How To Get The Most Out Of Your Disneyland Visit

Are you thinking about planning a visit to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park? I'm sharing how we got the most out of our visit with some Disneyland tips, tricks, and ideas. 

This post is in collaboration with Disneyland. All opinions remain my own.

Maximizing Your Disneyland Trip
There's something about the word, Disney, that gets me feeling like a little kid again. Some of my favorite memories involve those classic Disney movies and iconic characters. It's been so much fun being able to relive some of those memories, and create new ones, with my own kids.

Our first big Disney adventure took place a few years ago when were still a family of four and had the pleasure of visiting Disney World. It's a trip that even though my boys were younger, my oldest still talks about to this day. Since Disney was such a special visit for us, we knew it was a no brainer to head to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park during our recent California trip.

I wanted to share more about our experience, some tips, tricks, and ideas in case you are thinking about planning a visit. I know that some people will have different opinions on things, which is fine, because everyone's expectations and experiences are different. Some thought we were nuts for only spending a day in the parks, and others cheered us on and encouraged us to make a memorable experience. I think it's about finding out what works best for you and the expectations you have for your visit.


Deciding on the time of year, day of the week, events being held, or holidays approaching, can play a big impact on your trip. While visiting Disney is always a magical time, there are times out of the year where it's notorious for having more visitors. We decided to plan a visit on a weekday knowing that we weren't going for multiple days. This helped us to maximize our time in the parks. I am so happy that we did. It felt like a huge benefit for us because we didn't have to wait longer than 30 minutes for anything that we wanted to go on.


You know what they say, the early bird gets more Disney fun. Ok, ok, that might not be exactly how it goes, but if you play your cards right, it can be relatable. Depending on your tickets, you might have the option to enter into the park an hour early before the general public does. There are certain days this applies to Disneyland Park (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday). Here's my suggestion, go to the opposite park. Yup, while everyone else is crowding into the park that opened early, head to the opposite one a bit early than the general public (sometimes they allow you in 15-30 minutes ahead of time). We decided to head to Disney California Adventure Park on the morning that Disneyland Park had their early entry, and it was the best idea, ever! We didn't have to wait for much and had some great opportunities to jump from ride to ride. We got this awesome picture in front of the Mickey's Fun Wheel without people walking in front of us or crowding around. This might be one of my favorite family pictures of us!

Where To Take Pictures in Disneyland


Downloading the Disneyland app is a big must. This is a huge life saver and essential for helping to maximize your trip. You can do everything from buying park tickets, seeing wait times, and also using your MaxPass. It's also instrumental in reserving your spot in the queue for certain Star Wars attractions.


If you don't purchase your tickets through the Disneyland app, I would highly suggest saving time and buying them online. You have access to viewing the calendar to take advantage of seeing the ticket prices based on the day you decide to go. It also saves a ton of time from having to wait in line and get everything situated once you get to the park.


At first we weren't sure if we were going to be able to feel like we saw enough of each park and considered focusing on just one. Whatever you decide is best for your visit is completely up to you. I will say, we are so happy we decided take advantage of both parks, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. We loved both of them for different reasons and each of them had something special and unique to offer. In fact, we started our day at Disney California Adventure Park and then made our way over to Disneyland Park. Then after the light show at the castle, we made our way back to Disney California Adventure Park for World of Color. Oh yes, we hopped around.


I mean, who doesn't love cutting down on any type of wait time? That's what a FASTPASS will afford you. FASTPASSES are not eligible on all rides, but they are available on majority of the popular rides. Most of them you need to find the FASTPASS machines located around the general area of the rides to insert your ticket. Once you insert your ticket, a reminder will print out for you with a designated window for you to use your FASTPASS. You can bypass going to the machines with you purchase the MaxPass, which I'll cover next.

Here are the attractions that the FASTPASSES are currently eligible for.

Disneyland Park
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster
Haunted Mansion
Haunted Mansion Holiday
Indiana Jones™Adventure
"it's a small world"
"it's a small world" Holiday
Matterhorn Bobsleds
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
Space Mountain
Splash Mountain 
Star Tours-The Adventures Continue

Disney California Adventure Park
Goofy's Sky School
Grizzly River Run
Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission: BREAKOUT!
Guardians of the Galaxy-Monsters After Dark
Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
Radiator Springs Racers
Soarin' Around the World
Toy Story Midway Mania!
World of Color

It's strongly advised to check the FASTPASS availability on the app for the day you are visiting as some of the popular attractions have limited availability and FASTPASSES are not guaranteed.


