A trip to the happiest place on earth is always exciting, but the anticipation of planning in the weeks leading up can also be an integral part of your Disneyland experience. Whether this is your first visit to Disneyland or your hundredth, we have plenty of tips that will make your park experience as smooth and convenient as possible.
We will focus in on the 50 key Disneyland tips for making your experience amazing, breaking these down by category: preparedness, rides, food, kids, navigating the offerings of the park, and fun. If you just planned a Disneyland trip and want to do some research to make sure everything goes perfectly, be sure to read our top 50 crucial Disneyland tips below for everything you need to know!
Preparedness Disneyland Tips
First, we will share some tips to prepare for your day at the park! Some of these are things that you might forget about or not consider when visiting Disneyland.
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1. Make sure you pack everything you need. From sunscreen to snacks, bandaids, and more, make sure that you account for everything that you might need for your trip. This doesn’t need to take up much room, as there are several smaller items that will make your Disneyland trip run more smoothly. While packing needs may differ per party, you can check out our ultimate Disneyland packing list for a breakdown of everything that will be helpful for your day at the park.
2. Avoid the times of year when Disneyland is the most crowded. During school breaks, holidays, and three-day weekends, the park tends to be the busiest. If you want to avoid long lines and crowds, be sure consult our Disneyland crowd calendar. There are still certain months when you can enjoy seasonal offerings during summer, Halloween, and Christmas without falling victim to huge crowds, which we break down in our guide to the best months and specific dates to visit Disneyland.
3. Bring a charger for your phone. Especially if you’re utilizing Genie+ and the Disneyland app in general to keep track of wait times, mobile ordering, park experiences, and more, you need to make sure your phone doesn’t run out of battery. You can either bring a charger and plug it into an outlet or utilize a portable charger to carry with you as you wait in lines and explore the park. CLICK HERE for a link to our favorite portable charger we bring on every trip. If you forget your portable charger, don’t worry, as these are available for purchase at Disneyland.
4. Know where to find the best discount Disneyland tickets. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance, and you can get the best prices through our travel partner and authorized ticket re-seller, Get Away Today. Get Away Today is committed to providing their customers with the best prices for Disneyland tickets out there. They price-match competitor prices through their Best Price, Best Service Guarantee and offer incredible customer service, on call to help you before and during your vacation. Be sure to buy your tickets and hotel nights through our exclusive Mickey Visit link! They also have discounts on the best hotels near Disneyland.
5. Know the best airport to fly into. While LAX offers the most flight options, we recommend flying from John Wayne Airport (SNA) to Disneyland if you are able. This airport is smaller and easier to navigate than other options, and it’s also the closest airport to Disneyland. From here, we recommend getting an Uber for a quick ride to Disneyland. You can read more about details for the best ways to get from John Wayne Airport (SNA) to Disneyland in our guide.
6. Wear comfortable clothes. While it’s tempting to don the not-so-comfy photo-perfect outfit for your Disneyland day, keep in mind that you’ll be wearing this through lots of walking and potentially warm weather. Clothes that are breathable and comfortable walking shoes are a must! Also, remember to bring layers like a light jacket, as it can get slightly chilly at nights when watching the shows or walking around.
7. Get to the Disneyland gate 30-45 minutes before opening. Getting up a little earlier than you’d like will pay off, as you’ll be able to enjoy the quieter morning hours when waits for popular rides are shorter. Many days, the parks open before their scheduled opening time, so you’ll be prepared for this if you arrive early. Be sure to use our Disneyland morning strategy and Disney California Adventure morning strategy.
8. Note where you parked your car! It’s so easy to forget where you parked, so you can either take a picture, write down where you parked in your notes, or drop a pin in your car’s location so that you can remember where your car is at the end of the day. The Disneyland app (read our guide) also has an easy car locator feature that is easy to use.
9. Download games to play on your phone as you wait in lines. You can download the Play Disney Parks app (which has lots of great trivia and games designed for single-players or large groups), try our daily Mickeyrdle (a Wordle-inspired Disney game), or download any other mobile game to keep busy. Try to look at options ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about downloading apps while you’re on the move! We love the Heads Up game.
