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.
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.
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!
Listen: here at Lost Weekenders, we spend a lot of time giving out tips to make your Disney experience not suck, but when it comes down to it, some of the best advice we’ve got has been learned through our mistakes. While it is the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland has a way of surprising you with curveballs that could threaten to destroy your whole experience, or at least your day.
We’re no exception to these curveballs. We’ve been threatened by near-failure many times in the parks, and we’re here to tell about it. So please, feel free to learn from our mistakes - or at the very least, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone!
Not Eating Enough
Nothing spoils a good few hours like being hangry. Not eating enough is still one of the things we battle with, because sometimes you really have to force yourself to snack in Disneyland (that might come as a shock), because you’re too involved with what ride you’re going on next. Do yourself a favor and pay attention to your stomach, and always make time for a snack, even if it’s just a Mickey pretzel.
Oh, another valuable life lesson to be learned from this one - COMMUNICATE. If someone in your group is hungry, let them get a snack. Better yet, if you think someone in your group is hangry, suggest that you all get a snack. The easiest way to turn hanger into anger is to tell someone that you think they should eat something because they’re being a jerk.
Not Drinking Enough Water
Every time we go to Disneyland, at some point we complain about how tired / achy / etc we are. Nine times out of ten, when we drink some water, the problem resolves itself - or at least we feel a whole heck of a lot better.
Disneyland is the perfect recipe for dehydration. Even in the winter where it isn’t too hot out, you’re walking at least 9 miles a day under the California sun, consuming pretty much nothing but sugar and salt - and usually a whole lot of caffeine to keep you going. Dehydration can set in in no time!
Be sure to have at least a cup of water every time you sit down for a meal (most restaurants have free water, so you really have no excuse not to). We also grab water throughout the day, whenever we’re having a snack, or just happen to think of it. Make hydration a priority, and your trip to Disneyland will be a whole lot less exhausting!
That Time We Went to the Park on Mother’s Day
Y’all, Disneyland gets CROWDED. We’ve been there at full-capacity days, and we’ve been in crowds so large that we’ve left to drive home early, because there’s no point in trying to do anything.
Don’t despair if you happen to plan your trip at the worst possible time of year. Make sure you get to the park before opening so that you can maximize the limited ride time you’ll have. Download MaxPass so that you can fastpass anything and everything. But mostly, embrace that the day is going to be tough, and don’t try to accomplish too much. Try some snacks you haven’t had a chance to try before. Find one of the many places to get a drink and booze it up. Enjoy a stroll down Main Street. See some shows. Believe it or not, there are still things to do when you can’t do anything in Disneyland.
That Time We Couldn’t Figure Out the New Fantasmic! Situation
Have you tried to get a seat for Fantasmic! (without a dining package) since it reopened? It’s a nightmare. It’s such a nightmare that we were completely baffled the first time we made an attempt to see it.
We got a fastpass as usual, but showed up too late (? Maybe?) and had a catastrophic view. Assuming there were other fastpass entrances (the Cast Member barely glanced at our passes and looked particularly stressed out when we tried to ask some questions), we walked around toward Haunted Mansion and were let in to a separate viewing section. Turns out, it was the dining viewing section, and we wound up having to stand around and hope there was room for us to scoot in to some random other section.
It was frustrating and we were hungry and it was a perfect storm. Do yourself a favor and learn from our mistakes - show up to your show early enough to get a seat, or at least ask Cast Members where you should be going. Also, pretty much assume that your viewing is going to be sub-par unless you get a dining package (which is super annoying). Or heck, wait until the last show of the night and swoop in for a seat at the last second - sometimes that's less stressful.
That Time Kat tripped on Winnie the Pooh and Had To Go to the Medic
Yes, you read that right - I tripped exiting WINNIE THE POOH. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a clumsy person, so when I tripped initially I wanted to just walk it off because it is super embarrassing to trip in front of your friends (and complete strangers), even more embarrassing to trip getting out of a ride for TODDLERS, and EVEN MORE embarrassing to actually hurt yourself.
Unfortunately, within a few minutes my ankle was swelling, and I didn’t want to put even more of a damper on the trip by, say, not being able to walk for the rest of the night. So we went to the medic off Main Street to get some ice (interestingly, as they asked me what happened and I admitted that I tripped on Winnie the Pooh - did I mention I tripped on Winnie the Pooh? - the other adult in the medic office admitted the same thing), and all was well.
It’s a funny story now and ultimately nothing was wrong, but things can go a lot worse, especially in a place like Disneyland. Just remember, if you ever find yourself injured, there is a medic nearby, and it's never a bad idea to go, even if it's just for some ice for a swollen ankle from tripping on a ride for toddlers.
That Time We Didn't Check Traffic and Got Stuck in the Grapevine for 6 Hours
We’ll cut to the chase and let you know the lesson here before we begin: if you’re road-tripping to Disneyland, for the love of God, check the traffic before you leave! We probably could have driven another route if we had planned ahead, but instead, our 6-hour drive became a 12-hour one. Being stuck on a highway for 6 hours in the same spot is absolutely no fun, and neither is being 2 hours from home and being terrified that the driver is going to fall asleep at the wheel, so you desperately spend the next terrifying hours of your life shouting out conversation topics like “TELL ME ABOUT THE HISTORY OF TOMORROWLAND” and “WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TYPE OF MOVING LIGHT”.
Here’s what it comes down to: you’re going to make mistakes on your Disney trip. It’s unavoidable. Just remember that it doesn’t have to ruin your trip. There are a lot of ways to recover (and fast), and you can always ask a Cast Member if you're having a particularly hard time with something. Don't let minor setbacks spoil your trip!
