Here are 101 Best Disneyland Tips!
1. There are only 3 hotels on Disneyland property: The Disneyland Hotel, The Grand Californian and Paradise Pier. All 3 hotels are within walking distance to the gates of the parks, however there are some Good Neighbor Hotels located on Harbor Blvd that are closer to the gates than those on Disneyland property.
2. Disney Vacation Planners (also called Disney travel agents) are FREE to use. You’ll get the same specials as you’ll get through Disney (and pay the same price) plus you will get extra perks and planning tips. I recommend Destinations in Florida.
3. It matters when you go to Disneyland. If you visit in off-peak times, hotel rooms are typically less expensive and lines are shorter. There is also a huge convention center in Anaheim and you definitely don’t want to visit during a big convention as they usually visit Disneyland too. Check out this list of events held at Disneyland.
4. If you are trying to schedule a visit when the park is not as crowded, consult the annual pass calendar. The less expensive passes only allow admission on the slowest days, and blocks out busier days. You can view the types of passes and block out calendar here – Bernadine
5. When consider where you want to stay, make sure you consider how long you will actually be in the room. If you will spend the majority of your day in the parks, opt for the least expensive resort that is on your list. If you would like to do a lot of swimming, be sure to check out the hotel pools before committing to where you want to stay.
6. If you stay at a hotel on Disneyland property, you will be eligible for Magic Mornings everyday of your stay. Magic Mornings are when either Disneyland Park or California Adventure open 1 hour early. Only guests staying at Disneyland property are allowed into the California Adventure Magic Mornings, however guests staying at Good Neighbor Hotels near Disneyland are given access to ONE Magic Morning at Disneyland Park during their stay.
7. If you are staying off site and are planning to do a Magic Morning early entrance day, go the day of your vacation with the earliest entrance time. We have found that if we do a magic morning that begins at 9am on a weekday there are thousands more people than if we do a 7am magic morning on a weekend. It isn’t hard to get your whole party ready for a 9am magic morning, but 7am takes some planning and forethought so there are less people on the early days. – Laura
8. Children 2 and under do not have to have a park ticket. They also are free at buffets and restaurants.
9. Disneyland Park and California Adventure are separated by the length of a football field. Park Hopping is very easy and is literally just walking a few hundred feet across the plaza. You must have the Park Hopping option on your ticket, but it is included on all 2-5 day tickets.
10. If you are driving to Disneyland, you will probably park in the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure. It opens 1 hour before the earliest published park opening, however on mornings when Magic Mornings are occurring, it only opens 30 minutes before the opening time for the Magic Morning. It is $17 for cars and motorcycles. It is located at 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802.
11. You can either take the tram from Mickey and Friends or you can walk. It is 1/2 a mile to walk and you cross 1 street. It is faster to walk if you are going to be waiting for more than 1 tram.
12. In the evenings when everyone is trying to board the trams to Mickey and Friends, they do load up to 3 different trams. Don’t just go where the crowds are. We found that we could walk around to the opposite side of the crowds and board a tram with no wait.
13. The top of Mickey and Friends Parking Structure is a great place to view the fireworks.
14. You will have to fold the stroller to get on the tram anyways, so why not leave it folded until after you depart the tram? This way your partner can just carry it down the escalator instead of having to wait in long lines at the elevator.
15. There is also the Toy Story Parking Lot located at 1900 South Harbor Boulevard and the Pumba Parking Lot located at 1653 Hotel Way. Both lots have free transportation to the Disneyland parks.
16. There is a Guest Drop-Off and Pick-Up Only area located on the west side of Harbor Boulevard. If you are planning on attending Magic Mornings and are driving, have the driver drop you off at this location so you can grab a spot in front of the gates while you wait for them to park. Just make sure everyone has their ticket on them.
17. If you are staying at an off property hotel in Anaheim, check to see if it is serviced by the Anaheim Resort Transit. This is a shuttle bus that you must pay to ride. It is not that expensive though and it is cheaper than paying parking at Disneyland.
