Is your family planning a trip to Disneyland in 2023 or 2024? It is the most magical place in the world; however, taking your kids to Disneyland can feel stressful and overwhelming. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! Here we are sharing our Disneyland tips for families so your family can have the best visit possible.
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In this post, we share the 12 best Disneyland pro tips for families. These insider secrets to Disneyland help save you time, money, and frustration. We will discuss how to plan your Disneyland itinerary and why you need our Disneyland Planning Guide. Plus, what you can do to best prepare for your vacation with our Disneyland Tips and Tricks 2023 and beyond.
How To Plan a Disneyland Itinerary
Our best tips for Disneyland start with planning a family vacation to Disney. There are plenty of things you need to be aware of before your family arrives in Anaheim, California.
Get our Disneyland Planning Guide with Printable Worksheets to help your family plan a fun, easy, stress-free, and magical vacation to Disneyland in California. It includes our best tips when going to Disneyland with children. The 75 printable pages include a selection of Disneyland vacation planning information, Disneyland vacation planner templates, and printable worksheets.
Disneyland Tips and Tricks 2023
These tips and tricks for Disneyland will help you know what to do when you visit the Disneyland Resort with children.
1. Download the Disneyland App
A lot of tips for Disneyland revolve around apps that you can download. The best apps to download before your Disney vacation include the Official Disneyland App (it’s a must) and Play Disney. Planning your Disneyland itinerary will be much easier to navigate if you are familiar with these apps.
You can use the Disneyland Resort website on your desktop and definitely put the mobile app on your phone. This will help with planning your Disneyland itinerary by providing access to information about your trip before you go and while you’re at Disney. The focus of the app is based on the idea of “Imagineering,” which is to make it easy and enjoyable for visitors at Disney.
The main features of the Disneyland App include access to:
- Maps of each Disneyland theme park with locations and informational lists about Wait Times for Rides, Attractions, Characters, Dining, Entertainment, Restrooms, Events & Tours, PhotoPass, Guest Services, Shops, Resort Hotels, Spa & Recreation.
- Dining Reservations
- Buy Tickets and Passes
- Make a Park Reservation
- Park Hours & Info
- Resort Hotel Reservations
- Mobile Food Orders
- Play Disney Parks
- Shop Merchandise
- Disney Genie Service
- Tickets to After Hours events
- Virtual Queues
- Disney PhotoPass and download photos from Memory Maker
The Disneyland App will help you navigate your way through the parks as well as let you know what’s closed and how long it takes to get from place to place. The app will provide information about your Disney hotel room, waiting time for rides, the map of the park you’re in, and more! Make sure your older kids have a copy on their phone, so they can keep in touch about where to meet up if they get lost!
2. Familiarize Yourself With Park Hours
One of our Disneyland tips for first-time visitors is to check the park hours ahead of time. Park hours vary widely depending on the time of year and day of the week. Both of the Disneyland theme parks can have varying opening and closing times. These hours of operation can vary by multiple hours from day to night, so planning your time appropriately is essential. If you want to ride the most popular attractions, prepare to be there first thing in the morning!
Rope drop is the term used to refer to the official opening time of a Disneyland theme park. Arriving at the park at least 30 to 60 minutes before the rope drop will give you the best chance of doing the most popular rides with a short wait before the crowds arrive. Magic Hours allow guests staying “on-property” at a Disneyland Resort hotel to have Early Entry, enabling guests to enter the theme park 30 minutes before the regular park opening.
You should consider these park opening and closing times when making park reservations. During the pandemic, restrictions were put in place, and park capacity was reduced, so park reservations were introduced. Before booking, check the availability of Disneyland theme park reservations. Due to the limited availability of park reservations, it is recommended that you make park reservations immediately after purchasing your admission.
Best Disneyland Touring Tips
When planning your Disney itinerary and which day(s) to make reservations at which parks, I would consider the following:
- Do not plan to spend a late night watching fireworks at Disneyland Park (leaving at 10:00 – 11:00 pm), followed by an early morning doing rope drop (arriving at the park by 7:00 am). If you and your kids are exhausted from being on the go non-stop, then it is no fun for anyone.
- If possible, arrange to have a late-night followed by a rest day.
- Use your rest day to relax by the pool or have fun on the waterslide at your hotel. Then enjoy a Character Dining experience at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa or Disneyland Hotel.
- Also, use a rest day to explore Downtown Disney District, and then have an early morning for rope drop the following day.
- If you are staying on-property at a Disneyland Resort hotel, they are close to the Disneyland theme park entrances. It would be easy to return to your hotel during the day and let the kids take a nap before you head back to the park for some evening fun and fireworks.
