Often when I tell people that we are “Disney people” they tell me how they tried going to Disneyland and wanted to love it but they just couldn’t handle waiting in all of the lines. I totally get it! I don’t like waiting in lines either and I sure as heck wouldn’t be a “Disney person” if all I did was go and wait in lines. So this post is going to teach you what we do to minimize line wait time and how to make waiting in a line more enjoyable! But that’s not all, I am also going to tell you how we did Disneyland with an 8 month old and still had a total blast!
How To Minimize Your Line Wait Time:
- Check out the Disneyland Crowd Calendar– go when it’s green or orange, typically February through May and September through November. However, check the crowd calendar to see what events are going on in those months, some weeks will still be crazy due to Spring Break and other factors! I am going to give an unpopular opinion here and tell you that it is totally worth pulling your kids out of school for a week to go to Disneyland at a time that isn’t busy. I am a former teacher and I promise that if they have regular attendance throughout the year they will be TOTALLY okay if you pull them out for a week! They can catch up their work easy peasy or take work with them if your driving to pass the time.
- Go on a weekday– the locals typically come out on the weekends and it almost always gets busier!
- Utilize your magic morning- If you bought a 3+ day park hopper pass you will automatically have a magic morning. This is where you can get into the park a whole hour earlier than other people. The magic morning days for Disneyland are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and for California Adventure (including access to Cars Land): Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. I know this means that you will need to get up even earlier but it is 100% WORTH IT! If there’s a ride your kids are dying to go on and normally the line is really long- go on that ride 3-4 times for your magic morning and get it out of the way with no wait at all!
- Use the fast pass system- I know this might be a “duh” one but its amazing how may people don’t use their fast passes like they should! More on this below :).
- Make a plan– the biggest key to using your fast passes to their full potential and not waiting in forever long lines is to make a plan. Yes, even on vacation we plan our day! We have a Disney “agenda” for every second of the day. We know what ride we are fast passing the second we get to the park and then which ride we will fast pass as soon as our tickets are available for another fast pass. A common myth is that you have to wait until your fast pass time is past to get another fast pass, that is FALSE. On your ticket you will see what time you can get another fast pass and depending on when you acquired the first fast pass you can get another one well before those fast pass tickets are available! See the fast pass picture below if you’re confused :). Typically when we enter the park we fast pass the busiest ride that we want to go on FIRST THING and then we head to head to the second busiest ride to wait in the regular line. If the park just opened the wait should not be long!
- Know when to say “no”– before we get in the park each day we set a length of time that we aren’t willing to wait in line past. We usually won’t wait past 40 minutes. This will definitely vary per family though so do what’s best for you! This helps you look at the wait times and really weigh if it is worth the wait or not.
- Utilize Fantasmic, World of Color, and the Fireworks– When we plan to go to Disneyland we always plan to go to Fantasmic and World of Color on separate nights and we watch the fireworks after our Fantasmic. So on the night(s) that we aren’t doing one of those events we hit as many rides as we can! Wait times typically cut in half during those shows, plus it’s so fun to go on some of those rides at night! One year we timed going on Splash Mountain while the fireworks were going off, and it was absolutely MAGICAL! A memory my hubs and I still talk about all the time.
- Use the Disneyland app– this app is a game changer. It will tell you accurate wait times and update you when a ride has been closed. It will also act as a map for you if you are looking for any restaurants, attractions, etc. We use this app religiously throughout the day to see if we need to modify our plan! It is a huge waste of time and energy to head all the way over to another area of the park just to find that the ride you were heading to has been closed or has an extremely long wait time! Here’s just one example of what fantastic information the app can give you!
- Single Rider- this is a great option if there is just one or two people in your party that want to go on a ride! Most rides, especially the big ones, have a single rider option. It is a separate line from the regular line and if there’s ever an empty seat they will pull from the single rider line. You just might need to ask one of the workers where the line is because it’s not always marked super clearly.
- Parent Passes- this is only an option if you have a child (or children) that are below the height limit for the ride. But if that’s you then this option is AMAZING! You take your party to the beginning of the line, they will see that you have a child below the height limit and when one person enters through the standby line they will give that person a card on a lanyard that they have to turn into the cast member before they get on the ride. The case member will then give the person in the standby line a piece of paper that lets 4 other people from their party enter back on the ride through the fast pass line! The best part about the parent pass is that it lets you enter back through the fast pass line at ANY time of the day! Unlike fast passes where you have to go back at a certain time. Here’s a picture of what a typical parent pass looks like:
What We Do To Enjoy Waiting In Lines:
- Heads Up– because waiting in lines in inevitable in Disneyland, we love playing this game while we are waiting! It makes the time go by lightening fast. We have so much fun that as we wind throughout the line that we will see people steal our idea and start to play it too!
