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First Time Disneyland Errors to Keep away from


We’ve all been rookies experiencing one thing new in some unspecified time in the future. Our first journey to Disneyland was a comedy of errors, as we thought we have been professionals based mostly upon our many journeys to Walt Disney World. We couldn’t have been extra improper. This submit gives suggestions for avoiding widespread errors folks make when planning a Disneyland trip for the primary time, and through their first go to. (Up to date February 18, 2024.)

Our expertise is a typical chorus: Walt Disney World veterans head to Disneyland for the primary time armed with a ton of misguided assumptions, lots of which aren’t true in regards to the California parks. The excellent news, I suppose, is that these ‘errors’ often take the type of over-planning. Disneyland has that laid again Southern California vibe, and despite the fact that planning is certainly needed and there are a ton of potential errors to be made, it’s simpler.

With that mentioned, one factor to remember when planning your first go to to any Disney park is that no quantity of planning can put together you for the inevitable mistake. Regardless that Disneyland is extra easy-going, that’s relative to its Florida counterparts. Within the grand scheme of trip locations, Disneyland Resort continues to be a fairly advanced place to go to, and also you’re certain to screw up one thing. That’s not meant to scare you–however moderately, offer you solace and allow you to know that you simply’re in good firm…

This submit takes a have a look at what we really feel are the “prime” errors first-timers make when planning a trip to Disneyland. That is based mostly upon a mixture of our personal blunders, reader weblog submit feedback, social media suggestions, and extra. It’s hardly a scientific listing, however hopefully it gives some good meals for thought, nonetheless.

So what are the largest errors first time Disneyland guests make? The solutions might SHOCK AND ASTOUND YOU. Nicely, most likely not, however we’ve to trick you into studying this in some way… 😉

10. Being Beneath-Ready

Within the introduction, we coated how Disneyland was far more laid again than the Florida parks, and it’s not almost as essential to plan. That’s true, however that doesn’t imply it’s best to go in with no plans by any means. In truth, the longtime notion of Disneyland because the vacation spot that requires no planning might be overblown and a bit outdated.

Whereas Advance Eating Reservations (ADRs) made months forward of time should not needed and there’s not even a solution to make trip reservations prematurely, pre-planning could be worthwhile. Eating reservations have gotten extra aggressive at Disneyland Resort, so that you’ll wish to guide these and different reservations forward of time.

Similar story with particular occasion tickets, which could be actually aggressive (particularly Oogie Boogie Bash, however to a lesser extent Disneyland After Darkish). It’s additionally beneficial that you simply guide a lodge far forward of your journey dates, as sure choices can guide up–particularly throughout peak vacationer occasions or when the Anaheim Conference Middle has huge occasions.

Upon arrival, having a tough plan of assault for every park (seek the advice of our 1-Day Disneyland and 1-Day DCA Itineraries for that) and an thought of which sights to prioritize can also be key. Similar to Walt Disney World, wait occasions get lengthy, and getting in with out good technique is a recipe for catastrophe. If something, crowds and wait occasions are literally worse on the California parks.

9. It Will get Chilly in Southern California

California is understood for its excellent climate, and there’s no scarcity of songs in regards to the enjoyable you possibly can have within the solar there. This overlooks one essential factor: these Hollywood (Land) nights. It could possibly get chilly. At present, nightly temperatures are within the low 50s and that coupled with a crisp breeze could make for jacket climate.

Clearly, California’s climate is healthier than within the overwhelming majority of states, however a typical first-timer mistake is assuming the climate is at all times excellent. Yeah, if you happen to’re visiting throughout the summer season, you possibly can just about pack nothing apart from shorts and flip flops, but it surely’d be a mistake to imagine it’ll be all sunshine on a regular basis. Seek the advice of our Suggestions for Packing for Winter at Disney submit if you happen to’re taking a visit from round November till February.

8. Overlooking Lightning Lanes

That is certain to be a controversial one provided that Genie+ changed not simply free FastPass, but additionally the superior MaxPass at Disneyland. We wish to be very clear right here: we’re not endorsing Genie+ as for everybody, an excellent factor, higher than FastPass/MaxPass, and so on. Fairly, we’re acknowledging the fact that what’s executed is completed, and your choices in 2024 are both free standby or paid Lightning Lanes. There is no such thing as a third selection that doesn’t contain time journey.

