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Disneyland

Tips & Tricks

Quick Links: Accommodations, Inside the Parks, Characters, FastPass & Ride Swap, Souvenirs, Dining, Special Attractions & Parades, Tours, and Miscellaneous Tips

Visit our Resources page for places to get information and products for travel.

Getting Ready to Go

Start a countdown calendar for your trip about 30 days before. Consider making a paper chain the kids can rip a piece off each day, and take a picture of the last loop on the day you leave!

Confirm all ADRs before leaving and either bring confirmation numbers with you written down or program them into your phone.

In case of medical emergency, locate the nearest Urgent Care and pharmacy to where you are staying so you know where to go. If you prepare for an emergency, it won’t happen! For emergency information, visit our blog.

If you would like to pack lighter and ship some of your items to your room before you arrive, contact your hotel for proper mailing address.

Start collecting new, clean pennies for the pressed penny machines. Also, don’t forget the quarters needed to go with them. We like to pack a few sets for each day at the park rather than carrying them all with us each day.

Accommodations

All Disneyland Hotels come with a Pack N Play if you need it for little ones to sleep. We recommend bringing your own sheets.

If you need extra fridge space for milk and snacks, just request an additional refrigerator when you check in.

In your hotel room, if you leave your kiddos stuffies on the bed, housekeeping will arrange them in a cute way on the made bed. My kids looked forward to that every night!

Groceries can be delivered to your hotel room at the Disneyland Resort. The closest grocery store that delivers is Vons and you can place your order at Vons.com. Notify the bellhop service that groceries are being delivered in case they are coming when you won’t be at the hotel. Certain items you must be present at delivery time.

Ears Tip For a special treat, pack a Disney pillowcase and new Disney pajamas in your child’s suitcase for them to open and use at the hotel. It makes a great surprise!

If room size is an issue, the Disneyland Hotel has the largest rooms of all three resorts.
For more reviews and advice on DLR accommodations, visit our Accommodations page.

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Inside the Parks

Disneyland Stroller

There are three options for strollers:
1) Bring your own
2) Rent a stroller at the park
3) Rent a stroller from an outside company
Disneyland does not have double strollers if you need one but they do offer a deal if you rent two strollers. Bringing your own stroller or renting an offsite stroller allows you to bring sleeping kiddos back to your room easily without waking them up at stroller return.

Ears Tip Popular Question: At what age will my child not need a stroller at Disneyland? Answer: While every child is different, a long day at the park walking and standing can exhaust even the strongest of children. Around age 8 or 9 is a good time to try without a stroller, but you know your child best.

Whether you bring your own or rent a stroller, it is very important to mark your stroller with a bright tag or scarf, preferably with your name on it. We love the tags at YourBagTag. Check out their site from our resources page.

Need to change a diaper? Pack a quick-change bag with only diapers and wipes (and maybe ointment) to grab and run into the bathroom easily, and ditch the big diaper bag.

The best places to change a diaper are the Baby Care Centers – one is located on Main Street and the other by the Boudin Bakery. They have large changing tables and supplies, as well as a toddler size potty. They are very private and quiet as well as cool during hot weather.

Feel free to pack snacks and drinks for your kiddos, as the snacks in the park don’t always appeal to little ones. Disneyland will allow you to bring a small cooler inside but does not allow glass bottles (unless it is baby food).

Since strollers have to be collapsed for riding the Monorail or Railroad, try to pack light and have everything in one quick grab bag for easy loading and exiting.

If visiting the resort during the summer months, remember the weather can get hot. Purchase at home some water bottle sprayers at Wal-Mart and bring them with you. They are a great way to keep kids cool.

Park Hopper passes are a must at Disneyland Resort because it is very easy to go between the two parks in one day. The two parks have different park hours so check the Disneyland Calendar online before your trip.

If you are staying on property, you can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours that get you into Fantasyland 1 hour before the rest of the park opens. Only select rides are open, and the most popular are 1) Peter Pan, 2) Dumbo and 3) Nemo. It is worth taking advantage of this perk at least one morning. Recently, Extra Magic Hours have been added to California Adventure and CarsLand is open 1 hour before the rest of the park.

First thing in the morning, the quietest part of Disneyland is Frontierland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country. In California Adventure, the quietest park of the park is everywhere except CarsLand.

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Character Meet & Greets

Disneyland Goofy

If your child is nervous about meeting characters, getting an autograph book is a great way to “break the ice”. You can purchase one at the park or bring your own from home. Visit our blog for an easy way to make your own! Just remember that the characters have trouble grabbing normal size pens so buying one of Disney's fat pens is a good bet. Also, be sure to have the book open to a blank page before approaching the character.

Ears Tip Looking for a specific character for pictures? Sometimes location and times are printed in the Times Guide. Pick up a copy at the Main Entrance. If it doesn’t list the character you are looking for, start asking Cast Members because they may have the inside scoop, especially on characters on Main Street, Carthay Circle, Buena Vista Street and HollywoodLand.

