The bad news? You are not alone in this plan ...
Hold on! Don't cancel your hotel. Say it with me ... you will get through this! We frogs have your back. With our essential Disneyland Spring Break 2017 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.
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 mid-March through mid-April. You can see the best time to visit by hopping over to our Los Angeles Crowd Calendar. Spring is actually an excellent time to visit Disneyland with often beautiful weather and a lot going on in the parks. We bring you our Disneyland Spring Break 2017 Survival Tips to help make the most of your journey.
Disneyland Spring Break 2017 Survival Tips
Buy in Bulk
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. Multi-day tickets of three days or more also come with one Magic Morning entry good for Disneyland on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. Find out more about how to maximize an early morning here. How should you divvy up your days? If you choose single park per day tickets, we suggest a minimum of two days at Disneyland and at least one day at Disney California Adventure. If you also plan to visit some other theme parks such as Legoland, Knotts Berry Farm or Universal Studios, a Los Angeles GoCard might be your best deal.
This is the most important advice we can offer. Wake up early and get to the park before it opens. This can help you get a jump ahead of traffic pouring into the park, long security lines and park entry lines. You'll get on a lot of rides and collect FastPasses 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. Here are some of our favorite places to eat breakfast in the parks should you get hungry after hitting all those rides.
Utilize FASTPASS and Rider Switch
Disneyland (as of this writing) is still using only the paper ticket FASTPASS service. There will be an optional paid Disney MaxPass system (in which you can reserve attraction return times through an app) being introduced at some point in 2017, but they have not released the date. Nevertheless, the traditional free paper ticket FASTPASS is remaining in place no matter when you visit. You’ll want to collect your first FASTPASS right away and then hit the attractions that do not offer FASTPASS (such as many Fantasyland attractions) first. Space Mountain and Indiana Jones FASTPASSes get distributed rather quickly at Disneyland, whereas Radiator Springs and Soarin’ should be the priority passes at Disney California Adventure. You should also obtain your World of Color FASTPASS early in the day (it does not affect ride FASTPASSes).
As soon as you acquire your pass, read it. Note the window in which you can return and the time you are allowed to acquire the next pass. That may be in 45 minutes or up to 2 hours (whether or not you have used the first FASTPASS), so pay attention to that. It is easier and faster to give all the tickets to one person to be the runner to collect FASTPASSes than for everyone to go on the journey. I tend to be the keeper of our FASTPASSes so that none of them get lost. I have learned from experience that the passes are better off in my hands than Leap's aka The Missing Space Mountain FASTPASSES Incident of 2011.
If you have a tadpole with you that doesn't meet some height requirements, be sure to ask about Rider Switch Passes. You'll save time when taking turns riding (and you do not have to use them right away, so they are great to save for when the lines get longer). Three people can return with a Rider Switch Pass, which means a ride without a wait for at least two people.
Make Dining Reservations
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 prices tend to be more budget friendly than dinner and can allow you 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 meeting top characters is a priority for you, you can knock visits with many of them off your list and avoid waiting in lines for them in the park by attending character dining.
Eat During Off-Peak Times
You can avoid some quick-service dining lines by eating an early or late lunch or an early dinner. For a special treat, we suggest trying the new but temporary Beauty and the Beast-themed Red Rose Taverne. This quick-service tavern with a French twist is at Disneyland for only a short time, but at least through spring break. Try the Grey stuff ... we hear it’s delicious! Crowds are already swarming, so hop in early.
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 snacks at California Adventure—free sourdough bread sample and the free piece of chocolate at Ghirardelli. There are also fun Easter chocolates for sale at Ghirardelli if you are looking for some special holiday treats to purchase.
Check the Entertainment Schedule before your trip
One of the best things about visiting during spring break is that the parks are open during longer hours every night and may offer multiple parade times, nightly fireworks and nightly World of Color shows. Disneyland publishes the entertainment calendar about 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.
Make a Plan to Catch the Main Street Electrical Parade
You’re in luck. The Main Street Electrical Parade is at Disneyland for a short time, and spring break falls right in the middle of its run. Most nights have two showings of the parade, and you will want a plan in place to tackle this popular parade stress-free. Disneyland is not allowing guests to camp out for parade spots, so you'll need to hop to your favorite spot once they have set up the parade route. Spots for the second parade are easier to secure after the fireworks.
If you do not like to wait a long time, consider a parade viewing dining package. If you have always dreamed of eating at Blue Bayou and also are looking forward to watching the Main Street Electrical Parade, you might want to reserve a dining package that gives you a voucher for a reserved Main Street U.S.A. viewing location. Aladdin’s Oasis also has on-the-go parade dining packages, but their parade location is near "it’s a small world." It is a perfectly fine location for the parade and a less-crowded spot to watch fireworks after the first parade goes by. If you want that iconic castle view with Tinker Bell flying over the castle for fireworks, then Main Street might be a better location for you. After the parade goes by, be ready to hop into Main Street and move towards the castle for fireworks.
Fill Up at the 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.
Take a Break Midday
If you want to do it all then enter the park in the early morning, take a break midday 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 relaxing in a long show such as Frozen Live at the Hyperion. 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.
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 are going to flat out stop moving 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. Parade and 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 both the parade and fireworks. We avoid trying to move about or across the parade route at those times and that really keeps our stress level down. We know that it is much easier to approach Main Street from the Adventureland/Frontierland side than it is from Tomorrowland/Fantasyland during the parade and fireworks, so we plan our day around that. We take midday breaks, reserve our meals and use our FASTPASSes. 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 year at Disneyland. The park is exploding with colorful flowers 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? Have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!