3. Choose a Less Busy Time to Visit Disneyland
What are the best Disneyland tips 2023? One of our Disneyland budget tips for families is to use our Disneyland Crowd Calculator so you can visit the Disneyland Resort on days when it is expected to be less busy. This is our prediction based on the popularity of holidays and events, as well as admission ticket pricing when lower prices coincide with fewer visitors and shorter wait times.
4. Reconsider the Disney Park Hopper
A Disneyland Park Hopper ticket allows you to visit both theme parks in one day! They are more expensive than a single park ticket – typically an additional $65 per person – but it may be worth it if you want to spend time at different parks.
However, if this is your first time visiting Disneyland with kids, I would not choose the Park Hopper option. You cannot use the park hopper to enter another park until after 11:00 AM, depending on whether the park is at capacity. There is more than enough to fill your day at each park. Instead, optimize the actual time you have there and stay in one park per day.
5. Use the Disney Genie Service and Lightning Lane
Disneyland has recently launched its replacement for FastPasses. Guests can pay more to skip the line by utilizing a Lightning Lane on certain attractions.
One of the best tips and tricks for Disneyland is to use the Disney Genie service. And on days when the parks are busy, consider upgrading to Disney Genie Plus or purchasing Individual Lightning Lane.
Read this article to learn more about how Disney Genie Plus and Lighting Lanes work at Disneyland.
6. Don’t try to do it all
Pick the 2-3 rides or attractions at each park that are the most important to your family. If you can get these done during your day at the park, you will feel a sense of achievement.
Your first trip to Disney may feel overwhelming, and if it’s a busy time of year with long lines, you likely won’t have time in one day to do every single attraction at a park. And especially when you visit Disney with kids, there is certainly a limit to how much they/you can handle in one day.
Depending on how old your children are, certain parts of Disney will be more or less attractive to them. If you’re traveling with toddlers, prioritize seeing characters and spending time in the Disney Junior area at Disney California Adventure. Older kids may prefer to spend more time on thrill rides or trying out other attractions that might not be appropriate for little ones.
Regardless of their ages, it’s essential to be realistic about what you can/want to do in a day. Avoid meltdowns at Disney from the children (and the parents), and don’t try to do it all.
7. Get MagicBands for your Family
MagicBands are waterproof wristbands that resemble a bracelet or watch that you can easily touch to a sensor. Available in a wide variety of colors.
- Enter the Disney theme parks (with valid admission)
- Redeem Lightning Lane Selections
- Unlock your Disney Resort hotel room door
- Connect Disney PhotoPass images to your account
- Charge merchandise and food purchases to your Disney Resort hotel room
How to Get a MagicBand or Card
Order MagicBands for your family at least 11 days before your arrival at Disneyland if you would like them shipped to your home. Order at least 6 days before your arrival to have them shipped to your Disneyland Resort hotel. You may also purchase MagicBands when you arrive at Disneyland.
Once your pass is activated upon first admittance into the theme parks, your MagicBand order will display in your Disney Mobile App.
If you decide against purchasing MagicBands, then a touch to enter admission card works similarly. !t physically looks like a plastic credit card and will seamlessly connect to your reservations, park admission, and other plans and purchases. Pick up your admission card at your Disney Resort hotel or visit a Disneyland Will Call or Guest Relations window before your first park day.
8. Get Disney Photopass
What is Disney PhotoPass? Disney PhotoPass Service is another of the many ways that Disney makes your visits to their parks easier. Disney PhotoPass is a pass that captures pictures of your experience at Disney. Use this service at Disneyland to get unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads. You can access these pictures through the Disneyland app on your mobile device. Typically the pictures are available to view within a couple of hours (although it can take up to 24 hours for them to become available).
You can use the Disney PhotoPass card or MagicBand to link to your Disney account, where you can view and purchase individual photos. This is the best way to access and download ALL of the photographs taken during your Disney vacation.
Disney PhotoPass is the easiest way to get Disney photos of everyone in your family group. Therefore, no one is missing as they take a picture, and you don’t have to ask random strangers to snap a quick pic of your group. We were so glad we added this to our recent Disney vacation package, and we received many fantastic photos of our whole family together (which we don’t get very often).
Plan out any iconic photos that you definitely want to capture during your visit to Disneyland. Use the Photo Planner page to track the photo, location, and outfit (e.g. The whole family with Minnie and Mickey t-shirts and mouse ears in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle).
How much is Disney PhotoPass?
With a purchase of Disney Genie+ service, you get unlimited Disney PhotoPass digital downloads from your day! This also includes access to Disney PhotoPass Lenses, where you can use the mobile app to capture—through a bit of AR magic—photos and videos with uniquely-Disney experiences.
If you don’t have Disney Genie+, you can purchase PhotoPass+ One Week for $78. This gives you access to all your Disney PhotoPass photos, Magic Shots, and select attraction and dining photos captured in a week. You have 45 days to download these images, and then you can save and share these photos. There is also an option to do the PhotoPass+ One Day for $39.
