My friend Mike is what I’d call a true Disneyland expert! He’s been there many times and plumbed the park for all kinds of fun experiences. He’s written a number of posts for the site over the past month (see my Disney page for all of them), and he’s back at it today with a new post for you! So, frugal minded Disney fans, here’s Mike:
For those who frequent the most magical place on earth, you’ve probably picked up a few tips and tricks to navigate the parks. So take it from the pros on how to get the most out of your next Disneyland vacation.
Tip #1: Free Water
Nearly anywhere that sells drinks will also give free water. And no need to order anything else. The only places that for sure won’t accommodate this request will be the vendors selling things from carts or stands. This is quite a change, as Disneyland’s water fountains were not even working for opening day in 1955.
Tip #2: Child Swap
Got a kid or two not quite tall enough for some of the more thrilling attractions like Splash Mountain or Space Mountain, but you still want to get a ride in? Everyone in your party who can ride has an option without stacking all your kids on their shoulders and dressing them in a trench coat. Disney has a program called child swap. At the start of the line for the ride, find a Disneyland cast member (they’re easy to spot). Ask them about child swap. They’ll give you a pass and everyone but one adult and those who won’t be riding go through the ride like normal. At the end, the one who stayed behind can use that pass to get right back on the ride with 3 others. Pretty sweet (especially for the 3 others).
Tip #3: Buy a Side, not a Meal
Most places sell their meals with a side item and drink. But you can buy them ala carte. No need to buy the drink or the fries, they’ll give you a price just for the entree (or sides). This is great way to save money. Maybe buy one meal, then everyone else just orders entrees and share the soda and fries.
Tip #4: Opt for a Kids’ Meal
Adults can order the kids meals. They won’t check ID or give you a weird look. If the kids meal looks better to you than what is being served, just order it. It’s often reasonably priced and still pretty filling.
Tip #5: Double your FastPasses
You can get two FastPasses at a time. For those who are not familiar, FastPass is a special ticket you can get on certain rides that allows you to come back later and use their “FastPass” line. This is significantly shorter and allows you to get right on. However, you can only get one at a time (or one every two hours, whatever is first). But there is a way around that rule. You can get one FastPass at Disneyland Park and one at Disney California Adventure. So grab a FastPass, walk to the other park and you can get another one.
Tip #6: Avoid Rising Ticket Prices
About once or twice a year, Disneyland raises their ticket prices. They never announce the change ahead of time. And while it may only be a few dollars, per day, it can begin to add up for a family of 4 doing a 3 day trip. Want to lock in the current prices? Disney allows you to book a package with hotel and tickets sometimes up to 16 months in advance. For a $200 deposit, you can buy your tickets and hotel now and pay the rest when you’re closer to your trip. Then when ticket prices raise, you will be unaffected. If you’re using a travel agent (like myself), they can also apply any discounts or offers that might come out later on. And if your plans change, it’s 100% refundable up to final payment.
Tip #7: Get One Last Ride
You can get one last ride on any ride in the park by getting in line at least one minute before park closes. So if everything shuts down at 11PM and you get in line for Space Mountain at 10:59, and even if it says there’s 40 minute wait, you still get to ride! This is a great tactic for those rides that have had long lines all day.
Tip #8: Designate a FastPass Runner
One of the small drawbacks of the FastPass system is that occasionally you want to grab a FastPass, to be used later, that is on the opposite side of the park from where you are. Hiking across the park is usually a sure fire way to lose time instead of saving it. However, if you have a spry member of the party, give them all the park tickets and have them run over to grab the FastPass. While they are making a run for the good of everyone, you can be heading to your next headliner attraction.
Tip #9: Skip the First Parade
At either day or night, the first parade offered is typically the busiest. You will have to find your spot earlier, wait longer and you will have much larger crowds. If it possible, try to check out the second parade. Crowds will be lower and you will spend less time getting a good spot. As an extra tip, the first parade is a great time to ride attractions with typically long lines.
Tip #10: Check Your Receipt
If you’re doing any morning dining, you will often find at the very bottom of your dining receipt a coupon for merchandise at select locations. This coupon typically will list the included locations and possibly even times of the day when it is valid. But getting up to a 20% discount can be a great savings.
Tip #11: Arrive Early
I know vacations are a great time to rest, but do take the extra effort to get to the park gates early. 30 to 45 minutes before park open can a drastic difference. Once the park opens, you can get in several rides before lines begin to build. In one such trip, my group was able to get more done in the first two hours then in the ensuing 4 hours. Then go back to your hotel and take a nap when things get really crowded.
What do you think? What are your best Disneyland tips and tricks? I’d love to hear them – leave a comment below.
For more tips on saving money in Disneyland, please see our Disney page.
Mike Rinehart is an independent travel agent affiliated with MEI & Mouse Fan Travel. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MikesTravelThoughts/ View more of this travel thoughts at mike-rinehart-e3x2.squarespace.com Or request your free no obligation quote on your next Disneyland, Disney World, Aulani, Disney Cruise (and any other cruise line) vacation by emailing him at Mike.Rinehart@mei-travel.com. Mention “The Coupon Project” and receive a free gift with your completed booking.