Hacks & Tips For The Best Day Ever At Disneyland
I still have to pinch myself when I think back to the two days that Liam and I had at Disneyland earlier this month in California. Both of us had grown up with stories from our parents and grandparents about how much they absolutely adore Disneyland and that anyone who is lucky enough to go will always say that it was one of the best days of their entire life, and one of the best (two) days of our lives it certainly was!
I had a lot of (exciting!) messages from those of you who are planning first time trips to the Anaheim Park in California and wanted some advice, because the other thing that everyone tells you (aside from that it was the best day of their life) is that you MUST approach your day with a tactical plan. To get the most out of Disneyland, you need a solid game plan, so I thought I would put together some tips for those of you heading there in 2019 so that you can have the best day ever, but without the hours and hours of research that I had to do prior to the big day!
Purchase your tickets before you leave the country, definitely never purchase them on the day you arrive. Buy them online from Disneyland.disney.go.com
Decide how many days you want to do, we did one day at the main, original park Disneyland Resort and one day at their newest park Disney California Adventure Park (DCA). I recommend 1-2 days at Disney Resort and 1 day at DCA as it’s a lot smaller with less (but more thrilling) rides. If you’re doing both then you must do Disney Resort first because it’s the ultimate magical experience!
Download the Disneyland App and link up your tickets to the app so that’s all you’ll need to get into the park! No printed tickets necessary.
Buy the Disney Max Pass upgrade for $15 USD per day, per person. TRUST ME, this is completely worth it and will make your day ten times easier and will help you get through more rides. It includes access to FastPass which is a feature of the app you can use to book yourself into rides throughout the day and skip the line by using the FastPass line. Basically you can book yourself and your parter/family (you can load your entire party of people into the app and do this all on one phone) into one ride every hour and a half, for example: you would arrive in the park at 9 AM and book your first FastPass, you might want to book Space Mountain as your first FastPass, so it would give you the option to ‘book FastPass for Space Mountain between 10-11 AM’. Once 10 AM arrives you can arrive to Space Mountain any time between the gap you were given, use the app to scan your FastPass in and skip the line! As soon as you scan to go in, the app will allow you to book your next FastPass. It’s amazing, we used FastPass strategically throughout the day so we never had to wait in line for any of the big rides. The Disney Max Pass also gives you access to those cute photos that the ride takes of you and you normally have to pay a million dollars for, you jump off the ride, find your photo, type the code into the app and boom you’ve got the photo ready to download and chuck on your Insta story! The app also includes a park map with live waiting times which is super handy to help with your ride itinerary strategy. P.s: not every ride has FastPass but most of the popular ones do! Also bare in mind that they have limited numbers for the FastPass slots, so you need to book the busiest rides in the first half of the day.
Wear comfortable shoes, try and wear proper runners or sports shoes cause normal sneakers won’t cut it! We did 14 hours on our first day at Disneyland and Liam’s feet swelled due to non supportive footwear. We both wore Converse and wish we had our Nikes runners!
If you want to look cute and wear ears like everyone does, buy them before the big day. I bought mine from the Walgreens down the road from Disneyland, you definitely do not want to be wasting your time at the start of the day looking for them! They will also be super overpriced.
You’re allowed to bring in drinks, water and snacks, so take full advantage of that! Buy them the night before from the CVS or Walgreens down the road and bring them in a backpack.
Don’t bring an extendable GoPro or selfie pole, they will confiscate it from you.
Arrive at the park an hour before it opens so that you can get in line first (check on the website park open times vary, normally 8AM). The first couple of hours are the best times to get on those popular rides, and EVERYONE arrives to Disneyland before it opens so you definitely want to be one of those people otherwise you will be behind thousands of people who will get on the good rides before you
As soon as the park opens, don’t get distracted by Main Street, everyone does that and then ends up having to wait an hour for their first ride. Bolt to one of the busiest rides that doesn’t offer FastPass (I recommend Peter Pan cause it’s a classic and gets some of the longest lines!) and book for your first FastPass straight away at the same time, as soon as the rope drops and they let everyone in. I suggest you book Space Mountain as your first FastPass, it’s super fun, has the longest line for the entire day and the FastPass slots for it normally book out.
