park and being selective about when you ride means you can give your feet a rest.
Make the most of the exceptional customer service
Disneyland staff (known as cast members) are ridiculously accommodating. Want to ride in the front row of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller-coaster or sit in the driver’s seat on the Indiana Jones ride? Just ask the attendant when you’re being seated. You might need to wait for the next carriage to come around but you’ll always get the seat you want.
A cast member will also be able to help you if you drop an ice-cream, lose a helium balloon or spill your drink – Disneyland employees will replace these no questions asked.
Catch some entertainment
Disneyland has the budget and the talent pool to create amazing live shows, parades and fireworks every night. Try to set aside some time to marvel at the Disney storytelling but be prepared for things to get a little crowded on Main Street during the parades and the fireworks. It’s pretty normal for people to start staking out a good spot a couple of hours beforehand.
You can see the fireworks from all over the park but nothing beats the magic of seeing them in front of the castle. Grab a spot on the sidewalk near the Plaza Inn on Main Street to watch the evening parade. After the parade you’ll be able to move in front of the castle, just behind the Walt Disney statue to see the fireworks. Keep an eye out for Tinkerbell.
And a few extra tips…
- Buy your tickets online or drop by the park the night before you visit to avoid early morning ticket queues.
- Make the most of the lockers on Main Street – they all have electrical outlets and some of them even have charging cables for iPhone and Android for $2 an hour.
- Peter Pan’s Flight is a totally magical, kid-friendly ride in Fantasyland. It’s one of the busiest rides in the park and there’s often a 40 minute wait, even at opening. Ride this one first thing because the line won’t get any shorter.
- Download the Disneyland app so you can check wait times from anywhere in the park on your phone. It also lists event times and has a handy map.
- If you’re visiting Disneyland alone or you don’t mind riding solo, keep an eye out for single rider lines on attractions like Soaring Over California and Indiana Jones. These lines are always shorter.
- Try a Dole Whip pineapple soft-serve in Adventureland. It’s very good.