15 Must Know Disneyland Tips

We LOVE Disneyland. I’ve blogged about this love countless times and just this week shared with you why we love to go to Disneyland during the Holidays. Because we love it so much we’ve learned quite a few things that make each visit even better. Today, I will be sharing with you my top 15 Must Know Disneyland Tips for Making the Most of your Visit.

Here they are:

{The entrance to California Adventure from our hotel room at Disney’s Grand Californian}


I cannot tell you how convenient is to stay at a hotel that is near the park. If you are attending Disneyland with kids, things are bound to happen where you may need to get back to your hotel room quickly. If you are staying near by this helps out so much! Going back to the hotel to get something you forgot, to put a baby down for a nap and more are just a few reasons why staying at a park close by helps out so much. Disneyland itself has three hotels that you can stay at that are all withthin walking distance of the parks. They have Disney’s Grand Californian (whose entrance takes you straight into California Adventure), The Disneyland Hotel (at the end of Downtown Disney) and The Paradise Pier hotel. Althouh each hotel has its perks with character breakfasts and more, the best (in my opinion) perk for staying here is the early entrance to the park. All guests of these hotels get to go into one of the parks one hour before everyone else. This may not seem like a big deal but when you are attending the park on a busy day, that one hour can make the world of difference. For us, it meant going to Cars Land and other attractions like Toy Story Mania without any lines as well as Fantasy Land at Disneyland with a very short line. Have you recently waited in line for Peter Pan? We were in and out of this ride in 5 minutes because of this early entrance, which was amazing!

Whether you are staying at a Disneyland hotel or not, be sure to remember the convenience of staying at a near-by hotel when you have little ones with you. 🙂


It is very helpful to know when events and parades take place at the parks. If you take the 5 extra minutes to check this out, it will help you through out your day. For example, during the parade, it is often very difficult to go from Tomorrow Land to Fronteir Land. If you knew when the parade was you could be sure to plan that time to stay on one side of the park instead of having to deal with the headache of crossing over and taking a longer and more busy route which can often be stressful with several little kids. It’s also nice to know when these events are because most rides have shorter lines during this time which may provide a good opportunity to ride certain rides. If you are planning on going to some of these events it’s also essential to know when they are so you can prepare and get a good seat or spot.

One more tip for planning your day is to be aware of which park has the early entrance for hotel guests. If that day’s early entrance is for California Adventure, most hotel guests start their day there which means you will want to start your day at Disneyland. Asking any cast member for this information is easy and starting your day at the opposite park as the Early Entrance park will help you enjoy a less busy park that morning. 🙂


Fast Passes are KEY to having an enjoyable time at Disneyland. If you have never used them before you must!! A Fast Pass is a ticket that allows you to by-pass the regular line and stand in a much shorter and quicker line that usually allows you to get on a ride within minutes. To obtain a fast pass you need to find the Fast Pass machines, (usually near the entrance of each ride) place your Disneyland ticket in it and a Fast Pass will come out. Super easy! The one thing to remember is that you cannot get another Fast Pass until the TIME LISTED at the bottom of your ticket. If you look at the image above it states that another Fast Pass will be available after 12:40. At 12:41 you can get another one. Using these Fast Passes on rides such as Splash Mountain, Space Mountain and Indiana Jones at Disneyland as well as Screamin’ California and Radiator Springs Racers at California Adventure are ESSENTIAL! Who wants to wait in line for 2 hours when they could’ve gotten a Fast Pass and waited in line for 10 minutes? If you really want to maximize all that you can do at the park these Fast Passes play a huge role and can help with that.

*UPDATED 2013 – You must return to that ride to use the Fast Pass during the time listed on the ticket. Before, they would let you come as long as it was after the time listed but now it must be within that hour.

