Disneyland and Disney World are SUCH different beasts. I know for Disney World there’s so much planning ahead of time which can be pretty stressful. Disneyland doesn’t require quite as much planning, but there are definitely some things to keep in mind and plan for so you can have a fun and successful trip. I’m here to give you a full rundown! From airports to hotels to ticket options to food and so. much. more. This could also be helpful for anyone planning a first trip in general, so give it a peek and comment below with any questions.
Cars Land in Disney California Adventure Park is full of little nods to the Pixar movie, both obvious and not-so-obvious. Check out this list the next time you find yourself in Radiator Springs, and don’t miss all these hidden gems!
I’m sure there was a time in my Disneyland trip history where I would only pull out my phone to snap a few pictures then put it away and forget about it.
Ah, how far we’ve come.
When Disneyland first launched their parks app, it wasn’t too impressive. They might have had wait times, but honestly MouseWait was a better crowd sourced option. Disneyland recently completely overhauled their app, and now I can’t imagine going to a Disney park without it.
And while I don't advocate having your phone out at all times, using the app strategically can help give you a leg up on accomplishing all your Disneyland goals.
I’ll be giving you the whole rundown from downloading and installing to utilizing all the different features so you’re having the best possible trip. Let’s get into it!
You can download the Disneyland Mobile app on both the Apple app store, and the Google Play store. And I’m happy to report it has thousands of nearly five-star reviews on both sites, meaning they didn’t skimp on Android, which can tend to happen.
Current tickets/ buy tickets
You know how I’m always harping on you to buy your ticket ahead of time? Good news! You can buy park tickets and annual passes right from the app. On our last trip, Stephen renewed his annual pass on the tram from the parking lot to the park. It was super easy and way faster and more convenient than waiting in the ticket line which is NO JOKE PEOPLE.
You can also add the tickets of everyone in your group and create a “party” in case you have a forgetful person who’s prone to losing things, or if you don’t want to dig around for everyone’s tickets every time you want a fastpass or switch parks.
When you’re added to a party, anyone who has the Disneyland app installed on their phone can see all the tickets in the party and any reservations made. Which is super helpful if you’ve been in charge of dealing with the tickets all day and want to pass off the responsibility to someone else.
To add other tickets, open the app and go to “My Tickets”.You’ll see your pass and everyone else in your party.
Are you sick of me talking about Maxpass. Y’all- seriously. For ten bucks extra you can elevate your entire trip. You don’t have to go tracking down fastpasses that typically run out fast (Radiator Springs Racer fastpass kiosks have lines no joke, skip that nonsense).
Plus with Maxpass you get photopass included, meaning you can have the professional photographers all around Disneyland take your picture and download them for free. You also get free downloads of all the ride pictures. Just do it.
I wrote an entire post all about using maxpass, I recommend giving it a read!
Speaking of photopass, you can access your photopass photos right from the app.
You can check out all the restaurants menus in the park regardless of whether or not they take reservations but you can also book all your dining reservations right from the app. Which is so much easier than when you used to have to call.
Map with wait times
The paper Disneyland maps make great free souvineers and they’re super cute, but for quick access to check out what’s around you or where you want to go, there’s a map built right into the app.
I tried out mobile order for the first time on my last trip and it’s a life-saver (post on that coming up soon). On a hot day that ice cream line can get intense and now you don’t have to wait. You can mobile order and have your food and drinks and treats ready for you from some of your favorite places in the parks.
When you enter the park, right next to the maps are another little pamphlet you’ve probably ignored (unless you go with Stephen who always gets one). The times guide!
Seems kinda boring but it legit gives you a rundown of allllll the different shows and character meet and greets in the entire park. We can’t survive a trip without one, and now you don’t have to remember to grab one. All of that day’s show times and character meet and greet times are in the app, ready for you.
Hours (calendar, with blockout dates)
Super handy to have at a glance. If you’re an annual passholder you can see any blockout dates, and if you’re there for a few days you can check open and close times. There’s nothing worse than getting to the park at 8am and realizing you could have slept in for another hour.
See? The app is so helpful. I’m sure Disneyland without the app can be done, because for a while it was the only choice. But if there’s a new tool to help make your trip more magical and less frustrating, you might as well give it a try. And once you’re in line for that ride you maxpassed, check out the Disneyland Play App, for fun games and trivia.
Welcome to the next post in the series where I give you the rundown of a pretty perfect ride order of each Land. Check out parts one, two, three, and four for complete Land domination tips and tricks plus the reasoning behind every decision so you can make informed choices should anything happen.
