Tips about Disneyland from a native Cali Annual Pass Holder

If you are in sunny California, you have to make a trip to Disneyland. For us So Cal natives, it is a kind of pilgrimage. Many of us as little kids heard the magical word from our parents “DISNEYLAND”! Then came the imsomnia and wiggling around in bed full of excitement the night before. I will never ever forget Disneyland in the 80’s and people watching. We still have photos in our dusty albums that have people sporting super short shorts with plastered hairspray hairstyles (the wave head bangs…you would know if you lived it) We also remember fondly the “people movers” and when the Space Rockets were higher than Space Mountain. Country Bear Jamboree and the air tram that went through Matterhorn were staples to experience.

So….what to do at Disneyland….and how to plan your time effectively..here are a few thoughts.

Nowadays, if you are going to Disneyland, you might as well go for two days and get a park hopper ticket. Click here for ticket prices  Prices are also listed below. For a one day park hopper ticket, you are looking at about $105. You can do the one park for one day and it may be a little cheaper. Being able to jump back and forth between Disneyland and California Adventures if the way to go. Your local grocery store may have some tickets that have specials.

PRICES as of 9/25/13

Ages 3 to 9

$86.00

Ages 10 & Up

$92.00

Visit both parks each day of your ticket.
Ages 3 to 9

$131.00

Ages 10 & Up

$137.00

2-Day Theme Park TicketsValid now through December 31, 2014.
Ages 3 to 9

$162.00

Ages 10 & Up

$175.00

Visit both parks each day of your ticket.
Ages 3 to 9

$197.00

Ages 10 & Up

$210.00

WARNING: DO NOT BUY TICKETS on craigslistDo

Do not buy tickets off of craigslist! You cannot tell if the ticket has already been used and there are a lot of unhonest people out there. A person may be trying to sell you a 3 day park hopper and the ticket gets scanned. There is no way to tell that your ticket was used.

Around the winter months, in the spring time and summer they usually run specials. Check www.disneyland.com

WHAT TO BRING: 

  1. Comfortable Shoes. There is no doubt about it. You’ll be walking all day or waiting in lines all day long.
  2. A light backpack.
  3. Sunscreen if it is hot. It’s expensive if you need to buy it at Disneyland
  4. Breathmints, gum. They don’t sell gum at Disneyland. That is why it is sparkling clean.
  5. Snacks. I like to pack healthy. Trail mix, water, apple, a bag of chips and maybe something like a snickers (it helps cut down the cost considerably)
  6. Sunglasses. It gets bright and hot!
  7. Sweater. Rain, Shine or foggy. It gets cold in the evenings. Better safe than sorry. That is what the backpack is for. They have lockers if you don’t want to lug around your backpack. Lockers are located by California Adventures and on Main street on the right hand side. The lockers get used up quickly, so if that is you, do this in the morning.
  8. Aspirin, tylenol or aleve just in case you get a headache
  9. Hand sanitizer
  10. Camera/Phone
  11. A good mood, attitude and patience to know that it will get crowded and that you are in the “happiest place on earth”

PARKING: 

Disney Staff are great with parking. They will direct you on where to park. If you park over by the Ramada Maingate, you will need to get on a charter bus that drops you off at the Pumba Spot. It’s about a 3-5 minute walk. You will go through a bag check and then go into the line to get into the park. If you get there around 7:30 A.M., they will let you go through the entrance and then you wait and fill in on Main Street. Then when it hits 8:00 A.M. people go and make a mad dash for the rides to fast pass things like crazy. The other parking directions will take you closer to Downtown Disney. You will park in the parking structure and take the escalator down to the shuttles that will take you to Downtown Disney. Then you will walk through a bag check and then its a 3-5 min walk to the entrance. Don’t worry…if someone really had to go to the bathroom there are restrooms located directly under the parking structure pictured below. If you came in by charter, there are restrooms to the left by California Adventures (in front of)

Source: San Diego Beaches & Adventures

  • $15.00 for cars and motorcycles – purchase theme park parking online
  • $20.00 for oversized vehicles, motor homes and tractors without trailers
  • $25.00 for buses and tractors with extended trailers
FASTPASS:
Definitely saves a lot of time in the outrun. Make sure everyone in your group hangs on to their ticket. DO NOT THROW YOUR TICKET AWAY. You will be using all day long for fast passes. A fast pass works like this: You go to a fast pass station, insert your ticket into the scanner. A ticket pops out for a particular time in the day. For example, if you are in the park early, go to Space Mountain. If you are there around 8:00 A.M. you will probably get a ticket for 8:45 A.M. or even 9:00 A.M. Depending on the numbers of people using fast pass, times can get filled up quickly. Fast passes clear up every two hours. So if you get a fast pass, you cannot get another fast pass until 2 hours later, so choose wisely. DISCLAIMER: Used to be that you could use your fast pass ticket after the time it said, that changed last year. WHAT A SHOCK! WAS SAD!
TIP: Get there early and fast pass one of the major rides at the get go. The major attractions that get swamped are: Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain, Star Tours, Big Thunder.
Source: Discovering The Magic Kingdom

