My sister graduated from high school this year and I got to join her on a trip to Disneyland over the summer! (When I graduated college I took her with me on my Disneyland trip and now she's returned the favor, how sweet huh?)
With our 3 day park hopper passes we saw every show we possibly could and rode as many rides as we could get in - including Indiana Jones 5 times, total triumph.
| Diamond Anniversary |If you are at all thinking of going to Disneyland for the 60th Anniversary I would say ABSOLUTELY DO IT. If you swooned for that castle before, you might just cry tears of joy for it now (especially with the holiday season upon us). One photo I am severely lacking is one of the castle, sadly none of mine turned out very well. Disney has outdone themselves all over the park. The attention to detail is impeccable and makes the whole place even more stunning and magical than before - if that is even possible. As a side note - get all the special anniversary goodies you can find, especially the food, it's wonderful.
On this trip I learned that a DSLR camera is actually kinda difficult to lug around when you're trying to enjoy a theme park and not just photograph it. After putting it in a locker for the first full day and basically forgetting that I had it, I submitted to only actually carrying it around for one day and only photographing shows otherwise (and I actually missed Fantasmic because my camera was in the locker and I wasn't going to have time to get it by the time the show started). Not surprisingly, I was childishly overwhelmed and far too excited to think about taking photos - even when I had that giant thing hanging from my neck - so I think I literally got about 5 photos inside Disneyland that are not of shows and of those 5, I think 1 turned out.
Having been to Disneyland a couple of times now (I'm no expert) I have learned a couple of things that I thought might be helpful for others to know before they go on their grand adventure.
The following tips and such are for average human beings taking a trip to Disneyland. I do not have children and have never been to Disneyland with any children. So this is not tips for traveling with kids or 'How to Survive Disneyland with a Toddler'. These are simply Tips and Insight for adults/young adults/ teens who don't have to be responsible for a small human on their trip.
|Tips + Things to Know |
(for Out-of-State-ers and/or those Without Kids)
- If you are able to stay in the area for more than 3 days get a 3 day park hopper pass and don't go three days in a row. It's too exhausting to do all at once. I went with a group of adults and we went from park open to close for 3 days straight and by the end of day three, leaving the park to walk to the hotel, I literally wanted to fall on the ground and wail in toddler tantrum fashion - in fact I think I almost did in front of one the big gift shop on Main St. I don't even want to image trying to do that with children *shutter*.
-Water. Bring bottles of it and refill them at the drinking fountains. Anaheim city water isn't great but it's drinkable and then you don't have to pay for water - which I despise. Spend that money on a delicious pomegranate sparkler (special for the 60th and SO GOOD).
- Wear comfortable shoes. This is probably the most overstated and mom-est statement I could make. But we walked 30,000-40,000 steps a day. Yeah, you read that right. That's about 15 miles a day and I don't suggest doing that in rubber flip-flops with no support.
-Make a plan with plenty of options. Know what shows and events you want to see ,what times they're at, and plan rides between showtimes. Give yourself plenty of ride options though because their availability can be somewhat sporadic (Indian Jones was up and down at least a half dozen times during our 3 days). There's a couple of apps that we used to help us plan our ride/wait times accordingly with fast-passes and show times. Organization is key if you want the most out of your trip.
-Download and use ride time apps. Our favorite was one called MouseWait. Its updated in real time by people in the park and was often are a lot more accurate than the signs at the ends of the lines. This app also tells you the last time it was updated. It will show what rides are down (or possibly in use by a major celebrity - It was North West's birthday when we were there so Kim and Kanye kept messing up our ride plan) and also the wait time for some of the main food places. One of the other features we really liked about MouseWait was the way you could organize the list of rides (you can organize them alphabetically or by area) so it's easy to find what you're looking for.
