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40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland

A note from Leap: Disneyland limits capacity via a new theme park reservation system. Hop over to our Disneyland reopening post for the latest news and safety information (and over to our mask policy post, since the rules may change). During the phased reopening, some attractions, shows and tools to maximize your time at Disneyland may be temporarily unavailable. In big news, FASTPASS and MaxPass have been retired, and a new paid service replaces them in fall 2021 (more details below). Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hour are temporarily unavailable.

As long-time Disney frog-natics, Disney is practically our home, second to our humble lily pad. Trips to Disneyland were 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 also returning back to 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! 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 tips that will help you maximize your time at Disneyland.

Some of the tools we have relied on to maximize time in the past are changing. A new Genie service is coming to the Disneyland app in fall 2021. Genie+ is a paid service that replaces MaxPass (and FASTPASS). We are sharing what we know about the changes to come as well as how to maximize your time at Disneyland right now.

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland

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. This is so Disneyland can limit capacity and allow for physical distancing. Did you know you can purchase your discount Disneyland tickets through Undercover Tourist and save some green? As soon as you receive your ticket order, be sure to 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).

Normally, 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 60 days).

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 60 days in advance. Here are two additional links you may find hopful at this time in terms of planning your visit:

  • Disneyland Park Availability Calendar — This calendar allows you to make sure the park you want to visit is available 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 5 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 do not 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. Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa was first hotel to reopen and the other hotels will reopen at a later date. Disney's Paradise Pier reopens June 15, 2021. Disneyland Hotel reopens July 2, 2021.

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!). During normal times, you can enjoy the Extra Magic Hour for every day of your stay at an on-site property. The Extra Magic Hour benefit gives you one-hour early access to either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park, which can be critical in reducing your waits on the most popular attractions (talkin' about you, Radiator Springs Racers).

Extra Magic Hour is temporarily unavailable during the phased reopening. But you should still aim to arrive at the gates before the park opens to take advantage of the least crowded time of day and get a jump on the fun. We'll let you in on a little secret, most days, the theme park gates open early anyway (sometimes 30 to 60 minutes before opening time). So if you arrive early, you'll definitely make your own "magic morning." Rides are open with the shortest wait times of the day.

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. If you can't stay on property, at least 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 (once shuttles are running, there can be a wait for the parking tram). 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 once it reopens. (Ribbit! We can save you $$$ if you book your hotel through Undercover Tourist!) People start to line up before 7:00 a.m., but once the security line starts moving, 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 clothes pockets ready to be passed to the guard 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, the Harbor Boulevard security entrance (the area where Toy Story Lot and off-site hotels tend to enter) has a special security line 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 do not get turned away. Read more in our post on using a stroller at Disneyland.

Maximize Your Time at Disneyland - Rope Drop6. Get to the parks before they open.

We 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 of park opening). When you arrive at the park before it opens, you will be one of the very first people inside the parks.

During a normal time, you can 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 a called "rope drop." Rope Drop is hoppening right now, however, sometimes the rope drops earlier than posted opening time. You can enter the rest of the park and go straight to the rides. The park turnstiles generally open 30 to 60 minutes earlier than posted.

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 prepare to use virtual queues.

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 QR 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 do not get caught hungry. You can also purchase PhotoPass+ through the app (new) so you can get all your PhotoPass downloads.

You'll need to use the app to access virtual queues, called Boarding Groups. Two rides are only accessible via Boarding Groups (they have no standby line):

These two rides offer two opportunities per day to join a boarding group: at 7 a.m. and at noon. You will join a Boarding Group on your smartphone through the Disneyland app. You must act quickly because the Boarding Groups and backup Boarding Groups fill within seconds to minutes. You cannot join both at the same time.

Disney Genie is a new feature in the Disneyland app coming fall 2021. It helps you plan and customize 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 or even make dining reservations through the app.

9. Follow These Tips for the Shortest Wait Times

Maximize Your Time at Disneyland - Indiana Jones FASTPASS

Follow these tips to find the shortest lines when visiting now:

  • 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.
  • At Disney California Adventure focus on Radiator Springs Racers and Toy Story Midway Mania! at park 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

10. Use Genie+ (released fall 2021) to schedule ride return times and use PhotoPass (temporarily unavailable so in the meantime get PhotoPass+ for photos).

It was announced in August 2021 that free FASTPASS and MaxPass have been retired. A new paid option called Genie+ replaces the old paid MaxPass. More details to come in the next few months.

PhotoPass downloads are included in Genie+. In the meantime, you can purchase PhotoPass+ in the Disneyland app. Hop over to our PhotoPass post for the deets. You can even purchase it after your visit if you get home and decide you want to download your photos.

Here are the details on Genie+. The ultimate way to maximize your time at Disneyland comes with a small price tag. 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. That means that the second you walk in the front gate, you can reserve a Lightning Lane for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

There are some limitations to Genie+. Rides that utilize a virtual queue as well as high-demand attractions such as Radiator Springs Racers are not on Genie+, however, you can pay by ride for those options through Lightning Lane Select. You may choose up to two of these attractions per day and may not book the same ride twice. Pricing will vary per date, attraction and park. Hop back for more details as this new service launches. Standby lines and virtual queues will remain be available for free.

