Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tips and Secrets for Disneyland

In my previous blog post, I shared some ways that we save money at Disneyland,  Today, I will be sharing things you shouldn't miss while you are there and tips to make your trip more enjoyable and special.

  1. If you are celebrating anything (birthday, anniversary, wedding, engagement, first visit, honeymoon, retirement, family reunion, etc.) stop into Guest Services once you enter the park.  In Disneyland, this is to the left, before you reach the Fire Station.  At California Adventure, it is to the left, just past Oswald's.  There you can let the Cast Member know what you are celebrating, and they will give you and the people in your group each a pin reflecting the celebration, for free!  (And do not worry, they don't ask for proof)
  2. Utilize the Fast Pass system.  You can use your park tickets to get Fast Passes for the more popular rides.  These are time stamped and tell you to return during a certain time frame.  This allows you to skip long lines and do something else.  Last year (2013) Disneyland started enforcing the return times, so make sure you get back in time.  There is a 15 minute grace period, however.  
  3. I suggest entering the park, getting a FP for Space Mountain, riding Space Mountain, then hoping on Star Tours, then heading over to Indiana Jones and from there, working your way clockwise around the park.  If you have little kids, always start with Peter Pan.  That line get's long and stays long, very quickly.
  4. World of Color (WOC) is a great water show at DCA.  You want to grab a ticket for this early in the day.  The tickets are free and are acquired the same way a FP is.  The machines are located next to Grizzly River Run.  The Blue section offers the best view of the show.  If you get in the red section, you can get a great view by sitting in the front,"wet" section.  As long as it is not windy, you barely get misted.  If there are multiple showings, try to get the last showing of the day.  It is less crowded.
  5. Corn Dogs at Disneyland are amazing.  There are three places to get them: The Corn Dog cart on Main Street (which is the busiest), The Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland, and Corn Dog Castle in DCA near Goofy's Sky School.  These last two are usually not busy.

  6. After riding The Jungle Cruise, ask a Cast Member for a map of The Jungle Cruise.  It's free.
  7. If you want a good spot for the parade, have someone in your party grab a spot along Main Street about 90 minutes early.  I usually pack my Kindle to read while I wait.
  8. If the Lilly Belle is running on the tracks, head up to the Main Street Station first thing and request a ride.  This is a first-come, first-serve basis.  The Lilly Belle was for Walt's wife.
  9. Lines long all over the park?  Have fun going back and forth on Main Street in all of the different forms of transportation taking you from the train station to the castle.  The fire truck will even give you free stickers.
  10. Better rides for nighttime: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, California Screamin, Tower of Terror, Radiator Springs, and Matterhorn.
  11. If you see the Fairy Godmother - tell her you need her magic to make your baby a girl.  I am living proof this works.  (Results not guaranteed) 
  12. Each park has a Baby Care center where you can nurse your baby, warm up bottles, and change diapers.  They also have extra supplies on hand if you have run out.
  13. Feeling sick or get hurt?  The first aid station is basically a mini-hospital.  You can go there for treatment.
  14. In New Orleans Square there is a green door with the address of 33.  This is Club 33, an exclusive restaurant if you have a membership or know someone who does.  Most people like to get their photo taken in front of it.
    Inside Club 33 during a tour
  15. Fun Fact: Upstairs, alongside Club 33, is the empty room that was once meant to be a private dance club.  Now it just holds storage.
  16. Tip for being first out of the stretching rooms on Haunted Mansion: As you enter the lobby of the mansion, if you enter the doors to the left, go to the right wall.  If you enter the room straight ahead, go to the wall on your left.
  17. Arrive Early!  If the park opens at 9 am, be there at 8 am.  One lucky family at the front of the gate gets chosen every morning to be the first official guests of the day.  Usually, around 10-15 minutes before park opening, they start letting people in all the way to the hub in front of the castle.  The first few hours of park opening are typically slow and you can get on a lot of rides.
  18. You can get free water at any restaurant just by asking.  Some restaurants have water carts where you can fill your water bottle up yourself.  Make sure to drink a lot of water while you are walking around.  Personally, I think the water in Anaheim tastes nasty, so we bring a case or two of water and pack several bottles into our backpack.
  19. You can also get hot water for free if you ask.  Pack some cocoa or hot cider packets for nighttime warm treats.
  20. Take pictures with the Indian twins - one on Main Street and one in Frontierland.

