If there is a question that you did not see answered in our Disneyland Planning Guide post you can write to me at [email protected]. I don’t have information on hotels since we get to stay with Grandpa when we visit. We will continue to add to this post as more questions come in. We will always add to the top, so it will be easy to check if new questions have been added.
Please be sure to read through these and check if we have answered your question already, prior to emailing a question in. If you submitted a question and don’t see it here, be sure to check if there was a another question similar. I don’t answer questions that I feel have been answered already or that can be answered in our Disneyland Planning Guide.
- My friend had recently pinned your site on Pinterest and I was just browsing through reading all your tips. What great insider information! It will surely help plan our trip. I was wondering what time of year do you recommend going? I was thinking the fall, but I am not sure when lines would be shortest (if there is a time)! Another friend recommended researching when the CA schools in that area get out for breaks so we do not go during those times. Is that something that will help? I live in AZ so I was thinking their breaks might be different than ours. Any other tips you have for the time of year (maybe when prices go down – off season prices, etc.) would be appreciated. Do you recommend going in the summer or is that the craziest time to go? I actually could ask questions all day. I haven’t been since I was a child and am planning my first trip with the kids here in the next year or so.
I definitely recommend going on the off season. For me the best indicator is the Southern California Select passes schedule. They block out the days when their attendance is the highest so they don’t have all the So Cal residents flooding the park either. Here is a link to the pass where you can view the blackout days:
If you can, go on the day they allow people with the pass to go. Statistically it has the lowest attendance. I would NEVER go in the summer. Its a waste of your money. I always take my kids out of school for a couple of days and we get the entire park done in a day. People in the summer can buy a 5 day pass and not come close to doing what we can do in those two days when the attendance is low. Plus think of all the money you save on food and hotels by going for less time.
3 days is by far enough if you go on the off days. My suggestion if you are going for multiple days is to get a 3 day hopper. Spend 1 whole day in Disneyland, one whole day in California Adventures, and then on the third day hit anything you haven’t hit yet or go back to your favorite rides.
- I haven’t been to Disneyland in 15 years and I’m going in a little over a week with my 2 yo and my husband. When we go I’ll be 8 months pregnant. Not ideal, but I’m due on my son’s 3rd birthday so this is his birthday party this year. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for pregnant women visiting the park. Specifically about riding the rides…which ones I will be able to ride, etc. I imagine my husband and son will be doing most of the riding but I wanted to make sure we ride ones we can all enjoy together as well.
I have been to Disneyland pregnant and while its not the best, it is still a lot of fun. Here are the rides I would be willing to ride pregnant (please note you will still need to check Disneyland’s guidelines and then use your own judgement based on your pregnancy) – Peter Pan, Carousel, Dumbo, Casey Jr, Storybook time, Small World, Submarines, Jungle book, Tiki Room, Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear, Mark Twain Riverboat, Pirate Island, The Disneyland Train. In California Adventures you could also maybe ride Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train, Monsters Inc, The Aladdin show, and maybe even Toy Story Mania. Don’t forget to enjoy the shows and parades too as a chance to rest your feet! If you have problems with swelling you might look into wearing some compression stockings also.
- I was hoping I could get some more information regarding the Disney Picture Takers? Is there a link to where I can get more information on them in terms of pricing? Is this something I can reserve in advance or do I have to do this once we’re in the park, etc.?
Here is a website where you an find more info on the Disney Photo pass service: http://www.disneyphotopass.com/aboutdpp.aspx. You do not need a reservation they have photographers all over the park waiting. They are great about working with you. I don’t know the exact pricing but it was very reasonable for us when we did it
- I have had a lot of different questions geared towards what to do with toddlers at Disneyland so here is what I suggest.
First read through the individual posts on lands and you will get a great idea for what rides are appropriate in each area of the park. Toontown is a good place to visit with a toddler too, and they have several areas where they can run around and even a few playgrounds. The number one thing I would suggest is just to enjoy the atmosphere and not worry so much about the rides if they are scaring your little one. Its suppose to be fun so don’t force them onto things just because they can go on it, rather take the park at their pace.
