Sami and I went to Disneyland for my 21st birthday a few weeks ago (Okay fine, it was my 27th birthday. Just let me live a little, sheesh.) and while we were geeking out on all things Disney, we made a list of several ways to maximize happiness at the Happiest Place on Earth. Oh, and just for added street cred, both Sami and I have brothers who work for Disney- so you know these tips are legit! Follow the guide below to hack your way into the perfect Disneyland vacation.
1. Download app
Download the Disneyland app before arriving at the park. Being prepared before you even step foot on Disney property will save you time and will prevent a tragic WiFi incident (see tip #2). The app is a map of the park that not only shows you where everything is, it shows you how long the line wait times are for rides (as shown in above photo). Even when you’re having a chill day and aren’t necessarily in a rush to get on rides, standing around in the sun is a sweaty mess and not great for the wrinkles coming in on my forehead. Bottom line: it’s better to stand in the shorter lines.
2. WiFi is unreliable
Yes, there is technically free Disney WiFi across the entire park, however, with thousands and thousands of people all trying to connect to the same network, your chances of finding a hotspot are slim to none. Regular cell phone reception works just fine but if you need anything downloaded (i.e. the app) ahead of time, do it at your hotel.
3. Buy the Max Pass
For an extra $10, you can get a Max Pass which let’s you get a new Fast Pass every 90 minutes. Unlike regular Fast Passes that make you travel all the way to the ride to pick up the pass and then make you wait until you use it up to get another one, you can do everything for the Max Pass on your phone and there’s no limit to how many you can get. Our strategy was to get a Max Pass for the ride with the longest wait time every 90 minutes so we could skip the long lines and only have to wait in the short ones.
4. Set a timer
Once you reserve a Max Pass, set a timer for 90 minutes to remind yourself to reserve another one. Remember, there’s no limit to how many Fast Passes you can get during the day with Max Pass so be sure to get as many as possible!
5. Go on rides during parades and fireworks
If you love parades and fireworks, skip this tip and go to #6. For everyone else, the best time to ride is while everyone else is distracted. I once went on Indiana Jones three times in a row during the firework show because nobody was in line. It’s up to you- but be sure to think about where the crowds are before venturing into any of the lands.
6. Fast pass/max pass can run out of tickets
We tried to use our Max Pass for the Indiana Jones ride around 4:00pm and it had already run out of Fast Passes for the day. For the hot rides- Indiana Jones, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain- try do get passes earlier in the day. You can always stand in line (like all those common people) until closing, but if you want Fast Passes, get to them first.
7. Plan with a crowd forecast predictor
This calendar will let you know which days will be more crowded than others. It’s a handy tool for planning your trip well before you get to Anaheim.
8. Bring a phone charger
With so many people using their phones in such a concentrated area, you’re going to need an extra charge at some point during the day. Photos also take up a lot of battery and we all know that nobody goes to Disneyland without taking several (hundred) pictures. Here’s the charger I keep in my purse at all times- it’s a life saver and can charge two iPhones before running out of juice.
9. Splash Mountain
Ride splash mountain during the day. It’s cold walking around the park with wet shorts at night!
No matter how careful you are about soaking up those UV rays regularly, at Disneyland, you will be getting more than a fair share of sunlight. Not all ride queues are shaded and just walking around the park will easily give you enough sun in 15 minutes to get sunburned if you’re not careful. I reapplied sunscreen 3 times in about 8 hours, but Sami was good with just one application on her body and two on her face. It depends on your skin and what you’re used to but nobody, I repeat, nobody, should dare go to Disneyland with bare skin. Need a sunscreen? Try this for your body and this for your face; both are biodegradable and reef safe!
11. Wear comfortable shoes
This one’s pretty obvious, but by 2pm I was definitely seeing a few women sitting on benches, tending to their nightmare-inducing blisters. Wear comfortable shoes and absolutely no sandals.
12. Water is free!
Don’t feel like you have to buy a water bottle at any of the Disney parks. All of the food trollies and take-out eateries are required to hand over cups of water upon request. Just make sure to only get paper cups with no plastic lids or straws to keep things as eco-friendly as possible. Asking for a few cups of water sure beats lugging around a giant water bottle all day!
And there you have it- 12 hacks to help you plan your next Disneyland vacation! Say hi to Minnie for me.