What to bring:
A small backpack, water bottle, photo ID (for the big kids who bought their ticket online), sun screen, a wide brimmed hat, light jacket, poncho, snacks, lunch, and your camera. You’ll also want to ensure you are wearing comfortable footwear. During our visit we walked roughly 16 -24 km (about 10 -14 miles) each day.
Why you should bring a water bottle:
For whatever reason the park doesn’t permit employees to fill up your water bottle at their food vendors, but employees will happily give you a cup of water for free (which I find wasteful and have spent too much time wondering what led to this policy?) I still recommend taking a reusable water bottle with a wide neck you can easily fill so you can transfer your water into immediately. This allows for the flexibility to go ride the roller coasters or enter areas and buildings that may not permit beverages immediately. I found one Starbucks in Downtown Disney that has a water spigot at their self-serve bar and one eatery in Tomorrowland that also has a place you can fill your bottle without wasting a cup.
Stated hours are for the majority of each of the parks, but not all. The shops located near the entrance of Disney California Adventure (DCA) and Disneyland’s Main Street were open when we got there despite getting through the gates before 9 am, and remain open for an additional half an hour after the evening’s show. After clearing security, the ticket booth, and these select shops, areas will be roped off until the park officially opens.
Disney’s Magic Morning
Allows access to Tomorrowland one hour before the park is officially opened for 3-day ticket holders. A great time to get your desires to ride popular ‘Hyperspace Mountain’ (aka Space Mountain) out of the way.
For those who aren’t Southern California residents, the various hotel/park bundles I found through various travel agencies were much more attractive and included some really cool Disneyland experiences we didn’t do, including character dining. With our ability to purchase the discounted tickets, the variance in cost was not worthwhile for a few extra perks and the convenience of staying at a Disney Resort Hotel.
We decided on a three-day pass. One day in California Adventure and two in Disneyland. We did not pay the extra fee to enter more than one park per day. We have no regrets regarding that decision, finding plenty to do and see in each park.
Pro Tip: I strongly recommend buying your tickets online before going to the park. Admission at the gate not only has long lines, but the posted prices were significantly more expensive.
Disneyland Mobile App
Disney has created a phone app to help you locate wait times for ride attractions, locate characters and find when they’re scheduled to appear, find dining establishments, restrooms, and the scheduled entertainment. It covers both Disneyland and DCA. In the spirit of full disclosure, I did find there to be some discrepancies between wait times for rides at the ride vs on the app, and of course the physically posted time is the most accurate. This didn’t cause us any major difficulties and I found it to be super helpful to have loaded on my phone before I went.
I think most people are aware that dressing up in costume is only permitted for young children in Disneyland Parks. But you can still honor your favorite characters without actually being in a costume. I decided to honor Minnie Mouse with a polka dot dress I already owned and a pair of mouse ears I bought at the park. My partner wore a Monster’s Inc. Lasseter Shirt. We both received tons of compliments from park employees regarding our clothing choices.
Disney makes available their scheduled closures for rides available on their website. While planning your Disneyland Adventure, you’re best to head over to their website to check that the rides you’d like to experience the most aren’t scheduled for maintenance before you take your time off work or book an airline ticket.
Disneyland and California Adventure have a system where you can save your place in line for a ride and enjoy the rest of the park regular line. For a more detailed description of the details you can visit the Disneyland website.
NOTE: It doesn’t seem to be printed on their website that reserving a spot for the World of Color doesn’t impact your ability to use your FASTPASS® on rides. All I know is in my March 2016 trip this was the case and a cast member assured me that this was correct.
Disneyland characters are usually accompanied by photographers and character attendants. The photographers are willing to snap a photo with your camera/phone, but many more with their own cameras. They’ll equip you with a card that has serial numbers you can link back to find your photos. You can use the same card over and over and it’s conveniently the size of a credit card so there won’t be any dramas fitting it into your wallet. You can then purchase individual photos or a whole day’s photos for a flat fee.