After our trip to Disneyland a month ago, I wanted to post some of the little hacks that helped us on our time there so that you can not only save your time and money, but have even more fun in the parks!
1. Getaway Today, Extra Magic Hour and Magic Mornings
Get your vacation through getaway today. You will easily save a whole lot of dollars between your hotel and Disney tickets. There was a point where I was debating on just buying hotel and Disney separately only to realize it would cost me easily $500 more so back to Getaway Today I went! I also suggest that you not only opt for the park hopper but to also stay a minimum of 3 days. If you purchase 3 day or more tickets you will receive one magic morning and get into Disneyland an hour earlier than everyone else. That’s a hole extra hour that of rides and barely anyone in the park so you can do more.
On our last Magic Morning, we rode Peter Pan once, Dumbo 4 times, the Carousel, Teacups, Alice and Wonderland, and even did a bunch of pictures in front of the Castle and the Walt Disney Statue with Photo Pass Photographers all before the hour was up and everyone else was let in!
You can also get Magic Morning or Extra Magic Hours at DCA by staying at the official hotels that give them to you with your stay.
2. Disneyland APP
This should be a simple one but some people don’t know about it. Download and make an account through the Disneyland app. This app will literally unlock your Disneyland adventure and make everything 100% better!
Through this app, you get a map. On this map you can see what characters are out and for how long, ride wait times, you can access your fast pass, max pass, and photopasses. You can also make reservations for meal times as well as check out their menu’s and prices. It shows your park hours and showtimes for their parades and shows. It literally has everything! From bathrooms, guest services, and shop information. This app has got you covered!
Just download it. You won’t regret it. (I believe Disney World has their own version of the app as well?)
3. Maxpass & Photopass
It is totally worth it you guys! The first day we were there we didn’t use it and I totally regret it! If you are familiar with the original FastPass then this will make your day just so much easier AND you get bonus free pictures with it! With just normal fastpasses, you used to have to run around the park and grab them. But now with MaxPass, you can use the Disneyland app to grab the fastpasses on your device and save time so you can do more of the fun stuff! It’s also great because while we were there at Halloween they had two versions of rides that would change at 5pm so I was able to watch and grab passes for the version of the ride we wanted as well. And the bonus is that you get ALL the pictures that you get taken for that day. This includes any of the photopass photographers in both parks as well as those rides that take pictures of you. Totally worth the $10 per day per person especially since that day that I didn’t pay for it, I ended up having to buy $50 worth of photos. Just do it guys!
When we were there in October, we also noticed that they really upped their Photo Pass Photography staff since the introduction of the Maxpass that didn’t exist back in January when we first went. They now have Photo Pass Photographers every where. You will have to wait in some lines, but it can be worth it. They will pose you as well as even do little bits of magic like photoshop a Tinkerbell into your hands or add one of the cars from Cars driving by in your image. They even started doing these short videos based on your photos that you take that are super cool! Pay the Maxpass to take advantage of these awesome people!
4. Parent Pass
This is the best that we learned about. Works best if you have smaller kids, and big kids, but it works great for you in the end.
They now have a way to where you can get not only fast passes but for those traveling with kids too young to ride you can to a parent swap. Pretty much one parent can stand in line for a ride, then on come out and switch and the other parent goes on.
They’ve now even digitized it now so you can scan both of your passes at the entrance, let the ride attendant know you want a parent swap and they’ll set you and your older kids up. This is great for the bigger kids because they pretty much get to ride a ride twice vs just once.
What we did was get a fast pass, have one person go on with 2 people in our party, then we’d swap. Someone was always with Riley but we all go to go on the rides with each other. Oh and if you do travel with family friends or older kids, it’s great so the parents can sometimes even ride together while they tag team and watch your little.
5. Take Your Time
If you can afford it, I totally say you should aim for a 3-5 day stay in the parks. Now I already mentioned the Magic Morning, and how you can save money via GetawayToday, but this is more for saving your sanity.
Traveling and vacationing with kids isn’t a cake walk. If you are dealing with time difference and sleep schedules, having a couple extra days will really help. First, it allows you not to rush. You have multiple days to get everything done! Second, when you are working with a nap or bedtime schedule you need to sometimes take time away from the park to breathe and take those naps. I mean if your kid naps in a stroller awesome, but I know it was something I was scared of since that was not Riley’s game EVER. I couldn’t believe when she took her first nap in the stroller! Knowing you have more days and extra time, makes those rests away feel not as rushed.
Try to have a loose schedule every day of maybe the top 3-5 things you want to do. We would usually have a ride or two we wanted to hit, one specific meal, a character or two, and a night show. The rest of the day was up for grabs.
