Disneyland is my home turf! It’s the very first Disney park I visited and the park I’ve visited most often. I love Disney World, how could you not?! But the original here in California holds a special place in my heart. There is no other Disney park in the world where you can literally walk in Walt’s footsteps or ride where he rode. It’s an indescribable feeling to see how far it all has come, from the small beginnings Walt started.
This SoCal park is also full of many classic rides and attractions, some you won’t find anywhere else. Having been so many times, I’ve worked out a few full proof strategies to make the most of a trip to Disneyland!
Rope Drop These Attractions
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times; the best strategy at Disney is to arrive for rope drop. The parks are near empty until about 11am, and you can easily knock out some of the most popular rides in those few precious morning hours. But what I haven’t explained yet, is what to do during that time.
Always gets a long line, and always runs out of fastpasses. To make matters worse, a good portion of the line is outside on the roof of the attraction – so it gets HOT. You can knock this one out first thing, and get a fastpass to do it again, or stop by Star Tours on your way out to grab a fastpass.
It truly bewilders me as to why Disney has so many outdoor queues, California is the sunshine state for a reason. Case and point with Thunder Mountain, but the line doesn’t stack up quite as quickly as Space.
Dark Rides in Fantasyland
The storybook rides in the fantasy area of Disneyland (Snow White, Peter Pan, and Pinocchio) are classic. I’ve seen the lines extend past 2 hours in the summer, and there are no fastpasses. These are some you will definitely want to make a priority for your AM itinerary.
Haunted Mansion Holiday
From September to December the Haunted Mansion is decked out in a holiday overylay, and it is utterly fantastic. I can barely stand riding it any other time of year because it just looks incomplete. I’m not the only one to share that opinion though, and you’ll be able to tell by the abnormally long line you can see during the last few months of the year. The queue is outside, but in the shade for the most part. What makes it really uncomfortable though is that the ride was not built to hold a 2 hour line, so it runs out into the plaza and gets wrangled through a gated fountain. It’s extremely tight, you cannot jump out of line to use the bathroom, and completely avoidable. Knock this one out early, so you can walk by the line in awe later on.
Skip it: Splash Mountain
This is a personal preference for me, because I don’t want to spend all morning in the park soaking wet. If you don’t mind then you can definitely rope drop this one, if you’re staying at a nearby hotel you could plan to do this before lunch and go change afterward. My biggest reasoning here though is the single rider line. If you don’t mind riding alone, you can walk in through the exit and be on the ride within 10 minutes.
Crowds Move ClockWise
As guests begin to trickle in you’ll see parts of the park become crowded in this order: Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, New Orleans Square/Critter Country, Frontierland. It’s a clockwise rotation basically, starting in Fantasyland. If you’re there early enough you can stay ahead of the crowds by hitting the lands in this order. Fantasyland tends to slow down a little in the evening as many families are taking their children to eat or stake out a spot for the parades.
Skip the NightTime Show
I know, your jaw just hit the floor. I love the nighttime shows, in fact I just saw a recording of the Pixar Together Forever show and literally cried. But, you have to prioritize a bit. If you can bring yourself to skip these shows you can do even more rides while everyone packs into Main Street. You can watch the shows on You Tube, and I’ll be honest here: the best view of the fireworks is from the top of Thunder Mountain. Even if you only catch a glimpse.
Bring a Park Bag
And be strategic when you pack it! (I’ve got a guide for that). Keeping a few snacks and park essentials handy will make your day so much easier! AND help you save money! Disney food and snacks are great, but you have to wait in line and then wait for the food to be made. Time that could be spent in queue for a ride. I like to keep some beef jerky, crackers, and candy on hand at all times so I can have a little bite whenever I’m feeling a bit cranky.
Have a Good Time and Don’t Let Anyone Spoil it for you
It never fails that something at some point in the trip is going to go wrong. The kids will get tired of walking around, you’ll miss a fastpass window, everyone will get hungry and start complaining about something. it happens. What’s even worse is when someone completely outside of your group puts a damper on your day by cutting in line or walking 5 across in the middle of the walk way (really people?). When something like this happens, don’t let it ruin your day. Take a minute to slow down, have a snack, take a breathe, and get your mind back in order. How often will you make it to the happiest place on earth? Don’t let anyone ruin it for you.
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What are you best strategies for Disneyland Park?