Disneyland is one of our favourite holiday locations. I have helped many with my Disneyland tips and suggestions in the past and now I’m here to share them with you! Remember this is just my opinion and view of the most magical place on earth. I’ve taken you through what rides to go on when all the shows you need to see and the best places to eat. Plus keep an eye out for my special Disneyland tips! If you are just starting your Disneyland experience make sure you check out our Beginners Guide to Disneyland with Kids.
Here’s my complete guide to Disneyland for you- plus all the secret hints and tips to make your trip extra magical!
How long should we visit Disneyland?
People always ask how many days should I visit and to be honest that’s a hard one to answer. Why? Because die-hard Disney fans would say at least seven but some say three. I personally would never do just three days if you are traveling that far take your time to enjoy it. There is so much to see and do besides the rides. Check out all the shows, walk around Downtown Disney, have look through the onsite hotels, sit and relax to take in the atmosphere, parades, fireworks the list goes on and on. So I guess my answer is as many days as your trip allows.
We always purchase our tickets here mainly from Fight Centre (check a few different agents they all have their favourite supplier so prices can vary). Pricing works out around the same as buying them at the park and means no long queue to buy when you arrive. We normally go for eight days but purchase the 10-day pass as its cheaper. The 10-day pass is only available in Australia and New Zealand. All tickets 3 days and above give you ONE magic morning which allows you to enter Disneyland an hour early on certain days.
Disneyland Magic Morning
Magic morning is on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Early entry is into Disneyland only as onsite hotel guests are the only ones who get early entry into California adventure. The time depends on when the park opens that day, eg the park opens at 8 am Magic morning will be 7a m but remember to get to the gate at least half an hour before.
If you are using the Magic Mornings I suggest you head straight to Fantasyland as most of these rides don’t have fast passes and get very busy later in the day.
Toads wild ride
Alice in Wonderland
Matterhorn (now has FastPass)
It’s a Small World (now has FastPass)
Some of these rides we don’t do during Magic Mornings but my kids are older so our plan is different to others. We do Peter Pan, Snow White, Pinocchio, Toad’s Wild Ride, Alice in Wonderland, It’s a Small World and Matterhorn. Once we have finished these we head over to Tomorrowland to do Space Mountain and Star Tours. The park has opened now but crowds are still low.
On the Peter Pan ride look at Big Ben, you might be lucky and see some special visitors land on the clock face. Snow White touch the apple on the way in to hear lightning and the evil queen laugh.
So that’s normally our plan for magic morning and always works wonderfully for us. We go in the busiest season Christmas so getting on these rides before the crowds is a must.
All the Rides and Lands in Disneyland
Listed below are all the other lands and what rides they have:
Space mountain (FP)
Star Tours (FP)
Buzz Lightyear Astro blaster (FP)
Finding Nemo submarine
When exiting Buzz Lightyear there are computers for you to email your photo to yourself
Kids aged 4-12 can also sign up for Jedi training in Tomorrowland. You register at the kiosk located outside the exit to Star Wars launch bay. Sign up early as its very popular.
Big thunder mountain railroad (FP)
Mark Twain Riverboat
Sailing ship Colombia
Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
Splash mountain (love this ride) (FP)
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Davy Crockett canoes
Indiana Jones (FP)
Enchanted tiki room (this is a show)
New Orleans square
Haunted Mansion (FP)
Pirates of the Caribbean
Roger Rabbits cartoon spin
Gadgets co coaster
Mickey and Minnie’s house (you can meet them here at certain times)
Toontown normally opens an hour or two after the park. If you line up you might be the lucky one chosen by Mickey or Minnie to open it that day
Disneyland railroad stops
New Orleans square
The railroad has just been renovated and it’s awesome
There are a number of shows on at Disneyland every day. Here’s a rundown for you:
Mickeys magical map Fantasy theatre
Tangled and Beauty and the Beast Royal theatre
Fantasmic– you must see this it’s amazing and you must have a fast pass or dining package to watch it. Its filled with a light show on water, magic, music, and action. We love this show. Depending on the time of year you go they have one to two shows a night.
Fireworks– 9.30pm nightly except in low season where it’s only Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The fireworks can be called off if any high wind around so never leave them for the last night.
