Disneyland tips please!

This will be our first trip to Disneyland. We're debating whether to go during the Labor Day weekend or Columbus Day weekend. I booked the hotel rooms (HoJo) for both holiday weekends so we can have a bit more time to plan.  I just need to cancel the rooms 3 days before the date.

I have spent a lot of time online reading tips and feel so overwhelemed. All the tips say AVOID going to Disneyland on holidays and weekends. Well... if you have kids, that's when you can go. Unless, you pull them out of school. 

1) Do people really pull kids out of school to go to Disneyland on weekdays? If yes, what do you tell the school/teacher? I can't imagine OUSD will be just ok with parents pulling kids out to go on vacation? If you have done this, do you do Wed or Thur. through Sunday? 

2) Is the crowd really so horrible on weekends and especially 3 day weekend? Will we be miserable with 6 and 7 year old kids if we do go during the holiday weekend?

3) Fireworks -- This is something we really want to increase our chance of seeing. As of today, I can't tell when the fireworks are in October. Does Disneyland have fireworks every weekend in Sept and October? 

4) Please do not judge us. Due to medical issues, it would be difficult to get to the park early as ALL of the articles and advice seem to recommend. So... are we doomed to have a subpar experience because we can't get to the park when it first opens?  We do plan to get a multi-day park pass and max pass but it sounds like there are many rides that aren't in the max pass system and the fast passes run out early in the morning?

5) Disneyland hotel worth it? (Note that we cannot take advantage of the magic hour.)

6) Howard Johnson to Disneyland -- It says 7 - 10 min. walk. I have a sneaking suspision that kids will refuse to walk at the end of the day. Are there shuttles, buses or Uber/Lyft option even if the ride is only for .3 miles? 

If there are must-share tips for first time Disneyland trips, we'd love to hear. 

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RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

Hi there, our most recent visit to Disneyland and California Adventure was in July. We anticipated HUGE crowds, but were so pleasantly surprised at how light the crowds were. I have read that people are delaying their visits to Disneyland because of the new Star Wars land. We got to Disneyland around 11 a.m. and literally walked onto so many rides it was insane. And the weather was not too hot and not too cold. It was a perfect trip and we most definitely got our money's worth of rides! But this was never the case before. We've gone to Disneyland a number of times in the last 7 years. Most of the time we had to wait in long, long lines. If you can, and your kids are old enough, you can try the single rider lines on the more popular rides.  This is where you can fill in an empty seat. I have found that the wait time for single rider lines goes so much faster than even a FastPass. Usually Disneyland fireworks are around 9 p.m.  I would suggest going on Columbus Day weekend when it's a bit cooler. A lot of parents don't have Columbus Day as a holiday so you might find the crowds to be lighter on that weekend.  Most hotels in the area have shuttles to Disneyland. You can call and ask. If you are going for more than 1 day don't feel like you have to pack it all in by going early and staying late. You could come back at a decent hour and view the fireworks from your hotel. Hope these tips help and have a great time! 

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

Disneyland is really fun.  And actually a bonding experience at that age.  You'll have fun, don't worry.  The minor expense saving tip that I have is:  don't bother with a park hopper pass, it makes for even more walking.  Go to California Adventure once, and Disneyland twice.  The other tip I have is go look at Galaxy's Edge -- it's cool even if you don't ride the one ride there, Millennium Falcon.  We were there in July, and some rides that you might be interested in, like Jungle Boat or It's a Small World, had very short lines (15 minutes).  The Tiki Room is good for a break.  In California Adventure, we did the 20 minutes drawing lesson, and that was also fun for our kids, and air conditioned.  Dumbo can get really crowded because it is slow to load, and unload--if the line is short, go for it.  If you are tired, go to a restaurant with table service.  I think Paradise Pier hotel is a good option if you find the prices are affordable, because the walk then is through Downtown Disney (if you pay for an upgraded room, you may be able see the fireworks, but check first), or you can ride the monorail if it is operating and save a bit of the walk.  We didn't use the magic morning either, but we really enjoyed our visit.  Have fun!

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

I think that enjoying Disneyland is about setting your expectations appropriately. It will be crowded so don’t let that put you in a bad mood! We stayed at Disneyland hotel. On the plus side my son loved the water slides but at 6 he got worn out walking back and forth and the monorail *never* worked. It always was broken and not running when we needed it. So I would say stay at the closer hotel. There are fast passes so that you don’t always have a long line. I would guess that Columbus Day is much better than Labor Day. It is always going to be crowded so I wouldn’t over think the weekend vs week day trade off. The fireworks are amazing and so worth it. I think they do them every night of the year. 