18. Parking is free for the first 3 hours at Downtown Disney. If you are dining at a restaurant there, be sure to ask them to validate your parking ticket for an additional 2 hours of FREE parking. I know ESPN Zone and Rainforest Cafe validate parking.
19. The Lego Store in Downtown Disney has bins of Lego bricks outside the entrance where kids can build and race cars made from Legos and lots more.
20. A good way to make your kids behave during your trip is to do Tinker Bell gifts. Bring a bunch of little Disney themed toys with you (from the Dollar Tree) and have Tinker Bell leave one each night for the kids that were good that day. Tinker Bell usually leaves our gifts on the window sill.
21. Most Cast Members wear a lanyard that contains Disney themed pins. You can trade up to 2 pins with each Cast Member. Before we go to the parks, we always buy a ‘lot of Disney pins’ on Ebay. Just make sure the seller has positive feedback and the pins have a Disney seal on the back.
22. Downtown Disney is owned by Disney so if you do pin trading be sure you are looking for workers with lanyards on. They also have a pin trading post in Downtown Disney. It is toward the end of the strip close to the Disneyland Hotel. They also have a pin board in the Disneyland hotel at the front desk.
23. Another great and inexpensive souvenir is Pressed Pennies. Each Pressed Penny costs $0.51. I take my coins in a Mini M&Ms tube and arrange it 2 quarters and 1 penny so it is easy to access in the parks. You can also buy Pressed Penny books at the souvenir shops to keep them organized.
24. Before you head to the parks, buy your souvenirs ahead of time! I always pick up little things for the kids at The Dollar Tree or the Dollar Spot at Target or Michaels. I also pick up items on clearance from DisneyStore.com and hide them in the suitcase and give them to the kids when we are on Disney property.
25. You can make your own autograph books at home and save money! Characters will sign anything really… shirts, hats, pillow cases, canvas, etc. They just won’t sign anything that you are currently wearing.
26. MouseWait is a great FREE app that has show schedules, parades, restaurants, and attraction wait times. It has quite a few active users in the parks who update it frequently during the day.
27. If you’re going in summer, bring along leggings, soccer style knee socks or BabyLegs for the little ones. They don’t take up as much space in the backpack — but will provide warmth when night comes & it cools down. BabyLegs can also double as arm warmers for adults too! – Danielle
28. Don’t forget to pack light jackets. Southern Cali gets cool at night and I’ve seen a lot of people buy jackets, blanckets, etc. because they weren’t prepared for the cool nights. – Robin
General Park Tips
29. You only have to go through security once even if you hop between Disneyland and California Adventure. To make this process move quickly, go ahead and unzip all of your bag’s compartments. Also the security guard will first check the bag to the person on his left and then he will check the person on his right. Try to go thru the shortest line! Don’t just follow the crowds.
30. Don’t follow the masses. It’s common human nature to go with the crowds. Take a moment to look at all your options. A lot of time people will all be headed to one turnstile and there will be a long line, while there are 3 open turnstiles on your left hand side that people aren’t using. So keep your eyes open. If you can go left, go left! (Everyone else will be going right).
31. When the park opens, you want to head towards the most popular rides first. Your goal is to beat everyone else there, but if that is impossible, you still want to be in front of as many people as possible. The queues for these rides will be the shortest they will be all day early in the morning. It’s best to get these rides out of the way as soon as you can.
32. FASTPASS is a wonderful program that Disney offers all their guests. Fastpass essentially reserves you a spot in a shorter line during a specific hour during that day. To get your Fastpass ticket, you will look for the Fastpass machine located outside select rides. You insert your park ticket and it will give you a Fastpass ticket with a return window printed on the front. When the time comes for you to redeem your Fastpass ticket, return to the ride but use the Fastpass entrance. You will then get to skip ahead of all the people in the regular queue and you will feel like a celebrity! See the park map for all the details on which rides have Fastpass.
