This post gives a few secret Disneyland tips and insider tricks to have the best day at Disneyland park! We’ll talk about everything from where to stay, how to save time and money, avoid mistakes, use your Maxpass/FastPasses (now called Disney Genie Plus) and even what to eat!
Disneyland vacation tips for families come in many forms. I hope you enjoy these that have helped my family enjoy trips through 2020! We have been so many times, and helped so many people, we feel like pros!
A lot of these tips are Disneyland specific, but many work at all the Disney parks!
I’m not one of those parents that pretend I am going to Disneyland because my kids want to. I genuinely love it there. I get excited when I see Mary Poppins. I have dreams about Peter Pan and I can sing the songs to many of the rides. I love it there.
These are not your average tips! These are my best Disneyland tips! I think if you’re a regular at Mickey’s house, or this is your first trip, there will be lots of hacks in this post you’ll appreciate!
Disneyland Tips 2020
Disneyland Tips in this Article:
I know that Disneyland isn’t every parent’s cup of tea. But, by really throwing yourself into the joy that Disney can give you will enhance your joy 12 fold (scientific research has proven). BUT, having some practical Disneyland tips will make each day so much brighter and happier — and that is what I have created right here!
My BIGGEST Disneyland Tip for Families:
(this one is ALL UP TO YOU)
I have one giant tip — and that is to forget how much it is costing you.
Let that go. I share the tale of a dad and an umbrella stroller that was the initiation to our last visit. It really reminded me to take each day as it came and enjoy it — before some 3-year-old lands on the cement. 🙂 Yup, it’s good — be SURE to check that post out! It really puts you in the right mind frame for the visit! I even did a podcast about my #1 tip for family travel.
If you’re headed out soon — don’t miss my 5 steps to Disneyland Trip Planning. Lots of planning should be done pre-arrival for the best trip!
Buying Disneyland Tickets
One of my BIGGEST Disneyland mistakes is to buy tickets at the park.
- They are more expensive — and can KILL your Disneyland Budget
- You will waste time at the ticket booth — and early time at Disneyland can be your most productive time (vs standing at the ticket booth)
I have a whole post on if you can buy Disneyland tickets at the gate and where the cheapest place to get them is!
I personally think the best way is to buy through Get Away Today for my discount Disneyland tickets, but I had previously bought them through my work or some people like using AAA, or Costco. But, Get Away Today has a best price guarantee and the BEST customer service in the business. Love them — I’ve used them since 1998!
Pro Tip: If you’re going to several places in California be SURE to scroll down on the Get Away Today ticket page to see how much you can save on combo tickets (hint: it’s a lot).
What ticket to buy?
The most popular one is the 3 day Park Hopper ticket.
However, if you’re strategic, you could really do it with two day tickets (frankly, you could do it in one, but you’d likely skip a lot). I am confident if we used the Maxpass (more on that later) efficiently, we could easily do it in two days and feel very satisifed. 🙂
But, three days lets you feel a bit more relaxed (and you’ll find that every day you add after day #2 gets less and less expensive).
Pro Tip: If you have a great time, you can always trade in your pass (they will give you credit for what you paid for it) for an annual pass! There are many levels — be sure to pick the one that works for you!
Tips on where to stay at Disneyland?
Disneyland is in the middle of LA (Anaheim to be more specific). There are probably 4 billion hotels (most of which say they’re “within walking distance” of Disneyland — they only mean that if you think the pioneers were in walking distance of their destination). It’s so hard to know which one to pick.
I have reviewed every hotel we’ve stayed at in my post Disneyland family packages. I’ve checked out the cheapest hotels near Disneyland for you, and we have been slowly staying at every hotel on Harber boulevard — and shared my opinion in my post on closest hotels to Disneyland (we do love being close by — saves our feet!).
Don’t forget you can also stay on property at the Disneyland hotel or another Disney hotel! HOWEVER, some of the Disneyland Resort Hotels (there are three) are further away than the “Good Neighbor” hotels (and likely more expensive. However, they do allow you som added perks, so check out those options as well!
Also, some of you might be looking for all-inclusive Disneyland trips — Get Away Today can help you book all the things for your Disneyland trip! ANDD, you can save $10 on hotel + tickets with code CURLS10.
One of my favorite things about Get Away Today is being able to ask them lots of questions about the room. Things to consider about your Disneyland room:
- Space (because LOCATION is key for these places the rooms are small — especially problematic if you need a pack and play)
- How walkable it really is (because they lie).
When is the Best Time to Visit?
Pro Tip: The best time to visit is when your family finds it the best time to go. I think that’s what I learned on a recent podcast on the best time to go:
Even if you go at busier times, more rides will be open (think: nothing closed down for refurbishment), more characters etc. SO, if you want to go to Disneyland — pick the best time for you.
