Disneyland is THE happiest place on earth! People from around the world spend tons of money to visit the Disney parks (Some people make it a mission to visit ALL of the Disney parks!). With the overwhelmingly amount of people trying to get a taste of the Disney magic each year, the parks can become a stressful and chaotic place. On my recent trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, my two best friends and I made it our mission to make the most out of our trip, so here are 10 Disneyland hacks to make your trip more magical!
(Disclaimer: Some of these tips will vary from park to park, but for this article, I will specifically be referring to the Disneyland park in Anaheim.)
1. The early bird gets first in line.
Seriously, if you don’t wake up before 11AM and get to the park right when it opens, you can expect the waiting time to be more than 30 minutes. One day, my friends and I got to the park at 11AM, and the Radiator Springs Racers ride in Cars Land was already at a 90-minute wait. These lines get really long super fast, so if you don’t want to get caught up waiting in super long lines, go to the park right when it opens at 8AM, and ride the most popular/newest rides first.
2. Navigate the park with the Disneyland App.
This tip probably saved my life. The Disneyland App gives you a realtime measure of the wait times of every ride in the park, and it is constantly updated. That way, you can measure your odds of which rides you should go on first, and which rides are worth waiting for. For example, if Hyperspace Mountain is a 90-minute wait and Star Tours is a 45-minute wait, your best bet is to pick up a fast pass for Hyperspace Mountain, and then wait in line for Star Tours. Trust me, this app will save you so much time, and you’ll feel like a complete boss when you’re conquering every ride while everyone else waits in that 105-minute line.
3. Master the art of fast passes.
Now, I did not know that fast passes were a thing, so when my friend told me about it, I was amazed and determined to learn everything about fast passes. So basically fast passes are tickets that grant you front-of-the-line entry when you show up to a ride at a certain time. They are completely free and are available to anyone who cares enough to use them. Believe me, more and more people are starting to learn about the fast pass system, so it’s safe to predict that they will be extremely popular within the next few years. Here are a few things that helped me utilize fast passes to the max:
- Get them super early in the day, and not when you want to ride the ride. I say this because fast passes for super popular rides such as Hyperspace Mountain and Thunder Mountain Railroad run out super fast.
- Once you get a fast pass, ride another ride. DO NOT waste your time waiting to use your fast pass. If the fast pass says come back within 2 hours, feel free to ride a ride with a 45-minute wait time, or even 2 rides with a 30-minute wait time. After you’re done riding those rides, come back and use your fast pass.
- THERE ARE FAST PASSES FOR THE SHOWS. I REPEAT, THERE ARE FAST PASSES FOR THE SHOWS. If you’re short like me and don’t want a crowd of tall people standing in front of you during World of Color or Fantasmic! then definitely pick up a fast pass. People who hold fast passes are guaranteed a good spot to watch the show. They are often overlooked, but they are equally as important as the fast passes for the rides.
- You can only obtain one fast pass at a time. One for rides, and one for shows. I did not know this, but the machine denied my ticket because I already had a fast pass for another ride. I guess this is just so people don’t get stingy with collecting all the passes.
Those are my top fast pass tips for now, but I’ll create a more in-depth list in another post.
4. Wear clothes that will match every weather.
Let’s just say, during my trip, it was sunny in the morning, cloudy in the afternoon, and rained in the evening. You have to be prepared for any kind of weather! A perfect outfit would be comfy walking shoes, pants, a thin shirt, a light cardigan, and a light sweater in your backpack. Oh! And don’t forget your mouse ears!
5. Bring a backpack and pack smart!
Bring a backpack even if you are not a fan of carrying things with you. Avoid bringing a purse because it’ll just get in the way, leave you only with one free arm, and it will get tiring which will make the purse feel heavier at the end of the day (Yes, this includes cross-body bags as well). Backpacks, however, stay out of your way and are super easy to bring on rides. They evenly distribute weight onto both of your shoulders so that you don’t get sore at the end of the day. Also, don’t overload your backpack with stuff you don’t need. Just keep your keys, wallet, phone, camera, water bottle, and a light sweater in your bag and you’re good to go! It also makes going through security a total breeze and they will love you for that!
6. BYOW (Bring Your Own Water).
This is super important especially when it’s a scorching day in Disneyland. Buying a water bottle in the park can go up to $2.00. It is not worth it. Sure, there are water fountains sprinkled throughout the park, but they’re not always clean. I brought my empty Nalgene bottle to the park and I tried to get a refill from a fountain. The water was nice and cold, but when I looked into the bottle, the water was cloudy as fog. I had to dump it out. So if you do go that route, get refills from restaurants. They’re usually free, and more clean than the outside fountains. Also, you are allowed to bring FULL water bottles into the park. In fact, they encourage it.
