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 Disney 100 anniversary celebration, a new ride, the reopening of a reimagined Mickey's Toontown, the Magic Happens parade and 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 2023
Keep in mind that spring break crowds are not as concentrated as they are during Christmas break. The resort brings in different visitors from many of California's neighboring states, such as Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. 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, beautiful weather and lots of activities going on in the parks. We bring you our Disneyland spring break survival tips to help make the most of your journey.
Spring 2023 Important Dates
By spring break, most of the new openings, shows, parades and festivals will be well underway. Here are some important dates to note for spring 2023 (including some unofficial fan events that take place in the park) to help you plan:
- Jan. 27: Start of Disney 100 celebration and opening of Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway
- Feb. 24: Magic Happens Parade returns
- March 3 – April 25: Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival
- March 4: Mini Gay Day (unofficial event)
- March 19: Reopening of Toontown
- March 7 & 9: Princess Nite (park closes at 8 p.m.)
- March 15–16: Dapper Day weekend (unofficial event)
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 can sell 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 11 a.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. Plus, this year has extra excitement and entertainment, so that extra day will help you fit it all in.
We now sell 1-Day Disneyland tickets. They are refundable for up to 365 days. However, our multi-day tickets are also refundable and offer the best discounts.
If you are a SoCal resident, you can get the very best deal on a 3-Day SoCal Resident Promo ticket. You can visit any three weekdays now through May 25, 2023. You can choose from 1-Park tickets (as low as under $69 per day), park hoppers and tickets with Genie+.
We like getting park hopper tickets so we can hop back and forth between the two parks. Did you know that it costs less money to add park hopping to a 5-day ticket than it does 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 thing to note is that park hopping is allowed only after 11 a.m. You'll reserve your park to start your day and then may hop back and forth after 11 a.m.
If you plan to visit some other theme parks such as LEGOLAND California, 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 and sometimes multi-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 cause you to lose an hour trying to park and get into the park! Arriving before park opening can help you get ahead of any traffic getting 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 photo in before the bulk of the crowds arrives. 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.
If you are staying at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels on-site, you can use Early Entry to access certain areas and attractions in the theme parks 30 minutes before other guests. It's a great way to get a head start on your day. But you'll want to be lined up for security by 7 a.m. to take advantage of it since all guests can enter the park about 30 minutes early and lines tend to form. While regular guests can only go as far as the ropes permit, hotel guests (with proof of a valid hotel reservation) can go past the ropes and ride rides.
Utilize Disney Genie+ Service and Individual Lightning Lane Selections
Disneyland has ended the free paper ticket FASTPASS service. There are two optional paid services to skip the lines, and spring break is a great time for you to use them. Disney Genie+ starts at $25 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. We recommend buying tickets loaded with Genie+ to lock in the lowest rate. Also, Genie+ can sell out on busy days. Buying in advance guarantees you can use the service.
So what is Genie+? Our Disneyland Genie+ FAQ post should answer most questions, but it allows you to pick a one-hour reservation window in which to use the Lightning Lane for select rides, allowing you to skip the standby queue. All rides in the parks have a standby line. About 20 rides offer Genie+ access, and there are a few in-demand rides that are not on Genie+, but you can purchase individual Lightning Lane access to skip the line for those.
Use Rider Switch If You Have Small Tadpoles
If you have a tadpole with you that doesn't meet some height requirements, 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 you won't have to wait an additional time for those guests to ride.
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 tadpoles if you get in this line. 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
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Goofy's Sky School
- Monsters Inc. (Use the 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, reserve your party's spot in advance through the Disney Dining feature. Having a reservation can take the guesswork out of where to eat, and allow you to plan your food into your day. It can help avoid waiting in long lines for meals or wandering around with a heavy tray of food while trailing hungry tadpoles, searching for an empty table. Lunch reservations can offer a relaxing break in the middle of the day, right around the time of day when ride lines get long and your energy starts to decrease. If seeing popular characters is a priority for you, consider character dining.