6. Character Breakfast
One of my biggest mistakes was that we did a character breakfast first thing when we got there. I thought that with all the Disney we have been watching and how much Riley loved Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that she would be happy to see them. Boy was I wrong. She was terrified of them. Our $150 meal ended up with us getting our own private table on the patio with a red card so none of the characters would come out to us. So what is my hack here? Put your character breakfast closer to the end of your trip. This is because by day 3, Riley actually wasn’t as terrified by them anymore. Did she want to hug them? Not even close, BUT she didn’t mind watching them from a distance. By the end of the trip we were able to get much closer to them. So if you have a kid who might be afraid, schedule your breakfast towards the end of the trip so they can have the chance to get used to the not so normal part of Disney. If you need a good starter, Ariel’s Grotto was a lot easier. Riley actually hugged all the princesses as they looked more like normal people.
Now I actually saw this on a lot of Disney Travel Blogs and Videos. And for real, bring all the snacks. Food in the park is easily $5-$30 a meal, so if you can save on snacks, it’ll help a bunch.
With that being said, Don’t go over board. Because you know how you find a snack your kid likes, and the second you buy a bunch of it they suddenly decide it’s the devils food. Yah, bring some but not a ton. Because I bought WAY to much and Riley decided she didn’t like it and pretty much lived off of Danimals drinkable yogurt, fries, and popcorn for the week. So in case you’re wondering if a kid can live off that for a week, it’s totally possible!
That being said, I totally believe you should get a popcorn bucket and refill while you’re there. It’s a simple little snack and they can eat that doesn’t cost a ton. First day we got it, she fell asleep holding the bucket haha!
So bring some of your kids favorite snacks, and also bring some bottled water in case you get thirsty and aren’t super close to a water fountain.
That being said, if you do want to eat in specific places, always check and see if you can make a reservation ahead of time! If you are going to DisneyWorld, I hear their app even allows you to pre-order food ahead of time (Which is a life saver for toddlers!). But for all your reservation needs in Disneyland, you can easily find that all in your Disneyland App. I suggest making these reservations BEFORE your trip though to make sure you get the best time for your schedule and so that it is one less thing to think about when you get there.
8. Research Before Arrival
Weeks before we went we would just turn on youtube and watch all the vlogs and videos about Disneyland. We read the blogs and made lists of things we wanted to do while we were there. But keep the Disney App handy too because there were a few things we completely missed simply because I didn’t read it right or plan the right day for it.
Certain shows only play on certain days. Fireworks and shows like Fantasmic are only on the weekend while parades seem to go daily, twice a day, at specific times. So keep an eye out for those specific shows and times so that you don’t miss anything.
Certain shows also have special seating you can get. World of Color, you can get the fast passes for by the Ariel’s ride in California Adventure Park. Certain restaurant’s also have special dining and a show tickets you can get as well.
There’s also little things people will share that will be great time savers. One of my favorite being that in Adventure Land at the Dole Whip counter, there are TWO lines! One is usually wrapping around the gate and into adventure land while the other is behind and in the waiting area for the Tiki room that is so short you can usually just walk right up to the counter, get your yummy treat and move on 🙂
9. Embrace the Free!
One of the things we took advantage of is all the free stuff you can do/get there. I’ll link to a few of my favorite videos we found that shows you all the stuff you can get! There are some repeat between the two videos but they both are totally worth the watch.
They’ll tell you where to get free recipes, buttons, samples, chocolate, bread, and all sorts of other stuff.
10. Lockers, Chargers, Clothes, & Balloons
One thing we regretted last time was not investing in a locker. We would end up holding so much stuff especially between the weather and temperature changes. So lesson learned, Bring a set of extra clothes with you. If you don’t have a stroller to store them in, invest in a locker. It is great as you can use it the whole day and open it as many times as you want.
Another little thing we learned this last time is they have these new charging stations. With the use of the Max Pass on your phone, all the pictures, and just daily use, it is easy for your battery to die. Especially if you’re like my nephew also playing Pokemon Go around the park.
He ended up finding that in the locker room they have charger exchange stations that you can pay $30 for unlimited changes. That lasts the entire time you are there. So he would go and exchange out his power last least twice a day. Once in the morning since you pass it as we walk in and once midday/evening. But again, it’s unlimited so charge away!
And lastly, a little tip we found through a video as well. Is to buy a balloon or have some sort of distinguishing thing on your strollers. It can get a bit chaotic in the stroller parking and occasionally they even move them, SO it is best to get something that can make your stroller a little more easily seen from far away! In our case we got a blinky balloon because during the day we could spot it because it was above the stroller and at night we would turn the blinker on so we could see it shine from far away.
Of course the most important thing is to pack your sense of humor and to HAVE FUN!!!
I hope these tips and tricks help you on your next Disney Adventure! I know I am already dreaming of our next visit there even if it is probably a few years away.
Did I miss something that helped you? Please comment below so it can help someone else! I’d love to hear it!