I was just looking at the Q&A where you mention that traveling during blockout dates may allow you to avoid crowds. I was just curious — have you traveled there during blockout dates often and experienced smaller than average crowds? Reason I ask is that I am wondering it he reason Disney blocks out certain dates is because they actually expect higher-than-normal crowds during certain dates. Do you know how Disney chooses the blockout dates? I’m definitely wondering since we are debating visiting sometime in mid April — one of the weeks we’re looking at (the week of the 9th) is a blockout week. The following week, the other one we’re considering, is not a blockout week.I’m also wondering if the week following Easter draws bigger crowds. If you have any insight about those particular two weeks, that would be super-helpful for us! 🙂
Yes, for the most part they choose a lot of the blackout days by their average crowds. I’m sure its not an exact science since they now have a day or two in the summer that are not blocked. If you look at the calendar you will see that in March, Fridays start being blocked up until the two weeks in April where they are all blocked. That is because Spring Breaks start up in March and the crowds start to get heavier. The two weeks that are blocked in April are most likely their busiest weeks but it also might be when Southern California is on Spring Break and they don’t want the Southern California crowd to pack the park. I think the calendar is just a good guide. If I had to choose I would probably go the week that is not blocked. I’m sure Easter draws a crowd just because of Spring Break. I don’t know of any special Easter celebration that Disneyland does.
- We have a 1 year old and so are planning on using rider swap. Can you explain how this system works. Do all 5 of us need to go up to the ride at first to get it? How much extra time does it usually take for the second 2 people to go through who use the pass. I’m just trying to get an estimated idea of how long each ride will take us. So, if all 4 of us have fastpasses, then there is no advantage to using rider swap? What if only 2 people have fastpasses, then can the other two use rider swap? I’m just trying to understand the ins and outs before we get there so we don’t waste time trying to figure it out! Thanks so much
2. Do you have any tips on the character meet and greets in Fantasyland. My daughter really wants to see the princesses and fairies. Any info you have on Princess Fantasy Faire, Pixie Hollow or Rapunzel would be helpful.
I give an explanation of the Rider swap here. Yes, all 5 have to show up first. How fast the others get through depends on how crowded the day is, and depends on each ride. If you all have fast passes then no I don’t see any advantage to the rider swap. Fast passes are actually better since all of you get through the fast pass line. Now if you only have two fast passes, it would be worth using the rider swap since you could all go to the front of a line and get a rider swap pass. Then the first two riding get on using their fast passes. Then the other two get on through the fast pass line using the rider swap.
If you think about it, you can double your fast passes by only getting two for one ride, and then two for another. For example use two tickets to fast passes for Space Mountain and then using the other two tickets get two fast passes for Star Tours. Then you can get rider swaps for both of those rides and you have essentially doubled your fast passes. Hope that made sense. I just figured it out and I’m actually really excited to have just figured this out!
As for the Princesses and fairies…Lori and I both have boys. If anyone has any suggestions – we would love you to share them!
- Our families (17 in total) are going to Disneyland in early October. We’ll be there for 3, maybe 4 days, and I was curious to know if you had any tips on how to make the trip special and not too overwhelming with such a large group of us?
Wow that will be so fun. My #1 piece of advice – patience! That is a lot of opinions and ideas and so be sure everyone comes ready to compromise. Also I would suggest some good walkie talkies. They should make things easier for you. Don’t be afraid to split up either. I think you should consider using the Disneyland Picture takers. We went with a large group once and we split the cost to buy the digital files and it was so worth it to get everyone in the picture. I would definitely suggest only trying to do 1 park at a time. Going back and forth between parks with that many people could be a nightmare!
- You mentioned the Disneyland train… Does this cost extra money to use, or is it free once you’re in the park? Is it free to everyone, or just to those using a Disney hotel? Same question for the monorail. Next- are the water fountains (for filling up water bottles) easy to spot? If there are only a few, where are they located? I’m currently breastfeeding and so I tend to get really thirsty. Although I won’t be taking our girls with us I will still be pumping and want to stay hydrated without having to pay for lots of water or carry too much around.