The actual motive it’s listed right here as a line merchandise is as a result of Walt Disney World followers who’ve used Genie+ within the Florida parks might have a sure notion of the paid FastPass service that isn’t very optimistic. Nonetheless, that’s largely as a result of the trip rosters at 3 of the 4 parks at Walt Disney World are pretty weak and arguably inadequate to assist the paid Lightning Lane system. Accordingly, you may need been pissed off with how few Lightning Lanes you have been capable of guide at Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, or EPCOT.

Nonetheless, Disneyland doesn’t have that downside. The trip density is much greater and, consequently, there’s a ton extra Lightning Lane capability and stock. It additionally helps that the 2 parks are straight throughout from each other, making it simple to strategically Park Hop and get extra mileage out of Lightning Lanes. Mainly, it’s like Genie+ at Magic Kingdom on steroids.

For longer journeys, Genie+ is likely to be cost-prohibitive (and even pointless), however if you happen to solely have a few days in Disneyland and Disney California Journey, give some severe thought to purchasing the paid FastPass service. Even on an extended journey, you may get Genie+ for a day or two and attempt to run the desk with it, then go sluggish in your remaining days at Disneyland. Our up to date Information to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Disneyland covers all the professionals and cons of this new system.

7. Visiting on Busy Days

Thanks, Captain Apparent. Sure, I’m mentioning the very standard knowledge that sluggish days are higher than busy ones, and shorter traces are higher than longer ones. Really profound stuff. There are a ton of added wrinkles to this at Disneyland, to the purpose that issues are fairly completely different at Disneyland. Nearly all of that is dictated by the native park-going populace: Magic Key blockouts, Southern California ticket offers, and dynamic pricing for tickets.

Earlier than even reserving your journey, it’s best to seek the advice of our Disneyland Crowd Calendars to find out the very best and worst occasions to go to. Relying upon the day of the week or time of the 12 months, Disneyland could be flippantly or closely crowded. That makes a huge distinction in your expertise. (For instance, you would possibly anticipate Could 23, 2024 to be sluggish. In any case, it received’t be dangerous at Walt Disney World, and it’s earlier than Memorial Day weekend and Fantasmic returns to Disneyland. Nonetheless, it’s a little bit over per week earlier than the SoCal ticket deal ends, and locals will likely be scrambling to make use of these tickets earlier than they expire!)

There’s additionally a false impression that holidays should not busy, as a result of everyone seems to be at residence with their households. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Yr’s Eve, and the Tremendous Bowl (not technically a vacation, however celebrated as such in lots of households) are all busy, regardless of city legends on the contrary. Some holidays are barely much less busy than others, however all holidays are busier than the norm. All.

6. A Weight loss plan of Burgers and Pizza

Theme park meals has a fame for leaving one thing to be desired. Like sporting occasions and different leisure venues, parks typically attempt to enchantment to the bottom widespread denominator, realizing they’ve a captive viewers that can merely have to eat throughout their go to.

Whereas there are numerous eating places at Disneyland and Disney California Journey that match inside this stereotype–we’re taking a look at you, Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port and Galactic Grill!–there are additionally a ton of choices which are way more bold, and supply some distinctive delicacies. Mainly, the “protected” eating places are the worst ones.

Counter service burgers are virtually universally dangerous, as is heat-lamp pizza. The one actually good consolation meals are Plaza Inn fried rooster (it’s a religious expertise) and the (life-changing) corn canines in each parks. Take a look at our listing of the 24 Finest Eating places at Disneyland Resort for eating spots and dishes to attempt…and to keep away from.

5. Sleeping In

The primary 2 hours Disneyland and Disney California Journey are open are going to be the most efficient hours of your day. Rope dropping the parks is an absolute should, and doing Early Entry (if eligible) is even higher. It’s a good way to knock out Fantasyland, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Avengers Campus, Vehicles Land, and so on. earlier than the crowds get dangerous.