And here we are! The last in the series tackling Disneyland proper: Toontown.
Oh, Toontown. You really are...something.
I’ll start off by being very honest, I don’t care much for Toontown. When Disney first introduced the concept of Galaxy’s Edge, I was hoping they’d raze Toontown to the ground and start anew, which, perhaps, is an unpopular opinion.
Alas, people lose their damn minds for Toontown. And I suppose this series wouldn’t be complete without a rundown of the washed out, useless stretch of land others so lovingly flock to.
I’ll stop being cynical now.
Like Critter Country, Toontown is a dead end, and it only has two rides. It does however host a bunch of other experiences, and the entire land is more interactive than any other at the resort. I’ll give you some sweet tips so you can enjoy and explore the land as a whole. Let’s get to it!
***PSA: This order works best if you’re at Toontown when it first opens.***
Toontown doesn’t operate like every other land in the park. It’s at the very northern tip of the park, just past Small World. It opens late, usually an hour or two after regular park open, so you can tackle another land first thing in the morning and still get to Toontown at its open. On the flip side, Toontown also closes early for fireworks, usually around 8:30 pm, since they launch the majority of the fireworks from there.
1. Beeline for Gadget’s Go Coaster, fastpass Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin on the way or maxpass in line.
Since Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin is at the opening of Toontown, it’s just as easy to grab a fastpass on your way to Gadget’s, which is at the very furthest edge of Toontown.
Depending on Gadget’s return time, explore. There’s lots to see!
2. Ride Roger, maxpass your next ride.
Duh, always maxpass your next ride.
Annnnnd you did it! Whether or not you got to explore in between rides, there’s probably a lot more to see. One charming aspect to Toontown is the ability to tour the houses of the classic Disney characters.
Minnie and Mickey’s houses can stack up the wait since they’re a walkthrough and a character meet and greet. So if the wait is long, you can still explore the houses (recommended, they’re pretty cool), and then check the times guide to see when Mickey and Minnie appear for photo opportunities throughout the park (which is frequently).
Chip and Dale, Donald Duck, and Goofy also all have their own houses you can play in and explore, however they don’t offer character meet and greets.
Toontown is also super interactive. When exploring make sure to push every button, step on every bit of ground that looks different, and pull every lever. It’s a fun place to explore and create some magical moments without having to wait in lines.
If you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, Toontown is the only place in the entire Disneyland Resort that offers frozen yogurt, so be sure to check out Clarabelle’s.
Also! Right outside Toontown is the Fantasyland Theater. Make sure to catch a showing of Mickey and the Magical Map; we generally view on the tipsy side and I have to say I recommend a few drinks beforehand. The Fantasyland Theater also has some of our favorite snacks in the park (hellllllo bratwurst), so it’s definitely worth a visit.
Right next to the Fantasyland Theater you’ll find the Disneyland Railroad station, so duh now’s the time to hop on for a full circle tour.
And that’s it! We’ve covered the best ride orders for EVERY land in Disneyland. I’m so excited by this series, it’s been a really fun puzzle to piece together. I’ve got lots of ideas for more series but let me know if you’d want a guide series for California Adventure.
Welcome back to the series where I give you the best (in my humble opinion) ride order of each land at the Disneyland Resort. In parts one, two, and three, we tackled the busiest lands with the most rides. In this post, I’m going to go a bit deeper into one of the smaller lands, the ever beloved Critter Country.
You know how in the last three posts I was like “hey every single person on the planet is going here in the morning”? Good news! Not one single person is going to Critter Country in the morning. No one is even going to Critter Country like an hour after park open. Sorry, Critter Country! I still love you.
And while we covered how you can incorporate Critter Country in the Adventureland post, we have some more tips to share. Because while the littlest land that dead-ends over the hill from the Haunted Mansion probably doesn’t need to be your first stop, it does tend to fill up mid-day and of course we can give you the rundown on what do and see (aka eat).
Critter Country is perfect to do after you’ve dominated one of the other lands (particularly Adventureland/Frontierland/New Orleans Square since they’re right next to each other) and you’re almost ready for lunch. Winnie the Pooh line should still be short, and fastpasses for Splash Mountain should still have a fairly quick return time.
Since most people come to Critter Country for Splash Mountain and it’s a dead end, the whole area dies down at night or when it’s cooler out. Once Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land) opens, there will be a walkway that connects into Critter Country, so take advantage of the lack of people there for now.
