Disneyland Tips For A Magical Visit

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You are visiting the happiest place on earth, so take the time to notice it. It is also the busiest place on earth, so don’t count how many times you make it on each ride. Appreciate how friendly the Cast Members are, notice how clean the park is, despite how many people are there. Take a moment and marvel at the attention to detail in every aspect of the park, from the colors, sights, sounds, smells and architecture. Enjoy everything you can at the park right down to all the delicious foods like the churro. Immerse yourself in all the Disney stories throughout the park. I look at Disneyland as a living piece of art. When Walt Disney created Disneyland he said it would never be finished. That is part of the magic, as it continues to grow and expand, it continues to inspire people with wonderful memories. If you’re a kid, the park is pure magic. If you’re an adult, it lets you enjoy being a kid all over again. Here are some great tips we have discovered over the years:

  1. Must do List, plan your day by making a must do list, not based on a specific order you should follow. Base it on what rides, shows and activities you most want to enjoy. We also make a Must List for all the treats we want to enjoy in the park, check our list for the top treats. Also, it is a good idea to check ride closures and refurbishments. If you know in advance that a particular ride will only be open one of the days on your visit, you will want to ensure, you enjoy that ride as much as possible on the day you can. The 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration has many new shows that are a Must to see. The New “Color the Night” parade is a spectacular new light parade. “Disneyland Forever” is also another spectacular new Fireworks show that is a must see. This year make sure to look out for some new additions on the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan’s Flight.
  1. Get to the park early, The quickest lines are first thing in the morning. Go to non Fast Pass rides when the park first opens. Rides like Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland, which does not have the Fast pass service is much easier to get on first thing in the morning. The line will get progressively longer throughout the day.
  1. Magic Mornings, if you are staying at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels you can enjoy an extra hour in the morning before the park opens. If you are staying at a Good Neighbor Hotel and do not have access to Magic Mornings, then it is best to go to the park that does not have Magic Morning that day. For example Disneyland runs Magic Mornings, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday’s. While California Adventure runs Magic Mornings: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. When you enter the park on those days the park will have already been open to Disneyland Resort guests for an hour. 
  1. WAIT TIMES APP / WAIT TIMES BOARD, Save time by checking the Wait Times Board located in front of the “Jolly Holiday Bakery Café.” Or, download the Disney App to your smart phone where you can check wait times right at your finger tips. We like to take advantage of what makes the most sense at the time. No matter which method you use to track wait times, you will know which Fast passes you should be acquiring as well as which rides have a shorter wait time.
  1. Fast Passes, Fast Passes enable you to come back to the ride at a specific time, by passing the longer Standby line.  Each Fast pass you acquire will also have a time that you can acquire your next Fast pass. Here is a list of the rides offering the Fast Pass service:
  • Autopia
  • Big Thunder Railroad
  • Indiana Jones
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car toon spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours
  • Fantasmic show
  1. Standby Wait Time, if the ride is over 30 minutes go for the Fast Pass option, but if the wait time is 30 min or less, take the Standby line.
  1. Walkie Talkies, We never travel without a set of Walkie Talkies. You can purchase a great three pack from Costco for about $60 and they are amazing with a 40 mile range. We love splitting up, one person will go and grab Fast passes for everyone, while the rest of the group can go and enjoy a ride with a short wait time. Then, using the Walkie Talkies we regroup at another Ride. This method sounds cumbersome but it really maximizes the number of rides we are able to enjoy. We never travel without them.
  1. Train around the park, Another Trick is to use the Train as much as possible. If you know the lines are short on the other side of the park, it is a great time to rest and relax while the Train gets you to the other side of the park. Sometimes the train will not be running for various reasons. If this is the case on the day you visit, stick to one area of the park at a time, taking in all the rides in that area before moving on to another section of the park.
  1. Quicker Lines during Parades and Shows, The next little trick is to check the parade and show schedules. With so many people watching the parades and shows, you will find that it is the perfect time to wait in the standby line, as the wait times will really dip down during shows. For instance, on a busy day the Matterhorn Bobsleds can have a 60 minute wait time. A little known fact is that the Matterhorn Bobsleds stay open during the Fireworks. Very often the wait time will drop down to only 10 minutes, even on the busiest night you could ever imagine.