**Get in line for a Fast Pass for Radiator Spring Racers the second California Adventure opens!! Tickets for this ride run out very quickly once the park opens. 🙂

{Cars Land}

{Love this picture of the lights on the cars of Radiator Springs Racers as they zoomed by.}

**NOTE: Get a Fast Pass for Cars Land’s Radiator Springs Racers (near the entrance of Bug’s Land) as soon as you get to California Adventure. This is the park’s newest and best ride and on many days the Fast Passes for this ride have sold out within an hour or two of the park opening. Trust me – the ride is AH-MAZING and so worth it. You DO NOT want to miss it!


Another thing to consider using if you have littles ones is the RIDER SWITCH or STROLLER PASS. You are able to use this when one parent goes on the ride with a child and another parent is out waiting with the stroller (whether it’s with another child waiting to go on the ride, a child that is too small to ride the ride or a baby that is sleeping). The person who went on the ride first can ask a cast member for the Rider Switch Pass which will allow the waiting parent to come to the front of the line to ride it again with the same child or another child  that was waiting to go on the ride. This is SO helpful when you have multiple little ones who want to ride a ride and you have others that cannot.


Come prepared!! If you think in advance and have things planned out I can promise that your visit at Disneyland will be that much better! There are several things to consider in your preparations, but make lists for packing and even a list to pack for the day you attend the park so you don’t find yourself having to go back to the hotel to get things. Here are some more tips and things to consider…

    **TIP 6 – Weather

Check the weather beforehand so you know how to pack. The worst thing is carting around a ton of jackets when there is no need for them or vice versa, having to buy coats, jackets, umbrellas and more because you didn’t check the weather. I recommend checking the weather before you leave on your trip as well as before you leave the hotel. Most hotels have wi-fi and internet access that can help with this. Knowing the weather is essential in being prepared for that day.

    **TIP 7 – Know height requirements and your kids’ heights beforehand

Check the height requirements for rides before  you leave on your trip! And be sure to know what your kids’ heights are. You don’t want to be telling your child how much fun they will have on Space Mountain just to take them to the front of the line and find out they’re not tall enough for it. 40 inches is one of the MAIN Height Requirements for rides such as Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror and more. Knowing these requirements can help you prepare your little ones in knowing which rides they will or will not be able to ride and can save lots of walking time if you know in advance if they are tall enough to ride a ride or not.

    **TIP 8 – Bring Snacks

Bring SNACKS!! You may find yourself standing in line for awhile and you and your kids may get hungry. It’s a good idea to have snacks on hand that are easily accessible and can help with this dilemma. Of course we bought our fair share of Churros, Drinks and Popcorn, but these costs can add up. Having some snacks on hand for the entire family will help with saving money as well as help when you’re feeling a little extra hungry while you are waiting for events and attractions. What we did was pack sandwich bags with gummies, crackers and more for each child (as well as for us adults). The kids knew they had access to that bag of snacks through out the day so they would ask for that when they were hungry. Worked like a charm!!

    **TIP 9 – Make Pit Stops

If you see a Bathroom or ATM make sure to stop and use them. The worst thing is being in line and almost about to get on when your little one states they need to use the restroom. If you see a bathroom, tell your kids you’re making a Pit Stop and everyone needs to take a potty break. Also, there are some snack and food stations that require cash and do not take cards. Make sure to always have at least a $20 on hand if you’re in a bind and want something from one of these stations.


Make sure all your electronic devices are fully charged when attending the parks. My husband and I found ourselves having to return to the hotel room just to charge our phones. We learned our lesson after the first day when we had split up and had a hard time finding each other because one of our cell phones was dead. No good. Make sure to have these devices fully charged before you leave. And make sure your cameras and video cameras are charged and that SD cards are clear for maximum use while at the park.


If you want to truly enjoy Disneyland and California Adventure it’s essential to have a Multi-Day Ticket to the parks. There are so many wonderful things to do and see and if you want to enjoy most of what these parks have to offer it’s a good idea to go for at least 2 days. Depending on when you go the park can be very busy or not busy at all and if you happen to go on a very busy day you will find that you were only able to join half of one park. If you get a multi-day ticket it will be so much easier to enjoy yourselves because you won’t be stressed out when you find yourself waiting in line for an hour for one ride. These multi-day tickets are wonderful and can really help you get the true Disneyland experience.