Whatever you do, get to the theme parks early — at least 30-60 minutes before they open! It will really help you maximize your experience! We’ve also heard that extra magic hours are supposed to be coming back this summer on site Disney hotel room. This means you can add an extra half hour to extra hour before opening time to your Disneyland day. This is a great way to hit up rides Rise of the Resistance or Radiator Springs Racers that can have a long wait even if it’s not a busy day.
Disneyland Ride Planner
Be sure to grab my recommend itinerary planner (or a ride strategy if you want to more loosely plan) below from my Disney California Adventure Park Rides post and my Disneyland Planning posts (be sure to see those posts for more details on how to plan your days at each resort). It will help you get a game plan for your big day and hopefully avoid long lines on popular rides like Haunted Mansion, Small World, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and more of your favorite rides!
As a parent, it’s always hard to know when to push your kid or let them decide. I have a whole post on which rides might scare your kid at Disneyland? Fairy tales can be scary for little kids, my friends. 🙂
TW, did you know you can rent a stroller at Disneyland? I always recommend to bring your own, but they are a good option there too! I have a lot of secrets for families!
One of the best tips is to get the Disneyland Mobile App (and also the Disney Play App) — it will help you know wait times, order food — its SO handy!
Tips on What to Eat at Disneyland
Food can be tough at Disneyland — pricey, sometimes with long waits. The good news is that they have a huge variety. Probably the best of any amusement park that I’ve ever seen. They truly do make GOOD food (at the majority of places). BUT it’s expensive.
I have a post that tells all about the best places to eat in Disneyland for families. I found a way to eat GREAT food and not break the bank. There are a few restaurants that aren’t great — but the ones I found were REALLY tasty!
Pro Tip: Use the Disneyland Mobile app to mobile order (I show how in this post) You’ll save time, and possibly even money buy ordering that way!
Tips on what to bring to Disneyland
You could easily rent a Uhaul for the stuff you “might” need at Disneyland. Now that we go sans-stroller I have really whittled our packing list down to the essentials. I have a full post about what to bring to Disneyland and I also have a post that will help your family get packing (note: my kids mainly pack themselves at this point, so starting young really helps in this area).
Don’t forget to bring the best Disneyland Backpack for you too!
Keep in mind that the less you bring, the less time you’ll have to spend in the seecurity lines. So, that’s a bonus. 🙂
I even have some tips for those who might be Overweight at Disneyland — something for those curvy girls who worry the seatbelts will be too tight. 🙂
Disneyland MaxPass Tips
Disneyland’s MaxPass is brand new and might take a little getting used to vs the old paper FastPass System (which, is still available too). You can find out all about it in my post: Disneyland MaxPass tips.
Cliff Notes: The Fast Pass system sort of allows you to wait in line for a ride while you are able to enjoy food, shopping, and standby lines while your virtual self waits for your FastPass time. It takes a little learning, but is well worth your time!
The labor nurse in me couldn’t resist doing a post about being pregnant at Disneyland. It’s a guest post from my good friend and it has some of the VERY best tips you’ll find. Also, in case you find yourself with a wee one at the park, my friend Katie has a great post about breastfeeding at Disneyland. Basically, we’ve got you covered if you’re in the family way!
And, because I trend a bit heavy — I also have a post on tips for being overweight at Disneyland.
Tips to Save at Disneyland
Of course, it’s a lot easier to let go of the cost if you’re not letting go of an arm or a leg to get there. I have a few posts about the costs associated with a Disneyland trip, and how to save money on your trip!
I would tell you to be wary of people who say they can do Disneyland for free, or very cheap. It’s a pricey trip — but one that won’t take a ton of effort while you’re there and one that your family will remember.
I balance the pro’s and cons in my post about 5 ways I saved (and spent) at Disneyland. I also have our actual Disneyland budget for you to peruse, and then fill in my trip calculator with your own costs! See if it will spark some money saving ideas for your family! Disneyland will never be cheap, but you can certainly mitigate the costs!
Pro Tip: One of my favorite tips is to make matching shirts ahead of time (especially great for large groups)
Tips for Disneyland Holidays
Every day is a jolly holiday at Disneyland — but there are some ACTUAL holidays that Disney does BIG!
We’ve been to Disneyland at Halloween a couple of times. That post has tons of tips on how to do it during that time.
Stay up to date with changes!
One of the most important things you can do is to stay up to date on any recent changes at Disneyland. They’re always adjusting things. I know the FastPass system is always in flux. Be sure to join my Disney newsletter to stay up to date with me!
We’ve been to Disneyland a bunch of times, but this last time was my favorite. Mainly because I did a good amount of research before we went and I deeply felt the #1 rule of forgetting what it was costing. We just went with the day and enjoyed each other.
When done right — it will always be a trip my kids will remember, and I hope you get that same vacation for your family!
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