Disneyland is truly magical, and such a great destination, but it also requires some planning and some skill to navigate. The crowds, the heat, and navigating the fast pass system can be confusing. We got our children annual passes to Disneyland this year and have learned a lot by going to the parks several times a month. These 10 insider tips for Disneyland are based on our experiences. I hope these help you and if you have other tips I would love to hear about them! Comment below!
10 Insider Tips for Disneyland
Download the Disneyland App — Before you go, download the Disneyland app to see park hours, wait times, show times, restaurant and restroom locations and more. It also shows which rides are closed for refurbishment and rides that are temporarily unavailable.
Get there early — This is my best tip. If you are at Disneyland when the doors open, you can pretty much guarantee an hour of crowd-free rides. We try to get there by 8 am when Disneyland opens. We head straight to Tomorrowland and get a Space Mountain fast pass. Then we stand in line for Star Tours which is nearly always less than a 15 minute wait. Park hours are listed online and on the Disneyland App.
Bring your own food — You can bring your own food and drinks into the park. Take advantage and pack a lunch, lots of water and snacks. That way you can splurge on dinner and treats and keep the cost down.
Utilize the fast pass system like a pro — Fast passes enable you to get in a special, shorter line for the most popular rides. To get a fast pass, find the fast pass machine (usually located near the ride). Insert your park ticket into the fast pass machine and it will give you a paper ticket with a time for you to return to go on the ride. You can get a new fast pass roughly every two hours. In Disneyland we go straight to Tomorrowland and get a fast pass for Space Mountain right when we get there. If you go to California Adventure, go to Mission Breakout, or the Cars ride, Radiator Springs Racers. These rides run out of fast passes very quickly and the standard wait times are always over an hour long without a fast pass.
Single rider option — Most rides offer a single rider line. They use the single riders to fill in rides where there are extra seats. For example, the Radiator Springs Racers ride fits six people per car. Most groups are of two or four so single riders fill those extra seats. If your kids are over the age of 7 (minimum age requirement) and aren’t afraid to ride alone, this is a great option to go on more rides with less wait time.
Quiet places to eat and relax — Let’s face it, after 4-5 hours at Disneyland or California Adventure, the crowds can be overwhelming. Even restaurants are packed with people. We have found a few places to go where its quiet and usually crowd-free. Quiet spots in Disneyland to eat lunch or relax is the River Boat on the river in Frontierland. There is also a quiet spot just 100 yards past the river boat with four or five tables. In Tomorrowland near the entrance to Space Mountain there is a pizza restaurant that always has lots of shaded open tables. See the map below for more details. I put stars in red on the map. At California Adventure our absolute favorite spot to get away from the crowds is the Alfresco Tasting Terrace. They have limited food options, wine and beer. Its quiet, and they even have a couch you can snag to sit and have a glass of wine to get your second wind.
Timing the “Temporarily Unavailable” rides — This tip is not a sure thing and it can backfire, but we have had some great success with this method. Sometimes a ride will temporarily stop, either due to a technical issue, or perhaps a moviestar is getting the royal treatment and getting a private ride (this happened to us one time!) You can see when a ride is temporarily closed on the Disneyland App. When you see that the ride is temporarily unavailable, go to the ride and wait to see if it reopens. If it does, you might be able to jump on the ride without a line. Again, this can backfire, but if it’s a really crowded day it might be worth a try.
Best rides to stay cool on a hot day – Disneyland in the summer can be really hot. When the weather is steaming the best option is to find some air conditioning. My favorite ride to cool off at California Adventure is the Little Mermaid ride. The lines are usually really short and the AC is pumping inside. Ahhhh! At Disneyland, we like to go on the Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s a long ride that is cool as you float along enjoying the pirate adventure.
Fast pass the World of Color show — If you plan to stay for the World of Color show at California Adventure (which is totally awesome!), make sure you get a fast pass. They are located just past The Little Mermaid Ride. This will enable you to get a better view of the show. Also, if the weather is nice I recommend going down to the “wet zone”. You will get some spray from the show but the “wet zone” scares a lot of people off, and you might get the front row!
Sit near front of the park for parade and fireworks — This insider tip for Disneyland will help you get out of the park more easily. If you want to exit Disneyland quickly after the final parade and fireworks make sure you’re up near the front of the park. One time we sat near the Small World ride for the parade and got stuck in an awful, slow moving crowd trying to exit the park.
I hope you enjoyed these insider tips for Disneyland. I’m always looking for more ideas, so please comment below if you have other ideas.