9. Consider Bringing or Renting a Stroller
The Disneyland theme parks are huge. In fact, you will likely walk about 8-10 miles during a day at Disneyland, which is around 20,000 steps. You won’t want to walk for miles carrying your children in the heat.
One of our best Disneyland stroller tips is to bring a lightweight travel stroller if your child is preschool-age or younger (4 years and less). Even if your child is in early elementary age, you may choose to rent a stroller if they get tired.
Does Disneyland have strollers available to rent?
Yes, you can rent a stroller outside the entrance to the Disneyland theme parks and at the Downtown Disney District. Stroller rental starts at $18 per day, and this service is helpful if you don’t want to carry yours around all day.
One of our Disneyland budget tips is that there’s a discount if you pre-book and pay for the number of days you will require a stroller ahead of time.
It’s easy to navigate the Disneyland Resort with a stroller, and there are plenty of designated places for “stroller parking.” Using a Disneyland stroller tag like this makes it easier to identify YOUR stroller in a sea of identical-looking strollers.
10. Keep Track of your Children
Every parents worse nightmare is to lose their child in a public place. Even the most cautious parent can’t keep an eye on their child for every second of the day.
Children get very excited at Disneyland and may easily become distracted or wander off to see something that interests them. Before you know it you’ve got that knot in your stomach because you are separate from your child. You are scanning the busy Disneyland crowds trying to locate your child before the panic sets in.
That’s why one of our most important Disneyland safety tips is to use a tracking device to locate your child. We recomment using Apple Air Tags to easily keep track of your child in the Find My app on your iPhone. These Air Tag Bracelet for Kids are stylish and comfortable for your child to wear at Disneyland.
11. Pack Snacks for a Day at Disneyland
Disneyland is full of tempting food carts throughout the theme parks. But, one of the most important Disneyland pro tips to save money – and avoid a hangry meltdown – is to pack healthy snacks for Disneyland.
Our family will typically eat a good breakfast at our resort, then pack healthy snacks to hold everyone during the day. We prefer a less popular dining time around 3:00 PM in the afternoon. This is the perfect time to get out of the heat, rest in the AC and recharge with a meal.
Mid-afternoon dining reservations are less popular and much easier to book. And, dining in the mid-afternoon means we only buy one meal at Disneyland, which helps save money on our Disney vacation.
Our favorite Kid-Friendly Snacks for Disneyland include:
- Peanut Butter Crackers
- Trail Mix (nuts and dried fruit)
- Graham Crackers
- Granola Bars or Nutritional Bars
- Easy peel oranges like clementines
- Applesauce or Fruit & Veggie Pouches
- Cheese Sticks (stored in a backpack side pocket with a frozen water bottle to keep cold, and eaten earlier in the day)
- Fruit Gummy Snacks
- Rice Krispy Treats
Read this article to learn more about whether you can bring food into Disneyland.
12. Bring the Must-Have Accessories for Disneyland
One of our most important Disneyland tips for families is to bring the right Disneyland travel gear. Your day at the Disneyland Resort with children will be more comfortable if you bring these must-have accessories for Disneyland.
- Wear comfortable shoes and quick-dry clothing
- Disney T-shirts for the family and Mickey/Minnie Mouse ears are popular
- Waterproof jacket or poncho if rain is in the forecast
- Pack all your items in a Backpack
- Sunglasses and a Sun Hat for each family member
- Sunscreen and Bug Repellant (see also ‘Best Ointment for Insect Bites‘)
- Hand Sanitizer
- Refillable Water Bottle
- Kid-friendly Snacks
- Baby Wipes
- Change of clothes (especially if your child is potty training)
- Cell Phone with the My Disney Experience app
- Portable Charger Power Bank and charging cord for cell phone
- Credit card/cash
- MagicBand/Park Admission Ticket Card for each family member
- Pins to participate in the Disney Pin Trading
- Disneyland Planning Guide with Printable Worksheets
These tips for Disneyland with kids will help you navigate your times at the Disneyland theme parks. Our Disneyland tips for families reduce the vacation stress because you know what to do at Disneyland and what to bring for a Disneyland vacation. These Disneyland pro tips will enable you to take advantage of all the unique aspects of a Disney vacation and make your life easier inside the Disney parks.
Watch this Video about Disneyland Tips and Tricks 2023
For more about family travel, check out these posts:
Top 10 Best Things to do at Downtown Disney
When Is The Best Time To Visit Disneyland?
Disneyland Planning Guide with Printable Worksheets
Games To Play In Line At Disney
Disney Genie Plus Review
Which Is Better, Disney World Or Disneyland?
Can You Bring Food Into Disneyland?
Where To Stay at Disneyland California?
How Many Days in Disneyland?
How does the Lightning Lane work at Disneyland?
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