  21. Bring your own stroller!  Having your own stroller will save you money and give you a place to store your stuff.
  22. Want to see the world's worst anniversary present?  Head over to Frontierland and view Walt's anniversary present to Lilly - a petrified tree from Colorado.  Shouldn't us wives also be so lucky?
  23. Interested in the stories behind the Main Street windows?  Go to Guest Services for a free printout of all the windows and who they are named after.
  24. Get the right app!  Apps like MouseWait give you up-to-date ride line times and show schedules for the day.
  25. Check out the petting zoo behind Big Thunder.  At Christmastime, Santa and his reindeer can also be found there.
  26. Pay attention as you enter the ballroom/dining room scene on Haunted Mansion.  Next to the second to last pillar, there is a large spider which covers the bullet-hole from an incident back in the 1970's.  It was too expensive to replace the large pane of glass so they covered up the hole with the spider.
  27. If you are visiting while Haunted Mansion is set up as Haunted Mansion Holiday, look closely in the attic scene to try and find the Monkey Bride.  Her red heart gives her away and she can be tricky to find.
  28. The Laughing Stock Co. in Frontierland give shows throughout the day.  They are hilarious and pull people out of the audience to participate.  My husband was chosen once and I was dying with laughter. 
  29. If you are Deaf they have select shows and rides that are interpreted at certain times of the day.  Stop by Guest Services for the daily schedule.
  30. Dole Whip Floats are the best snack in the park!  The line gets really long though, so head into the waiting queue for Tiki Room and order on the other side.  You can actually walk right back out without entering the show.
  31. Of all of the character meals, Minnie and Friend's is my favorite as far as price and selection.  If you are willing to splurge, Goofy's Kitchen serves EVERYTHING!  Make your reservation around 10:30 so you can fill up for breakfast and lunch.
  32. Blue Bayou is the restaurant "in" Pirates of the Caribbean.  While some may disagree with me, I found the food to be just "okay," but everyone should try it first.  When making reservations, request a water-side table.
  33. If you are spending a special evening with your spouse, there is childcare available at Grand California Hotel if you are a guest there.  The Napa Rose, which is also in the hotel, is my favorite splurge meal on property.
  34. Tiger Tails are a popular treat and can be found in Pooh's Corner, back at the exit of Splash Mountain.
  35. Innoventions is boring, but a great place to sit and escape the heat if you need to.
  36. Star Tours offers 54 different possible scenarios on your tour.  One lucky person on each ride is selected as the Rebel Spy on board.  You can celebrate your luck at getting picked by getting the special Rebel Spy pin in the Star Traders shop as you exit the ride.
  37. If you have a little girl, take her for a princess-worthy makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.  Prices vary.
  38. If you are flying in, John Wayne Airport is closest to Disneyland.  I like getting a reservation with the Super Shuttle (around $10) to take me to my hotel.
  39. McDonald's is located across the street from the park if you want to grab less expensive food there.  Prices are still higher at this McDonald's than your local branches.
  40. If you are staying in a suite, you can order groceries from Von's.  If you have never had a delivery from them, your first delivery is free.  Order online before you go and have them scheduled to be delivered after you arrive.  Alcohol can be delivered too.  If you are staying at the Grand California, they will hold the items for you in their fridge and then deliver them to your room when you request them.  
  41. Forget tour guide  books - you can get all the planning tips and advice you need online from blogs or sites like Mice Chat and DisBoards.
  42. The Plaza Inn has a delicious fried chicken plate that is $14 and is enough food for two adults to share (and still not finish it!).
  43. Starbucks is now located on Buena Vista Street in DCA.
  44. Taste Pilot in Condor Flats serves American faire with an all-you-can-eat toppings bar.   Yum!
  45. If you want great scores on Buzz Lightyear and Toy Story Midway Mania, watch YouTube tutorials for tips, secrets, and Easter eggs.
  46. Pack a poncho (or grab a Mickey one in the parks) to have on hand in case it rains and for riding the water rides.  You WILL get wet on Grizzly River Run.  If you are me, you will get soaked while everyone else in your inner tube gets misted.
  47. Above Snow White's Scary Adventures, in the window, the Evil Queen shows herself every few seconds.  Also, touching the golden apple as you enter the ride queue will trigger some cool sound effects.
  48. As you walk the queue for Indiana Jones, use a decoder card to decipher the writings on the wall.  
  49. Also while in line for Indiana Jones, make sure to shake the bamboo pole and pull the rope, even though the signs warn you not to.  These trigger special effects.
    From Finding Mickey
  50. In Coke Corner, there are an even number of red and white lightbulbs.  Find the one that is half white and half red.
  51. Head to Pirate Liar on Tom Sawyer's Island to let the kids run around.  There are tons of cool tunnels, bridges, and things to play with and manipulate here.
  52. A great souvenir are the pressed pennies.  They are located all over the parks and only 51 cents to have made.  During Christmastime they bring out special pressed nickel machines. 
  53. There are some great tours at Disneyland.  My younger son and I really enjoyed the Holiday Tour where you get a commemorative pin, hot chocolate in a travel mug, and treat as part of your ticket price.  The Walk in Walt's Footsteps tour is also incredible and includes a pin and lunch.  I wouldn't recommend this one for small children.  Both tours take you to the front of several ride lines.
  54. Utilize the single rider lines for many of the rides in the park.  These lines are much shorter than the main line.  Just know that you will not get to sit with your family or friends.
  55. Check the times on the daily attractions schedule to find out when the Flag Retreat Ceremony is.  This is a very cool procedure to watch.
  56. Must Pack items: water bottle, portable charger for your phone (I like this one), poncho, camera, snacks, sunscreen, band aids if you get a blister (and so you don't have to hobble to the first aid), and a light hoodie for cool evenings.
  57. Make sure to check out the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-thru.  This hidden attraction offers beautiful views of scenes from the film.