  1. Summer Hours and Late Night Rides, During the Summer Schedule take advantage of the longer hours in the park on select days the park is open until Midnight. You can take advantage of shorter wait times late at night. The wait time on Splash Mountain late in the evening often is very quick, if you don’t mind being super wet for the rest of the night, we have often gone around Splash Mountain 3 times in a row. Yes we were extremely soaked but that only makes the hot chocolate on Main Street USA afterwards all the more enjoyable.
  1. Rainy Days, Are a great time to enjoy the park with shorter lines for the rides bring a poncho along or you can purchase a souvenir poncho from any of the stores in the park. Don’t let a little rain dampen your spirits, just keep enjoying the park rain or shine it’s a blast.
  1. Single Rider Lines, Are shorter than the Standby line, if you don’t mind splitting up for the ride?
  1. Rider Swap, if you are enjoying the park with a child that does not meet the height requirements of a ride. One parent can go on the ride with the older child that is tall enough, while the other parent waits at the exit with the younger child that cannot go on the ride. Then when the first parent exits the ride, the two parents swap places. Everyone can enjoy the ride without having to wait in the standby line twice.
  1. Front of the Ride, Want to sit at the front of the ride, just ask the cast member when standing in the queue, the wait will be a little bit longer though. But, if you want to be in the front car for Matterhorn bobsleds, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Railroad, Splash Mountain or California Screaming it is worth the wait.
  1. Charge your smartphone on Main Street USA behind the Market House, where they have charging locker rentals.
  1. Birthdays, Nothing is as fun as celebrating your birthday at Disneyland. Make sure you go to City Hall or guest services and pick up a Birthday Button, they are also available at any of the Disneyland owned hotels. It’s your birthday you need the special treatment.
  1. Are you looking to meet your favorite character? Check the park map schedule to see where the scheduled meets are. If you are looking to meet a specific character check with a Cast Member at City Hall in Disneyland or the Chamber of Commerce in California Adventure. They will be able to give you a location of where the Meet and Greets will take place. If you want to enjoy a Character Breakfast each of the Disneyland hotels have a great restaurant that feature a character breakfast. Another trick for exclusive private character meetings is by applying for the Disney Visa card. Once you have the card you can take advantage of private character meetings and photo opportunities.
  1. Dream Suite, Every so often Disneyland offers contests to stay in the Dream Suite, sign up for the Disneyland newsletter. Anytime they have a special contest, you will be notified by email. You never know, it might be you that wins a special night in the Dream Suite. Starting Sept 2015 and continuing until February 2016., you can enter the Disneyland Diamond Day Sweepstakes, as part of the 60th Anniversary. Check for full details: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/events-tours/diamond-days-sweepstakes/
  1. Photo Pass Photographers, will snap a photo using your camera. However, if you are visiting the park for a few days the Photo Pass + service allows for online downloads of all your photos including meet and greets, select attraction photos from both parks and select dining locations. This is really a great option we use, which will give you a lot of great photos to enjoy. The cost of purchasing in advance online is cheaper than buying it in the park. https://www.disneyphotopass.com/specialoffers/dlrppp.htm
  1. Autographs, Kids love collecting autographs, autograph books are available in the park. You can also make your own and bring it along. The Disney characters will sign anything even shirts but only if you bring it along with you, not if you are wearing it.
  1. Penny Press Collecting, One of my favorite things to collect from the parks over the years are the Penny Presses. Grab a Penny Press Map from City Hall in Disneyland or the Chamber of Commerce in California Adventure. Check our post for Penny Press locations.
  1. Pin Trading, Great Disney Pin sets are available at almost all of the stores. Cast Members will trade pins with you, if you see a Cast Member wearing a Pin you would really like, ask them, they will trade up to two.
  1. Hidden Mickey’s, The hidden Mickey game has become a very popular event for visitors in the park. The hidden Mickey book is available in the park. I have found an extremely tiny one no bigger than 2 inches inside Innoventions under one of the glass floors, many of them are easy to spot but this one took some time to find.
  1. Second Showings, Fantasmic, the Parades and World of Color often will have multiple shows, the later show will often be less crowded and offer better viewing.
  1. Last Ride of the day, Make sure you are in a line at park closing. Everyone in the line will make it on for one last ride of the day.
