Time is Money: Maximize Time at Disneyland!
We all know that a trip to Disneyland can be expensive, so maximizing your enjoyment of your vacation time is the smart thing to do! Who wants to spend the whole time standing in line or staking out a spot to watch a show? Here is a compilation of tips and tricks for you to maximize time at Disneyland!
In our many visits to Disneyland, we’ve learned that some pre-planning (and a few judicious purchases before you leave) can save you both time and money. On this page we’ve gathered some important “survival” hints that everyone should know before departure.
The Disney fans who visit MouseSavers.com have lots of great information to share. This “Time is Money” page includes many reader contributions. Thank you to all who have shared their hints, tips and tricks to help you maximize time at Disneyland!
- How to Take MouseSavers.com Along on Your Vacation
- Essential Equipment
- Ultimate Packing List & Tips for Packing Better
- Avoid the Crowds
- Shorter Waits in Ride Lines
- See Mickey (and Other Characters) Faster
- Best Places to Watch Shows & Parades
- Treating Cast Members Right
- Lost Kids
Would you like to have this site at your fingertips while you’re at Disneyland? Accessing MouseSavers.com on a smartphone (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, etc.) makes it convenient to look up tips and tricks, check on dining discounts, see what events are happening during your stay, and lots more.
This site works perfectly on any phone that allows you to access the Internet. Just fire up your phone’s Web browser and navigate to MouseSavers.com!
You can also add a MouseSavers icon on your iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or Blackberry that will take you directly to the site.
Here are several items you can bring that will help to make your Disneyland trip much more comfortable, particularly if you will be visiting in the summer:
You might be surprised to learn that cotton socks are NOT the best for walking in the heat. They quickly become saturated with moisture, which makes them get sticky and rub and chafe — voila, nasty blisters. A much better choice are high-tech socks that wick moisture away from your skin and still feel dry even in humid weather. Yes, they’re usually made of artificial fibers but in this case it’s a good thing. Look for “performance” socks designed for runners or hikers. Some brands are super expensive, but there are some good deals out there. You want socks made with some combination of CoolMax, polyester, olefin, spandex, wool and/or lycra. Avoid any sock with more than a tiny percentage of cotton. Even if the socks are labeled “performance” or “moisture-wicking,” if they’re mostly cotton they are just not going to work well.
When we first looked into buying these we thought it was crazy to pay $10 or more for a pair of socks (they’ve come down in price considerably since then). But one of us (Don) routinely gets horrible blisters walking around the parks, so we bought a few pairs of different brands to try them out. Don tried Under Armour Resistor, Wigwam Cool-Lite, Swiftwick Aspire, and Fox River Wick Dry, all of which are fine; buy whatever is on sale. You can also find these socks at Target, Walmart, and so forth, but read the package carefully. Champion, for example, makes some nice polyester and lycra “Double Dry” socks, but also sells a cheaper sock also labeled Double Dry that is mostly cotton.
Comfortable Shoes or Sandals
Be sure to buy these well before the trip and wear them on some walks around the neighborhood, to make sure they don’t “rub you the wrong way.” Different people swear by different shoes, but the critical components most people need are arch support and thick soles. Thin-soled shoes of any kind are a recipe for disaster — the hot pavement radiates up through them and they don’t cushion your foot against the cement walkways. Some people love Teva brand athletic sandals. Personally we prefer a good quality pair of athletic (walking) shoes. Zappos is one of our favorite places to buy shoes. It offers FREE shipping and FREE returns (so if the shoes don’t fit or you hate ’em, you aren’t out anything). Zappos has an amazing variety of shoes, so if you have a hard time finding your size, width or exactly the right shoes, we highly recommend checking it out.
Another good place for walking shoes is Amazon.com. Even though Zappos is owned by Amazon.com, the selection is slightly different between the two sites, so they’re both worth checking out.
Moleskin (foot padding)
Don’t worry, moleskin is just thick flannel; no actual moles are harmed to make it! This product is much better than regular sticky bandages for preventing blisters. If you know your shoe is rubbing at a certain point, or you start to feel a “hot spot” on your foot, just cut a piece of moleskin to size and cover that area of skin to prevent it from rubbing on your sock/shoe. It works really well. Available in most American pharmacies under the Dr. Scholl’s brand. Buy it in advance so you can pre-cut some to various sizes. Moleskin is sold in many Disneyland shops (usually it’s behind the counter and you must ask for it), but at inflated prices.
