Disneyland Tips Yo, yo, yo!!!! Have you missed me!?!? We have been gallivanting through Southern California for the past seven days, and we. had. a. blast. We rolled back into town at 2:45 in the morning, and I thought I was going to DIE when my alarm went off at 5:20am for the gym this morning. {Yes, I went, and yes it sucked}. Ha ha. Just kidding. It was actually GREAT to be back at the gym with my fun weight loss team. If you missed THAT story, you can check it out in my part 1 {let’s get real about weight loss}, part 2 {I thought I was going to DIE at the gym}, and part 3 {the number went UP!?!?}. I will be updating you soon about how that part of my life is going, but while our experiences are fresh on my mind, I wanted to give some fun tips and tricks about DISNEYLAND!!

Of course every family is not the same, but I learned a lot about what to do and NOT to do next time we go to Disneyland. We don’t go every year, and next time I will be a little more prepared after learning some lessons on this trip.Disneyland Tips #1: You can get FREE water throughout the park. Because I am not a soda drinker anymore {bummer}, I drink a LOT of water. Well, we brought in a little cooler with water, but by the time we had been at the park for five hours, the water we brought was super warm {gross}. So instead of spending $3.50 every time I wanted a cold beverage, we learned that by asking for water in the soda cups throughout the park, you can get nice refreshing ice water for FREEEEE!! Yay for free!!Disneyland Tips

#2: Spend a little more on a nicer hotel. We made this mistake. We normally have the view that we aren’t even at the hotel for very long on vacations like this, so we scrimped on our hotel. We stayed in the Days Inn about 3 miles away from the park. It was a dump. It taught us a few valuable lessons. First, you need a place that you feel comfortable, clean and safe in. We did not feel those things, so as our trip played out, we avoided the hotel. Because of this avoidance, we didn’t ever return to the hotel for a “nap” and the kids were sooooo tired by the time our three days were up that we wish we would have paid a little more to have a comfortable place to land. We have stayed at the Crown Plaza on Harbor Blvd before and it was amazing. I will NEVER stay at the Days Inn again. In fact it may have cured me of Days Inns forever. Second, because our hotel wasn’t one of the “close” hotels to the park, we didn’t have a Disneyland shuttle (we were aware of this and made the decision anyway). After doing things both ways in the past, we would definitely rather pay a little more for a shuttle than pay the extra $15.00 a day for parking.

#3: Take food in. We brought a lot of uncrustables (frozen PB&J; sandwiches) for the kids in a small cooler and it saved us a TON of money. We also took a lot of snacky foods like almonds, granola bars, cheese puffs, jerky and water. The workers at the entrance never said a word to us when they checked our bags.

#4: Buy your Disneyland shirts at Target {or another big box store}. We bought our kids their Mickey and Minnie shirts before we went to the park and they LOVED them. They were only $8.00 {I think} and that saved us mula in the long run.

#5: Get stroller passes. Since Creed is one years old and cannot ride all of the rides, there were certain times that one of us adults would need to stay behind with the baby. We found out that you can request a “stroller pass” that will let you go straight to the front on most rides after the first group gets done. You basically switch off with the other adult. The stroller pass includes a companion rider also, so this was fun for one of the kids to ride twice. :)

#6: Get fast passes: Ok, I know all of you Disneyland veterans are cracking up right now, but fast passes are AWESOME! We didn’t really use them last time because the lines were not long, but we had a few long(ish) lines this time so fast passes came in handy. Just remember that in order to get a fast pass you have to have your Disneyland ticket with you. Don’t walk all the way over to a ride to get a fast pass and realize that your husband has all the tickets in his pocket (yes, I am speaking from experience here!!)

#7: Don’t miss the World of Color show at California Adventure. My Aunt Tracie told me about this, and I’m so glad she did. Our kids LOVED this show!! California Adventure opens a little later than Disneyland, and right when California Adventure opens, you should send someone over to get you a fast pass for the show (again don’t forget your ticket). The fast passes will assign you to stand in a certain section that will help you to see the show better. It was really awesome. You won’t regret going, and your kids will love it.