1. Hop in line at Winnie the Pooh, maxpass Splash Mountain in line.
Never wait longer than five minutes for Winnie the Pooh. If the line is longer, come back at night when everyone is cleared out.
Poke around Pooh’s Corner and grab a treat, it’s law that you have to grab a treat after you ride Winnie the Pooh. I recommend the giant peppermint patty, the peanut butter sandwich, the rice krispy treat, and the oatmeal cookie.
Depending on how much time until your Splash Mountain fastpass return, go grab lunch at Hungry Bear, which is definitely a hidden gem restaurant in the parks. The fried chicken sandwich is incredible. They have onion rings (!!!!!) and funnel cake. FUNNEL CAKE! YOU GUYS. It looks like a subpar burger place in passing but it has some amazing views of the Rivers of America and the menu is so different from anywhere else in the park. Don’t sleep on Hungry Bear!
2. Ride Splash Mountain, maxpass another ride.
Always maxpass your next ride right when you scan in line, you know this by now. Quick ride tip: If you want to get wet, sit in the first few rows. If you want to avoid getting soaked, aim for rows four through six. You can always request preferred seating in Disneyland, they just might have you wait for the next log/ car/ doombuggy.
And that’s your ride order with a couple extra tips mixed in. But of course I have a couple more.
I’ve said above that Critter Country being a dead-end really dictates the crowd size, and you can totally use that to your advantage. We particularly love a Critter Country visit in the evening, when the rest of the park is bananas. It takes a trek to get there, but once you’re there, you can ride Winnie the Pooh in peace over and over and stretch out on a bench and not interact with another soul.
Another magical aspect of night time in Critter Country is getting a Fantasmic sneak peak. If you hang out on the walkway by the Hungry Bear bathrooms, you’ll get a good view of the Fantasmic actors loading and getting prepped to go on stage.
So we tend wait and watch them load in peace, then saunter around the bend at the beginning of Fantasmic and pop into the standby area across from Haunted Mansion. Most of Fantasmic requires fastpasses, but the fastpass viewing areas aren’t great, you have to get there early, and the system is utterly confusing. If you watch the loading and then drop into the standby area, they usually let you into the fancy all seated area typically reserved for the dining plan people, and there’s no wait time and no fuss. Highly recommended.
One more tip! When you’re walking away from Critter Country towards Haunted Mansion, there’s a fruit stand on the left. Just beyond the stand there are stairs. If you go up those stairs, it leads you to a hidden pathway free of people, with a great view of the Splash Mountain Drop. And it drops you right in front of Haunted Mansion without fighting through a crowd. Another one of my favorite spots in the whole resort.
And those are our favorite tips and ride order for Critter Country. Who knew such a little land could have so many hidden treasures. What’s your favorite thing to do in Critter Country?
Welcome back to round three in the series of complete Land success!
It’s time for the e-ticket hub of Disneyland, Tomorrowland! Tomorrowland is always packed to the friggin brim, which can probably make it seem pretty scary from the outside looking in. Also it’s kind of scary on the inside, too.
The layout of Tomorrowland lends itself for an utter nightmare for people flow, it’s kind of long and skinny, with the middle usually taken up by strollers. It can also be painful because most people who aren’t going to Fantasyland, are making the mad dash for Tomorrowland. And unlike the other lands, where there’s ebb and flow to the day, Tomorrowland gets busy in the morning and stays busy right up until closing. Like Fantasyland, you might have to come back a couple times during the day. Am I pumping you full of excitement, yet?
Good! Like everything else, there is a strategy and it can be dominated. Let me walk you through it.
***PSA: This schedule works best if you’re ready at the Tomorrowland entrance at rope drop (park open) with maxpass up and running on your phone.***
1. Make a bee-line for Astro Orbitors, maxpass Space Mountain.
Everyone heads to Space Mountain and Star Tours first so by now you should know I’m going to tell to do something different. Luckily Disneyland is aware of the madness of Tomorrowland and almost all of the rides have fastpass capabilities. Which means you should head for the rides that don’t have fastpasses first, AKA Astro Orbitors.
For the life of me I cannot figure out why Astro Orbitors has the line it does CONSTANTLY but let me tell you, this line don’t quit. It starts early and for some god foresaken reason it will persist until close. So go here first and maxpass Space Mountain while in line.
I recommend maxpassing Space first because fastpasses run out faster for that ride, and the return time will get way late into the night the longer you wait. If you maxpass first thing you have the chance for an earlier return time.