10. Bring a poncho for water rides. These are also offered at the park, but if you’d like to get out ahead of things, you can buy one ahead of time. Our favorite ponchos linked here. I promise, it’s no fun walking around in soaking clothes all day if you decide to ride Grizzly River Run in the morning. You won’t walk away completely dry, but you’ll definitely be more comfortable. Note – Splash Mountain is currently being transformed into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
11. Do your research to see what seasonal offerings will be at Disneyland when you visit. From riding Soarin’ Over California during the Food and Wine Festival at California Adventure in the spring to checking out the themed treats offered at Disneyland during Christmas, be sure to make a list of everything you want to see and experience so you don’t miss anything. Read our full Disneyland calendar for happenings every month.
12. Have a plan for transportation to and from Disneyland. While Disneyland is designed as a pedestrian park, you’ll want to account for the time it take for you to travel to and from your hotel. You can utilize the ART shuttle bus or account for the time it takes to walk to Disneyland from your hotel so that it doesn’t bleed into the valuable morning hours right after park opening. You want to be at the parks at least 45 minutes before official park opening.
Tips for Rides at Disneyland
One of the best parts of any Disneyland experience is the moment when you’re about to step on your first ride. We’ll talk about some tips for making the most of Disneyland’s iconic ride offerings!
13. Be sure that everyone in your party goes on the top attraction they want to ride. Plan ahead by asking everyone what they’re looking forward to, and this will ensure your group is happy and satisfied during your park day. On a similar note, if someone doesn’t want to ride a certain attraction, you can help make a plan for what they’ll be doing during the time the rest of the group is riding. Perhaps another member of your party also isn’t wild about a certain attraction, so they could spend that time together getting a treat or meeting characters, etc. Check out our Disneyland 1-day itinerary and Disney California Adventure 1-day itinerary.
14. Take advantage of Single Rider, which allows you to split from your party and fill in individual spaces on rides that aren’t occupied by stand-by line guests. At Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, Single Rider is offered for several rides, which you can read more about in our guide to Disneyland Single Rider lines. We recommend this trick for Radiator Springs Racers in particular, as it can dramatically minimize your wait time.
15. Use Genie+ to skip long lines. Disneyland’s Genie+, a paid service that replaced the old FastPass and MaxPass services, offers Lightning Lanes that allow you to skip the lines for select attractions in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Lightning Lanes are offered for the most popular attractions, and you can select return times that will allow you to bypass the long wait time once per ride each day of your visit. You can read more information about pricing and tips for making the most out of the Genie+ service in our guide to Disneyland Genie+.
16. Know when to buy Individual Lightning Lanes for rides. Individual Lightning Lanes provide you with the option to skip long lines for an additional fee per person, offered at an a la carte rate for the most popular rides at the park, and they are not included with the purchase of Genie+. There are certain rides that we recommend buying Individual Lightning Lanes for, like Rise of the Resistance, while you can get away with a very short wait for rides like Radiator Springs Racers using Single Rider. You can read our guide to Disneyland Individual Lightning Lanes for a full breakdown of pros and cons of purchasing Individual Lightning Lanes per ride offered, costs, and more.
17. You can request specific rows for rides. You will need to wait slightly longer, and of course, be respectful to the Cast Member helping you. My favorite rows are the front of the Incredicoaster and Space Mountain (some people love the very back row too!) and Row 1 Concourse B (center section) of Soarin’. Personally, I really love the experience of an unobstructed ride view for these three attractions.
18. Be conscious of your battery while on underground rides. On underground rides, your phone battery will be drained more quickly while searching for a cellular signal, so putting it in Airplane Mode can help combat this. I’ll often put my phone on Low-Power mode on rides in general or during periods when I know I won’t be using it often.
19. Attractions don’t close right when the park closes. When the park closes, the lines to these attractions will cut off new guests, but you can still join the queue before official park closing. This is helpful to keep in mind for riding popular attractions late at night with often shorter wait times. Pick an attraction to end your night with by hopping in line right before the cutoff. During this period, Disneyland Cast Members work hard to get everyone on the line quickly so everyone can go home. There is also minimal, if any, Genie Plus line at this hour so the standby line moves quickly.
20. Some of the attractions take on-ride photos, which will be shown on a screen as you are walking out. Know which rides offer these (currently Space Mountain at Disneyland and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, the Incredicoaster, and Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure). Be sure to strike a pose for these! They occur near the end of the ride. Grab the code from these an add them to your app. Currently, Disneyland is sharing complimentary digital downloads of these photos for guests at no charge.
