a plan for Disneyland

(This post provides some tips for enjoying Disneyland based on my experience from a recent trip. It assumes many things like bringing kids and wanting to enjoy most of the many rides that Disney has to offer.)

The worse thing would be to go to Disneyland this Summer, pay all that money for the tickets, hotel, transportation, and spend your trip waiting in line for 45, 60, 75 minutes at a time for rides in the 90+ degree heat in Southern California…with kids. That sucks. The alternative is to plan ahead, get on all the cool rides, have your kids remember the rides and not the long waits, and have fun.
With that here you go:

  1. Go buy this book. Read it inside and out, and don't forget to take it with you. This Unofficial Guide to Disneyland book includes information about all the rides, nearby hotels, plans/routes for your trip, food choices, and it will save you so much time you won't believe it.
  2. Learn how to use FastPass and use it. Basically FastPass are tickets that you can use for later in the day but you get to use a special FastPass line when you go back later. For instance you can ride Splash Mountain first thing in the morning (very little wait), grab a FastPass after you're done, and go ride Splash Mountain again in the afternoon when it's really really hot. In the afternoon the wait is 60+ minutes or longer and with FastPass you cut in front of everybody and get on in 5 minutes. You can only get so many FastPass tickets per visit so learn how to use it.
  3. Don't be afraid to go back to the hotel in the afternoon and even eat lunch outside the park. You can break up the day into two visits, a morning visit to Disneyland, and a late afternoon-evening visit. You'll totally avoid the peak which looks to be 11-3pm and it's also when it's the hottest out.
  4. Have a plan for each day that you visit Disneyland for all the rides you want to see. Go to the most popular rides first when the wait in line will be the shortest, this includes Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, and the Matterhorn. You don't have to stick to the plan 100%, but it's just really good to have one.

That's all there is to it. The book has the rest of the info like when to go e.g. mid-week is best like a Wednesday-Thursday, it has details on California Adventure and Universal Studios, and also tips on how not to lose your child.

A few more things:

  1. I think the best age to take kids to Disneyland is between 8-12 or second grade through seventh grade. Anything younger and your kid is probably too short for the rides and Disneyland can't be cool if you're 13.
  2. We stayed at the Sheraton Anaheim and it worked out well. The Disneyland hotels are pretty pricey and so the Sheraton was a good value given it's location.
  3. 2 days is about right for Disneyland. One day is way too short and three days is a little much.
  4. There's an IHOP, a Denny's, and a Subway outside the park with more reasonable costs for food. Or you can try and find some fish tacos which is a Southern California thing.
  5. Before you buy that Disney schwag (for yourself and not for your kids), just ask yourself when you'd see yourself wearing that Mickey Mouse polo shirt or hat. If you work for Disney, that's one thing, otherwise, it's kinda lame (if you're 13 or older anyway).
  6. Here's our trip report and you can kind of tease out what our plan was based on it.

I hope this was helpful :)

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