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40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland

As long-time Disney frog-natics, Disney is practically our home, second to our humble lily pad. Disneyland trips are almost as routine as visiting the grocery store. We use our extensive experience to give tips and tricks so that you can get the most out of your Disneyland visit. A lot has changed over the last year or so, but things are pretty much back normal. No matter what, we've still got our hearts set on making the very most of our Disneyland day. And we want the same for you — you've taken a frogtastic step in planning a Disneyland trip! Knowing that the Happiest Place on Earth can be also one of the busiest places on Earth, it's important to have some strategies when going to the parks. Well, frogs, that's why we're here! Here's a list of Disneyland tips that will help you maximize your time.

A new Disney Genie service is available in the Disneyland app. Disney Genie+ is a paid service that replaces MaxPass (and FASTPASS). We're sharing what we know about these changes, as well as how to maximize your time at Disneyland right now.

40 Disneyland Tips to Maximize Your Time

1. Buy Tickets Online

We always advise purchasing tickets online, but now you'll need both a valid park ticket AND a park reservation before you arrive. Did you know you can purchase your discount Disneyland tickets through Undercover Tourist and save some green? We even sell tickets pre-loaded with Genie+! As soon as you receive your ticket order, book your Disneyland park reservations to secure your dates. You'll need to pick the park you want to visit when you make your reservations. If park hopping, you'll choose the park you want to visit first. You can park hop after 1 p.m. (subject to availability).

Don't purchase tickets at the ticket booth because if there aren't any reservations left that day, you will not get in. Also, when you buy tickets in advance, you'll save a lot of time (in addition to money) by going straight to the entrance. You won't have to spend any time in ticket booth lines. This can save you an hour on a busy day! For now, you'll want to purchase well in advance (up to 120 days). Buy them as soon as you can to lock in the lowest rate.

2. Pick the Best Times to Visit

While it's always a good time to visit Disneyland, there are times during the year that are better than others. Holidays, school schedules and local visitors have a big impact on Disneyland's schedule. Use this guide to determine the best time to visit Disneyland.

Right now, you can only book reservations for up to 120 days in advance. Here are two additional links you may find hopful at this time when planning your visit:

  • Disneyland Park Availability Calendar — This calendar allows you to make sure the park you want to visit is available on the day you want to visit (before you buy or start to reserve).
  • Disneyland 1-Day Ticket Tier Calendar — Disneyland 1-Day tickets vary in price by day. There are six price tiers. Popular days such as weekends and holidays are higher tiers and cost more than, say, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at a non-peak time. This calendar shows you the price per day. If you purchase multi-day tickets, you don't need to worry about this calendar.

3. Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel

Stay at Disney's Grand Californian

For the most immersive Disneyland experience, stay on property. The three on-site hotels — Disneyland Hotel, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel — are creatively themed with great Disney touches (plus you can save money by booking your stay through us!).

The hotel guest security screening opens before any other security, so if you want to be the first one at the park gates, staying on-site is a nice perk. Resort guests at the Grand Californian can use the dedicated resort entrance to Disney California Adventure from Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which is a nice perk to staying there. (Here are even more benefits to staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel.) You'll want to choose that park as your first park of the day if park hopping.

4. Can't Stay on Property? Stay Close by

Some of the off-site hotels near Disneyland are actually closer than the on-site hotels and less than a five-minute walk to the Esplanade that connects the entrances of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. If you stay close by, you won't have to pay to park at Disneyland and you won't lose any time in the parking garage or the long walk over to the parks from there. There are other benefits of staying at hotels near Disneyland too! There are also hotels that are a short walk to the free parking lot shuttles at Toy Story Lot. (Ribbit! We can save you $$$ if you book your hotel through Undercover Tourist!) People start to line up at Harbor Boulevard security before 7 a.m., but once the security line starts moving (about 45 minutes before the park opens), it goes quickly.

5. Ease Your Way Through the Security Line

The best way to get through the security line quickly is to be prepared. Only bring the items you will need for the day. Bring bags with the fewest zippers and compartments possible. Make sure all of your bags are out and open for the cast member to peek into. Have keys, cell phone, coins and any metal devices in your pockets in bags or ready to be placed on the table at the security scanners. Have something that you know will buzz, such as a belt? Take it off and shove it into a bag for a moment. At times, some security entrances have an expedited screening for people with no bags. If you have no bags to check, you may save yourself a long line there!

Remove all banned items from your bags before you visit such as selfie sticks, loose ice, whistles, pocket knives, balls or zip ties or restraining devices. It's a bummer to have to go all the way back to return an item you frogot was in your bag (or dispose of it). Make sure your stroller fits the guidelines so you don't get turned away. Read more in our post on using a stroller at Disneyland.

6. Get to the Parks Before They Open

Maximize Your Time at Disneyland - Rope DropWe say this a lot, and here it is again: The shortest waits of the day are in the first hours of a park's opening (and the last two hours before the park closes). When you arrive at the park before it opens, you will be one of the very first people inside.

The park turnstiles generally open 30 minutes earlier than posted. If you're early, you can usually enter up to the ropes and when the park officially opens, you will hear an announcement and the cast members will pull back the ropes. This is called "rope drop." Once the rope drops, you can enter the rest of the park and go straight to the rides. For the most popular ride, such as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, you'll follow cast members to the ride after rope drop.

One of the best ways to maximize your time at Disneyland and get the most out of your day is to be one of the first people in the park.