A light-colored ball cap or other hat with a brim is a great thing to have at Disneyland. It gives your face a little shade, which both keeps you cooler and helps prevent sunburn. (It also helps to prevent sunburn on the top of your head — obviously this is a worry if you’re a little light in the hair department, but you can even get burned along the part in your hair!) Hats are sold everywhere in the theme parks, but $19-$20 for a ball cap is the norm. It’s much cheaper to bring one along from home: you can get Disney-themed hats many places for much less.
We’re big fans of the wide-brimmed “sun hat” or “boonie” style. The one Don wears most often makes him look like a river guide, but it’s light, breathable, packs easily, and it really keeps the sun off. There are more fashionable hats available that also have a nice wide brim. But any hat with any brim is better than no hat. The sun in California can be brutal.
You’ll need lots of this, and get at least SPF 20. Don’t say “oh, I never burn.” You WILL burn at Disneyland. There is a lot of water and a lot of light-colored concrete everywhere, all radiating the sun’s rays at you from every angle. This can cause burns in the most unlikely places, like the backs of your knees and under your chin! Every time we go to Disneyland we see a number of poor souls who look like cooked lobsters — don’t let this be you! Also keep in mind that if it’s generally sunny year-round in Anaheim. The average weather in Anaheim during the coldest part of winter is sunny and 71 F (22 C).
We personally like the spray-on sunscreen, because it just sprays on with no rubbing and feels nice and cool. We find it is very effective, waterproof, light and not sticky. For their faces, Sarah and the kids prefer the sunscreen sticks, but Don just sprays sunscreen into his hand and rubs it on his face. You can buy sunscreen throughout Disneyland, but the selection tends to be limited, and it’s a lot cheaper to buy it at home.
In the last year or so we’ve been really pleased with Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen. We’ve tried the spray-on, the cream/liquid and the sticks. Compared to the ones we were using (mostly Coppertone and Banana Boat) it feels much less greasy. You don’t feel like you’ve been coated in plastic when it dries. It also smells nicer, which is a big plus for the kids. It’s definitely more expensive, but for us it’s worth it. We’ve also seen generic store-brand versions of the Ultra Sheer at Walgreens and CVS, and both of them work just as well.
Handy sunscreen tip: if you take our advice and bring a hat with a wide brim, you can skip putting sunscreen on your forehead. This solves the problem of sunscreen mixing with sweat and dripping down into your eyes. This doesn’t work as well with baseball-type caps; when the brim is only in the front, the sides of your forehead will still get plenty of sun as you move around and the sun hits from various angles.
Waist Pack or Backpack
A waist pack (aka fanny pack, or “bum bag” as our British, Aussie and Kiwi friends would say) makes it much easier to carry your stuff (ID, room key, money, credit cards) around, is relatively secure against pickpockets if you wear the bag in front, and keeps your hands free. I know they look kind of silly, but so do Mickey Mouse ears! Don’t worry, you will see lots of people at Disneyland sporting both.
Alternatively, consider a small backpack/daypack. As long as it’s small and squishy enough, you can probably cram it in beside you on any rides that don’t provide storage space for personal items. A favorite of many Disney park fans is the Baggallini Messenger Bag, which is sort of a sling/backpack hybrid with lots and lots of pockets and compartments, including an outer mesh pocket that’s perfect for a water bottle.
This one will definitely save you some time even before you head to Disneyland! We’ve updated and reorganized a great list originally compiled by Michelle E from Charlotte, NC. This packing list includes everything you would ever need, and a lot you don’t — it’s smart to pack as light as possible since surcharges are now in place at most airlines for checked bags!
It’s in Word format so that you can adapt it to your own needs — just delete any items that don’t apply to you. Also includes a checklist of things to do before you go, such as stopping the paper and the mail, etc.
- To download the list in Windows, right-click on the link and select “Save Target As.”
- To download the list on a Mac, hold down the Option key while clicking on the link.
TSA Packing Hints
Be sure to check out the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) web page that discusses baggage limitations and tells you what NOT to pack in your checked luggage — some of the items may surprise you.
In addition, bear in mind that liquids and gels over 3 ounces are banned from CARRY-ON luggage, and 3-oz bottles or tubes must be carried through security in a single, clear, quart-sized zip-top bag. This includes items such as deodorant, suntan lotion, toothpaste, perfume, makeup, contact lens solution, bottled water, etc.
- Need small sizes of your favorite items to fit in a TSA-approved baggie? Check out Minimus.biz, which offers a huge variety of travel-sized items, including toiletries, pharmacy/first aid, laundry soap and lots more.
