After a recent getaway to Anaheim, California to visit Disneyland and California Adventure Park, I have compiled a few tips to make sure your future visit does not involve waiting in long lines and junk food.
1) Use the Single-Rider Line -- If you don't want to wait 50+ minutes in the stand-by line and you don't have a FASTPASS, the single-rider line is your best bet. A few of the rides do have this option -- simply ask the attendant at the front of the ride for a paper pass or enter through the exit. I was on both the California Screamin' rollercoaster and Splash Mountain in under five minutes! This is perfect if your group is not picky about riding together.
2) Get a FASTPASS -- When the single-rider line isn't an option (like on Space Mountain), get a FASTPASS and return at your assigned time printed on your paper ticket. Disneyland tries to keep the wait to under 15 minutes for FASTPASS holders, so you'll save a ton of time and get on the ride quickly.
3) Eat Well + Fine Dining -- Disneyland is not just all about churros and hot dogs (though those are good too!). Take a proper meal break and you will be refreshed for the afternoon. Some of the dining options were beyond what I expected for typical theme park food. Look up Napa Rose Restaurant inside the Grand Californian Hotel and Carthay Circle Restaurant or Wine Country Trattoria inside California Adventure Park.
4) Stay Close to Disneyland -- Yes, the Disneyland Hotel can be a bit pricier but I consider it a convenience worth the little bit extra. I was able to park my car at the hotel and save on parking and having to deal with driving and traffic. I could walk from my hotel to the monorail which dropped me off smack dab in the middle of Tomorrowland. I also got access to early magic hours where I could enjoy the park before the public. If you're toting kids, snacks or a stroller -- it's totally worth it. It's also easy to pop back to the hotel for naps or a quick swim before returning at night for fireworks.
5) Book a Character Breakfast -- Instead of stalking the park for Mickey and waiting in line with everyone else, consider booking a character breakfast at one of the nearby hotels -- where Mickey and friends come to you. It's WAY less stressful, you can enjoy a delicious breakfast complete with Mickey waffles and snap a pic with one of your favourite Disney characters.
6) The Fireworks are SO Worth It -- If you're thinking of heading home early and skipping the Fireworks...STOP right now. Disney is the biggest purchaser of fireworks around the world and their nightly 14-minute fireworks display is one of the best I have ever seen. Make sure to scope out a spot on Main Street USA for a central view starting at 9 p.m. Kill some time by grabbing an ice cream in a homemade waffle cone at Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor or take the time to delete some pictures from your camera.
7) Park-Hopper All the WAY -- For a little bit extra, the park-hopper pass lets you go back and forth from both Disneyland and California Adventure. It's nice to have the flexibility to switch things up and the parks are directly across from each other. This way, if you miss a ride on the first day due to a long line, you can always go back the next.
8) Try the Dole Whip -- Trust me on this one. Sure, it's not organic or anything, but the combination of sweet pineapple soft serve floating on tart pineapple juice makes the Dole Whip Float my go-to every time I'm at Disneyland. You can't find it easily anywhere else! Look for the Tikki Juice Bar in Adventureland and follow the long line!
What are your best tips on getting the most out of Disneyland and California Adventure Park?
Lisa Ng is the Editor-in-Chief of This Beautiful Day - a lifestyle blog for smart + stylish women, where this article first appeared.