We talk a lot about how to get the most out of your Disney day because we genuinely want people to love Disneyland as much as we do. If you’re in it for the long haul, taking on a 16 hour day might feel impossible, but it’s not! It’s all in the way you prep. Here’s how we go from Disney day into Disney night.
Getting a locker might feel like a waste of money, but it’s one of our biggest tips for successful Disney day. It holds all our extra jackets, souvenirs, sunscreen, snacks, and generally anything we don’t want to lug around with us.
Carrying a lighter load all day will allow you to go longer, I promise. And carrying around a huge backpack is no joke. It’s heavy, plus it’s difficult to get on to most rides. Trust us, let the locker do the work for you, and carry a small bag.
There are lockers in each park. In Disneyland they're on Main Street, and in California Adventure they're on Buena Vista Street. However, we always opt for the lockers located just right outside the park, to the left of Disneyland if you're looking at the main gate. This way, we're not dependent on going back to a certain park to grab our stuff. We can just swing by on our way to the tram as we head out for the night. Also keep in mind that California Adventure typically closes earlier than Disneyland, so be wary of grabbing a locker there.
There are three sizes of locker. Standard, large, and jumbo.We tend to opt for the large or jumbo size so we can fully stuff with souvenirs and jackets.
This leads us to...
The Locker Bag
Not to be dramatic but we live and die by the locker bag. It’s a weekender bag we stuff with all our essentials to be non-stop comfy which is IMPORTANT YOU GUYS. The locker bag allows us to change as the sun goes down and it starts to cool off. This is crucial. Kat and I are usually wearing dresses, so when it starts to cool down, if we change into jeans and sweatshirts, we can make it until midnight if we pair it with some carbs and sugar.
Here’s how we pack the perfect locker bag:
Rechargeable phone battery
Extra socks and underwear (I cannot even begin to describe how nice it is to change into new socks and underwear going into night time)
A full change of “opposite” clothes. So if we’re wearing dresses we bring a pair of jeans and a shirt and jacket, and vice versa.
And extra pair of shoes (changing shoes feels SO GOOD).
After we change, pop some tums and ibuprofen, and put away our sunglasses, we’re just about ready to transition to take on the night. But before we can do that, we generally require a bit of a break.
This is when we’ll head over to Downtown Disney and check the lines at Tortilla Joes and Trader Sam’s. Taking some time to chill out and have a drink (and guac duh), we’re ready to take on the night.
One of the best ways to usher in the night? Head over to Cars Land in California Adventure and watch the neon lights flash on with ceremony every night exactly at sunset. It’s the only time you’ll see everyone in an entire Land just stop in their tracks.
Okay first let me just say, I acknowledge that it is hilarious to see the horrible faces people make on theme park rides, especially if they are immortalized forever on official ride camera photos. But if you really want to strike a special pose (or just show off your best Toddlers-in-Tiaras smile), here’s a quick guide to all the ride cameras in Disneyland and DCA:
1. SPLASH MOUNTAIN
The ride camera for Splash Mountain goes off just after the huge drop - which means you’re going to have to hold your pose through the initial first few seconds of pure terror as you freefall down the waterfall. You’ll know it’s coming because the log you’re sitting in starts climbing an impossibly tall incline and the music turns super creepy and ominous.
2. SPACE MOUNTAIN
Once you get past the initial spinning-rotating-lights-tunnel, Space Mountain is basically one giant clockwise loop in the dark. The camera goes off right after the track suddenly takes a sharp left - changing direction from the loop you’ve been going in the majority of the ride. As soon as the track shifts direction, strike your pose - you’ll have about half a second before the camera flashes.
3. RADIATOR SPRINGS RACERS
Once you find yourself on the outside track and racing through Radiator Springs, pay attention to the scenery. The ride camera is under the only part of the track that has a rock overpass, after a few large bumps, and the camera flashes right before you go under the tunnel. Don’t be too hopeful for a great shot though, as your hair is probably going to be in your face no matter what.
4. CALIFORNIA SCREAMIN’ / INCREDICOASTER
California Screamin’ may be getting a new name and overlay, but odds are the ride camera isn’t going anywhere. The camera is at the end of the track, almost at the building you originally boarded the ride in. You’ll know it’s coming because you’re heading back to the origin of the ride, and you suddenly take a large dive to the left - the camera flashes when you’re in the left turn.
5. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: MISSION BREAKOUT
I can never for the life of me remember where this camera is, so I pretty much just pose every time. The camera for sure flashes right before a big drop, right after the doors of the elevator shaft open to reveal an expansive view of the park (though I can never remember when the doors-opening part is). So, as soon as those doors open, strike a pose ASAP!
6. STAR TOURS
So technically this isn’t a ride camera, but at some point they take a photo of the Rebel Spy to display mid-ride, and Kelsey and I are always terrified it’s going to be us so we try to move around as much as possible so that they can’t get a decent photo to display. The photo is chosen before you put your 3D glasses on, and I’m pretty sure the Spy is chosen personally by a Cast Member, so it’s always a surprise if you’re up on the screen!
7. BUZZ LIGHTYEAR ASTRO BLASTERS
Near the end of the ride, you’ll find yourself helping Buzz Lightyear take out the Evil Emperor Zurg himself. The room is huge, so it’s hard to miss. The camera goes off as you turn to face Zurg at the beginning of the room, so strike a pose pretty fast!