What Are the Best Disneyland Hacks?
Off-peak times are quieter
The busiest times to visit Disneyland® Resort are in summer and over big holidays like Christmas. While it may be easier to get time off during these periods, it can be a much more enjoyable visit if you go at another time. There are far fewer crowds and shorter lines for rides and shows.
Summer hours are longer
Although summer is more crowded, if you only have a couple of days to visit Disneyland® Resort, this might be a good time. The summer opening hours for the resort are longer, giving you extra time to see and do as much as possible.
Arrive before opening
Early arrival can mean a shorter wait to get in. Arriving half an hour to an hour before the opening time, however, can mean an even faster entrance. The parks sometimes open a little before the official opening times.
Midweek means fewer crowds
Weekends are an especially busy time for Disneyland® Resort. If you are able to, visiting during the week can mean a little more space and slightly shorter lines.
The middle of the week means you can also miss out on any guests who are taking a Monday or Friday as part of a long weekend.
Use the Magic Hour or Morning
The Magic Hour or Magic Morning allow you to access the resort before other guests. With the limited crowds in the resort, you can access popular rides and attractions that would otherwise have much longer lines.
Avoid Magic Hour crowds
If you are not attending the Magic Hour, make sure to check whether there is a Magic Hour on the day you will be visiting. The Magic Hour means the crowds will be bigger than usual early on. Therefore, if there is a Magic Hour at Disneyland® Park, head to Disney California Adventure® Park first, and vice versa.
Early instead of late
If you have to make a decision between an early morning or a late night at Disneyland® Resort, early is generally better. The lines are often shorter, and mornings in summer offer a cooler start to the day.
Use a hotel shuttle
Traveling to and from Disneyland® Resort can be tiring, particularly after the end of your day out. By staying at a nearby hotel, you can usually count on a shuttle service for this. Make sure to check in advance what your hotel offers in terms of Disneyland® Resort transportation.
Fantasyland has many of the most popular attractions at Disneyland® Resort. The lines will be shorter first thing in the morning for rides such as Peter Pan, for which you cannot use FASTPASS®. You then have the rest of the day to visit quieter areas.
Single rider lines
The single rider line allows you to move much faster than staying in a group. This does mean you have to be willing to break up your group and ride by yourself. However, you will not have as long to wait, and you can reconnect with your group as soon as the ride is over.
FASTPASS for long lines
FASTPASS® is an excellent way to save time on lines. Booking a return time in advance means you can plan your day around certain rides, as well as saving time in line when your turn comes.
However, you are only permitted a certain number of FASTPASS® tickets per day, and you may only purchase one every two hours. Make sure to use them wisely, on rides or attractions that usually have very long waiting times.
Take turns for FASTPASS
While you can use the MaxPass app to get your FASTPASS® tickets digitally, many guests will use the FASTPASS® paper ticket machines. If you are with a group, take turns to carry everyone’s tickets to a FASTPASS® machine and scan them all at the same time. This gives everyone the same return slot. It is also faster than a whole group trying to get to the machine at the same time.
Rider switch allows parents to go on rides that their children are not able to. You can get in line while your partner goes elsewhere with your children, and go on the ride. Your partner will then be permitted to use your wait time as their own, skipping the line with a Rider Switch Ticket on MaxPass.
Choose a quiet area
Having a few quiet spots to go to can help preserve your energy for a long day at Disneyland® Resort. These are often placed away from the more popular areas and rides, also giving you a chance to better explore the resort.
Examples include the Main Street U.S.A. Opera House, Tom Sawyer’s Island and the Redwood Creek Challenge. You can also sit and relax in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, even if you are not a guest there.
Switch meal times
Mealtimes mean long lines at Disneyland® Resort. At the same time, the lines for rides and shows might get shorter as everyone heads for the restaurants. To take advantage of this, have an early or late meal at mid-morning or mid-afternoon. You will have a shorter wait for your food, and you might have a shorter wait for rides as well.
Split your time between parks
Getting a Park Hopper® ticket through a site like aRes Travel means you can head from Disneyland® Park to Disney California Adventure® Park whenever you want. This gives you far more options for rides and shows. Park Hopper® tickets are available for 2-5 days through aRes Travel.
If a balloon pops, you are able to obtain a replacement for free. Provided you bring the remnants of the balloon to a vendor, they can give you another at no charge. This is particularly useful if you have children.
Lightweight rain gear
Some of the rides at Disneyland® Resort mean getting wet. Plan for this in advance by bringing lightweight waterproof jackets or ponchos. These can be rolled up and stored in a bag.
