This is our complete list of mistakes that you don't want to make during your Disneyland vacation.
Let me be clear about something:
There are a couple of Disneyland rookie mistakes that will turn your vacation from unforgettable to unfortunate!
That's why I've put together a guide of the typical Disneyland rookie mistakes that we hope you never make. We want to ensure that your Disneyland vacation is one that will create memories to last a lifetime.
Let's dive right in!
1. Waiting to purchase your Disneyland tickets
There are so many reasons you shouldn't wait to purchase your Disneyland tickets until you arrive.
- You will have to stand in a huge line at the ticket booth which is frustrating and hot in the sun.
- You will miss out on the big discounts that are available on tickets when you purchase in advance or purchase a package. Buy tickets with an exclusive discount NOW >
- You will waste precious time before your visit to the park!
- All the pro Disneyland goers will point and laugh mischievously at you as they walk by into the park with their tickets already in hand…ok this last one might not happen, but don't wait to buy your tickets!
As you plan your trip and buy tickets in advance, read our guide to saving money on tickets to Disneyland and how to avoid scammers when you are getting discounts.
2. Driving from your hotel to Disneyland
Many choose to drive to the park to save money but are disappointed to find out that parking costs $20 a day in the official Disneyland parking structure. On top of the expense, parking and taking the tram to the park entrance is a long process. If you’re staying in a Good Neighbor Hotel, there will often be free or inexpensive shuttles you can take instead and many of our recommended hotels exclusively offer our readers free parking. Uber is another great option. If you’re lodging within a few miles of Disneyland, one-way fare will cost about $5 and drivers can take you closer to the entrance than some hotel shuttles. (You can see my discount code for $20 off your first Uber ride here.)
Staying in Anaheim? You also have the option of taking the ART Shuttle which provides service every day of the week. You can purchase discount ART shuttle tickets in advance via our travel reseller partner. Prices start at $5 a day for an adult pass, but the price decreases with multi-day passes.
3. Waiting to make dining reservations
Reservations for sit down dining in the park fill up quickly, especially if you have a specific experience or time in mind. You can always try to get in last minute, but this inevitably can lead to a lot of unnecessary waiting and hunger.
Instead, take some time online before you go to make plans by visiting Disney’s reservation site or opening the Disneyland mobile app. You can make as many reservations as you want, but don’t forget to cancel if your plans change. The card you provide to make your reservation will still get charged $10 per person for a missed reservation. For reviews of all the restaurant and dining options inside the park, check out our list here.
4. Prioritizing fashion over function
Many guests come to Disneyland with the perfect photo opportunities in mind. While these can be some of the best (and most affordable!) souvenirs, prioritizing fashion over function is one of the biggest indicators that your day could turn sour. On average, guests report walking around 10 miles a day or more, so you’ll want sturdy walking shoes with good arch support. Rather than purchasing a brand new pair of shoes for the trip, make sure they’re worn in to avoid blisters. If you’re a fan of water rides, consider bringing a spare pair of flip flops that you can quickly change into so you don’t have to walk around in soggy socks.
Pro Tip: Be sure to checkout our full Disneyland packing list and what to wear to Disneyland.
Visits in January, February, and March usually have the biggest chance for rain, so if your trip falls in these months, I would definitely suggest throwing a couple of cheap rain ponchos in your bag just in case (the ponchos at Disneyland are about $9 a piece). And don’t forget your Mickey Ears!
5. Not drinking enough water and paying for drinks at Disneyland
It’s easy to forget to drink enough when you’re busy having fun, so make sure you’re mindful about water throughout the day. There are various carts and shops around the park that sell water bottles at just under $3 each. To save money, use the drinking fountains placed throughout the park and inside some line queues or take advantage of the water faucet located on the backside of the French Market in New Orleans Square to refill cups or water bottles. Plus, you can always request a free large ice water at any counter-service restaurant inside the park, like Red Rockett’s Pizza Port in Tomorrowland or the Bengal Barbeque in Adventureland.
