You’ve bought the plane tickets, booked the hotel, stocked up on super stylish Mickey gear, got your nails did, and have your Disneybounding all ready; you’re truly invested in that upcoming Disneyland trip. Now it’s time to do absolutely everything you can to ensure that you have the BEST TIME EVER. We can help! Here are 19 tried-and-true Disneyland hacks to assist you in having the most magical time at the happiest place on Earth.
1. Pick the right time to go. Do your research before going to the parks to avoid the overwhelming throngs. There will always be crowds, but try your best to visit a park when it’s not at capacity. See when the local spring breaks and school holidays are and avoid those times. The weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas are notoriously insane. Consider going on a weekday since there are usually fewer people than on those pesky weekends. (Photo via Disney Parks)
2. Head to the park when it rains. That is, if you don’t mind getting wet (and you’ll get wet going on Splash Mountain regardless). While you can’t plan for showers, if you have the opportunity to head to a Disney Park when it’s raining… DO IT. Main Street will be close to deserted, everything will sparkle with glistening raindrops, and there will be next to no lines for the rides.
3. Don’t waste your time; download a wait time app. The go-to app for keeping tabs on attraction wait times is Disneyland’s own app (free on iOS and Android), or you could download a popular one like Touring Plans (free on iOS and Android) or MouseWait (free on iOS). The Disneyland app also shows where and when character meet-and-greets will be happening, from Peter Pan holding court by Edelweiss Snacks to Chip and Dale hanging out in the Town Square. (Photo via Sunny Chanel)
4. Take advantage of the extra magic hour. If you’re staying at one of the Disneyland hotels, you’ll be able to enter the parks an hour early. It is so worth the pain of getting up at the crack of dawn. You can get a whole bunch of the big rides out of the way and enjoy the rest of the day without stressing about getting on Space Mountain or Toy Story Mania. If you’re not staying at a Disney property, you can still get into the park an hour early (on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday) with a three-day (or more) park ticket, or if you purchase the Southern California CityPASS.
5. Spring for the MaxPass; it’s worth the $10. The MaxPass lets you secure FastPasses anywhere in the park, allowing you to skip most of the big lines. You just have to scan the barcode on the app when you get to the ride and you’re set! Not only does it cut down on wait times, but you also get PhotoPass downloads with the MaxPass, so make sure to get pics with every single princess.
6. Snap that Ride Photo ID. If you signed up for the MaxPass (again, you should), make sure to take a pic of the Attraction ID number on the ride photos for the likes of Space Mountain and Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout. You’ll be able to link your photo to your app and can download those thrilling moments. Bonus points if you figure out when the camera snaps so you can get your pose on. (Photo via Sunny Chanel)
7. Pack wisely. It’s no surprise that there’s a high premium on necessities at the Disneyland. Make sure you pack things like Band-Aids, sunscreen, and an external phone charger (the last one is a MUST).
8. Book those restaurant reservations early! If your heart (and stomach) is set on eating at a place like the Blue Bayou (located IN Pirates of the Caribbean) or the swanky Carthay Circle (they make killer craft cocktails), then you’ll want to reserve your table sooner rather than later. You can score reservations up to 60 days in advance online, via the app, or by giving them a call. (Photo via Disney Parks)
9. Lock it up. Don’t break your back carrying a heavy backpack to the parks. Utilize the lockers. You can store snacks, the necessities above like that phone charger, and anything else you might need. If you’re planning on hitting wet rides like Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Run — and you don’t wanna spend the rest of the day soaked — then store an extra set of clothes.
10. Order food from your phone. At the time of writing this, the Mobile Food and Beverage Ordering system is still in the planning stages, but when it begins, it’ll be a game changer (especially for those of us who get hangry). Utilizing the app, you’ll be able to select menu items, customize your order, and pre-pay at your leisure. No fuss, no muss (and we’re really hoping that Bengal Barbecue — pictured above — will be one of the options). (Photo via Sunny Chanel)
11. If you must wait, keep entertained. If your crew yearns to keep occupied while waiting in line for Space Mountain, Radiator Springs, or any of those other long-line rides, then play a game like the charades-style Head’s Up (which is free on iOS and Android and has a Disney Parks-themed deck that you can unlock for free when you’re in the parks). This summer, Disney will launch Play Disney Parks, a free app that will let you have a variety of exclusive experiences and interact with the surrounding environment. We can’t wait to play with Play.
12. Get reserved seating with a dinner package. If experiencing Fantasmic!, Paint the Night, the Pixar Play Parade, or World of Color is at the top of your to-do list, then you might consider signing up for one of the Disney dining packages. You’ll be fed and given reserved seating for one of those big-draw spectaculars.
13. Check out Instagram before you go so you’re in the know. If you want to make sure you taste the newest churro flavor, take a photo in front of the most popular Insta-worthy wall, or know where to snag the cutest new Minnie ears, pay a visit to Instagram. Do a search for the hashtag #Disneyland or #Disneyfood or similar and see what the hot new goodies are. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the limited-time magic of something like the Dole Whip Donut, now would you?
14. When the park gets crowded, take a break. While it’s tempting to go, go, and go some more, if you’re at the park for more than one day, make sure to take a nice big afternoon break. The best time to do this is midday when the park is generally at its most crowded. Go to your hotel and have a pool break, or go to Downtown Disney and enjoy a leisurely lunch. Your body, your mind, and your spirit will thank you.
15. Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad during the fireworks. We did this the last time we were there, and it was *amazing*. Schedule your FastPass for right when the firework show starts, and try to time it so you get on Big Thunder a minute or so after the show has started. There’s something magical about seeing the huge explosions while riding such a thrilling attraction. The extra planning to make this happen is so worth it. (Photo via Disney Parks)
16. Go single — Single Rider that is. If you’re not into the lines and really can’t be bothered with the FastPass system (either online or via the kiosks), then you should consider getting in the Single Rider lane. This option is available on select attractions (Radiator Springs Racers, Matterhorn, and Splash Mountain to name a few). You won’t be able to ride next to your BFF or S.O., but you’ll get on pretty quick.
17. Save money where you can. A Disneyland trip ain’t cheap. It all adds up. Consult our money-saving hacks guide right here so you don’t break the bank.
18. Ride Peter Pan first. If taking a journey on Peter Pan’s Flight is a priority, then you should a) be prepared to wait (standard wait is upward of 40 minutes) and b) do your best fast walk to the ride immediately when the park opens. Another good time to get in line is right after the fireworks. They close Fantasyland for the show, so line up at the back of the land before the fireworks stop. You’ll probably be able to shave the wait time in half. (Photo via Sunny Chanel)
19. Keep those hands germ-free. During a trip to Disneyland, you will end up touching so many things from grabbing mustard dispensers (for those Mickey pretzels) to clenching the hand bars crazy tight. Don’t forget that hand sanitizer — it’s pretty easy to pick up a cold there, and that’s a souvenir you don’t want to bring home.
Do you have any of your own Disneyland tips? Tweet us @BritandCo.