- Another option is to buy a TSA-approved bottle set and fill them with your favorite lotion, hand sanitizer, shampoo, etc.
NEVER pack valuables in checked luggage! Keep anything valuable (electronics, jewelry) or hard to replace (prescription medications, glasses/contacts, photos) with you, in your carry-on luggage. You should also keep all travel documents for the entire trip (flight/hotel/rental car confirmations, trip insurance documents, etc.) with you in your handbag or carry-on.
WHEN you choose to visit can make a substantial difference! Even if you are heavily constrained by school or work schedules, optimizing the exact dates can reduce the overall crowding you experience. Trust us, even 10% fewer people can make a massive difference in your overall enjoyment and how much you get to see. So, when are the busiest and least busy times at Disneyland? Be sure to see the answer in the Frequently Asked Questions section.
“The first suggestion should be branded on everyone’s forehead, ‘Go during value season.’ There is simply no comparison in the levels of attendance…. This is one’s first line of defense in the ‘Time is Money’ battle.” – Jeff D from Toms River, NJ
- Crowd Calendars showing you the expected crowd levels, best parks to visit and the parks to avoid, every day for the next 12 months.
- Touring Plans with step-by-step advice for visiting the best Disney attractions while saving you up to four hours in line per day.
- Lines, a mobile phone application showing current and future wait times and Fastpass times at every attraction (for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and more).
MouseSavers.com readers get an exclusive discount on subscriptions to TouringPlans.com!
If you are traveling with young children who will want to ride Dumbo and the other “little kid” attractions in Fantasyland, we strongly recommend that you arrive at park opening and make a beeline for that area. Dumbo, in particular, is a very slow-loading ride and once the park has been open for an hour or two, the lines are huge. Get that one out of the way first! Peter Pan is another ride to do as early as possible.
If Main Street, U.S.A. is mobbed with people waiting for the parade (or just plain crowded because it’s a busy day), avoid the long slog through the crowds by going straight up the stairs of the train station just inside the entrance. Ride the train one stop to New Orleans Square and get off if you want to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones, Jungle Cruise or Splash Mountain. If you want to ride the Fantasyland or Toontown rides, stay on the train until the second stop at Toontown.
- Extra Magic Hours – Early Entry for Resort Guests
- Magic Morning – Early Entry for Bonus Ticket Holders
- Child Swap (aka Baby Swap)
- Single Rider Line
- Special Needs
Here are a few things you should know about Fastpass, a system that can save you a lot of waiting in line:
- Fastpass is FREE to anyone who is visiting the Disney theme parks.
- Fastpass is available for the most popular rides and attractions.
- To get a Fastpass, you scan your park admission ticket at a Fastpass machine. You will get a Fastpass allowing you to return at a specific time (usually it assigns a one-hour period during which you can return) to bypass the regular “standby” line. When you return, you wait in the special, much shorter Fastpass line.
- The current Fastpass return time is posted above the machines, so that you can decide whether that time will work for you before you get the Fastpass.
- Your Fastpass will have printed on it the next time you can get another Fastpass (or if you have the Disneyland app set up and your tickets attached, the Fastpass should show up in the phone app). Typically the next Fastpass can be obtained after the entry time comes up for your existing Fastpass, or 2 hours after you obtained the most recent Fastpass, whichever comes first. It’s possible to be holding more than one Fastpass at a time, if you take advantage of this feature.
- Disneyland Resort also offers Disney MaxPass – a ticket add-on that allows you to get Fastpasses using the Disneyland app. Read more about MaxPass below.
It used to be that Fastpasses were honored from the earliest time on the pass through the rest of the day, but the return times are now enforced. You may be allowed a 15-minute grace period, especially if you have a good reason, like having to cross a parade route or another ride breaking down. But you shouldn’t count on it; if the park is very busy they may be rigidly enforcing return times. If the ride is temporarily down when you arrive to use your Fastpass, generally they’ll tell you if the ride comes back up, you’ll be allowed to use your Fastpass any time that day. If no one says anything, just ask a cast member at the ride if you can come back later to use your Fastpass.
From time to time, certain rides will be disconnected from the rest of the Fastpass system. When this happens you can get a Fastpass for that ride any time, as long as there are any available and you aren’t already holding one for that ride, regardless of any other Fastpasses you may be holding for other rides. Commonly the end of day shows (World of Color and Fantasmic!) are disconnected, and there may be others; they seem to disconnect more during peak seasons, perhaps to relieve stress on the system.