The train and the monorail are both free with park entry. The train is like a regular ride and the monorail no longer runs through the hotel, but stops in Downtown Disney. We use the monorail mostly for a quick visit, like under 3 hours. If you park in Downtown Disney you get three hours of free parking, so we jump on the monorail and ride it in. Just riding the monorail as a ride is okay, but not great in my opinion… unless you are riding in the very front or very back and then I think its worth it. Especially the front because you get to be with the driver. I’m pretty sure the limit is 5 people and it is only allowed on days that are not too hot. To do this you need to wait near the front or the back and let a worker know you are interested in doing it. Once the monorail comes into the station you walk to the front or the back and wait. They board you after they have boarded everyone else. It’s a really fun ride! They do not require you to get out in Downtown Disney, so be aware that if you are waiting there, trying to get in the front or back, you may not get it.
As for drinking fountains, I have never had a huge problem locating one. I have heard that you can go to any Disney restaurant and get a free glass of water or ice. I myself have never done that, mostly because I wouldn’t want to wait and would just rather fill a bottle at a water fountain. The restaurants can be really crowded, but you could do that if you could not find a water fountain. We have used our Camelbak once and it was fun to have and worked as our backpack too. We really liked it – we just forget to take it most of the time. If you don’t have your kids and are trying to maintain a milk supply, taking a Camelbak might be something to consider.
- I have been to Disneyland many times as a kid and teenager, but this summer will be my first time with my kids! I noticed in the picture that you have three little ones… So do I. My girls are 8, 5, 2 and I am most worried about the “I’m too tired to walk” drama… We are planning on bringing our double jogger and just letting them take turns riding… Do you have any other/better ideas?
Our kids were 7,5,2 on our last trip and we left the stroller at home. We really don’t like having a stroller. We feel like it slows us down and we just don’t want to have to worry about where we left it and go back for it. We do a lot of piggybacks, but our kids are all under 50 pounds, so it’s not too bad. Mostly, we find the complaining comes in line and not from going from one ride to the next. A jogging stroller is really wide and can be a pain to maneuver around in a crowd or getting on/off of the tram. We have taken our big double stroller when our boys were younger (it was a front and back stroller) and it was a huge pain to get around with. After taking that once we went to a stroller similar to this stroller. It’s lightweight, not too expensive, and has a basket. We did have our almost brand new stroller once swapped for the same stroller, only theirs was beat up and the seat belt broken. That’s another reason we also don’t like to take a really expensive stroller. You might consider taking a jogging stroller and allowing them to take turns in that.
- Do you have any specific tips for those who are traveling with babies? Is there a place to change diapers, heat bottles, etc?
Every bathroom that I can think of has a changing station. We really love to hit the family bathrooms (that are usually located near the normal restrooms) and let everyone go at once and change diapers. Disneyland also has a baby center which is suppose to be stocked with changing tables, nursing/pumping area, little pottys, microwaves, high chairs, and water. I have personally never used the baby center since I’m not opposed to nursing under a blanket discreetly. I have also heard that all restaurants will give you a cup of warm water that you can place your bottle in to heat it up, or to mix with formula. I have never tried it out though. When we had a little one with bottles we just packed the water in the morning and by the time we fed it to our son it was room temperature and he didn’t object. I am all about having fun and being relaxed – but also about time management. You can see the baby center locations here. In Disneyland it is located on Main Street near the First Aid station. For me that seems really out of the way and I would rather not spend the time walking there and then walking back to where my family is. If our boys had to nap or nurse I would go find a place to sit and save seats for the parade. There are benches built into the parade route between the castle and the Matterhorn that would be a great place to sit and relax while also saving seats. My favorite bathroom is also located right there.
- We are planning on going mid July. How many days would you go with a 6 & 4 year old? This is our first time and I am trying to plan for a “fun” trip!