Rain gear also allows you to head to Disneyland® Resort on a rainy day. These days often draw smaller crowds, giving you a chance to take advantage of shorter lines.
Taking a bag to Disneyland® Resort allows you to bring layered clothing items, snacks, a first aid kit, and more. Those who do not usually carry bags should do so, as you cannot bring everything in your pockets.
If you normally have a large bag or purse, however, swap this out for something small and hands-free. A backpack or waist bag allow you to easily access your belongings, with more security than a shoulder strap bag.
Save your battery
While you can find places to charge your phone around Disneyland® Resort, looking for them can be a waste of precious time. While in line for rides, try putting your phone on airplane mode. This is particularly useful when in a line that goes underground, as your phone will waste battery trying to pick up a signal.
Back-up your power
If your phone’s battery does start to run down, it is much more convenient to use a portable power bank than to seek out a charging station. These are small and can be easily carried in a bag. If you plan to take a camera, bring an additional battery for this as well.
Dragging a large camera around with you will be difficult, and you are not permitted to use selfie sticks to improve camera phone shots. Instead, try using Disney Photopass, which grants unlimited downloads of official photographs taken within the park, such as those of guests on rides. This way, you can enjoy your day without worrying about dropping a camera or phone.
Take a picture of your ticket
If you lose your ticket, make sure you can obtain a replacement one quickly and easily. Taking a photo of the ticket and its barcode can help.
Locate your car with a pin
Finding your car in Disneyland® Resort’s huge parking lot can be a challenge. Memorizing the location, or taking a photo with your phone, can still take some navigating at the end of your long day. Try using Google Maps to drop a pin on the car’s location as soon as you park it.
Rest during shows
A long day at Disneyland® Resort can be tiring. You will generally walk from one attraction to the next, but you might not want to stop and rest as it can feel like wasting time. To solve this problem, plan to watch a few shows throughout the day. By selecting these as stops, you can take the opportunity to rest your feet without missing out on the fun.
Use the parade time
While the parade is on, the lines for rides and shows might be slightly shorter than usual. If you have a multi-day ticket, choose one day on which to watch the parade. On the others, use this opportunity to shave a few minutes of wait time off your next line.
Watch the parade start
The parade starts at It’s a Small World. If you want to watch the floats and characters, but do not want to wait around for 20 minutes, try to get a spot in this location before the parade begins. You can experience the parade as it starts, and then head off to your next ride or show while everyone else is still waiting.
Order from the kid’s menu
If you do not want to fill up on your meal, you can order a kids menu version instead. These are much smaller, and allow you to avoid the weighed-down feeling that can come with a heavy meal. They might also allow you to try a greater variety of Disney foods without filling up too fast.
Shorter food lines
Along with rides, shows, and other attractions, many guests have famous Disney dishes and snacks on their lists of things to try. However, the long lines for traditional food locations can make you wonder if the items are worth the wait.
You can sometimes find alternative places to get the food you want. The line inside the Enchanted Tiki Room is often much shorter if you want to get Dole Whip, for example. You can also get corn dogs from the Stage Door Cafe as well as the Red Wagon.
Refillable water bottles
Bottled water can quickly become expensive if you are walking around all day in the sun. There are many spots around Disneyland® Park where you can refill your own bottle with drinking water. Make sure to bring a non-glass bottle. If you did not bring a bottle, buy one at the beginning of the day and keep it to refill.
Free iced water
Any location with a soda fountain around Disneyland® Resort should give you a cup of iced water for free. This may not be advertised, but you can just ask.
Ride during the fireworks
The first evening of your trip, you will probably want to watch the fireworks with your full attention. However, on subsequent evenings, you can enjoy them in a whole new way. Going on a ride such as Space Mountain during the fireworks allows you to watch them while enjoying the thrill of the ride at the same time.
Wait for the row you want
The best rows for any ride are either the front or the back. The back will often give you the greatest rush of speed, while the front might have the best views. If you specifically want one of these rows, you can ask for them.
You will probably have to wait once you get to the front of the line, but you will be able to take the row you want.
Get in line for the end of the night
The lines for the rides close at the same time as the Resort. However, the rides themselves only close once everyone in the ride has gone on them. This means that getting in line just before Disneyland® Resort closes can allow you one final ride before you have to leave.
Head out before the fireworks
For those concerned about traffic at the end of the night, try heading out a little early. If you go to the top of the parking structure, you will have a great view of the fireworks. This way, you will not have to miss out on the experience, and you can drive off right away.
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