Great news! You've decided to spend your spring break at Disneyland! The bad news? You are not alone in this plan. But don't stress! Spring is a great time to visit Disneyland, especially this year with the return of the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival. There is still a reservation system to control crowds. Say it with me ... you will get through this! We frogs have your back. With our essential Disneyland spring break survival tips, you will have an amazing trip and will be hopping to go back next year. Think of us as your go-to guide for saving money, managing crowds and having fun in the warm Southern California sun.
Disneyland Spring Break Survival Tips for 2022
Keep in mind that spring break crowds are not as concentrated as they are during Christmas break. The resort brings in different visitors from not just California, but Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and other neighboring states. Every school break varies, so Disneyland will have spring breakers visiting from early-March through mid-April. You can see the best times to visit by hopping over to our Los Angeles Crowd Calendar. Spring is actually an excellent time to visit Disneyland with flowers abloom, often beautiful weather and a lot going on in the parks. We bring you our Disneyland spring break survival tips to help make the most of your journey.
Buy Multi-day Tickets and Make a Theme Park Reservation
You need to purchase your theme park tickets in advance and have a park reservation to visit. Reserve early as days are selling out quickly, especially at Disney California Adventure due to the Food and Wine Festival! Here's the availability calendar. But even if a park is full for single day tickets, a park hopper ticket will get you in after 1 p.m.
The best savings involve a multi-day ticket, which won't be affected by peak pricing (like 1-day tickets are). The more days you buy in advance, the lower the price per day. How should you divvy up your days? We suggest a minimum of two days at Disneyland and at least one day at Disney California Adventure. You might want to add an extra day to your journey to fully take advantage of the DCA Food and Wine Festival. We can spend a whole day eating and drinking and soaking up the special entertainment.
We like getting park hopper tickets so we can hop back and forth between the two parks. Did you know that it costs the same amount to add park hopping to a 5-day ticket as it is to add to a 1-day ticket? It makes park hopping much more affordable if you are using it for a multi-day trip. One big change is that park hopping is allowed only after 1 p.m. You'll reserve your park to start your day and then may hop back and forth after 1 p.m.
If you plan to visit some other theme parks such as LEGOLAND, Knott's Berry Farm or Universal Studios, a Los Angeles GoCard might be your best deal for those parks, but we also sell discount single-day tickets to them as well.
This is the most important advice we can offer. Wake up early and get to the park before it opens. Arriving even 45 minutes to an hour after park opening can mean it takes you an hour from parking your car just to get in the park! Arriving before park opening can help you get a jump ahead of traffic pouring into the park, long security lines and park entry lines. Parking lots open an hour before the earliest park opening, and security opens at least 45 minutes before the park opens. You'll get on a lot of rides and get your castle pic in before the bulk of the crowds arrive. You will never regret having an early start. And if you skip breakfast to get to the park early, enjoy an early lunch or a late breakfast. We have our favorite places to eat breakfast in the parks should you get hungry after hitting all those rides.
Utilize Disney Genie+ Service and Individual Lightning Lane Selections
Disneyland has ended the free paper ticket FASTPASS service. There are two new optional paid services to skip the lines, and spring break may be a good time for you to use them. Disney Genie+ costs $20 per person, per day. You can purchase Disneyland tickets preloaded with Genie+ for the length of your trip or you can just wait to purchase in the Disneyland app each day after you have entered a theme park.
So what is Genie+? Our Disneyland Genie+ FAQ post should answer most questions, but it allows you to select a one-hour reservation window to use the Lightning Lane to skip the standby queue for select rides. All rides in the parks have a standby line. About 19 rides offer Genie+ access, and there are three in-demand rides that are not on Genie+, but you can purchase individual Lightning Lane access if you want to skip the line.
Use Rider Switch If You Have Small Tadpoles
If you have a tadpole with you that doesn't meet some height requirements, be sure to ask about Rider Switch Passes at the attraction entrance. You'll save time when taking turns riding. Three people can return with a Rider Switch Pass, which means a ride without a wait for at least two people.
Use Single Rider When Available.
One way to skip the line is to use the Single Rider line. All party members must be age 7 and up and willing to be separated. You will not get seat preference or get to ride with your kid. Disneyland rides with Single Rider include:
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Splash Mountain
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Disney California Adventure rides with Single Rider include:
- WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure (new!)
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Goofy's Sky School
- Monsters Inc. (Buddy Pass for groups of two or three to fill in an empty row)
Make Dining Reservations and Eat During Off-Peak Times
If you want a special meal at a table-service restaurant, be sure to reserve in advance through Disney Dining. Having a reservation can take the guesswork out of where to eat, allow you to plan your food into your day, and avoid making you wait in long lines for meals or wander around with a heavy tray of food while trailing hungry tadpoles, searching for an empty table. Lunch reservations can allow you to take a nice relaxing break in the middle of the day, right about the time that ride lines get long and your energy starts to drop. If seeing top characters is a priority for you, consider character dining.
You can make reservations up to 60 days in advance at 3 a.m., but sometimes they are released at 6 a.m. or even later. If you cannot get a reservation, you can sometimes join the Walk-Up list at the location through the Disneyland app. You can avoid some quick-service dining lines by eating an early or late lunch or an early dinner. Mobile Order can also save you some time. In fact, in some locations, it's the only way to order.
