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.
It’s time for this year’s gift guide!
This year I’m focusing solely on featuring small shops. Since we happen to run one, we know how important it is to support the lil creative makers. Plus! The money spent in small shops goes directly towards making even more cool things. Also there’s something really special about wearing small-shops merch in the parks. You feel like you’re part of some exclusive club, which you are! But everyone’s invited. ANYWAY go check out these REALLY COOL THINGS!
What are the best shoes for disneyland? Or pants? How do you make sure you’re comfortable for a 16 hour day walking around in changing weather and/or eating your weight in pretzels?
Y’all, I’ve been doing a years-long test-run to find an A+ collection of things to help get me through the day at the Land comfortably and also not looking like I’m going to run a marathon. Which is fine if it’s your thing! But when I’ve searched for recommendations in the past, athletic wear is usually what takes up ALL the lists, which can get frustrating for a person who doesn’t really love to live in athleisure wear.
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!
Main Street, USA isn’t just a bunch of shops – it’s home to all kinds of hidden gems that are way too easy to miss, especially if you're hustling to get to Space Mountain or Indiana Jones. The next time you find yourself walking down Main Street, keep an eye out for these little surprises.
On September 7th, Disneyland Resort is changing over to Halloween time – one of our favorite times of year. If you’ve never experienced the Disneyland Resort during this special season, we HIGHLY recommend it. And just to entice you further, here’s what to expect from Halloween Time this year:
Main Street USA will be lined with carved jack-o-lanterns and themed buntings. A giant Mickey lantern will sit by the flag pole for photos. Everywhere you look there will be spooky touches, especially in Cars Land (where they really go all-out), New Orleans Square (more on that later), and Buena Vista Street. Also keep an eye out for your favorite Disney characters in their Halloween costumes!
If you thought Disneyland had a huge array of snacks and treats before, just wait until Halloweentime. Special flavors will be offered for churros, pumpkin beignets from New Orleans Square, new ice cream offerings, and all kinds of new treats at the Jolly Holiday café and Buena Vista street. We’re especially excited about the new pumpkin shake coming to Flo’s V8 Café.
3. Haunted Mansion Holiday
Starting in the Halloween season and running through the Holidays, the Haunted Mansion is transformed into Jack Skellington’s Halloweentown, and the difference between this new ride overlay and the original Haunted Mansion is pretty staggering. You’ll definitely have to enjoy this attraction more than once to take in the whole thing.
4. Cars Land
Cars Land decorated for Halloween for the first time last year and no expense was spared. There are themed jack-o-lanterns everywhere you turn, a giant spider tractor, and even Mater’s Tow Truck Jamboree and Luigi’s Festival of the Dance get a Halloween-themed overlay.
5. Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy
Space Mountain is an already great ride, but when Halloween Time comes around, they add in an overlay that is legitimately kindof scary that makes the ride that much more fun. Definitely don’t miss this one.
6. Mickey’s Halloween Party
Mickey’s Halloween Party is a separately-ticketed event that you’ll need to reserve tickets for (and good luck if you haven’t yet, because those go FAST). The up side is there are fun activities that Disneyland only has on these select nights, but the down side is that the parks close early for regular visitors, and you have to deal with the Halloween Party crowds.
If you couldn’t tell, we’re super excited for Halloween Time to get here as fast as possible, and we highly recommend everyone visiting the parks during this great time of year!
A Bug’s Land is closing forever very soon (September 4th in fact), and with that closing, we’d like to take a moment to remember all of the things we loved about this underrated little land.
1. Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train
Heimlich’s Chew Chew was such a stupid ride that it became legendary (we’re going to miss it so much that we made a shirt to remember it forever). It hardly ever had a line (because it lasted approximately 2 seconds), but was a delightful train ride aboard everyone’s favorite caterpillar through the scents and aromas of quickly-designed giant food props. The smell of the animal crackers will be in our hearts forever!
2. The Talking Bathrooms
The first time we used the restroom and randomly heard Heimlich and Flik talking over the soundsystem, we were surprised. It was such a miniscule Disney touch that made a huge difference (even though those bathrooms were always a hot mess).
3. It’s Tough to Be a Bug
We sing ‘We’re Pollinators’ at least once a week, and the Bug’s Life Theater was a great way to beat the heat on a hot summer day – a long show in a dark theater with plenty of air conditioning and fun visual effects? Yes please. Not having this show around is going to force us to seriously re-evaluate our summer day DCA break options.
Speaking of hot summer days, one of the things that made Bug’s Land great was the fact that it had plenty of shade! Those giant clover leaves made the whole land feel less hot than the rest of the park – especially CarsLand, cause wow, that land is SWELTERING. Shade is always a bit tough to come by in DCA, so it was great that Bug’s Land had so much of it.
5. The Theming
The little bugs that lit up at night, the old popsicle stick benches, the lights that looked like little smiling worms, the exit through an old cereal box – Bug’s Land was a great example of the theming that Disneyland Resort is known for.
So so long, Bug’s Land! We’ll miss you!
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 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!