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

Ooooh! You will have so much fun! Never mind all the warnings and naysayers—go when you want to go! You will still have fun. Here are some thoughts based on your questions in random order: 1) HoJo is across the street, by the time you walk to the UBer stop, you might as well have walked to HoJo. 2) when you go to Disney with little kids, it’s a very different experience! Lots of the advice is for grown ups who want to max out the rides. Your kids can’t go on most of the rides (height) So, you won’t have a frantic day—no worries. 3) Max pass is great, but I suspect the rides you will be going on aren’t on Max Pass, so I’d say save your money. 4) if you are going for multiple days, you can take your time, go back to the hotel for a swim in the middle of the day, then back to the park for the parade, etc. 5) Disneyland Hotel is great! But if it’s a lot more expensive than HoJo, prolly not worth it. I’ve stayed in both. Sometimes, we’lL stay HoJo for all nights, then go to a Disney property for one splurge night—consider the Grand Californian for this strategy—you can watch a world of Color and then have the shortest walk to your bedroom that night. Have fun!! (And I’ve heard that everyone is in Star Wars land right now so other areas are less crowded! Get the Disneyland app which you need for Max pass and take a look at ride wait times to get an idea. 

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

My daughter loves Disneyland. We have gone every year since she was 4. She is now 16 and we just went a couple of weeks ago. In my experience Disneyland is always crowded it is just a matter of the degree of crowded. I would think Columbus day would be better than Labor day since it is a less popular holiday and not everyone gets it off. Disneyland has recently raised their prices and restricted the times when season pass holders and local residents can visit so as a result it was not that busy a few weeks ago. Skip the Disneyland Hotel, very expensive and not worth it. Howard Johnson's is a farther trek than it looks and when you are tired at the end of the night it can seem like an eternity. We stay at the Tropicana directly across from the main gate. It is clean, reasonably priced and they have all of the amenities you will need. There are fireworks every single night after the nightly parade. Having fun at Disneyland is all about being flexible and taking breaks. One thing I always enforce is that around 4:00 we go back to the hotel, take a nap or at least rest for a few hours, take a shower and then go back to the park. Disneyland at night is more tolerable when it is cooler and less crowded. We usually stay until closing and then get up a little later the second day. There is no "right" way to do Disney. Do what works for your family and have fun!

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

I took my kids out of school. The teachers didn't like it because of funding issues, but they didn't make a big fuss. 

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

Hi, I've taken my gal to Disneyland twice: once when she was nearly three (and still free admission), and then again when she was almost 5. First time was 60th anniversary year and it was summer so it was very crowded. Stayed at Paradise Pier so we could do character breakfast and the walk to park was thru Downtown Disney. The next time, we stayed in the Best Western that is closest to park entrance (still a short walk) for Labor Day weekend and the park wasn't as crowded as I expected. Hotels with shuttles can drop you off closer to the park entrance. No matter what, you'll be walking a lot. Another responder recommended skipping the Park Hopper pass and just doing Calif Adventure one day and Disneyland for two days, which I agree with. Then you won't feel so much pressure to see everything. Honestly, my gal liked Fantasyland the best, and could not get enough of Dumbo and Snow White. The Disneyland app will help you locate characters and see how long wait times are at different rides. It is nice to get to park as early as you can (doesn't have to be as early as Magic Hour), spend a few hours, then go back to hotel for rest/pooltime and come back in the evening for more rides and fireworks. I would just manage your expectations, and each person should pick their "must-do's" and let everything else just happen. It's hard to see and do everything, but you'll have fun no matter what. 

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

There's a web site that gives DL daily attendance figures.  I would think Labor Day DL will be at capacity.  Columbus day 

1 - Yes
2 - Probably and it's going to be hot. 
3 - Last time I was there it's every night.
5 - Yes.  And you pay for it. 
6 - Look on Google Earth.  The .3 miles might not be to an entrance but the fence of the park.  It can be a long walk at the end of the day.

If you can afford it, pay the mouse and stay at the DL hotel.  You can take the monorail in and out of the park.  A lot less walking, no Uber. And DL will treat you right.  HoJo will as well, but it's just not the same as staying at the DL hotel.  What you and everyone else who stays at the DL hotel is paying for are those special memories you just won't get at HoJo or any other hotel.  That's the magic of the mouse.   

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

I feel for you.  It is an expensive trip so you want to get the most out of it.  But relax.  This should be fun.  Tell your kids in advance that you won't be able to see and do everything, so you can put away the super high expectations.  It really is a lot of fun if you go to just to explore and do what you can.  First, see if you can get FastPasses to reserve the things you'd like to do most.  Let each kid pick a "must" and do whatever it takes to make that happen, then let the rest fall in.  If somebody is feeling upset, remind them that they got to do what they most wanted.  I carried in a backpack and snacks, which helped with budget and carrying small things.  A recharger for your phone is a great idea, especially if you are using it for photos.  When you arrive, ask staff where the quiet places are in the park and then take your lunch or have a mid-afternoon break at one of those quiet spot to soothe everyone's nerves -- maybe even zip back to the hotel for a quick rest, snack, and change of shoes (which helps immensely).  Enjoy!