7. Snag a Locker

Lockers can be a lifesaver (and a back saver). It's smart to travel light in the parks, but you want to bring sweatshirts, jackets and cameras. Make renting a locker your first priority of the day. This eliminates the need to haul all of your gear around, yet isn't out of the way for a quick stop for more sunscreen, layers and such.

8. Download the Disneyland Mobile App and Get Familiar With Its Features (Including Disney Genie)

Life. Save. Er. Download the Disneyland mobile app before you arrive. It has wait times, show listings, character locations, park maps, restaurant menus and so much more. You can show your barcode at the gate for admission when you first arrive at the park! Having the Disneyland mobile app is necessary for using Mobile Order for food. Some dining locations only accept Mobile Order right now. Order meals ahead of time so you don't get caught hungry. You can also purchase PhotoPass+ through the app so you can get all your PhotoPass downloads.

You'll need to use the app to access virtual queues if they are activated. Two rides were only accessible via a virtual queue, but now they operate with a standby line:

However, the Disneyland app states that, at busy times, the park may open a virtual queue for them. You will have to be in the respective theme park to join the virtual queue.

Disney Genie is a new feature in the Disneyland app. It helps you plan and customizes your day and itinerary based on your interests.

You can use the Disneyland app before you arrive. Set up your account ahead of time. You can link your park tickets so you will be ready to make your park reservations. You may want to look ahead at restaurant menus to see what's available and plan dining (60 days in advance about 6 a.m.) or even make dining reservations through the app. If you miss getting dining reservations, you can use the app to join a walk-up waitlist in the park when available.

9. Follow These Tips for the Shortest Wait Times

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland0Pirates of the Caribbean with a short morning lineFollow these tips to find the shortest lines:

  • Arrive early before park opening.
  • At Disneyland, focus on Indiana Jones Adventure, Haunted Mansion and Pirates just after park opening or at the end of the night.
  • Now that Rise of the Resistance has a standby line, you might want to watch its wait times in the app. Its line closes early, usually at 9 p.m.
  • At Disney California Adventure, focus on rides without Genie+ at opening.
  • Follow a touring plan (recently updated!).
  • Check the Disneyland app for wait times.
  • Focus on characters and shorter lines midday.
  • Stay late to take advantage of shorter evening lines.
  • Hop in a line before closing.
  • Keep in mind that wait times may be faster than posted times.
  • Consider paying for Genie+ or individual Lightning Lane to use the Lightning Lane and skip the standby line.
  • Hotel guests should take advantage of Early Entry. Hotel guests can enter either theme park 30 minutes before park opening for select attractions, shopping and dining.

10. Use Genie+ to Schedule Ride Return Times and Use PhotoPass

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland-A person buys Genie before hopping on the Monorail

Free FASTPASS and paid MaxPass services have been retired. A new paid option called Disney Genie+ replaces the old paid MaxPass.

PhotoPass downloads are included in Disney Genie+. Hop over to our PhotoPass post for the deets.

As for Disney Genie+, the ultimate way to maximize your time at Disneyland comes with a small price tag. Disney Genie+ is an optional add-on service that costs $20 per day, per person. It allows users to make Lighting Lane (the new name for FASTPASS return lines) selections from their smartphones one at a time to skip the standby lines for certain attractions. You can only use the Lightning Lane one time per ride, per day.

Disneyland Park Disney Genie+ Attractions

You can start making Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane reservations once you have entered the park for the day. Here are the attractions that are available on Disney Genie+:

  • Autopia
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Haunted Mansion / Haunted Mansion Holiday
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • "it's a small world" / “it’s a small world” Holiday
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin (closing for Toontown refurbishment in March 2022 through TBD)
  • Space Mountain
  • Star Tours — The Adventures Continue

Disney California Adventure Disney Genie+ Attractions

  • Goofy's Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Guardians of the Galaxy — Misson: BREAKOUT! / Monsters After Dark
  • Incredicoaster
  • Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
  • Soarin' Around the World
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!

There are some limitations to Disney Genie+. Many of the rides in the park are not on it. Certain high-demand attractions are not included, but you can pay to skip the lines for those rides through individual Lightning Lane selections. You may choose up to two of these attractions per day and may not book the same ride twice. Pricing varies per date, attraction and park. Hop back for more details as we continue to learn the ins and outs of Disney Genie at Disneyland. Standby lines remain available for free.

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland-Entrance to Radiator Springs RacersThe following new or popular attractions are available for individual Lightning Lane selections:

  • Radiator Springs Racers (standby line and Single Rider line remain open for no additional charge)
  • WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure (standby line remains open and a new Single Rider line for no additional charge)
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (standby line remains open for no additional charge)

The price can vary per ride and day (between $7 and $20 per person, per ride for front-of-the-line access). You may only purchase each ride once and a maximum of two different individual Lightning Lane selections per day. You may make these selections once you enter the park for the day.

11. Take Advantage of Early Entry for Disneyland Resort Hotel Guests.

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland-Early entry SignAs of Aug. 8, 2022, Disneyland Resort hotel guests with park tickets and a reservation can enter either theme park 30 minutes before it opens. People with early entry can access select rides, restaurants and stores in that time.

12. Consider a Show Dining Package.

You can save time and score a great viewing area for the parade, Fantasmic! and World of Color with dining packages. After all, you need to eat, so this solves two problems of where to eat and where to watch the show. Plus, people camp our for over two hours for some shows, so you'll save some time there. If you cannot get a reservation, try to join the Walk-Up List in the Disneyland app for table-servicing dining locations.