#8: 40 inches is the magic number! We couldn’t remember how tall the height requirement was for most of the rides, so we put Londyn’s hair in a VERY high ponytail before we went to the park on the first day {to add a little height just in case!}. But, come to find out the height requirement for most rides (except for California Screamin, Autotopia, and Indiana Jones) is 40” tall. Londyn was 41 inches, so we were ok. :)Disneyland Tips

#9: Before you plan your trip, check the crowd projection for that week and adjust your trip accordingly. I am SOOOOOO glad we did this before we booked our trip. It makes a HUGE difference if the lines are crazy long or not. We found out that Disneyland crowds are quite predictable and if you simply take a five minute look on the crowd prediction sites, it can save you a ton of time and frustration. When I checked the crowds for the week we had planned, I found out that we were planning on going during one of the BUSIEST weeks of the entire year. One of the sites below ranks the crowd levels between 1 and 10. When I checked the original dates we planned to attend, the crowd levels were 8 out of 10 or above (some of them were predicted to be 10 out of 10. {THAT WOULD BE TERRIBLE in my opinion}. So, we went the week before instead where the levels were predicted at a 3 out of 10. If you go to Disneyland during the busiest times of the year, you will spend a lot more time waiting in line than riding the rides. I think it is better to adjust the week you are headed to the park to go when it isn’t a busy time. We went to Disneyland LAST week because of this. This week is one of the busiest weeks of the year at the park due to Spring Break season. Here are a couple of websites to help you with this decision: I like this Disneyland Crowd Predictor site the best, but they don’t show the entire year prediction for free. I like this website’s Disneyland Crowd Guide too. You can check out some other tips on these sites too: Disneyland Crowd Prediction, and What dates to avoid DisneylandDisneyland Tips

#10: Buy your princess dress before you enter the park {heck even WEAR it!}. I am super bummed that we didn’t do this THIS time. With all the hustle and bustle of packing up the fam, we didn’t bring a princess dress for Londyn {my four year old}. When we went last time (four years ago), my daughter Oaklyn was four years old, and she wore a difference princess dress every day at Disneyland. All of the workers called her “your majesty” and were soooo  cute with her. I am lame and forgot this time. I am bummed because Londyn will soon be over the princess stage in life and I wish I would have done this for her. I wish I would have gone to Target while we were down there and bought her one. She would have LOVED that. At the time it just seemed like another cost to add to the list of expenses, but now I’m sad we didn’t do it. The dresses in the park are $64.00 {HOLY FREAK that’s a LOT!}

Bonus tips: I know, I know I said I was only giving 10 tips, but why not include a few bonus tips that I thought of at the last minute, right!?!? :)

Update 3/16/12 (I can’t believe I forgot this one!!!) When choosing your children’s clothes to wear to the park, choose colors that will glow in black lights. Since a lot of the rides have black lights for effects, my kids were REALLY excited to see what glowed each time they went into a ride. I made a mental note that next time we go, I will make sure they wear white shirts {or other colors that glow.} Does anyone know if fluorescent clothing glows when exposed to black lights!?!?

Yummy Food: Don’t miss the beignets {like the ones from Tiana on the Princess and the Frog}. Other than a few bites of churro, I ate a one and a half of these little delicacies. Yes, I know, I am dieting, but it was a moment of weakness. They are hard to find though. They are in a little restaurant on the back side of New Orleans Square by the railroad station.  Someone else also said that you can find them in Downtown Disney. And, the Monte Cristo Sandwich {served at the New Orleans Cafe and the Blue Bayou} restaurants is. to. die. for. {It is VERY pricey so we didn’t get it this time, so the picture below is from our trip four years ago}.