- Bring just-in-case stuff. I would suggest including emergency stuff plus the following: sun screen LOTS - I forgot to put any on my shoulders the first day, I regretted it by noon, pain reliever (you should already have it but it's SO important - I get headaches regularly and with any stress I knew I'd be getting at least one), chap stick, blister bandages and friction blocker, an extra pair of shoes (and socks), maybe an extra set of clothes - there are wet rides and jean shorts are the worst when they're wet, sweater or jacket (evenings are cool), phone charger, camera batteries or charger, hair ties, and anything you think you might need while you're in the park. But don't carry all this stuff around all day (see next tip)
- Get a locker and use it. Decide where you are going to be for most of the day or where would be most convenient and rent a locker. They're not too terribly expensive and they're a life saver. We used our locker for our cooler with beverages and snacks, jackets and sweaters, cameras etc. At one point it was really hot and we went back to get snacks and just sat on the cool concrete floor in front of the locker and ate Babybell cheeses and drank Gatorade to re-fuel. *** Locker is crucial for anyone carrying a DSLR that doesn't just want to take photos ***
-For DSLR users - Choose when to and when not to carry your camera. If you're there to enjoy yourself and not just stand behind the camera you'll have to make decisions as to when you'll need to carry it. Most rides provide a small pouch to put loose items in while you're on the ride - so you don't loose things like your sunglasses or your new pair of ears. But, all too often, they don't make them big enough to fit that giant camera. Some rides definitely have enough room (I didn't have any problems on Indiana Jones or Space Mountain) but some do not and you're forced to clench your camera between your thighs with all your might or hope to the heavens that it's not going to fly out of the tiny Velcro enclosed pouch while you're whirling about on Big Thunder Mountain or the Matterhorn.
-Bonus Tip What do I do with my Ears??? - If you're worried about losing your ears on a ride, I would suggest not using that precious pouch space. Instead put your ears around your thigh. I found that when I'm sitting my upper thigh is just about the right size so that I can fasten my ears to my leg and put more important stuff in the pouch. And since legs are typically larger as you move up, if I put them on my upper thigh they definitely weren't going anywhere. The thigh wont work for everyone but I'll bet you can find a body part that it will work with :)
| Cast Member Insight |
- get tickets for shows as soon as they're available. They're all first come first serve for the show tickets from what I understand. If you do this it'll give the most amount of options and time to trade with people if you're plan changes
- get to shows early and with lots of patience. The cast members organizing the crowds before the big shows (like Fantasmic) have a pretty tough job trying to get all of the people to all the right places without getting punched in the face by a pissed off stroller mom who refuses to use the ramp instead of the stairs. You're probably gonna have to follow directions from someone who may not know exactly what is going on, you may then be asked to move, and you'll definitely have to sit around and wait for the show to begin.
- for Fantasmic specifically - we were told that if you wanted to see Fantsmic and the Dineyland Fireworks that the best way to do so was to go to Fantasmic show (in your assigned area) and stay there once the show is done for the fireworks to start. From there you have a great view and wont be trampled by the mass exodus out of the park on main st. This worked PERFECT. From the zone we were in (the Blue zone) we got a great view of the show and of the fireworks afterward.
- for meeting characters. Early mornings are probably best for interacting with characters. If you're looking for someone specific try to find them as soon as you can when you get in. Big characters like Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Goofy, etc. will probably be around Main St. but you might have to hunt more for other characters. Psst... I know there's an entrance into the park for characters right by the hat shop on Main St. (but there are plenty of other entrances that they use).
- Holding a giant bundle of balloons. You can get a photo of yourself holding one of those giant bundles by simply asking a cast member who is carrying a bundle if you can hold it for a pic. However, they apparently are only allowed to do this in certain areas of the park so if you ask them and they say they can't do it there ask them where they can do it and find someone in that area.
- Ask for pins, especially those going for the first time! When you first get into the park go to City Hall on Main St. and get yourself as many pins as you can. They have them for all sorts of celebrations including graduation, marriage, first timers, etc... Then when you wear them around cast members give you special attention and congratulate you on whatever it is that you're celebrating. This doesn't sound that amazing but it really done add something extra and special to the experience.