13. Do Not Head to the Most Popular Rides First

Maximize Your Time at Disneyland - Radiator Springs Racers

If you're set on riding Radiator Springs Racers first thing, you won't be alone. You can hit this ride first after rope drop if you want to. However, many other people have the same idea and the line can be long right after park opening. Instead head to Guardians of the Galaxy and then hit the other Cars Land rides with short waits before committing to Radiator Springs Racers. Use the Single Rider line in the morning to practically walk right on!

Radiator Springs Racers' line moves fastest in the first hour of park opening because there are fewer Lightning Lane users slowing down the standby line. Or, save more time and hop in the Single Rider line (all single riders must be 7 and up).

14. Use Rider Switch if Needed

Rider Switch is still available — yay! If you have tadpoles who aren't tall enough to ride (or don’t want to ride), go to the entrance of the ride with the entire party and get a digital Rider Switch return window added to the supervising parent’s park ticket (along with up to two other people). One parent can supervise the tadpole(s) while the rest of the party rides; then, once the riders return, the supervising parent can have a turn to ride while skipping the line. Some members of the first party can also be part of the second party and ride with the first supervising parent when they take their turn, but they have to scan their tickets in advance before their first ride because they can’t change their minds later. Hop over to our Disneyland height requirements and Rider Switch post to see how your tadpoles measure up.

15. Appoint One Genie+ Wizard

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland-Man uses Genie+ on phone

Collecting FASTPASSes is a thing of the past now that free FASTPASS is gone and so are the distribution machines. If you opt to pay for Disney Genie+, have one person make selections and keep track of everything that is happening in the park and set an itinerary. When the hard work of planning pays off, let the rest of the party think it all just magically worked out. It's easier to make ride selections for the whole party to ensure that you all get the same ride windows so you can ride together. You may find it easier to select rides for the entire party rather than individually.

16. Park Hop

Maximize Your Time at Disneyland - Disney California Adventure Entrance

To hop or not to hop? It's much easier to hop at Disneyland than it is at Disney World. Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park are just a short hop, skip and jump away from each other. With the entrances maybe a one-minute walk apart, park hopping can be an effective way to maximize your time at Disneyland. During this time, you may hop after 1 p.m. and can hop back and forth between parks after that. Hopping is subject to park capacity, but it has not been a problem yet.

Double check the calendar, but Disney California Adventure usually closes earlier than Disneyland. When Disney California Adventure Park closes, you can head to Disneyland for a final ride or two. We like to end our night with Gibson Girl ice cream (order ahead via Mobile Order). We recommend starting in Disney California Adventure and then hopping over to Disneyland.

Allow at least 30 minutes from entering one park before entering the other park or you might get delayed at the gate for hopping too quickly. Here are more Disneyland tips on choosing the best ticket.

We do have some money-saving advice for park hopping. You'll pay the same $60 to add park hopping to a 1-Day ticket as you would a 5-Day ticket. So the more days on your ticket, the cheaper the price you'll be paying per day of park hopping. Fun! (Psst ...  you can save even more when you buy a park hopper through your favorite froggy friends.)

17. Have a Plan and Prioritize Attractions

You want to visit the attractions with the longest waits when they have the lowest waits at park opening and closing. If you've got one day for each of the parks, follow our 1-day Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure park plans.

18. Save Time in the Dole Whip Line

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland-Dole Whip Float

Securing this delightful dessert with a massive following takes some strategy. Indulge in your Dole Whip by using Mobile Order from the Tiki Juice Bar. Tropical Hideaway in Adventureland is walk-up only.

Use Disneyland Mobile Order Service and skip the line to order. In fact, at peak times, the Tiki Juice Bar only accepts Mobile Order. The line is shrinking now that there are now TWO Dole Whip locations in Disneyland Park! You can also pick up your pineapple Dole Whip (as well as raspberry and mango favors and other favorite snacks) from the Tropical Hideaway restaurant in Adventureland (which is not available via Mobile Order). During holidays, you might even see some unique flavors make brief appearances!

19. Buy Your Souvenirs Ahead of Time

Yes, who doesn't want a Disneyland hat, spirit jersey, set of ears, plush, pin, framed artwork and all the other tempting Disney trinkets? We all want a little something special from the parks, but we prefer to buy souvenirs online and at discount shops to give to Tad and Lily ahead of the trip. This saves us time spent in the shops and also money. Plus, if you arrive with your souvenir Disney clothes, you can wear them in the park! They look great in photos.

20. Wait Until the End of the Evening to Shop

If you must shop, wait until the park closes. The shops on Main Street, U.S.A. and Buena Vista Street are open an hour after the parks close. Also, World of Disney in Downtown Disney is open after Disneyland closes.

21. Save the Shows or Sit-down Experiences for Later in the Day

The parks are the least busy during the first few hours of the day. You don't want to find yourself in a 30-minute show when Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Alice in Wonderland will see their lowest waits of the day! When lines peak in the afternoon, it’s showtime (and a good time to rest those legs). Don't avoid the theaters though. Many of the show stages will set the stage for physically distanced character sightings.

Save certain sit-down experiences for the afternoon such as Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room or the Disneyland Railroad at Disneyland Park, or Turtle Talk with Crush or Mickey's PhilharMagic at Disney California Adventure. They give your flippers a little break. And in the case of the Disneyland Railroad, it also serves as transportation. Longer rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean and "it's a small world" make for nice air-conditioned breaks.