2. Check on Finding Nemo and ride if line is short.
This is the only other non-fast pass ride, and it fills up fast. If it’s full, not to worry, it clears out when the fireworks start so revisit around 9:30pm if you didn’t get on in the morning or you want to ride again.
3. Check on Autopia and ride if line is short.
I know there’s a bit of “checking” on rides, but Tomorrowland isn’t as predictable in the morning as Adventureland because it tends to be on the busier side. Autopia can be fastpassed, but if the line is short, go ahead and ride. If it’s longer, wait on grabbing a fastpass for this ride until after you’ve grabbed one for Star Tours. They tend to run out later in the day than Space and Star Tours, so it’s better to grab those first.
4. Ride Astro Blasters, check to see if you can fastpass Star Tours
It should still be a short line for Astro Blasters so hop on in. If it’s longer than ten minutes, there are lots of fastpasses throughout the day and it should be easy to grab one. And even though you haven't been on Space Mountain, yet, you might be able to fastpass again so make sure to check in on that, and if you can, snag one up.
5. If Space is ready to ride, jump in line and fastpass Star Tours if unable earlier.
After Space, you’ll probably be hungry, and your Star Tours fastpass might not be ready yet. Now’s a good time to grab breakfast at the Galactic Grill (only one of like four places in Disneyland that has breakfast, and you don’t need reservations!), check out the Star Wars Launch Pad (previously Innoventions), and catch a seat at the Path of the Jedi show (previously Captian EO). Also now’s a great time to shop, and that Tomorrowland shop is a good one. Kat and I generally spend too much money there.
6. Star tours
Your fastpass might not be ready until later, but if it’s ready go ride!
You did it! Time to celebrate by grabbing another fastpass while you’re in line. And also maybe a churro.
As you can see, things fill up wonky, and some of the above ride order might not work out.
It’s helpful to know that you *cannot fastpass* Astro Orbitors and Nemo Submarines. *Everything else in Tomorrowland is fastpassable.* Also keep in mind that Space Mountain and Star Tours run out of fastpasses early, so if the park is filling up, you should fastpass Space and Star Tours first, then Astro Blasters and Autopia.
Astro Orbitors, fastpass Space Mountain
Astro Blasters, check to see if you can fastpass Star Tours, yet.
Space Mountain, if you were unable before, fastpass Star Tours now.
Star Tours, fastpass your next ride!
Fastpass order if park is madness
Have fun! Is there a different order that you and your pack do things? Let us know!
Welcome back to round two of The Order of Things! In this post, we’ll be tackling the ever coveted Fantasyland.
Fantasyland is a tricky one to tackle because Fantasyland has the most attractions in any Land, and the only rides that have fastpasses are outside the main portion of Fantasyland, AKA Matterhorn and Small World. PLUS you’re not allowed to trample people anywhere in Disneyland so you have to go about getting on all the rides in an ethical way. Which can really throw a wrench in things.
And Fantasyland fills up fast, probably because it's so kid friendly. It also might have something to do with the fact that you can ride most rides in Fantasyland with a cup of coffee in your hand which you definitely cannot do anywhere else in the park.
Something to keep in mind with Fantasyland is the entire Land kind of operates how a child would. Pretty chill and fun first thing, around 10ish it gets crazy town, it gets reaaaaaaallly cranky around midday, and it starts to chill out again later on into the evening. Beware though, they launch some fireworks for the show from Fantasyland (as well as Toon Town), so they close it down for a few hours every night. Which means there’s a second opportunity at a rope drop if that’s something you’re into.
In the rundown below, I’ll give you a pretty good starting point to get Fantasyland checked off your list. While Adventureland through New Orleans Square is easy to do in one fell swoop, Fantasyland might require a trip or two back throughout the day to fully ride everything. But of course, I’ll be giving you the secrets and some reasoning behind every choice so you can make informed decisions and pivot when need be. I believe in you! It’s gonna be so much fun LET’S GO RIDE THINGS.
***PSA: This schedule works best if you’re ready at the Fantasyland entrance at rope drop (park open).***
1. Alice in Wonderland
I bet you’re wondering why I’m not telling you to sprint to Peter Pan first thing. I one hundred and twenty five billion percent guarantee you that everyone waiting by Fantasyland at rope drop is going to run immediately to Peter Pan. There is no way you can beat all those people trust me. Unless you are Inspector Gadget and can mechanically elongate your legs to step over everyone mad dashing to Peter Pan then please, save yourself.
