I recently went on my first trip to Disneyland and must say, I absolutely loved it. Being the Disney World lover that I am, it really is no big surprise that the park was like heaven-on-earth, but I was a bit shocked about what we were able to experience, what was similar to the Florida rendition, and what I did not like. One of the best things we did for this first trip to Disneyland was research the junk out of it - if you are going anytime soon, that would be my number one tip, research the rides, the park, best times to go, and the areas near by. This little tip is free and, by far, the most handy. Now, for the other equally fantastic Disneyland tips.
For my first trip to Disneyland I thought that going on the rides that are exclusive to Disneyland would be more important than going on the ones that all the parks have. Thankfully, we went on the non-exclusive ones anyway and I enjoyed them all just as much or more than the Disney World variations. The dark rides like Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Small World were way different than the Florida ones and were way longer. These are definitely not to be missed and just might be your favorite rides of the day.
There are two Disney parks in Anaheim: the California Adventure and Disneyland. I would highly recommend leaving at least one day per park. Having less than one day each will leave you rushed for time, missing out on a lot of the events, and super achy the next day. We did Disneyland the first day and California Adventure the second. This left plenty of time to do tons of rides (we managed 9 per park!) and watch shows to our heart's content.
Let me introduce you to your new BFF, Disney's Fast Pass system. If you have never heard of this before, it allows you to get into a shorter line for rides and shows during a certain window of time. The best fast passes to get at Disneyland would be for Space Mountain and Splash Mountain. For California Adventure, get your Radiator Springs Racers Fast Pass early since they sell out quick. Disney has also changed their rues for Fast Pass across the board - now, you must go in your window of time for your Fast Pass to be redeemable.
The evening shows at both Disneyland and California Adventure are fantastic so do not miss them! We arrived 45 minutes before the show at Disneyland and were able to get a spot right in front of the castle. It was great! You can get Fast Passes for the The World of Color show at California Adventure and your seating area will depend on when you get your pass. Earlier means better seats, but that also means you are not able to get another Fast Pass for the rest of the day. Be sure to arrive at your Fast Pass location at least 30 minutes before the time listed since lines start early.
I highly recommend getting reservations for any sit down dining ahead of your arrival. One of the biggest ones I would recommend reserving would be The Blue Bayou. This restaurant is located in New Orleans Square and is part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The atmosphere is incredible with an outdoor feel complete with patio, trees, and hanging lanterns. This is seriously not one to miss and seems to always be closed to walk-ins.
If you have been to Florida's Downtown Disney, you may have a warped idea of what it can be. The Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort is way nicer than the Florida version with better shopping, better dining, nicer streets, and way better entertainment. Unlike Florida, this one does not have transportation running past park hours. Make sure you are parked in the Downtown Disney parking area, are not planning to stay late, or are ready for the long walk back to the parking garage at the end of the day.
This may seem a bit vague, but it was one of the best ideas for our trip to Disneyland. Make a list of all the rides your group must go on, all the rides they would like to go on, and all the rides they do not care either way about. Having this list took so much stress out of the visit since we knew the most important rides and could easily decide on which we did or did not go on depending on wait times. This was great since that many options can make anyone's head spin, especially with large groups or small children.
These tips were key to us having a great time at the parks for the two days we were there. But, any plan will have snags and Disney is no exception. If you are prepared to make changes and roll with unexpected switch ups, there is no way it will be a bad trip! What are some of your tips for having a great day at the Disney parks?