22. Make Use of the Single Rider Line or Buddy Pass

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland-Single Rider Lines at Radiator Springs Racers

Single Rider is a great way to maximize your time at Disneyland. Ride operators use single riders to fill empty seats.

If you don't mind splitting your group up on the actual ride, you can experience the following attractions at super low waits on select attractions (Single Rider availability may vary per ride per day at this time):

Disneyland Single Rider Attractions

  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Splash Mountain

Disney California Adventure Single Rider Attractions

  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Incredicoaster
  • Goofy's Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure

Buddy Pass is a similar option to reduce the wait for small parties at Disney California Adventure. Monster’s Inc. and Toy Story Midway Mania may offer Buddy Passes to parties of one or two (as well as up to two adults and a small child) at certain times. Buddy Pass holders enter a separate line and fill in empty rows as they come up. Buddy Pass is subject to availability.

23. Know When and Where to Find Your Favorite Characters

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland-Pooh is in Critter CountryWhile a handful of Disney characters have their own dedicated meet-and-greet stations, many of them roam freely at Disneyland . You can catch several characters at Town Square at Disneyland or near the Carthay Circle Fountain at California Adventure. You can talk to princesses in Fantasy Fair, or chat up Captain Jack Sparrow or Redd at New Orleans Square. Toon Town has characters outside their houses (returning in 2023), and Avengers Campus has many characters around to meet.

You'll also see characters playing in new locations. Look to the raised area across from "it's a small world." We recently caught Winnie the Pooh back in Critter Country.

The Disneyland mobile app offers some character locations. Keep your eyes open and look for them in unusual spots. Also, character-helping cast members — usually in red vests and hanging out with the characters — will let you know if and when you can catch your favorite.

Character cavalcades are traveling through Disneyland park in the afternoons. You can catch them on the parade route in Disneyland. Check the Disneyland app for cavalcade times.

Check out our tips on meeting your favorite Disneyland characters! We've added some new tips for finding characters now that meet and greets have returned.

24. Cozy Up to Your Favorite Characters at Breakfast

Disneyland Character Dining — Tiana

A character meal is a great way to see a bunch of your favorite characters all at once. To really maximize your time at Disneyland, schedule a breakfast before the park opens. Character dining is back. Hop over to our character dining post to see which locations are open and what they are like at this time, since the experience is slightly modified at some locations.

25. Have a Plan for a Lost Child

It's easy to get distracted in a theme park, for kids and adults as well. There are lots of people and lots to see. On more than one occasion, we've stopped to shoot off a quick text message, looked up, and couldn't see the tadpoles among the sea of guests. Make sure you have a plan in place in case someone gets separated from your group. Here are the top 10 don'ts for getting lost in the theme park (this post is focused on Disney World but our tips remain the same elsewhere!).

26. Pack Your Own Snacks and Water

This is always good advice. You'll save time, money and meltdowns by packing your own snacks and water (just no glass bottles). Fill stations and drinking fountains are open, plus you can usually ask for free ice water from a restaurant.

27. Make Dining Reservations or Check the Walk-up Availability

Knowing when and where you're going to eat can be a timesaver. By eliminating the time it takes to consider your options, hopping right to your restaurant really speeds up your day. Visit the Disneyland website or the Disneyland mobile app to see your options and reserve. Our three favorite spots are the Blue Bayou Restaurant in New Orleans Square, Carthay Circle Restaurant on Buena Vista Street and Lamplight Lounge at Pixar Pier. Café Orleans has fun food too (such as the Monte Cristo and pommes frites). Disneyland dining reservations open 60 days in advance at 3 a.m., but keep checking back.

Restaurant availability and menus still vary. If you don't get reservations, you can check the Disneyland app. When you're near the restaurant, open the restaurant page and tap Join Walk-Up List. You might get lucky with this new feature and score a table.

28. Eat During Off-peak Hours or Dine on the Move

Maximize Your Time at Disneyland - Disneyland Yeti Popcorn

If you can't secure a reservation or would rather dine at a quick-service location, you'll save time waiting in line and finding a place to sit if you dine during the off-peak hours. This is from 10:30 a.m to noon and 3 p.m to 5 p.m. Here are some of our Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure quick-service favorites. Enjoy outdoor tables set up in new places around that park so you can enjoy the beautiful views.

Maximize Your Time at Disneyland - Fried Cheese on a Stick

You can save some time by dining on Disneyland eats that can be enjoyed on the move. Turkey legs, corn dogs, meat skewers and chili cone queso (in Cars Land) are all compact enough to be munched on while you're moving in normal times. Hop over for help in finding the best on-the-go Disneyland foods for when you need a light meal.

29. Plan Your Visit to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Disneyland's newest land takes a little planning if certain experiences are important to you. You can make advance reservations to build a lightsaber at Savi's Workshop or visit Oga's Cantina. Reservations have reopened to build a droid at Droid Depot. Learn more about how to make the most of your time in Batuu from our galactic guide to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. You can maximize your time in the park by saving your visit to the land for later in the day when the lines may be shorter and the land will be less sunny or hot.

30. Use the Mobile Order Service

The days of long food lines are gone! With Disneyland's Mobile Order service, you can order food from anywhere. Make a food order while you're in line for a ride, at the back of the long restaurant line or even in your hotel room. Just stop by the Mobile Order window and pick up your food. Many restaurants inside Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa currently offer Mobile Order.