6. Feeling helpless because of crowds and long lines at Disneyland
It seems to be one of the biggest factors guests use to indicate if they’ve had a good experience or not on their trip: whether the lines were long or short. Needless to say, avoid lines and crowds if you can. Disneyland typically has the smallest crowds from Labor Day through Thanksgiving except weekends, late January through February, and late April, while avoiding Easter.
Check out our page here for more information on the best times to visit. However, if your schedule only allows for travel during busy times, don’t panic. To avoid spending all day in lines, utilize the FastPass system and the new MaxPass service Disneyland offers. Check out our resource guide here for everything you need to know about both.
Many of the more popular rides like Radiator Springs Racers and The Matterhorn offer single rider lines, allowing you to get onto the ride more quickly. If you have young ones with you but don’t want to skip out on your own favorite rides, take advantage of baby swapping, allowing you to wait in line and then take turns riding while someone stays with the baby. It’s also helpful to remember that if you don’t care as much about park entertainment, wait times are often shorter during fireworks and similar events.
7. Forgetting to research and download the best Disneyland apps
Phone apps are an invaluable resource in helping you make the most of your Disney Day. The Disneyland Mobile App shows wait times and ride closures, maps, daily schedules including when and where characters and entertainment will be, and manages your PhotoPass pictures and dining reservations. It’s all updated in real time and it’s completely free.
We also recommend the Touring Plans app, which makes you a personalized plan for your trip while maximizing the time you have. There are countless other apps out there, so before your vacation you’ll want to find your favorite and download it so you’re ready to go.
8. Preparing too little for your Disneyland vacation
There is so much to do inside Disneyland that without some sort of a plan, it is difficult to take advantage of all the opportunities available to you. While everyone has a different planning style, it can be helpful to research beforehand and decide what your priorities will be. What rides are you most excited about? Are there any characters you’d like to meet? Are you planning on watching fireworks or other park entertainment at night? If you don’t make a tentative schedule or plan, you could miss experiences that would make your vacation even more memorable.
Prior to your trip, make sure to spend some time looking at the calendar of events for that time of year and the daily schedule of what entertainment will be available during your stay, when the parks will be opening and closing, any special events you’ll get to take part in, and if any rides will be closed for refurbishment. You’ll also want to make sure you’re well prepared and bring a bag with the essentials for your day, like sunscreen, hand sanitizer, snacks, band-aids for any potential blisters, or a jacket.
9. Preparing too much for your Disneyland trip
While planning can help you make the most of your trip, it can also lead to disappointment without some measure of flexibility. Sometimes your day won’t go according to plan: it rains and the firework show gets canceled, your favorite ride breaks down, or you get a headache. Luckily, sometimes the unscheduled can be the most memorable. There are plenty of musical acts that you shouldn't plan your day around, but are completely worth stopping and listening too. Feel free to deviate from your plan if you see something you’d rather do, and don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers – figuratively, and sometimes literally if you’re visiting in the Spring.
There are so many fun details spread throughout the parks that you’ll need to slow down a little to catch, like the hidden secrets of Disneyland. Check out an awesome book by Gavin Doyle called Disneyland secrets for fascinating stories and secrets.
Plus, if you try to pack in too much you can easily exhaust yourself. So relax, eat a Mickey ice cream bar on a park bench, and commit to enjoying the experience no matter what twists and turns you encounter.
10. Dieting during your Disneyland vacation
This brings us to our last tip, and my personal favorite. To truly make the most of your Disney trip, you may want to reconsider any strict diets you’re on for a few days. Disneyland does offer healthy meals and snacks including salads at the Jolly Holiday Bakery and fruit carts around the park, but you just won’t get the full experience without enjoying a crisp, sweet-smelling churro or biting into a tasty corndog.
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Take a look at our other articles and guides about your Disneyland vacation so that you can avoid making any other Disneyland rookie mistakes. You will find information on discounts and ways to experience more!
- Disneyland MaxPass Tips and Tricks Guide
- Best Hotels Near Disneyland
- Save Money on Discount Disney World Tickets
- How to Get to Disneyland Airports
- How to Disneyland Stoller Rentals
Thank you for joining us to learn more about the rookie mistakes at Disneyland, be sure to see the official Disneyland website for park hours.