Disneyland tips california

Disneyland tips – 16 tips everyone visiting Disneyland Parks in California should know!

Disneyland is famously called as the “happiest place on earth”. But it can easily become the most tiring and frustrating place to be if you don’t know some basic tips and tricks to enjoy your vacation at this magical amusement park.

Recently, Disneyland park announced that from May 1, 2019, strollers wider than 31 inches or longer than 52 inches and wagons won’t be allowed into the park.

Here are the top tips you should know before you go to Disneyland parks in California according to seasoned Disney travelers and travel bloggers.

UPDATES 2022

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Disney introduced Genie Plus and Lightning Lane system and removed FastPass system. So, check the tickets and purchase Genie Plus if needed. For popular park days, having Genie Plus would be the perfect way to enjoy the magic because the Lightning Lane would be much quicker than the hours in a standby line. And, all the ride pics and digital photo downloads are included, just scan the ticket bar code to link the pictures. But keep in mind that ROR Guardians, Radiator Springs in Carsland, and some other rides may require extra purchases. Even the new Avengers campus is included in Genie+ from October 11, 2022.

Make sure to link your park tickets on your Disney account and make reservations for those tickets to be guaranteed entry to the park.

1. Use the Mobile Order Service

Victoria of Disney Trippers blog says: Want to dine at some of the best Disneyland restaurants but don’t want to waste time waiting in line? If so then try using the Disneyland Mobile Order Service. It’s awesome because it allows you to order food from anywhere in the park. 

Therefore, if you’re stuck waiting for one of your favorite rides, just make a food order while you wait. Then, after you’re done, head to the Mobile Order window and pick up your food. And you’ll have plenty of options to choose from since a lot of the restaurants in the park do offer Mobile Order.

However, because many people now use this service, wait times can be long during peak hours. So, try to eat early and order several hours before you’re ready to dine. Also, because it takes them time to actually get your order together, try and click on,  “I’m here, Prepare my order.” before you actually get to the window to avoid a wait.

2. Genie Plus advantage

Anu of Destination Checkoff says: A great time saver on your trip to Disneyland is to take advantage of Genie plus at Disneyland. Genie plus replaces the older FastPass system and is a paid add-on service to your existing park ticket.

The current cost of Genie Plus is $25 per person per day. If you have Genie plus you can book ride time windows using the Disneyland app and use the Lighting Lane (LL) entrance instead of the regular stand-by entrance. This significantly cuts the wait time for rides. You can book one Genie Plus LL attraction every 2 hours or when your previous LL window is redeemed. 

Most of the popular thrill rides in Disneyland like Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion are included in the Genie Plus. During peak season and weekends each of these rides has a 2 hour plus wait time. With Genie plus the wait time can be mostly under 30 minutes using LL entrance. Genie Plus maximizes your time in the park allowing you to make the most of your day in the park. 

3. Travel Off-season (though there is truly no off-season for Disney)

Daisy from Beyond My Border blog says: Off-season in Disney is one of the best ways to travel on a budget. Avoid the summer holidays by visiting the parks between January and February (right after the Christmas break) or October and November (following the start of the school year). During these months, Disney can be much cheaper as children will be back in school.

Disneyland tips off season
Photo by Daisy

Both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Park will cost less per adult ticket during the off-season, as opposed to the latest surge prices per ticket during peak season. Not only will you be slightly avoiding mobs of tourists, but you can also land hotels at a lower rate!

4. Shorten your wait-time: Single rider line

Jessica from the Uprooted Traveler blog says: Want to cut down on waiting in line? Head to a single rider line to limit your wait time to half an hour or less at some of Disneyland’s and California Adventure’s most popular rides. In order to cut down on wasted empty seats, certain rides have a “single rider” line, filling in the gaps on rides for uneven parties. Not only does this significantly cut down on your wait time, this perk is available for a bunch of crowd-favorites, like Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland and Incredicoaster and Radiator Springs Racers at California Adventure.

Disneyland tips and tricks
Photo by Jessica

Although the rides that have this benefit are clearly marked on the map, finding the single rider entrance can be a little tricky- you usually have to enter through the exit or through the handicap entrance. So who says going to Disneyland has to include waiting in line for hours on end? Not me!

5. Use the ART shuttle bus

Faith Hansen from 3 tickets Please blog says: One of the ways to save money at Disneyland is to stay off property. But after walking for literally miles, the last thing you want is to walk even 0.5 miles to that hotel room. Enter the Anaheim Regional Transit (ART).

Photo credit: Faith Hansen

ART has 12 routes that pick up at or near your off-property hotel and drop off at the Disneyland Transit Center, just outside the gates of park.  ART buses run their routes during the peak arrival and departure times: an hour before the park opens until 10:30 a.m. and then again from 6:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. 

