Disneyland really is the happiest place on Earth. But it takes a lot of work to achieve that happiness — especially when visiting during peak seasons like summer and holidays. Disneyland opens its new Star Wars Land on May 31, 2019, and Disney California Adventure boasts a revamped Pixar Pier. Pack an extra dose of patience — along with sunscreen, snacks and refillable water bottles — and beat the sometimes overwhelming crowds with these tips:
1. Get expert help. So much budgeting, research and planning goes into a Disneyland vacation, and a travel expert who knows the park can make the whole experience better — especially if you’re planning a last-minute trip. Several companies specialize in Disney vacations. We reached out to Tempe’s Pixie Planner, who found discounts on hotel accommodations and park tickets that we would not have gotten on our own.
2. Take advantage of hotel amenities. Most Disneyland Resorts and neighboring hotels offer perks that save time and money, including free breakfast, shuttles and happy hour for tired parents! Fueling up on a healthy breakfast can save time and money inside the park, and shuttles make for a quick walk to the main entrance. Plus, it can be fun visiting with other families (and sharing tips) on the way.
3. Take advantage of Magic Mornings. Some multiple-day ticket packages or packages with Disneyland Resorts or partner hotels offer a Magic Mornings option, letting guests enter Disneyland and California Adventure parks a full hour before the general public. This generally guarantees one or two rides with minimal wait times, so you can knock out some park favorites — Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones Adventure and Radiator Springs Racers — before 9 a.m.
4. Get MaxPass. We will never visit Disneyland without a MaxPass. The added cost ($10 per person) was worth the expense — especially on a crowded day. MaxPass lets guests book Disney FastPass ride reservations on the Disneyland mobile app and allows unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads. Each member of your group connects their park admission ticket to MaxPass. Be sure to bring a charger for cell phones, because the app can drain batteries.
5. Tom Sawyer’s Island. The Island — located in the smack dab middle of the park, near Frontier Land and Adventure Land — is only accessible via a small platform raft. On a particularly crowded day, this is the best spot in the park. Kiddos are free to run around and explore paths that lead to caves and tunnels. Mature trees make for abundant shade, and there are extra bathrooms. We felt rested and prepared for the long lines after a visit here.