15 Epic DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers

Disney is renowned worldwide as the Happiest Place on Earth. And every parent wants to bring their children to the land of magic and make believe, joy and happiness. To see their children’s faces light up when they see their favorite princess live, or while watching the spectacular fireworks displays. Or even hearing their screams as they enjoy the thrill rides, is every parent’s dream. But the learning curve for first time visitors is steep. By reading the following DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers, you will have an edge on the park that is priceless when time is of the essence.

DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers - Take tons of photos!
What a great time with my extended family!

We visited DisneyLand for the very first time a few days ago, and I’m telling you, the learning curve was astronomical! After visiting DisneyWorld a few years back, I figured I had this DisneyLand thing down, or I could muddle through it.  Boy was I wrong. In retrospect, I could definitely have used all the DisneyLand tips I have listed below, and then some!

You see, I went solo, no husband or older kids to keep an eye on my littles, and I did zero research. I rely heavily on my husband in situations like this, he’s a planner, I am not. 

Luckily, my cousin and her husband knew what they were doing and I simply followed them around ALL day. And I learned a ton. Like the necessity of the Fast Pass, a Park hopper Pass for DL and California Adventure, and more. I am a seasoned traveler and DisneyLand had me stumped!

So for all you who are about to embark on your first DisneyLand experience, here are my Top 15 DisneyLand Tips for First Timers.

Table of Contents

Buy Tickets Online

DisneyLand Tips for First-Time Visitors: Order Tickets Online!
The castle was magical at night!

As is the case with most DisneyLand Tips for First Timers, this one is focused on saving you at least one precious hour.  Buying tickets in advance online enables you to go straight to the entrance without spending a whopping hour standing in line at the ticket booth! Be aware, too, that recent events have increased security everywhere and DisneyLand is no different.

Purchase a Park Hopper Pass

DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers: But Park Hopper Tickets
Fun roller coaster at California Adventure. Photo: Dan Brace

The Park Hopper Pass is one of many DisneyLand Tips that is usually reserved to multi-day trips. However, I’m here to tell you we managed to visit both California Adventure and DisneyLand in one day with 15 people in tow. 4 adults and a whopping 11 kids ranging in age from 3 to 14.  

It was imperative that we all have Park Hopper passes because of the wide age range of kids and a few thrill-loving adults. We split the day in two, spending the morning at California Adventure and venturing onto DisneyLand in the early afternoon. Incidentally, California Adventure closes earlier …

Stay on Property

DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers: Stay on Property!
Staying on property for a multi-day visit is the only way to go!

Of all the DisneyLand Tips, this one is focused the most on convenience.

You see, as the day came to a close, we were herded like cattle down Main St to the buses that lead us to our car. I thought of the hotels we had seen that were on property and how lovely those would have been.

There are three, if you are so inclined. DisneyLand Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, DisneyLand Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. This is a BIG DisneyLand Tip. In addition to beating the crowds at the end of the day, staying on property also gives you an extra Magic Hour in the park. Early admission, baby!

Rent a Stroller

DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers: Rent a Stroller!
Stroller Rental is mandatory!

My youngest is 5 and he’s a pretty avid hiker and adventurer, but DisneyLand can be overwhelming in all it’s excitement. One of the top DisneyLand Tips I can think of is to rent a stroller. At the very least, it gives you a place to throw all your extra clothing, bags, souvenirs and everything in between.  Plus, it is surprisingly dark in the park at night, so the stroller became indispensable in helping keep my young buck close.

Further, it’s uber cheap. I mean we are talking dirt cheap … we rented two strollers for $25! That’s easily worth the hassle of lugging your own stroller back and forth!

Make Use of the FastPass

DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers: Make use of Fast Pass!
These Fast Passes make all the difference in wait times!

Incredibly simply, even I was able to figure out the FastPass. It is one of the best ways to maximize your time at DisneyLand and I think one of the most overlooked DisneyLand Tips!

All you need do is choose one of the select FastPass attractions in both DisneyLand and California Adventure. Then, insert your park ticket at the FastPass kiosk and you will get a return time to the attraction you chose.

When you return to that attraction at the specified time, you literally bypass the long lines.  The trick is that you may only use the FastPass during the specified time and you can only hold one FastPass at a time.

Download the Disney Mobile App

DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers: Download the Disneyland App
This is the coolest thing and it works like a charm!

Like many DisneyLand Tips, this is one I probably never would have thought of.

The DisneyLand app became indispensable as the day wore on and the crowds increased. It was simple to pull up the app and check wait times for the different attractions we were considering. And for first-timers there is a map, which I found more helpful than anything!

You can also use the app to decide which attractions to choose a FastPass for. It’s advisable to only use FastPasses for rides with a 30-minute wait or more!

Have a Plan and Prioritize Attractions

DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers: Have a Plan!
This wait time was astronomical, but worth it. The youngest of our crew loved it.

I admit, this is not my forte’, and I can definitely use all the DisneyLand Tips in this area! However, my cousin is Type A+ and she had a perfectly executed plan. We chose the attractions with the longest waits and no access to FastPass early in the morning and late in the evening when wait times are significantly shorter.

