The Happiest Place on Earth
Ah Disneyland. I know the catch phrase is “The Happiest Place On Earth”. But let’s face it, that is totally true! I am very lucky to be able to say that Disneyland was a part of my childhood a few times. I mean, only because my parents had a conference a few years in a row AT Disneyland. But, that doesn't mean it was any less fun or exciting!
My brother and I got to explore Disneyland together with a few friends while our parents were in meetings. Then, later on in the day our parents would join us as well. We found all the best spots, food, and times to go on specific rides. Best time to ride Splash Mountain? Very end of the day. Why you ask? People don’t like being wet and cold in the dark. But, we didn't care! We would ride it 3 or 4 times in a row because there wasn't a line.
Disneyland has changed over the years, but I think for the better. They added Cars Land, updated the Tower of Terror to be Guardians of the Galaxy themed, and so much more! But, you can leave out the classics when you go! You have to go on It’s A Small World at least once (even though the music is TORTURE). We got stuck on it for 45 minutes once… never went on it again!
If you plan on going to Disneyland, here are a few tips for you! Granted, they may be a little outdated as the last time I was there it was 2014…. but some may still help you out!
1. Stay in a Disney Park Hotel if you can
Yes, the Disney Park hotels are more expensive, but I believe it is totally worth it! You don’t have to deal with the ridiculous parking garage and you never leave the magic! What I mean is, you stay in the “world of Disney” for your entire stay. No outside world, no worries! This may sound silly, but it’s far harder to think about work or chores you have to do when you get home if you are immersed in Disney 24/7. Plus, you get early access to the park every morning!
2. Buy your treasures and souvenirs outside the park
There are plenty of stores with stuff you can buy in the park. But, do you really want to carry all that around with you? See, there is a HUGE Disney store with everything you can find in the park outside the park in Downtown Disney. It’s right outside the park and you can go on your way back to your hotel! You can easily spend hours in there! But at least you aren’t wasting precious park time shopping.
So, if it’s not something you want to wear in the park, buy it all at the big Disney store in Downtown Disney!
3. Be prepared for expensive food
Yes, Disney has plenty of options for food. Unfortunately, they aren't very budget friendly. If you are tight on funds, I recommend breaking the “Disney 24/7 Rule” by going to a local grocery store on your way to the hotel or right after you get settled in to get breakfast and snack items. This will save you some money and also make your mornings much quicker! They don’t let you take in a lot of food, but a granola bar and a water bottle is fine.
4. Get a Hopper Pass
The Hopper Pass is well worth the extra $. Especially if you are there for more than one day. You’ll find that it’s really easy to hop between the parks and can save you time if you know which rides to go on when. The hopper pass lets you go in and out of Disneyland and California Adventure as many times as you like in a day!
5. People and Lines
So, I have never been to Disneyland in the Summer I have always been in the Winter or Spring. That means I have never been during busy season. My most important tip is to NOT GO IN THE SUMMER. Lines are long, its hot, and there are tons of people. I have had friends tell me their horror stories of going in the summer and I do not wish it on anyone!
We usually went at the end of January. Lines were rarely vary long, the weather was cooler, and the hotels are cheaper! People seem to choose to go to Disney World in Florida in the winter because it’s warmer that time of year. Also, very few locals and annual pass holders go because they think its too cold! You’ll see people in big winter jackets when its 60 degrees out and laugh. Or at least we did because we are from Montana and it was always -5 when we left for Disneyland! Big win for us!
6. What Rides When
This may not always be true, but it worked for us! Do all the little kids rides at night when they’ve all fallen asleep in the strollers and started to go home. The lines are shorter and no little kids crying in line! If you have small kids…. I highly recommend waiting until they are older and can actually ride most of the rides. My parents will tell you that it’s far more fun to go with 10+ aged kids than lugging around a stroller and a cranky child. Just a little side tip!
Ride the water rides first thing in the morning or very last before you call it a day. If you go in the morning, bring a poncho or an extra T-shirt. But, you don’t have to do this if you stay at a Disneyland Hotel because you are so close you can just hop over and change! (Another perk of staying on park grounds). People don’t want to be wet all day and don’t want to drive to their hotel all wet. If you don’t mind either of these or plan ahead, beat the lines!
The thrilling rollercoaster type rides are the busiest late afternoon and evening. The teens seem to come out of the wood work and hog all the lines. Space Mountain (now HYPER Space Mountain) can have a 2 hour line in the off season! So, don't worry if you have to come back after riding something else (and don’t forget the fast passes that let’s you cut the lines when you come back!).
7. Don’t Panic
Don't let the little things ruin your time at Disneyland. So what if Indiana Jones has a long line. Get a Fast Pass and come back later! Don’t panic if you don’t do EVERYTHING! Slow down and enjoy the sites. Go see one of the shows and take a little rest. The rides will still be there when it’s done. Disneyland can be stressful, but only if you go in thinking everything will go perfect. It definitely wont. But, its absolutely worth it!
I am hoping to go back to Disneyland for my 25th Birthday in February! I always loved getting to wear the “It’s My Birthday” pin around the park and getting free stuff as a kid. The timing of our trips always seemed to overlap with my birthday. Made the trips extra special! I figure, what better way to celebrate being a quarter century old then a place with free ice cream and every Disneyland employee required to say happy birthday when they see you?! HA HA