Ideally, I would say at least 1 day for each park. Maybe a third day for doing anything you didn’t get done the days before. It takes a lot of energy to spend all day on your feet in crowds, especially for little ones. If you have a down day in between I think that is even better. I also think Sea World and Knotts Berry Farm are both worth your time if you are in Southern California. Knotts might not have the showmanship down like Disneyland, but their kid area in my opinion is more enjoyable, with more to do for kids than Disney’s Fantasyland. As for Sea World – it’s magic! We love it as much as we like Disneyland, it’s just different. So worth visiting if you have the time. Knotts is about 20 minutes away from Disneyland and Sea World is about an hour and half.
- Are there days of the week that are better than others?
I have heard that Tuesday and Wednesday are the best days of the week to go and based on what I have seen – that is true. Fridays are pretty busy, as are the weekends. I would guess that as school gets out and summer hits that there is not as big of a difference. Most summer days are busier on average, then during the school year. There are some disadvantages to going on off days though. During the off season, things like Fantasmic and the Aladdin Show only run on certain days. For Fantasmic, it’s only on the weekends. You can check the Disneyland Calendar on their home page to see what attractions are showing on what days.
- We are planning our first trip this year and were just wondering when you think is the best time of year to go. Like what month?
My two favorite months are September and February. Okay, this was the secret I was not sure to divulge, but here it goes. If you want to find out what days Disneyland is the least crowded, check out their black out days for the Southern Californa Select pass. It basically lays out for you their most crowded days of the year because they block people with passes from attending. If you plan a trip during the black out days, chances are your crowds will be lighter than average. Be advised though – the disadvantage to going in the off season, is that is when they are repairing rides and usually things are under construction, so there is a good chance that some attractions will not be open.
- Any World of Color Tips? We’ve never been there when it has been open. It sounds like herding cattle to be able to even see it and even then not guaranteed to see.
(California Adventures is going through a major overhaul so this information is as of my last trip in 2011)
I love World of Color, but you do have to see it from the front to realize how great of a show it is. To be able to see the show from one of the viewing areas you must have a fast pass. You get the Fast Passes at the Grizzly River Run fast pass machines. After the World of Color fast passes are distributed the fast pass machines are converted back to Grizzly River Run. This is not a normal fast pass and does not count as one. You can fast pass World of Color and then immediately fast pass another ride.
Your fast pass is going to assign you a color and you go to that section about 45 minutes before the show starts. I have never sat front and center so I can’t say if it is worth the wait. Our favorite seats are actually in the walkways. In many of the color viewing areas they have paths that run mostly parallel to the show that have garden beds in front of them. We look for one of the these areas and sit ourselves down. You get a backrest while you wait and when the show starts you simply stand up and there is no one in front of you for about 5 or 6 feet so you have a great view. Plus the viewing area is tiered, so there really isn’t anything in front of you, blocking your view. This is where bringing a deck of cards comes in handy!
This is what our morning looks like when we go to CA Adventures. We get there about 30-45 minutes before the park opens. We go into CA Adventures and go straight to the World of Color Fast pass machines and get our fast pass. Then we keep walking as far into the park as they will allow. Usually it is right in front of the Bridge that goes over to Paradise Pier. We wait there and when they open everything up we head straight for Toy Story Mania. Once we were the 12th or so person on Mania! It was awesome! It is such a great ride, but no fast pass – and a long line! We do it first always. Then we head over and fast pass and ride California Screaming. Usually the line is not very long because everyone is going to Toy Story Mania first. If the park opens at 10:00, we usually have our World of Color Fast Passes, have been on Toy Story Mania, rode CA Screaming, and fast passed CA Screaming all by 10:30.
- We are wanting for take our girls,ages 4 &6, this December for Christmas! My plan was to tell them Christmas morning and leave that day getting to Disneyland on the 26th and staying 5-6 nights..(we will do sea world ect) my question is, is that a good time to go? I’ve heard it’s crazy busy but should it be something we reschedule for? Also, weather? Another concern, I will have a 4 month old so I was glad to read the parent pass thing but how does that work with 2 kids and a parent? Can we all go through the line and those 3 get on then when they get off just swap parents?
First the easy answer- A child swap pass is good for 2 people returning to the line. There may be some workers that will allow more in, but the policy is that it is good for 2 people.