The folks at TouringPlans.com have a good page about Fastpass at Disneyland, which includes a list of disconnected Fastpass machines at the bottom of the page. You do not need to have a subscription to TouringPlans.com to view the list, but TouringPlans.com offers lots of useful information for anyone planning a Disneyland vacation, and a subscription is worth every penny. They offer a significant discount to MouseSavers readers, so be sure to use our discount links if you choose to subscribe.
If you want to experience all the Fastpass rides in Disneyland in one day, here’s our recommended order to collect your Fastpasses (skip any that you don’t care to ride, of course):
- Star Tours
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain*
- Indiana Jones*
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
During Halloweentime, the best order is:
- Star Tours
- Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy*
- Haunted Mansion Holiday (may be a walk-on early in the day – if so, skip the Fastpass)
- Splash Mountain
- Indiana Jones*
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
If you want to experience all the Fastpass rides in Disney California Adventure in one day, it’s best to collect your Fastpasses in this order:
- Radiator Springs Racers* (Fastpass for this ride often runs out in the first hour after the park opens!)
- Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout
- Toy Story Midway Mania
- Soarin’ Around The World*
- Goofy’s Sky School*
- California Screamin’*
- Grizzly River Run* (summer/hot days only – otherwise it will be a walk-on most days)
* These rides have a single-rider line. They use people from this line to fill in gaps in rows on the ride. As long as you’re willing to ride in different rows or possibly different cars, you can save a lot of time using the single-rider line. You’ll all ride at approximately the same time, but you won’t be seated together. If it’s not obvious where to go for single-rider, ask a cast member to direct you.
“…always take advantage of the Fastpass. On the most popular rides we get a Fastpass as soon as we enter the parks. Depending on the wait time you may only have to wait for less than 20 minutes [in the standby line] to ride, and then you can use your Fastpass to ride again.” – Toni K from Bel Air, MD
“Check the Fastpass times for Big Thunder Mountain Railway and Splash Mountain. If the wait time and Fastpass time are close together, get a Fastpass for one and wait in line for the other. When you get off the first ride (that you waited in line for) you can walk right on the next ride.” – Patrick S
“While we were in one line, my husband would [take everyone’s tickets and] run to the next Fastpass ride and get passes. While I waited in line for food, he was running to get the next Fastpass. While waiting for our time period on the passes, we would do other rides with short lines. If you plan your day around the passes and where you want to eat you can do the whole park in one day.” – Gerry P from Crescent Springs, KY
“If you are with people who don’t ride much (grandparents, wimps, etc.) have them go get a Fastpass for you with their admission ticket for another ride. This way you wait less time and they wait less time waiting for you!” – Kevin P from Bayport, NY
Disney MaxPass is a ticket add-on that lets you get Fastpasses using the Disneyland app. The rules are mostly the same as for the classic paper Fastpasses: you can’t book a Fastpass until you enter a park, you can only get one at a time and you must wait for a certain amount of time before you can get another. However, with regular Fastpass, the maximum wait time before you can get another Fastpass is 2 hours, but with MaxPass, it goes down to 1.5 hours, so you can actually potentially get more Fastpasses over the course of a day if you have MaxPass. Also, you don’t have to hike over to a ride’s Fastpass machines to obtain one, which saves time. In addition, MaxPass includes unlimited PhotoPass downloads for that day. Current pricing is $10 per person per day.
You can purchase MaxPass as an add-on in advance when you buy your park ticket directly from Disneyland, either online or at the gate. If you already have a ticket, from Disney or a third-party ticket vendor, or an Annual Passport, you can purchase MaxPass for the day once you are inside a park. Then, you link it to your ticket or Annual Passport through the Disneyland app. At the Fastpass machines you scan a barcode displayed on your phone screen to get the Fastpass, and then scan the phone screen again later when you enter the Fastpass line. The MaxPass will expire at the end of the day.
You can activate MaxPass privileges for all your traveling party members on the same phone (or on multiple people’s phones). So one person can book MaxPasses for everyone, or you can give multiple people the ability to make MaxPass reservations for everyone else, at which point it’s up to you to coordinate the reservations. You can’t get around the timing rules using multiple phones. For example, if Mary and Bob have MaxPass, and Mary books a Fastpass for Bob using her phone, Bob can’t get another Fastpass (using his phone, Mary’s phone or a kiosk) until the 90 minutes is up, or the start time comes up for that Fastpass, whichever comes first.