Save your sanity and your happiness. No matter how early you get there, no matter how fast you walk, there will be an at least 25 minute wait for Peter Pan. In that wait time, all the other ride lines will fill up and you’ll have wasted your entire morning. Which kind of frees you up if you think about it. If there’s ALWAYS an at least 25-45 minute wait, you might as well do anything else. Don’t worry, I got a tip for you but that’s under the Peter Pan section because I have to trick you all into reading everything somehow.
Alice in Wonderland, on the other hand, doesn’t have a line first thing! And it will have a line that rivals Peter Pan later-on in the morning lasting through the rest of the day. So first thing on your list is go walk on Alice in Wonderland and enjoy saving yourself from that dumb Peter Pan line.
2. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride also fills up ala Alice and Peter Pan, but it takes a little bit longer. Make this your second stop after Alice and walk right on.
Not gonna lie, we don’t ride Dumbo, Storybook, or Casey Jr. every time, but they fill up pretty quickly as well. Jump to Dumbo before the Peter Pan line starts to head to other rides. It’s generally pretty open first thing and later at night.
4. Storybook Land
Storybook Land and Casey Jr. have stupid lines I’m just gonna say it. Even if you’re at the very front of Storybook Land there’s only like one or two boats and it takes a while to load BUT if you catch it early on in the morning, you can avoid waiting longer than necessary.
Storybook Land sometimes opens after the park, mid-morning, so if it’s still not open after Alice, Toad, and Dumbo, hop over to Casey Jr first and check back in after.
5. Casey Jr.
Casey Jr. line works a lot like Storybook Land, it moves slow and the ride is long, but early in the morning you should be fine.
I don’t mean to wax poetic but Pinocchio and Snow White are wonderful oases of reasonable lines in a desert of Fantasyland insanity. They should still have reasonable lines once you’re done with the above list. And you can probably come back throughout the day and ride both multiple times.
However! There are some points where everything is busy and crazy, so if you see the line switchback more than once, skip and come back. There will always be opportunities to ride.
7. Snow White, fastpass Matterhorn
Read above! An oasis I tell you! It’s probably around now that you should grab a fastpass for Matterhorn. You could do maxpass, which you probably should have if you wanna keep crushing it throughout the day, but it’s not as necessary to have in Fantasyland as it is in Adventureland/ New Orleans Square/ Frontierland.
Also I don’t care what anyone says, Snow White is the scariest ride in the park.
8. Tea Cups
Tea cups line comes and goes, because of that, I have it closer to the bottom because now would be a good time to go around and check it out. If it’s short, go ride! Have fun! If it’s long, come back at night and ride under the lights, which is my personal favorite time to ride.
Also goes in and out of being busy, so it shouldn’t be too challenging to ride at any given time, but once again, it’s absolute pure magic at night.
10. Small World
If your Matterhorn fastpass isn’t ready yet, check out Small World. If the line’s long, you can always grab a fastpass after Matterhorn, but it should still be pretty much close to walk-on at this point. It may seem like there are tons of rides in Fantasyland and it would take forever to get through all of them, but they were pretty much all made a real long time ago, and they go by fairly quickly, so believe me when I tell you that you’ll still be crushing it at this point.
Never ever ever ever wait in stand-by for this ride. It wraps around the mountain and looks like hell. They just recently added fastpass to this ride so you should take advantage of that. Hooray!
12. Peter Pan
Why is Peter Pan last, you ask? Is it not magical? Is it not wonderful? Is it not the best? It is definitely magical and wonderful and the absolute best. But it has a super long line all the time. It cannot be beat. So my big tip is don’t spend park time waiting in line. I’m about to drop some knowledge on you. Park close times are the times when the lines close, not when you have to be out of the park. Meaning if the park closes at midnight, you just have to be in line at midnight. Meaning if you HAVE to wait, might as well wait after the park closes and not waste park time.
If you’re exhausted or don’t want to wait until close, honestly just ride any time during the day because it’ll be equally bad always. I’d just maybe wait until the sun isn’t shining directly on Fantasyland so you’re not roasting in line. And you can always bring a snack and drinks in line, there are trash cans at the end so get a few churros and tuck in.
And you’re done. You did it! You dominated Fantasyland!
Once again, crowd sizes and time of day can impact how crazy a Land is, but now you have the knowledge to make informed decisions and change it up when necessary.