Ok, that might be a confusing statement if you aren't familiar with how all of these passes work. I'll try to break it down for you. If you really, really, want to maximize your day spent at the parks MaxPass is an option. It comes at a price of $20 a person, per day. 

Here are the benefits to purchasing a MaxPass. It combines the ability to make FASTPASS selections from your phone along with unlimited access to Disney PhotoPass. To break it down even more, let's say you are in Disneyland Park but want to select a FASTPASS for Radiator Springs Racers (great ride by the way!), if you do not have a MaxPass, you would need to walk all the way over to Disney California Adventure Park to the area where that FASTPASS machine is. So really, what's MaxPass all about? Convenience and time saving.

Disney Pixar Pier


I love that Disney tries to make going on rides as inclusive as they can for everyone. It's going to be a surreal day when all of my kids are able to go on any ride with us. Right now we have A being able to ride on most things, little nugget still having some restrictions, and the baby, well he goes on what he can. Which I will say, was a great amount of things at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.

So what's a parent or friend to do when you both want to go on but can't ride together? You take advantage of a rider switch. You let the attendant know you are going on but your other counterpart will be going on after you. They scan your ticket and allow you to jump back into a less crowded line and be able to enjoy the ride. We did this with several things and it worked out great. A was able to ride twice on some rides, once with and Eric and then again with myself. Or A went on with me and then little nugget went on with Eric. Everyone was happy and it all worked out. Some rides also have single rider lines where you can bypass a lot of the waiting time if someone is going by themselves. 


Another great thing about downloading the Disney mobile app is that it will indicate where the characters are in the park and at what time. You can select from the drop down menu, characters, and have all of that available to you. At times you will see characters walking around throughout the park. That was my kids favorite part. We'd take a bathroom break and all the sudden see them walking around. They'd run up for a quick hug or high five and be on their way. But, if you'd like to get a  specific photo, or a more one on one experience with them, this is a great option. You can also book things like character dining experiences to mingle with them.


I love that you are able to bring in your own snacks and water into the parks. With kids, it's almost impossible not to do so. You will still want to get some amazing Disney food and treats, but let's face it, when our kids want snacks, they want snacks right then and there. Coming prepared with some of their favorites and plenty of water to hydrate is so important. 


Speaking of food, I also love that you can order food through the Disneyland mobile order service which will cut down on wait times. Another great advantage to saving time. You just walk up to the mobile order window, and pick up your food. You can take advantage of this at many restaurants inside both Disneyland Parks as well as the Disneyland Hotel.

Disney Beignets


I'm sure it will be almost inevitable that your little ones, or even you, will want to bring something nostalgic home from your Disney visit. My suggest is to save that for the end. You don't wan to have to walk around lugging extra things or run the risk of your little one setting their prize possession down somewhere and losing it in the park. It also worked out for us, because our little ones were on their best behavior knowing they were working towards achieving something at the end.


This probably goes without saying, but I can always appreciate when someone gives me a simple reminder that might spark something I didn't think of. If you haven't already figured it out, you're going to be doing a lot of walking. My number one thing is to make sure you and the rest of your party wears comfortable shoes. We also packed a few bandaids incase anyone got a blister or those mysterious ouchies occurred that need a bandaid right away. You all know the ones I'm talking about, right? It will also depend on the time of year that you go, but wearing layers may be helpful. It was beautiful during the day for us, but when the sun went down, we did put on some sweatshirts. 

If you have little ones, a stroller is essential along with a baby carrier if that's how you like to tote them around. We mentioned snacks and water, but since it's usually about the snacks with my crew, I figured it couldn't hurt to mention it again. 

Other suggestions would be to bring your camera (or you can opt out if you're doing the Disney PhotoPass), phones, chargers (especially if you're using the app, your phone will need some extra juice) sunscreen, hats, a backpack, and a notebook and pen if you want any character autographs.


I know that some will want to accomplish absolutely everything in one day, in reality, I don't know that that's possible. I would encourage you to keep an open mind and know that if you are going with little ones things can be unpredictable (as I'm sure you already know). You can't control the weather, crowds, wait times, or any situation that is out of your control. Creating amazing experiences and having a wonderful time is absolutely doable in a day. Try your best to focus on having fun and creating the best memories with your family, even if things don't go as planned. 

Happy Disney adventures and I hope you found this information to be helpful! 

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