  1. Main Street USA stays open an hour past park closing, If you are planning to make any purchases, it is much easier to do this at the end of the day so you won’t have to carry your bags throughout the day. However, if you are staying at a Disneyland Hotel, you can have your purchases sent to your Hotel as well. Park closing is also a great time to enjoy a late night snack on Main Street USA, or take advantage of touring the Art gallery or Firehouse.
  1. Lost Parent Plan, Make sure you have a plan if you get separated from your child. Ensure your children have your name and cell phone number on them. Carry a digital camera or smart phone and make sure you take a portrait of your kids everyday, to recall what they are wearing. If you need to show someone what your child looks like, you have it. We also love to use Walkie Talkies, they are an inexpensive life saver and a direct link if you get separated. Ensure your kids wear something brightly colored, which stands out in a crowd. Ensure your child knows if they lose you that they should immediately tell a Cast Member. Especially if you become separated on the train, all of a sudden someone is left standing on the platform and the other is left on the Train, heading down the track. I have actually seen this happen. Fortunately, Cast Members are everywhere. Lost Parents can be reunited with their children at the Baby Center found at the end of Main Street USA., next to First Aid.
  1. Emergencies, It is a good idea to know where the First Aid Centres are in the park? If you have an emergency or just need a band aid. Both parks do have Nurses on site. You will have to fill out some paper work even just for a Band Aid. In Disneyland the First Aid Centre can be found behind the Camera Shop on the East side of Main Street. You will notice it as you pass by the Little Red Wagon Corn Dog truck that is parked beside the Plazza Inn. In California Adventure the First Aid Centre is right beside the Chamber of Commerce when you first walk into the park.
  1. Disneyland Washrooms, When you need one in a pinch it is a good idea to be familiar with where they are located:
  • Main Street USA: behind the Opera House, behind City Hall, behind Carnation Café & behind the Plazza Inn.
  • Adventureland: behind the Adventureland Bazaar & behind the Tiki room.
  • New Orleans Square: behind the Mint Julep Bar.
  • Critter Country: Under the Hungry Bear Restaurant (best washroom, never a lineup here).
  • Rivers of America: on both sides of Tom Sawyer Island.
  • Frontierland: behind Rancho del Zocalo Restaurant & behind Big Thunder Railroad as you enter Fantasyland.
  • Fantasyland: behind the Alice in Wonderland ride & beside Fantasyland Theatre.
  • Mickey’s Toon Town: behind Toontown Dining.
  • Tomorrowland: behind Autopia, between Star Tours and PLazza Inn
  1. Insider Tips, If you are looking for answers while you are in the park strike up a conversation with a Cast Member. This may seem like a no brainer, but actually do it! See what kind of useful insider tips you can find.
  1. ATM Machines, One can be found outside of the park west of the Main Entrance beside Guest Services. Four machines can be found inside the park: Bank of Main Street, outside Disney Princess Fantasy Faire, one at the entrance to Frontierland and one at Starcade in Tomorrowland.
  1. Disney Gift Cards, can be used throughout the park and are re loadable. Disney gift cards are also available at many locations like your local Disney Store. A fun thing to do when planning a trip to Disneyland is to give Gift Cards to your kids as Birthday or Christmas Gifts, then they can purchase something special on vacation.  Empty the swear jar before you go on vacation and put the funds toward a Disney Gift Card and enjoy a special dinner in the park.
  1. Lost and Found, Is outside of the park at Guest Services which is west of the Main Entrance to Disneyland. If you left any personal items on a ride or at a Restaurant etc., this is the location you would check for lost items.
  1. Stroller Rentals, If your kids are young enough for Strollers. This rental can be an arm saver. If you misplace your stroller just take your receipt back to the Stroller Rentals and they will replace it for you. At the end of the night you can take the stroller out of the park as far as the last security check point. We no longer use the strollers, but for many years it was a life saver.  Renting a stroller is more costly than bringing your own however the benefit to renting is that if it misplaced or stolen, your receipt will get you another one.
  1. Prohibited Items, Make sure you are familiar with a few things that are not allowed in the park: Weapons, Alcohol, Glass bottles and Selfie Sticks. All of which can cause injuries to people in the park.

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