We’ve been to Disneyland twice in the last for four years. We learned quite a bit from our first trip so we were able to pack more rides in our second trip. This is actually quite amazing because the first time we went, we were at Disneyland for two and a half days. This time, we were only there for one day and we still got on more rides than our previous multi-day visit. For instance, this time around we went on Splash Mountain six times, Indiana Jones twice, Big Thunder Railroad twice, the new Matterhorn (faster than before), Grizzly River Run, Goofy’s Sky School, and many other rides. If you’re planning on going to Disneyland and California Adventure Park in the near future, then you should check out my tips below. The tips will help you get the most out of your trip to the Magic Kingdom. In my opinion, Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth — until you get stuck in a long line.
Disneyland and California Adventure Park Tips
- Get your tickets the day before if you can
Don’t waste time buying tickets the day you’re going to Disneyland. Tickets don’t have to be use the day you buy them so you might as well get them as soon as possible. Better yet, order your Disneyland tickets online and then print out the e-tickets yourself.
- Don’t check into your hotel right at check-in time
Right at check-in time, the lobby is full of people checking in. You can make better use of your time by checking in at least 30 minutes later.
- Book a hotel near Disneyland
If you have small children, get a hotel across the street from Disneyland on Harbor Blvd. The last time we went to Disneyland, we got a hotel a quarter mile away. The walk to Disneyland was pleasant when we walked there in the morning. But by the end of the day, the walk back was too much for my kids. BTW, you can also pay to park in the Disneyland parking lot, or take the bus if your hotel is near the Anaheim Resort Transportation route.
- Get in line at Disneyland before they open
Disneyland actually lets people into the park before they are officially open. However, the individual lands are still closed off until the official opening time. You can check out the park hours online.
- Use the line on the far right at Disneyland
If you’re using a stroller, use the line on the far right at Disneyland. That line is a lot shorter than the other lines. It’s for people in wheelchairs, but they also let in people with strollers.
- Go to Disney downtown and get your souvenirs the day before
If you arrive in Anaheim a day early, go buy your merchandise first. You don’t need tickets to shop in Disney downtown. By going shopping the day before, you’ll have more time for the attractions instead of using part of that time shopping.
- Take advantage of early park admission
If you purchase a multi-day pass (three days or longer), you get one Magic Morning that allows you admission into selected attractions at Disneyland before the park opens to the public on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. You can also take advantage of Extra Magic Hour every day if you’re staying at a Disneyland resort hotel.
- Use Fastpass whenever you can
Fastpass lets you cut in front of the stand-by line. You can only have one Fastpass ticket at any given time so note the return time posted near the Fastpass machines. If the return time is several hours later, I wouldn’t get a Fastpass for that ride. Otherwise, you won’t be able to get another Fastpass until after the return time. Note: if you have a park hopper ticket, you can actually have one Fastpass for Disneyland and another one for California Park at the same time.
- You can still use your Fastpass after it expires
The ticket will tell you to come back between the times indicated on the Fastpass. However, based on our experience, the Fastpass attendant will still let you use your ticket after your time slot (but not before your time window).
- Use the singles line
If you can’t get a Fastpass for a ride with a long line, then try using the singles line, which is shorter than the regular line. The disadvantage is you can’t ride with your friends or kids. Instead, you are paired with other riders to fill all the seats on the ride. Note: not all rides have a singles line.
- Don’t jump all over the park
We made this mistake four years ago. Disneyland is huge (85 acres). It’s a big mistake to go back and forth to all the different lands at Disneyland. This time around, we went on the rides in half of the park (Adventureland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country) before we went to the other side of the park (Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown). This saved us time and reduced the amount of walking. Note: Fantasyland and Mickey’s Toontown close earlier than the other lands at Disneyland.
- Plan your rides in advance
Go to the Disneyland website and write down the rides you and your children want to go on. Then plan the order of the rides. You don’t have to follow your schedule exactly, but it helps if you have a general plan for your visit to Disneyland. Note: make a note of height requirements if you have small children.
- Use the Disney Mobile Magic app
There is a Disney Mobile Magic app for Android and iPhone devices. The GPS-enabled app gives you information like wait times, where to find Disney characters, and Fastpass return times.
- Schedule your lunch/dinner around Jedi Training Academy
If you time it right, you can enjoy the Star Wars show while you’re eating lunch or dinner. When we were there, Jedi Training Academy took place at 10:30 am, 11:35 am, 12:40 pm, 2:25 pm, 3:30 pm, and 4:35 pm.
- Go on rides during the fireworks, parades, or light shows
If you’re not into fireworks, parades, or light shows, then go on the rides while everyone is watching. The lines are shorter then, but it’s also harder to move from one land to another during those those events.
- Don’t leave after the fireworks
After watching the big fireworks show, most people head back to their hotel. However, the park is still open for another two hours so you might as well take advantage of the shorter lines.
- Save some money by bringing your own lunch or dinner to Disneyland
Tomorrowland Terrace is a good place to eat at Disneyland. They have condiments, utensils, and napkins there. In addition, that’s also where the Jedi Academy shows take place.
- Get gas at Costco
There’s actually a Costco gas station about a mile from the park. Just head north on Harbor Boulevard (the street in front of the Disneyland entrance). Based on our experience, gas is significantly cheaper at Costco when we were driving through California last month.