Taking your little ones to Disneyland can be a dream come true. It can also be overwhelming and exhausting. Most first-time visitors tend to make classic Disneyland mistakes. Avoid these mistakes and your first-time visit (and every visit) will be magical.
You will be spending thousands of dollars on a family visit to Disneyland so why not make the most of your family’s trip? We want to make sure your trip to Disneyland lives up to the tagline of “the happiest place on earth.” Here are the top 5 classic Disneyland first-timer mistakes and how to avoid them.
Classic Mistake #1—Not planning ahead
Not planning ahead is the most common mistake. How can you avoid this?
We’re not saying you should plan your day to the minute—but you do need to decide if you will do both Disneyland and California Adventure. Visiting both parks requires a park-hopper pass. Keep in mind that there are over 50 attractions between the two parks, and that doesn’t even count shows, shops and restaurants.
It’s a good idea to download one of the Disney apps to your phone. The apps will show you maps, schedules, and wait times for various rides, locations of bathrooms, and Baby Care Centers. Before you get to the park, check Disney maps and schedules online and plan your day. Decide which areas you’ll head for and in what order, your must-see attractions, where you’ll eat, and any shows you want to catch.
Rides at all the Disney parks are closed for maintenance and “refurbishment’ at regular intervals. If you’re counting on enjoying certain attractions, check the Disney site to make sure they’ll be up and running on your dates. If you can’t avoid going when a favorite ride will be offline, knowing ahead of time lets you manage your children’s (and your) expectations.
Classic Mistake #2— Failing to take advantage of the Disney “FastPass” system
A lot of times first-timers don’t have a clue what a “FastPass” is. They often make the mistake of thinking that you have to pay for the FastPass and they don’t even bother with the machine.
The free “FastPass” service helps you skip the super-long lines at certain very popular rides by giving you tickets for a particular time of day. It applies to the most popular attractions at the two California parks, allowing you to pick up tickets at those rides for a time slot later that day when you can return and get priority boarding.
Later this year there will be an even more convenient way to avoid the lines. Disney MaxPass digital booking could make your Disneyland visit effortless. For example, it can ensure you’ll cut the epic lines at Radiator Springs Racers while boarding Haunted Mansion on the other end of the parks. It’s an optional service that will allow you to reserve FASTPASSES through your smartphone using the Disneyland mobile app.
The Disney Parks Blog says that while Disney MaxPass will be $10 per ticket (per person), one person in the party will be able to manage the FASTPASS reservations for the entire party from one device. While Disney MaxPass is an optional paid service, the existing paper ticketed FASTPASS service will continue to be free. They can be used together. At this time the launch date for the MaxPass has not be announced.
Things to remember about the Disneyland Fastpass:
- The tickets are free but limited, so get them for your favorite rides as early in the day as possible.
- Fastpass tickets can save you a lot of time waiting, but to use them you’ll need to build some flexibility into your schedule.
- At Disneyland and California Adventure Park you don’t need to sign up ahead of time.
Classic Mistake #3—Failing to make reservations
Most things at Disney don’t require – or take – reservations, but there are exceptions.
If there is a full-service, sit-down restaurant such as the popular Blue Bayou that you are dying to eat at, book it in advance. In Disneyland you can also walk in at some places without reservations if you’re willing to wait. When you’re already spending enough time in line for rides and attractions, why not avoid one more line by taking advantage of the free reservation service. You can reserve up to 60 days ahead. Quick counter service restaurants don’t require reservations.
If you want to treat your kids to a character dining experience or a makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, book as far in advance as possible. You can make reservations up to 180 days before your visit.
Classic Mistake #4—Spend every minute in the Disneyland Resort parks
I could have called this classic mistake “Taking the ‘Happy’ out of The Happiest Place on Earth.” The Disney experience can be overwhelming. Over-tired children, suffering from sensory overload, definitely take the “happy” out of Disneyland. (The same goes for over-tired parents suffering from the same thing.)
To avoid this classic mistake schedule tons of downtime. Take advantage of the amenities at your hotel and give everyone a break from the crowds, lines, and adrenaline rush. Scheduling time in the middle of the day lets little ones (and the adults) catch up on sleep or just mellow out. That makes for “happier” campers all around. If you have the time, consider taking a whole day to relax there – you’ll be glad you did.
Classic Mistake #5—Ignore your child’s limits
Even if your child meets the height requirement for a ride, it doesn’t mean they’re ready to ride it. It might be too scary for them. To young children even rides in Fantasyland can be too scary. To them cruising into the mouth of a whale on the Storybook ride or flying over the darkened city of London with Peter Pan might just seem too real.
It’s another good idea to prepare young children to see the larger-than-life Disney characters up close and personal. Introduce the costumed characters to your children by watching more YouTube videos together. You’ll find a whole playlist of Disneyland videos featuring the characters.
A trip to Disneyland is a trip of a lifetime! Avoid these classic Disney mistakes and your trip will be the memory of a lifetime.