Disneyland is not for the faint of heart.
Last week the fambam and I took the magic kingdom by storm to celebrate my parents 40th wedding anniversary. After many trips to Disney (land, paris, world) I considered myself a pro, that was until we got there. Long lines, advanced dinner reservations requirements, record breaking heat…dude, Disney has changed!
Truth is, regardless of if you are a California local, or a bonafide tourist there are a few tricks worth having up your sleeve before you enter the happiest place on Earth. Before you do anything else, download the Disneyland app – it tells you wait times for rides, what disney characters are where and what rides are open/closed and fast pass eligible! Gotta love technology!
Today I am sharing all the helpful hacks I picked up along the way plus style essentials you won’t want to leave home without! So read on to make your next trip to Disney as smooth as a magic carpet ride!
DISNEYLAND HACK no. 1
MAKE RESTAURANT RESERVATIONS IN ADVANCE (OR NOT)
If you want to have a nice meal while at the magic kingdom, you can sign up for a Disney account here then under ‘Things To Do’ you can select the ‘Dining’ option and then filter the options by the kind of food you want to eat (ie. fine dining, themed dining etc.) and you can also filter by park. Unless you have a ‘Park Hopper Pass’ which gives you access to both Disneyland and California Adventure you want to make sure you are selecting a restaurant in your park!
Fun fact…my sister and I didn’t sign up for reservations until THE WEEK we were going! #whoopsies – that being said we totally lucked out by checking for openings on the website ad nauseum all week long prior to our trip (imagine us both sitting on our computers trying all kinds of date/time ranges and party sizes…it was hilarious and totally satisfying when we got what we wanted LOL). While some people make their reservations 6 months in advance, people also cancel last minute like crazy so with a little luck you might find something like we did.
My personal favorite was the Character Breakfast at Ariel’s Grotto in California Adventure, make sure you have your autograph book handy! For those of you with kiddos make sure you don’t promise a certain princess will be there because they rotate soooooo….yeah. You don’t want to set munchkins up for disappointment or soon you will be at the breakfast from hell.
Other crowd pleasers are the Blue Bayou which has ‘not to be missed’ light up ice cubes in their mint juleps, churros from any churro cart, the Dole Ice Cream drinks at the Tiki Hut and ye old turkey leg on a stick…yarrrrrr.
DISNEYLAND HACK no. 2
GET A FAST PASS SYSTEM GOING
Unless you like lines…get your fast pass system going, this was one area where my family seriously took home the gold. Ok for starters, if you are thinking to yourself ‘what the eff is a Fast Pass’ allow me to explain. There is this magical little pass that you can get for certain rides that gives you a specific time you can come back to the ride and enjoy a MUCH shorter wait time.
There are a limited number of fast passes for each ride that offers them so you want to get a system going so you can get as many fast passes as you can for the different rides before they run out. On your Fast Pass it will tell you several things – (1) When your allowed time to get in the FastPass line is and (2) When you can pull another Fastpass. Once we stepped foot in the park my family literally sent runners to get Fastpasses for Splash Mountain while the rest of us got in line for another ride. Worked like a charm!
DISNEYLAND HACK no. 3
IF YOU ARE A FAMILY (or BLOGGER) GET A PHOTOPASS
Okay…so my family is AH-mazingly patient and awesome…that being said if you are a blogger or even a family headed for a day at Disney it is totally worth the $39 to get a Photopass. The photopass allows for you to download all of the pictures taken on rides like Splash Mountain or by all of the cool professional photographers at Disneyland that are roaming the grounds.
They know all the good spots, are often walking around with cool characters like Minnie and Mickey…plus there is the added bonus of keeping your family from secretly wanting to murder you when you ask them if they can take your #OOTD picture(ssss). My poor sister was trying to ‘get the right angle’ for me at the castle for like 30 minutes before we realized the photopass was even an option and the Disney photographer managed to get it in one click. Totally worth it!
DISNEYLAND HACK no. 4
DRESS FOR THE SPORT (and PACK A LUNCH)
Needless to say we all want to look picture perfect for a day at Disneyland! That being said make sure you keep in mind that you will be in the park and on your feet for HOURS! Opt for stylish sneakers and skip the heels/wedges to save yourself (and your feet) from painful blisters. You will also want to keep in mind that food and water at Disneyland is expensive AF and the lines are super long so bring a water bottle and snacks to banish the hangrys and stay hydrated!
I love carrying a backpack to places like Disneyland because I can fit my camera, jacket, water bottle, sunscreen and snacks in there and take it with me on all of the rides. I highly suggest to skip bringing your Chanel bag or any fine jewelry to the park because one wrong move by a kid with a Mickey Ice Cream cone or a fast turn on a ride and ‘poof’ your valuables can get lost or ruined! Check out some of my fave Disney-approved essentials at the end of this post!
DISNEYLAND HACK no. 5
BEWARE THE SOUVENIRS
Disneyland is expensive and so are the souvenirs. I am not kidding – we are talking like $40 for a Mickey shirt that isn’t even that cute! Fun fact, the Mickey shirt I am wearing in this post was from a DIY project I am working on and cost me all of $2.00 at Goodwill! Personally I skipped the apparel and opted for less expensive options I knew I would use!
Some of my favorites include the Mickey Mouse Ears with my name embroidered on the back which cost under $20, a collectable pin to add to my denim patchwork jacket which cost $10 and the suuuuuuuper sick vinyl from each Disney movie which cost $20 each.
SHOP MY SURVIVAL GUIDE ESSENTIALS