If you’re hanging around Fantasyland, you might as well check out some of the hidden gems around you, and of course, grab a frozen apple juice across from Red Rose Tavern.
2. Mr. Toad
4. Storybook Land
5. Casey Jr.
7. Snow White
8. Tea Cups (Fastpass Matterhorn)
10. Small World (Fastpass if the line’s too long)
12. Peter Pan
Is there another way you like to take on Fantasyland? Let us know!
Welcome to our new blog series, The Order of Things! In which we give you the breakdown of a pretty perfect schedule based on land (aka how we do it).
I’m pretty sure everyone has a routine once they’ve been to Disneyland a few times. We tend to generally start day one with Adventureland into New Orleans Square and Frontierland. On day two we’ll start with Fantasyland, and if we have a day three we’ll generally start of with either Carsland or what is now Pixar Pier.
But no matter what land we start off with, we always have a solid game plan that’s pretty much ingrained in our souls by this point. This is mainly because we’ve been doing this for a while and we know where the crowds tend to go and how to work around them so we’re getting on rides without rushing or waiting in long lines. And we want to share that goodness with you.
There may seem like there’s a lot of explanation for each portion of the schedule, but if you understand the way the lines tend to work throughout the day, you can make more informed decisions and mold the schedule to fit your needs better.
We’re going to be starting off with how to work your way through the left side of the park, Adventureland, Frontierland, and New Orleans Square. It might sound like a lot but they all bump into one another, and if you’re going to take on one, you might as well take on them all. Let’s get into it!
***PSA: This schedule works best if you’re ready at the Adventureland entrance at rope drop (park open) and if you have maxpass ready on your phone.***
Get in line at Pirates, maxpass Indiana Jones while in line.
Indy line gets ridiculous fast, and everyone waiting by Adventureland in the morning is generally waiting to sprint to the Indy line. Use that time to get in line at Pirates before it fills up and reserve your fastpass for Indy on your way to your boat.
Pirates tends to get busier earlier these days, which is why I recommend jumping into that line first thing. We have a rule to never wait more than ten minutes for Pirates simply because you don’t have to! Pirates line is generally walk-on in the morning, stupid long in the afternoon, and clears up again generally after the second showing of Fantasmic. So if you see the line spilling outside the actual queue and wrapping onto the walkway that connects to Tarzan Treehouse, come back later, the line WILL get shorter I promise.
Once you’re off pirates, jump in line at Haunted Mansion.
Mansion line should still be short. If you have any doubts you can reverse the order and hop on to Mansion before Pirates. Whatever line you get in first, just make sure to still make that Indy maxpass reservation. You should also keep in mind that Mansion acts a lot like Pirates. Empty in the morning, insane late morning through the evening, and clears up after Fanstasmic. Unlike Pirates, Mansion has Fastpasses, and they generally have a lot unless it’s around the Holidays. It’s totally possible to walk on early or late, but if you’re itching for a Mansion ride mid-afternoon grab a fastpass.
Off Mansion, Indy should be ready (if not, check out Tarzan’s Treehouse), jump in Indy line, maxpass Big Thunder while in line.
I’m always hesitant to wait in the regular standby line for Big Thunder because it’s a deceiving line. It’s almost always longer than the stated wait time, and you can’t see the line from anywhere to actually gauge whether the stated time is correct or not. I basically have trust issues with that line, which is why I always fastpass/maxpass. And a lot of the times, there are so many fastpasses you can grab a fastpass reservation that’s five minutes from when you make it.
Off Indy, onto Jungle Cruise
Jungle Cruise can be an enigma of a line. We can’t seem to ever predict it. We ride mostly early in the morning because it tends to be walk on, and at night because it’s a fun night ride. Jungle Cruise line starts on the ground level, and when it’s super busy wraps to an upstairs queue and back down again. You’re generally safe if the entire line is on the ground level, if it wraps upstairs we always pass.
Off Jungle Cruise, if Big Thunder isn’t ready yet, go to Tiki Room.
You’re right next to Tiki Room so you might as well. You can also browse the shops in between Adventureland and Frontierland.
Thunder and DONE. Good job!
You did it! By this time you’re probably hungry. Go find some tasty food, you earned it! If you happen to have a protein bar on hand and want to tackle Critter Country as well, go ahead an grab a maxpass for Splash and hop in line for Winnie the Pooh. On the flip side, you can now go ride the canoes, the Mark Twain, the Columbia (if it's out), or hop on over to Pirate's Lair at Tom Sawyer's Island. All of which tend to stay pretty chill throughout the day, which also means their good break time things to do.