Bring Snacks and Water
Carry refillable water bottles to save money and time waiting in lines. The same goes for snacks (those popcorn and Mickey pretzel lines can get long). Carrying some bars, trail mix, bags of Cheerios or other small snacks can satisfy family members in between meals and save both time and money — as well as sanity. We always take advantage of the free snack at California Adventure: the free sourdough bread sample at Boudin Bakery Tour. There are also fun Easter chocolates for sale at Ghirardelli if you are looking for some special holiday treats to purchase.
Splurge on Spring-Themed Treats
The candy shops generally have the cutest spring treats. Look for themed caramel apples, crispy treats, cake pops, cupcakes, Mickey marshmallow wands and more. You can now mobile order at the candy shops to skip the line! For a calorie-free surprise, buy a spring balloon for your tadpole.
Check the Entertainment Schedule and Park Hours Before Your Trip
One of the best things about visiting during spring break is that the parks are open for longer hours every night and may offer nightly fireworks (or at least projection shows during the week). World of Color, the Main Street Electrical Parade and Disneyland Forever all return April 22, 2022, so you'll want to make park reservations far in advance for any trips at the end of April and beginning of May this year. Fantasmic! returns May 28, 2022. You can expect fireworks Friday through Sunday through most of the spring. Then, at the end of spring, fireworks return nightly. On nights without fireworks, you can catch Mickey's Mix Magic with projections and music.
Disneyland posts the entertainment calendar up to six weeks in advance so you can look ahead to determine the best days of the week to visit each park based on operating hours and entertainment schedule. Looking ahead can help you plan and make sure you hit your favorite must-see events. Keep checking the calendar for added entertainment as your visit draws near because items are added or modified as the date gets closer.
You'll want to check park hours as well. There are a few nights the parks may close early for Disneyland After Dark parties in spring. In spring 2022, watch out for Villains Nite at Disney California Adventure March 8 and 10, and Star Wars Nite at Disneyland May 3, 4 and 27. They're already sold out, but we still mention them so that if you aren't attending, you're aware of the shorter park hours. There are a few other nights with early closures (March 23 and 24, 2022) for private events.
Another day to look out for is Dapper Day. The weekend of April 23-24, 2022, could leave you feeling a little underdressed at Disneyland Resort. Guests love to dress up in their Sunday best and vintage clothes, often with a DisneyBound in mind for Dapper Day. The official Dapper Day Spring Outing in the park is April 24, but you may see people looking particularly dapper both days. With Dapper Day and the return of park entertainment, we expect this to be a busy weekend.
Fill Up at the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival
If your spring break happens to fall between March 10 and April 16, then the good news is that you can enjoy fresh, California-grown, tasty bites and beverages or attend some workshops or classes at the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival.
Some experiences require advanced reservations, so plan ahead. No reservations are required for tasting food at the festival food booths, attending lifestyle seminars, or taking part in Jr. Chef cooking experiences. Food and beverage (and select tasting experiences that require a reservation) have an additional cost.
Take a Break Midday
If you want to do it all, then enter the park in the early morning, take a midday break and return for nighttime entertainment such as shows, parades and fireworks. A break may include returning to a nearby hotel to lie down or go for a swim, sitting down to enjoy a nice, relaxing meal at a table-service restaurant or chilling in an air-conditioned show such as The Enchanted Tiki Room or Mickey's PhilharMagic.
The lines peak in the early to mid-afternoon, so that is a great time to check out for a bit and get your second wind to return for the evening. We often find that sitting on a bench near the castle (often with a popcorn or ice cream cone!) rests our legs and brings by all kinds of entertainment in people watching, characters strolling by, musical entertainment and other surprises. A trip around the park on the Disneyland Railroad usually does the trick as well.
Pack Patience and Flexibility
Whenever you visit Disneyland near a holiday or school break time, you’ll need a healthy dose of patience. Know there will be lines, crowds and times where it is difficult to move. Accept that people will likely stop right in front of you and just stand there to take a photo or check their phone. It’s going to happen, so just smile and make your way around them. Fireworks times seem to be the most challenging times to move about the park. That’s why we always have a plan in place to be in our intended location for the fireworks.
We take midday breaks, reserve our meals and use our Lightning Lane selections midday. This helps us maintain control over the situation. We also remain flexible. We like to follow a touring plan, but sometimes a rare character comes out that we simply must see or an attraction breaks down and we cannot go on it when planned. We adjust, get excited about new opportunities and move on.
Enjoy the Spring Beauty
Spring is one of our favorite times of the year at Disneyland. The park is exploding with colorful flowers, pink Tabebuia trees and even new life. There are often baby ducklings underfoot — Lily can watch them for hours! Take some time to take in the scenery and include those gorgeous flowers in your photo-ops. You can purchase spring-themed balloons and even treats. Take some time to appreciate the beauty of spring break at Disneyland! Have a hoppy spring break!
Are you headed to the Disneyland Resort for spring break? Be sure to buy your discount Disneyland Resort tickets and make theme park reservations as soon as possible. Have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!