Our family just finished a 5-day trip to Disneyland. On the first day we were rookies and by the last day we were pros. I wanted to share with you Disneyland tips and the 10 things that I wish I knew sooner so you can be pros right from the start and have an amazing family vacation.
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Rope Drop refers to being in the park and in line when the park officially opens and the staff drop the rope for you. On our trip the park officially opened at 8. But you could get through security starting at 7 and you could get your ticket checked and get into the park at 7:30.
I recommend getting to security around 7 to 7:10 and into line to get into the park around 7:15. That’ll put you in a perfect opportunity for rope drop.
IMAGE DISNEYLAND TIPS 2022 | MY FAMILY AND I AS WE ENTER THE PARK
When you get to the park this early you’re ahead of the majority of people for the rides. Let’s face it most people want to sleep in on their vacation. This means that you won’t have to wait in crazy long lines and you’ll be able to accomplish a ton of rides before the park starts getting busy and often hot around noon.
One day we got to the park line at about 8 and were amazed at how much longer we had to wait for everything for just being a little bit later. The line to get in the park was much longer and then by the time we got in we had to wait way longer for each ride. Lesson learned you have to get there early to really maximize your day.
First things first, you need to download the Disneyland App. From there you can enter your park tickets, link tickets with family members and check your park reservations. You can check out the rides including wait times.
When you enter the park you can book Genie+ passes and order food for pick up as well. The app will also be where all of your professional pictures are stored.
If you want to take advantage of riding a lot of rides before it gets too busy you need to have a plan. Do a little research and decide which rides, shows or characters you want to see.
I recommend starting with the most popular rides first. For example, we wanted to check out the new Star Wars Rise of the Resistance Ride. This ride is always packed with waits over 2 hours during peak times.
This ride also does not offer a Genie+ pass. Unless you want to pay $20 extra for an individual lightning lane pass. (More on this later) So, we would head to this ride first thing and only have to wait about 15 minutes.
The most popular rides that most people are lined up for at rope drop are Star Wars Rise of the Resistance (they are lined up at Frontierland or Fantasyland), Indiana Jones Adventure (they are lined up at Adventureland) and Space Mountain (they are lined up at Tomorrowland).
I want to explain to you exactly how this works so you’ll have a heads up on the crowds. You have the option of purchasing a Genie+ plan with your ticket, or on the Disneyland app after you enter the park. The Genie+ plan is similar to the FastPass of the past but it costs an extra $20 per ticket.
In my opinion it’s totally worth it if you want to maximize riding rides especially if you’re visiting the park on weekends, the summer or during holidays. The rides listed below are eligible for the Genie+ passes.
It also includes free photos throughout the park. (More on this later)
Genie+ does not include passes to Star Wars Rise of the Resistance, in Disneyland or Radiator Springs Racers and Web Slingers: A Spiderman-man Adventure in Disney California Adventure Park. But you can purchase individual lightning lanes for those ones for an extra $18-20.
You can start using your Genie+ as soon as you enter the park. Even if you follow my rope drop recommendation and get there before 8. I recommend you book a ride while you are waiting in line for rope drop. This is another tip to keep you a little ahead of the crowd.
To Book a Genie+ passes for rides simply go to the app and make sure you are signed in and then click on the three lines on the bottom right corner. From there click on tip board and there you can see wait times and which rides offer Disney Genie+. It will also show you the time you will be able to redeem the Genie+.
Click book experience and be sure to select all members of your party and click continue until it tells you that your booked. To check what you are booked for go to the My Day tab in the app and it will show you. Simply show up at your scheduled time and then scan your passes found in the my day tab on the app.
As soon as you redeem your Genie+ pass you can book another one. If you have not redeemed it yet you can also book another one two hours after you have booked your most recent one. You can only use the Genie+ pass once per ride per day.
If you’re currently waiting to redeem another pass you can check when you can book your next one on the app. Simply go to Tip board and then choose a ride and click book experience. If you are unable to book it will tell you what time you are eligible to book another one.
The more people are booking Genie+ for rides the longer the wait will be to be able to redeem a pass. For example, one of the more popular rides is Indiana Jones Adventure.
If you go to reserve a pass at 9, the first one available may be 1. But don’t forget you can book that one and then book another pass at 11 (2 hours after you reserved the last one).
You’ll notice that Splash Mountain on a hot day is very popular around noon when everyone is hot and wants to get wet. (Yes, you’ll get very wet on that one in the first three seats). You’ll want to plan accordingly. If you want to do Splash Mountain around noon be sure to book your pass early.
It also seemed like Space Mountain seemed busier at night time when more teens show up at the park. This might be a good one to try to booking earlier.