Use the Magic Mobile App. The best thing about it is it will tell you ALL the wait times for all the attractions at both parks. Sweet, right!? So much wonderful information will be available in the palm of your hands when using this App. Download it and use it, and you will be grateful.



There are SOOO many Photo Opportunities at Disneyland, and fortunately for us, there are Cast Members ready and waiting to take pictures at most of these places. If you don’t have your camera ready, do not fret! Just get a PhotoPass Card from a cast member and be sure to use it when your child meets characters or wants to take a picture in front of the castle. Then, when you get home you can sign in on your computer from home and see all the pictures that were taken and can then decide if you want to buy any of those pictures. So stinking handy!!


Deciding on when to go to Disneyland can be the most important decision you make in attending the park for several reasons. Disneyland has different “seasons” depending on Park Attendance. You want to go during the Off Peak Season if you want the least crowded park. Below I have listed these seasons…

Off Peak Season – Least Crowded
January Through Late February (Presidents’ Day)
April Through the Week Before Memorial Day
Mid-September (After Labor Day) Through Mid-October (Columbus Day)
After Thanksgiving Through The Week Before Christmas

Average Attendence
Late February Through the Week Before Easter
Sundays except for Summer and Holiday Weekends
After Memorial Day ‘Til Schools are out for Summer
After Columbus Day through Thanksgiving

Peak Season – Most Crowded
3 day Holiday Weekends
Week Before and After Easter
Summer (Schools are out) through Labor Day
Thanksgiving Weekend
Week Before Christmas through New Years

Also note that picking which days you attend the park can be very helpful. Tuesday through Thursday will be the least busy since that is mid-week. Friday through Monday are the most busy since it’s easier for most people to go through the weekend to the parks.

One more thing to consider in choosing your day is that dependent on when you go will also determine what hotel costs are. If you go during the Off Peak season, hotel prices are cheaper. During the Peak Season, hotel prices will be more expensive.

NOTE: Look for special savings on 3-day park-hopper tickets and hotel packages that go on sale starting Nov. 20, for visits in early 2013; see www.disneyland.com/offers .

Going to Disneyland can be a once in a lifetime opportunity where family memories are made and cherished. Using these tips will help you make the most of the visit for a fun and enjoyable time. I know we sure had a blast and cannot wait to go back again. The kids loved it, and the hubby and I may have loved it even more because Disneyland is simply the best!



Kristyn Merkley

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative – from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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  1. So glad you got to go to Disney with the kids and enjoyed it so much. I live in NY, so of course I have been to Disney in FL, but I adored it as well. I would love to be there right now, I took my elderly mom for Christmas and we loved all the decorations and special events. Disney knows how to treat their guests and always makes the experience memorable and special. Your tips were great and will make the trip even better for others, thanks for sharing.

    May you have a blessed Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

  2. One thing I didn’t see mentioned that I feel is important in choosing days to go to the park is making sure to check that your favorite rides will be open. They post on the Disneyland website when a ride will be closed for maintenance or refurbishing. Just something to keep in mind. I loved these reminders! Thanks for posting!

  3. When we went, we were told to stay in the lines that are to the right. Boy did this help because the lines to the left were ones that accommodated people that have a handi cap problem. It was a lot faster and more enjoyable with our four year old.

  4. If you have older kids, the fastest way to get on busy rides (like California Screaming, Indiana Jones, etc) is to get in the “single” line–you may not be able to sit with anyone you know, but if you don’t have a FastPass, you can still get on quickly. You will be filling in the empty seats around people who want to ride together. You have to ask a Disney employee at the entrance of the ride for a singles pass–there are some restrictions. My teenaged kids went on California Screaming several times in an hour one crowded day last spring–they loved it!

  5. One more tip about Fast Passes. You DO NOT have to go during the time listed on your ticket. As long as you go sometime after the first time listed, your pass will be honored. So you can stock up on Fast Passes and use them when it’s convenient for you!

