When I was asked to participate in the Disney Parks Verizon campaign here at Babble I was thrilled. I know more about the Disney Parks than most people know about their own city. The Lovin family took countless vacations to Disneyland when I was a kid, and after some impressive arm wrestling, I even convinced my nonDisneyphile husband to consent to a Disneyland honeymoon. (He was later heard as dusk fell on day one of our Disneyland honeymoon sighing, “This place is so magical!” Goner.)
Since we’ve been a lot we kind of know all the tricks. There are tricks? Oh, there are tricks. And I know them all. And I’m happy to share them with you! But only if you promise to use them responsibly. Do you promise? Okay then. I trust you. Click to continue and let’s rock and roll.
Have A Strategy 1 of 11You've got to have a plan. Tell the more spontaneous members of your family to suck it! ;) For our family, what works best is the One Land At A Time Approach. We like to start in Adventure Land (after we've ridden Small World first, tradition). Because Adventure Land's the best Land, that's why. Have a framework, but also, don't be afraid to deviate from it if necessary.
Photo via The Disney Wiki.
Know The Back Paths, And Use Them 2 of 11There's this quiet little walk way between Fantasy Land and Fronteir Land at the Disneyland in Anaheim that I've come to associate with my dear old dad. He showed me where it was and it changed my Disney experience. It's never crowded, and typically all of the quaint little details that make Disney so special are packed away in those corners. There's also a bathroom and a churro cart with no lines.
Photo via DooYoo.
Know When To Ride The E Tickets 3 of 11Have you heard of this term? E tickets? When Disneyland first opened you would buy ticket packs, with certain numbers of tickets marked A, B, and so on. E meant the best.The scariest. E ticket rides are the Mountains. A ticket rides are the dark rides, like Mr. Toad (I love Mr. Toad). You only had a certain number of E tickets, to keep the lines moving and the wait times low. Now it's a free for all, and the lines get LONG. So the best times to ride the E ticket rides, if you don't have a Fast Pass, that is, is during fireworks, parades, and other shows. There are no lines! The rollercoasters feel way faster in the dark. And sometimes when you're at the top of Big Thunder or Splash Mountain you can catch bits of the parades happening below you and sparks of fireworks going on above you. It feels like magic. My advice to you is this: see the shows once, and then use those times the following days to ride the E tickets over and over and over.
Photo via Wikipedia.
Save Fantasy Land For Last 4 of 11Fantasy Land is always packed. And of course it is! It's where the magic starts! But unless you have littles of your own, save it for the last hour before the park closes. The lines will be shorter, and the lights will be magical.
Photo via Daily Disney.
Know How To See The Fireworks 5 of 11About an hour and a half before the fireworks start, the center of Disney parks start to get a little crazy. It's impossible to get around, and staking a spot can feel treacherous. If you're not using the time to ride rides over and over, consider taking the hour before a show starts to shop the Main Street shops. It'll be fairly quiet and, once the show starts, you can quietly slip into the street with your group near the back to see it all without risking being crushed by millions of fanny packs in mouse ears. Especially good if you have littles who might not appreciate the loud noise, so you have somewhere quiet and well-lit to duck into.
Photo via All Parks Fireworks.
Utilize Your Fast Passes 6 of 11There is a definite trick to using your Fast Passes to their full potential. About an hour before your Fast Pass is active, you're able to get another one. For serious ride riders, you should have a Fast Pass in queue at all times. Get one for Splash, then an hour before you ride get one for Space. The most popular rides will "sell out" earliest, so list your priorities and get those passes first. Don't waste time on Fast Passes for rides you're only wishy washy about. Like Winnie The Pooh. And assign one person as the designated Fast Pass Finder. If you all go as a group you're wasting time. Think of Fast Passes as a military operation and ALWAYS read the fine print on the bottom so you can get more the first moment you can.
Photo via Discovering The Magic Kingdom.
Stay On Park 7 of 11Growing up we always stayed at small motels on the outskirts of town, packing in peanut butter sandwiches and using the free shuttles that run around town, but when we came on our honeymoon we changed it up and stayed at the Grand Californian. And holy game changer! If you can swing it, I highly highly recommend staying on park. It changes the whole nature of your vacation. You are fully immersed, getting around is a breeze, and if you buy any souvenirs they can be hand-delivered to your room for you. No more lugging bags on rides and stuffing them beneath your feet!
Photo via Jim Zimmerlin.
Make Traditions 8 of 11Our family tradition has always been to ride It's A Small World first. Something about that ride just puts me right in the mood. I love it. Even if your family won't be visiting the park often, find something that can be your tradition and make a big deal of it. Is it hotdogs for lunch at the Carnation Cafe? Is it ice cream sundaes during the fireworks? Feeling like you "own" a little part of the park just seems to make the whole vacation feel more special.
Photo via TMCnet.
Churro Early. Churro Often. 9 of 11There are so many amazing treats at Disney, but for the love of all that is holy, eat yourself a churro! Frequently! They keep the grouchy "I've been in the sun too long and my feet hurt and these lines are crazy and if my sister looks at me like that ONE MORE TIME I might have to KILL HER" blues at bay.
Photo via Yelp User Scott B.
Don’t Skip The Funky Rides 10 of 11What do the Tiki Room, the Hall of Presidents, The Jungle Cruise, and Country Bear Jamboree have in common? They are dusty, musty, old-fashioned, and I suspect they hold the soul of Walt Disney. No really, I do. It's easy to skip these rides, they're slow, they disrupt your momentum, they're out of the way, and chances are no one's ever gone on and on to you about how awesome they were when they were there last. But they ARE. They are SO awesome. Go on them. It's good for you. You'll love them. I promise.
Photo via Certain.com.
Eat A Dole Whip 11 of 11Many people don't know about Dole Whips. This is my best advice: get one. You can only find them near the entrance to the Tiki Room and sometimes the lines are ridiculous. But worth it. Especially on a hot day when they've melted just so.
Photo via The Dole Whip Tumblr.