Whether visiting Disneyland for the first time or the hundredth, I bet you’ll learn at least one new trick in this post! Below are all of my very best tips and tricks to get on as many rides as you can, and save as much money as possible. I will also answer Disneyland’s most frequently asked questions.
When is the best time to visit Disneyland?
If possible, visit Disneyland in the off season (Feb-April) and early on in the week. Classically, Disneyland is the least busy on Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s.
How can I get cheaper tickets to Disneyland?
TIP: I like to purchase my Disneyland tickets through Getawaytoday.com. The best time to buy is during their Black Friday deals! I have done a lot of research and it is MUCH cheaper to book the tickets and hotel together through Getaway Today than purchasing everything separately.
I went to Disneyland last week and paid $1990.00 for 6 Disneyland tickets and 4 nights at the Stanford Inn Hotel (This was purchased during the Black Friday Deal). If I were to purchase those two separately, the Disneyland tickets would be $1760.00 and the hotel would be $700.00. Which means we saved a good $500.00 just by booking though Getaway Today.
Can I bring food into Disneyland?
YES!! And I completely encourage it! I know some people are all about the novelty of eating inside of the park, I am just not about that life! (If you are, don’t worry, we can still be friends. 😉) I would suggest either packing a suitcase of snacks or heading to the nearby Target and stocking up. You and everyone in your party will be walking A LOT, which means they will be hungry.. A LOT.
TIP: I like to make sure whatever hotel we are staying at has continental breakfast, I then pack ziplock bags and make some PB&J’s at breakfast that we can eat for lunch while in the park! Grab a few extra apples, a baggie of fruit loops for the toddler stuck in the stroller all day and anything else snack worthy.
TIP: If you are bringing in a stroller and are planning on storing your snacks underneath the seat, I strongly suggest packing a reusable grocery sack to compile all of your snacks into. While heading into the park, everything will be searched and everything will need to be taken out from underneath the stroller. Keeping all of the snacks in one place just makes things so much easier.
TIP: While there are garbage cans nearly everywhere, I like to keep a large gallon sized ziplock bag in with the snacks to collect all the wrappers and trash. This is so much easier when you are hauling it trying to make it from ride A to ride B before your fast pass expires. 😉 When there is down time it is really easy to empty the baggie into a garbage can.
What are the best snacks to bring to Disneyland?
The best snacks to bring are ones that you and your family like (first and foremost, this is not the time to try out a new brand of granola bar!), snacks that are compact and easy to eat on the go. No utensils necessary! Our favorite snacks to bring are granola bars (lots and lots of granola bars), apples, oranges, PB&J sandwiches for lunch (made from the continental breakfast that morning), dry cold cereal, individual packages of chips/pretzels, goldfish etc.
TIP: Remember that it will most likely be HOT outside and you don’t want to bring anything that will melt. I know this seems obvious but granola bars with chocolate chips or the Nature Valley sweet and salty granola bars are a NO GO!
TIP: Before we went to Disneyland I bought a big bag of Jolly Ranchers (something I’ve literally never done before. I hate spending money on candy). I thought that they would be good in case we had to wait in a long line, it would give the kids something to focus on besides the fact that we’ve been standing in one place for 40 minutes. This was one of the best things I did for the trip! My kids never once asked to buy a crazy expensive treat inside the park because they had access to a fun treat already.
Don’t forget about WATER!! It is so important to remember to drink! Even if it isn’t crazy hot outside, you will be walking a lot! When we went, we brought a water bottle for each child and then Dan and I shared the Camelback.
TIP: If you have a Camelback.. bring it! Fill it up with Ice and water at the hotel before heading over to Disneyland and have cold water all day long at your fingertips! We actually used the camelback to refill our kids’ water bottles a few times, too. I might be a little bit of a germaphobe and wasn’t too fond of using the drinking fountains inside of the park.
Should I get a One Park per Day or a Park Hopper pass to Disneyland?
If you are going with young kids, I would highly recommend getting the one park per day pass. That is what we did last week and I am SO grateful we didn’t opt for the park hopper. There is no way we would have been able to run back and forth between parks with all of the kids in tow. We got a 3 day, one park per day pass and spent the first day in Disneyland and the last two days in Disney’s California Adventure.
If you are traveling with older kids or it is just adults, I would totally get the park hopper pass! You’ll be able to run around easier and use double the fast passes (since you can have some in both parks at the same time.)
TIP: If purchasing the one park per day pass, make sure to plan ahead for your Magic Morning (if your ticket includes one). Both parks don’t have magic morning every day so you will need to plan what park you will be going to which day according to the Magic Morning Schedule.
What is Magic Morning at Disneyland?
Magic morning is included in when you purchase 3 or more days worth of tickets. Magic morning allows you to get into the park 1 hour early which means short lines!! Make sure to check the schedule as both parks are not open for Magic morning every day.
How do Fast Passes work at Disneyland?
Not all rides have fast passes associated with them, just the most popular rides. All of the fast passes are available next to the ride, unless noted otherwise below.
A fast pass is acquired by inserting your daily Disneyland ticket into a machine where it scans the ticket and then a Fast Pass is printed out. The print out will let you know what time you should return to the ride to use your fast pass as well as what time you can get another fast pass.
In Disneyland Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, It’s a Small World, Indiana Jones, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Star Tours (available by Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters) and the Matterhorn all have Fast Passes.
