Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth. However, I’ve found myself at Disneyland not having the happiest of times due to long waits and crowds. My wife and I have come up with a few ways to make the Disney experience as joyful as it should be. If you are planning a family trip to Disneyland (Anaheim, California), I’m here to provide you some pointers on how to get the most out of Disneyland!
This is a post from my guest writer, Nate Alexander.
People from all over the world make the trip to Southern California to go through the gates at Disneyland. In 2017, 18.3 million people walked through the turnstiles to the Land of Magic and Make Believe—that’s over 50,000 people a day averaged across the span of a year.
Needless to say, planning ahead is vital—this includes lodging. I’ll give you a quick rundown of my experience so that you can have the time of your life.
How To Get The Most Out Of Disneyland
First, here are the times of year to avoid Disneyland:
- Spring Break – Late March to Mid-April
- Summer – Memorial Day to Labor Day
- Halloween – The park is Halloween themed so weekends from mid-September thru October can be really packed. I’ve been during the week (Thursday), and it was manageable.
- Thanksgiving – Long weekend equates to increased crowds.
- Christmas – The park is Christmas themed and is packed usually every day.
- Federal Holiday Weekends – Local families within reasonable driving distance usually are at the park during these three-day weekends.
Here are the times that are likely to be less crowded—from my experience:
- After Spring Break, weekdays in April and May.
- Weekdays in September, October, November, and December.
Monday through Thursday is your sure shot of having a less crowded park. People tend to take Fridays off and make a day at the park so keep that in mind.
Where to Stay
Second, you will need to figure out where you’re going to stay. There are numerous hotels within the Disneyland area (Anaheim) that offer shuttles and other services to the park. My suggestion is that you select a hotel that provides parking less than $25 a night and shuttle. Why? Because parking is $25 at Disneyland. I’d also recommend a hotel that offers a filling breakfast. This will allow you to suppress your appetite and save money at the park. Another option is staying outside Anaheim for significantly less per night and pay for parking every day at the park. This will require a little bit of math and comparing to see if the value is worth it. If you choose this option, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to the park. Traffic in Orange County can get pretty brutal during morning rush hour.
Ticketing options: Here is a list of different ticketing options that you can price out to see what fits your budget best. I’ve collected some data and here is what I have come up with:
- Active Duty Military / US Government Employee:
- $178 3-day park hopper, $198 4-days. Blackout dates: Mid-April and after December 21st.
- Southern California City Pass:
- As of writing this, a 4-day park hopper ticket is $268—regardless of age. Prices vary on this website depending on the time of year.
- AAA Discounts
- Tickets are discounted until May 18th,must purchase in person at AAA.
- 3, 4, and 5-day park hopper options ranging from $237 to $263. Lesser options available if you choose one park per day.
- AAA also offers hotel discounts.
Keep in mind, there are many options for purchasing tickets, these are the cheapest options I have found. I did research Costco Travel. Online, they don’t offer tickets, but resort packages—which includes early bird park entry. This can get expensive but may make your vacation well worth it.
Okay, you’re at the park, what next? Here are some pointers to save a few dollars and avoid standing in line for hours at a time:
- Bring your own food!
- If ticket prices and parking wasn’t enough, well you can shell out more cash for food at this park. If you’re savvy, I recommend bringing your own snacks and sandwiches to avoid overspending on food. However, if you’re looking for a fun experience, there are many themed restaurants throughout the park for that one special meal.
- Apps! No, not food. Mobile applications! There are a few apps out there that can help you figure out what ride to jump onto next.
- MouseWait Disney provides all of your wait times, weather, crowd index, and maps. It’s an excellent app we use.
- Disneyland App provides your show times, hours, FastPass, and as allows you to reserve dining and order food. If you choose to purchase photos, they will be linked thru this application.
- Single Rider Lines
- If you’re okay with splitting up and not riding together, this is one way to jump long lines and experience the rides—alone. They usually split your group up if you’re willing. My wife and I do this when the lines are significant. We’ve never waited for each other after the ride ends for longer than 10 minutes.
- This feature, which is available in the Disneyland App, allows you to jump ahead of a ride line, one ride at a time. You cannot queue for more than one attraction. When you select this option, it will give you a time window to return to the ride and jump the line. If you miss that window, you lose the ride.
Please keep in mind the Internet is full of resources on “Disney How-To.” I don’t have all the answers, and I may have missed a few things. However, we have used these resources, and it truly has allowed us to have a more memorable time at Disney. If you have any questions or need any further information, please reach out to me at [email protected], and I can provide you with more information. I’m always here to help! Thank you for reading and have a magical day! //Nate//
Looking for other things in California? Check out these posts on the San Diego area:
A huge thanks to Nate for providing such a great guest post on how to get the most out of Disneyland! We can’t wait to take our kiddos.