The-Princess-and-the-Frog-the-princess-and-the-frog-13785911-640-356_thumbMonte Cristo
A few of my readers gave me some great tips too, so I thought you would like if I included their advice:

Julie said, “at the Carnation Plaza there is a family bathroom tucked back in the corner by the big gate where the cast members go back stage….hardly ever any waiting.” {WE USED THIS TIP…THANK YOU JULIE!!}

Katie said, “Also, at night, there is a great spot to view the fireworks between the Matterhorn and Tomorrowland. Hardly anyone there, great view and you still see Tinkerbell flying etc.

One of my readers named Dutchie also gave me this advice, “Id highly recommend the Bibbity Bobbety Boutique for your girls… at least if they still like princesses. Bring a princess dress from home and princess shoes if you have it and just pay for hair to be done (and maybe nails its only $5 more) its total like a 3 hour experience that I think they will NEVER forget… the hair stylists address them as “princess Sophia” etc and its a totally fun experience (I think my nieces will remember this more than any other ride we waited hours for!)” If I would have had the extra $45.00 to spend on both my girls I definitely would have done this.

Katie also said, “Also, there is something called a “No Strings Attached” voucher. If your kids ice cream falls to the ground or something, just find a cast member and they will fill out a voucher for you to get a replacement free! {As a Mom of four I appreciate this!}

Katie also said, “If you are going to California Adventure, too, go straight to Toy Story Midway Mania. It is SOOOO fun but the lines get freakishly long really fast.” {Plus there are no fast passes for this ride, so this is GREAT advice. This was the longest line that we stood in.}

Have fun and TAKE A LOT OF PICTURES!!!

Disneyland Trip 2012 177 Disneyland Trip 2012 040 Disneyland Trip 2012 057  Disneyland Trip 2012 279 Disneyland Trip 2012 274
If you have any Disneyland Tips FEEL FREE to comment below!!


  1. says

    We've never been to Disneyland, but go to Walt Disney World pretty regularly. Glad to know most of the tips hold true in both places!! Sounds like you all had a great time!

  2. says

    Looks like a super fun trip! Seeing all these blog posts about people's trips to Disneyland is making me so excited for our trip, but scared too, because we're going in July, when everyone says not too. Oh well, that's when we can go.

  3. says

    Love the tips! One thing I would say differently is that you don't have to spend a lot on a hotel and have it be nice and close. We always bid on Priceline and this year stayed in the Quality Inn on Manchester. No shuttle, but it was a 5 minute walk to the park (very easy! even on day three!) and had a FREE HOT BREAKFAST! It was fantastic. And only $30/night. We will absolutely be staying there again.

  4. says

    I can't believe I live in souther california and have been several times to disneyland and still didn't know some of these things. You guys planned everything.

  5. says

    We stayed at the Annabelle hotel across the street from disney. We were able to walk to Disney every day, come back for naps, and enjoy the wonderful pools at the hotel. Great little restaurant down the street where they got to know us. If we ever go back, we will definitely stay at this hotel. You can see the fireworks from your balcony

  6. Melia says

    Sounds like you had a great time! One of our tricks it to take a camelbak or the like. We fill it with ice at the hotel and refill it with ice and water throughout the day. There is also a backpack feature where we hold all the snacks. Your post made me super excited to go next month!

  7. Rochelle says

    Glad you had a good time! My hubby travels for work so we stay at Marriott hotels every time we go somewhere. There's a Marriott residence Inn just 3/4 miles from Disney with a little kitchen and everything in it. Next time you need a hotel, send me an e-mail and I'll hook you up. lopin1979@yahoo.com

  8. The Yoder's Four says

    Awesome, Brooke!! We are going to Disneyland in a month and want to cram in as much as we can. We will definitely get a stroller pass–thanks for the tip! I'm also planning on the World of Color show. It was under construction the last time we were there and I can't wait to see it now!

