9 Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids & Disney California Adventure

Disneyland Anaheim Guide For Families - Planning Your First Trip

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Disneyland as well all know, is the considered the happiest place on earth. Disneyland is a great theme park to visit with kids, however it is important to have a plan before you go. In order to make your trip for magical, make sure to read these 9 Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids Like A Pro.

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids and Disney California Adventure

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids

TIP #1: Remember that Disneyland is more than just a theme park.

The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim consists of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks; the Downtown Disney shopping district; three hotels called Disney Grand Californian, the Disneyland Hotel, and Paradise Pier Hotel; and a number of Disney affiliated hotels. The excitement of Downtown Disney and the hotels, are open to the public even if you don’t have a park ticket.

Let’s face it, Disneyland is expensive. And if you want to get the most out of your vacation you should maximize your time. That means if there are activities and food you can get outside the park, you should do it without wasting the valuable dining time in the park. Have a Churro in Downtown Disney or enjoy a Dole Whip at the Disneyland Hotel.

Disneyland Anaheim Guide For Families - Planning Your First Trip

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids + Disney California Adventure

TIP #2: Make sure to check to see if the attractions you want to see the most are there.

Imagine spending lots of money on park tickets and hotels, only to find out that your favorite rides are closed when you’re there. Make sure to avoid this by checking the Disneyland website. There is a calendar available that shows what rides are closed for refurbishment and what parades/shows will be on.

The other thing that the Disney website will let you know is what holiday or season is being celebrated at Disneyland. The park is decorated throughout the year based on themes such as Easter, Halloween and Christmas, with specialty shows. A couple of the rides even get complete make-overs during different times.

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids + Disney California Adventure

TIP #3: Get to Disneyland as early as you can.

If you want to maximize your time at Disneyland, make sure to get there early. Some people show up late and are disappointed because that’s when the crowds are busiest. The lines for the best rides can be over an hour long. That’s why it is recommended that you get to Disneyland park entrance at least 30 minutes before the park opens.

If you really want to visit the parks like a pro; find out what days the park offers Magic Mornings and Early Entry. If you are staying at one of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels (Grand Californian, Disneyland Hotel, or Paradise Pier Hotel) you are eligible for Early Entry, meaning you can enter the allocated park an hour earlier than those people with regular park tickets. You can visit Disneyland an hour early on Tuesdays, Thursday, and Saturdays. You can visit Disney California Adventure an hour early on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays, and Sundays.

If you buy a Three-Day ticket you are given access to ONE Magic Morning at Disneyland on either a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. Magic Morning and Early Entry are the best times for doing all the slow loading rides, which we’ll get to in the next tip.

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids and Disney California Adventure 5

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids + Disney California Adventure

TIP #4: Know your Fastpass, Single Rider and Slow Loading rides.

This is the most important tip for making your maximizing your time in Disneyland with kids. Make sure to visit rides in the morning that will have a longer wait later on in the day such as Space Mountain and Indiana Jones in Disneyland, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and Radiator Springs Races in Disney California Adventure.

A Disneyland pro will head straight to one of two rides. Peter Pan’s Flight or the Jungle Cruise. Why is this? It’s simple. Peter Pan and Jungle Cruise do not offer a single rider line, or Fastpass, and are Slow Loaders. Slow loaders are the rides that take a longer time to get the park guests on the ride. You should aim to do slow loading rides first and last thing during your day at Disneyland.

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids and Disney California Adventure

What is A Fastpass?

A Fastpass is essentially a guarantee to hold your spot in line during a specific time frame. You can get a Fastpass from Fastpass distribution centers located at the entrance of each ride and around the park. When you return at the instructed time you will have a reduced wait in line which is perfect especially when traveling with kids.

There is also a new system called MaxPass which lets you book Fastpass tickets directly from your phone on the Disneyland App. It is $10 per person per day, but gives you the added bonus of not having to physically go to each ride to get at Fastpass ticket. I highly recommend purchasing MaxPass especially when visiting Disneyland with kids.

What this means is that you can save your place in line to go on these more popular attractions, then use the time to go on other rides that don’t require a fast pass.There are a limited number of these Fastpass tickets per ride per day. On the busiest days the more popular rides start to run out by afternoon. Not all rides have Fastpass, these are the ones that do:

Disneyland Park

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Fantasmic!
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • It’s a small world
  • It’s a small world Holiday
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours

Disney California Adventure Park

  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters After Dark
  • Incredicoaster
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Soarin’ Around The World
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • World of Color
disneyland with kids

What is Single Rider?

Single rider is used to fill up any single spaces to get more people through the ride. Say a ride vehicle has four seats available, but a party of three goes in. There is a spare seat left that would just be an empty seat unless a single rider took that place.

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids and Disney California Adventure 4

Single rider is not as common as Fastpass, but can be found at:

Disneyland Park

  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Splash Mountain
  • Space Mountain
  • Indiana Jones Adventure

Disney California Adventure

  • Grizzly River Run
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Incredicoaster

What are Slow Loading rides?

Once you know the rides that offer Fastpass and Single Rider lines it is wise to pack your mornings and late nights with the slow loaders. These slow loading rides are


  • All Fantasyland rides
  • Mickey and Minnie character meetings in Toon Town
  • Astro Orbitor in Tomorrowland
  • Jungle Cruise in Adventureland
Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids and Disney California Adventure 4

Disney Rides With No Wait Time

There are some rides that hardly ever have wait times, no matter what time of the day you visit. It is smart to save these for the busiest times.


  • Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
  • Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland
  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

Disney California Adventure

  • Animation Academy

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids + Disney California Adventure

TIP #5: Get familiar with the starting times of attractions that open later in the day

There are certain rides at Disneyland that start later in the day. This can be really good for character meetings with Mickey and Minnie at their houses in Toon Town, with Tinkerbell at Pixie Hollow, when seeing the Princesses at the Royal Hall in Fantasyland, or for Darth Vader and Chewbacca at the Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland. All these attractions open an hour after the official Disneyland opening time.

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids + Disney California Adventure

TIP #7: Eat at off-peak times.

When people hear “theme park food” they think pizza, hot dogs and more. Okay, Disneyland does have all those, but they also a lot of great food. The best time to eat at Disneyland is during off-peak times. Have lunch around 11am and dinner around 4.30pm and then you can have snacks packed for the kids because they will get hungry again. There is an option on the Disneyland App that allows you to order on your mobile phone. You pick a restaurant, place an order and then get an alert on your phone when it is ready – easy peasy!

Another great time to eat is while waiting for a parade to start. If you have a packed lunch, then you can sit down, take a break and enjoy a meal with your family. This will help you to maximize your day and give yourself and your kids a break.

Pro Tip: Pack food, lots of snacks and an empty water bottle when visiting Disneyland with kids. Water is expensive at Disneyland, however there are a lot of filing stations around, so having an empty water bottle is a must.

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids and Disney California Adventure 4

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids + Disney California Adventure

TIP #8: Watch shows and parades from as close or as far back as possible.

When watching shows and parades with kids, sitting in the front is great because they can see the whole show and/or parade front row and enjoy it, but when the show ends and it’s time to leave, you’ll fine yourselves stuck at the back of the crowd. However, sitting at the back means that when the parade ends, you’ll be able to get to rides as quick as possible, hence reducing your wait time for certain rides. So make to decide if you’ll prefer to be at the very front or the very back. If the very front is what you pick, get there early!

If there are more than two parades in a day, it is much better to watch the later show. Parades and shows such as Fantasmic and World of Color draw crowds away from the rides and restaurants creating a good time to go on rides or eat. By watching the later show there will be fewer people in the crowd, and a better chance of having a better seat with a much shorter wait time.

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids + Disney California Adventure

TIP #9: Disneyland is a completely different park at night.

Night time at Disneyland can be the best part of the day. Not only are the best shows on, but some of the rides have a much shorter wait time. It is also important to know that there are rides at both parks that are completely different when the sun goes down. Rollercoasters seem faster, the lights make rides prettier, and the real-life ducks on Storybook Land Canal Boats appear massive as they settle in for the night throughout the ride’s scenery.

Here are the rides worth getting on at night:


  • Autopia
  • Astro Orbitor
  • Finding Nemo Submarines
  • Carousel
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Dumbo
  • Matterhorn (Fantasyland side, and Tomorrowland side)
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Splash Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain

Disney California Adventure Park

  • Grizzly River Run
  • Incredicoaster
  • Pixar Pal-A-Round
  • Silly Symphony Swings
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Jumpin’ Jellyfish
  • Golden Zephyr
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
disneyland with kids

With these Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids + Disney California Adventure, you should be able to plan ahead and have fun with your kids. Disneyland Anaheim is much smaller than Disneyworld Florida, so you should be able to enjoy several rides and maximize your day at Disneyworld.

See More Disneyland California Posts below:

Are you interested in visiting Disneyworld Florida with kids instead, then check out these posts below:

Expert Tips For Experiencing Disneyland California With Kids and Disney California Adventure 9

Booking Your Trip – Tips & Tricks

How To Book Cheap Flights When You Travel

If you are looking to book the cheapest flights you can possibly find on the internet, then make sure to use Skyscanner when searching for flights. Don’t forget to download the Free Skyscanner App also which is very handy. This is how I was able to get $12.40 airfare from Los Angeles to London, as well as $9.40 airfare from London to Italy.

How To Book Affordable Accommodation When You Travel

When booking accommodation, TripAdvisor is the way to go because you can read reviews and see photos from other travelers to get a feel of where you will be staying. Other great sites to book hotels are HotelsCombined, Booking.com and Hotels.com. Don’t forget to check HomeAway and VRBO for house and villa rentals too. Perfect for when you travel with a large family, and also to save money when hotels are expensive. Another favorite of mine is BookVIP – they offer huge resort savings.

How To Book Activities When You Travel

My favorite website to search for activities, tours and especially skip the line tickets is Viator and Get Your Guide. This makes trip planning so much easier because you don’t have to search several sites as both websites have several options to choose from. Same also goes with TripAdvisor Attractions – you can search and book activities as well as read reviews.

How To Book Rental Cars When You Travel

Instead of checking every single website, I use RentalCars.com, Car Rental 8 and Skyscanner Car Rentals to find car rentals all over the world with just one click. If you plan to park at the airport, visit Airport Parking and make a reservation.

Why Travel Insurance Is a Must When You Travel

People book trips and forget the most important part, purchasing travel insurance. Because we travel often, I purchase our travel insurance through Allianz for a year at a time which means that we are covered for all trips within that year. Travel insurance will protect you and your family against theft, injury illness, flight cancellations and so much more. It is a MUST!

Looking to save even more money when you travel?

Visit my Travel Resources page to see all the reliable and trustworthy brands that I use to book my travel with. I only recommend brands that I’ve used and can vouch for, so you’re in good hands! ? Also check out these posts below:

Top Travel With Kids Tips

Traveling with kids and have a few questions you need answers too, these posts below will help your trip run smooth.

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Kay, The Mom Trotter

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