With more people using Mobile Order, even the mobile waits are bound to get long, especially for popular spots at mealtimes. If you know where you want to eat and approximately when, order early. You can choose an order window that is several hours away. You can always cancel or change it to later if you can't make it until you tap "I'm here, Prepare my order." But it's smart to plan ahead. We know you're supposed to wait until you arrive to say you're there, but it takes time to prepare the food, so we always tap ahead of time while we walk over. Order ahead for popular spots. You can now mobile order treats from the candy shops too!

Our new time-saving move at breakfast is to mobile order breakfast at Galactic Grill while we ride the monorail into the park. When we arrive in Tomorrowland, breakfast is served!

31. Bring Your Own Lunch

If you really want to save time and money, bring your own lunch. Think picnic items such as sandwiches, raw veggies and fresh fruits. You may even bring a full picnic and store it in a locker outside of the park near the Picnic Area. No glass containers, loose ice or dry ice are allowed through security.

32. Pack the Essentials

Don't forget sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, cell phone cords, chargers, battery packs and band-aids. Using the Disneyland app on your phone can drain your battery. It doesn't rain very much in Southern California, but if you don't want to get wet on the water rides or plan on being in the front row at World of Color, you should bring your own poncho. You'll save time and money when you need them. Speaking of getting wet at Disneyland, we have a post with eight essential rainy day tips!

We have a new list of essential items now that COVID-19 is around. We bring our own hand sanitizer for preference or convenience, but you can find it everywhere in the park. We bring multiple face coverings even though they are no longer required in case we feel like using them or need to hop in First Aid.

33. Know When the Different Park Areas Close

Mickey's Toontown — where you'll find Mickey, Minnie, other characters and more family rides — closes earlier than the rest of the park on nights with fireworks. It sometimes opens an hour after park opening. Toontown is actually closed until some point in 2023 for the opening of Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance usually closes early, so check the hours. We like to hop in line right before it closes for a short wait.

At Disney California Adventure, several Pixar Pier and Paradise Gardens Park attractions, food and merchandise locations close prior to World of Color performances during normal operations. The following attractions close prior to World of Color:

  • Games of Pixar Pier
  • Incredicoaster
  • Jessie's Critter Carousel
  • Pixar Pal-A-Round
  • Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
  • Silly Symphony Swings
  • Jumpin’ Jellyfish
  • Golden Zephyr

If you want to ride the Incredicoaster at night (our favorite time to ride!), you’d better ride it before World of Color. The park often closes just before or after the last World of Color show.

Even without shows affecting the ride and land openings and closings, you may see different hours than usual at this time.

34. Plan Meals Around Parade Times, Showtimes or Restaurant Hours

Choosing a great spot for Fantasmic!, World of Color or the fireworks is a rite of passage in our Frog Family. We make the most of this time waiting for the show to start by making it "dinner time," as well. We find our ideal viewing location, and then one family member sets out for burgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, fried chicken from Plaza Inn or other grab-and-go type foods for the rest of the family. While we wait for the show to start, we eat sitting down!

Fireworks have returned! We say to check restaurant operating hours and plan ahead so you don't go hungry. Mobile Order in advance so you don't miss out!

35. See the Second Show

Maximize Your Time at Disneyland - World of Color Viewing - Pixar Pal-A-Round

During the busiest times of the year, there are often two showings of the parades, World of Color and Fantasmic! The later you stay, the less time you need to stake out a viewing location for these shows. When there is a later World of Color show, the crowds tend to be much thinner for the second show, especially since it may take place after the park is officially closed.

36. Plan for World of Color in Advance

World of Color uses a virtual queue for the main viewing areas. It's free but spaces go quickly. You can join the virtual queue at noon each day. Follow our World of Color post for tips on viewing this amazing show with colorful fountains, projection, music and special effects. There are dining packages and a dessert party that also provide a reserved area to stand.

37. Save Attractions with Long Waits Until the End of the Night

Wait times drop off in the last couple of hours of park operation, which makes this a perfect time to hop in line at Indiana Jones Adventure, Peter Pan's Flight or Space Mountain. If you're already in line when the parks close, you can stay in line and ride. We enjoy riding Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance right before it closes. Check the ride's hours in the app since it closes early.

38. Ride During Showtimes

The wait times drop significantly for rides in New Orleans Square and Critter Country during Fantasmic!, making show time the best time to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain. You may also find shorter lines in Disneyland during fireworks and at available rides at Disney California Adventure during World of Color if the park is still open.

39. Make Sure You're in a Ride Line when the Park Closes

Once you're in a line, you will get to ride, even if it's already past the park's closing time. Just hop in line before the park closes. Keep in mind that some rides close early, such as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

40. Catch the Flag Retreat

In Town Square, the patriotic flag retreat is still hoppening each day. It's slightly modified, but it occurs at 4:30 p.m. daily. Grab a bench and enjoy!

We hope you've enjoyed our tips to maximize your time at Disneyland. Do you already follow any of these tips? Have a tip we haven't listed? Share in the comments below! If you're looking for Disneyland tickets, you can save on multi-day tickets through Undercover Tourist.

Related: Best Time to Visit Disneyland

Related: The Ins and Outs of Disneyland Dining Reservations

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
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101–118 of 118 comments
Feb 19, 2016 at 12:58 a.m. Stefanie Says...

You share that we should bring food and picnic type lunch. I read on the website that you cannot bring food inside. Did you find different information? We were going to do this to keep our cost down. Thanks for sharing!