Want to go home for a break in the middle of the day? No problem. ART has an on-demand system where you can request a bus ride when they are not running during peak hours. 

ART can also take you from the Disneyland area to Downtown Anaheim, Angel Stadium and even Knott’s Berry Farm.

To access ART, you will download the free app. You can buy a one-way ride or 1, 2, 3, 5 and 15 days. ART is a great way to save money, and let someone else do the driving.

6. MagicBands

Kim from Traveling Swansons blog says: MagicBands have been at Walt Disney World for quite some time, but MagicBands are finally hitting the West Coast at the end of October 2022.  

MagicBand + makes your experience at Disneyland easier and more fun.  A MagicBand can be used for so many things.

Simply scan your MagicBand to enter the Disneyland Resort theme parks and check in at Lightening Lane entrances. Disney PhotoPass photographers can simply tap your band to link to your account.   No need to worry about keeping up with tickets. 

MagicBands can also be used to purchase items throughout Disneyland.  Just tap your band to pay.

They are also stylish, fun, and fashionable accessories to wear at Disneyland. They come in a variety of designs and colors and even have fun features like color-changing LED lights and vibrations that change during certain park experiences.

Also read: 10 stunning places to see fall colors in California

7. Share Disney magic with Postcards

Debbie from WorldAdventurists.com blog says: You can send a postcard from Main Street USA in Disney Parks. All you need to do is grab a postcard, write your message, and bring along stamps (since they are not sold inside the park). Just stop by one of the mail drop boxes located on Main Street and voila – your postcard will be on its way.

Photo by Debbie Fettback

This fun touch adds to the magic of sending a message from Disneyland. The only cost associated with mailing postcards is that of buying postcards, your time writing them, and the stamps to send them off. For ten dollars, you could brighten the day of several people!

This is also a great and heartfelt alternative to bringing home souvenirs for friends and family. Next time you visit, don’t forget to add a little extra magic to someone’s day with a personalized postcard from Disney. Happy mailing!

8. Buy theme park tickets ahead of time and make reservations

Jessica from Uprooted Traveler blog says: During peak times, you can wait up to 45 minutes to buy your entry ticket into Disneyland. But, why wait in line at the park when you can book your tickets online ahead of time?

Not only do you get to skip the line, but you’ll also get to evaluate the different ticket packages and costs that makes sense for you, whether you’re going to Disneyland alone or as part of a 50-person family reunion.

For example, you can evaluate whether you want to go to Disneyland by itself or get a Park Hopper pass, to visit California Adventure, or peruse to see whether you can get a better deal booking your tickets during a certain day of the week. 

Photo Credit: Jessica Schmit

Buying your tickets online ahead of time also allows you to shop around for deals on the tickets. While promotional offers are quite rare, you can score a good discount in certain circumstances, like, for example,  if you’re in the military or part of a teachers union.

9. Save time in the lines with rider swap 

JJ Haglund from The Minivan Bucket List blog says: One of the best little-known secrets about Disneyland is the rider swap. This is a great benefit that Disneyland offers for families with small kids who aren’t tall enough to ride all the rides, such as Indiana Jones Adventure, Space Mountain, The Incredicoaster, or Radiator Springs Racers.

Before getting in line, tell the line attendant that you need a rider swap and they’ll give you a pass for three people. One parent takes all the tall-enough kids on the ride while one parent waits somewhere else with the baby or toddler. Then when the others are done, that parent gets to take two people with them through the exit and onto the ride without waiting in line. Two lucky kids get to go on the ride twice without waiting in line a second time! 

10. Portable Phone Charger

Brittany from Travel By Brit blog says: When visiting Disneyland & California Adventure, it’s wise to put a long-lasting portable charger on your Disneyland packing list

Since the pandemic, Disneyland and California Adventure parks have moved several park experiences to your smartphone. For example, you now need your smartphone to order food, secure Lightning Lane reservations using Genie+, check wait times, and more.

In addition to the everyday purposes you’d be using your smartphone for, like texting, making calls, and taking pictures, these extra tasks can drain your phone battery quickly! 

The last thing you want is to end up with a dead phone at Disneyland, so bringing a portable charger is an absolute must. This Anker Portable Charger will keep your phone, and your family’s phones charged all day long. Plus, it works quickly. Your phone will be charged up to 50% in just 30 minutes, and you can still use your phone while it’s charging.

11. Caring for your pet

Shandos from Travelnuity blog says: While unfortunately your dog isn’t allowed to enjoy the day at Disneyland with you (unless they are a service animal), there is an alternative on offer. They can spend the day at the “Happiest Kennel on Earth” instead, otherwise know as the Disneyland Kennel Club.

disneyland tips for pet owners
Photo by Shandos

Located just outside of the entrance to the Disneyland Park, tucked away next to the stroller hire, the kennel opens half an hour before the park. Drop off your dog, making sure you have proof of the required vaccines, and pay the fee (currently $20 per pet). It’s recommended that you pop back every few hours to check on your pet, including feeding them and exercising them (there’s a convenient relief area inside the kennel). And don’t forget your dog needs a photo at Disneyland too, although from outside the entrance!

