Disneyland is a magical place for kids and adults alike, but it can also be overwhelming and stressful if you don’t plan ahead. Here are some tips from my personal experience on how to make the most of your visit to Disneyland Anaheim with kids.
Reserve the Day and the Park
The first thing you need to do is to reserve the day and the park that you want to visit on the Disneyland website or app. Due to the pandemic, Disneyland has implemented a reservation system to limit capacity and ensure safety. You cannot enter the park without a reservation, even if you have a ticket or a pass. You can make a reservation up to 120 days in advance, and you can change or cancel it up to 11:59 pm the day before your visit. You can also choose between Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, or get a park hopper ticket that allows you to visit both parks on the same day.
Choose a Hotel within Walking Distance
One of the best ways to save time and money is to choose a hotel that is within walking distance to Disneyland park. This way, you don’t have to worry about parking, shuttle buses, or traffic. You can also go back to your hotel easily whenever you need a break, a nap, or a change of clothes. There are many hotels near Disneyland that offer comfortable rooms, amenities, and discounts for Disneyland guests. One of them is Howard Johnson by Wyndham Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground, which is only an 8-minute walk from the park entrance. It has a pirate-themed water park, a game room, a mini-market, and free Wi-Fi. We had a 3-day pass ticket and stayed in Howard Johnson and when we were tired, we can go back to the hotel and take a rest and come back to the park to watch the Disney firework and the World of Color shows. Use this link to book the hotel to get up to a 25% discount.
Get Genie+ for Lightning Lane Access
If you want to skip the long lines and enjoy more rides, you should get Genie+, a new service that replaces the old FastPass and MaxPass systems. Genie+ costs $25 per person per day, and it allows you to make one Lightning Lane reservation at a time for most of the attractions in both parks. You can make your first reservation as soon as you enter the park, and then make another one after you use it or after two hours, whichever comes first. You can also use Genie+, which is part of the Disneyland app, to get personalized recommendations, check wait times, order food, and more.
I really recommend getting the Genie+, especially if you are going with a little kid who may not be able to wait patiently. We went there with our 6 years old and thought that the Genie+ was worth every penny as our kid cannot wait patiently in line. One 1-hour lineup wait was really testing up his patience.
Line Up Early for the Busiest Rides
Another way to beat the crowds is to line up early for the busiest rides before they get too long. There are three lineups that you have to do: the security check lineup, which opens at 7 am; the park gate lineup, which opens at 7:30 am (but sometimes earlier depending on how busy the park is); and the rope drop line up, which opens at 8 am. The rope drop is when they let you go to the different areas of the park where the rides are located. Make sure to line up in the area closest to the ride that you want to go first. Some of the most popular rides that tend to have long wait times are Rise of the Resistance, Radiator Springs Racers, Space Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, and Peter Pan’s Flight.
Plan Your Route and Use Genie+ Wisely
To maximize your time and enjoyment, you should plan your route and use Genie+ wisely. A good strategy is to do the rides in one area first, and then book Genie+ for the rides in the next area. For example, if you start at Tomorrowland in Disneyland Park, you can do Space Mountain, Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage first, and then book Genie+ for Indiana Jones Adventure or Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland. You can also use Genie+ for shows like Fantasmic! or World of Color, which have limited seating and require reservations.
Find Places to Watch the Parades, Fireworks, and World of Color
One of the highlights of visiting Disneyland is watching the parades, fireworks, and World of Color shows. These shows are spectacular and entertaining, but they also attract large crowds. To get a good spot, you should find places to watch them at least an hour before they start. For parades, you can watch them along Main Street USA or near It’s a Small World in Disneyland Park, or along Buena Vista Street or near Paradise Gardens Park in Disney California Adventure Park. For fireworks, you can watch them from the area in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle or in front of It’s a Small World in Disneyland Park. For World of Color, you can watch them from Paradise Bay in Disney California Adventure Park. You can also reserve seats for World of Color on the app at 12 pm on the day of your visit, but be aware that you may get a little wet in the reserved area. If you don’t get the reservation for the World of Color, you can still watch the show from Paradise Bay.
Bring a Stroller for Your Little Kids
If you have little kids, you should bring a stroller for them. Disneyland is a huge place, and walking around all day can be tiring and exhausting for them. A stroller can help them rest when they are tired and also carry your bags, snacks, and souvenirs. You can bring your own stroller or rent one at the park for $18 per day. However, there are some rules and restrictions for strollers that you should follow. For example, your stroller cannot be larger than 31 inches by 52 inches, and you cannot leave it unattended or park it in areas that block the walkways or exits. If your kid is 18 kg or less, they also have a small stroller for sale for $40 which will be a better option compared to renting the stroller at the park if you stay for 2 days or more because we cannot take the rental stroller outside of the park to take your kid back to the hotel which can be a long walk when the kid is tired.
Enjoy the Scenery, Not Just the Rides
Disneyland is not just about the rides. It is also about the scenery, the atmosphere, and the details. You should take some time to enjoy the scenery, not just the rides. You can admire the architecture, the landscaping, the decorations, and the hidden Mickeys that are scattered throughout the park. You can also meet and greet your favorite characters, watch street performers, listen to live music and explore different shops and restaurants. There is something for everyone in Disneyland, and you can discover new things every time you visit.
One of the best ways to capture your memories and share them with your friends and family is to take lots of pictures with Disney PhotoPass. Disney PhotoPass is a service that allows you to get professional photos taken by Disney photographers at various locations in the park. You can also get digital downloads of all your photos for $20 per day with Genie+. You can find Disney PhotoPass photographers near iconic landmarks, character meet and greets, ride exits, and special events. They will scan your ticket or app and upload your photos to your account within minutes. You can then view, edit, and download your photos on the app or website.
The most important tip of all is to have fun! Don’t be too stressed out if you miss something or if things don’t go as planned. After all, you come to Disneyland to have fun and enjoy yourself. Remember that Disneyland is a place where dreams come true, where magic happens, and where anything is possible. So relax, smile, and have a wonderful time!