Reply
Feb 29, 2016 at 5:10 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Stefanie,

You can definitely bring a backpack with water and snacks into the park. They check all bags before you enter, but they are not worried about food. Coolers must be smaller than 24X15X18 inches or 61x38x46 centimeters.

Keep hopping!

Leap

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Feb 13, 2016 at 1:20 p.m. Jen Says...

We have one day in Disneyland with a 6 and 2 year old. I booked a character breakfast at 10 and an early dinner at 5 both are in Disneyland...with that time frame and one day only should I also get the park hopper...not sure if that will be too much for one day. Thanks for all

Of the great tips.

Reply
Feb 25, 2016 at 10:02 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jen,

You could still hop, but I think it would be better not to in this case, and spend the day at Disneyland with the more iconic rides geared for their age group.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Feb 8, 2016 at 11:40 p.m. Heather Says...

Great tips! I know most as I read up on this all the time! But one I particularly never thought of, is going to the park without magic morning hour first if you aren't staying on property. Definitely a good idea!

Reply
Feb 4, 2016 at 5:17 a.m. Linda Says...

Hello, I'm taking my family (husband and 4 kids ) end of March during our spring break. We plan on staying at a good neighbor hotel, from the packages that I've seen, they offer transportation at a fee or do you suggest driving in? Also is it best to get a hopper pass or one park a day. We are getting a 3 day pass. Thank you.

Reply
Feb 10, 2016 at 12:32 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Linda,

I think it would be easier to opt for transportation to the parks since you are visit during Spring Break and parking will likely take extra time, but definitely weigh the costs. Some Good Neighbor Hotels are walking distance—that would be idea.

As far as the hopper vs. non-hopper, that is your call, but hopping between parks is pretty easy to do and doesn't cost too much more. You will have more flexibility with this, but also keep in mind that during very busy days (such as Easter), it's going to take longer to get into the parks and if one reaches capacity, you won't be allowed in until people leave.

Keep hopping!

Leap

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Jan 31, 2016 at 3:40 a.m. 1st trip ! Says...

I have read different stories about brining food into the park. We planned on backpacks with water and a few snacks. Will this be allowed ? Also this trip will be one week before my sons 6th birthday ( planned based on time off from school) do you think any of the places will do something special for him? Thanks and I can't wait for our 1st trip to DL!!

Reply
Feb 26, 2016 at 11:01 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi,

What a great way to celebrate a birthday! You can get custom cakes delivered to any table service restaurant or character dining locations. There are also mini cakes and pirate treasure chest containers. Order at least three days in advance. You can make reservations for birthday dining experiences.

You can definitely bring a backpack with water and snacks into the park. They check all bags before you enter, but they are not worried about food.

Be sure to get a free birthday button and a 1st visit button at the information booths in the parks!

Keep hopping!

Leap

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Jan 28, 2016 at 7:48 p.m. ParisFamily Says...

We are planning a 3 day trip to both parks in April. I have 4 kids and then my husbands parents and sister will be joining us. Our twins will be almost 11 months old so of course this is there first experience. We are so very excited. But I had a few questions. We are planning for the first weekend that month and was wondering what the crowd is like around that time. I know it's a very busy place but I also know it's sometimes slower at certain times. I'm just trying to be aware of what to prepare for. I have been researching a ton. Trying to organize it the best I can since they are so young and my other two are a little older. I have only ever taken my older two but was so unorganized. So I feel we missed out on a lot. Any advice for this exciting trip is greatly appreciated.

Reply
Feb 8, 2016 at 11:36 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there,

You may find this post helpful:

https://www.undercovertourist.com/blog/best-time-visit-disneyland/

Early April is expected to be quite busy.

Keep hopping!

Leap

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Jan 27, 2016 at 4:51 a.m. Donna Says...

Is Super Bowl Sunday as busy as I am reading it is? That Sunday in California Adventure is early entry, can anyone enter Or do you have to be staying at one of the Disney hotels?

Reply
Jan 27, 2016 at 9:26 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Donna,

There was for a time a myth that Disneyland was dead on Super Bowl Sunday, and that's not true. It can be busy, but it won't be as busy as the holidays. For early entry, you would have to be staying on-site to get in during that time.

Keep hopping!

Leap

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Jan 4, 2016 at 5:03 a.m. Mrs. Frogriguez Says...

My husband Hopity, (a huge Disneyland and frog enthusiast) has not been to the park since 2006 (before first wife passed). Though I enjoy it (2004 my last visit) I would prefer to start some fresh memories. We've both never been to CA Adventure so we'll go there, but what's new at the Mouse House?

Reply
Jan 5, 2016 at 8:41 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Mrs. Frogriguez,

Love your name and enthusiam for frogs ;) There is Cars Land in Disney California Adventure, which you should not miss! Radiator Springs Racers is my very favorite ride of all time.

We hope you will consider hopping over to Disneyland Park, they have made some exciting changes to many classic rides.

You'll notice some significant (but temporary) changes in Tomorrowland, where they are undergoing the Season of the Force. Space Mountain has been transformed into Hyperspace Mountain with Star Wars music, sounds, and visual changes. It seems faster and darker too. Star Tours has a new adventure and some new characters added in. You can meet Darth Vader and Chewbacca in Launch Bay or meet Thor or Spider-Man upstairs in Super Hero HQ (as well as virtually try on IronMan's suit). You can sometimes catch Stormtroopers stalking around Tomorrowland.