33. The Fastpass systems at Disneyland and California Adventure are not connected plus once your ticket is used at one park, it is considered active by both parks Fastpass systems. If you are park hopping, you can grab a Fastpass as soon as you enter your second park even if you had just obtained a Fastpass before leaving the first park. We were able to get Fastpasses to Star Tours at Disneyland, hop over to California Adventure and get Fastpasses to the Racers and then return to Disneyland to use our Fastpasses to Star Tours all within about an hour.
34. Many attractions have Single Rider Lines including Radiator Spring Racers and California Screamin’. If everyone in your party is over the age of 7 and you don’t mind riding in separate ride vehicles, the Single Rider Line is usually substantially shorter than the regular queue.
35. If you are going to Disney with little ones, you need to know about an unadvertised Disney amenity called Rider Switch. Rider Switch enables a parent to ride with the older children while the other parent waits with the younger child. After the older children ride, the parents swap places and they ride again. To use this feature, just approach the Cast Member at the entrance of the ride and let them know that you want to do Rider Swap.
36. Before you leave for your trip, you can buy the Photopass CD for $69.95 (it’s $99.95 if you wait to buy it after your trip begins). The Photopass photographers are located at picture perfect spots throughout the parks and also at the character meet and greets. When you present your Photopass card, they take pictures of your family for you with their camera and the photos are stored on the card. If you don’t want to buy the Photopass CD, don’t worry! The Photopass photographers will use your camera to take pictures too.
37. As soon as you have your park ticket and Photopass card, take a picture of the back side of the card(s) in case you happen to lose it. Disney can usually look up your tickets by the credit card you used, your receipt, a photo/copy of the back of the ticket, or narrowing it down with the other tickets in the group, but if you lose the Photopass card it is a lot harder to replace.
38. Love to meet characters? Every single character meet and greet for the park is listed on the Times Guide that is available when you enter the park. You can also find the Times Guide by the register at many souvenir shops or you can even ask a Cast Member for one. You will also find the showtimes and parade times listed in the Times Guide.
39. Need to know where a character is meeting? Just ask one of the Cast Members in the blue shirts. They are the character handlers and they can help you find any character that is currently meeting in the park.
40. When you get into line to meet a character, make sure you ask the handler when the character will be going for a little snack break. This way you can either exit and re-enter the line later or at least warn little junior that the character might have to leave for 5 minutes.
41. Only face characters (like the Princesses) speak. You could explain this to your child by saying that the other characters have to save their voices for the parades and shows (where they do speak).
42. Disney has a selection of special occasion buttons that you can wear. They have everything from Birthday to Family Reunion. You can pick up your button at the concierge desk of Disneyland hotels or Guest Services in the parks.
43. Each park contains a First Aid center. Here you can get single dosages of select over the counter medicines. They can also help with blisters, heat exhaustion and loose teeth! If you need their services, use them. It’s FREE! You can also ask them to store your nebulizer or breast pump or other large medical device.
44. Have a little one? Each park also contains a Baby Care Center. This center includes a nursing room, changing stations, high chairs, toys and more.
45. If anyone in your party has special needs, check with Guest Services. Disney works hard to make things accessible to all guests and make it fair for everyone. They will work with you to accommodate your needs.
46. Cast Members are there to help you. If you have a question, concern or just want some insider tips, be sure to strike up a conversation with a Cast Member. I also suggest that you verify your parade or fireworks watching spot with the nearest Cast Member that you see. You don’t want to pick a spot that doesn’t have a good view or a spot where they will make you move from.
47. You can get in line for an attraction up until the park closes. So if the park is closing at 9 pm, as long as you get in the queue at 8:59 pm, you will get to ride!
48. Even though the park has a listed closing time, that doesn’t mean that everything shuts down at that exact moment. Stores are usually open 1-2 hours after the park closes and by browsing the stores, you’ll avoid the mad rush out the gates and to the parking structures.
49. Each park has a wait time board that is manned by a Cast Member. This board will have up to the minute wait times and Fastpass return times. Be sure to check the board each time you pass it.
50. If you purchase a balloon and it deflates or pops, just bring the remainder to a balloon vendor and they will replace it for you.
