Tips for visiting Disneyland California
We visited Disneyland for the first time last fall around Halloween. It was super crowded (I am assuming because of Halloween) and as spectacular as we had imagined. There are always a lot of seasonal cool things like during Halloween, Halloween decorations, around Christmas Santa's visit and at the moment there is a World of Color - Season of light show. I am sure all of them are worth seeing and spectacular in their own right.
Our experience was, as it was super crowded then, that it was super hectic but still worth visiting. We visited both of the parks, stayed for one whole day from opening until around 8pm. We only went to a few attractions and didn't see everything what the two parks have to offer, but we did get a general feeling of all of it and I think we spotted the ones that mattered the most to our daughter. Now I also understand why some people go there for two days in a row ;) If you want to go on every ride and all the attractions I'm sure that not even 2 days would suffice.
We experienced the following attractions: King Triton's Carousel (Adventure Park), Anna and Elsa's royal welcome (Adventure Park), Olaf (Adventure Park), Disney Junior - Live on stage (Adventure Park), Mickey's House & meet Mickey (Disneyland Park), and Minnie's House and meet Minnie Mouse (Disneyland Park), Donald's boat, Goofy's playhouse and saw many of the characters separately as well just around the Disneyland Park. They can be found in specific photograph spots which you can find from the Disneyland mobile app. You can also see some of the characters at the Plaza Inn restaurant. The Plaza Inn breakfast buffet was one of my favourite things in the Disneyland Park as our daughter loved it so much, it wasn't super crowded and we also got to eat at the same time! :) We saw there: Minnie Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Chip 'n' Dale, Goofy, Goofy's son Max, Captain Hook, Eeyore, and Tigger. Most of these characters were not visible anywhere else, at least that we saw. So rare treats too!
In my opinion, the Disneyland website is horrible. It is very very hard to understand how to attend different attractions, where they are located etc. So it makes it diffictult to plan your visit with the information that is given there. Hence the tips here. If these help even one visitor to get through the magical wonderland, I am happy :) And now for the actual tips for your trip;
WHEN TO GO:
- Avoid holiday / season peak times like Halloween, weekends and summer.
- Definitely go outside the summer period. During the summer it will be hot and there are no places for children (or adults for that matter) to cool down or refresh and it can get downright exhausting. We had an hour or so of sunshine (around +25 degrees) when we were there and it was already getting a bit pressing standing in the queues. Also, summertime will be busy so there will be more crowds then.
- In other words, the best time to go will be on a weekday in a non-peak time like January.
WHAT TO SEE:
- In the Anaheim Disneyland there is two parks for which you need separate tickets to:
- Disneyland Park
- Disney California Adventure Park
- I would suggest deciding beforehand will you be going to either of the parks or both. This way you can plan your visit better. The Disneyland Park is the one with the classic Disney castle, the classic Disney characters (it has a separate section; the Mickey's Toonland and you can see the characters all around too) and stories such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan's house etc and the Disney Adventure Park has more of a an amusement park vibe and it includes for example the Cars Land, the Mickey's fun wheel that you always see in pictures and the huge rollercoaster next to it.
- The best way to comprehend what the two parks include and plan your visit is to look at the Disneyland map HERE.
- If your girl or boy is into Frozen and you are planning to go only to Disneyland Park, think again. The Anna and Elsa visit, Olaf visit and the Frozen show at the Hyperion theatre are all in the Adventure Park. You will not see any Frozen characters in the Disneyland Park.
- Plan your stay that you will see the park during daylight and also during dark (it is beautiful when it's dark!)
- If you have small children and you are going to the Adventure Park, I would recommend the Disney Junior - Live on stage show. It is a short show, it is easy-going, there are no huge queues and it showcases the Disney channel TV show characters in a fun and engaging way that suits small children. It's not the most popular / advertised show, but it served the purpose for making magical experiences for our then 2 year and 11 months -old daughter. (Finns: Disney Junior ohjelmat eivät näy Suomessa, eli lapselle tämä show sopii parhaiten jos tietää edes jotakin näistä hahmoista: Minni Hiiri, Mikki hiiri, Iines, Aku Ankka, Doc McStuffins, Captain Jake)
- If you have small children who enjoy seeing the Disney characters and you go to the Disney Park, I would recommend going to the Plaza Inn breakfast buffet. It was more on the pricey side for a breakfast buffet, but all worth it as you can eat your Mickey mouse shaped waffles (topped with super yummy caramel sauce) while the classic Disney characters stroll along the jolly diners and come meet you in person. They spend more time talking to you and you can take more fun photos together than in the actual attractions where you have to wait for your turn (we waited 35 minutes alone to see Minnie Mouse at Minnie Mouse's house and the meet lasted for about 1 minute ;) .
- Download the Disneyland mobile app (link HERE) to see wait times, browse maps, locate Disney Characters and more.
- Buy your tickets beforehand to avoid queueing for tickets (as on a busy day you already have to queue to get to the parking lot, the security check and to get in the actual park area - we waited 30 minutes alone in the security check line)
- If you plan to go to many attractions utilize the Disneyland FASTPASS tickets. Learn more abou themHERE.
I hope that some of these tips are useful to you if you are going to Disneyland. It is really a magical place and I am sure there is no child in the world who will not love it <3. And I warn you, the Disney magic is contagious; at first we got scared of the massive crowds, but at the end of the day, we didn't want to leave :)