- I Spy- this game is really fun to play in line because Disney always decorates the lines really well with fun trinkets that are themed to the ride itself.
- Disney Character Game- this one is a “Johnson specialty”. My hubs thought of it one day and it has been a favorite ever since! It’s essentially 20 questions but we play it specifically to Disney characters, sometimes maybe even characters we had seen that day. It’s a blast!
- Plan your next day– while you are waiting in line, kill two birds with one stone and enjoy planning your next day. You will have an extremely successful following day if you do!
- Disneyland favorites list– make a Disneyland favorite list where each person lists off their favorite thing that has happened so far that day. You can come up with topics like favorite ride, favorite food you’ve eaten in Disneyland, favorite funny moment, etc.
How To Successfully Do Disneyland With a Baby:
- Bring a baby carrier– this is the biggest “duh” one but we forgot ours the first day we went with Evie and by the end of the day I feel like I had been put through a body builders bicep workout haha. It was awful! I didn’t think it would be a big deal but it was. Yes, she was in the stroller most of the day but it’s a long day and whenever she needed a stroller break or we needed to carry her through a line, popping her in the carrier would have been the easiest and best thing to be able to do! Needless to say, that was the first thing I packed for our trip the next day! To see what else I packed go here. You can even use the carrier to wear your baby on some rides.
- Stick to your baby’s routine– as best as you can! I know that things undoubtedly get thrown off but if it’s their usual nap time, lay back the stroller seat, put a light blanket over the stroller and get walking! Evie took two 1 hour (ish) naps in the park per day because we did this. I know that every child is different and this might not work for you but it worked great for us and she was much happier throughout the day because of those naps! Or if you stay in one of my recommended hotels you can easily head back to the hotel for a little bit to let your baby (and you) get a cozy, uninterrupted nap!
- Utilize the parent passes– this is crucial to a successful day in Disneyland when you have a babe! See more info about this on #10 above.
- Use the baby center– yes, Disneyland and California Adventure both have beautiful baby centers! These baby centers are fully equipped with the following:
- Nursing room with chairs
- Changing room with tables
- Feeding area with highchairs
- Kitchen with microwave and sink
- Main room with television, table and chairs
- On-site shop offering formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, over-the-counter medications and pacifiers for purchase
You definitely can use the changing tables in the bathrooms throughout the park but you typically feel rushed because a lot of mothers need them. I felt way more stressed using the bathroom changing tables because it wasn’t as clean and I felt like I was in everyones way. The baby center is calm and quiet. The cast members in the baby center are SO kind and accommodating. I just wanted to hang out in there all day!
In California Adventure the baby center (shown here) is located by Ghiradelli’s chocolate factory right before you get to the pier.
In Disneyland the baby center (shown here) is located by the Plaza Inn to the right of Main Street about 100 yards from the castle.
5. Utilize the non ride attractions– there are so many awesome attractions in Disneyland and California Adventure that are not rides! You can take your babe to Frozen the musical at Hyperion theatre, Mickey’s Magical Map performance in Fantasy land, the Electrical Parade (Evie LOVED this!), or any of the other great ideas found here. But our very favorite non ride attraction is to hang out in Animation Studios, it’s about half way down Hollywood Street in California Adventure. This place is honestly too incredible to describe but I’ll do my best! The whole middle of the studio is a wide opened area and around each of the walls are Disney movie clips playing in sync with each other while the music to that movie plays. Evie was absolutely enthralled by this place! We laid out a blanket, spread out a few toys and let her stretch and get her wiggles out. Later that same day we went went back to take a nap…like we always do haha. They have couches you can sit on or you can just sprawl out on the floor!
I know that this is a horrible picture but it kind of gives you and idea of what it’s like in the Animation Studios. Evie and I are sitting on the floor in this picture.
Wow! So sorry for the information overload! I could take for days about my favorite place on earth. I would love to hear any and all questions you might have! Please let me know how I can help.
In case you missed my other Disneyland related posts, here they are: