The happiest place on earth is also the busiest and can get frustrating very quickly. While Disneyland Park is a must-visit while in Los Angeles (actually the park is located in Anaheim, CA), you have to know certain things ahead if you want to have a great time there. Certain parts of the year are busier then others, but all in all you can always expect crowds in Disneyland. At the end of the day we were satisfied with our stay here, but during the day certain things happened that frustrated us. In this post I want to talk about the good and the bad.
Tips and Tricks on Surviving a Visit to Disneyland
Arrival, Parking and Tickets in DisneylandYou will have to use a car to get here, I'm sure there is public transportation, but Anaheim is a one hour drive away from LA, so it will be pretty inconvenient to use buses. Type the park into your GPS but also be aware that you will have to follow the "Parking" signs once you get there, and those signs will lead you into other streets then your GPS. Parking costs 18$/day, something which is conveniently omitted when you view the ticket prices online. Ticket prices are 99$/person. You can choose between Disneyland Park, which is the older part, and Disneyland California Adventure, which is newer and has different attractions. We opted for the classic Disneyland Park, which was built first. There is no way you can manage to view both parks in one day so I wouldn't go out and buy a "grasshopper ticket" for cca 150$, which gets you into both parks in the same day.
Once you buy the tickets at the centrally located booths, you either enter on the right (Disneyland Park) or left (Disneyland California Adventure). You can find free park maps at the booth where you check in your ticket. Get one and familiarize yourself with it. It will be your friend!
Lines and Fast PassesThe crowds in Disneyland are huge. We were there during Halloween weekend, which brought in more people then usual. Waiting times for simple attractions were over an hour. It's very frustrating to wait over an hour for a ride, and then ride it for 2-3 minutes. But there is no way around it. Certain rides (usually the most popular ones like Space Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure, Haunted Mansion, Star Wars ride), have the Fast Pass system. You use your ticket to get a fast pass card. That card tells you when you can come back for the ride. Later you can then skip the line and enter through the Fast Pass lane, which will get you quickly into your ride.
But here's the deal: you can't simply get as many Fast Pass cards as you want. If you get a Fast Pass Card you will have to wait at least an hour and a half before you can get the next one. So it's important to keep your timetable straight here. I suggest you get a Fast Pass card for an attraction that offers it, then wait in line for a ride that doesn't have it and ride it, draw the next Fast Pass card if the time has elapsed, then go on the ride you took the first Fast Pass from. It sounds complicated, but you get the hang of it pretty quickly.
Parades and other Quick Attractions in Disneyland ParkThere are certain things in Disneyland Park you don't have to wait for. There are parades throughout the day, featuring popular Disney characters. The streets are closed off (at least the main ones) until the parade passes through. Another thing which doesn't draw in many people is the big castle which features Sleeping Beauty's story. It's not a ride strictly, but you can walk through the castle and see various knocks and crannies of it. It's certainly something to pass the time. Another thing I highly suggest doing is riding the Disneyland Railroad. It goes around the whole park and has 6 stations you can enter in (look at your map for details). It's a nice distraction from the busy park life.
Food and Drinks in Disneyland ParkI will say right away that you want to have water with you. Especially here in California the days are long and hot, and when you mix in the crowds you can get dehydrated pretty quickly. We didn't bring any food into the park (it's not prohibited), but ate inside. We had an ice cream for 5$ right at the entrance to the park (the portion was huge, we couldn't even finish it), and then for 8$ fried chicken, fries and tartar sauce in a small restaurant. We didn't really eat that much here, but the food was ok. Nothing to write home about, but also not bad in any way.
How long to stay in the Park?We payed for it so we wanted to stay every moment that we could. It really does cost some money to spend a day here. 150$/person go away quickly during the day. So make sure to stay until the end. Actually, the crowds do not lighten up once the dark rolls in (as I had hoped), so you will be in good company. The best time in the park is really at night. That's when the lights go on, the fireworks start and the heat of the day finally vanishes. Usually the park is open until midnight. We stayed until 10pm, since we had a hour long car ride back to our apartment in LA.
The best rides in Disneyland ParkDisneyland Park offers both rides for thrill seekers and for people (like me) who like adventure but don't want to get sick. The best trill rides in Disneyland Park are: Splash Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Other cool rides include: Star Tours–The Adventures Continue (a 3D simulator), Peter Pan's Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion (images below), Alice in Wonderland and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
Before I leave you for this post I also want to mention the souvenir shops. You will find them at any corner, and we joked about how they were the only place in Disneyland where you didn't have to stand in line for. The prices are very steep. We got fridge magnets that cost around 8$. No you can imagine what the rest of the prices were. But a little souvenir will not hurt (and I guess that's what Disneyland is betting on) :)
Conclusion: I am happy we visited Disneyland Park. It was a dream of mine for a long time, but I wished I had lowered my expectations a bit before going. The first half of the day was indeed spent in lines and waiting. The heat didn't help it. The second part of the day (after sunset) was much more enjoyable. We loved the rides as well as the ambiance. The prices are a bit steep, but hey, Disney isn't a multi-billion dollar conglomerate for nothing.
End of Part Fourteen
To be continued...