Disneyland! Frühling Tips & Tricks
To all that come to this happy place, welcome.
If you ended up here it’s probably because you mentioned your own Disneyland trip and we excitedly told you about ours. We made this guide for our Canadian friends embarking on a first Disney trip, but if that’s not you, we hope you find some interesting tidbits too.
Our 3 biggest ideas
Bring a stroller
- Pack it with sunscreen, sweatshirts, towels, footwear, sunglasses, and phone chargers
- Go to Trader Joe’s, Target, Walmart, or CVS beforehand and stock up on snacks/meals
- Bring a cooler bag with all the food plus lots of refillable water bottles and ice
- Mark it with something distinctive so you can find it in a sea of other parked strollers
- Park it nearby wherever you are and come back to it only when you need it!
- It can seem stressful to deal with an app but it’s worth it for skipping lines and planning your day
- Having free & easy professional photos taken is a super fun secondary feature (plus ride photos)
- Mobile ordering from restaurants and coffee shops is also awesome
- Every ride and attraction is fun in its own way so don’t be afraid to explore lesser known ones
- If anything is closed, don’t despair, you’ll be back one day and have new things to try
- Let loose and get silly, you’ll soon discover everyone else is doing it too
Whistle while you plan
Our main recommendation is to find somewhere you can easily walk back and forth from the park to, as any form of transportation adds complications, crowds, and timing issues, even hotel shuttles. Plus it’s nice to be able to go back to your room and relax, recharge, or pick up/drop off anything.
If you can justify (and afford) a Disney Hotel that’s awesome, they are very cool. But we’ve always had great luck with the “Good Neighbour Hotels”, and many of them are actually closer to the park entrance than the official ones. We’ve even stayed in a tent at the back of an RV park. Twice.
And if you have a big family gathering, we have friends who found AirBNBs nearby that house lots of people at once.
If you’re not driving to California (which is a great road trip BTW), you can fly to either LAX or John Wayne airport. Some hotels have shuttles from there, so check with yours. We feel renting a car is kind of silly since it will sit in a parking lot all day when you’re at Disneyland, and using Uber or Lyft is just so much simpler. Just make sure you sign up for either of those ride share services when you’re still in Canada since they might text you to confirm your account.
We always get our tickets from Undercover Tourist. They do a lot of promotions, they have great package deals if you want to add on Universal tickets or other things like hotels and car rentals, and they give you official legitimate tickets but at a good discount.
This is our referral link. I think we could win a t-shirt if you use it?
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On the day you get to Anaheim, or the night before, you can go to the booths in the Esplanade between the parks and they can “check you in” or kinda just make sure your tickets are ready to go. After that you can use the real tickets they give you, or the mobile app on your phone.
Wifi is available in the parks but it’s really spotty. You could use your Canadian plan in the States, but if you have a phone that supports eSIMs (most phones from the past 5 years), we really like using Airalo. It’s a cheap phone plan that you buy ahead of time and switch over to when you arrive, no actual SIM swapping necessary.
If you use code NICK0629 when you sign up or apply it at checkout, you get $3 off your first eSIM data pack. And then you can refer the rest of the people in your party and it’s one big pyramid scheme string of referral credits.
Down the rabbit hole
If you really want to hear some more you can keep reading, but don’t worry, you’re good to go!
Basically Disneyland is always busy, but some times are quieter than others. Check crowd forecasts ahead of time to get a sense of what to expect. You can also use them to plan out which days of your stay are best for which things, so maybe you do a beach visit on a busy day and come back to the parks on a quieter one.
We don’t really think it’s worth paying extra for the privilege of going back and forth to each parks, and prefer spending an entire day in one place. However, if you only have a day or two, it’s something to consider to maximize your time.
We like bringing as many of our own snacks as possible and then choosing occasional special meals in the park. Trader Joe’s is great for bulk stuff like dried fruits, trail mix, turkey jerky, watermelon jerky, peanut butter pretzels, etc. and then we split them up in baggies for everyone. Also microwave oatmeal in the hotel makes for an easy/filling breakfast, making sure everyone is ready to go for rope drop.
There are lots of places to fill a water bottle, and most restaurants will give you water and ice if you ask. Then just leave it in your stroller for check ins and refills throughout the day.
Here are some of the good places to get quick refills:
- Tomorrowland Terrace (Tomorrowland)
- Rancho Del Zocalo Restaurante (Adventureland)
- French Market Restaurant (New Orleans Square)
- Plaza Inn (Main Street)
Disney will give you free buttons to wear if you’re celebrating a special occasion, like a birthday, anniversary, or even your first time in the parks! Besides being a great souvenir, you’ll get extra special attention from cast members all day. The best places to grab these is by inquiring at Disneyland City Hall on Main Street, or if you’re in California Adventure go ask at the Chamber of Commerce.
“Rope drop” is the term for being at the park early for the actual opening, where a literal rope is dropped as people (kindly) rush in. It can be hard to get up and get everyone there for it, but it’s worth doing at least once to ensure you get on the biggest and best rides you want to check off first.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in finding a souvenir and Disney is really good at making specific things that everyone will like. But when you get home you might feel a little silly wearing things that otherwise seem perfectly normal in the parks.
But if there’s a special something you want or need to bring home for someone else, we recommend saving your shopping for end of the day, or in between days, or when it’s really hot and you need air conditioning. You don’t need to buy big souvenirs either, as you can get a lot of it online and when you’re back home if you really need to.
Downtown Disney is like a really nice outdoor mall that sits between the two parks and is open to the public. You could ignore it and still have a great visit, but it has some hidden gems along the way.
- World of Disney — Gigantic store of merch that’s available for shopping without park admission, so you can get it in before, during, or after your park days are done.
- Trader Sam’s — This themed tiki bar is a family favourite for drinks and eats but tucked away inside the courtyard of the Disneyland Hotel.
- Salt & Straw — Imported from the Pacific Northwest, just a really good ice cream parlour.
- Wonderground — A cool art gallery where indie artists reinterpret Disney art and can be a good source for more unconventional souvenirs.
- Monorail — The Monorail actually has a station here which can get you back into the park without the front gate hustle, or be a quicker way to get out of the park. We’ve even left our stroller in the park, gotten lunch in Downtown Disney, and used the Monorail to get there and back.
We recommend exploring every ride and experience, but one that’s easy to miss is the Animation Building on Buena Vista Street in California Adventure. The indoor courtyard is a great (air conditioned) place to take a breath and enjoy amazing visuals all around you, but it’s also home to some casual but cool experiences.
- Animation Academy — Learn to illustrate characters with actual animators.
- Sorcerer’s Workshop — Make your own animations and do an interactive quiz to find out which Disney character you are.
- Turtle Talk with Crush — Sit down in a theatre and take part in actual live conversations with the turtle from Finding Nemo. Even if you don’t get your own question in it’s an actually funny show to take it in.
What can I say except you’re welcome!
We really hope this helps make your Disney trip a little more magical. Did we miss something? Do you respectfully disagree with one of the tips? Are you back now and have some new info to share? Let us know!