Now the harder answer – If you don’t have to pull your kids out of school for your trip, then you can count on crowds! You have quite a long trip, so you will have time deal with the crowds. If you go on an uncrowded day, 1 day in each park is enough time to do pretty much everything. It’s a personal choice. I have been to Disneyland on packed days and had a blast! You just have to be patient and willing to wait in line. I have been to Disneyland on uncrowded days and its amazing! Our oldest son is in 2nd grade, so pulling him out of school for a couple of days has not been a huge problem. Christmastime at Disneyland is A-MA-ZING! I love it and we try to take our boys every year. How magical for them to open it up as Christmas present and then go! That is priceless! Will you have crowds? Probably. Following the tips, you will still get to see and do most of everything. This video clip was taken by my Dad at Disneyland this last December. During the Christmas season they make it snow (it’s bubbles) on Main Street right after the fireworks.
As for the weather – it’s hit and miss in CA in December. Last year, in December there were days in the 80’s. There was also a week when it rained and the days were in the 60’s. Come prepared is my best advice. Normal attire for us is pants, short sleeve shirt, socks, shoes, and then we bring sweatshirts for the evening.
I also must give a plug for Sea World here. We are blessed to have Great Grandparents who live right near Sea World and each year provide us with an annual pass. WE LOVE SEA WORLD! I would say as much as Disneyland, it’s just different. You will love Sea World at Christmas time too! Last year they even have a sledding and snow area!
- I am planning a trip to Disneyland with my husband who has never been! We don’t have kids (yet), and we will be going over my birthday :). Your Insiders Guide was a great help to me, I haven’t been to Disneyland for years and I am just trying to plan our vacation and make the most of it. We plan on spending two days for both parks at Disney. I wanted to know what your suggestions would be for rides – which ones to pass up – and any other tidbits for newlyweds like us who don’t have children to take along with us.
Lori had some great ideas for you! First stop at City Hall on Main Street and get “Newlywed Buttons.” They also have “First time Visitor” and “Birthday” buttons. They are fun to have and when my son had one for his birthday all of the cast members wished him a Happy Birthday.
Lori also suggested eating at the Blue Bayou restaurant inside of Pirates of the Caribbean. It has such a romantic feel to it. You do have to make reservations – 714-781-DINE. I would also suggest if you are in California Adventures one evening to eat at the Wine Country Trattoria restaurant. Its casual, but very nice rustic Italian dining (no reservations required). My hubs and I went for our Anniversary one year and ate there.
Since there is only the 2 of you, it might also be worth taking advantage of the Picture takers and having them take your pictures all over the park and then looking into buying the digital files. We have done this once and it was worth what we paid. You get a card from the first photographer and just use that same card all day. I saw this picture on Lori’s Pinterest board and it would be fun to take too, even if you are not in your dress.
I’m pretty sure this pic was taken in the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle walk through that is no longer available. Use your imagination and look for fun and unique photo opportunities. My hubs and I have one when you enter the Animation Academy in CA Adventures by the mural that says, “they lived happily ever after.”
Most of the rides you will enjoy will have a height requirement so look for those 🙂 Here are some of the rides that I think are worth hitting that don’t have a height requirement: Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tarzan’s tree house is very cool with some cool views, The Riverboat ferry can be a nice romantic ride, Pirates Island, Small World, Teacups, Submarines, Autopia, Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan, and the Jungle Cruise. In CA Adventures – The Aladdin show, Turtle talk with Crush, Toy Story Mania, Bugs life land is cool to walk around in – everything – even the bushes are made to make you feel small, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, the Symphony Swings, the Redwood Challenge area, and a NON rocking car on Mickeys Fun Wheel (I don’t get carsick but the rocking cars on the wheel made me sick!)
When my hubs and I went just the two of us, we spent most of our time on Buzz Lightyear! We kept a cumulative score and it got pretty competitive. If you want to give yourself an edge – get in first and sit on the left side of the car. We are about equal when it comes to shooting and generally speaking whoever sits on the left wins.
Although it costs extra, we think the shooting gallery in Frontierland is really fun!
I would also recommend buying a Christmas tree ornament as one of your souvenirs. We buy one each year and they bring back such fond memories and are a great way to remember the trip. Disneyland usually has a store dedicated to ornaments, but it moves around so you will just need to ask a cast member where it is located.
