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A few years ago (has it been that long) I wrote a post called 23 Must Read Tips For Your Disneyland Vacation. It has a lot of good tips that will help make your Disneyland vacation more magical, even if you have been before.
Well, would it shock you to know there are even more tips in store for you? Yep, I am back with 23 MORE Must Read Disneyland Vacation Tips. So here we go!
- City Hall is AWESOME! A lot of people never step foot in City Hall, and I can understand that as it often has a line. But this is where the main guest services for Disneyland park is located. In here you can get buttons for your party (birthday, first visit, etc), accomodations for those who need it, and if it is your birthday, you might even get a special phone call inside City Hall.
- Not all of Paradise Pier closes for World of Color. A lot of people just assume that all the rides on Paradise Pier are closed during World of Color performances. Not true. The lights are dimmed but some rides such as Toy Story Midway Mania remains open as does Ariel’s Undersea Adventure remain open. The lines on these rides are often shorter during this time.
- Haunted Mansion Fastpasses. For quite a while, Haunted Mansion stopped using their fastpass system. Last year however, the fastpass system was being used again during busy park days/hours. BUT- even with a fastpass, if the queu is under 10 minutes, cast members may direct everyone to a standard line.
- Get soaked! So you want to get wet on Splash Mountain? There are of course some obvious tips- sit in the front for one, but other things can influence how wet you get. Some of it is luck of the log but placing heavier riders in the front creates a bigger splash. Also, leaning forward on the drops seems to help. Our family has actually found the drop where you see B’rer Bear’s bum right before you drop can get us the wettest if we get the entire log to lean forward. Maybe it is our imagination, but it always seems to work, and Mike will yell it out Every. Single. Time.
- Matterhorn tips. The Matterhorn is the one thrill ride that DOES NOT offer any sort of fastpass. If you have a magic morning entry, be sure to get to the park a good 45 minutes before magic morning starts and head straight to the Matterhorn to get the shortest wait. Also remember during regular park hours, there are two lines, one on the Fantasyland side and one on the Tomorrowland side. There are conflicting reports but most people will agree that the Tomorrowland side track is a bit rougher and faster. Either way, I find both sides a bit hard on the back. Finally, Matterhorn DOES have a single rider line which can save you a lot of time if you are willing to split up from your party. (UPDATE: The Matterhorn Bobsleds will be getting Fastpasses!!!!)
- Have a sweet tooth and cheap pockets? You can get a free sample of Ghirardelli chocolates in the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop. It is located by the baby center in Disney California Adventure, in Pacific Wharf (at the side entrance near the entrance to Cars Land).
- How about some bread too? The chocolate a little too sweet for you? Head next door to the Bakery Tour and get your free bread sample. You can walk through the bakery if you would like, but don’t have to in order to get your sample.
- Character meals are worth the money. For the most part, I think that the food in Disneyland is overpriced, and not always that great. Not hating. We all know the food there is not cheap. Just stating the truth. BUT I have found the character dining experiences are totally worth it. The breakfast food is amazing (and I have heard good things about other meals as well) and you get to meet a ton of characters, interact with them a bit more, and see some characters that are not necessarily out in the parks. I break down all of the character dining experiences in this post from the Disneyland 101 series, but my personal favorite is Minnie’s Breakfast at the Plaza Inn. It has some rarely seen characters, but it also had enough of the other characters that it saved us tons of time waiting in lines other places in the park.
- You can wear your baby on a lot of rides. This was a life saver with the twins. Did you know that if you have your baby on your chest in a carrier they can stay there on many rides. Some rides it is up to the discretion of the cast member, but we have worn babies on Toy Story Mania, most dark rides, Jungle Cruise, and more. Our favorite carriers are the Ergobaby carriers (affiliate link), but any SSC or carrier is a great option.
- You can stay off site and have a magical vacation. Despite what some Disney bloggers/travel agents (though I love them) or experts will tell you, at Disneyland it is not a big deal to stay off site. First, at Disneyland, you can still book a package deal with an off-site hotel. (Totally different than Walt Disney World.) Second, the benefits of on-site at Disneyland are much more limited (magic morning daily, that is about it) than at WDW, especially considering that all 3 hotels would be considered “deluxe” hotels compared to WDW properties. Finally, many area hotels are actually CLOSER to the gate then the Disneyland Hotel and the Paradise Pier Hotel. There are actually a couple of properties right across the street from the security check on the Harbor Blvd side of the park. You can check out packages for all of these hotels with our friends at Get Away Today here (and book a package for as little as $125 down-less than Disney requires). They also have great deals on other Southern California Destinations. (I am an affiliate of Get Away Today.)
- You can ride the tram without folding your stroller. My family prefers to use the Mickey and Friends parking structure when we visit Disneyland for a few reasons. First, it is right by the Disneyland Hotel and Downtown Disney so we can walk that way into the park, or even catch the monorail at DTD. The other reason though- this parking lot uses the trams, not the busses. You can ride on the first row of the last car (and the first row of the first car if there are no wheel chair users) without folding up your stroller. You DO have to remove your child(ren) from the stroller, but you can leave it open, and loaded up with all your
crapgear instead of having to find a place to put everything while you ride. Great for those of us who rent lockers and put a cooler with food, extra clothes, etc in there.
