Disneyland is a world unto itself, and like all worlds it has its own little rules, idiosyncrasies, tips, tricks and hacks.
These are the 25 Disneyland tips that we have found the most useful.
1. Ride Lines Are Open Until Close
The park closes at 10:00, and at 9:50 California Screamin’ has a 30-minute wait. You still can hop in line.
2. Want to Ride in the Front? Just Ask
If you or your kid wants to be in the front car of a coaster, just ask a ride attendant when you get to the front. You may have to let a group go by ahead of you, but you get the perk of the front-row seat.
3. Go Single-Rider
If you and your party don’t mind riding with strangers, you can hop into the single-rider line, which is always shorter than the normal wait.
4. You Can Hold FastPasses for Both Parks at Once
If you will be doing both parks in one day, you can double up on FastPasses. You can have FastPasses for Disneyland and California Adventure at the same time.
5. And You Can Get New FastPasses Every Two Hours
While we’re on FastPasses, you can also get a new FastPass every two hours, even if you haven’t used your next FastPass yet. (Example: if at noon you pick up a Radiator Springs FastPass that’s not valid until 6:00, you can still get a pass for another ride at 2:00.) It really is worth it to grab passes that frequently, so set an alarm on your phone to remind you when the two hours are up. Rides that you definitely should get FastPasses for include Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Soarin’ Over the World, Radiator Springs Racers, and Toy Story Mania.
6. When A Line Splits, Go Left
People instinctually go right, so the left side is shorter. This sounds almost too easy to be true, but it really can make a difference. The exception to this is Pirates of the Caribbean, where the actual pathway and line is longer on the left side.
7. Ride on the Left Track of the Matterhorn
When in Disneyland, just keep Beyonce in mind and go “to the left, to the left.” This track is longer than the right track, so you get more out of the ride. You can’t always control which side you get put on, but if you can it’s worth it.
8. Ride the Secret Lilly Belle Car
If you go on the Disneyland Railroad and are celebrating something special like an anniversary or birthday, request a ride in a special car. Right when you get to the park, go to a conductor and ask if you can ride the Lilly Belle car, which is designed and named for Walt Disney’s wife. It is very limited, but they can book you a spot for later in the day. Currently, the Railroad is not open due to the construction of Star Wars Land, but the car is on display in New Orleans Square so everyone can get a glimpse. But you can try to ride it once the ride opens up in the summer.
9. Go to Fantasyland Right at Open or After Fireworks
Fantasyland rides don’t offer FastPasses, so some of the more popular rides, like Peter Pan’s flight, have a really long line. So it’s best to knock these rides out of the way early when the lines are shortest. But if you have the stamina to stay after fireworks, that’s another perfect time to go. Fantasyland closes just before and during fireworks. That means when it opens back up, around half an hour after fireworks end, all the wait times are back at zero.
10. Beat All Your Friends in Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
Sure it’s just some friendly competition, but you know you want to absolutely destroy all your friends. Every five times you shoot and miss, you get 100 points just for trying, so never stop pulling the trigger. Different shapes are worth different values, and triangles are worth the most at 10,000. And in the second room, the Z on Emperor Zurg’s chest doesn’t look like it would be worth anything, but it is. And it’s a whopping 50,000 points.
11. Have Fun on Indiana Jones, Even While in Line
The Indiana Jones ride often has one of the longest lines in the park, but you can keep yourself occupied while you wait. There are hieroglyphics on the walls, and each has an English translation. Print these cards and bring them to the park so you can decipher them for yourself. Also, as you walk through the line, you’ll see signs instructing you to not pull a rope, and not step in certain tiles. But some rules were meant to be broken. Disobey them for a fun surprise.
12. Best Fireworks View? As Close to the Castle as Possible
In front of the castle and the front of Main Street are the best places to get a view of the fireworks, but you have to camp out pretty early to get those spots. If you don’t like waiting or crowds, you can sacrifice the view of the castle and watch from the Matterhorn or It’s a Small World. Another fireworks tip: If you’re going to a night parade that’s just before the fireworks, make sure the spot you have for the parade is also a good view for fireworks, because moving out of the area to a new one might get tricky due to all the foot traffic. For more on where to watch fireworks, look at this handy map.
13. Use the Bathrooms by the Enchanted Tiki Room
The bathroom behind the Tiki Room often has no wait, which is a hard find in Disneyland.
14. If a Show or Parade Has Two Night Showings, Go to the Second
The first showing is always more crowded, so that’s a good time to hop on rides. And by the time the second showing comes up, more kids have tuckered out for the night, meaning it’s easier for you to get a good spot.
15. Annual Pass Holder Blackout Dates
Days where annual pass holders can’t go to the park eliminate a whole crowd of usual Disney-goers, meaning you could benefit from shorter lines.
16. Arrive Early
It’s an obvious one, bet getting to the park right when it opens is essential to getting everything done. Editor of Mice Chat, Dusty Sage, says you can get more things done in those first two hours than you will the rest of the day.
Food and Shopping
17. Bring Your Own Food
While one of the best parts of Disneyland is eating all the food, it can get pricey. Store a few granola bars and other goodies in your bag so you don’t need to shell out $4.25 for a churro every time someone gets hungry.
18. Stores Are Open an Hour After Closing
You can do your souvenir shopping up to an hour after the park closes. The stores are usually pretty busy at this time, BUT it doesn’t cut into your ride and park time.
19. Get Yourself a Free Souvenir
Celebrating a birthday, anniversary, graduation, or even just a first time in the park? Main Street City Hall will give you a free button. You can also grab maps from the Jungle Cruise and a certificate from the Mark Twain Riverboat for free, if you ask.
20. Buy Dole Whip In the Entrance to the Enchanted Tiki Room
The Tiki Room is full of hidden secrets. And perhaps the most important is the Dole Whip, because you can’t leave Disneyland without trying it. When you’re walking past the entrance to the ride, you’ll see an insanely long line to get the frozen treat. But if you just turn an extra ten feet into the waiting area, there is a line less than half the size for the exact same thing.
21. Download Apps Before Getting to the Park
The Disneyland App is a must-have for your trip. It will tell you wait times, where characters are, and list nearby restaurants and restrooms. The Disneyland Wait Time app is also great if you just want to look at wait times for the park you’re currently in really quickly. But be sure to download them before getting to the park, as there is no reliable wifi, and you don’t want to drain your battery.
22. Bring a Portable Charger
Be it Disney themed or not, you’re going to want one of these. Between constantly scanning your phone for ride wait times, posting to Snapchat, taking pictures with Mickey and friends, and texting everyone you came with when you inevitably lose them in the Main Street Emporium, your phone battery is going to die. There are limited outlets in the park, and charging stations for a fee. But having this in your back pocket will make the day a whole lot easier.
23. Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode for Some Rides
The lines for Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion all either go underground, or have terrible service. You won’t be able to use your phone, and it will deplete its battery trying to find service. So throw it on airplane mode.
24. The Best Spot to Meet Mickey Mouse is in Toontown
You can’t leave the park without a photo with the big cheese himself. The line is usually not too long (especially at night), and it’s air-conditioned. You also get to explore Mickey’s house and watch cartoons on your way to get your photo, which is a plus.
25. The Best Castle Photo Op is to the Right Side of the Castle
You get the full castle in the shot, there are fewer distractions in the background, and most importantly, there are fewer people around.