Don’t miss out on all of the best Disney treats! Get the Dole Whip (delicious Dole Pineapple soft serve) from the Tiki Room in Adventureland, the Mickey Macaron from the Jolly Holiday Bakery and the Churros which are everywhere! Tip: if there is a long line to get the Dole Whip, go inside the Enchanted Tiki Room and line up on the other side of the cart. At DCA go to the Incredibles Baby Cookie Cart and get the Cookie Pie.. so so so delicious.
Create a Ride/FastPass strategy for the day (do this the night before!!!!), you are better off to go by ride rather than do each land in one go, the park is walkable so it’s no big deal to go back and forth between the different lands. Ours looked like this and worked really well..
9 AM Rope Drop, walk straight ahead under the castle to get in line for Peter Pan, at the same time, book Space Mountain FastPass.
Normal line for Star Tours (must do for those Star Wars lovers, it’s a cool ride either way)
Enter Space Mountain FastPass and book Indiana Jones Adventure
Normal line for Pirates Of The Carribbean (it has no FP)
Enter Indiana Jones FastPass and book Splash Mountain FastPass (people say to do Splash at the end of the day cause you get wet, but you’re better off doing it mid day so that you dry off before it gets dark and cold)
Jungle Cruise (No FastPass but line goes quick)
Enter Splash Mountain FastPass and book Big Thunder Mountain (one of my fave rides)
Have a break! You would have eaten your snacks by now, so sit down, have a drink, get a late lunch and relax because there is still so much of the day left!
Enter Big Thunder Mountain FastPass and book Matterhorn Bobsleds (another fave)
Normal line for Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (no FP)
Look out for the classic Disney parade that starts around 5 pm ish! Have a quick look and check the shorter ride times as this is a really good time to ride because everyones watching the parade
Enter Matterhorn Bobsleds FastPass and book Haunted Mansion FastPass (You want to do Haunted Mansion when it’s dark because it’s way creepier and by this point in the day you will book a night time Haunted Mansion slot, thumbs up)
Dinner time! New Orleans Square has the best (but pricey) restaurants or you could pick up something easy from a cart/takeaway food place
Time for your shopping, always leave your souvenir shopping on Main Street to the very end of the evening, just before the fireworks
9 PM: The most magical and incredible fireworks display you will ever see! Big hack: you want to watch it in Fantasyland next to Story Book Land Canal Boats (the one with the big whale mouth), there are heaps of spots to sit down, but here’s the biggest hack. They close down Fantasyland rides for the fireworks display, and people don’t realise this but they reopen them after the fireworks finishes so this is a great time to do the cute little classic rides. Do It’s A Small World, Alice in Wonderland and any others that tickle your fancy! Or if you didn’t want to do Peter Pan in the morning, do it now!
11 PM the park closes and you are EXHAUSTED but so so so happy.
Disney California Park Adventure
DCA has less rides so you’re going to get through everything quicker than Disney Resort. You can relax a little more and be a bit more chill with your game plan, just make sure you do Radiator Spring Racers before lunch time otherwise it will book out for the day and you’ll miss it! (It’s the best ride in my opinion).
9AM Rope Drop and walk straight to Incredicoaster, at the same time, book Guardians Of The Galaxy
Normal line for Toy Story Midway Mania
Enter FastPass for Guardians Of The Galaxy and book Radiator Spring Racers
Hang out in Cars Land, do normal line Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
Enter FastPass for Radiator Spring Racers and book Soarin’ Around The World
Normal line for Grizzly River Run (gift shops sell ponchos if you don’t want to get wet)
Enter FastPass Soarin Around The World
Then that is basically all of the big rides done! Depending on the FastPass slots left, you could spend the rest of the afternoon re-riding your favourites or you could spend the afternoon wandering around and going on the smaller rides.
There is SO much Disney content out there on YouTube, websites and blogs that offer great advice, tips and tricks to get the absolute most out of your experience, that is basically where I got my information from which helped us have such an awesome and efficient two days at Disneyland! Do your research, make a game plan and have the most magical Disney experience!