This is Post #2 in a series focusing on Disneyland, read Post #1 Disney Eats.
I am super excited to be heading to Disneyland this April for the coveted Disney Social Media Moms Celebration! Not only is it a complete honor, but it’s been over a decade since I last step foot in Disneyland, the place which broke my crushing memories of a childhood lost and restored the beauty of Disney in my heart. I’ve talked about my tease into the world of Disney as a child, when my parents drove 2 days down to Florida for a visit with my aunt. A last minute decision to visit Disney World was cut short just as we arrived onto Main Street when my mother called us to head out for dinner. I was heartbroken, I had gone to Disney World, but not really gone to Disney World. Fast forward to my college years when an old boyfriend made my dreams come true with a trip to Disneyland. While the relationship fizzled, I will always remember that trip fondly. Disneyland was just “RIGHT” for me. He laughed at how each ride had me cringing in fear. I was never one for big roller coasters or scary rides. Those signs warning about heart conditions and not riding while pregnant or if you had a medical condition really shook me. I would sit gripping the edge of my seat, double checking the seat belts, my heart racing and at the end of each ride I was grinning from ear to ear. Yes it was magical and I can’t wait to share the magic with my kids.
I cringed a little when my husband said, “What’s the big deal? It’s Disneyland, not Disney World. It’s it pretty much the same but smaller right?” Oh no my dear, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Yes there are a few similarities — they both have Star Tours and Dumbo — but many of the rides are similar but different. The Haunted Mansions are completely different. While you could probably live at Disney World with everything at your finger tips, I’ve dubbed it completely it’s own World. You never have to leave! Disneyland is smaller, and more in touch with the surrounding areas. Disneyland is literally where Walt Disney actually walked! So despite the similarities and differences, you’re sure to have a magical experience! I find each time I go back to Disney World, my memories and experiences are different each time, and still beautiful. That’s the beauty of Disney, there is so much to discover. I can ride It’s a Small World over and over again, noticing different and new details each time. It’s a timeless classic.
With that in mind, like any trip to Disney, planning is key to create an experience that is memorable for your family. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your experience.
- 40 Inches is the MAGIC number. Most rides require you to be 40″ tall to ride alone.
- You’re ALLOWED to bring outside food into the parks! Just no glass.
- Water is FREE throughout the park, no need to bring your own! You can even ask for a LARGE cup!
- FASTPASS. Say it 3 times fast — FASTPASS FASTPASS FASTPASS. I can’t believe there are some people who still don’t utilize this amazing invention. Keep in mind, they are getting strict with FASTPASS. You have a 15 minute grace period, but don’t go over it!
- If you don’t want to do FASTPASS (really?!) , jumping on the single rider line is often fastest. A great ride that is worth the wait is the Indiana Jones Adventure, the wait is an experience unto itself. Get your inner Disney geek on with this decoder which was given out when the ride first opened, and read the hieroglyphics on the wall.
- Peter Pan does not have a FASTPASS option and it is VERY popular. Make that a first stop if it’s on your must ride list.
- Toy Story Mania at Disney California Adventure is equally as popular in California as it is in it’s Florida counterpart. Make that a first stop if you’re wanting a little Buzz time. There’s NO FASTPASS there either.
- Ride the most popular rides during the parade, there are fewer crowds. This is great on a multi-day trip and you’ve either seen the parades earlier or plan to another day.
The “Rider Switch Pass” or “Stroller Pass” is perfect for families with small children. When you arrive to the ride, speak to an attendant who is working the line, and ask for a “Rider Switch Pass” or “Stroller Pass”. Let them know who is riding now, and who is staying with the baby or stroller. When your family member gets off the ride, you “switch” and the other person gets to jump right on. The BEST part about this neat little perk is the free companion pass which lets your little one go for an additional spin with the switch!
DO NOT MISS Fantasmic. A semi-secret spot is when you stand behind the middle light tower just don’t stand directly behind the pole in the center of the tower, the view is blocked at that time, but the pole raises right before the start of the show.
- You need a FASTPASS for World of Color. You can get your pass at the Grizzly River Run FASTPASS terminals where you will be assigned a specific show time. Typically the latest performance (for any show) is always the least crowded. If you get an earlier show, see a Cast Member near the FASTPASS terminal and request to exchange it for a later show. The FASTPASSes are distributed in show time order, and then in this order: Blue, Yellow and Red passes.
Are you a coast to coast traveler? I’ll be going from Walt Disney World to Disneyland within a month and I just found out unused “no expiration” Walt Disney World tickets can be used at Disneyland. If you’re making Disneyland and Walt Disney World trips in the same year, you’ll find great value in the 10-day “No Expiration” Walt Disney World Parkhopper ticket.
If you anticipate “needing” a princess dress or pirate costume while at Disneyland, buy it from your local Disney Store or DisneyStore.com in advance during a sale. Much cheaper that way. Right now they are having a HUGE 25% Off Friends & Family Discount too with code: DISNEYPAL
This wasn’t always the case, but recently Disneyland resorts got access to Extra Magic Hours! Giving them one hour before the park opens to the public on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. Extra Magic Hours at Disney California Adventure grants access one hour before the park opens to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Those who purchased 3-day or longer tickets earn another bonus feature called Magic Morning at Disneyland!
The Magic Morning program allows you to enter Disneyland one hour before official opening on certain days of the week (Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday) and ride some of the attractions.
The magic never ends with Disney and we’re loving the “No Strings Attached” voucher. If your child drops his lunch or looses his toy, just find a cast member and they will fill out a voucher for you to get a replacement free! I haven’t tried it myself thank God but like everything else at Disney, it’s a godsend!
- PhotoPass! I am a huge fan of PhotoPass+ just to be in the photos and not always the photographer. I find it also allows me a chance to really enjoy my time at Disney as opposed to trying to get the perfect shot. If you purchase PhotoPass+ 14-days before your trip, you can save $30 off the $99 price.
Got any good tips to share?