Disneyland Park Genie+ Attractions

Over 15 attractions will be available on Genie+. The complete list is not yet available. These are the attractions that were on FASTPASS before it ended or were slated to begin soon (list of attractions subject to change):

  • Autopia
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Haunted Mansion / Haunted Mansion Holiday
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (had not started for FASTPASS but is confirmed for Genie+)
  • Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Star Tours — The Adventures Continue
  • "it's a small world" / “it’s a small world” Holiday
  • Fantasmic! (did not affect obtaining ride FASTPASSes)

Disney California Adventure Attractions

  • Incredicoaster
  • Goofy's Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Guardians of the Galaxy — Misson: BREAKOUT! / Monsters After Dark
  • Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
  • Radiator Springs Racers (confirmed will not be available on Genie+)
  • Soarin' Around the World
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • World of Color (did not affect obtaining ride FASTPASSes)

11. Take advantage of Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hours (temporarily unavailable, but the parks usually open early anyway). 

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland-Partners Statue with castleWhile Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hours are temporarily unavailable, we still recommend arriving early to the park gates. Be there an hour early if you can. Parking lots open one hour before park opening. The parks usually let guests in the park early for rope drop. You may not have a dedicated hour, but you'll be way ahead of the crowds if you arrive early. You can knock out the most popular rides right away.

The only way you benefit from the Magic Morning or Extra Magic Hours (EMH) when they return is if you actually show up early for them. Both allow one-hour early admission into the parks, a huge leap on the rest of the touring population. You want to get to the park at least a half-hour before the extra hour begins. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a long line of not-quite-early-enough risers who are also waiting to get into the park!

12. If you are an early bird not staying on-site, start the day in the park not hosting Extra Magic Hours. 

This is not applicable at this time. The good news is that both parks generally open the gates early at this time.

Your Disneyland visit gets easier and easier not having to keep track of which park is open early. Admittedly, these hours are an annoyance to people who do not get to take advantage of them. #JustJealous Just arrive early to the park you reserved early and you will be fine. Again, below is our advice for how to enjoy your morning in the park that is not hosting early morning entry once this benefit resumes.

Even if you arrive ahead of park opening, the park with Extra Magic Hours or Magic Morning will have more people in it, and you’ll encounter some lines and fewer immediate Genie+ options. You're better off heading to the opposite park. You can usually enter the other park 30-minutes early, but you will have access to the entire park once the rope drops at official opening.

13. If you aren't staying on-site and want to experience Radiator Springs Racers first thing, head to Disney California Adventure on a non-EMH day.

Maximize Your Time at Disneyland - Radiator Springs Racers

Everyone gets in the park early most days lately, so head straight to Radiator Springs Racers for the shortest wait! The Radiator Springs Racers line moves more quickly without FASTPASS users holding up the stand-by line. Last time we rode, it was only one party per car, which means the line can build.

Just skip to the next tip for now. But we have hoppy news! Single Rider lines have returned. That's always our secret weapon when tackling this ride.

If you're set on riding Radiator Springs Racers first thing, you won't be alone. On days with Extra Magic Hours at Disney California Adventure, the park will already have plenty of guests who are in line for the attraction.

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 you have young children who do not meet the height requirements.

Rider Switch is still working! Yay! If you have tadpoles that are not 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 mind later. Hop over to our Disneyland height requirements and Rider Switch post to see how your tadpoles measure up.

15. Only have one person in your party make Genie+ selections (for now, appoint a master scheduler).

Maximize Your Time at Disneyland - Disneyland Haunted Mansion FASTPASS

Collecting FASTPASSes is a thing of the past, now that free FASTPASS is gone and so are distribution machines. If you opt to pay for Genie+ when it's released, 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. Back when we used MaxPass, I found it easier to make ride selections for the whole party. It was the only way to ensure that we all got the same return times so we could ride together. We have not used the Genie+ yet, but we suspect it could be easier to select rides for the entire party rather than individually.

Until Genie+ comes out, this is one less thing to worry about for the time being. Instead, follow one of our touring plans and use the Disneyland app to check wait times to decide where to ride next.

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. Both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park are just a short hop, skip and a jump away from each other. With the entrances maybe a minute walk apart, park hopping can be an effective way to maximize your time at Disneyland. During this time, you may hop after 1:00 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.

Disney California Adventure closes at 10:00 p.m. these days. Disneyland closes at 11 p.m. When Disney California Adventure Park closes you can head to the later park 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. That's often the easier ticket to buy right now. You might purchase early to get that Disneyland start.

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 tips on choosing the best Disneyland ticket.

We do have some money-saving advice for park hopping. You'll pay the same $55 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.)

Park hoppers who wish to join the second enrollment of the day of Boarding Groups for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance need to have entered either of the theme parks that day. If you are Disney California Adventure and get a Boarding Group, you can hop over to Disneyland Park after 1 p.m. to catch your ride.

