The life of a WAHM, scrapbooker and Disneyland geek. Welcome to my crazy life!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A day at Disneyland is serious business

It isn’t just for kids. Disneyland is for adults too. To have a good trip to Disneyland you have to do your homework. What? You don’t do any research before you go to the park? Oh my, well, let me tell you how to plan a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth.

First, check the Disneyland website calendar page. This will tell you the hours the parks are open, what fireworks,shows and parades are scheduled and what rides are closed for refurbishments. When the calendar shows an early closing time for Disneyland it means that they do not expect a large crowd (or in May and June in can mean there is a Grad Night event.)
You may want to check ticket prices while you are on the Disney website also. It is really important to buy your tickets before you arrive the day of your visit. It gives you one less line that you will have to wait in.

Get to the park before the gates open. REALLY! The Mickey and Friends parking structure opens one hour before the park on most days. Try and get there when the parking structure opens and then board the tram for your ride to the park. If you already have tickets you have the option of heading over neard the Disneyland hotel and boarding the monorail to enter the Disneyland park. If you are at the gates 15 to 30 minutes before the park opens this is a good thing!

As you enter the park be sure to grab a Map and show scedule(or maybe 2) for your stay. The map shows where everything is. The show scedule tells you about the shows and parades and lists where Character picture opportunities are. These 2 tri-fold brochures are available at the gate as you enter or you can zoom over the Guest relations where they have a supply of them hanging on the wall. If you don’t heed my advice or lose your guides you can ask any of the many maintenance people for a new one.

Have you piloted the Mark Twain, sat in the tender (front) of the Disney Railroad train as it circles the park, enjoyed the view from the front Monorail car while you talked to the engineer? You haven’t? You better subscribe to my blog and stick around while I share the things I’ve learned by being a total Disneyland nerd.

This is a picture taken in the Autopia Golden Ride vehicle. These vehicles are at the park for Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary and may be leaving soon- that is a secret I don’t know.

Disneyland hints and tips

I have lived in Southern California almost all of my life. One of the things I love about living here is being able to visit "The Happiest Place on Earth." Even if you've visited the parks you may find some hints and tips to make your next visit more magical.

Before you visit the park you may want to check out the dining menus. You can do that at the MousePlanet website. They list the menus for both parks, Downtown Disney and the hotels. They also have info for special diets.

Do you want to know the best times to visit the park? Visit Disneyland Attendance Center for an overview on the crowds. Also you will want to know with days have Early Entry if you will be visiting and will not be using this feature. If you visit on a day with Early Entry the people who have the option wil be there an hour ahead of you and there will already be lines in FantasyLand. So plan accordingly if you visit on one of these days but get in at the regular time.

Fast Pass (FP from here on out) at the DLR is a wonderful thing!!! My first thought about FP was that it was silly. Why would I walk to a ride, get a ticket then have to leave for a few hours just to come back and wait in line again? I knew that the FP line was supposed to be shorter but it was all the crossing the park back and forth that didn’t make sense to me. And what if you missed your time “window” printed on the ticket? Then you wasted your time the first go round.

Well after reading Dark Beer’s DETAILED posts on Fast Pass and how it works over at Mouse Planet’s Discussion Boards I decided to give the Fast Pass a try. I’m not really big on all the walking around the park back and forth over the same ground like I did when I was a teen. So we incorporate the FP into our day by heading around to the rides that we like. Before we get into line for the ride we get Fast Passes for every one in our group. Then we hop in line. Some days when we get to the park early we can just kill 5-10 minutes and get right into the Fast Pass line and use our passes. If not we just move on to the next ride and repeat the process as we move through the park. Then we go back with Fast Passes and ride those rides again as we make a second loop around the park. We end up making 2 complete loops around the Park on most visits but I know when I was a kid I never had enough time to ride ANYTHING twice so this system really does work when you know the rules and are able to use the system to your advantage.

DON’T FORGET that on a busy day they can run out (sell out) of Fast Passes!!!!! So if there are rides that you want to ride twice, make sure you visit them EARLY in the day if you are visiting the park during peak season (like the next few months!)

Do remember that you can NOT use a Fast Pass early but you can use it “late.” It has to be used the day it was issued but you don’t have to be at the ride at the exact time that is on the Fast Pass. This was a BIG help for me to learn that Disney sort of ignores the timestamp if you are busy ion the park and don’t get back at the exact time of the FP.
Find out what rides are currently on Fast Pass and currently not connected to the system if you can (check MousePlanet for updates.)

If this is your first visit to the park be sure to figure out a route in advance, it really does speed things along and makes the day go more smoothly. It doesn’t prevent spontaneity but it prevents crossing the park in crowds and using your time walking.

I’m going to wrap up by saying that if you are planning a vacation at the Disneyland Resort (DLR) and have AAA that you ought to check into the AAA vacation packages. Not only do you get early entry when you stay at a Disney property but ONLY when you book through AAA you get Enhanced Fast Pass. The regular Fast Pass only lets you hold one active/ unused FP at a time, but the Enhanced FP lets you hold one FP for every ride in the Park. If you decide to use this option do be sure to read the link above to MousePlanet’s discussion boards and Dark Beer’s explanation of Fast Pass and Enhanced FP.