  9. allison says

    thank you so much for posting this! we're headed to disneyland in a few weeks, and i have been eating this stuff up. so glad you had a wonderful time! :)

  10. says

    We've been to Disneyland a few times and big tip for me is have everyone carry their OWN backpack or some type of bag. My kids usually carry one of those sling-type athletic bags, I use a cross-body and my husband uses a backpack. Everyone has their own snacks, water bottle, autograph book, yada yada. It just makes it easier and the usual "Mom, can you put this in your purse?" doesn't happen…as often.

    Popular snacks for us are: the mini carrots with the individual packs of ranch they sell now. Put about 2 cups of carrots and a ranch pack in a ziplock. The ranch doesn't need to be refrigerated! Apple slices with peanut butter packs, string cheese, snack mix…I take all the bags and boxes that have a little bit left in the pantry (chips, cereals, pretzels, cheese nips) and toss them all in a big bowl. Add a bag of popped pop corn, a bag of M&Ms;, raisins…mix it all up and put into individual zip locks…my son's favorite! Also we love pudding cups and applesauce cups, don't forget to put a plastic spoon in your bag!

    As far as hotel, if you're a AAA member check with them on deals. We got a package deal to stay at the Clarion Hotel Anaheim Resort. It had a shuttle and free passes to the HOT breakfast buffet each morning we were there!

    Lastly, take LOTS of pictures and use the bathroom whenever you pass one! Have lots of fun…we do!

  11. Steph says

    This may not be the case at Disneyland, but I was at Disney World in January, and we learned the hard way that you can only get one Fast Pass at a time. We thought we were being slick and were planning to collect Fast Pass tickets to all the rides with long lines, but that backfired and we had to plan everything else around our tickets – to a ride we weren't even THAT excited about.

  12. says

    There is an app called MouseWait that gives you the approx. wait time for each ride. It is pretty accurate and is updated frequently. It will also give you the crowd index so you can look at past dates to determine how crowded the park is on a certain day.

  13. says

    Free coffe refills at the market house on mainstreet! They have a special Disney blend! Just keep your receipt! if you have little ones too small to ride certain rides you can switch off with the kids without losing your place in line. The jazz kitchen in down town Disney has better beignets than in the park. If a toy breaks, a balloon pops, or a costume rips you can get a free replacement, no questions asked! Even after you get home. My sons watch broke that he got from Disneyland, we faxed our receipt to Disney and they sent us a new one!

  14. says

    I'm really thankful to your tips posted. It has really helped me a lot to manage our Disney vacation. Thanks again. Don't forget to join Disney Golf. It would be a lot of fun.

  15. says

    As a regular at Disneyland, one tip I like to share with people is to do the attractions one land at a time. Most people are so excited to be there that they run from ride to ride in order of how much they want to ride it, when you can really save a TON of time by doing it a land at a time.
    For instance DO NOT start at Space Mountain, then go all the way across the park to Splash Mountain, and then back to Tomorrowland for Buzz Lightyear. What a waste of time!

    • Ann Marie says

      When we go, we spend at least four days at Disneyland and we get the park hopper tickets.
      Day one – Disneyland only
      Day two – California Adventures only
      Day three – This is the day that I like to call our “princess stalking” day. This means that we spend the day getting ALL the pictures with ALL the characters we want while riding our favorite rides in both parks. But, that being said, we are not all over the place either. If we are in Disneyland – we ride all of our favorite rides there, if we are in California Adventures, we ride our favorite rides there.
      Day four – Ride favorite rides day and get pictures with which ever character(s) we missed the day before.
      This way, we make sure we get the pictures we want, with the characters we want and ride our favorite rides more than once.
      That is not to say that on days one and two we don’t take pictures – we do. But, we don’t set a specific time aside just for pictures.

  16. says

    We're surprising our 4 kids (18, 16, 13 & 10) in two weeks with a quick trip to DL for their cousin's 3rd birthday. I'm SO excited! Here's my tip, though: I refuse to buy drinks and my kids will quickly tire of water, so they each bring a water bottle and we take the single serving packets of drink mix. You can get Crystal Light, lemonade or Kool-Aid. For the family souveneir, I'm going to have their silhouette done in the studio on Main Street and then our youngest son will do the pressed pennies throughout the park. Last fall he did that and keeps them on his night stand – so cute!