7. Conquer Tomorrowland FIRST.
With the release of the newest Star Wars movie, Tomorrowland has become the most popular land of the park. Seriously, everyone is going nuts over this place. Disneyland is currently promoting the movie by calling it the “Season of the Force,” and are celebrating the movie’s release by adding new Star Wars shows and promoting Star Tours and Hyperspace Mountain. For all three days that I’ve spent at Disneyland, Tomorrowland was always the most crowded and had the longest wait times for the rides for stand by AND fast passes. Disneyland also recently announced that they will be building a Star Wars Land within the next few years.
8. Arrive at least 3o mins.-1 hour before a show or parade.
People start lining up or claiming their spots on the sidewalks almost 2 hours before a scheduled show or parade. Honestly, I don’t have 2 hours to spend waiting around for a show to start. So, I make it a point to arrive AT LEAST 30 mins. to an hour before showtime to get a DECENT seat. This includes fast pass holders as well. Whatever time shows up on the pass, show up 30 mins. before that. These shows and parades get crowded super quick, and it becomes almost impossible to find a seat. I showed up on time for Fantasmic! and I could not get a seat even though I had a fast pass! I showed up an hour before World of Color, and I got to watch the show from the very front! 30 mins. can make a HUGE difference.
9. When getting in line to enter the park, choose the line with less children.
I hate to say this, but people traveling with a lot of children, or a lot of people in general, will take a lot more time going through the gate. Whether you’re traveling with the family, or if you’re going by yourself or with a couple friends, choose the line with less families. I say this because every time I was behind a family, at least one of these things happened: 1) The children grew impatient and started acting up, 2) Someone lost their ticket, 3) The scanner had to spend time scanning 5 pieces of paper/bar codes 4) Someone had trouble getting the stroller through the gate, and finally 5) The parent (or person) didn’t have their papers ready when it was their turn to get scanned. If it can’t be helped, just keep in mind that the shortest line may not always move the fastest.
10. Go big or go home! Consider the 3-day park hopper.
Other than it being super expensive, there are many benefits that come along with splurging on the 3-day ticket:
- For a full 3 days, you can go to BOTH California Adventure and Disneyland with unlimited entries. That’s a deal!
- 3-day park hopper ticket holders are eligible for Magic Morning which an exclusive event where people can enter the park on Saturday or Tuesday an hour early before the park is open to the public! This is only offered to customers with a 3-day park hopper ticket or who are staying at the Disney hotel.
- The timing of things is perfect! You can evenly divide your time between the two parks easily. (split the days in half for both parks, one park on one day and other park on the 2nd day, buy souvenirs on the last day, etc.)
- Catch “The Trifecta.” By Trifecta, I mean the 3 biggest shows at the park: Fantasmic!, World of Color, and the Fireworks Spectacular. You can catch a different show each night, and be able to watch all 3 by the end of your trip. I watched those 3 shows in that exact order, all on different days, and it just made this trip a lot more magical. (Side note: if it looks like it’s about to rain during your trip, watch the fireworks show BEFORE World of Color because they will cancel the the fireworks show over severe weather conditions. World of Color was not cancelled despite the fact that it was raining. The splash zone just got extra wet.) By splitting up the shows, you won’t have to rush to see one show after the other because on the schedule, they happen within 30-minute increments of each other. Some shows even overlap!
- If you followed the tips I mentioned earlier, you will end up with almost nothing to do on the 3rd day. I spent this day going to Tomorrowland before it got busy (it was magic morning). After, I bought souvenirs for the family back home. The 3rd day is also known as the “souvenir day” for I don’t know why. Maybe it helps you avoid overindulging in Disney merchandise, leaving you short on cash for food or something. The 3rd day is the most relaxing out of the three days because you rode everything already and all you have to do now, is watch people still waiting in that 105-minute line.
So, those are my top 10 tips I have for ya’ll. These tips really made my trip a positive and magical experience. I really got to experience Disneyland in depth, and to be honest, it was pretty amazing and life-changing. I got to experience a lot of rides that I never got a chance to ride (because of long lines.). I also got to watch a lot of shows that I never got a chance to see. I came to Disneyland with a dream and a wish to make the most out of this trip, and with the help of my friends and the tips I mentioned above, I made that dream and wish come true! If you have any other tips you would like to share, leave a comment or shoot me a message! The more the merrier! Happy Traveling!