If you’re in Southern California for the first time, there’s probably a good chance you’ll be visiting Disneyland. I don’t blame you! As cheesy as it sounds, Disneyland is still fun even after living in California and going there my whole life. That being said, there are certain times when I won’t go anywhere near it due to obscenely large crowds that make the whole experience more brutal than magical. So, with that, I would like to give you some of my favorite tips for visiting Disneyland.
Don’t go during the busy times if you can help it.
You haven’t seen crowded until you’ve seen crowded at Disneyland. They have managed to take crowds to a whole new level I previously thought was impossible to do. There’s nothing that will ruin your day in the park that you paid an arm and a leg for quite like having to wait 2 hours to get onto all your top choice rides, thus missing several of them altogether. It’s also not that fun wading upstream in a crowd of weary park-goers. Your best bet is to try and schedule your visit during one of the less crowded times of year. Granted, it’s always a little crowded at Disneyland. You can’t avoid that, but you can try and mitigate it a little by going at one of the following times:
The busiest times are any time around the holidays, Summer break, Spring break, or any holidays where people get a day off, such as Labor Day or Memorial Day, MLK Day, Thanksgiving, Veteran’s Day, etc.
The best times to visit are late January, any time in February except around President’s Day, the first few days in March, the second half of April (avoiding Spring break). Weekdays in May and the first week of June aren’t bad, and then you’ll want to skip it until September (except Labor Day weekend). October and the first half of November are also generally pretty good, but don’t go any time near Thanksgiving. Always try to go in the middle of the week when most locals are working.
Bonus points: Go when it’s raining. Seriously. Californians hate the rain: that’s a fact. I’ve never seen the park so empty as when I was there on a rainy day. Sure, it’s colder and wetter, but you’ll walk onto all your favorite rides and feel like you own the place. Get a warm coat and an umbrella and you’ll have a great time.
Get a Fastpass for your top choice ride immediately
If you have a ride you simply cannot miss, make sure to get a fastpass for it the second you walk into the park. Fastpasses do run out for the day on some of the most popular rides, and this will not only ensure you don’t need to wait in as long a line, but you’ll also be able to go on another ride while you wait. You’ll be able to get another fastpass either after the return time for your previous fastpass, or 2 hours after your first fastpass was issued. Try to get as many as you are able to get during the day, as this will help ensure you are able to go on more rides.
Another tip: If the line is less than 30 minutes, a fastpass isn’t worth it.
Buy your tickets online
The lines at the ticketing counters can get a little long and tedious. Buy your tickets in advance online, and you’ll be able to skip that long line at the entrance and just walk right in!
If you’re not local, try to stay on Disney property.
The Disneyland Hotel, the Grand Californian, and the Paradise Pier hotel offer you their “magic hour,” where you can get into the park an hour early (i.e. no crowds!). If you can’t stay on property because it’s either too pricey or all full, try to at least stay as close to the park as possible. You’ll avoid crowds if you get there at opening time and if you have to drive from somewhere else, the traffic and parking can take a really long time.
Try the Dole Whip Float
It’s delicious! Pineapple juice and dole whip in float form, so good! To avoid the long line, go inside the Enchanted Tiki Room waiting area. You can order on that side as well and the line is never as long.
You can ride as a ‘single rider’ and skip most of the line
Some of the bigger rides like Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones can sometimes offer single riders the chance to skip the line. If you don’t mind splitting up your group and meeting at the exit, this can save you a lot of time.
You can bring your own food and water inside
This will save you TONS of time and money. If there’s something special you want to eat inside of Disneyland (like the Dole Whip Float, hint hint), do it, but you’ll be happy you packed your own food. You can bring in water bottles as well as long as they aren’t glass.
Make Reservations for Dinner
If you want to eat at the Blue Bayou Restaurant, you’re going to need a reservation. I believe you can make your reservations online ahead of time. The Blue Bayou is a fun experience, though a little pricey. However, I do recommend it if you’re willing to spend a little more on dinner because it’s fun.
Hopefully you find these tips helpful. Enjoy your time at the happiest place on Earth!