Disneyland Annual Passport holders can purchase MaxPass as a daily add-on for $10 per pass per day or as an annual add-on for $75 per pass at a ticket booth. The cost of the annual MaxPass feature cannot be pro-rated for passes expiring in less than a year. The MaxPass feature will expire when your Annual Passport expires.
Disney Signature Plus Passport and Disney Premier Passport holders get the MaxPass feature at no additional charge. The MaxPass feature expires when your passport expires.
MaxPass Tips & Tricks
Just about all of our Fastpass tips and tricks above also apply to Fastpasses booked with MaxPass.
If you enter a park later in the day, check what Fastpasses are available BEFORE purchasing MaxPass. If all the Fastpasses for an attraction are already gone, they are gone. You won’t be able to get a Fastpass using MaxPass. The MaxPass feature is nonrefundable and nontransferable. Once you enter a park, you cannot use the cost of MaxPass as a credit towards any ticket upgrade.
You can cancel or change your FastPasses using Maxpass, but keep in mind that there is no guarantee that another Fastpass will be available.
You can only book a Fastpass via the app for a ticket that has the MaxPass add-on. So, if you are traveling with a group and only want to book Fastpasses via the app, each person in your group will need to have the MaxPass add-on.
If you upgrade a ticket with MaxPass to a ticket without MaxPass, you will no longer be able to make Fastpass selections using the app.
Disneyland Resort hotel guests receive length-of-stay access to Extra Magic Hours at Disneyland one hour before the park opens to the public on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. Extra Magic Hours guests usually get access to most Fantasyland attractions, the Matterhorn and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Star Tours, Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear. Disney’s hotel guests can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours throughout their stay. Extra Magic Hours are particularly valuable if you have little children who will want to ride Dumbo, the Tea Cups, etc., because those are slow-loading rides and the lines get huge later in the day. This is also a great time to ride the very popular, updated Star Tours.
Disneyland Resort hotel guests also have length-of-stay access to Extra Magic Hours at Disney California Adventure one hour before the park opens to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Extra Magic Hours guests get access to select attractions in Cars Land, Golden State, Hollywood Land and Paradise Pier. Disney’s hotel guests can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours throughout their stay. Extra Magic Hours are a perfect time to ride Toy Story Mania!, which is very popular and has no Fastpass or single rider line.
Disney offers a special feature called Magic Morning for those who have 3-day or longer Bonus Tickets (one Magic Morning per ticket). The Magic Morning program allows you to enter Disneyland one hour before official opening on certain days of the week (Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday) and ride some of the attractions.
Magic Morning guests generally get access to most Fantasyland attractions, the Matterhorn and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Star Tours, Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear. Magic Morning is particularly valuable if you have little children who will want to ride Dumbo, the Tea Cups, etc., because those are slow-loading rides and the lines get huge later in the day. This is also a great time to ride the very popular, updated Star Tours.
Magic Morning is not available at Disney California Adventure.
Will you be visiting Disneyland with a child who is too short to ride some of the attractions you’d like to experience? You can still ride as long as you have two adults present, by taking advantage of the Child Swap, which is available on most height-restricted rides. When you enter the queue area, tell the Cast Member you’d like to do Child Swap. This allows the first adult to ride while the second adult stays with the child. Then the second adult can ride — without waiting in line again — while the first adult stays with the child.
If you don’t mind possibly sitting separate from the rest of your party, use the Single Rider line, which is available at Indiana Jones Adventure, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Splash Mountain, Radiator Springs Racers, Soarin’ Over California, Grizzly River Run, California Screamin’ and Goofy’s Sky School. The Cast Members loading ride vehicles draw from the Single Rider line to fill in empty seats, so this line often moves much faster than the regular line.
Those with special needs (mobility, visual, hearing or cognitive disabilities) can get a special pass, which is called a Disability Access Service (DAS) card, from Guest Services when you arrive. Different passes are offered to people with different needs, and depending on the type of pass, may allow you easier access to the various attractions. For more great info for those with disabilities who are planning a trip to Disneyland, we recommend Teri’s Disney Travelers’ Disability FAQ.
Some tips from a Character Attendant who escorts the characters:
- Believe it or not, everyone will get through the character lines more quickly when families get in one line together. Holding places in line and then having to round up family members, or having the family photographer off on the side and then trying to jump in to take pictures adds to the confusion and slows the line.