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 orange, raspberry and mango favors and other favorite snacks) from the Tropical Hideaway restaurant in Adventureland.

19. Buy your souvenirs ahead of time.

Yes, who doesn't want a Disneyland hat, jersey, set of ears, mug, pin, Tsum Tsum, 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 least busy 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 through. Many of the show stages will set the stage for physically distant character sightings.

As you may have guessed, shows will not be something to worry about for some time, although nightly fireworks and projection shows are back! But you can 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 Cariibben and "it's a small world" make for nice air-conditioned breaks.

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

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

  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours

Disney California Adventure Single Rider Attractions

  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Incredicoaster
  • Goofy's Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run

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.

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland-Donal and Goofy greet guests from the train station steps23. Know when and where to find your favorite characters.

While a handful of Disney characters have their own dedicated meet-and-greet stations, many of them roam freely at Disneyland ... normally. However, during the pandemic. meet and greets are distanced and in new places. You can catch several characters at the Main Street Train Station at Disneyland or the Carthay Circle Fountain at California Adventure. You can talk to princesses in Fantasy Fair, or chat up Tiana, Captain Jack Sparrow or Redd at New Orleans Square. Toon Town has characters outside their houses. Avengers Campus has many characters around to meet.

You'll also see characters playing in new locations. We have caught Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore catching butterflies and painting trees in a grassy area near the hub. Look to balconies in Frontierland and the raised area across from "small world."

The Disneyland mobile app does not offer character locations at this time, so 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 both parks in the afternoons. You can catch them on the parade route in Disneyland and the Paradise Gardens Park area of Disney California Adventure.

Check out our tips on meeting your favorite Disneyland characters! We've added some new tips for finding characters now, while characters will be mixing and mingling from a safe distance. We look for characters when attractions lines peak.

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 has begin to return. 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.

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 top 10 don'ts for getting lost in the theme park.

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. Having your own snacks will also help you to reduce contact with employees and surfaces. Just remember to be seated, distanced and stationary before you drop your mask to take a bite. No more eating in line.

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 (like their Monte Cristo, pommes frites and Mickey beignets).

Restaurant availability and menus will vary when the parks reopen. Indoor dining will not return right away. If you do not get reservations, you can check the Disneyland app. When you are 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 then 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, chili and Frito bag (Firefly) 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 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 (once it reopens). Reservations have reopened to build a droid at Droid Depot. More time slots are released at 7:00 a.m. each day for same-day reservations through the Disneyland app or online. 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 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 and fewer locations open, even the mobile waits are bound to get long, especially for popular spots. 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 are supposed to wait until you arrive to say you are there, but it takes time to prepare the food, so we always tap ahead of time, while we are walking over. Order ahead for popular spots such as Pym Test Kitchen in Avengers Campus.

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 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. The masks get sweaty or dirty, so it's nice to swap them out for a fresh one. We also remember to reapply sunscreen the tops of our faces so we don't get an embarrassing mask line. In fact, don't froget to bring hats and sunglasses.

33. Know when the different park areas close.

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland-The Fountain in Toontown 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 usually opens an hour after park opening, but during the reopening period Toontown is opening at park opening.

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 operation. The following attractions close prior to World of Color (once it returns):

  • Games of Pixar Pier
  • Incredicoaster
  • Jessie's Critter Carousel
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • 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 and show waits or restaurant hours (not applicable until the shows and parades return).

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!

Nightly fireworks returned July 4 — we say to check restaurant operating hours and plan ahead so you do not go hungry. Mobile Order in advance so you do not miss out.

35. See the second show (once shows return).

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

During the busiest times of year, there are often two showings of the parades 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, the crowds tend to be much thinner for the second show.

36. Grab a FASTPASS for World of Color or Fantasmic! early in the day (temporarily unavailable).

40 Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland - World of Color FASTPASS

With FASTPASSes being retired, we are not sure if large shows such as World of Color and Fantasmic! will be an offering with the new Genie+. These shows are temporarily unavailable. The shows were available through MaxPass, so you could reserve them from your smartphone as soon as you entered a park for the day before the pandemic. That also means they disappeared even faster! They were not connected to the rest of the system, so you could obtain these FASTPASSes without worrying that they would affect your ability to obtain ride FASTPASSes. Keep hopping back for updates as more details are released.

37. Save any of the attractions with long waits that you missed in the morning for 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.

With the parks closing earlier, you don't want to wait until the last minute to ride. Do not let the end of the night creep up on you. But if you are already in line when the parks close, you can stay in line and ride.

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 are in a ride line when the park closes.

Once you're in a line, you will get to ride, even if it is already past park closing time. Just hop in line before the park closes.

40. Catch the Flag Retreat.

In Town Square, the patriotic flag retreat is still hoppening each day. It's slightly modified (they are not calling our branches of the military right now), 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 comments below! If you are 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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101–106 of 106 comments
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.

Reply
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 :-/

Reply
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.

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

Thanks for sharing, Ryan!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
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

Reply
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

Reply
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