12. Stay hydrated for free

Sara from Our Kind of Crazy blog says: Disneyland on a hot Summer day can be extremely miserable. Especially if the kids get hot an cranky. You might tend to try to stay inside and miss out on all the fun that Disneyland has outside. And that water bottle you brought in is gone really fast.

One thing we learned about our Summer trips to Disneyland is you can get free cups of ice water at just about any restaurant that serves fountain drinks. You don’t even have to buy anything. Be sure to stay hydrated and keep your kids happy, and grab lots of those water cups throughout the day.

13. Stay at a Disneyland property

Cassie from White Sands and Cool Breezes blog says: Whether you have kids or not, one Disneyland tip is to stay on the Disneyland property. Granted this might initially seem more expensive but if you think about the time and hassle of your other options you’ll see why this is a great option.

My family recently took a trip to Disneyland and after much deliberation we stayed at Disneyland Hotel. It’s an easy walk to the park from there or you can grab a tram ride.

The walk is fun too because it goes past several restaurants and shops to enjoy and visit on your way back and forth. Not only that but staying on property will allow you early or late access to the park depending on the days or times. You won’t have to worry about waiting for a shuttle from an off-property hotel, going or coming.

14. Stay at an AirBnb

Ania from The Travelling Twins blog says: Disneyland is great fun for the whole family. But the more of you are going there, the pricer it gets. Hotel accommodation especially can be a deal-breaker. My tip to enjoy Disneyland without the cost burden of big groups is to stay at an Airbnb property.

There is an excellent selection of Airbnb roosts in Anaheim, an easy walk from Disneyland. It’s a great solution, especially for the high season when prices in the resort can almost double. Staying at Airbnb also allows you to cook meals. This is an extra cost-saving and a critical issue if, like us, you have kids with food intolerances.

If you want to pay even less and don’t mind using a car to get to Disneyland, then look for accommodation around Huntington or Seal Beach. Both are approximately 15 miles from the Park. There you can stay even longer and enjoy the West Coast beaches as part of your Disneyland California trip.

15. Use the Disneyland App

**Update: Fast Pass is now included as Lightning Lane in Genie+

Priya from Outside Suburbia says: One of the most time saving tip we learned from our Disney resort’s planning services was the use of Disney App to make your FASTPASS reservations. You can plan out your rides and make some Fastpass reservations online before your visit. From Disneyland Paris, Disneyland California to Disney World each park has a different Disney app where you can make selections for attractions and entertainments and even order food. This makes getting to some of the popular rides and visiting the park so much easier!

If you are an early riser get to the park 30 minutes before it opens, you will get to the popular rides first with no lines. Rides like Dumbo, Mad Tea Party, It’s a small world, The Barnstormer, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Under the Sea – Journey of Little Mermaid, Space Mountain are always popular.

Schedule your FASTPASS for a little later when the park gets crowded and the lines get longer. You can only make 3 fast pass reservation at a time – once you get through the first 3, you can keep adding one more fastpass at a time.

16. Walking in Walt’s Footsteps Tour

Janine from Fill My Passport says: If you’re passionate about the nostalgic side of Disneyland and want an ultimate experience, take the Walking in Walt’s Footsteps tour. Although a pricier activity at the Disneyland park, this tour is perfect for guests who wish to learn of Walt’s vision, the only park he walked through, and secrets of one of the most influential visionaries of all time.

Walking in Walt's Footsteps disney
Photo by Janine

This 4-hour morning tour includes a very informative guide, VIP experiences on 3 attractions, lunch, a special keepsake for taking the tour, and the ultimate privilege of setting foot in his apartment above the Fire Station on Main Street. I don’t recommend the tour for young children as it is long and does divulge some of the magic. But for adults who love the historical and legendary side of the park and the man behind the magic, this tour is the perfect addition to any trip.

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Disneyland park tips and tricks you need to know before visiting the California Disneyland park or Disney California Adventure park for the first time to enjoy the best trip ever in the happiest place on earth!

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About Priyadarshini Rajendran 202 Articles
Priyadarshini Rajendran is a travel enthusiast, avid reader and a passionate writer. She has a few of her books published and is writing more books. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a software consultant taking breaks for her travels. Her blog is her passion and she writes about travel, books and food on the blog. She offers customized itineraries for South Indian destinations.

2 Comments Posted

  1. Thanks for the great post! Although I’ve been to Disney World several times, I would really love to visit Disneyland. The ‘Walking in Walt’s Footsteps Tour’ sounds fascinating for a lifelong Disney fan like me. Thanks again!

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