    Ex- Your Fast Pass says 4:10-5:10. If you go at 6 or 7, they will still honor your pass. Just be sure you go AFTER 4:10.

    1. Be careful with that. lately the Parks on both coasts are starting to enforce the time frame. I imagine soon the possibility of going a few hours after your time will no longer be allowed. It’s always been a rule but this is one of those ones that they have recently decided to start enforcing. Be careful employing this is all I can say. 🙂

    2. That’s no longer true. Disneyland is now enforcing Fast Pass return times, just like WDW. You have to return during the window stated on your pass or they won’t let you use it.

  6. Great list. I’ll have to direct my friends questions here…it’ll save me loads of time. THANKS

    I have a few questions. about staying at Disney Hotels. What is the best way to get the best deal?! We stay nearby and I love that we are close, but one day I want to stay on property , if the price is right. So any help on snagging a great deal is appreciated.

    Also we have used the lockers (picnic area and in park) and love them. The rental is good all day and you can stash jackets, snacks, purchases, etc. in them. Also at the picnic area we have taken our lunch (cooler sized lockers) and loved the R&R we get…but are still at the park. Oh…and some lockers have charging stations so you can charge your cell or camera if needed. I haven’t used them, don’t know $$, but it could save a trip back to the hotel.

    I also recommend the PHOTOPASS. Use those photographers. During a family reunion trip (23 of us) we all used the photographers and came out with TONS of pictures. We got them all on ONE CD! Great pictures for a great price. We have found that when we waited to purchase the CD at home (or downloads) it was more expensive that way. So purchase the CD before leaving the park.

    I LOVE the pic of your daughter with the fairy. Perfect!
    Again thanks for this list. and any advise about hotels is appreciated.

  7. We will be taking our family to Disneyland for the first time next month and we are soooo excited! I had a question to you and your readers regarding cameras. I love taking pictures, and I have a small point and shoot and a large DSL camera. I really want to bring my DSL, but I am worried about carrying it all day, or it getting banged up. Do you have any advice on bringing a small point and shoot camera vs. a large DSL into the parks?

    1. Sara I too am going to Disneyland in a few days. I will be bringing both a point-n-shoot and my DSLR. I like the point-n-shoot for things like photos on the rides and the DSLR for most everything else. I take a camera backpack for storage when needed. I also carry my DSLR on sling (Black Rapid specifically) not on a traditional camera strap. I find it much more comfortable for all day shooting and much quicker to capture a photo.

    1. Rachel, this is a GREAT point! I was asking random people to take a picture of us (because I thought that we would be charged otherwise) until a super awesome employee told me otherwise! It was so nice not to have to disturb someone else on vacation to capture a fun picture!

  8. Oh Kristyn! I have been on pinterest for so long this weekend reading tip after tip on so many blogs I started laughing when i got to the end and saw your picture because I just thought, “HEY I KNOW HER!” then I felt really cool 🙂 good to see you’re doing awesome!!

  9. Hi!! Thanks for sharing this list! it is one of the best I’ve seen. I love Disneyland. My family went there very year at least once while I was growing up. Now I love to share it with my own kids. It definitely a different experience taking your own children. So fun!

    1. Yes it is, Heidi!! We love to take the kids now and feel like it’s even more magical than when we were kids. Can’t wait to go again. 🙂

  10. Two bits of advice I followed (with great results):

    1. Get there early, ideally just before the park opens. You can easily beat the lines and stay ahead of the crowds this way.

    2. In areas where there are multiple lines, always choose the leftmost line, or the line furthest from the entrance.

  11. These are GREAT tips… except for #8. You aren’t allowed to bring in outside food. A good bag checker doing their job will make you take it back to your room or rent a locker. (We’re an employee family of over a decade.) You can try it, and probably get away with it, but it’s best to just follow the rules, or plan to rent a locker in the first place!

    1. WOW! We’ve been so many times and have never tried to hide it (not knowing it wasn’t allowed) and have never been “caught”!