They have added some classic Disney characters into the appropriate lands in "it's a small world," so have fun trying to spot them.

In Pirates of the Caribbean look out for Captain Jack Sparrow in three scenes.

The hatbox ghost has reappeared in the Haunted Mansion (you'l see him just after you leave the attic).

Thunder Mountain added a new explosion in the mine shaft.

Peter Pan has a new nursery and updated visual effects in the ride.

The Yeti in the Matterhorn is more lifelike and scary. They have added some new elements to the ride.

Alice in Wonderland has some new digital scenes that are worth checking out.

Finding Nemo might be a new attraction for you in the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarines.

To the left of the castle be sure to walk though Fantasy Faire where you can meet classic princesses, as well as some new modern ones like Rapunzel or Merida. You can watch a live show of Frozen in the theatre there as well.

Most importantly, be sure to catch the Paint the Night Electrical Parade and the Disneyland Forever Fireworks. Watch the fireworks in a spot where you can see the new projection that is an important and magical part of the new show. We recommend getting close to the castle, standing on Main street in front of Gipson Girl, or seeing it in front of Small World. Small world has the easiest projection and is actually closer to the fireworks but Main Street and the Castle will give you the iconic view, complete with flying Tinkerbelle. We have several posts on getting the best view of Paint the Night and Disneyland Forever. We are sure that all of these new experiences will help you make new "hoppy" memories that will also make you nostalgic for the Disneyland of your youth together.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jul 20, 2017 at 8:27 p.m. Sally Says...

Isn't Frozen show in California Adventures?

Reply
Jul 21, 2017 at 10:28 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Sally,

Yes, Frozen – Live at the Hyperion is at Disney California Adventure Park.

Keep hopping!

Leap

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Dec 11, 2015 at 10:01 a.m. Kate M Says...

Hi

Love all the great ideas!

I have not been back to DL since I was 8 now it is my time to bring my children. We are there between Jan 29 and the 4 of feb. Any idea on how busy it might be and how to find out when Magical mornings are and how to plan breakfast with a character? Keeping in mind we have six kids age ranging 4-16

Any suggestions would be much appriciated

Reply
Nov 23, 2015 at 2:53 p.m. Anthony G. Says...

I am taking my family for Christmas, Do you have a 3 day planner for easy use> To plan my trip?

Reply
Nov 24, 2015 at 7:29 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Anthony,

We do not have a 3 day touring plan at this time, but will keep this in mind as we expand on the ones we have! We do offer plans for both of the Disneyland parks that you could use to prioritize rides.

Keep hopping!

Leap

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Oct 28, 2015 at 6:47 p.m. Dave Says...

1. Do they have lockers to put jackets or small lunch in?

2. Want to take wife to see Christmas decoration what is the best day between Nov,16th thru Nov 20th?

3. My wife is limited on long walks do they have electric carts or? for rent, Cost?

4. What's the best day with less crowds, we will be there early.

My wife has never seen Disneyland decorated for Christmas, and we haven't been back in 15 years. I really want to make the best of it due to my wife's Cancer remission. Any suggestion will be appreciated. Thank you

Reply
Sep 4, 2017 at 9:41 p.m. Andrea Says...

Dave, If you plan on park hopping during your trip, you'll want to rent a ECV from one of the local medical supply stores, the prices are less than Disney and you can take it wherever you go. At DL you can't take the strollers/wheelchairs/ECV out of the park. The local medical supply stores will deliver the ECV to your hotel or rental home or you can pick them up if you like. If you choose to park in the Mickey and Friends parking structure, be sure to ask for Chip and Dale parking. It's designated as Disability parking but if you don't have a tag and let them know you have an ECV then they'll let you park there if there is room.

Reply
Nov 16, 2015 at 12:45 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Dave,

They do have lockers in both parks and in the area between both parks.

That is a great week to visit. All of the Christmas Decorations will be up. Nov 16 is the opening of the Star Wars Season of Force in Tomorrowland so there could be larger than usual crowds that day in Disneyland. I think November 18th and the 20th are the best days to visit Disneyland (the 18th being the least crowded) and the 17th and 19th are the best days to visit Ca Adventure. Whatever park does not have an early morning admission (extra magic hour or magic morning) tends to be the least crowded park that day. If you are staying at a hotel that has that benefit, you might want to take advantage of it, but if you visit on the non-magic morning when the park opens it will probably be just as magical and uncrowded as it is for those people who visit on a magic morning. Space Mountain will be Star Wars themed as Hyperspace Mountain beginning that week (and last during the season of the force) so if you plan to ride that I would arrive early or try to get a FastPass as new changes are always the most popular, which means have the longest lines.

They rent wheelchairs and electric vehicles. Wheelchairs are $12 per day plus a refundable $20 deposit. Electric convenience vehicles are $50 per day plus a refundable $20 deposit if you return the vehicle and key

If you are using a chair in Disneyland, you go to a special loading area for rides and they may give you a time to come back later if there is a long wait. Most rides at Ca Adventure were built to accommodate a wheelchair in the regular line.

Keep hopping!

Leap

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Sep 30, 2015 at 9:26 p.m. Cass Says...

Do we need a fastpass for World of Color? We arrive on Mon and will miss getting the fastpass in the morning. Is it first come first serve once the passes are gone?