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

I agree with the other responses - don't get a park hopper, just do one park per day, and if going to Disneyland twice, maybe stick to one side of the park each day (it's a lot of territory for 6-7 year olds to cover). Definitely get FastPass and use single-rider line for other rides if possible. We've never been during summer, weekends, or holidays because of the crowds but we never had an issue pulling kids that young out of OUSD for a Wed/Thurs trip to Disneyland - our favorite time is early Nov. It's possible that crowds have evened out now that Disneyland charges higher prices during peak demand. Our kids do love the parade and fireworks, maybe plan on it one night and watch from your hotel the other nights. Also, we are totally not morning people so we always got there around 10 or 11 and just planned to stay late. Do whatever works for you! But I would not stay in the Disneyland Hotel myself - too expensive and you're not likely to spend enough time there to make it worth it. On the other hand, if you think you'll want to go back to the hotel for a rest between park visits, it is definitely most convenient. We always stayed across the street at the Camelot, which was not too long a walk. We've also stayed further away and you'll want a shuttle if you do. My best tip is to try to stay in one part of the park and see everything before moving to another area, otherwise you'll feel like upstream salmon fighting the crowds all day long. The train can be a fun way to get from point A to point B too. Have fun!

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

We went to Disneyland Presidents Day weekend (Saturday and Sunday) and had a great time. We would have preferred to avoid a holiday weekend, but we planned the trip with grandparents and it was the only time that worked with everyone's schedule. The lines were long, but the FastPass really made a difference for the rides that use it. Do Fantasy Land rides (Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo) (a) first thing when you get there or (b) later in the evening, because those rides don't have FastPass and are always really long. We stayed at Paradise Pier and felt it was worth it even though we didn't get moving early enough to enjoy the Magic Hour. The pool has a great waterslide and it was a pretty easy walk to the park, even for our 3.5-year-old. Even though there were some long waits, everyone had a great time. It helps to prepare the kids for the waits--tell them in advance what to expect and how waiting in line is just part of going to Disneyland. Having snacks to eat in line helps when people are getting cranky. (To save money, bring snacks like granola bars, nuts and dried fruit, crackers, etc.) I would vote for the October weekend over Labor Day--likely fewer crowds as many parents don't have that Monday off. Have fun!

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

There is a Facebook group that you can join. I may answer many of your questions anymore

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

1) We have pulled our kids out during weekdays to go to D-Land but were advised to just call the kids in "sick" so the school district won't lose money.  In BUSD family trips are considered unexcused absences. I imagine OUSD is the same.   

2) D-Land is crowded.  Unless it's raining, it's crowded.  Go as early as you can.  Then go to the hotel for a late lunch/rest/swim, and go back in the afternoon/evening.  

3) Fireworks -- I think Fireworks are every night.  EVERY NIGHT.  You can go to the Disneyland website - they have a calendar listing all the parades, special events, and fireworks.  

4) Fastpasses are available all day, every day.  You don't need to get them in the morning. You get one at a time, per person, throughout the day, for the popular rides.  It's a good system.  

5) Disneyland hotel worth it?  NO - but go walk through the lobby.  It's beautiful.  

6) Howard Johnson to Disneyland -- HoJo is quite far!  I'd recommend one of the hotels RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from the Main Gate walkway, like Park Vue Inn (our favorite) or Best Western Plus.  Those extra 10+ minutes of walking make a huge difference to little legs.

I highly recommend buying a guide book - we bought "Disneyland and Southern California With Kids" -- Amazon has it.  Tons of helpful hints for a successful trip.  

RE: Disneyland tips please! ()

According to the Disneyland Crowd calendar, Labor Day will be significantly less crowded (https://magicguides.com/disneyland-crowd-calendar/). Crowds will be light or below average in September, then it gets more crowded in October. I think the fireworks are every night around 9pm in Disneyland. You don't say how old your kids are, but that will really determine what tips make sense. If you have a baby or toddler, you can get a "parent pass" on most rides. One parent gets in line as usual, but when they get to the front they can get a pass that allows the other parent to go right to the front of the ride. Sometimes they want to see the baby to make sure people without kids aren't using this. If your kids are older, single rider is definitely worth it for any rides that have it. If your kids are pretty young, like around 3-5, the visit will be more about meeting characters than riding rides. If so, the "character breakfasts" are fun. (Older kids and teens might want to meet the Marvel characters in California Adventure.) California Adventure also has an amazing show. It used to be Aladdin, but now I think it is Frozen. I haven't seen the new one, but I know that the production values are like Broadway. There are also several apps that will help you figure out when is the best time to go to different rides to minimize wait times. I like one called Ridemax. Well worth the $15. I've taken my kids to Disneyland at ages 3, 7, 11, and teens and it is always fun. I'm sure you'll have a great time!