    2. We ALWAYS bring in food (mostly snacks), but several times we’ve brought bags of sandwich stuff. I always make sure to point it out to the bag checker, since we usually stash it under the stroller and no one has ever said anything. In fact, the recording you hear on the tram tells you that it’s OK to bring in your own food and beverages. They just ask that you eat it in the picnic area.

      1. You’re absolutely right Alicia — this IS allowed, but since the picnic area is past bag check and BEFORE the main gate you’re supposed to check your food in the lockers. The bag checkers are supposed to inform you of this policy, but they never do. I suppose if you don’t get caught and you aren’t informed you can’t be held to blame…

  12. Ooh! What a fun read! 🙂 I absolutely adore Disney Land, and have figured out a lot of these tips that you listed here. But pretty soon, we’ll be taking my niece, and you have great tips for that. Rider Switch Pass?! I would have never known! And I have been looking for an excuse to stay in one of the three Disney hotels. Thanks to you, I now know that guests can go in an hour early!! I am toooo excited, I neeeed to go to Disney Land now! 😀

    1. I SO wish I could go to Disneyland now too!! We went every November for the last several years but just moved to TX so we aren’t as close as we were in AZ. So sad. 🙁

  13. Holy freaking expensive! Anyone have any tips on how to slim the expense of all this down? We want to plan a trip this next year but don’t live close and don’t have the money to do everything suggested on the list. If we go on the off season do you think the fast pass is necessary? Does anyone know if you are allowed to bring food into the park? Will 2 days be enough to see everything in both Disneyland and Adventure? Thanks for the rest of the tips! We will be picking and choosing which ones to do and I’m glad to know and have options!

    1. There are always ways to decrease expenses. We stay at a hotel that offers continental breakfast so we don’t have to pay for breakfast. Apparently, you’re not suppose to bring in food but we have EVERY time and have never had an issue. Fast passes are FREE so I would use them!! 2 Days is enough if you go at non-peak time but you wouldn’t be able to see EVERYTHING, but just about everything. HOpe that helps!

  14. Ummm…the hotel is Disney’s Grand Californian. Not “The California Grand.” It also leads directly into Downtown Disney

  15. Didn’t know about the Rider Switch!!! Planing on going next week. First time with our 2 year old. Very excited! That was the best info due to us having a 8 month old who probably won’t be riding rides. Thanks!!!

  16. Great list! Just a note on #15 though: off season is the prime time for park maintenance, so there can be several major rides out of service for days during those times. Also remember that if you visit during the quieter time during the week, there many not be performances of some shows, parades, or the fireworks (which we hear from our house every weekend!). It’s a trade-off: easier pace, less crowds OR ear to ear crowds but everything is open and shows going all the time. One thing I’ve always loved about off peak visits is you get more of those “magical” moments because the cast has more freedom to do fun stuff when it is less crowded. For example, I’ve seen the entire Disneyland Band playing while riding on the carousel :). Characters have more liberty to wander around the park and play with the guests then, too, since the crowds don’t keep them pinned to their autograph station. I had my toddler daughter wandering with me around Toon Town on a Wednesday morning and Goofy sauntered up beside her and took her hand while she toddled around, so cute!

  17. I just wanted to mention that we went the first week of April in 2013 and that was a HUGE mistake. Kids were still on spring break. I would say late April to the end of May is one of the Off Peek times but definitely not the beginning of April. All the other tips are great and I have used several of them. We’re becoming experts with the Fastpasses! 😀

  18. thank you for your tips. just so you know for your next trip after reading your comment about having your phone charged…in locker area in california adventure you they have a few lockers that are for charging you get the locker and when you open it there are several different cords for all types of phones to charge. leave your phone locked up for an hour and return and you are good to go.

  19. Hello, this is very helpful, I am planning on coming over from Scotland in June with my 2 year old. A few questions, when do the school summer holidays start? R both parks Disney? I didn’t realise that thought there was just one. Are there many rides that a 2year old can go on? Will def try get a Disney hotel hadn’t thought about that. Any other tips of things to do in Cali?

  20. *ALOHA & MAHALO*