If you decide to hit up Critter Country, tackle the offerings of Frontierland or take off on a completely different route, now’s a good time to look at grabbing a maxpass for another e-ticket ride like Space Mountain, Guardians of the Galaxy, Incredicoaster or Radiator Springs Racers since those tend to run out earlier on.
Keep in mind, this order doesn’t always work out perfect. Lines can be wonky, it can be super packed, but generally this works like...95 percent of the time for us. Since maxpass allows you to reserve fastpasses immediately after you scan in to your previous reservation, I always recommend reserving your fastpass as soon as you can AKA in line right after you’ve scanned in.
I hope this was insightful! It’s never going to be perfect, but knowing how we generally do things and understanding the nature of how the lines work throughout the day hopefully arms you with enough insight to make informed decisions and crush your Disney goals.
Keep an eye out for the next post in this series where I’ll be tackling Fantasyland! And let us know if you have a different game plan. I love hearing everyone’s different Disney ways and traditions.
Pirates (maxpass Indy)
Mansion (Tarzan's Treehouse after if there's still time until Indy, or ride Pirates again)
Indy (Maxpass Thunder)
Jungle Cruise (Tiki Room after if there's still time)
Big Thunder (Maxpass Splash or other e ticket ride)
Winnie the Pooh (or Canoes, or both).
Eat food and drink lots of water.
P.S. If you have only one day, we have a post for that, too! Check it out!
Planning out your trip to Disneyland involves all the craziness of hotel reservations, prioritizing rides and restaurants and the all important break time. Sometimes a break involves leaving the park and heading for a refreshing beverage outlet, but for me, I'll take live music and a shade tree any day.
There's tons more music and entertainment to be had at the resort, but here's just a few that are always welcome to take a listen.
The Disneyland Band
This group of amazing musicians perform Disney movie favorites, unique favorites like the finale to Fantasmic! and the theme of the 50th Anniversary daily at the flagpole and in front of the castle. This marching band is a group of talent that goes far beyond any football field group of brass. They have incredible showmanship, brilliant sparkling instruments, are perfectly insync like all Disney performers and never miss a note or a beat.
Due to their prime performance locations, its a hard act to miss, but sometimes if you plan your day just right, you'll never get a glance of them. So be sure to at least take a strolling look and listen.
Dressed in candy colored suits covered in stitched pearly white buttons, the Pearly Band is a unique sight. Usually a group of 7 or so, they roam a tight loop around Fantasyland and are occasionally accompanied by Bert and Mary Poppins in front of the castle.
Royal Street Bachelors
Easiest to find next to the Mint Julep Bar bathrooms, onboard the Mark Twain or anywhere slightly secluded in New Orleans Square. The music and emotion these bachelors evoke truly sets the mood and completely overwhelms the senses to set you not in a theme park, but in the actual New Orleans.
They wear strips, they're comical and bubbly, and sometimes they play bells! Always around main street, The Dapper Dans are a barbershop quartet that have become so popular in their style and persona, there is now a Dapper Day which happens annually. In addition to their humorous way of performing music, they're also willing participants in the wishing those young and old happy birthday for all of Main Street to hear.
Disneyland opened originally in 1955 to a staggering crowd of arounf 50,000 guests. Years later after much success and growth, executives decided the Disneyland Resort needed to expand. In 1995, the idea of a Disney park devoted to the themes surrounding California was proposed. In 2001 Disney's California Adventure opened to little more than a fizzle. In 2007 a major overhaul was announced and by 2012, Disney California Adventure, as we know it today, was complete.
Enough with the history, let me share with you my favorite parts of this expansive park.
Most of DCA was designed after specific, yet sometimes vague, parts of California. San Francisco is one of those special areas. If you try to ignore the hot dog carts and Little Mermaid signage, you'll see the Painted Ladies and Palace of Fine Arts. The attention to detail and architectural accuracy is incredible, yet it is done in such a way that if you didn’t know it was San Francisco landmark, you would pass right by.
Speaking of the San Francisco Bay Area, Pacific Pier is styled to look like Monterey Bay while including truly San Francisco favorites. I’ve been told Boudin in California Adventure is the only place in Southern California to actually get real sourdough bread. Maybe that’s partly because Boudin and American sourdough bread originated in San Francisco in 1849.