That is additionally one thing that frequent Walt Disney World guests underestimate, because the Florida parks get pretty busy at or shortly after rope drop. This as soon as once more comes right down to the native dynamic. Californians doing day journeys to Disneyland sometimes are late arrivers resulting from visitors and so forth, so the morning begins a lot slower. (The extent to which that is true relies upon upon whether or not or not it’s California’s vacationer season; if you happen to’re visiting throughout spring break or summer season trip, don’t anticipate this to be as pronounced as throughout September or February.)

Getting up on the break of day and being to Disneyland or DCA early doesn’t match with the notion of stress-free and unwinding on trip, however the actuality is that you simply’d be higher off exhibiting up for the primary 2 hours and final 2 hours and skipping the ~8 hours in between than you be doing solely these middle-of-the-day hours.

If rest in your trip is essential, take a break in the course of the day to return to your lodge and nap or benefit from the pool. You actually profit significantly from being within the parks proper at rope drop, although. Likewise, crowds are lightest once more on the finish of the evening (and the environment then is unbeatable).

4. Shopping for the Flawed Tickets

Disneyland tickets are extremely customizable, which is each an excellent and dangerous factor. On the draw back, if you happen to haven’t executed your analysis and are susceptible to being upsold on issues, you would possibly find yourself buying greater than you want. On the upside, in case you have executed your analysis, you possibly can pay for under the choices that you actually need, passing on extras you seemingly received’t use.

For instance, going from park to park takes (actually) lower than 5 minutes, so the Park Hopper possibility could be very useful, particularly on the (common) nights when DCA closes earlier or opens later. Conversely, you would possibly be capable to get away with no Park Hopper in case you have small youngsters. We cowl the chances, professionals and cons of every, and supply some suggestions in our Suggestions for Saving Cash on Disneyland Tickets submit.

3. Over-Planning

Over-planning and under-planning on the identical listing? Tough. There are two elements to this one. First, you don’t have to dedicate almost as a lot time to planning a Disneyland journey as you’d a WDW one. As a normal rule, spend not more than half as a lot time planning. (Realistically, even lower than that’s most likely fantastic.)

Past that, there’s the problem with over-planning on the whole. Planning all the pieces right down to the minute and even hour leaves no room for spontaneity, and Disneyland is all about the spontaneous experiences. Characters seem out of nowhere, there’s atmospheric leisure you by no means knew about, and a wealth of “little issues” you’ll wish to cease to expertise. These spontaneous little moments could be the spotlight of a Disneyland trip, and planning all the pieces right down to the smallest element would possibly “pressure” you to skip this stuff whenever you see them.

The ultimate downside with such an in depth itinerary is that it units unrealistic expectations. In the event you plan a visit guidelines model with 15 issues that you simply “should accomplish” in a given day, you’re setting your self up for disappointment. The sensible realities of navigating crowds, climate, longer-than-expected traces, attraction downtime, or different unplanned variables imply you may not be capable to get all the pieces executed.

It’s higher to enter a Disneyland journey with a tough plan of assault with loads of downtime–and be ready to bail on even what you do have in your schedule. Generally we’ve essentially the most enjoyable once we toss apart our plans!

2. Driving

In the event you’re a veteran of the Florida parks, you most likely have a robust opinion within the unending ‘Disney transportation vs. rental automobile’ debate. There’s an honest likelihood you lease a automobile, given how unfold out all the pieces is and the way sluggish transportation occasions could be.

For many guests to Disneyland, a automobile isn’t solely pointless, however counter-productive. A lot of the greatest lodge choices are straight throughout the road from the parks, which are actually <100 yards from each other. Driving to the parks will take considerably longer than strolling to them. Vital isn’t an understatement; because of the parking configuration, it will probably take 30+ minutes to drive, park, undergo safety, and take the tram to the parks, whereas it’s a 10-15 minute stroll from many accommodations.

Likewise, you would possibly contemplate reserving a lodge that’s a little bit of a commute to the parks. Coastal communities like Newport Seaside and Laguna Seaside are pretty and don’t appear too far on paper. Belief us as individuals who make that commute to the park: it may be depressing. Southern California visitors is a soul-crushing beast, and that coupled with having to park, going by means of safety, and so on., is one solution to begin your day on the improper foot.

Moreover, you’ll be paying for parking. Typically, that is the case each at your lodge (even the Disney-owned ones) and on the parks. For all of those causes, we sometimes advocate these visiting Disneyland plus different elements of California lease a automobile after ending the Disneyland leg of their journey. (See our Disneyland Transportation Suggestions for more information.)

