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One thing this blog has done for me is to help others plan their Disneyland vacations. The Disneyland 101 series has been a hugely popular series on our blog, so I thought, why not share some must read Disneyland tips to help others with their first, or fiftieth, Disneyland vacation.
So here are 23 must read tips for your Disneyland Vacation.
1. You can enter the parks before the official opening time. Both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (DCA) will start letting you enter the park up to an hour prior to the official opening time. During this time you can walk Main Street USA (in Disneyland) or Buena Vista Street (in DCA), shop, and head in the general area you plan to go upon rope drop.
2. There are hidden outlets where you can charge your phones. While I strongly suggest bringing a back up charger for your phone (I have THIS ONE* and LOVE it) or using Disneyland’s charging lockers, you can find power outlets through out the parks. Most of them are hidden, as in they are covered by a plate so that they are not noticeable. Most of the lamp posts in DCA contain a power outlet. Several restaurants and table areas will have these outlets as well. They are normally on a pole or support beam, so keep that in mind when looking for one. In fact, you can sit in DCA on a bench, next to a lamp post, plug your phone in and enjoy the Pixar Play Parade while your phone charges. You should have a pretty good charge by the time the parade is over.
3. Get seats early for entertainment, especially during the on season. If you want to check out the entertainment, like a parade, fireworks, or a show like Fantasmic- plan on staking out a spot early. Not only do other visitors start to stake out a spot an hour or two in advance, Disneyland has a lot of local pass holders that will often come to the park to “catch the fireworks” or “watch the parade” and are willing to sit and wait for a few hours. We have our favorite spot to watch Fantasmic and a few tips (and video) HERE.
UPDATE: Fantasmic now uses Fastpasses, much like World of Color. UPDATE SPRING 2017: Disneyland has started enforcing a no seat saving policy for their parades. You will no longer be able to save seats UNTIL the ropes go up.
4. Fastpasses help you save time by saving your place in line. Fastpasses are distributed at machines located near rides that have them available. These allow you to return at a later time and enter through a much shorter line. Generally speaking, you can get one fastpass at a time, but check the bottom of each fastpass. It will have a line that says “Another fastpass will be available after….” You can read all about Disneyland’s new digital fastpass system here (as well as the upcoming MaxPass)
5. During parades and shows is a great time to do rides. Rides will have much shorter lines during parades and shows. In between the two showings of Fantasmic, while the fireworks are happening, I am usually able to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh with little to no wait.
6. There are no fastpasses for Fantasyland Rides. This is very different from Walt Disney World, and if you have gotten all of your Disneyland travel advice from a WDW blog, you might be shocked to find this out. There are NO fastpasses for any of the Fantasyland rides. The best time to hit up these rides are early in the morning (or during Magic Morning Entry if you have it), or in the evenings around the time of the parades, or after Fantasyland reopens after the fireworks show. Even if it is still crowded in the morning and evenings, it will be cooler, so it will be easier to wait in the lines. UPDATE: The Matterhorn now has fastpass.
7. Some Fantasyland rides can scare little kids. You notice that Snow White’s Scary Adventure or Pinnochio’s Daring Journey have no wait, while other rides easily have a 30-45 minutes wait. Well, that is because these rides are often too scary for little kids. So ride with caution. I have had friends go and not realize these rides were scary, and regret taking their kids on them. Mr Toad’s Wild Ride can also be scary to some children.
8. The posted wait time for Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin is usually accurate. It is easy to get used to the fact that almost all of the lines are outside, and so you can look at them and judge if the wait time is accurate. We made the mistake a few years ago of thinking the wait time had to be wrong for Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin because we couldn’t see anybody there, and right past the entrance we could see people loading on the ride. Well, as soon as you enter, you turn right and meandor through a long queue, so yes, the posted wait time is most likely accurate. Believe it. Luckily this ToonTown ride DOES have fastpass.
9. ToonTown has different hours then the rest of the park. ToonTown tends to open an hour or two after the park (usually at 10 am) and closes around dusk. So do not head to ToonTown first thing in the morning because you won’t be able to go in.
10. Do not spend $3.50 on a bottled water (I am guessing on the price). Any of the quick service (aka- walk up, take your own food and find your own seat) restaurants will give you free ice waters. There are also multiple drinking fountains through out the park, but the water is not always cold.
