First things first, when is the best time to go to Disneyland? If you can avoid Spring break (the end of March-the beginning of April) and Summer break (May-early August) and the holiday’s (end of November-beginning of Jan) that will save a good amount of time! But if you can’t this post is the one for you.
As an avid Disney goer who lives 7-8 hours away and made use of my Disney Annual Pass for four years straight, I would say that I may have a few great tips and tricks to make sure your day at Disneyland goes smoothly and hopefully, stress-free. I will be mentioning the best way around the park and what huge attraction rides to hit first to save time.
Where to purchase your tickets – I know you were hoping I would tell you a secret website to get you discounted tickets but I’m here to reference stress-free options, not get you into a possible fraudulent problem. The best way to save time is by purchasing your tickets online. I will go ahead and let you know now is the best time to download the Disneyland app this is the perfect way to keep your tickets safe (you can purchase your ticket on here as well), see wait times, browse maps, locate Disney characters and more!
What to bring:
- Insulated/reusable water bottle to save $$ and the environment! – most places to eat have a soda machine with water and ice, filtered water stations (Rancho del Zocalo Resturante and at Galactic Grill) and water fountains.
- Comfortable SMALL backpack, fanny pack or bag (you can bring on the ride with you).
- Sunscreen – I can’t stress this enough just pack it, dude.
- Comfortable shoes – you do not have to wear running/workout shoes (could possibly ruin cute pics). I am comfortable wearing Teva’s and Vans (not brand new) my best friend goes in her Rainbows. Just go with something you are comfortable in!
- A light sweater, leggings/pants, and extra socks – It may be hot in the day, but it gets cooler at night, plus there’s a water ride…need I say more?
Where would I put all these things?! This leads me to…
Parking or walking? Either way…Get a locker. If you leave a change of clothes in your car (Mickey and Friends Parking Structure) I will let you know now, depending where you are in the park it could take about 30 minutes to an hour to continue where you left off at. A locker will save you time and you could place all the stuff you do not want to hold. In my experience, three-five people could share one large locker (which we used for extra clothes).
Once you’re in the park, where should you start? For some reason, people have the tendency to veer off right to Tomorrowland or towards the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. I would advise going left into Adventureland, leaving Main Street midday or end of the day (unless for pictures). I would rush to Indiana Jones Adventure to grab your first FASTPASS (please read if not familiar with FASTPASS this will be your key to time-saving). This will give you time to check out the rest of Adventureland and/or walk into New Orleans Square. Another reason why this should be your first stop it’s a popular ride! *If the ride is broken down during the time of redeeming walk up to a cast member, they will mention bringing the FASTPASS when the ride is open again, or give you a pass to ride another day*
From there I would follow along to New Orleans Square to Critter Country. If it is extra hot during the day I would suggest grabbing another FASTPASS for Splash Mountain, this ride could be an hour+ wait
*At the bottom of your FASTPASS, it will state the time you can grab another pass (I think around two hours, depending on how early you grab one or how busy the park is).*
If the line at Splash Mountain is not long I would hold your next pass for Space Mountain (if its the afternoon run towards Tomorrowland to grab a FASTPASS- this is probably top #3 ride that could be an almost two-hour wait and FASTPASS is not guaranteed depending on how busy the park is. Come back to Frontierland to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
*Other rides I did not mention in these lands can be reached later in the day.*
Next area in the park I would head to is Tomorrowland! I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve skipped Fantasyland…the later you wait the more you realize people go home around this time to take a nap or eat lunch which means = LESS CROWDED. Fantasyland closes off around the time of the fireworks. Head to Star Tours. It may seem like a long wait but it goes by pretty quick and it’s mostly inside with air conditioning!
*Remember you can always check the Disneyland app for attraction times.*
Follow along to the end of Tomorrowland to the Tomorrowland Station! Disneyland Railroad circles around Disneyland. Take the stop off Mickey’s Toontown Depot, right by the infamous “it’s a small world” ride. Another ride I would suggest to get a FASTPASS to is Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. Toontown is the easiest way to meet Mickey and Minnie, which is a fun and interactive area for kids with lots of photo ops.
The first line I would step into in Fantasyland is the one and only Peter Pan’s Flight. This will feel like the longest line you ever have to wait in because there is no FASTPASS distribution here and a 30-minute line will feel like an hour.
I pick and choose which rides to ride in Fantasyland. It’s a hit or miss for some, usually, if you have kids it’s fun – dealers choice. I do enjoy Alice In Wonderland. If you have time and you ’ve been on most of the rides Storybook Land Canal Boats is a great sit down ride. If it’s too hot I would wait towards the evening/night.
Alright…how I approach Matterhorn Bobsleds is jumping into the single rider line but if you want to be with your loved ones and/or it’s your first time I would try to stand in line for it. I love the concept…but I will warn you its a very ROUGH (not smooth, body hurts after) ride, and you have to wait in the sun for more than half of the time when standing in line.
So when’s lunch/dinner?
Watch for another post about each dining experience. If you do make reservations for lunch or dinner be aware that it will take more time in your day.
If you have extra time must include these
Fantasmic (Has FASTPASS, grab it early in the day to get the best seating)
Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
I hope you enjoyed these tips and tricks for a day in Disneyland (without Disney MaxPass) stay tuned for other Disneyland related posts!
Great tips for spending a day at Disney! I love Disneyland and visit frequently as well…and I agree you HAVE to be prepared, otherwise it can spoil your magical day if you’re gonna be out all day.
I actually have a post about Staying Healthy at Disneyland in the Summer if your readers would like to check it out here: https://lavidacolor.com/10-tips-to-stay-healthy-at-disneyland-this-summer/