  17. Stacy Zubik says

    Thank you so much for this ! We just booked our "surprise" trip to DL for thanksgiving. I appreciate the tips

  18. Stacy Zubik says

    Thank you for sharing! Great tips for our upcoming DL vacation. Did not know about the free water – my back thanks you

  19. says

    Thanks for the info. My hisband and i are going to get passes for ourselves and son. Our youngest is 4 months old so im excited to heat about the stroller pass. My toddler will be able to ride twice without the line!

  20. says

    My kids performed with a group during the Magic Music Days at Both Disneyland and Disney World. We traveled with a 50+ people. We ordered same color shirts (aqua blue). We were able to spot our group in a crowd and on the rides. It was fun spotting them through out the park! I also tie dyed shirts the same color for my family. This was easy keeping an eye on them in the crowds!

  21. Jen says

    One tip I would recommend if you have very little kids maybe 3 and below is if you can't go back to the hotel to get a nap in for your kids and you are at Califonia adventure you can plan a "nap time" and head to the Disney animation building. It is really dark in there and there are activities that one parent and the older kids can do while the little ones stay with the other parent for a nap. Also, if you park your car in the structure and you want to avoid the long lines for the tram there is a route that leads directly into the park by foot. It saves you tons of time that would be spent waiting in the line especially if you have little ones and a stroller that is carrying all of your belongings.

  22. says

    Great tips Brooke! My family and I go to Disneyland about 3 times a month and follow these tips as well. One thing I did want to let you know (if you wanted to update this) free coffee refills at the market house on Main Street no longer exist. They have closed this location and are turning it into a Starbucks. The Starbucks will not give free refills however you can use a Starbucks gift card if you have one!

  23. Cathy lange says

    We are blessed and have annual passes. I can get through the entire park in one day if I have to, but we take itsliw and enjoy. My big tip is get one five dollar subway footling per family memeber and eat half for lunch and half for dinner with a couple bowls of gumbo shared with everyone. You have to have a rally good cooler that keeps food cold for a long period of time.

  24. says

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  25. Virginie says

    Thank you so much for your tips, I just went to Disneyland Paris with my 4-year-old, and I did not buy her toys, I paid 44 euros on food, 117 euros on tickets and 15 euros for her picture with Princess Aurora. I was going to get her a doll, but I finally decided not to, although it was killing me. She has tons of disney toys at home. Reading your tip about disney T-shirts gave me a little bit of peace of mind. Thank you so much.

  26. Karla says

    One tip is that most places with give you free hot water if you ask. Take tea bags or instant coffee instead of buying in the park!

  27. jackie says

    For the coffee fanatics like me, on Main Street there’s a coffee shop. The cost is about $2/cup. they have flavored coffee there too. If you save your receipt and show it to them, they will give you a fresh cup of coffee any time for the rest of the day. One of our days I was exhausted and is was quite chilly, I think I got around 6 -7 cups for my $2 investment. It was great!

  28. Nicole says

    A cool thing for kids to do (even us parents) is when a toy story character is around yell Andy’s coming! They all drop. Another is if your child’s balloon pops take the popped piece to any balloon guy and they will give you another for free! Also a fun thing to do if you are waiting in long lines is look for all the hidden mickeys around. My parents did this with my brother and I and it made the time of waiting seem quicker. I will be taking my 4 foster children in November for there first time thank you for the wonderful tips on the food, I was stressing about that my kids can eat and I was thinking I was gonna go broke just feeding them lol

  29. Jesscat0524 says

    Thank you sooooooo much. Me and my family re going to Disney land next week so I’m happy to get all these tips!!!