11. The line to the right is almost always shorter. If a line splits in two…go to the right. Of course if it is obviously longer (like 30-50 people longer) go left, but generally speaking right is right.
12. If you don’t mind riding without your party, the single rider line available on some attractions is a great way to cut your wait in half.
13. You can get free souvenirs and samples at Disneyland. There are actually several items you can get at no additional cost. You can check them out HERE.
14. Photopass (Disney) Photographers are more than willing to take pictures with your camera. We always have them take them with both the photopass camera and get a card, and then with our camera. That way we have twice as many shots and hopefully they will turn out. You can get tips on how to get great vacation photos HERE.
15. Reservations can be made a day or two in advance. If you see a restaurant you really want to try (like the Blue Bayou pictured above) and it accepts reservations, you can check online or with Disney Dining and see if there are any openings in the next few days. Unlike Walt Disney World, Disneyland restaurants usually have openings available up to 24 hours in advance. The times may not be perfect (lunch at 3:15) but it is better than waiting in a 45 minute standby line during the middle of summer.
16. If you want to rent a stroller, there are better and cheaper options than Disney. Disneyland chargers $15/day or $25 for 2 days. The strollers may not leave the parks. That means even if you are going to the picnic area, Downtown Disney, or a Disneyland Resort Hotel, your stroller may not come with you. (With the new security check being outside of DTD, you may be able to take the strollers to DTD, but not to the hotels.) Renting a stroller from an outside source like City Stroller Rentals not only lets you take the stroller anywhere you go on vacation, the stroller will be delivered and picked up from your hotel, and almost always costs less, or the same, as a Disneyland rental AND they will be better quality strollers. We have always been very impressed with the service and quality of our rentals from City Stroller Rentals.
17. You do not have to enter Fantasyland via the drawbridge of the castle. When looking at the castle, you will see a small path to the left and a small path to the right. Both of these will lead you around to the same spot in Fantasyland as going through the drawbridge. Not only that, if you take the main pathway towards the Matterhorn and stay left, you will end up in Fantasyland as well.
18. Keep your receipts. If a souvenir breaks or has issues, you can exchange it. Also keep balloons that may pop. They will replace them for free.
19. Cast Members may move your stroller after you park it. CMs work hard to keep the strollers neat and tidy, and to minimize how much space they take up. Between that and the need to relocate stroller parking when it is time for a show or event, you may find your stroller has been moved. Do not worry. This is totally normal. Never chain your stroller to Disney property. They will cut the lock. To easily spot your stroller I suggest tying a balloon, ribbon, or scarf to it to help identify it. You will see a ton of strollers just like yours in the park, so it really does help.
20. You can ask to wait for a preferred seat. On thrill rides like Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, etc you can request to wait for a specific seat. (I prefer the back for Thunder Mountain and the front for most everything else, but it is up to you.) In most cases the CMs are happy to let you wait for the next ride vehicle.
21. The Baby Care Centers have diapers in them. If you run out of diapers or forgot yours, you can get some at the Baby Care Centers in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventures. In fact, these Care Centers are awesome resources for babies and toddlers alike. They are nice and cool if you need to get out of the heat, have changing tables that are sanitized more often then those in the bathrooms, toddler potty chairs, and more.
22. You can pre-order Photopass and Ride images for much cheaper. If you know you plan on utilizing Disneyland’s Photopass service or buying ride photos, you can purchase Disneyland’s Photopass+ at least 14 days in advance and save big money on getting a CD of all your images. You can also add your ride images, character meal images, and even your own images to the CD. Visit Disneyland’s Photopass+ Site HERE for more information. Honestly, if you plan on purchasing any of your photopass photos, this is the way to go. It is much cheaper in the long run.
23. Posted park closing time is not a hard closing. By this I mean, if you are in line for a ride by the time the park closes, you get to stay in line and ride in most cases. (There may be times this is not true.) Also, did you know that both Main Street USA and Buena Vista Street remain open for an hour after park closing. Same with the majority of Downtown Disney. You will be more than welcome to shop on your way out of the park. Just expect the stores to be crowded during this time.
Were any of these tips new to you? You can also check out our follow up post 23 MORE Must Read Disneyland Vacation Tips and also be sure to check out our complete Disneyland 101 Series for our most detailed park info!
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