How to Enjoy a Trip to Disneyland

Imagine getting Mickey Mouse's autograph while slurping an ice cream cone or sundae, seeing spectacular fireworks and enjoying some of the most smile-inducing rides anywhere! This is Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth. Disneyland is big, it's loads of fun, and it attracts large crowds every day of the year. For suggestions on creating a memorable visit to the Magic Kingdom, read on!


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    Plan ahead. Several days before you go to Disneyland plan your trip, especially if you want to stay for more than a day. Disneyland is a big place, but in one day you should be able to enjoy most of the park's rides and shows. Nevertheless, a Disney visit lasting at least two days will allow you to take a more leisurely pace, rest more when you feel like it, and enjoy your favorite attractions more than once. In any event, one day or many, a trip to Disneyland will involve some planning ahead.
    • How are you going to get to the park? Are you driving? Flying and then renting a car? Going with a charter tour? The options are many, and you can consider them online with a vacation travel site.
    • You'll need lodging for a multi-day visit. Book a hotel or motel room in advance, just to be sure you'll have a place to stay. This, too, can be handled online.
    • You can buy Disneyland tickets at the gate, but you may be able to find them cheaper online, especially group and multi-day packages. Airfare,car rentals and lodging can often be bundled with tickets online.
    • Even if you're going for just a day, you'll want to pack up a few things the night before to bring along. This might include light jackets (because most of the year southern California can be a bit chilly early in the day and in the evenings). Consider bringing food, too, if you expect to bypass Disneyland's many wonderful eating spots. If you will have young children with you, water bottles might be a good idea.
    • Don't forget to check the Disneyland website for information on seasonal hours, promotional ticket sales and special events.
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    Arrive at Disneyland. As you near the park, you will drive past a number of hotels and places to eat. Treat yourself to breakfast before entering the park, because many eateries in Disneyland don't open until lunchtime.
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    Get tickets if you don't already have them. After you park, a tram will take you to the main entrance. Across from Disneyland is the California Adventure theme park, which is suggested for older children and adults, since most rides there require a certain height. You can buy a Park-Hopper ticket and visit both parks in the same day (more than once if you like).
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    Know the popular rides. Grab a couple of park maps at the entrance. These will prove invaluable as you navigate through the park. (If you forget to get a map at the entrance, they're available in other locations.) The map will help you find your way to Disneyland's most popular rides, including the Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. These attractions are spread out through the park, and it may be a good idea to ride on them early in the day before the lines get really long. (That's where the map comes in handy, allowing you to find those rides quickly and systematically rather than wasting time wandering haphazardly through the park.) Most of the popular rides permit use of FASTPASSES. These will help you avoid long waits in line, but you need to be pretty organized to make full use of them. Whether you use FASTPASSES or not, the earlier in the day you make it to the most popular rides, the shorter (and less frustrating) the lines will be. The one exception is after the evening fireworks.(More on that later.)
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    Find in-park transportation. If you don't want to do a lot of walking or if you have younger children with you, there are many modes of transportation you can use to get around the park faster. One of them is the Disneyland Railroad. This steam-powered train travels around the perimeter of the park, stopping at stations in or near each of the park's main sections. It also passes through the Primeval World diorama, a special hit with dinosaur-loving youngsters. There are other public conveyances, particularly the buses, trolleys and horse-drawn wagons traversing Main Street.
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    Get food. Disneyland offers a wide variety of places to eat. Try to have lunch before noon because after that, hordes of hungry people will descend on every restaurant, cafe and snack wagon. As for the evening meal, eat before six because the dinner hour can also be very crowded. If you're just looking for a small snack, there are food stands located throughout the park offering popcorn, cotton candy, french fries and lots more.
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    Go shopping. You'll find it hard to leave Disneyland without buying a few souvenirs. You'll notice many of the same items in different stores, so if you missed something you liked in Adventureland, you can just buy it later on Main Street. In fact, it's a good idea to buy your souvenirs at the end of the day while leaving the park via Main Street so you don't have to lug them around all day. Main Street has a lot of brand-name stores with everything from hats and clothing to jewelry and toys. If you're looking for an item related to a specific attraction, try the shops nearest that attraction. For example, if you're looking for a Captain Jack Sparrow pirate hat, try looking in a shop near the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in New Orleans Square. Throughout the park you'll find shops that carry sundries such as camera batteries, sunscreen and over-the-counter medications.
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    Be safe. While Disneyland is a safe place for the whole family, a few common-sense precautions are in order. When you first enter the park, choose a meeting spot for your whole party to re-assemble in the event of separation. Make sure any children in your group know how to find that meeting place. Since the park is big, it's not hard to get a bit lost. You can always ask a park employee (including the Disney characters) for help in getting your bearings. One especially tricky time is right after the Fantastic Fireworks show in the evening. Many folks will be heading for the exit, and it may feel a little like a stampede. This is a good time to secure your kids and stand aside. Or just go on a ride and let the crowds move out of the park before you do the same. Of course, you'll want to keep an eye on your younger kids all day long; don't let them go anywhere alone, whether it's bathrooms, shops or rides. It's really not hard to get lost even if you're in a big party. This is particularly true after the fireworks when so many people leave at once.
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    Watch the Fantasmic show! This may be the best part of the whole day! The hour-long show takes place at the Great Rivers of America in New Orleans Square and is designed so that you can sit anywhere and still have a great view. The show usually starts at 8 PM and ends at 9. Many people grab seats at the last minute, but that's not recommended. You'll have to climb over people and squeeze into tight spots if you do. Grab a seat before 7:30 PM. If you wait too long you may find yourself standing for the whole performance. A good spot to see the show is right across from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which will put you right in front of the action. If you have children in strollers, the strollers must be folded down by 8 PM so other guests can see the show. Remember to bring picnic blankets, quilts and small pillows, as it may get chilly at night, and you may want to avoid sitting on the ground. (You can store these items during the day in public lockers on Main Street.)
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    Stay for the evening. After the first Fantastic Fireworks show, which ends at 9 PM, most guests will be leaving (the tidal wave of people mentioned earlier). Instead of joining them in the slow walk (and drive) away from the park, stick around. Disneyland at night is really fun, mainly because the lines are shorter! This is your chance to go on the rides you missed or want to ride again. Keep in mind, however, that most restaurants and shops close by 9 PM, so do your eating and shopping before then. If you go to Disneyland during the fall, winter or early spring, make sure to bring warm clothing if you're planning to spend the evening, as the weather will be chilly. If you still have shopping to do, head for Main Street's brand-name stores, which will be open until the park closes. Also, if you're not ready for the day to end (and you have Park-Hopper tickets), head next door to California Adventure for more fun. There are also plenty of places to shop, eat and be entertained in the nearby Downtown Disney district.