- Late at night, walking is often faster than the tram. If you are heading back during the end of the day, walking may be faster than waiting for a tram. This is not always true, but depending on how many trams they are running, how many loading areas are open, etc we often choose to just walk back, especially when we have a stroller. Plus, I find my feet hurt more after several long days of walking, when I stand in one spot, waiting for the tram, then get off my feet, but then have to walk all the way to my car. I prefer to just never get that break and keep moving so I don’t notice how tired my feet are. (Sadly, with the new security stations, the path from the trams to Mickey and Friends that bypasses the Downtown Disney Crowds has been closed. You now must either wait for the trams or wind through the DTD crowds)
- You can get sticky stuck on Winnie The Pooh. We learned this one when one of us would sit out with the Goof in the later part of the day, while others rode Splash Mountain and we would ride Winnie The Pooh. If the line is basically non-existent, ask the cast member as you board if you can get “sticky stuck.” They will make it so your lap bar does not release at the end of the ride and you will get to go through again, without having to run around and go through the ride queue again. (Again, this is at the discretion of the cast member and will be based on how busy the line is.)
- You can get a free locker in DCA while riding Grizzly River Rapids. Next to Grizzly River Run there is a Disney Vacation Club booth, on the back side of the booth you will find some lockers. These lockers are free for 2 hours- long enough to store your stuff while you go on Grizzly River Rapids- so you don’t have to worry about getting your stuff wet. I suggest keeping your card or some cash out in case you go over the 2 hours because you will be charged after that time.
- You might get wet on Pirates of the Caribbean. It seems like a safe ride right? Well, be warned you may get a little wet on this ride during the drops. Usually it is only a few drops, but we have gotten pretty wet riding in the front row before. You also might feel a few drops during the battle scene between the ships when a canon ball blasts into the water.
- Speaking of Pirates of the Caribbean…have a sweater ready. It can get a bit cool in this ride. This can be good during the hot summer months, but during cooler days be prepared.
- A Restroom With No Lines? Disneyland restrooms can be VERY crowded. Most guests find one or two that are out of the way, but there is one restroom I have often found has little to no lines (or other guests in it). As you walk through the turnstiles at Disneyland park, go under the RIGHT railroad overpass (opposite side as City Hall). Right after you go through, on the right hand side, is a little walk way that leads back to a restroom. Most people do not know about this restroom and choose to use the one next door to City Hall. I have never (knock on wood) had a wait at this restroom.
- Dinner and a show? You can get dinner and a show without booking a package. Head to Plaza Inn or another main street restaurant for dinner around 5:00. Get a good outdoor seat with a view between the bushes to Mainstreet USA and/or the castle. Eat your dinner, get dessert, and watch the parades or even fireworks. You will have to hang out here for a bit, but it can be a great spot to watch the show.
- Get an extra rush on Thunder Mountain. First, I personally think Thunder Mountain is better if you sit in the back. If you want even more of a rush, rumor has it if you keep your eyes on the goat holding the dynamite, and turn your head to keep looking at him as you round that corner/drop, you will get an extra rush. I don’t know if it is true or if it is just in my head, but I swear it worked. Still not enough, do the entire ride with your eyes closed and not holding on to the lap bar. Just make sure you and your seat buddy are ready for a game of corners.
- Free newspapers! In Disney California Adventure, next to Oswald’s on Buena Vista Street, is the Guest Services. You can stop here to pick up a free souvenir newspaper. A fun, free souvenir? Yes, please.
- Yes, you can bring in a cooler. Well, a small, soft sided one. But still, a cooler. Often times we think all coolers are banned from the parks, but not so. You can bring in a soft sided cooler around the size of a 6 pack or smaller. This is the exact wording from the Disney website on items that are NOT permitted.
Coolers larger than 6-pack sized are not permitted into the theme parks.
- Note: Guest can store coolers up to 18″ wide x 25″ high x 37″ deep in rentable large lockers located outside the Disneyland Park Main Entrance. Lockers are not refrigerated and availability is limited. Guests who need to refrigerate medication may do so at First Aid.
- Exceptions may be made for special dietary or religious needs.
- Speaking of excluded items…NO SELFIE STICKS ALLOWED. That is right, Disney has banned selfie sticks in the park. Good thing too, I saw first hand how dangerous they were in that situation last June. While you might make it through bag check with your selfie stick, pull it out to use it, especially on a ride, and it may be confiscated by a cast member. Just leave them at home people. For more info on items that are banned, check out our popular 10 Items Banned at Disney Parks (Plus some you thought were, but aren’t)
- You can upgrade your ticket to an Annual Pass. So you loved Disneyland so much you want to get an annual pass and make several trips in the next year? You can upgrade your ticket to an annual pass and only pay the difference. Most people think it is best to buy the ticket and upgrade the last day, but I learned when I did this, the pass will be back dated to the first day you used your ticket, so, if you know ahead of time you will want to upgrade, I suggest doing it on day one so you can enjoy the other passholder benefits (discounts, etc) during your visit. Did you also know that you can purchase a AP voucher online BEFORE your visit and just not activate it until you go? Yep, that way you can pay for it ahead of time, but have it be good from the first day you use it.
So there you have it, 23 MORE must read tips for your Disneyland vacation. If you are heading to Disneyland for your first time, I strongly suggest reading our Disneyland 101 series which goes into even more detail on things like bag check, locker rentals, attractions, how to use fastpass and parent swap and even how to fastpass more than one ride at one time! (Yes, it can be done.) You can find our Disneyland 101 directory HERE.
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