- Have everything ready to go before you get to the front of the line. Have cameras out of camera bags, turned on and lens caps off. Have autograph books out and pens ready with the caps off. Have your children out of the stroller before it’s time for them to go up and visit the characters.
- If you have a large group, have a plan. Decide in what order you are going to go up for your photos before you get in the line. For instance, you might decide little Bobby and Sally will take a photo with the character first, then Aunt Judy and Uncle Jim, then Grandma and Grandpa.
Thanks to Jim R for the info!
Disney Visa cardholders get access to two character meet and greets, which include complimentary downloads of your Disney PhotoPass photos. The Disney Character Experience is available daily from 10:30 am – 1:30 pm in Disney California Adventure in Hollywood Land, next to Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue. The Star Wars Character Experience is available daily from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm in Disneyland Park at the Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland. You will need to show your Disney Visa card to enter these meet and greets; offer valid for up to 6 people per cardmember account (each cardmember account may be used for entry only one time per day). Some things to keep in mind:
- The Disney Visa character meet and greets are first-come, first-served. No Fastpasses are available.
- The Disney Visa character meet and greets will usually have shorter lines than public meet and greets for the same characters, but there will still be some wait.
- The Disney Visa character meet and greets typically have one or two characters available at any one time and they will rotate in and out, so you can’t be sure exactly which one you are going to meet. You can ask a Cast Member at the entrance if/when the character you want to meet will return, and they may be able to give you a time frame. However, there are a limited number of character who appear at these meet and greets.
- Fantasmic! at Disneyland
- Frozen – Live at the Hyperion at Disney California Adventure
- Paint the Night Parade at Disney California Adventure
- Pixar Play Parade at Disneyland
- World of Color at Disney California Adventure
Sit down Fantasmic! dinner packages are available at Blue Bayou Restaurant and River Belle Terrace or you can reserve a “grab and go” meal from Hungry Bear Restaurant. All packages include admission to a reserved viewing area for Fantasmic! (Viewing is in a separate location from the restaurant.)
The Blue Bayou Restaurant Dining Package includes a 3-course prix fixe meal plus admission to a reserved viewing area for Fantasmic! The cost is $70.04 per adult (age 10 and over) and $26.94 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Disneyland admission is required.
The River Belle Terrace Dining Package includes a 3-course prix fixe meal plus admission to a reserved viewing area for Fantasmic! The cost is $48.49 per adult (age 10 and over) and $26.94 per child (age 3-9), tax included. For an extra $15 per person, you can upgrade to the premium 8:00 pm seating and stay at your seat after dinner to watch the first performance of Fantasmic! (seating is on the outside patio). Disneyland admission is required.
- To make a reservation, go to the Fantasmic! Dining Packages page or call (714) 781- DINE (3463). Reservations for the River Belle Terrace premium 8:00 pm seating must be made at River Belle Terrace or by calling (714) 781- DINE (3463) between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm Pacific Time. Advance reservations are highly recommended.
Hungry Bear Restaurant offers an On-The-Go Dining Package that includes an entrée and beverage (natural soda for adults and bottled water, juice box or milk for children age 3-9) plus a voucher for admission to a reserved Fantasmic! viewing area. You can eat at one of the tables at Hungry Bear Restaurant or take your meal elsewhere in the park. The cost is $32.31 per adult (age 10 and over) and $21.54 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Disneyland admission is required.
- To make a reservation, go to the Fantasmic! On-The-Go Package page or call (714) 781- DINE (3463). Advance reservations are highly recommended.
Frozen – Live at the Hyperion dining packages at Carthay Circle Restaurant. Enjoy a royal 3-course pre-show lunch and after your meal, you will be escorted to the Hyperion Theater for priority viewing, and seated just before show starts.
The cost is $95.90 per adult (age 10 and over) and $63.57 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Disney California Adventure admission is required. Annual Passholder discounts are not available for this package.
- To make a reservation, go to the Frozen – Live at the Hyperion page or call (714) 781- DINE (3463). Advance reservations are highly recommended.
Sit down Paint the Night dining packages are available at Carthay Circle Restaurant and Wine Country Trattoria. Both packages include admission to a reserved viewing area for the Paint the Night parade. (Viewing is in a separate location from the restaurant.) Sonoma Terrace will offer a package which includes reserved seating during the parade along with a selection of appetizers and dessert.
The Wine Country Trattoria Dining Package includes a 3-course prix fixe lunch or dinner plus admission to a reserved viewing area for Paint the Night. Lunch costs $40.95 per adult (age 10 and over) and $22.63 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Dinner costs $52.80 per adult (age 10 and over) and $26.94 per child (age 3-9). Disney California Adventure admission is required.