  • If you're on a tight budget, bring lots of bottled water and small snacks with you. Walking around the park can make you hungry and thirsty, and Disneyland's eating establishments are not cheap. You can store your food and water in public lockers on Main Street.
  • If you don't have time to grab dinner and find a good spot for the Fantasmic Fireworks Show, have one of your group save a spot for the show, while another person goes to buy dinner and then have a picnic while watching the show!
  • Mickey's Toontown is a good place to take pictures with Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters.
  • Be selective in choosing your FASTPASS rides. Once you pick a ride (Space Mountain, for example) you will be required to wait awhile before you can pick another FASTPASS ride. So use the pass carefully.
  • Remember to bring your camera.
  • Downtown Disney is a district of Anaheim separate from Disneyland. It's an ideal place for some fun shopping, cafes and restaurants, and entertainment with live music. Stop by for dinner after you visit Disneyland!
  • Many of the rides at California Adventure close as early as 7 or 8 PM, so you may wish to go over earlier in the day to make sure you get to them all.
  • If you have a FASTPASS but you don't get to the ride at your appointed time, you can no longer use the FASTPASS for the same ride later in the day. Schedules are now being enforced.
  • If you don't have little kids with you, pack light. The storage areas on some rides are too small for full-size backpacks.
  • The FASTPASS is great. It will cut down your wait in lines considerably. While waiting for your FASTPASS time, you can watch shows or parades, eat, or go on rides that don't need a FASTPASS.
  • Bring your own strollers for small children (to save on stroller rental fees).
  • Try to get there early. Crowds start to grow later in the day.
  • A good, inexpensive place to eat lunch is Redd Rockett's Pizza Port in Tomorrowland. They serve pizza, pasta and sodas.


  • Disneyland can be a challenge to your feet. Wear a good pair of comfortable shoes.
  • Never leave your belongings unattended.
  • People have been known to get lost in Disneyland. Keep an eye on each other. (A good meet-up spot is the central plaza in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle and adjoining all of the major Lands).
  • If you go in the summer, bring sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.

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Categories: Disneyland and Disney World