51. Bring bubbles and glow sticks for the kids to use while waiting for the parades/fireworks. Cast Members walk around with Bubble Blowers ($10!) and Light Up Toys ($15) and if you can pull these alternatives out for the kids, you’ll save money and avoid disappointment.
52. To keep the parks clean, you will find trashcans about every 27 steps. Also notice how all Cast Members are trained to pick up any trash they see. I always will stop and pick up any trash I see too.
53. You are welcome to bring in your own beverages or food into the parks in a soft sided cooler. Pack your own meals or snacks and you’ll save lots of money. You can also get water for FREE at any snack or counter service restaurant that serves fountain drinks. Just ask for an ice water! We always bring flavor packets (like Crystal Light or Hawaiian Ice) to add to our water.
54. If you are celebrating a birthday, be sure to tell your server at the table service restaurant. You might just get a FREE dessert and be sung to by the staff.
55. Dining with characters is a great way to collect autographs and feed your family. The character meals at Disneyland are very diverse and you never know who you might meet!
56. Stop by Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in Pacific Wharf in California Adventure for a FREE sample of chocolate.
57. The Bakery Tour in California Adventure gives all guests a free slice of warm bread.
58. The counter service order stations are set up to take orders from both the left and right sides. So if everyone is on one side, don’t follow the crowd. Go to the other side to place your order.
59. Eating breakfast in the room is a great way to lower your costs. You can bring poptarts, dry cereal, breakfast bars, donuts, etc. I have even brought Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat plus paper bowls and plastic spoons and made a delicious and filling breakfast.
60. If you are planning on seeing a parade or watching a fireworks show, consider timing your meal around your wait time. Pick up your food to go from a nearby counter service restaurant and sit and enjoy it in your parade/fireworks viewing spot. This will help pass time and kill 2 birds with one stone.
61. If you are dining at a counter service restaurant, consider buying a large soda with light ice and asking for a cup of ice to go with it. Once you get to the table, you can split the soda with your partner. (Only do this at restaurants that do not offer refills.)
62. If you are paying out of pocket for a table service meal, choose breakfast or lunch. The prices are cheaper than the dinner prices.
63. Main Street U.S.A. is modeled after Walt’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri. He wanted guests to be able to step back into time into the town of their childhood or their grandparents’ childhood.
64. At Disneyland Park, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin is not connected to the Fastpass System. This means you can get Fastpasses to Roger Rabbit and immediately get Fastpasses to any other attraction at Disneyland.
65. In the foyer of the Opera House is the very bench where Walt sat in Griffith Park and got the idea for Disneyland, a place where adults and kids could have fun together.
66. The Mad Hatter (and sometimes Alice) will play Musical Chairs with your kids at Coke Corner on Main Street around 2:30 pm. There are some funny videos on You Tube if you want to check it out.
67. Disney Gallery on Main Street used to be the site of the old Main Street Bank. Inside you can also see the bank vault which is still in use (although not for money).
68. There is a queue for Dole Whips INSIDE the Tiki Room Area. Enter into the Enchanted Tiki Room queue and once inside, you can get in line for a Dole Whip and take it into the show with you.
69. Make sure you take a trip on the Disneyland railroad. The entire loop is 22 minutes long, and you will pass through a Grand Canyon and Primeval World diorama. If you don’t want to take the entire loop, at least ride from Tomorrowland to Main Street which will take you through both dioramas.
70. If there are multiple showings of Fantasmic, the last showing of the day is least busiest.
71. When you are in Fantasyland, look up above the Snow White’s Scary Adventures. You might be surprised at what you see!
72. If you are riding the monorail, ask the Cast Member if you can ride up front. You might have to wait a couple of times, but the kids will love it.
73. Most of the shops on Main Street are connected on the inside. If you want to miss the crowds or the parade, you can duck into the shops to try to get out of the park faster.
74. At The Enchanted Tiki Room, ask the Cast Member if you can wake Jose.
75. The Indiana Jones queue is designed to be an archeological camp and features a real truck that was used in the movie. Be sure to touch the idols, statues, stones and pull the rope and bamboo supports.
