Disneyland Survival Guide

5 Tips For The Perfect Day At Disneyland


To some people, Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth, but to others, it’s their worst nightmare. The top two reasons that people hate Disneyland have to do with either expensive prices or the painfully long lines.  There is no surprise that Disneyland tickets are significantly more expensive than other theme park tickets. And of course it is no shock that Disneyland Anaheim is listed as one of the three most visited theme parks in the world. (Most Popular). While those complaints are things that we can’t change, speaking as an enthusiast who once went to Disneyland over 50 times in a year, I have narrowed down 5 major tips to help you maximize your one-day trip to the Anaheim Disneyland Resort.

Tip #1: Plan Ahead

There’s nothing worse than going to an overcrowded place without a thought out plan, and Disneyland is no exception. To begin with, if you can, try to avoid days that are extremely busy – national holidays etc. According to The Undercover Tourist, the best days to go is during the weekdays. (Leap, Best Time). For a more in depth list, you can visit here.

In addition to choosing the perfect day, it is also important to visit the Disneyland website before your trip. On the site, you can find park hours for every day of the year. Depending on the season or special events, closing hours may vary from 8 PM to midnight. If you do not visit Disneyland very often, you might want to pick a day that closes later.

The website also provides you with a list of daily events. The list includes show times, parade times, and even rides that are closed for refurbishment. Be sure to plan out a tentative schedule beforehand, so you don’t miss the shows that you really want to see.

Now that we went through planning the trip, let’s talk about what to do on the day of the trip.

Tip #2: Get There Early, Stay Late, and Take a Break

Make sure to get a good night sleep the night before the big day because you will want to get to Disneyland nice and early. According to Brady MacDonald from the LA Times, “you’ll get more done in the first two hours and the last two hours of your day.” (MacDonald). I would recommend getting there 30 minutes before opening because you will need ample time to park, take the tram to the park, and line up to get through the turnstile.

It is also important to take a long break in the middle of the day. This is the busiest time so if you try to wait in line for an attraction, you will be waiting way longer than normal. Some options include:

  • Explore Downtown Disney
  • Find a spot to watch a parade
  • Take a long lunch to rest your feet

Once you have a general framework of your day, you will need a strategy to tackle the rides.

Tip #3: Understand the Disneyland app

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.09.27 AM
Photo Courtesy of Disney

With the widespread use of smartphones, Disneyland has made it easier for visitors to keep track of attraction times. This application, available in the Apple App store and Google Play, offers:

  • Mobile Map
  • Wait Times
  •  FASTPASS Return Times
  • Character Locator

This app is essential to maximizing the amount of attractions you attend in one day. I recommend familiarizing yourself with the FASTPASS return time. The FASTPASS system at Disneyland is used to allocate the number of people waiting in line per ride. When you receive a FASTPASS for a ride, you get a certain time window to return. In other words, when you come back within that hour, you can cut everyone that is waiting in the normal line. There is a catch however; you may only hold a FASTPASS for one attraction at a time.

The best way to strategize the rides is to obtain a FASTPASS for attractions that are more popular, for example Space Mountain. Then, while waiting for the return time, you wait in line for another attraction that takes about 30 minutes or less. Not only are you waiting in line for a shorter period of time, but you are also experiencing twice the amount of rides.

Now that the Disneyland App is your best friend, we can go into some tips that will help you spend less money at the park.

Tip #4: Pack Snacks and Water

One of the easiest areas you can save money on is food. Theme parks are notoriously known for over charging on meals and snacks. Although there are plenty of delicious options in the park, spending $3.50 on a churro when know you can get one for $1 at Costco is pretty hard to accept.

The best solution? Bring snacks! Disneyland’s staff checks bags before you enter the park but they actually allow visitors to bring food with them. Pack a sandwich and some chips before you enter the park so you spend less of your money on over-priced food and more on gifts you can keep as souvenirs.

Once you have your rides and meals planned out, you can spend more time enjoying the magic this place has to offer.

Tip #5: Take pictures to savor the memory

Selfies with Pluto

This last tip may seem a little self-explanatory but be sure to take a lot of pictures throughout the park! According to Times, the most Instagrammed place in the state of California is Disneyland. (Laurent & Raab). Whether it’s taking a picture in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle or getting your favorite character’s autograph, capture your happiest moments at Disneyland! At the end of the day, these photos will remind you of all the fun you had rather than the moments you spent in line.

Well there you have it – the best ways to maximize your one-day Disneyland trip. Try these tips out during your next visit to Disneyland and you might just fall in love with the park like I did.

Check back later to see my tips on the perfect trip to California Adventure! (P.S. food & booze guide included)

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