  58. You can get delicious garlic fries (pom frites) at Cafe Orleans and also try the signature Monte Cristo sandwich (which is less expensive here than at Blue Bayou).
  59. Inside the gift shop in Adventureland there is a magic lamp that you can put quarters into for a nice surprise.
  60. In addition to Pin Trading, the Vinylmations are also trade-able around Disneyland.  Try to pick some up off of Ebay for cheap and trade them for a Vinylmation of your choice at certain stores that do trades.  There are select ones for trading, you cannot trade for a brand-new one off the shelf.
  61. Trader Sam's in front of the Disneyland Hotel has wonderful drink selections and live, themed music.  This is a great place to relax in the evening.
  62. If your balloon pops, Disneyland will replace it for free.  Their special Mickey balloons also last forever!
  63. The Sword in the Stone really will come out, but only for a lucky few.  
  64. Benefits of staying on-site: early entry into the parks and a special entrance into DCA if you are staying at the Grand California.
  65. Free WiFi and outlets are available in the lounge at the Grand California.
  66. It is worth the splurge, at least once, to stay at the Grand California.  Every little detail in the rooms are amazing - from plush bathrobes, to large Jacuzzi tubs, to a channel that plays the WOC music for you so you can hear it clearly while watching from your window (if you have a view of it, that is.)  If your room doesn't offer a view of WOC, you can go to their private balcony with space heaters to watch the show without the crowd. 
  67. Indiana Jones looks like you have the option of going through three doors as your jeep begins the ride, but actually, that is a facade and the three "doors" rotate.  There is only one real track.  Don't believe me?  Turn around as you go through the doors and you will see the track that the facade rotates on.
  68. Keep an eye out for celebrities.
    Hello Mr. Sandler!
  69. Adults can order off of the kids menu.
  70. The Boudin Bread Factory tour gives out free samples of sourdough bread.
  71. Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, and sometimes a few other friends come out to Coke Corner around 2:30 everyday to play Musical Chairs.  This is not listed in the daily entertainment guide.
  72. Kids have a better chance at getting selected for the Star Wars Jedi School if they wear Star Wars gear, have a homemade sign, and/or are jumping and yelling loudly.
  73. Go through the art gallery on Main Street to see park and ride models and memorabilia from Disneyland History.  You can also watch Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln in here.
  74. Snow White's wishing well sings. 
  75. You are not allowed to run in the parks.  You are however, permitted to skip and frolic.  Both get you quickly to your destination.


  1. Great list! Here are a couple add-ons:
    38a. If taking SuperShuttle from John Wayne Airport, be sure to check online for discount codes to use when booking your reservation. Sites like retailmenot often have codes that can save you as much as $3 per person, each way!

    52a. Guest Relations in Disneyland has a list of the penny machines that you can ask for. It is usually "sort of" up to date. There is also a website that is pretty up to the minute - - that maintains a location checklist and their front page lists news of new coins and machines.

  2. Yes! During the scavenger hunts, to save time, we have stopped and picked up a pressed penny list from guest services :)

  3. My family and I were chosen as The Guest of the Day in August this year! We were so stoked to not have to pay for parking and to have that prime spot!

    1. That is amazing! How did you get picked? Did you also ride in the parade?

    2. Actually my husband just said "prices keep getting higher and higher huh, we just drove here from Oregon" and the cast member handed us our money back and said "You've been chosen as the guest of the day!" :-D