A TV commercial advertising Disneyland popped up last night— I laughed and asked my husband, “Does Disneyland really need to advertise at this point?” Since Cars Land opened in 2012, “dead days” at Disneyland have been few and far between.
Our family has spent more than 200 days at the Disneyland Resort over the past 11 years as Annual Passholders— my kids think of Disneyland as their second home! I’ve learned many Disneyland tips and tricks over the years and I love to share them with my fellow Disneyland fans! Here are 3 of the most important Disneyland tips I follow on every trip to make sure we get on every ride we want to experience — no matter how packed it is at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure!
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3 Essential Tips to Help You Get the Most out of Every Day at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure!
1. You’ll stay ahead of the crowds all day if you are inside Disneyland or Disney California Adventure when the Park opens.
- Make sure you are inside the gates by “rope drop”: Cast Members literally hold up a rope to keep the crowd from going too far into Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure before the Parks open. Once they drop the rope, the crowd surges toward the most popular rides!
- Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to line up at the gate 30 minutes before Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure opens! What’s the difference between waiting in line outside the gates and waiting in a ride line? The lines through the gates move quickly, and standing in line for half an hour before you can even start your Disneyland day will only put you ahead about 5 minutes. That’s 25 minutes of extra sleep you could have had! (Trust me, you’ll need it, and so will your kids!) We get in line 5 minutes before the Park opens and we almost always get inside the gates by rope drop! Note that with the new security measures, it does take a few extra minutes to pass the security checkpoint. However, we still don’t head to security until 15 minutes before the Parks open.
Hotels near Disneyland security checkpoint at the Disneyland pedestrian entrance on Harbor Blvd.:
Hotels near Disneyland Hotel/Downtown Disney security checkpoint:
2. Don’t Go with the Flow!
If you start your day in Disneyland:
- The biggest crowd will surge right, toward Tomorrowland. The second biggest crowd will rush toward Sleeping Beauty’s Castle to enter Fantasyland.
- A small herd of savvy people turn left just past Main Street and enter Adventureland! When we start our Disneyland day in Adventureland, we can ride every ride in Adventureland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and Critter Country before noon!
If you start your day in Disney’s California Adventure:
- The biggest crowd will speed to Cars Land to get on Radiator Springs Racers. (Right now the crazy popular ride is Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! But most folks with kiddos still head to Radiator Springs Racers.)
- We leave the Cars Land crowd behind and head to Paradise Pier to ride Toy Story Mania first (the line for that builds to 30 minutes within 30 minutes of opening!), then ride everything on Paradise Pier—there are 9 rides in that area—in about 90 minutes!
3. Feed your kids and drink your coffee before you enter Disneyland!
How to do Breakfast on a Disneyland Vacation:
- The excitement, the physical activity—and most importantly, the sweet treats —are a recipe for a meltdown (for kids and parents alike!) I front-load my kids with protein before we take on Disneyland to give them happy energy that lasts until lunch time.
- Save the sugar rush for churros and Mickey Mouse ice cream bars! Get some protein into your kids (Mom and Dad, too!) first thing in the morning.
- If your hotel offers breakfast: Go for the bacon, sausage, ham, and eggs. Have you ever seen a kid throw himself down on Main Street and start screaming? Maybe my kid? That kid ate the Froot Loops at the hotel. Protein is your friend.
- If you eat breakfast inside Disneyland and Disney California Adventure: The Disneyland Resort restaurants offer delicious choices for breakfast! My favorite breakfast items inside the Parks are the Brioche French Toast at Flo’s V8 Cafe (Disney California Adventure) and the Mickey Mouse Pancake at Rancho del Zocalo (Disneyland). You can take time to enjoy a delicious breakfast in the Parks, just make it a late breakfast! Give the kids a big snack before you enter Disneyland and ride all the rides you can until 10 am (most restaurants switch to the lunch menu around 10:30 am.)
- If you pack food for your hotel room: Remember to pack protein-rich foods that are also low in sugar like nuts, cheese, pumpkin seeds, hard boiled eggs, and jerky. (Yes, my kids sometimes eat jerky for breakfast on Disneyland trips!)
Must. Have. Coffee.
- There are 4 Starbucks locations in the Disneyland Resort; don’t be the sucker who waits in line at one! Drink your coffee before you enter Disneyland—you won’t be allowed to take hot coffee on rides anyway!
- If you need coffee NOW (I’ve been there!) the shortest lines for espresso drinks are at:
- Main Street coffee cart in Disneyland (near the Adventureland entrance)
- Coffee cart at the base of Paradise Pier in Disney California Adventure
- Haagen Dazs in Downtown Disney—most people don’t know they’re open early! Get delicious espresso drinks with no line!
Be inside Disneyland or Disney California Adventure when the Park opens for the day!
Leave the crowd: Start your Disneyland day in Adventureland. In Disney California Adventure, start in Paradise Pier.
Fuel up on protein and caffeine before you hit the Parks so you don’t waste time stopping for breakfast—morning is prime ride time!
More Disneyland tips:
Disneyland on a Budget: How Our Family Spends 30 Days a Year at Disneyland without Breaking the Bank!
My guest post is featured on the Grand Legacy At the Park [formerly Ramada Maingate at the Park] blog: Top 10 Reasons Our Family Stays at Ramada Maingate at the Park! Check out my tips and tricks for choosing a budget Disneyland area hotel and highlights of our favorite amenities at Ramada Maingate at the Park!
Build your vacation fund from $0 to Disney with my book Disneyland on a Budget!
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