In Disney’s California Adventure the Incredicoaster (available down the pier, towards Midway Mania), Goofy’s Sky School, Grizzly River Run, Radiator Springs Racers (available outside of Flo’s V8 Cafe), Soarin’ Around the World and, Guardians of the Galaxy, Toy Story Midway Mania (available at the same spot as the Incredicoaster) all offer Fast Passes.
TIP: the sooner the fast pass return time, the sooner you will be able to get another fast pass. Before riding any rides in the morning, get some fast passes. Try to hit a ride that you want to go on, but isn’t super popular first thing, that way you’ll be able to get another fast pass sooner.
For example, Dan and I split up on our last day in California Adventure, He went to Radiator Springs Racers and I went to Guardians of the Galaxy. Guardians return time was from 8:30am -9:30am. I was able to get more fast passes at 8:30am. Radiator Springs Racers return time was 11:30am -12:30pm and Dan wasn’t able to get more fast passes until 10:00am.
TIP: If traveling with kids, use their tickets to get you fast passes!! It doesn’t matter if they are tall enough to ride or not, their ticket will get a fast pass. We were able to split our tickets up and get fast passes for multiple places at once.
To use your fast passes, there will be a designated ‘Fast Pass Return’ line, there you will scan your Disneyland Pass and enter!
How do Stroller Swap Passes Work at Disneyland?
If you have a baby and are thinking about leaving them home.. BRING THE BABY. 😉 These stroller swap passes are so handy! Basically, One person stays out with the baby and stroller and when the rest of your party is finished with the ride the stroller swap gets THREE people in the fast pass line. This means the one person who stayed out PLUS two people get to ride a second time.
To do this, make sure the baby and stroller are visible when your party heads to go in line. Whoever is the master ‘holder of the Disneyland Passes’ (usually dad😉) just needs to go up to the worker, point out the baby and stroller and ask for a stroller swap pass. The worker will then scan 3 of your Disneyland tickets (putting fast passes onto those tickets). Voila all done!
Using the Stroller Swap Pass is exactly how you would use a fast pass- Go into the ‘Fast Pass Return’ line, scan your Disneyland Pass and go ride the ride!
Can I use Fast Passes and Stroller Passes together at Disneyland?
Yes, yes, yes! We finally figured this out on Day 3. You can get stroller passes even when using a fast pass. I know, it’s hard to wrap your mind around. Let me give you this hypothetical.
Dan got 4 fast passes to Radiator Springs Racers. There are 6 in our group though. Dan and 3 other members of our group use their fast passes and while at the gate asks for a stroller pass for those of us waiting out with the baby. They say ‘of course!’, scan 3 tickets, done.
Basically, we turned 4 fast passes into 7.
TIP: If you have a stroller, split your tickets in half and get fast passes to two different rides and then get stroller passes when riding the rides. If you utilize the fast passes and stroller swap passes, you will have more fast passes than you know what to do with!
Tips for doing Disneyland with Kids
- Bring lots of snacks and treats. Make them easily accessible so they can be pulled to while waiting in line.
- Packing bubbles is fun for when lines are long, too. A lot of kids will have bubble machine toys purchased in the park (for an entire left arm and kidney 😉) so bringing your own is a great way to curb the whines for a bubble machine.
- GLOW STICKS. Listen, glow sticks will be your best friend. Head to the Dollar Store before your trip and stock up. Once it gets dark outside, stick a necklace on everyone and then line the handle of your stroller with bracelets. Not only will all of your people be easy to spot but you’ll be able to find your stroller easily, too.
- While in the park play ‘spot the worker’, so your kids know what they look like incase they get lost.
- Utilize the Child Care Centers in both parks. They have high chairs, rocking chairs, changing tables and even little teeny tiny toilets! They also sell diapers, wipes, formula and baby food there but I strongly encourage you to pack your own. Overpack, actually. Do everything to avoid purchasing here. While I was in changing a diaper a man walked in and needed some formula.. $9.00 PER OUNCE, PEOPLE!!
- Don’t forget about Toon Town! There is a great play scape for kids to climb on to get energy out, too. Not to mention, it seems like their bathrooms are close by and never busy.
- If you want to ride Peter Pan, do it first thing in the morning. That ride gets busy and stays busy.
- Bring jackets, sun screen and garbage bags (for an easy poncho) to be prepared for all types of weather. Blankets are also great, perfect for saving spots for the parade, too!
- In California Adventure, there is this awesome attraction called the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. It is near the Grizzly run. This has slides, swings, rock climbing, picnic tables, ropes.. everything for your kids to run some energy out!
- Go talk to Crush in California Adventure! It is nice to go sit down for a while and the kids love it!
General Disneyland Tips
- There is a Mcdonald’s across the street from the park (across and a little north) if you want to save money. I ran and picked up Mcdonald’s for dinner the first night while everyone was waiting in line for It’s a Small World. I was there and back before they were off the ride.
- Bring a Camelback and fill it up with water and ice at the hotel before coming into the park.
- If you want a Churro, don’t buy the ones over by Toy Story Mania in Buzz’s cart. They have special green sugar but they also cost .75 cents more than other carts.
- Take a photo of the back of your ticket in case you lose your ticket while at the park. Guest Relations will be able to replace your ticket.
- Arrive to the park at least 30 minutes before it opens. The lines will already be long even arriving 30 minutes early!
- Download the Disneyland App. There is a great interactive map that shows you current wait times for rides! So so handy!