The park is most crowded during the summer and winter holidays, with Halloween and Spring Break close behind. The best times to visit are shortly after Easter, Labor Day, or New Year’s and during the week.
Shorten The Wait
Dash to crowd favorites like Indiana Jones Adventure, Star Tours, and Space Mountain to score a Fastpass, which will cut down your wait in line. Brochures at the main entrance list which rides offer them, but you may hold only one pass at a time.
Pull the rope while standing in line for Indiana Jones Adventure or sing into Snow White’s fountain if you want to surprise friends and family. We’ll let you see what happens.
Ask the insiders
Cast members can act as informal concierges. Behind the Haunted Mansion a hidden “pet cemetery” is officially off-limits, but if escorted by a cast member, you can snap photos of the statues and grounds.
Dine Down Home
For affordable dining, the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country serves fried chicken, sweet potato fries, and blueberry pie along the shores of Rivers of America.
Hot day? Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain are all air-conditioned. You can also beat the heat in the Jungle Cruise’s tropical shade and at Splash Mountain’s indoor glide and outdoor plunge.
Make Your Move
Keep an eye on performance and event schedules: Lines for the attractions thin out during parades and after the fireworks show.
Scattered throughout the park are “Hidden Mickeys.” Be on the lookout for ears on benches outside the main entrance, the hanging barrels at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean, and the jewels on one of the King Arthur Carousel horses.
Not including the members-only Club 33, Disneyland’s best dining spot is the Blue Bayou, with its candlelit tables and irresistible location in the Pirates of the Caribbean building. Make a reservation when you arrive at the park.
Hunt for History
Find old bits of Disney attractions among the new: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad repurposes remnants of the decommissioned mine train, and Fantasyland’s Skyway terminal is still half hidden among the trees near the Casey Jr. Circus Train.
For peace and quiet, seek out New Orleans Square’s lovely Court des Anges and the serene walkway behind Frontierland’s Fowler’s Harbor (next to the restaurant in Critter Country called the Harbour Galley).
Plan Your Exit
If you’ve parked in the colossal Mickey and Friends structure outside the park, get your car before the fireworks start. You can catch the show from the top level and hit the road while everyone else searches for their vehicles.
PLUS: The Happiest App on Earth
For insider information in your pocket, Mobile Magic, Disney’s official app, features maps, menus, and wait times. It’s currently available only for Verizon customers using Android phones. Disneyland Wait Times is a terrific alternative for iPhone/iPad users.
Strodder’s updated second edition of The Disneyland Encyclopedia (Santa Monica Press, $20) is due out next spring.
Map by Peter Hoey