Five ways to de-stress Disneyland
There’s stress and then there’s Disneyland stress. Here’s five ways to sprinkle a little Fairy Godmother calm over your next visit.
1. Timing is everything
Travelling from Australia, the best time to visit Disneyland in terms of crowds and temperature is during the September school holidays. Closely followed by the January, when everyone else is chasing the snow in Canada and Colorado. Before you choose your dates make sure you scan the local calendars to avoid clashes with public holidays and special events in both Anaheim and surrounding suburbs. Try to avoid weekends and check the Disney website to ensure there aren’t any ride or attraction restrictions in place during your stay. The parks play host to countless corporate events and you don’t want to find Space Mountain is shut because Apple booked it for a conference.
Good To Know: Guests staying at one of the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort benefit from an Extra Magic Hour in either Disneyland Park of Disney California Adventure Park every day of their hotel stay. Guests who purchase a 3 Day Disneyland Resort Ticket or more benefit from one Magic Morning into Disneyland Park on select days.
2. Pre-book & app up
Seems so simple and yet it’s a deal breaker. Don’t forget to book your tickets in advance. This can save you hours at the entrance. There are lots of multiple day, multiple people packages available and all online. Do not forget.
Like Dora, you’re going to need a map. Don’t attempt the parks without one. You can download the Disneyland Map App straight to your phone. It has interactive maps of both California Adventure Land and Disneyland with information on ride wait times, GPS, zoom and a compass. It makes navigation between parks smooth and finding restaurants and bathrooms easy.
Good To Know: Hard-copy maps are free and available at the turnstile entrance to each park – super-easy to grab on the way through.
3. Stay on site
Staying at one of the Disney hotels will cut your stress in half. It’s expensive but you’re paying for access not accommodation. Staying on site means you can essentially step out of your hotel room and onto a ride. No cars, no carparks, no traffic from hell. A hotel room is particularly handy when you get soaked on a water ride or your child needs a nap.
Good to Know: the hotel with the best position is Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa but the less expensive Disneyland Hotel has recently undergone a full refurbishment with a clean, modern fit out. It’s also slightly quieter and only a short walk from the front gates. Additionally, there’s a monorail for guests that connects the hotels to the park’s entrance.
4. Fastpass or bust
Look for FastPass machines at the most popular attractions – Space Mountain, Matterhorn, Star Tours, California Screaming etc – they will display the time when you’re next able to ride with a FastPass. If that slot works for you, insert your park ticket into the machine to lock in your spot. Then, go enjoy other stuff until the time frame printed on your ticket arrives. Return to the ride and use the ‘FASTPASS’ line to jump the crowds.
Good to Know: You can only hold one FastPass at a time. So as soon as you’ve ridden, go and get another.
5. Book a character meal
One of the great things about Disneyland is Minnie, Mickey and all their friends wander around the park throughout the day. The problem is everyone wants to meet them – you might stand in a line for an hour waiting and then the character will finish their shift and disappear. This can bring on instant tears. In kids and adults. So, the best way to get photos and chat with characters in a civilised fashion is to book a meal at one of the many character themed restaurants. For my family, it was Aerial’s Grotto which is in California Adventure Park. We got all the Princesses in one hit and it was a great way to sit down and relax for an hour. Click here for more info.
Good To Know: The best breakfast option is Plaza Inn located inside Disneyland. Here, you can eat a stack of Mickey Mouse waffles with the entire cast of The Hundred Acre Wood.
Final Word…BE PREPARED, LIKE A BOY SCOUT
Forget about fashion and dress like Phil Dunphy. Disneyland is about comfort and comfort only. You will need a backpack (hands need to be free), good walking shoes and a hat. If you have kids under seven, I would consider a stroller (even if they’re long out of them), which you can hire at the park. Pack sunscreen, refillable water bottles, rain ponchos, Band-Aids and some extra plastic bags.
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