The Carthay Circle Restaurant Dining Package includes a 4-course prix fixe meal plus admission to a reserved viewing area for Paint the Night. The cost is $106.67 per adult (age 10 and over) and $48.49 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Disney California Adventure admission is required.
The Sonoma Terrace Paint the Night Parade Reception includes reserved seating during the parade in Sonoma Terrace and includes charcuterie and desserts served with wine, beer and other non-alcoholic beverages. The cost is $79 per person (all ages), tax and gratuity included.
- To make a reservation, go to the Paint the Night Parade Packages page or call (714) 781- DINE (3463). Advance reservations are highly recommended.
Pixar Play Parade begins April 13, 2018 at Disneyland Park as part of the limited-time Pixar Fest celebration.
The Plaza Inn Dining Package includes a picnic-inspired lunch at Plaza Inn in Disneyland Park and a Disney FastPass for special reserved viewing areas for Pixar Play Parade. You can choose to have a sit-down lunch or get the meal “to go.” The cost is $43.09 per adult (age 10+) and $26.93 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Disneyland Park admission is required.
Reservations made between 12:00 pm and 1:55 pm will receive a FastPass for the day’s first Pixar Play Parade. Reservations made between 2:00 pm to 4:15 pm will receive a FastPass for the day’s second Pixar Play Parade (if applicable).
- To make a reservation, go to the Plaza Inn Dining Packages page or call (714) 781- DINE (3463). Advance reservations are highly recommended.
World of Color, a light and water show, is presented nightly at Disney California Adventure. You stand during the shows, which are offered during peak season three times per night (usually at 9:00 pm, 10:15 pm and 11:15 pm); and in the off-season, one time each night (usually at 8:15 or 9:00 pm).
To see the show, you need to obtain a special Fastpass for World of Color. You can wait in line to get a FREE Fastpass, or you can buy Dining Packages that include Fastpasses. The World of Color Dessert Party includes seating. You may bring strollers into the viewing area.
Generally the best viewing is from the front row of any section (be aware that you make get wet if you are in the very front row). You also want to stand as close to center of a section as possible, for the best effects.
Tip: if there are two or more showings of World of Color on the night you’re attending, be aware that since a lot of people want to get their kids to bed early, the first showing is by far the most popular. If you don’t mind staying up later, the second show will have sparser crowds and it will be easier to see. If there’s a third show, the viewing is even easier.
If you do not obtain a Fastpass for World of Color, you can still watch the show from the boardwalk side of Paradise Bay, but the view is very limited. We don’t recommend this.
The Fastpass for World of Color is available each morning at the Grizzly River Run Fastpass terminals. The World of Color Fastpass machines are disconnected from the rest of the system, so getting one does not keep you from getting a Fastpass for another attraction around the same time.
You insert your park tickets into the terminal to obtain a Fastpass ticket for the show, and you are assigned a specific show time. The Fastpasses are distributed in show time order. These Fastpasses are color coded to indicate in what section you will stand, so get Fastpasses for your entire group at the same time, or you can end up in different sections.
As with other Fastpass attractions, a limited number of passes are available for World of Color. When all of the day’s World of Color Fastpass allotment has been distributed, Grizzly River Run terminals convert back to distributing the Grizzly River Run Fastpass tickets.
Prix fixe lunch and dinner are available at Wine Country Trattoria and Carthay Circle Restaurant. These packages come with a Fastpass for World of Color Preferred Reserved Viewing. (Viewing is from a reserved area in the regular viewing section, not from the restaurant.) This is the very best viewing area other than the VIP section, which is only for, well, VIPs.
At Carthay Circle lunch costs $44.29 per adult (age 10 and over) and $23.76 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Dinner costs $66.96 per adult (age 10 and over) and $27.01 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Disney California Adventure admission is required.
At Wine Country Trattoria lunch costs $34.55 per adult (age 10 and over) and $22.66 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Dinner costs $48.58 per adult (age 10 and over) and $26.98 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Disney California Adventure admission is required.
- To make a reservation, go to the World of Color Dining Package page or call (714) 781- DINE (3463). Advance reservations are highly recommended.
While seated at shared high-top tables you can view the World of Color show and enjoy a selection of sweet and savory desserts. Sparkling wine is available for adults; sparkling cider is available for guests under 21 years of age. The World of Color Dessert Party seating area is located in Paradise Park, to the left of the Carthay Circle viewing area.
