11 Tips to Visit Disneyland Like A Local

  1. Understand The Ticket You Have. Disneyland isn’t just one big amusement park; it’s two – Disneyland and California Adventure.  When buying your ticket, make sure you find out whether you are only getting access to one park - either Disneyland or California Adventure - or if you will have access to both parks with a park hopper ticket.

  2. Wear Comfortable Shoes (And Clothes). This tip probably seems like a no brainer, but every time I go there are always some people who opt for cute over comfort. I mean you can still be cute but do it in tennis shoes, not heels. Also I’d skip wearing a dress because getting in and out of rides is usually not smoothly done in a dress. 

  3. Bring Water. I often hear concerns about whether food and drinks are allowed. I can’t speak for others, but I can tell you I’ve brought unopened bottles of water into Disneyland – and other theme parks – multiple times without anyone questioning it. Save yourself some money and heat stroke by buying water at a grocery store or convenience store beforehand. If worse comes to worse, there are lockers outside the entrance for storage.

  4. Go Early. The parks open at 8:00am but most of the major crowds don’t show up until a couple hours after opening, which gives you shorter lines for the rides if you get there early. It also helps beat the heat if you’re going in summer since the sun isn’t as intense. 

  5. Know That You Can’t Hit Every Ride In A Day. On our last trip to Disneyland, we were there for 12 hours and - between Disneyland and California Adventure, we had walked more than 8 miles each, and still we didn’t get anywhere close to going on all the rides. Not only are both parks very large and spread out, but the usual waiting time in line is also approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour for each ride. Since you aren’t going to get to everything in one day, pick the rides you most want to do and make sure those get done first in case you run out of time and energy for the rest.   

  6. Use Fast Passes. Not all rides have fast passes but about a fourth of the rides do. How they work is simple: take your park admission ticket and gently insert it into the fast pass machine located next to the ride. If you need help, ask a nearby employee. The machine will then spit out a fast pass reminder and your park admission ticket. This is the important part: Don’t Lose Your Park Admission Ticket. Your fast pass will list an hour-long window in which you can return to the ride and line up in a much shorter fast pass line with a much shorter wait (about 5-10 minutes). When you arrive within your designated window of time for that ride, pull out your park admission ticket to scan it. You will also need the park admission ticket to switch back and forth between parks from Disneyland to California Adventure.

  7. Get Out Of The Sun. This applies less in the colder months obviously but if you are sweating your way through the park, there are several rides that can help you cool down and get you out of the sun. If you’re in California Adventure, my favorite rides when I’m desperate to cool off are The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and Monsters, Inc. Mike and Scully to the Rescue. They aren’t the most thrilling rides but the line for both - all of which is shaded from the sun - goes very fast and, once on the ride, you can enjoy the air conditioning. In the late afternoon, many families with young children start leaving the park, which means quick lines for the cool, calm indoor rides like those found in Disneyland’s Fantasyland section: Peter Pan’s Flight, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and more.  Source: HarshLight, via Flickr.

  8. Choose Food Wisely. In case you weren’t aware, food and drinks are very expensive at Disneyland. If you want the least expensive options, try corndogs or a pizza the whole group can share. If you want a unique treat, try the Monte Cristo (pictured above) at Café Orleans, which tastes great and is large enough to easily split as a shared meal between two people in order to save on the cost.

    Super Secret Hack: Just between us, if you go to the Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats window, ask for a chocolate lemon swirl in a cup (from their secret menu). They can swirl the vanilla and lemon, but not the chocolate and lemon so they give you two giant servings of frozen yogurt side-by-side in a cup for the price of one. And the combination of lemon and chocolate is delicious!

  9. Wiggle Your Toes. Walking a lot can be hard on your feet but what’s worse is all of the long period of standing while waiting in line. This tip comes via my father, who is a former marine with years of experience standing in formation. He says: wiggle your toes, and don’t lock your knees. This is in order to keep your blood circulation flowing, to prevent your feet from swelling, and to prevent you from passing out.  Source: xiquinhosilva, via Flickr
  10. Buy Souvenirs At The End. There are tons of souvenir shops throughout Disneyland and California Adventure but it’s important to ignore them until the end. No one wants to break a limited-edition porcelain Mickey Mouse on Space Mountain, or stand in long lines and then not be able to fit a massive stuffed Goofy into the tight space of a ride. Wait until right before you leave; I promise there will be plenty of stores near the exit.

  11. The park is always growing and changing. Like I said, I go to Disneyland a lot, but even going every year or two, I always see something new. In the last few years, California Adventure has vastly expanded to rival the experiences at Disneyland. But don’t assume Disneyland has been static because it’s still expanding too! Recently, Disneyland added a new section called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge - but here’s the thing, the rules for the new Star Wars section are different because it requires a reservation to enter. What does all of this mean? Well, the tips and tricks above have served me pretty well consistently throughout the years, but be flexible - because rides change, construction is always ongoing, and they have probably moved the parking entrance since your previous visit. 


If you have any questions regarding Disneyland or California Adventure, please comment below and we will do our best to answer. We’d love to hear from you!