Guess what season it is?! DISNEY SoCal season! I am a huge Disney fan and although I no longer have my passes, I still make it out every year during the Disney SoCal sale because you are getting 2 tickets for the price of 1.5. I usually get the park hopper since we don’t have kids and enjoy the rush of going on as many rides as possible while we are there. However, if you are going with children I highly recommend you save the money on getting a park hopper and get one park per day to thoroughly enjoy all rides and shows at their pace. Afterall, the kid rides and character meet and greets have the longest lines, so you will spend time there.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you navigate the nuances of Disneyland, save some money and hopefully have a little more fun!
- Download the Disney App: It has improved so much over the past few years and is now an essential tool we use on our trip. You can delete it after your visit to conserve the space on your phone, but definitely make sure that you have it with you for the trip. In the app you can see what your dining options are (quick or fancy food), wait times, show times, the park maps and you can even purchase your photo package and MAXPASS. It is one easy go-to place for all the things you need for your trip.
- Get a MAXPASS: If you want to maximize your day, get a MAXPASS. Although Disneyland still offers free FastPass with a ticket, a MAXPASS saves you energy by not having to run from one ride to another all around the park. The concept of FastPass is that you put your ticket into a machine for your desired ride. The machine spits out a return time and you can return to that ride at that time and wait a minimal amount in line. This requires you to be running all over the park to get your next pass, and since every pass has a blackout waiting period until your next one, you cannot get all your FastPasses at once. If you are going this route, it is worth getting the FastPass for the latest ride and the two night shows, World of Color** and Fantasmic! first thing in the morning to ensure you get on the ride and get good sets for the shows. The MAXPASS is the FastPass 2.0. It costs $15 per person, per day, but it is WORTH IT! You manage all passes from your phone, without running around and you get access to all the photos you took while at the park, for free! Their photopass alone is pretty pricey, so it is worth the additional investment to get them linked in your app. You can then email them to yourself and download them. With this convenient feature, you also get to enjoy your time while at the park because you aren’t running around for your next pass.
- Pack snacks and water bottles: It is going to be a long day. We typically go to Disneyland for 13 hours, and need to stay fueled. You can take food into the park, so we make sure to take enough snacks to hold us over throughout the day. Don’t get me wrong – the funnel cakes are great and you should get one. However, that is just one snack in your entire day. We eat a hearty breakfast before going in so we can start our day immediately, and have snacks for the day. We also take water bottles because they have water fountains all over the park so you can easily refill. If you have a canteen, this is even better, especially in summer, so your drinks stay cool even if you buy water there.
- Take warm clothes, regardless of the season: In my experience, it is always cold at night. If you plan to stay past 7pm, take a jacket and/or more clothes as needed. There are lockers, so you can save your clothes there or you can carry them in your backpack. Backpacks are essential to the trip as well, to save snacks, water and your clothes.
- Reserve nighttime seating: If you want the ultimate experience, reserve nighttime seating to watch World of Color and Fantasmic! Reservations can typically be made 60 days in advance, and trust me.. You will need the 60 days, as everything Disney gets filled up so quickly. Ariel’s Grotto in California Adventure just got remodeled and is now Lamplight Lounge which will be the alternate, fancier seating choice for World of Color. At Disneyland, Fantasmic! has preferred seating at the Blue Bayou and River Belle Terrace restaurants.
- Take the girls to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: Yes, it is worth it! I took my sisters here and they had the ultimate princess experience. You can choose to just get their hair done, or go all out and get them a new outfit while you are there. The “fairy godmothers” that style of them are of course in character and make the experience SO fun! Reservations do need to be made in advance, so plan it ahead of time to ensure you get a spot because they fill up quickly.
- If you like something, buy it! Especially if it is limited edition: It has happened to my friends and I before – you see the one pin that is limited edition at 8am when you walk in, then it is sold out by noon. If it is something easily found, then you can buy it at the end of the day so that you don’t have to carry it. However, if it is limited edition, snag it while you can!
- Magic Morning: The SoCal pass includes one Magic Morning with your ticket, so take advantage! It allows you to enter the park one hour earlier than general admission and you can get your day started with less crowds. Use this time to go on highly-desired rides like the newest ride, or any ride in Disney’s Fantasyland (especially Peter Pan and Dumbo), as those tend to have the longest lines.
My personal must-see shows are:
- Mickey’s Magical Map – Disneyland
- Fantasmic! – Disneyland
- World of Color – CA Adventure
- Frozen/ Anything at The Hyperon Theater – CA Adventure
- Disneyland’s parades – These are seasonal and rotate, but they are so impressive and a nice break in your day to sit down and eat.
- California Adventures parades – These are more geared towards children, so if you are going with kids, make it a priority to watch them.
Disneyland is so magical and has so much to offer, so enjoy and savor every moment. I hope that these tips help make your next trip run smoothly and maximize your time and money.
** NOTE: World of Color is currently not operating, but once it is back on I would highly recommend it!
PS – here are some of the free photos we got with our MAXPASS.