Paradise Pier with its midway games and iconic rollercoaster pay homage to victorian boardwalks along the California coast, but mostly to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and the Santa Monica Pier. If you look beyond Jumpin’ Jellyfish, there’s even a small stretch of beach.
Carthay Circle Theatre is a very similar replica to the real life theatre in of the same name in Hollywood, built here because of the importance to Disney as the premiere location of Snow White in 1937 and installation of Fantasound for Fantasia’s release in 1940. This building elegantly contains a downstairs lounge and fancy upstairs dining room. The detail inside and out are a feat to behold down to the smallest details of light fixtures and drink selections. As you ascend the staircase, there are photographs of Walt with stars like Shirley Temple and the accompaniment of a piano player.
The Wine Country, originally sponsored by Robert Mondavi, with real to life vineyards and a wine tasting bar in honor of Napa, California.
The Grand Californian Hotel is a masterpiece unto itself, “inspired by the famed Arts and Crafts movement in California.”
As California Adventure evolves and Disney tries to make it equally profitable and desirable as Disneyland, it is slowly losing its feel of California. In 2018, Pixar Pier is becoming the new overlay for Paradise Pier and almost nothing Hollywood-y is left in the backlot.
Your best trip to Disneyland is all about strategy, and one of the most important parts of your park strategy is how you manage your mornings – the first few hours in the parks can determine how the rest of your day goes. Besides the usual ways to effectively plan your day, here are our surefire tips to supercharge your mornings in Disneyland:
GET THERE SUPER EARLY
You probably think you’ll have enough time to leave your hotel, park, and get to Disneyland by the time ropes drop, but take it from us: you probably won’t. We always budget a decent amount of time for the morning trip to the park but somehow frequently find ourselves walking down Main Street 10-20 minutes after the park has officially opened.
Add at least half an hour to whatever time you think you’re going to need to get ready. There are usually unexpected lines at the parking lot, trams that take way too long to arrive, weird situations with security, or you'll happen to choose the one entrance line with fifteen people getting their photos taken for their new tickets – don’t let these situations slow you down! You want to be at the parks for as much of the morning as you possibly can.
MOBILE ORDER AT STARBUCKS
If you’re one of the bajillions of people in the world that start your day with some caffeine, you’re going to want to stop at Starbucks before you get on your first ride or two. Unfortunately, because bajillions of people in the of the world start their day with caffeine, the lines at the Starbucks in Disneyland get LONG. Don’t let a long coffee line totally disrupt your morning and throw off your whole day.
We now order our coffees through mobile ordering on the Starbucks app once we’ve boarded the parking lot tram at the Mickey and Friends parking lot. You bypass the lines, and usually the drinks are ready just about when you get there. Be sure you order from the correct Starbucks though – the one by the Disneyland Hotel will set you back (you’ll have to backtrack through nearly all of Downtown Disney to get there).
MAXPASS/FASTPASS THE BEST WAY
It’s pretty common knowledge that everyone heads to Space Mountain and Indiana Jones first thing upon entering Disneyland. Unless you’re only there for these rides, don’t bother trying to get on them first, since the line will be just as long as it is the rest of the day (unless you’re the very first person there, which would be a shock).
Also don’t waste your time trying to get a Fastpass first thing, since usually when that happens you end up with a Fastpass entry time of only about 20-40 minutes later, which means you have to wait around instead of using your time for other rides. It’s much more useful to spend your morning on rides with shorter lines (due to the smaller crowds) that don't have Fastpasses, since you can nearly always get a Fastpass for the others with Maxpass.
We find that the best rides to start with are either Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, or Alice in Wonderland – if you start with Alice, you can usually walk on to every ride in Fantasyland (aside from Peter Pan, which is just as busy first thing in the morning as it is the rest of the day) before the parks start to get crowded.
WAIT ON BREAKFAST
Eat a snack on the way to the park, and then don’t worry about breakfast until you’ve gotten some rides in – the mornings are the best time to get on rides, and spending your prime ride time on a sit-down meal is a waste of the morning.
We don’t usually eat breakfast until at least 10:30, sometimes closer to 11. This is great because almost no one else eats breakfast at that time, and we’ve usually done a large amount of attraction riding by then. We are sure to eat something before we start our morning though – usually a snack at Starbucks – because nothing spoils your Disney day like morning hanger.
Disneyland is all about pushing yourself in the morning so that you feel super accomplished by noon, and can allow yourself to relax the rest of the day. If you do all you can to supercharge your mornings, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a better experience with the rest of your day.