There are a few rides and attractions that should be at the top of any first-timers list. The Pirates of the Caribbean is a staple Disney attraction as are the many fantasyland rides based on the classic Disney movies. My 5 year old loved the Jungle Cruise as he literally thought some of the animals were real. I hear Indiana Jones is amazing, but is was closed down for repairs when we got there. And of course The Matterhorn, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain are all epic.

Matching Shirts for Larger Groups

DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers: Wear Matching Shirts!
Matching shirts let everyone know we were together and made it super easy to spot each other!

My brilliant cousin’s idea was for all of us to tye dye T-Shirts. This DisneyLand Tip  is two-fold. One, everyone seen in matching shirts are obviously a group and therefore are appropriately seated together.

Second, we were easily visible throughout the day…priceless in a park as crowded as DisneyLand. 

Save Shopping for After the Attractions Close

DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers: Shop after the park closes!
Shopping is a total time killer, save it for after the park closes!

One of the biggest DisneyLand Tips that I knew nothing about was not to shop until after the park closes!  It makes sense because the shops are all open a full hour after the park actually closes.  So to maximize your time in the park, ride all the rides, see all the shows, and play on all the attractions, save shopping for after the park closes.  

Use the Single Rider Line

Disneyland Tips for First-Timers: Single Rider Lines!
Single Rider is where it is at, baby!

Many DisneyLand Tips focus on how to avoid big crowds and long wait times at the popular attractions.  And this one is major.

You see, I mistook the single rider line for the FastPass line because it was so significantly shorter than the lines I was standing in. Of course, we were a group of 15 with some pretty small kids, so we didn’t make use of this tip, but if were with adults and older kids, you bet we’d have had no problem splitting our group up to take advantage of the single rider lines!

Find Your Favorite Characters

Disneyland Tips for First-Timers: Plan around character meetings!
Not meeting Jasmine was a real bummer for my 8 year old daughter!

I knew none of this. And my cousin, my guide, my DisneyLand lifeline did not have Princesses on her must-do list as her daughter is 10 and is not into Princesses. My 6 & 8 year old daughter, however, were jonesin to see some Jasmine and Tianna and some Snow White. Major mom fail because I did not read any of the plethora of blogs about DisneyLand character meet and greets, but I sure wish I did!! Mommy needed to read some DisneyLand Tips about this for sure!

Talk to Your Kids About Safety

Disneyland Tips for First-Timers: The Safety Talk
Nothing more precious than these little people. Safety talks are imperative!

Safety First, always. And this is one of a few DisneyLand Tips that focus on the unthinkable.  Its also not strictly for DisneyLand and should be utilized in the majority of the places you go.

Prior to entering the park I had the discussion about what to do if, God forbid, we got separated. I told them no way in the world would I let this happen, but if hell froze over and they got separated from me, they would have a plan in place.  

Plan Bathroom Stops

Disneyland Tips for First-Timers: Go each chance you get
For the amount of people using the restrooms, they are surprisingly clean!

DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers about restrooms? Well, yes, especially if you are traveling with young kids.

One of my littles has to use the restroom constantly because she’s literally the best hydrated person I know. She drinks more water than I do, and that’s quite a feat. The upside in the real world is she’s healthy as an ox. The downside at DisneyLand is that bathrooms seem to be few and far between.

So, being proactive and making sure everyone gets the opportunity to go each and every time one in your group has to go, ends up saving some precious time in the long run.

Pack Your Own Snacks and Water

Disneyland Tips for First-Timers: Pack Your Snacks
This Geigerrig saved us from having to buy tons of sugar-filled drinks or even water!

As established above, I’m a huge fan of water, but not water fountains so much. So here is my big DisneyLand Tip to help you save BIG money. 

Bring in your own water and healthy snacks. We brought our GeigerRigs into the park and packed them with water and sweatshirts and then stuffed them all into the rented strollers!

Plus, by bringing in your own food, you can eat on the move and save valuable DisneyLand time!  Veggies, Fruits, Sandwiches, Wraps … all easily eaten on the move!

Divide and Conquer

Disneyland Tips for First-Timers: Divide & Conquer
Divide and Conquer, everyone does it, no-one is really appreciative when others do so.

Perhaps one of the most divisive of the DisneyLand Tips, but oh so popular and oft used. Divide and Conquer, baby!  

Many many times we had a non-thrill ride adult stand in line at an attraction whilst the thrill ride Tye Dye People scared the dickins out of themselves. Now, I say divisive because while we were on Guardians of the Galaxy, my cousin stood in the 120 minute line at Cars. As we were working our way to my cousin there were some unhappy people, but I just smiled and said, “You never Divide and Conquer?” To which they just shrugged and willingly let us by.

So … Did I miss any DisneyLand Tips for First-Timers? What are your top tips? Leave them in the comments and if I use them in a follow-up blog we will send you some swag!

Also, we love to hear from our readers.  If you have any questions, please feel free to drop us an email and we will respond ASAP. We literally respond to all correspondence!


Disneyland Tips for First-Timers


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