Parades– Disneyland is going to get a new parade this year on April 13th. Pixar play parade was originally at California adventure but is moving over to be bigger and better. Parade times vary so best to check out the website. At Christmas, they change to the Christmas fantasy parade.
Plaza Inn– buffet style and the best fried chicken. Inside and outside dining.
Jolly Holiday Bakery– we have brunch here most days and have our favourite Tomato basil soup comes with a toasted cheese sandwich. The kids love the chocolate brownie and choc mint whoopie pie. There are also lots of carts filled with pretzels, churro, fruit and so on.
Hungry bear- is in critter country and great food if in a hurry.
Carnation Cafe– is one of our favourites for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For breakfast/brunch try the Mickey waffles and a cinnamon spiced hot cocoa yummy.
Cafe Orleans– if you’re game try the Monte Cristo sandwich (deep fried) and the Beignets are delicious.
If you are after a special dining experience I suggest Blue Bayou. This is my favourite for food and atmosphere. I say special dinner because it is more expensive. You can also do Fantasmic meal packages at Blue Bayou which includes a cushion to sit on as the viewing area is concrete and sitting only. This restaurant is inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and is designed so you feel a part of the ride. It’s dark inside but filled with fairy lights to look like fireflies and the sound of crickets. Arrive 15min early and tell them you are happy to wait for a table close to the water. I always recommend booking which you can do 60 days ahead on disneydining.com
Minnie Mouse and friends at the Plaza Inn is wonderful. You meet different characters like Hook, Tigger, Pooh and fairy godmother. The food is nice too.
Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland hotel do breakfast and dinner and both are awesome.
Chip and Dale Critter breakfast at Storytellers Cafe in the Grand California hotel is fun and you get to see the bears from Brother Bear.
Surfs up at Paradise Pier hotel we haven’t done so not sure what it’s like. But I wasn’t impressed with the buffet dinner we had at the restaurant there.
I haven’t mentioned too much about what characters you see as they can change and would hate to disappoint you.
Photo pass or MaxPass
We used the MaxPass for the first time this year and loved it. Being able to book fast passes on the go is wonderful and it includes all photos for that day. It is US$40 per person each day which I wasn’t impressed with at first but after trying it I think it’s totally worth it. You can scan everyone’s park passes into the app so only one of you needs to get the fast passes for everyone in your family. Just remember every person needs a fast pass to ride.
PHOTO PASS is US$100 for a week but only includes photos not fast pass.
Disney app is a must as it helps you find character meet and greet, ride wait times, food locations and lots more. You also use the app for your max pass.
If wanting to use the max pass for only photos one day just buy it for one member in your group as you can all get in the photo (shhhhhhhh our secret.)
Permanent meet and greet
Pixie Hollow is where you can meet Tinkerbelle and friends.
Fantasy Faire is where you normally get to meet at least three princesses here every day.
When you have your Disney passes take a photo front and back so if you lose them they can cancel and replace them
I haven’t included hotels in my post as we always stay at the Disneyland hotel. Why? We love the magical Disney bubble feeling you get as soon as you walk in the foyer. It’s the teacup chairs, the cute gift shop, the Mickey taps and hidden Mickeys in the shower. The musical light up headboard, having your daily park purchases delivered to the hotel, the feeling you get walking through downtown Disney early in the morning and the big one for us you get extra magic morning every day of your stay. An extra hour every morning is huge if you go in the busy season. Also, only hotel guests get early entry in California Adventure.
To find out more on the other hotels check out our beginner’s guide to Disneyland.
Wifi is now available in the park but still isn’t the greatest but I’m told it’s improving all the time. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something so please ask any questions I will try my hardest to help you. The best advice I can give you is to go with the right attitude as you will need it. Yes it will be busy and sometimes wait time will be long but just enjoy it soak up the atmosphere and magic. Just remember it’s Disneyland and its filled with excitement, adventure, and magic so don’t let your attitude spoil it for you.
To find the best time to visit crowd wise look at isitpacked.com
We hope you enjoyed our complete guide to Disneyland. Is there anything we have missed?
About our Guest Writer
Carol lives in Sydney with her husband and two children. She enjoys traveling and creating memories with her family and friends. She loves curling up on a winters day with a good book and a cup of tea.