Disney 101


A lot of you have been asking for more tips since our Disneyland trip yesterday so I wanted to update you here.  Hopefully the info will help you cut lines, park closer, and spend more time on what it is that you love.


What Is Rider Switch and How Does It Work?

If a Guest doesn’t meet the boarding requirements or doesn’t wish to experience a particular attraction, it’s not a problem for family and friends who do!

With Rider Switch, one adult or supervising Guest (14 years or older) can wait with non-riders while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction. Then, they simply switch roles to allow the supervising Guest to experience the attraction without waiting in the regular queue again.

Rider Switch is available at select attractions in Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.

2. PARK AT DOWNTOWN DISNEY - Here's how it works.  If you park in the Downtown Disneyland parking lot, and shop, eat/drink or spend a minimum of $20 at the outdoor shopping center (think The Grove or Americana) you completely skip the long-ass parking line, and park MUCH closer to the actual theme parks.  It's $8 dollars per hour-- so let's do the math- If you spend around 8 hours at the park - with 4 hours validation, it ends up being $32 - which is only around $12 more than the public parking lot.

3. FOOD/BEV - Okay so I have to tell you, I provably had the best Michelada and some of the best tacos in my life at California Adventure.  And who says they've had the best anything at a theme park??  Truth!  To find the hidden gems - they're when you enter the park to the far left.  Not great directions - but ask an attendant to send you to the taco truck // micheladas and you'll be in heaven.  Keep in mind, Disneyland is a dry park (wtf) so fill up/guzzle down beforehand.

It's been dubbed "The Happiest Place On Earth" but when you're stuck in never-ending lines with screaming kiddies in 100-degree heat, it's tough to find the magic.  

Before we decided to take the Disney Plunge with our very active 2-year old son, it was time to do some serious homework.  We spoke to friends, family, and bonafide disney experts to get their take on how to navigate the park without wanting to kill each other by Tomorrowland.  

HML's dear friend, Lauren Whelan, decided to buy her family season passes to Disneyland.  Can we say, Mother of the year???  This mom-of-two is so savvy with the park, it's like watching a skilled captain maneuver through choppy waters, knowing exactly where to go, at precisely the right day and time to avoid any big waves, in this case, waves of eager tourists.

She imparted real wisdom, and because of that, we ended up having the BEST...TIME...EVER!  

Here are some tips...Good luck!

TIMING IS EVERYTHING:  Choose the right days and times and visit Disney.  Weekends during high season is NOT the time to go.  Rather, random weekdays  (Tuesdays to Thursdays) during:

  • mid-September through mid-November
  • mid-January through mid-March
  • mid-April through mid-March

*** Word on Main Street is if you plan a trip on Wednesday 1 week before Thanksgiving, the park is dead...and you can literally ride everything over and over and over again.

AGE AIN'T NO THANG: Disney does a phenomenal job of playing to it's audience, meaning, there are only a few rides in the entire park that have height requirements.  Think Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, Matterhorn, Cars (greatest ride - at California Adventure)  Our 2-year old came with us on The Haunted Mansion, Pirates Of The Caribbean (yep, 2 drops and all) and a ton others.

FAST TRACK/RIDER SWITCH/SWAP PASS: Confused?? Don't be.  Okay so fast track passes are available at the front of many rides and offer the ability to avoid the lines by coming back when it's your turn.  A rider swap pass, something I had no clue about, allows both parents to ride even if you have a small child who can't.  When you get to the front of the line, be sure to tell the attendant each parent would like to ride and they'll make it happen.

SNACKS: Bring LOTS OF SNACKS!  I didn't understand the reason for this considering there is food all over the park.  BUT...it's not always healthy (churros, pizza, ice cream - not great) and/or if lines get long, it's nice to have a personal arsenal of nuts, fruit, crackers, cheese, water to pick from.  This was a seriously helpful tip for us!  We came prepared and it paid off

***HML TIPS:  If you have the desire or interest in being whisked through the park, stopping for no  lines whatsoever with your own personal tour guide, Disney VIP Tours is the way to go.  https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/vip-tour-services/  It's pricey as hell, but if you've got some extra change burning a hole in your pocket, THIS IS A MUST!  We've done it and there is truly no better way to go.  And a final thought, Moms, listen up!  Disneyland is a dry park.  As legend has it, Walt Disney, himself, didn't like the smell of beer as it hit the pavement so opted to keep things super clean (lame)  I mean, eh, cool- we get it :)  Okay so, ya know, bringing a water bottle with your favorite vodka isn't such a terrible idea...just don't say ya heard it here :)))