As a substitute, take an Uber/Lyft from the airport to your lodge, and get round by way of foot. I’d truly take this tip a bit additional–not solely do you have to not be renting a automobile at Disneyland, however you shouldn’t be in a car (apart from Autopia) throughout your go to to Disneyland. In case you are, you’re doing one thing improper. There are such a lot of nice lodge choices–in any respect worth factors–inside strolling distance of the parks that, except you may have a really particular motive, it’s a mistake to guide one which isn’t walkable.

Disneyland Resort is so compact that counting on a automobile (or perhaps a bus!) actually doesn’t make sense. Simply plan accordingly: guide a lodge inside strolling distance, fly into SNA, and skip the rental automobile till the non-Disneyland portion of your journey (you’ll completely need your personal automobile for #1 on this listing). In the event you’re going elsewhere, guide a one-way rental from Anaheim to the airport, beginning the day you permit Disneyland.

1. ONLY Doing Disneyland

I’ll be completely trustworthy with you, that is a kind of “do as we are saying, not as we do” situations. Throughout our first go to to Disneyland, we additionally have been in Huntington Seaside for a marriage (the actual goal of the journey), however throughout our subsequent few visits, we didn’t enterprise past Disneyland Resort as soon as. Granted, we made separate journeys to Northern California to see San Francisco and Yosemite Nationwide Park, however we didn’t spend any time in Los Angeles. It took us a number of journeys again to lastly get to Los Angeles and Burbank and begin studying the error of our methods.

Lastly, we moved to California and invested appreciable time into exploring the state. We made a concerted effort to see and do as a lot as attainable whereas residing right here, and the recurring thought we’ve is, “why didn’t we do that all sooner?!” California could be one of many biggest international locations on the earth (have been it one), and is well the very best state within the US. Once we return as vacationers now, our time is cut up roughly 50/50 between Disneyland and the remainder of Southern California.

California has a lot to see and do, wonderful meals, and pure variety. Go two hours (or much less) from Disneyland and you’ve got seashores, mountains, and deserts. Californians boast about having the ability to surf and ski in the identical day, but it surely’s completely true. (See our listing of the Worst & Finest Seashores Near Disneyland.)

Along with this website, we’ve non-Disney weblog: TravelCaffeine with assets for on an eclectic mixture of the locations the place we’ve lived or visited extensively. California is one such emphasis, as we’ve spent a ton of time exploring our residence state. In the event you’re planning on heading to LA after Disneyland, you’ll want to take a look at our Final Information to Los Angeles. LA is likely one of the biggest cities on the earth, however we’re significantly a fan of Laguna Seaside–see our Final Information to Laguna Seaside, California for intensive recommendation. Along with these planning assets, we additionally give away a free eBook, 101 Issues to Do in Southern California over on TravelCaffeine, so you’ll want to obtain that absolutely free useful resource!

I believe that about covers it for the “prime” errors newbies make when visiting Disneyland for the primary time. Now, there aren’t any scarcity of attainable errors…that is actually simply the tip of the iceberg. So, if you happen to don’t thoughts sharing among the errors you or a “good friend” have made when visiting Disneyland Resort, please share them within the feedback. Keep in mind, your studying expertise may assist another person keep away from working into the identical downside. Be at liberty to vary the names to guard the harmless.

Planning a Southern California trip? For park admission offers, learn Suggestions for Saving Cash on Disneyland Tickets. Study on-site and off-site accommodations in our Anaheim Resort Opinions & Rankings. For the place to eat, take a look at our Disneyland Restaurant Opinions. For distinctive concepts of issues that’ll enhance your journey, take a look at What to Pack for Disney. For complete recommendation, seek the advice of our Disneyland Trip Planning Information. Lastly, for guides past Disney, take a look at our Southern California Itineraries for day journeys to Los Angeles, Laguna Seaside, and tons of different locations!

Your Ideas

Do you agree or disagree with our first-timer suggestions for Disneyland? Another widespread errors or pitfalls you’d advocate avoiding? Any questions? Listening to suggestions about your experiences is each attention-grabbing to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas or questions beneath within the feedback!