- We are thinking of taking our kids to Disneyland for the first time ever. They are 4 and 8. My son is dying to see the new Carland that will be opening this year. Since we are coming from out of state do know of any good hotels to stay at? Or any good places to buy cheap tickets?
I am not a whole lot of help here since my Dad still lives right up the freeway. Lori also has relatives that she stays with most of the time, although she has stayed at both the Disneyland Hotel and the Grand Californian Hotel. She said both were amazing and worth the money, especially the Magic Mornings where you can enter the park and hour early. I think this is where you are going to want to look for packages. I know there are people who sell “cheap Disneyland tickets,” but I would be weary of them. What they do is buy 5 day hoppers and sell them off day by day. It can be risky though. Disneyland often times has discounted prices or buy a 5 day hopper for the price of the 3 day hopper. My son brings things home in his backpack that often have deals in them that I have had friends use and be really happy with and they did get a pretty good deal.
One thing that I have done with some friends was we bought the 5 day hoppers and divided the price by the 5 days to get a per day price. Her family used 3 of the days, and our family used two. This really helped bring down the cost for both of our families. You just better really trust your friends. If either of you loses the passes – they are gone.
One other thing to consider when comparing hotels. Often times the hotels around Disneyland charge you to be shuttled to and from the park. It can be $4 per person, per trip. So if you are a family of 5 – you could be charged up to $40 per day just to get to and from Disneyland. Be sure to add that cost into your hotel stay because it may look like its cheaper when really it might be the same price to stay closer.
- I was wanting to ask if you could tell me where to stay. We were looking into the Polynesian and the Orleans port (riverside) but we didn’t know if it was worth the extra 1000 to stay at the Polynesian and be closer to everything or to save the extra and save at riverside. This will be our first trip so we have absolutely no knowledge of Disney… only what we read. If you have any other suggestions for places to stay please let us know!
I’m guessing that these are hotels near Walt Disney World. I have never been, so I cant answer this one for you. I’m a CA girl! Sorry! Check the question above for some general hotel thoughts. Pam found some great information over at Living Life Intentionally who is running a series about Disney World!.
Wendy also offered this bit of advice – My family of 4, my mother in law and my sister in law with her family of 4 recently stayed at the Grand Californian. This was a gift, along with annual passes (we live in SoCal) from my mother in law. She loves us! I was opposed to her paying to stay at the pricey hotel, but our experience was so worth the money. She upgraded our rooms to the “concierge” package, for $140 per night… which I consider to be a secret – not many people I have talked to know about it. Along with personal service for just about everything, you have access to the Craftsman room…which features light continental meals all day long, deserts at night, drinks from water to soda to alcohol (limit two alcoholic bevs per visit), private story time, balcony for fireworks viewing, coloring pages for kids, and movie rentals!!!!! We literally ate out at downtown Disney once and in the park once in the two full days we were there. Bagels for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch/snack when we stopped back into the hotel and light appetizers for dinner, then some warm gooey choc chip cookies for dessert! We even took uncrustable pb and J’s, water and fruit from there for in the park. The waitresses encouraged us to! This was soooo with the upgrade! I say splurge and stay at any Disney hotel, they all have this! Additionally we got 2 fast passes per person to get in any fast pass line we wanted at any time. Oh, and magic morning hours too! 🙂 save up and do this once in your lifetime. 🙂
- We are taking our 2 youngest boys (9& 5) to Disney World in May. Do you happen to know anything about Star Wars weekend? We would love for them to get selected for the padawan training.
I have never been to Disney World, but we have done the Jedi Training Academy in Disneyland. I don’t know if it is the same, but I will tell you what I can about getting chosen at the Jedi Training Academy. First, get there early and sit front and center. Second, your child must be animated and excited. Caleb was – he got chosen, Davis was timid and they passed him up. Be creative. Make a shirt that says, “the force is strong with this one.” Or a sign for them to hold. They need to catch the casts eye without being obnoxious.
You can see the rest of our Disneyland series here:
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