76. At the end of the Tarzan Treehouse is a fun play area for kids complete with pots and pans, ropes, and more. If you don’t want to go through the Treehouse, you can ask a Cast Member to give you access to the play area.
77. On Tom Sawyer Island, kids can play in Tom and Huck’s Treehouse. Be sure to look for Elizabeth Swann’s Diary and try to touch the cask that contains the Davey Jones’s Heart.
78. Arrive early to Mark Twain’s Riverboat and ask if you can help steer the boat. You will get to sign a log book.
79. New Orleans Square Telegraph Office is based on the 1948’s So Dear to my Heart. The telegraph is typing out portions of Walt’s opening day speech in Morse Code.
80. At The Haunted Mansion, look for the hearse that appears to be pulled by an invisible horse. If you listen, you might just hear the horse whinny.
81. In The Stretching Room, the floor actually lowers. At the end of the spill, there will thunder and a flash of lightning and if you look up, you’ll see a skeleton. If you are worried your kids might be scared of this, try to avert their attention.
82. As you enter the Great Hall in Haunted Mansion, look for the bullet hole in the left of the glass partition. It is camouflaged by a spider web. In 1974, a guest fired a bullet at the glass. To replace it, they will have to remove the roof so instead they camouflaged it.
83. On Star Tours, look at the fasten seatbelt sign from the time you sit down (before you put on glasses). You might just get chosen to be the Rebel Spy!
84. On Winnie The Pooh, look for the 3 mounted animal heads in the Hufflelumps and Woozles room. It is Melvin, Buff and Max from Country Bears Jamboree which was located where Winnie the Pooh’s ride is now.
85. There are 22 spires on the castle and one spire is different than the rest. See if you can spot it.
86. Look for Snow White’s Wishing Well and toss in a coin. Listen hard because you never know what you might hear.
87. There are tons of feral cats at Disneyland that help keep down rodent infestation. See if you can spot a cat during the daylight! It is harder than you think.
88. At California Adventure, Radiator Spring Racers, World of Color and California Screamin’ are not connected to the Fastpass System. This means you can get Fastpasses to Radiator Spring Racers and immediately get Fastpasses to any other attraction at California Adventure.
89. World of Color offers Fastpasses and this Fastpass system is not connected to the rest of the park. You will find the Fastpass machine by Grizzly River Run. Blue seating is the first area from which Fastpasses are distributed. If you are pulling your parties Fastpasses and one of the tickets are for a different color section, let the Cast Member know. They will assign your entire party tickets of the same color.
90. If there are multiple showings of World of Color, the last showing of the day is the least busiest.
91. There are FREE lockers available by Grizzly River Run. The first 2 hours are free and it is a great place to store your gear so it doesn’t get wet.
92. The story behind Grizzly River Run is that the Ah-ha-le (the Coyote) turned brave Oo-soo-ma-te (the Grizzly Bear) into a mountain peak that stands its ground against intruders.
93. On Soarin’, you can ask to be put on rows A, B or C.
94. Do not miss Aladdin: The Musical. The Genie writes a lot of his own jokes and every show is a different experience.
95. At the end of Monsters Inc, pay close attention to Roz. You’ll be surprised by the things she says and if you have a Birthday Button on, she might just sing to you.
96. If you are fascinated by Disney animation, be sure to visit Animation Academy where you can learn how to draw a character and take your drawing home with you. Check the schedule at the entrance to the Animation Building so you can make sure to draw a character that you like.
97. There are over 100 references to Twilight Zone in the Tower of Terror ride. See how many you can spot.
98. In Radiator Springs, the traffic light’s 3rd blink really is slower like in the movies.
99. Look for the pedals located next to the doors in Radiator Springs so the cars can open them.
100. The main drag down Route 66 looks like it has new pavement on it.
101. Look in the windows, all the nook and crannies and everywhere you can find in Radiator Springs. They really outdid themselves with this land and you never know what you might notice.
What do you think of my 101 Best Disneyland Tips? What would you add to this list?
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