  30. jeff says

    go on rainy days. I’m from the Willamette Valley where it rains a lot, so a little rain doesn’t bother me at all. Some people I know went on a rainy day and they didn’t see any other tourists at the park at all.
    peace in Christ Jesus

  31. Ann Marie says

    Here’s another good tip: ALWAYS buy the photo pass CD! The price is different depending on if you are at Disneyland or Disney World – but you will NOT regret it!
    We went to Disneyland in 2010 and 2011 and then my husband got a new job and we were not able to go in 2012 – but our oldest daughter got the opportunity to work at Disney World through the Disney College Program from June 2012 to January 2013. While working there she earned free tickets to Disney World for our family and in September 2013 we went to Disney World.
    We are getting ready to go to Disneyland at the end of this month.
    We got the photo pass CD in Disneyland and Disney World and we loved having it in both places!
    However, in Disneyland when I would give the photo pass card to the cast photographer, they would take tons of extra pictures – but in Disney World they would just take maybe one or two extra. The difference in the extras was in 2011 we had over 300 on our photo pass CD and in 2013 we had 132. We took the same number of people both times and Disney World has more theme parks and a few extra characters we didn’t see in Disneyland in 2011!
    We brought our own camera (I am a professional photographer, as well) – but it is nice to have someone else take the pictures.
    Get the photo pass CD, you will NOT regret it! The photo pass is FREE, it’s the CD that costs you money.

  32. deb bonin says

    This is so great. My husband and I are taking our 3 grandchildren ages 12, 9 and 6 next summer as a surprise. It is killing me as we are already at $4500 without food and the park tickets. Such great ideas. Thanks

  33. Devon says

    I highly recommend purchasing a costco membership. I’m planning a disneyland vacation in February for 3 kids and 7 adults. Package includes hotel, 3 day park hopper, 1 character dining experience for everyone, luggage tags, lanyards / pins, gift card to ESPN, a savings card and shuttle for under 5300! That does not take into consideration the cost of food or the gas to travel. But it definitely helps that were going down ‘off season’.

    We’ll also be making a costco run to stock up on food, snacks, and drinks to bring down with us. Planning on hitting up xmas clearance on disney clothes and souvenirs since we wont be going till February.

    Has anyone had experience with AAA discounts? Is is worth it?

  34. Sally says

    First time going in June with may family 4 adults and 4 grandkids…having all kinds of heartburn over the cost of hotels and room for kids..need one that has continental breakfast and free parking? thinking Parkvu Inn or Candy Cane Inn…now my family wants another day is there anyplace to check out for 4 days and 1 free or kids eat for 99 cents or anything to make my $$$ stretch more.

    • Sharon says

      All our kids are in their 20s so I can answer that. I’ve been to Disneyland MANY times and it’s more fun when you’re unencumbered. Don’t take a purse if you can avoid it. Have one person carry a small backpack with essentials only (light jackets or sweaters, maybe an umbrella if rain is in the forecast). Keep your credit cards in your husband’s wallet and keep your ticket and cell phone in your pocket. The biggest lines to get in the park are when they first open so plan to get there about an hour or so later. Have a good breakfast before you get there and then just snack until time for an early dinner. The snacks are so good. The ice cream at Carnation is a meal in itself! The food is expensive but the portions are huge and we only eat one meal a day in the park (plus a snack or two) so it’s really not bad. We use Ridemax to plan our day and do one park per day. No need for a park hopper as it just wastes time going back and forth. 2 days is perfect for us. We ride every ride we like and have plenty of free time for Aladdin show (not to be missed – we go every time) and lots of time for relaxing in the afternoon when lines are longest. We park in the lot rather than walk or wait for hotel shuttle. A long walk to the hotel (or a long shuttle wait) after a long day on your feet is not fun. Have fun – really nothing compares to Disneyland!

  35. Traci Nellis says

    I always bring kids party bubbles. I pass them out to other parents. Great way to entertain my 4yr (and all the other kids)while waiting in line. I also put dumb dumb lollipops in my cross-body purse. Great distraction without too much sugar. We’re going in 13 days. Yeah!!!


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