The cost is $79.00 per person, tax and gratuity included. Disney California Adventure admission is required.
- To make a reservation, go to the World of Color Dessert Party page or call (714) 781- DINE (3463). Advance reservations are highly recommended.
“Cast Member” (CM) is a Disney term for employee. The reason for this terminology is that Disney expects its workers to act as if they are “onstage” whenever they are working with the public.
The vast majority of Cast Members are exceptionally friendly, kind and helpful. However, they take a lot of abuse from guests who don’t realize what a tough job it can be to deal with large crowds of demanding people all day. As a guest, it’s easy to go into “vacation mode” and start thinking of CMs as if they are Audio-Animatronic or “just part of the Disney experience.”
In reality, of course, they are only human. Being polite to you and assisting you is a Cast Member’s job — but as with any employee anywhere, they can choose to do the bare minimum. That’s why having the right attitude can change your whole experience at Disneyland. So few guests really go out of their way to be friendly, kind and patient toward CMs that when you make that extra effort, it is often returned tenfold!
Joe M from Columbus, GA offers these words of wisdom about Cast Members, which I couldn’t agree with more!
“Be friendly to all Cast Members. They are not responsible for the heat, crowds, obnoxious guests, or prices. They do, however, control most of your park experience.
We have been offered priority seats (when available) just because we were having a friendly conversation with the attending Cast Member. On our last trip we were given 3 free drinks for our children because we have befriended some Cast Members and we ALWAYS stop by their location to say hello. Our sons were given a special Fastpass because they were polite to a Cast Member. I had a special dish made for me at a restaurant because I mentioned how much I enjoyed and missed it. (The entree had been discontinued). We have been given special seating for fireworks and parades simply because we were nice to the Cast Members working that event.
We never ask for anything, we just recognize that these people are working very hard to be sure OUR vacation is the best.”
In short, when it comes to dealing with Cast Members, the Golden Rule definitely applies: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” Treat a Cast Member with a little extra kindness and friendliness, and that CM is much more likely to “go the extra mile” for you.
A parent’s worst nightmare is losing track of small children in a crowded theme park. It happens surprisingly often, because everyone (kids and adults) can get distracted by all the fun things going on around them. Going on a hunt for a lost child can really put a damper on your day.
For that reason, be sure your kids know what a Cast Member badge looks like (white, oval). If they become separated from you, tell them to find the nearest Cast Member, who will help them find you.
If you can’t find your child, don’t panic. Locate the nearest Cast Member, who will direct you on what to do next. There is a centralized “Lost Parents” system and usually they’ll have you all reunited in minutes. Good to know: no child has ever been kidnapped from a Disney theme park (perhaps because there are hidden cameras everywhere).
To make it easier for a CM to reunite you with your child in case you are separated, it’s a good idea to make sure each child has your cell phone number and/or other contact info physically on him somewhere. There are many commercially-produced ID products for kids, ranging from rubber bracelets to temporary tattoos to dog tags to shoelaces printed with your contact info. However, there’s no need to spend money on any of those. You can write the information in permanent marker on a piece of white fabric and safety-pin it into the back of the child’s shirt collar, or put it on a slip of paper that is slipped into a shoe or pocket. If your kids are wearing lanyards (for pin collecting or just to hold their room key, tickets and Fastpasses), the attached plastic sleeve is a good place to stow a business card with your contact info, or at least a piece of paper with your cell number. Don’t put your child’s first name or nickname anywhere that is visible to a casual observer.
MouseSavers.com reader Francis T has this additional suggestion: “Use a digital camera to take a photo of your kids BEFORE you head out to the park. Take a close up head shot and a full body shot. In the unlikely event that you and your children become separated, you have digital photos to show cast members, security guard or local police. Descriptions are great, but a picture is worth a thousand words. And don’t forget to retake the photos when you buy and wear that new Disney sweatshirt, tee shirt or hat!”
MouseSavers.com reader Cristina C from Mexico has this suggestion for those whose kids don’t speak English: “My kids speak only Spanish so I write with permanent ink on a piece of white fabric and attach it in the back of their shirts on the inside. As soon as we get somewhere I teach them who can help them in case they get lost and tell them to show that person where they have the information tag with the info in English: ‘I only speak Spanish.’ ‘My name is…and nick name is…’ along with both mom’s and dad’s names and cellphone numbers.” Don’t put your child’s first name or nickname anywhere that is visible to a casual observer.