Tips for Navigating Disneyland’s Offerings
21. Know where the Disneyland parade starts. Watching from the point the show is starting from means that you’ll be done viewing it before everyone else and at the actual start time. The first parade of the day will start back by “it’s a Small World” and the second parade will start in Disneyland Town Square near the entrance of the park. The parade can take up to 20 minutes to reach your spot if you are sitting at the far end of the parade route from where the performance begins.
22. Don’t be afraid to take a break during the day. One of the biggest rookie mistakes you can make at Disneyland is neglecting to take the time you need to rest for the second part of your day. You can stop by the hotel and take a nap, swim in the pool, start a Disney movie, or find a dining option outside of Disneyland to get a break from the park chaos. That way, everyone in your party will be well-rested and ready to tackle the nighttime offerings and attractions. We’ll talk about a few of our favorite locations to take a break below!
23. Watch shows later in the day when crowds are larger. This applies to both parades and shows, as they provide you with a nice rest from the crowds while still soaking in all of the Disney magic. Right now, you can enjoy the new Marvel-themed Rogers: The Musical in Disney California Adventure.
24. Visit the Animation Building for a nice break. At the Animation Academy, you can draw Disney characters, chat with Crush in the Turtle Talk With Crush show, and explore The Beast’s Library and test to see which Disney character you are. This is a great way to take a breath and relax before returning to the excitement of the rest of the park.
25. Go to the Grand Californian Hotel lobby to relax. The Hearthstone Lounge has a great atmosphere, and you can stop for a drink and a snack here. You can read more recommendations for quiet places to take a breather in our list of relaxing places at Disneyland.
26. Don’t neglect the live shows offered at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure! From the mini-shows offered in Disney California Adventure’s Avengers Campus to the Enchanted Tiki Room, make sure to explore all of these offerings. These shows always provide spectacularly high-quality entertainment! You can read more about the top 10 shows at the Disneyland Resort you shouldn’t miss in our guide.
Tips For Families With Kids at Disneyland
We’ll cover some tips for visiting Disneyland with kids so that your family has the safest and most enjoyable experience possible!
27. Try not to promise your kids they’ll see a certain character. Characters change constantly at Disneyland, so the one you promised may not show up in the park that day. To avoid disappointment, it’s better to avoid any promises, as you never know for sure which characters will appear. Be sure to read our guide to character meet-and-greets at Disneyland to see the characters you can find at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure listed by land.
28. Be sure to check height restrictions before your trip. Look ahead of time to see if your child is tall enough for certain rides. On a similar note as the above, it will be disappointing for kids to anticipate going on a certain ride for the first time and then be turned away based the height requirement. You can read more about this in our guide to Disneyland height requirements and Rider Switch, the latter of which we will discuss more below.
29. Take advantage of Rider Switch. This allows an adult in the group to wait with a child who is not tall enough to ride while the other rides the attraction, then they switch. This way, the child is always supervised and both adults get to experience the ride. You can read our guide to Disneyland Rider Switch here.
30. Utilize the baby care centers at Disneyland. If your party has a baby with you on the trip, you can use the baby care centers at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure that are fully stocked with everything you may need, from nursing chairs to diapers and baby food from vending machines. There is also medicine available here. Read our guide to finding medicine at Disneyland for more specific tips on this.
31. Establish an emergency meeting point in case your party gets separated, and make sure it’s very specific. This way, if your child gets lost, they will know exactly where to meet you with a Cast Member. For more information, be sure to check out our guide with tips to avoid losing kids at Disneyland.
32. Bring your own stroller if you can. The ones you rent from Disneyland can only be used in the park, so you can’t use them to go back and forth between your hotel, which can make for some problems at the end of the day. Read our guide to Disneyland stroller rentals for a full breakdown of your options when visiting Disneyland!
Food Tips for Disneyland
Dining is an integral part of the Disneyland experience, and we have several tips to help you save money and make the most out of dining experiences while at the park.
33. Make dining reservations ahead of time. Not only is this extremely important in ensuring you have a spot at your preferred dining location, but it also gives you an extra thing to look forward to for your trip. You can make reservations up to 60 days in advance and can cancel those reservations up until 24 hours before your seating. Especially for very popular experiences, make sure you’re ready at the 60 day mark to make reservations. You can read more in our top five tips for getting Disneyland dining reservations and Disneyland restaurant reviews and dining tips.
34. Know you can order kids menu items from Quick Service restaurants. Even though the kids menu items have recommended ages, you can order these at counter service restaurants in Disneyland. The smaller portion sizes are perfect for lighter eaters or those who get full easily and don’t want a bigger meal.