If watching the parks' many shows is a priority, you might want to look into dining packages. Some offer a great way to get the best seat in the house. Other shows you can easily see for free (or by joining a virtual queue). We think some are more worthwhile than others, so we made a whole Disneyland dining packages post to go over the pros and cons of each one.
You can make reservations up to 60 days in advance at 6 a.m. PT, but sometimes they are released at different times. 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.
You can also reserve special experiences up to 60 days in advance. You may want to book your appointment early for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, building a lightsaber at Savi's Workshop or building a droid at Droid Depot.
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 cereal or other small snacks can satisfy family members in between meals and save time and money — as well as sanity. We always take advantage of the free snack at California Adventure: the 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 parks' 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 sugar-free or calorie-free surprise, buy a springtime 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). A special Disney 100 World of Color and fireworks/projection show, as well as the "Magic Happens" parade, will appear this spring. You'll want to make park reservations far in advance for any trips in March and April this year. You can expect fireworks on weekends, Friday through Sunday through most of the spring. On nights without fireworks, you can catch a projection show instead. You may want to book a weekend night just in case, so you can see the show in all its glory.
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 efficiently and ensure you hit all the must-see events. Keep checking the calendar for added entertainment experiences as your visit draws near because items are added or modified as the date approaches.
You'll want to check park hours as well. There are a few nights the parks may close early for Disneyland After Dark parties or private events in spring. In spring 2023, watch out for Princess Nite at Disneyland Park March 7 and 9. The park closes early, at 8 p.m., those nights.
Another day to look out for is Dapper Day. The weekend of April 15-16, 2023, 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 16, but you may see people looking particularly dapper on both days. With Dapper Day and the return of park entertainment, we expect this to be a busy weekend. Reserve early! Dapper Day does not affect ride lines as much, as many guests are there to be seen and don't want to end up with messy, roller coaster hair.
Fill Up at the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival
If your spring break happens to fall between March 3 and April 25, then the good news is that you can enjoy fresh, California-grown, tasty bites and beverages at the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival. The festival also offers interactive workshops and classes.
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 though. Select food and beverage experiences (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. We recommend getting a foot massage at the Tenaya Stone Spa at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
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 flippers and provides all kinds of entertainment in the form of people watching, characters strolling by, musical entertainment and other surprises. A trip around the park on the Disneyland Railroad usually hits the spot as well.
This year we can relax in the all-new CenTOONial Park in the newly refurbished Mickey's Toontown, opening March 19, 2023.
Dress in Layers
Cool mornings and evenings can make way for warm daytime sunshine. Have a sweatshirt you can remove for the sunny, daytime hours. You'll be glad to have it at night. "April showers bring May flowers" is not a common saying in SoCal, as the rainy season is usually wrapping up by spring break, but rain is still possible. Check the weather forecast before you visit so you are prepared for anything.
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 long lines and heavy crowds, making it difficult to move around freely at times. 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. Firework showtimes 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 when the fireworks begin.
We take midday breaks, reserve our meals then 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 emerges that we simply must see or an attraction breaks down and we cannot go on it when planned. We adjust, plan around new opportunities and move on.
Read Up on Joining Virtual Queues
Our virtual queues post has all the deets and tips, but know that you can use a virtual queue to snag a viewing spot for World of Color at Disney California Adventure. You can join it at noon each day. We recommend setting alarms a few minutes before the queues open to remind you to join. Move quickly as space is limited.
Enjoy the Spring Beauty
Spring is one of our favorite times of the year at Disneyland. The park is exploding with colorful flowers, vibrant Tabebuia trees and new life. There are often baby ducklings underfoot — Lily can watch them for hours! Slow down and take in the scenery, while you include the parks' gorgeous flower arrangements in your photo-ops. You can even purchase spring-themed balloons for your photo-op. Take some time to appreciate the beauty of springtime in Disneyland and 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!
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