My sister-in-law and her family are going to Disneyland in a few months, so I've put together a list of our tips and suggestions. I've been to a Disney park every year since 2007, 4/5 times with A, four times to Disneyland, once to Disney World. I'm sure it is different to go with kiddos than it is as just two adults, but nevertheless, here's our list!
- Get a fastpass for Toy Story Mania first thing, the line gets ridiculous almost immediately.
- Go through the tortilla factory! They have a machine that makes tortillas fresh, and they give samples. Yum. (UPDATE: they closed the tortilla factory. It is now a Ghirardelli Fountain. No more free tortillas, but you get a piece of chocolate every time you go in!)
- If you haven't been to to the Aladdin show, for sure go. It is in a big air conditioned theater, awesome for the hottest part of the day.
- Don't miss Turtle Talk with Crush, but also check out the Pixar display in the same building, they have a zoetrope that is SO COOL!
- The hotdog place, Award Wieners, is pretty good.
- Pacific Wharf Cafe has delicious bread bowls, and you can tour the bakery to see how they make sourdough (sample included!).
- The Chinese food at Lucky Fortune Cookery is pretty good too, in the "farmer's market" kind of area. Servings are fairly generous, sometimes we share an entree.
- World of Color has two show times. When you get your "ticket"
to go, they assign you an area to watch. The sooner you get your ticket,
the better your viewing area. Then, you have to wait for awhile for it
to start. We brought "Catch Phrase" to play while we waited, and had a
lot of fun. I may or may not have cried a little during World of Color, it was that good. (Update: if you don't want to lug around a game, download an app like Heads Up and play while you wait).
- I found a quiet secluded place to nurse my baby in Cars Land. I believe it was at the end of the Cars Land "main street." There were benches, and not many people.
- Bengal BBQ, by Indiana Jones, has really good bacon wrapped asparagus, and is fairly inexpensive (mostly skewered meat).
- Nemo submarine ride was not worth waiting an hour for. Very small children might enjoy it.
- Buzz Lightyear ride usually has a small line, especially at the start of the day.
- Back behind the castle, there is a boutique where little girls can get their hair done, with crowns and glitter, and maybe even makeup (Bibbity Bobbity Boutique), also a place where the princesses all dance and do a show.
- Be sure to get Dole Pineapple whip or float. We like to get it before we go into the Tikki Room (you can take it in with you).
- The cupcakes are amazing and can be found throughout the park (like on Main Street Disney). In fact, all the confections are delicious. Caramel apples included.
- Don't wait in line for the train. If there is a line, it is likely that the next station over is empty. We waited for a very long time once and then felt like schmucks when the rest of the stations were empty.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is 100 times more fun after dark (most of the park gets magical after dark).
- Bring $1 ponchos. We got ours at emergency essentials. Much better deal, and very handy if it is too cold to get soaked on Splash Mountain.
- If you have kids too little to ride Splash Mountain, have someone in your party take them on the Winnie the Pooh ride while the rest of you get soaked. There usually isn't a wait, and it is very close to Splash Mountain.
- Pirates is EMPTY during the fireworks shows. You can literally walk on.
- If you're looking for something out-of-the-ordinary to do, try the Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes. It's not your usual Disneyland experience (Splash Mountain gets all the attention!), but the cast members are so fun, and it lets you see the park from a different perspective (the lake).
- Find an app for ride wait times and put it on your phone. So handy. The app we found also had maps of the park.
- Make dinner reservations in advance. I was skeptical that all the food would be bad, but the sit-down food we had in Disney World was actually pretty good, and the tables fill up well in advance.
- Do use the rider switch program if you have little kids that can't ride everything! Just have your entire party walk up to the line entrance, tell the cast member you want to do rider switch. They'll give you a lanyard that will allow you to ride the attraction, switch out one person in your party to stay with the littles, and ride again. I got to ride Radiator Springs Racers twice because of rider switch!
Read about our 2014 trip to Disneyland, when we took our 1-year-old here:
What are your Disney park tips and tricks?