35. Another option is to split meals with someone else in your party if you’re a lighter eater. My family did this for the Food and Wine Festival, and it was definitely worth it to be able to try several of the foods without overeating!
36. You can bring your own food and snacks into Disneyland. There are certain conditions surrounding this, like no loose ice in coolers, so make sure you pack something like a sandwich that doesn’t need to be reheated. You can read more about details in our guide to bringing food into Disneyland.
37. Bring a refillable water bottle. There are locations across Disneyland where you can refill these, which you can find on the Disneyland app under “Bottle-Filling Stations.” You can also find these locations on the Disneyland website. There are less stations in Disney California Adventure (one in Avengers Campus and one at Eureka Fitness Center in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa).
38. We recommend not eating breakfast at the park. Because the morning time at the parks is so valuable with lower crowds and shorter wait times for popular rides, we recommend getting breakfast at your hotel (or if you’re in the area, at home). For all other meals, we recommend eating in the park due to the amazing variety of options offered. For more tips on how to make the most of your mornings, be sure to read our Disneyland morning touring strategy.
39. Mobile order though the Disneyland app. You can see which locations offer mobile ordering through the Disneyland app, and this is an effective way to bypass long food lines. You can mobile order while waiting in line for a ride and then walk right up to the counter to get your food without the wait!
40. Try Character Dining, which can be a great guaranteed way to meet characters during your Disneyland visit. There are a few different options offered for character dining, with most in the Disney Resort Hotels and one in the park. Be sure to read our guide to Disneyland Character Dining for our reviews of the different experiences and tips!
41. Mix it up with your dining and try new food locations. While it’s tempting to stick to the same routine, don’t ignore the variety of options offered at the parks, from snacks to sit-down dining locations. If you’ve been wanting to try that Black Caf Cold Brew at Galaxy’s Edge or have never enjoyed a Mickey cream cheese pretzel, go for it! You might find a new favorite.
42. Consider a dining package for shows. If your priority is securing great viewing for shows like Fantasmic! or World of Color, you can get two birds with one stone by buying a dining package for these experiences. There are several dining package options offered for the shows at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland, which you can read about in our guide to Disneyland dining packages.
Fun Tips for Disneyland
Now that we’ve covered some of the major tips important for planning your Disneyland trip, we’ll go through some fun tips that can enhance your experience!
43. Ride an outdoor attraction at night when the fireworks are going off. Big Thunder Mountain is a fan-favorite option for this, as you get a completely unique seat for the fireworks show as you go racing by. Especially for guests who have already experienced rides multiple times, this is a special and memorable way to experience them. Recently, Disney just started running the Incredicoaster during World of Color. Seeing the show from this angle enhances the ride and show.
44. Keep an eye out for the Disneyland cats! There are about 200 feral cats, cared for by Cast Members, who roam around Disneyland and help keep the rodent population in check. Look for them during the day, as you may spot one emerge for a brief moment although many stay hidden.
45. Try a new ride or revisit and old one! It’s easy to get into a routine where you ride the same attractions every visit to Disneyland. Branch out a bit and go on an underrated or nostalgic ride you’ve been passing up.
46. Accidentally popped Disney balloons can be replaced. If you bring evidence of your popped Disneyland balloon to a balloon vendor, they will provide you with a new one.
47. Look for Hidden Mickeys around the park. These are hidden Mickey Mouse heads that Disney Imagineers sprinkled throughout the park that are incorporated into the architecture. Be sure to read our guide to Hidden Mickeys at Disneyland for a full breakdown of what they are and where to find them. You can also spot the entrance to the exclusive Club 33.
48. Don’t let the rain get you down! Rainy days can make for excellent park experiences, as crowds tend to be smaller with Southern California locals deterred from visiting.
49. Try out pin trading. You can buy a base set of pins in bulk for trading, then find Cast Members with pin lanyards or other guests willing to trade at the park. This is a fun activity that allows you to collect Disney-themed pins of attractions, characters, and parks! Be sure to read more about this activity in our guide to pin trading at Disneyland.
50. Be sure to leave room for spontaneity. While it is tempting to try to plan your Disneyland trip down to the minute, keep an open mind in case something unexpected pops up. If you’re walking towards a ride and become captivated by the parade, you can always find a viewing spot out of the way of foot traffic and enjoy the show for a few minutes. Don’t let your plan get in the way of what your interests might be in the moment!
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