Disneyland has SUCH a special place in my heart! I have so many special memories from over the years going with so many different loved ones in my life! So I was extremely excited to create more memories but with Caroline and Rose now! Taking the girls to Disneyland was a dream come true!! We could not have had a better time which is lucky, because you never know what you’re going to get with toddlers!! I wanted to share our trip along with some of my favorite Disneyland tips which can seriously make or break your Disney experience!
Look up crowd calendars
This is honestly one of the most important tips!! Scott and I are definitely not crowd people. We will actively avoid places if we know its going to be particularly busy or there will be a lot of traffic. We were already that way before we had kids so I think we’re even worse now that we’re mixing kids into the equation! Disneyland will of course always have some type of crowd, but we ALWAYS look up crowd calendars before planning any trip! You can just google “disneyland crowd calendar” and there are quite a few out there. We used https://www.isitpacked.com/disneyland-crowd-forecast-predictor-calendar/. I can’t stress enough how big of a difference this makes. We will only go on the lowest crowd days because we want to go to Disneyland to have fun with our kids, not to stand in line half the day and only fit in a couple of rides.
Book a hotel in walking distance
Staying at a hotel within walking distance of Disneyland takes off so much extra stress. If you park at Disneyland you are packing your car/buckling in kids, waiting in line at the parking garage, unbuckling kids/unpacking the car, walking to the shuttle, waiting in line for the shuttle, loading and unloading the shuttle, and walking to the Disneyland entrance to wait in more entry lines. Compare this to staying in a nearby hotel where literally all you have to do is pack up your stuff, walk to the Disneyland entrance and THATS IT! I recommend not staying farther than a 15 minute walk from the entrance.
Show up RIGHT when the park opens!
This is always when the park is the least crowded and you can fit in so much! For the first hour from when the park opened we walked right onto every ride (again, this is on one of the lower crowd days)! Then the lines start to form as more people filter in throughout the day. For the first hour of Disneyland we met the princesses at Royal Hall, and then we did all the rides in Adventureland, New Orleans Square, and Critter Country. This took us a little more than an hour but we still basically walked RIGHT on to every single ride. For the first hour at California Adventure we did all of Cars land and even fit in some rides on Pixar Pier before the lines started getting a little longer.
Combine your fast pass with rider swap!
This only works if you have little kids, but for the rides that your little ones can’t go on you only need to get one fast pass. This means that instead of using two fast passes on one ride, you can use your two fast passes on two different rides! When you use your fast pass on a ride all you have to do is ask for a rider swap pass and then you can give that to whoever is waiting with the kids so that they can use their ticket to get a fast pass for both of you to ride a different ride! When Scott and I were waiting for each other to ride something we would just find a little kid ride nearby to do with the girls and then swap! Certain rides also have single rider lines which will typically get you up to the front without having to use a fast pass!
We got to meet 20 characters within the two days we were at Disneyland and I really think we were only able to meet that many because we were there on low crowd days. You never know what characters are going to be at Disneyland that day or where, but there are some that you’ll always be able to find! The Royal Hall will always have three princesses that you can meet! In toon town you can usually find Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy in their houses! In California Adventure you can usually find Lightening McQueen or Mater in (of course) Cars Land! Typically a Toy Story character will be hanging out in front of the the Toy Story Mania ride on Pixar Pier. Elsa and Anna can be found in the Animation building.