Our family loves to see the characters and the kids like to get autographs and get their pictures taken. Main Street is where you’ll often find Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and some of the classic Disney Characters. Fantasyland is a great place to run into a ton of characters as well such as the Evil Queen, Peter Pan and Jiminy Cricket.
Winnie the Pooh and his friends often hang out in Critter Country. If you love Star Wars then you should definitely hang out in Star Wars and you’ll be sure to see some Storm Troopers, Famous Droids, Boba Fett or some of your other favorite characters.
IMAGE DISNEYLAND TIPS 2022 | SIGNATURES WITH GOOFY
My next tip that we learned by trial and error was to take breaks. On our first day we started earlier and did not stop and then we were exhausted by seven. The next day we decided to take a break in the afternoon. This allowed us to get energized and stay at the park later.
If your hotel is close by you can head back for a nap and or pool break in the afternoon. This is the busiest time at the park and lines get crazy. In the summer it’s also pretty hot.
If your hotel is not close by you may consider taking a break at Downton Disney. You can find a restaurant with air-conditioning or a nice shady spot and relax and re-charge your batteries before heading back for more fun.
IMAGE | AFTERNOON BREAK WITH CRAFT SHAKES FROM BLACK TAP IN DOWNTOWN DISNEY
We stayed at the Best Western Portofino Inn & Suites, which is a fifteen-minute walk from the park. We would leave the park around two and take a nap and then swim until about 5. Then we would head to Downtown Disney and grab dinner and head to the park refreshed for a fun evening.
Pro-tip, after you have checked in to the park for the day you don’t have to be at the park to book another Genie+ pass. So, we would often be chilling at the pool and would book our rides for the evening.
When going to Disneyland I highly recommend that you explore the park at night. The park lit up in lights is a magical place. Main Street comes to life with lights on all of the shops.
The castle is a thing of beauty lit up in all of its colors. Star Wars is another part of the park that you should definitely check out in the evening.
IMAGE DISNEYLAND TIPS 2022 | FIREWORKS AT THE CASTLE
Disneyland and California Adventure offer amazing night time shows. They vary depending on when you go so check out the app for showtimes and details.
While we were there we saw the Disneyland Forever fireworks show, Fantasmic, and the Main Street Electrical Parade all in Disney as well as the World of Color in Disney California Adventure Park.
IMAGE | WORLD OF COLOR SHOW IN DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK
If you’re not planning on going to shows then the show times are a great time to hit up rides with short lines. Everyone might be waiting to watch Fantasmic and you can pop on Pirates of the Caribbean with no wait.
The evening is a great time to take professional pictures. Some of my favorite places to do this are in front of the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and in front of the castle. If you want to get a picture at night in front of the castle and not wait in line the best time to go is around 10 when everyone is heading to shows.
IMAGE DISNEY LAND TIPS 2022 | NIGHTIME IN STAR WARS: GALAXY’S EDGE
That leads me to my next point to take advantage of the professional photographers. If you purchased the Genie+ then the professional pictures are free. In our experience the photographers were amazing and did not make you feel rushed while giving you a mini photo shoot.
Keep an eye out for photographers throughout the park at some of the picture-perfect spots like the mickey flowers at the front of the park, the statute of Walt and Mickey, in Star Wars: Galaxy’s edge and at several of the Character Greetings.
To link your photos simply go to your Disney app click the plus button at the bottom and then click on link photo pass photos. Then click show photopass code. This will bring up a bar code that you will have the photographer scan to upload your photos.
As a fun extra we noticed that sometimes they will edit in magical details like Peter Pan flying in the sky.
So, our family did not have matching Disney outfits but we were jealous of those who did. For a little extra fun plan a day where you wear matching or coordinating Disney outfits and be sure to take plenty of pictures. Check out below the best matching Disney Shirts that I found. Some can be customized.
MATCHING DISNEY SHIRTS | WHERE TO FIND
FOUR | BEST DAY EVER CUSTOM SHIRTS
If you can’t get the whole group on board but want some cute shirts for yourself. Check out some of my favorites below. Click on the links below to see what colors that they are offered in.
STYLISH DISNEY SHIRTS | WHERE TO FIND
ONE | MAKE MAGIC HAPPEN SHIRT
THREE | BEST DAY EVER RETRO SHIRT
FOUR | MAGIC VIBES DISNEY SHIRT
FIVE | MICKEY & PLUTO RETRO SHIRT
Now you know all the Disneyland tips and everything I wish I knew sooner so hopefully you’ll be Disneyland pros right from the start. Whether you’re taking a one-day trip or a week-long vacation you can use these tips and tricks to maximize your time at the park. Hope that this post helped you to plan the perfect Disney family vacation.
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