Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, but it can also be one of the busiest places on earth! Learning to use your time wisely and going in prepared can make all the difference between a super fun day and a stressful day.
When my husband and I visit the parks, our goal is to maximize our time so that we can get as much done as possible during the day – rides, shows, food, and all the other fun things Disneyland has to offer. We’ve learned lots of tricks along the way to make that happen, but I think that my best suggestion is this: start your day out right!
Yes, that means that we get up early, even on our vacation. But it’s SO WORTH it! Mornings are the slowest the parks are going to be all day, so it’s best to take advantage. With that, here are my suggestions for you, based upon what has worked best for us!
GET TO THE GATES EARLY
Disneyland is known for its lines, and the entry gates are no exception! The farther to the front of the line you are, the sooner you’ll get into the parks, and the sooner you’ll be on your first ride. I would recommend you be at the gates 45 minutes to an hour before park opening. Give yourself time for getting to the park (driving, walking, parking, etc.) and getting through security.
We stayed right across the street at the Best Western Anaheim Plus on our last trip, so my husband took this tip to the extreme. He would get to the park 90 minutes before opening while I was doing my hair and makeup. Bless his heart. It was SO FUN though. Every day, we were the first ones to step foot in the parks! It’s the only time we saw Main Street empty!
You certainly don’t need to do what we did to have a successful morning, but like I said, try to get there early! Because just a couple hours after park opening, the crowds start to pick up and it gets much busier. Let other people sleep in while you’re enjoying the slow time! Then, when the parks get busy in the afternoon, head back to your hotel for a break and/or nap if needed.
HAVE A GENERAL PLAN FOR YOUR MORNING
I know, you’re on vacation and it’s supposed to be relaxed, but I’m a planner. And at Disneyland, I truly believe that a little planning goes a long way! I highly recommend checking out Disneyland Daily and Disney Tourist Blog. I think I’ve read almost everything on both their blogs, and I went into our trip feeling so well prepared.
So, what about the general plan? What I mean by that is to have a basic game plan for what you want to accomplish that morning. My suggestion? Start with rides that get the busiest first! Utilize the Fastpass (or even better – Maxpass) system, and knock as many things off your list as possible. For example, it’s not the best use of your time to start your day on Astro Blasters, which typically has a shorter line throughout the day. Instead, it would be better to start with Space Mountain or Star Tours. Disneyland Daily has all kinds of helpful tips in this department!
Another thing that I found helpful was to start checking and exploring the Disneyland app a few weeks before our trip. I checked ride times at different times of the day to get a feel for line lengths and Fastpass return times. I looked at restaurants and their menus. I checked out where all the bathrooms and Photopass locations were. Having an idea of all these things helped us navigate our days more smoothly.
PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME
This one has always seemed like a no-brainer to me, but apparently it’s not. The lines at the ticket booths were crazy every time we walked by them! That’s valuable park time, folks. Save yourself the time and hassle, and purchase your tickets before you leave for you trip. We personally like to use Getaway Today!
EAT BREAKFAST FIRST
I’m sure you’ve caught onto the running theme that the morning hours at the parks are valuable! So my suggestion is to make sure you eat at least a little something before you start your day. This way you’ll be fueled up enough to hit the parks hard for a couple hours first thing! Don’t forget that you can pack snacks, too.
I know that character dining is a super fun part of a Disneyland trip! If you’re doing dining at one of the hotels, I would do it on one of your non-park days – maybe the day you arrive or the day you’re leaving. If you plan to do breakfast at the Plaza Inn, which is inside of Disneyland, I would make your reservation for later in the morning. That way you can get some park time in while it’s slow, before you sit down to eat!
I hope that you found these suggestions helpful! I know that they really help us enjoy our time at Disneyland. We have full, busy days at the parks and LOVE every minute of it! We get so much done, it’s not stressful, and most importantly, we have fun!
Check out our other Disneyland posts for more fun!