Great places to see characters are:
Toontown – Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald & Goofy; best time is first thing in the morning when Toontown opens
Critter Country – Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore & Tigger (characters rotate for breaks)
Main Street– Mary Poppins, Pinocchio, Goofy, Cruela de Vil, Mad Hatter, Alice & White Rabbit, Captain Hook (occasionally), Mary Poppins, Bert, Eeyore
Frontierland – Pocahontas (on rare occasions)
Adventureland – Jasmine & Aladdin
Big Thunder Ranch – Woody & Jessie (occasionally)
Pixie Hollow (right side of castle) – Tinkerbell and one other fairy (which fairy it is will rotate throughout the day)
Fantasy Faire – all the main Disney princesses
Fantasyland – Rapunzel & Flynn, Fairy Godmother, Mad Hatter, Peter Pan & Wendy
Condor Flats – Minnie Mouse from Minnie's Fly Girls (photos by her plane)
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail – Russell & Dug
Toy Story Mania – Buzz, Jessie & Woody (occasionally)
HollywoodLand – The Incredibles, Sulley, Wicked Witch and other movie characters
Disney Jr. Live – Jake, Sofia the First
Paradise Pier – Duffy the Disney Bear
Buena Vista Street/Carthay Circle– Goofy, Donald, Mickey and friends; Hollywood characters like Donna the Dog lady, Molly the Messenger, Officer Calvin Blue and Phi Phi the Photographer

Character Dining is another great way to get pictures with characters. There are only five character dining experiences at Disneyland – one in each park and one in each of the hotels. Check out our dining page to see which character dining is right for you.

Fast Passes & Ride Swap

Fast Passes are very important to get to ride your favorite rides. If there is more than a 30-minute wait, get a FastPass, which gives you an assigned time slot to return and ride without a long wait.

Some FastPasses run out early in the day so consider your plan for the day around your FastPasses. It is also a good idea to get a FP and then ride an attraction nearby so you can return quickly. For example, grab a FP for Splash Mountain and then ride Winnie the Pooh or get pictures with Pooh Bear. Another example is to get a FP for Soarin’ and then head to Muppets Vision and Monster’s Inc. while you wait.

Ride Swap is an option for families with young children who aren’t tall enough or old enough to ride, but the rest of the family would like to enjoy the attraction. As you are getting in line, go to the Cast Member working the entrance and, with the young child in tow, ask for a Ride Swap. The CM will give the parent sitting out a card and when the other parent finishes the ride, the first parent can use the pass to get on quickly. That parent can also take one child with them on that ride (not an adult).

Ears Tip If you get a Ride Swap, and your kiddos need a break (like a bathroom break) before you can take your turn riding, just save the pass and return later. There is no time limit on a Ride Swap.

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Souvenirs

Disneyland Balloon

Press pennies are one of our favorite souvenirs. The machines are all over the park and Guest Relations can give you a list of where they are all located. They also sell books to keep your pennies in. Each penny costs $.50 to press.

Pins are a wonderful souvenir and Disney makes amazing pins. There is a huge fan base of Pin Trading with Disney. Many Pin Traders wear pin lanyards throughout the park. A lanyard can be a great souvenir for kiddos as well to display their pins and buttons.

Ears Tip If your kiddos would like to try some Pin Trading or simply wear a Pin Lanyard at the park, consider buying a bundle of Disney pins on Ebay before your trip. They are discounted and you get a wide variety of pins that can fill a lanyard. There are also discounted lanyards on Ebay as well.

Disney gives away lots of free buttons for whatever special occasion you are celebrating. Simply stop in one of the shops or a concierge desk and let them know you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, first visit or family reunion. There are also special buttons for special ceremonies and attractions.

There are a few places to get custom souvenirs for your children at the parks. In New Orleans Square there are artists that will draw a picture of your child. On Main Street there is a silhouette shop that can make silhouettes of your child. Those are a couple of our favorites.

The largest store for Disney merchandise is World of Disney in Downtown Disney. It stays open well past park closing for shoppers, but the best time to shop is during the early afternoon or late morning.

Downtown Disney has some very unique shopping, including RideMakerz where little ones (age 6 and up) can make their own remote control cars. There is also Build-a-Bear that has special Disneyland apparel for your new bear.

The best souvenirs are photos! Want to make sure you get the perfect pictures? It is easy using the Disney PhotoPass photographers. Before your trip you can pre-order a CD of photos for a discounted price. During your trip, get a photopass card and have the photographers that are located all over the resort, take your family photos. They will load the pictures on the card and you can put them all on the CD when you get home. And now you can purchase PhotoPass plus which includes additional perks including all ride photos and dining photos.

If you shop early in the day, consider sending your packages to Will Call where they will be at the front of the park when you leave at night. That way you don’t have to carry them all day and worry if you leave them in your stroller. If you shop early enough, you can also have them sent back to your DLR room, but there is a time cut-off. Ask for the time cut-off before sending it to your room so that you aren’t getting your package the next day.

Dining

For sit-down dining, reservations are very important. Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) are made by calling (714) 781-3463. Reservations can be made 60 days in advance (if staying on property, you can go ten days out from your arrival date).

