Disneyland Anaheim Tips

A visit to Disneyland Anaheim is always something that families with kids look forward to. During our last vacation, we, of course, had fun but in hindsight, we may have enjoyed ourselves more if we had "the proper frame of mind" for it or if we had already learned the lessons from this latest trip.

Never mind. No trip or lesson is ever really wasted and if and when we do get back to Disneyland Anaheim, we shall know better. Anyway, I hope these tips help you with that Disneyland Anaheim trip that you are planning.

1. Prepare yourself physically: Sleep early the night before you intend to go to Disneyland so you can be there as early as you can or before the gates open. This will ensure that there will be not as much people in the park as mid-day or by afternoon.

Eat a heavy breakfast. This way, you won't really have to stop for lunch at the usual time and can therefore maximize going on the rides. The eating places will likewise not be too crowded if you don't lunch between 12-1pm.

Prior to your Disneyland Anaheim trip, exercise and mentally prepare yourself to do a lot of walking. You are going to be on your feet the whole day, so please bring comfortable shoes. Sneakers or rubber shoes are best. I regularly exercise by doing brisk walking 30 minutes every single day. I also jump rope and do some stretching exercises. This much I can tell you though, at the end of a full day at Disneyland, I was so tired. The area where my leg joins my foot was aching. I kid you not when towards the afternoon on our second day, we heard a teenage boy complaining to his mother: "Mom, my feet are killing me..." (as he suddenly slumped on the floor to sit). The mother didn't waste any time (didn't even stop walking) while saying: "Too bad -- get up and keep going."

2. Go to the bathroom before you line up for a ride: If you are traveling with kids (and most likely, you are), they won't be able to tell whether they really need to go to the bathroom or not. Sometimes, you just need to dictate it. The lines at Disneyland are always long (count yourself blessed for a 30 to 45 minute wait) and once you are in line, it will be quite difficult to go to the bathroom. Sure, you could ask someone to stand in line for you or some of you could just remain and those who go to the bathroom would just look for you after, but this is just a recipe for confusion and frustration from the other people in line. What if you can't find your companions? What if it gets to be their turn to ride already and you are not yet back? What if the rest of the people in line shoot you dagger looks? Are you ready for all that stress?

3. Listen to the weather forecasts: My brother had already told me the day before we went to Disneyland that it was going to rain the next day. My nephew says the forecasts are not always that accurate but it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you have a relatively long stay, it might be better to stay away from the park when it is raining and just reschedule your visit. That way, it will be easier to move around the park and you lessen your chances of getting sick. If you are staying for a relatively short period though, you may just need to brave the rains (as we did) and just be ready with your raincoats, ponchos, or umbrellas. You can either bring your own or be ready to buy. These things don't come free.

4. Buy your tickets beforehand: You can buy your Disneyland Anaheim tickets online or from your Good Neighbor Disney hotel. Buying it at the gate (unless you are buying a 1-day ticket in which case you have no choice) will waste precious time lining up for the ticket. Aside from lining up for your ticket, you'll have to line up for your security check, as well as to get into the park.

5. If you want to watch the Parade of Dreams, be near the Small World Area about 30 minutes to an hour before: We managed to do this and were able to sit at the side so we had a good view of all the characters going by.

6. Get as close to the castle to view the Fireworks: The staff at the Disney Desk at our hotel gave us this tip and we are thankful. The Fireworks starts at 9:25pm and being near the castle will ensure that you will have a good view. We were there an hour before but that wasn't enough as we were not able to find a place to sit anymore. So, if you'd rather sit than stand, you may want to make it to that area early on. You will actually see the fireworks, wherever you may be (even from your hotel, depending on the location) but it's good to be close if you want to take photos and to see details (like Tinkerbell flying by).

7. There are no non-peak days at Disneyland. There's only crowded, more crowded, and most crowded: We were there in mid-April and since the Easter break was over, we thought that it wasn't peak period. It wasn't peak in the sense that they only had the Fireworks Fridays to Sundays but the park was still crowded. The typical wait for a ride was 30 to 45 minutes. We were there on a Friday and a Saturday so maybe next time, we will try Tuesdays to Thursdays as other people suggest. Anyway, we've seen the Fireworks already.

8. Maximize your use of the FastPass: This is something that we didn't get to try this time. The FastPass basically holds your place in line (for the rides with long lines) so you can enjoy the other rides first. The FastPass is free but you need to put in your ticket in a certain machine to get your FastPass ticket. Once you've done that, you will be given a time to come back, at which time, you can go try the ride after going through a shorter, faster-moving line.

It is best to get your FastPass early in the day. As we saw it, some FastPass holders are asked to come back hours from the time that they get the FastPass. In this case, you'll have to be on the look-out for the assigned time so you don't miss it. Also, not all rides have the FastPass feature, only the really popular ones.

9. Observe the lines closely. They are never as they seem: The lines at Disneyland can be deceptive at times. As I mentioned in another article, they snake, weave, and some parts can be totally hidden from view. Some lines don't even appear as lines. On the Jungle Cruise, for example, there are actually two lines -- left and right. People have a tendency to line up on the right line since it really looks like a line. The left line is also a line but it is shorter so it does not really look like a line at all. So if by some chance you see two lines after some time, transfer to the left -- if you still can. It usually moves faster. Just make sure it isn't a FastPass line.

10. Budget about USD 10 per head per meal: Theme park food is nothing great but it is quite expensive. If you will have lunch or dinner there, be prepared to spend about USD 10 per head which is a whopping P460 for fastfood stuff! You could already feed your whole family at Jollibee with that. =) Anyway, if you have a long time to stay in Anaheim, the best option might be to eat outside the park. You can just have your hand stamped and return after your meal. It may be less convenient but you can get a better meal for less.

11. Ten years old is a good age for Disneyland: Any kid younger than 10 will not be able to maximize the fee that you will pay to get into Disneyland -- never mind if their ticket is priced slightly lower. They will not meet the minimum height requirement for some of the rides and they will probably get tired at some point. You will either need to carry them or rent them a stroller. If you have bad luck and they don't want to actually ride the stroller, you could actually end up carrying a child and the stroller!

If it is possible to wait until the youngest member of your family is 10 years old before you visit Disneyland, that would be ideal. Everything will be easier on everyone. Then again, it is also nice to bring younger kids as they are so delighted when they see the characters at Disneyland. My 5-year old daughter enjoyed the parade and was thrilled to see all the Disney characters. I guess we'll have to save up so she can go back when she is bigger so she can enjoy all the attractions by then.

12. Go to the popular rides early in the day: The earlier you can get on the more popular rides, the better. The lines are bound to be shorter and the chance of you being able to get a FastPass increases. Don't think that the lines will get shorter later in the day during the parades or towards nighttime. In our case, for example, in the morning, we saw that the wait for Space Mountain was 45 minutes. We skipped it. We tried to check later at night, near Fireworks time (thinking that most people would be waiting for the Fireworks which we had seen the night before) and the wait was 120 minutes! Impossible.

There you go. I hope the above will be helpful as you plan your own trip to Disneyland Anaheim sometime.

[By Angelica Viloria | Monday, May 21, 2007]

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