Disneyland: tips for visiting the happiest place on earth

It seems like everyone is off to Disneyland. How exciting! Disneyland had never even registered with me before having Emmie and then we went when she was two and it was the most incredible experience…and we’ve just returned from our fifth trip. That may seem crazy but we both have the most incredible time and it’s a magical holiday for fun, love and bonding.

Here are some of our tips and favourite things to do when we’re at the happiest place on earth.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel.

We stay onsite at this hotel and it is absolutely magical. Yes it’s expensive, but if you can pull it off it is hands down the most amazing place to stay. Its back door opens onto Disney California Adventure for goodness sake making perfect if you’re traveling with small children – I used to bring Emmie back to the hotel for her nap and it was so easy.

It has a pianist playing all the Disney scores past and present. It has gorgeous swimming pools, kids club and activities, and…it’s the vibe. Keep checking on the Disney website, sometime specials come up and if they do – GRAB THEM!! There are other Disneyland Resorts if you can’t get a spot here, and friends stay at the Howard Johnson every year and also rave about it. You can also get cheaper accommodation that is a short distance away. There is accommodation for every budget.

Magic Morning.

If you’re staying on-site at a Disneyland Resort then make sure you get up nice and early for the Magic Mornings. They’re on every day at alternate parks – Disneyland and Californian Adventure and are for Disneyland Resort guests only. You’ll have an hour in the park before everyone else! It’s the perfect time to beeline to your favourite rides and enjoy the before the crowds arrive.

Getting to the most popular rides first.

Disneyland can get crowded. I’ve never found the wait for rides too long, but it depends on the day. So, it’s best to get to the popular rides – or the rides you most want to go on – early in the day before the crowds build. Make sure you get to the gate about half an hour before opening time and then make a beeline for your favourite ride.


We really enjoy Fantasmic and see it every year.The best way to do it is with a dinner package where you eat at one of the restaurants and get reserved seating for the show later in the evening. Don’t be tempted to try and see without booking tickets as you have to stake your space hours before and it’s just not worth it when you can pay around AUD$25 per person (less for kids) for an On the Go dining package and reserved seating.

Mickey’s Magical Map.

Don’t miss this fabulous performance with singing, dancing, animation and Mickey! This is probably our favourite of all the shows at Disneyland.

Character dining.

We love the Disney character dining. Our fave is Mickey’s Surf’s Up breakfast. It is consistently fun, and while there have been changes over the four years we’ve been visiting, it is still packed with characters, the food is great and the kids can get up and dance with Mickey, Minnie and their pals. Goofy’s Pizza Kitchen, Minnie’s Breakfast in the Park and the Chip and Dale and friends breakfast in the Grand Californian Hotel are all fabulous, and if it’s princesses you’re after, lunch at Ariel’s Grotto is a huge meal with many Princesses circling the room. It’s a really fun experience and the kids love it.

Fast pass.

Fast passes are so handy once you get the swing of it. You use your park ticket to get fast passes for many rides throughout the parks. You simply go to the Fast Pass machine located near the ride and insert your ticket. You’ll get a pass with a return time for when you come back to the ride and join an express line. It can save heaps of time and can help you plan your rides for the day. You can get one fast pass per person every two hours hour. For really popular rides you might want to grab a fast pass, wait in the queue and take the ride, so you have another fast pass ride waiting for you when you’ve finished.

Single rider.

The single rider line operates on some rides too. Disney uses single riders to make up spare spaces on rides, like California Screaming or Splash Mountain. It’s a separate line that is often short, although many groups of people are now using this line to avoid queuing and get through quickly so it’s often not a fast as it used to – and with everything it’s the luck of the draw and how many people are at that particular ride at that time. This is super handy for families of three or when only one person wants to take the ride.

Rainy days.

When you see the rain coming down don’t be sad – this is your opportunity to ride the rides without the crowds. We have stayed on rides five or six times around simply because no one was waiting to get on! I will say that when it’s raining Disneyland doesn’t feel as magical as usual, however it doesn’t rain that much in California so the next day will likely be super sunny and magical.

Take your pram in, or hire one at the Park.

There is pram parking everywhere, and there is a lot of walking so little kids will need rest time.  I take my valuables on rides with me, but leave everything else hanging on the pram. It’s also much more efficient…hahah you should see me bolting around the park with the pram! Speed!

If you have any Disney questions please ask in the comments or send me an email! We love Disneyland and always happy to help. Evie xo