Disneyland will be a blast with these 20 killer tips and tricks.
Our California road trip would not have been complete without a visit to Disneyland California. We are HUGE Disney fans and our family is veteran Disney World Orlando visitors. But this was our very 1st Disneyland experience.
Let me tell you, Disneyland did not disappoint. I actually liked it more than Disney World in Orlando. Don’t tell anyone I said that though. I’m going to give you my top 20 tips and tricks to have a blast at Disneyland with your family.
1. Plan Ahead
Although Disneyland is much smaller and more compact than Disney World in Orlando it can still be hard to navigate. There are over 50 attractions between 2 parks and that doesn’t even include shows and shopping.
It can be a lot to manage. So I definitely suggest planning ahead somewhat. Do a little bit of research ahead of time. Choose some of your must-see shows and rides. Check the park hours and height restrictions. The last thing you want at the end of a long day it to have your 5-year-old have a meltdown because they are an inch too short to ride one of the rides.
Check out your meal options and the menus. Do you want a quick counter service meal or a sit-down dinner? Make some dinner reservations way in advance if you want a sit-down meal. All of the restaurants within the park are usually booked in advance.
2. Learn the FastPass System
Lines, lines, and more lines. Did you hear me mention lines?! A day in Disneyland involves a lot of waiting in sometimes very long lines which is like a form of torture for both kids and parents. Especially on a screaming hot summer day.
Que in the FastPass. It is a free ride reservation system that will save you time and sanity. The basic idea of the FastPass is that you can get a stamp with a return time for some of the most popular rides in the park. So get a stamp, go have some Mickey ear ice cream, sit and rest, and then go back at your designated return time and no waiting in line.
**Tip: make use of single rider lines if only 1 person in your party wants to ride. The lines are usually significanty shorter.**
3. Wear Comfortable Shoes
It feels like a day spent at Disneyland is like walking a marathon. It is not the time or place to wear cute little fashionable shoes to match your outfit. Choose your footwear solely based on comfort. I promise you will thank me later.
Also, if you plan on going on rides that say you “might” get wet bring a cheap pair of flip flops in your bag with you. Trust me, you almost always get wet. The absolute worst thing is to have to walk around all day long in squishy soaking wet sneakers. Not to mention the blisters that you will most likely get from wet shoes.
4. Don’t Be An Overachiever
“Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Don’t plan on conquering Disneyland in 1 day either. Pace yourself and allow for rest time and snacks. Staying from open to close in the park is a recipe for disaster with hot, tired, and cranky kids and parents.
If your hotel is close enough to the park maybe go back for a nap and a little bit of swimming during the hot afternoon hours. Everyone will feel refreshed and recharged. Then go back to the park in the evening. This is an especially good tip for families with younger children.
5. Pack a Bag With Essentials
You want to bring a bag with a few essential items to the park. But don’t pack for a 2-day trip here. The last thing you want to do is carry around a 50-pound bag all day.
When my kids were babies, my essentials also included diapers, formula and baby food, and an extra change of clothes.
6. Stay at the Howard Johnson Anaheim
I can’t say more good things about the HoJo Anaheim. The rooms are spacious and comfy. The pools are refreshing and fun. And the staff is friendly and accomodating.
The best part about staying here is that it is a 5-minute walk to the Disneyland park entrance! You don’t have to drive your car, pay for parking, and take the tram to the entrance. Such a huge timesaver!
7. Main Street U.S.A Opens Early
Main Street U.S.A opens 30 minutes before the rest of the park. This is a great way to get a head start before the rest of the crowds. There is also a Starbucks location there. So grab a coffee and some breakfast, take some fun family photos, and get a jump on the crowds.
8. Disney Will Replace Things Lost
Did you lose your mouse ears? Or did your 2-year-old’s balloon just fly away? Disney will replace them if it’s the same day of purchase. You Rock Disney!
9. They Have Mickey Shaped Donuts
Say What?! Yes, you heard me right. There is such a thing as Mickey-shaped beignets. They are like little pillows of powdered sugar heaven. They are only sold at the Blue Bayou. This is a not to be missed snack!
10. Go On Rides During the Parades
If parades really aren’t your thing then this is a great time to go on the rides. The lines are usually significantly shorter because many people are watching the parade.
11. Buy a Park Hopper Pass
Park Hopper passes are more expensive than single day passes but worth it in my opinion. It gives you more freedom in your day. For example, if you head to one park and it’s jam-packed, you can just hop over to the other park where there might be shorter wait times.
12. Bring a Stroller
DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that younger kids can walk the whole day even though they are capable of doing it. Disneyland is huge and exhausting. Those tiny little legs cannot keep up. I recommend a lightweight stroller for kids up to the age of 6 or 7. You can also rent strollers, but they are definitely not made for comfort.
13. You Can Get Free Water
The heat and all the walking in Disneyland can leave you feeling thirsty. But bottled water in the park can really be a budget buster.
If you are OK with non-bottled water you can get ice cold water at any quick-service food counter or beverage station. You can also use it to fill up those reusable water bottles that I told you to pack in tip #5.
14. Adults Can Order Off the Kids Menu
I know right?! If you are a light eater this can save you so much money. Disneyland kids meals usually have a substantial amount of food. They also come with a side and a drink. So go ahead and be a kid for the day!
15. Pressed Pennies Make Great Souvenirs
Pressed pennies are the most affordable souvenirs in the park by far. And the kids will actually love making them. You can also purchase a pressed penny book that you can store all of them in. Lots of fun and pretty cheap!
16. Pick Up Your Purchases at Will Call
Want to do some Disneyland shopping but do not want to carry them around all day? No problem. Just ask for your purchases to be held at will call for you. You simply just pick up your bags on your way out of the park. So shop till you drop!
17. Eat Outside of the Park
Let’s face it, eating in Disneyland can be downright expensive. One of the really nice things about Disneyland is that there are a ton of restaurants that are right within walking distance of the park entrance.
You can save a bit of money and eat at one of these great restaurants. I highly recommend The Pizza Press. Delicious pizza!
18. You Can Ask Photopass Photographers to Use Your Camera
You never know until you ask. Those professional Disneyland photographers you see all over the park will take a picture of you with your own camera or phone. You get an amazing free photo from a professional photographer. Win, win!
19. Use the Disneyland App to Check Wait Times and Get FastPasses
I promise you, the Disneyland app will be your best friend. It will help you keep track of wait times. And you can avoid having to walk from one end of the park to the other for a FastPass. You can also check parade and event times as well.
20. Visit Pixar Pier at the End of the Day
Pixar Pier is one of the most popular areas in Disneyland. What comes with popularity? Crowds and long wait times. The crowds tend to die down there toward the end of the day so I suggest visiting then.
There you have it! 20 awesome tips that will help you have the most amazing Disneyland family vacation that everyone will enjoy. Remember, it’s the most magical place on earth!
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