Reply
Oct 1, 2015 at 9:59 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Cass,

We recommend you get a FASTPASS for World of Color, the earlier, the better, but you should get one no matter when you arrive. These FASTPASS are not tied to the others, so it won't affect your ability to get other FASTPASSes.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Sep 15, 2015 at 5:20 p.m. Debbie Noboa Says...

I actually have a question - one of the tips is to "bring your own lunch" but the Disneyland Resort website says that no outside food or beverage may be brought into the parks. Has that policy changed lately? Thanks

Reply
Feb 28, 2016 at 5:16 a.m. Crystal Says...

Hi I have been to the park about 50 times. I normally either pack a lunch and place it in a small cooler in a locker just outside the entrance or I freeze waterbittles then go yo subway and wrap it all in a towel in the bottom of my bag. Works every time. Hope this helps

Reply
Dec 16, 2015 at 8 p.m. Bethany Says...

Hi Debbie,

In reply to "bring lunch". We just completed our 4 day (12/12/15-12/15/15) to the park from out of town. We cooler back packed in frozen H2O bottles (with quick tear bottle flavor adds), preferred soda (Only Coke product in park & water is pricey), tortilla wraps in foil, fresh apples & oranges, mixed nuts, granola bars, etc.. The small cooler back pack worked great since our kids are too big for strollers. (freedom from stroller, but we miss the storage.) Because of the population of people with food allergies & dietary needs, they typically won't contest food brought in. No hard coolers, no alcohol. There are lockers, but the cost cancels out the savings of packing it in. At that point, you're just as well to eat from the many options they have there.

Reply
Sep 15, 2015 at 2:08 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Debbie,

Disney has a fairly lenient enforcement on bringing food in, but there is the chance that it might not be allowed.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 5, 2016 at 9:21 p.m. Mary Says...

We stayed at the Disneyland resort in the fairytale suite. On the club level we received sodas, beer, and all sorts of food and snacks. We were told we could take anything from the club room into the park. So I believe their restrictions are just a deterrent. Enjoy your trip!!

Reply
Mar 16, 2016 at 3:49 a.m. Wendy Says...

We always picnic outside the gate during a 'hop' walk from one park to the other. :) No issues then.

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Dec 14, 2016 at 2:14 a.m. Marina Says...

Right, Leap! Stash your food in the lockers to the Left of the main gate, and carry your food into the picnic area. There are tables and benches.

Reply
Mar 25, 2015 at 1:30 a.m. Sakyroh Says...

I am planning to go to California Adventures in April since the first time we went to Carsland, Radiator Springs Racers kept breaking down. Would you suggest going straight there to get a FastPass first and then to get a Fast Pass for World of Color, or vice versa? We want to make sure we can go on both the ride and get a spot for the showing at night.

Reply
Mar 25, 2015 at 9:31 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there,

Most definitely get the FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers first. The FastPass for World of Color is disconnected, so it will not interfere with getting others.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 16, 2015 at 7:03 p.m. SRGIO Says...

planing to go on march 30 its a monday but still spring break any ideas how the lines might be??? just hate waiting for 3 hrs on a line ....TNX

Reply
Feb 24, 2015 at 9:43 p.m. Ryan Says...

The Matterhorn added a single rider line in 2012, I believe, after a top-to-bottom refurbishment. (Tip 19). We use it almost every time. If standby is a 30-40 minute wait, single rider will cut the wait down to under 10 minutes. Because each bobsled has 6 individual seats, odd-numbered parties often leave empty slots for single riders to fill.

Reply
Sep 25, 2015 at 4:27 p.m. Mary Says...

Don't you have to strattle sit on that ride :-/

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Feb 3, 2016 at 9:48 p.m. Claire Says...

Not anymore. They refurbished the ride and cars so each seat is an individual seat.

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Mar 2, 2015 at 8:20 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Thanks for sharing, Ryan!

Keep hopping!

Leap

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Oct 22, 2014 at 7:07 p.m. akajako Says...

With regard to eating in Disneyland, I would suggest knowing where to eat. I find the Golden Horseshoe to be under utilized (even during the performance), and if you don't mind the limited menu, you can get in and out pretty quick (for not that much) and catch a good show.

Reply
Oct 22, 2014 at 5:55 p.m. Hal Says...

To expand on two of your tips and add one more...

14A. The best time to hit the Fantasyland rides is first thing before the crowd builds. Most of these rides are short and are situated very close together, meaning on a good day you can knock out all the "dark rides" in the first hour the park is open, especially if you can do it during the Magic Mornings hour. Later in the day the lines will build for these, and none have FASTPASS. Your DLR Touring Plan seems to do this but doesn't appear to share the reason.

17A. In addition to their being a Dole Whip line in the Tiki Room waiting area, you are also allowed to bring your treat in the show.

The other thing I would mention is not to skip a ride because you've done it at WDW. Most of the rides are different enough to be worthwhile. The down side is that after you've experienced DLR Space Mountain and Pirates the WDW versions will be a bit of a disappointment.

Reply
Aug 24, 2017 at 7:03 p.m. Disney fanatic Says...

We use single rider on ride like splashmountain and grizzly river run. Sometimes we get split but we at least get on the ride much much faster

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Dec 31, 2016 at 3:26 a.m. SandiS Says...

Thanks for the additional tips! It's ben 8 years since we visited and we needed a refresher. I remember the fast passes being new and really maximizing that wonderful addition. Looking forward to extra magic hours this time!

Reply
Oct 22, 2014 at 1:40 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Great tips, Hal! Thanks for sharing.

Leap

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