Disneyland Trip Planning Tips

Hey Bestie, are you planning a Disney trip? Well I have some Planning Tips for you!

TERMS:

  • DL – Disneyland 
  • DCA- Disney California Adventure 
  • QS- Quick Service – food to order at the counter then find a table
  • TS- Table Service – Restaurant seating 
  • Lightning Lane- Skipping the Long wait time for a fee 
  • Genie + – on Disneyland App paid service per ticket to plan your day and give you Lightning Lanes to some Moderate Rides 

Step 1: Download the Free Disneyland App everything will be in the app from showtimes, rides, to character meet and greets. Through the app get familiar with the park layout and the app’s accessibility. So if you’re in a pickle you know where to look especially for your photo pass, reservations, Genie +, and park tickets.

  • IMPORTANT! Link your tickets in the app just in case you misplace your physical tickets. 
  • You can skip the long lines for QS and Pre-order food via the app. The app will let you know when your food is ready. Meal time slots may vary. 
  • Take a screenshot of your Photo Pass QR Barcode so you can readily pull it up after taking photos versus going through the app and holding up the line. The Photo Pass QR is what Cast Members scan after taking park photos and it will be downloaded straight to your Disneyland app. It does take a while to load, do not be alarmed if it takes up to 3-hours or even the next day for pictures to appear. 
  • Tip: Post-Ride photos take a picture with your phone camera and then go back into the app to look up the picture code. Photo previews and codes change quickly if you’ve missed your window just see a Cast Member for assistance. 

Step 2: Make dining reservations ASAP via the app or Disneyland.com if you want to eat at a certain themed restaurant. Dining fills up in minutes after going live, guests have up to 60 days in advance to make a reservation.

  • Example: Blue Bayou is my favorite (but expensive). My park day was on 09/20, I went online at 12am on 07/22 and in five minutes all reservations were filled. 

Step 3: Plan ahead, Disneyland is not what it used to be as lines fill up, places are booked months in advanced. The crowds can be overwhelming but if you want to maximize your experience, plan everything ahead of time. How I plan is by listing in categories and subcategories based on priority:

Categories

  • Food 
  • Rides
  • Shows 

Subcategories 

  1. Must dos 
  2. Okay to miss 

Step 4: (optional) Genie + is a new system and it’s a paid service to skip the long lines for some rides and it can make a complimentary customized schedule for you. But it is not family friendly in pricing for those on a budget.

  • Example: Basic Genie + is about $20 per person, but big rides charge an additional $18-$24 per person for the Lightning Lane
  • Rides included in the Genie+ Lighting Lane in Disneyland:
    • Autopia
    • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
    • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
    • Haunted Mansion
    • Indiana JonesTM Adventure
    • “it’s a small world”
    • Matterhorn Bobsleds
    • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
    • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
    • Space Mountain
    • Splash Mountain
    • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • Rides Additional per Person for Lightening Lane Entrance in Disneyland. (Note This price will range based on season, demand, and time of day)
    • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
    • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Rides included in the Genie+ Lighting Lane in Disney California Adventure:
    • Goofy’s Sky School
    • Grizzly River Run
    • Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
    • Incredicoaster
    • Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
    • Soarin’ Over California
    • Toy Story Midway Mania!
    • WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure
  • Rides Additional per Person for Lightening Lane Entrance in Disney California Adventure. (Note This price will range based on season, demand, and time of day)
    • Radiator Springs Racers

My List for Long Wait But Best Rides 

  • DL – Star Wars – Rise of the Resistance 
  • DL – Star Wars – Smuggler’s Run
  • DL- Peter Pan 
  • DL- Mickey and Minnie’s Railway Adventure 
  • DL- Matterhorn Mountain 
  • DCA- Avengers Campus – Spiderman Web Shooters
  • DCA – Incredicoster 
  • DCA- Soaring
  • DCA- Radiator Racers 
  • DCA- Mission Breakout 
  • DCA- Mickey’s Pal-A-Round ferris wheel (Note: Enter at your own risk, it’s nickname is The Wheel of Death) 

My Picks for Must Ride

  • DL – Space Mountain 
  • DL- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters 
  • DL – Pirates of the Caribbean
  • DL – Big Thunder Mountain 
  • DL – Jungle Cruise 
  • DL- Indiana Jones
  • DL- Haunted Mansion
  • DL- Winnie the Pooh 
  • DL- Main Street Train through the whole park  
  • DCA- Grizzly Bear Peak
  • DCA- Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure 
  • DCA – Luigi Roadsters 

My Pick for Best Rest Stops AC Areas

  • DL- Pirates of the Caribbean ride 
  • DL- It’s A Small World Ride
  • DL- Golden Horseshoe – QS – Second Floor Seating
  • DCA- Hyperton Theater show 
  • DCA – Little Mermaid  ride
  • DCA- Animation Academy 
  • DCA – Beast Library 

My Picks Must Do Games / Shows 

  • DL- Adventureland- Shooting Exposition ($1 in quarters)
  • DCA – Art of Animation: Draw with a Disney animator
  • DCA- Talking w/ Crush (Turtle from Finding Nemo)
  • DL- Friday/ Saturday Firework show
  • DCA- Friday/ Saturday Water Show 
  • DL- 3PM parade 
  • DCA- Pixar Pier / Pier games ($8) to play but you get a prize
  • DCA- Visit Bing Bong in Bing Bongs Sweet Stuff Store
  • DCA- Talk to Mr. Potato at Toy Story Mania
  • DL- Fantasmic Show

My Must Eats Picks

  • DL Corndog
  • DCA Corndog
  • DL- Jolly Holiday – Grilled cheese w/  Tomato Bisque Soup Or Breakfast Sandwiches 
  • DCA-  Jack Jack Cookie Num Num
  • DL- Bengal Tiger Cafe – beef sticks 
  • DCA – Bread Bowl 
  • DL- Ranto Wrap – Star Wars Land 

My Best QS Picks

  • DL- Pizza Planet 
  • DL- Galactic Grill
  • DL- Docking Bay 7 (My favorite) 
  • DL- Red Rose Tavern 
  • DL- Refreshment Corner 
  • DL- Ice Cream Parlor
  • DL- Golden Horseshoe 
  • DL- Corn Dog Wagon
  • DL- Jolly Holiday  
  • DCA- Flo’s Cafe 
  • DCA- pym’s test kitchen 
  • DCA- Smokejumper Grill
  • DCA- Award Weiners 
  • DCA- Pacific Wharf Cafe 
  • DCA- Poultry Palace 
  • DCA- Boardwalk Pizza 
  • DCA- Paradise Grill 
  • DCA- Corn Dog Castle

Example of my Disney Trip Itinerary

Happy Planning!

Your Bestie,

-T

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