As much as The Salt Project tries to keep you guys here in Utah, we know many of you are heading to Disneyland. So we thought we'd break the mold a bit and give you some good insider tips from local Utah gal, Jessica, who blogs at The Happiest Blog on Earth.
It’s Disneyland’s 60th anniversary and with it comes the Diamond Celebration; it’s no wonder you couldn’t stick around Salt Lake City over spring break!
To help you prepare for your Disneyland vacation, I have put together a list of 10 things not to do at Disneyland, especially during busy seasons like spring break. Keep reading to banish the villains and bring pixie dust to your trip.
Don’t Get Scammed on Tickets
First things first. You want to go to Disneyland, so of course you’re looking for a discount to make it all affordable. Smart thinking! Just don’t get too caught up in getting a screaming deal. They don’t exist. Disney regulates ticket discounts offered by authorized resellers.
Any lower than a few dollars off per day and you could be looking at a scam. Never, never buy tickets on eBay or Craigslist. It is just not safe. I buy my discount Disneyland tickets from my Utah based partners at Park Savers. Get your discount Disneyland tickets before your trip and save off gate prices.
Don’t Sleep In
Once you arrive at The Happiest Place on Earth you must understand that sleeping in is forbidden. While this is a vacation, it is also a Disneyland vacation. Arriving at security checkpoints at least 45 minutes before park opening will save you so much time later in the day when lines are longer.
You can actually walk down Main Street, U.S.A. up to the hub, getting you even closer to your first ride of the day. Our group of five averages 10 rides in the first 2 hours of park opening. It’s worth it to be extreme in the morning hours and relax later (more on that soon!).
Don’t Bring Selfie Sticks
I am not even playing here, selfie sticks are banned at Disneyland and will be confiscated by security. The good news is you can hand over your camera or cell phone to any Disneyland PhotoPass photographer and they will take your picture for free! Boom—selfie stick problem solved.
For more on banned items at Disneyland, see their official list here, but rest assured, you can bring food and drinks into the park and even small coolers. Another thing you will want to bring is a portable cell phone charger. Batteries drain fast when you’re checking wait times, taking pictures and texting, “where are you?” to your teenagers 5 times an hour.
Don’t Wait in Line
I am a big hater when it comes to long lines. I consider the official Disneyland app a must have when it comes to avoiding lines. The official app gives you wait times for rides and character meet and greets (plus a map to see where characters are roaming around). Download it before your trip to get comfortable with how it works.
While I do hate lines, I also understand that it is Disneyland and I will be waiting in lines at some point. The trick is to know which rides to go on first and how to maximize your FAST PASS potential. Two top attractions that do not offer a FASTPASS are Peter Pan’s Flight and Matterhorn Bobsleds. If those are on your must-ride list, get to those first thing in the morning.
All your “e-ticket” rides have FASTPASSES, a free option you can use to return at a later time with minimal wait. You can usually have one FASTPASS out at a time but be sure to read the bottom of your FASTPASS to know when you can get another. While you wait to ride, hop on some attractions that don’t offer FASTPASSES or that have a short wait time.
Don’t Forget Your Inner Jedi and Princess
Do you have a little Star Wars fan in your company? Upon park opening, head to the Star Wars Launch Bay (formerly Innoventions) in Tomorrowland and sign up for Jedi Training. It’s an immersive experience your kids will love. Read more about what to expect at Jedi Training here.
For our princess loving girls, meeting the Disney Princesses is the highlight of any Disneyland vacation. You can meet them near Sleeping Beauty Castle in Fantasy Faire. This one-on-one experience is simply not to be missed. Head there before lunch for lower waits.
Don’t Miss the Details
Going to Disneyland as an adult can be just as fun as being there as a child. Notice the things around you, like how the lands transition from one to another including the ground you walk on. Listen to the music, people watch and let yourself get lost in imagination.
Want to share some fun Disneyland facts with your kids while you wait in line? Here’s a few to get your started. While you wait to ride Peter Pan’s Flight, look over at the Evil Queen who peers down from Snow White’s Scary Adventures every few minutes. While the Disneyland Railroad is on a break from its normal route, get a behind the scenes view at both Main Street and New Orleans Station. Listen carefully and you’ll hear Morse Code of Walt Disney’s opening day speech. See how many edible plants you can locate in Tomorrowland, then grab a churro to eat instead.
Don’t Stay All Day
This is the absolute hardest “don’t” for me. I am a go, go, go Disneylander, but between the hours of 2 and 5 you will typically see longer wait times and more tired children. If you’ve been there since park opening, you likely need some down time.
After lunch head back to your hotel for naps, time at the pool or simply a few moments to relax your feet. It will give you a chance to re-charge (yourself and your cell phone!) and be ready for the night-time festivities.
Don’t Rush Through Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney District is a great place to explore on your non-park days, especially the day you arrive or depart. There are tons of dining and shopping options, including one of the biggest Disney stores around! Almost all the souvenirs you find in the parks, you can find at World of Disney. This is a great way to get ideas for what your kids would like to buy and then you can buy them after your park touring is complete.
If you’re into Disney pin trading, there are numerous opportunities to trade with cast members all over Downtown Disney. Be sure to stroll through the lobbies of The Disneyland Hotel and The Grand Californian as well!
Don’t Freak Out
Disneyland is also the land of tantrums. Babies do it, kids do it and I’ve seen plenty of parents do it too. Everyone who walks through those gates is there to have a magical vacation with their family and friends. Everyone has spent a lot of money to be there. And sometimes it feels like everyone is at Disneyland because it is packed!
Pack your patience and remember that we are all there to have fun. If your kid freaks out, take them to a quiet spot and let them get it out of their system. Roll with it when things go wrong and don’t let it ruin your vacation.
Key factors to keeping the meltdowns to a minimum: keep everyone well fed, steer clear of souvenir shops and/or set a budget so kids don’t throw a fit when they can’t get a certain toy and stay calm. You set the tone for the day and your kids are likely to follow.
Don’t Camp Out for Hours
Paint the Night Parade is Disneyland’s newest nighttime show and with Fantasmic on pause, it’s set to be even more crowded than usual. What do I mean by crowded? During both my visits in Summer and Fall of 2015, people saved spots along the parade route 5 hours before the parade. On my visit during low season in 2016, that time was still at 3 hours.
Don’t waste valuable time-saving your spot, get a Paint the Night dining package instead. It’s well worth the money and convenience of having a reserved spot for watching one of the best parades Disneyland has ever produced. Read all about Paint the Night along with various viewing and spot-saving options.
What Disneyland don’t should we add to our list? Anything you’ve seen or mistakes you’ve made during your Disneyland vacation? Share more tips in the comment section.
Jessica Sanders is author of Disneyland On Any Budget and writes weekly Disneyland tips at The Happiest Blog on Earth. When she’s not roaming Disneyland she prefers to be at the beach with her husband and three kids. She loves Mexican food, pink toe nail polish and wearing bright colors, especially during the cold Utah winters.
Here are 2 "don'ts" that we faced this week. Don't expect your little ones to stay awake and happy until the late night close time. Our 4 & 7 year old just couldn't last. And don't forget that you have to save energy to trek to your car. Also, don't try to stay in a large group. It is really hard to accommodate everybody's wishes in a large group and you end up loosing time trying to organize people.