Toddler meals are available at many counter serve locations. Although the portion size is great, the variety leaves much to be desired. Also, when you order a PB&J, it is simply a Smucker’s Uncrustable.

Healthy snack options can be found in the parks! There are fresh fruit markets and carts in both parks that have fruit and light snacks. Locations are Main Street, Adventureland and HollywoodLand.

If ordering groceries to your room, consider bringing a pack lunch a couple days to save on money. A great place to sit and eat lunch is at the Hub next to the statue “Partners”. It is most beautiful when the cherry blossoms are in bloom!

For more Dining reviews and tips, visit our Dining page.

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Special Attractions & Parades/Shows

Disneyland Parade with Chip and Dale

For parades, it is best to try to stake your spot about 30-45 minutes before it begins. Bring a blanket to sit on and also save your place. Once you have your spot, have someone grab treats or snacks to munch on while you wait.

For the Aladdin Show, the best spot to sit is the back section of the Orchestra or the front of Mezzanine sections because the Aladdin Parade goes right by those seats.

Fantasmic does not have specific seating for viewing. If you want a spot up front, you may have to find your spot an hour or more before it begins (during summer months, it may be two hours). The second show is less crowded but may be too late for little ones. Usually the fireworks follow really soon after the first show.

Fireworks are best viewed on Main Street and around the Hub. If you see the first show of Fantasmic, it can be really hard with young kids to get to Main Street fast enough for the fireworks. It is best to find a spot where trees don’t block you and you can see the cables that Tinkerbell and Dumbo use to fly. (Dumbo does not always fly but TinkerBell does - depends on the Fireworks show)

World of Color is a very popular water show in California Adventure. FastPasses are available but run out early in the day so get them first thing. Another way to get reserved seating is with a dining package at Wine Country Trattoria, or the Picnic Lunch/Dinner. The dining package requires reservations and the Picnic Dinner requires pre-order.

More reviews and attraction tips, visit our Attractions page.

Disney Tours

Another great way to experience the parks is through a Disneyland Guided Tour. They offer many different options for tours including a Welcome to Disneyland Tour and Discover the Magic Tour, which includes a scavenger hunt. Tours can include special admittance on select rides as well as exclusive character meet and greets. Keep in mind that these tours can take over an hour and if your little one is restless, it might not work. But Guided Tours are a special experience for families to enjoy. You can book tours up to one month in advance by calling (714) 781-8687. At the park you can also make reservations at Guest Relations on Main Street. Disney Visa cardholders get 20% off on tours.

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Miscellaneous Tips

A great way to get money toward your Disney trip is to get a Disney Visa card. For every dollar you spend, you get 1% on everyday purchases that you can transfer to a Rewards card and use for anything at the Disney resorts including hotel, dining and merchandise. You also get shopping and dining discounts as well as tour discounts. There is also special Visa character Meet & Greets although they are mostly Chip & Dale.

Hidden Mickeys are a fun “game” people play at the parks that young children will enjoy. On our resources page, we have links to website with lists of where to find Hidden Mickeys throughout the park. There are also apps for your phone.

Some of the best shows are the ones on the streets of the resort! Don’t forget to stop and listen to the singers on Main Street or the performers in California Adventure.

At Snow White’s Scary Adventure in Fantasyland, if you touch the brass apple that is at the entrance, there is a loud thunder and a witch cackle. Don’t forget to spot the witch looking out the window in the castle. She is spookiest at night.

If you board the Monorail at Downtown Disney, you have to exit at Tomorrowland. If you board at Tomorrowland, you can ride the entire loop.

On the Mark Twain Steamboat, ask a CM if you can steer the ship. If you do, you get a souvenir certificate and an amazing experience.

Need to recharge your phone or iPad? Disneyland now has recharging lockers on Main Street.

Check out our Resources Page for great apps for your phone or iPad to use in the park. All Disneyland resorts offer free Wi-Fi.

At the resort hotels, you can receive a Character wake-up call. Simply make the request when you check in and Mickey can call to wake you up!

Stop by the store across from Jungle Cruise and you can rub the Magic Lamp for $1 and hear funny jokes.

At night, the water in the gas station (Goofy Water) changes colors.

In Tarzan’s Treehouse, if you look around the kitchen area, Mrs. Potts and Chip from Beauty & The Beast are sitting on a wood crate.

Did your balloon pop? Bring your popped balloon or the balloon weight back to the balloon vendor and they will give you another.

Need a coffee pick-me-up after a long night at the park? The Market House on Main Street has the best coffee in the resort and has it’s own Disney secret blend. Other locations throughout the resort serve coffee including a new Starbucks location at California Adventure called Fiddler, Fife & Practical (serves Starbucks).

If you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary, let them know at check-in and they may be able to leave something special in your room. You can also order a special treat or gift basket to be delivered to your room. They are called Celebration Gifts and you can order them by calling (714) 781-4438. They need 72 hours notification.

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Last Updated November 2012