 Source: Get Away Today Vacations

BREAKFAST:

Best to bring some snacks like yogurt, granola, fruit for breakfast. But if you want to relax while someone is getting all of your fast passes, there are some great things to eat. I personally love to get my coffee at Blue Ribbon Bakery. They have the BEST COFFEE, especially MOCHAS! You can get a single or double. If you have a annual pass, you can get a discount, so don’t forget to flash your annual pass. They have cinnamon buns, muffins, cookies, bananas, apples, yogurt parfaits, water, milk, hot cocoa etc..

Carnation Cafe has Mickey shaped waffles, cinnamon buns, the standard egg and bacon plate with fruit, a croissant sandwich. River Belle Terrace is nice in regards to ambience because you can have your breakfast outside and stare at Frontierland. You get the beautiful view of the Mark Twain Steamboat, the Haunted Mansion, the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and a tilted view of Big Thunder. This place can get packed, so you may have to wait in line. You do get to watch them make Mickey pancakes though. They offer a discount as well. There are other places like La Brea Bakery and Starbucks in Downtown Disney if you want to eat light.

Have some kind of a strategy for the park so that you maximize your time efficiently. I try to ride Indiana after I fast pass Space Mountain. Then I hop onto Big Thunder. If the weather is warm then I’ll then jump on to Splash Mountain. As for Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, I never really worry about time as the lines move quickly. Unless you are there for the Haunted Mansion Holiday that runs from late November until January, then the Haunted Mansion can get super packed.

JOLLY HOLIDAY is a new restaurant on the way to Adventureland. In the theme of Mary Poppins, the stained glass has penguin pictures. They have quiches, salads, pastries and coffee. Apparently they are opening up a Asian cafe on Main Street.

Source: toursdepartingdaily.com

BLUE BAYOU:

A one of a kind experience is eating at the Blue Bayou located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. If you walk through New Orleans Square, the restaurant reservation counter is located by the exit of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Before you even go to Disneyland, call ahead to Disney Dining.

The Disneyland Resort offers reservations at select restaurants. To make reservations, call Disney Dining at: 

(714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463 

Guests under age 18 must have parent or guardian permission to call.

The Blue Bayou is one of the few sit down restaurants in Disneyland. The other sit down service restaurant is Cafe New Orleans located right next door. If you are even thinking about eating at the Blue Bayou, call a week or a few days ahead to book a reservation. Even if you change your mind, at least you secured a reservation. You call Disney Dining and they will give you time slots of what is open because it does fill up. They will tell you to check in at least 15 minutes ahead. If you want to request waterfront, which I highly recommend, then you will want to check in 20-30 minutes before. What will happen is: You check in under your name and time and request waterside or waterfront. They will most likely tell you that you need to wait a bit more (it’s worth it) That is why we check in 30 min before. It’s not a guarantee that you will get a table by the water, but worth trying.

According to Disney’s explanation: Lunch and dinner menus feature Louisiana classics like Tesora Island chicken, jambalaya and the famous Monte Cristo sandwich. After your meal, relax in the tranquil setting and savor a specialty dessert like fresh-baked pecan pie or crème brûlée.

Source: Whatever Happened To..

If you want to do any type of Character Dining or a sit down restaurant, then you need to call Disney Dining. This includes watching the water show at California Adventures if you want to sit down, eat and watch.

The rest of your experience is just indulging in things like the churros, Disney popcorn, Mickey pretzels, frozen lemonade, funnel cake, chimichangas, or the huge pickle. Let your imagination and energy run wild. Great resting spots are at Hungry Bear Restaurant by the water, the River Bell Terrace, Tomorrowland by the Finding Nemo Submarines, Carnation Plaza or the seating right by the Carousel in Fantasyland.

 Source: Ruth & Matt’s Disneyland:

Hungry Bear Restaurant (You can see some actual Disney Cats here)

CALIFORNIA ADVENTURES:

California Adventures opens up at 10:00 A.M. They will allow you to go in earlier, but they’ll rope you off until it hits 10:00 A.M. As a family, it is also smart to fast pass some things. But definitely go straight away to Toy Story the Ride. It is fantastic! It’s like a video game and it is pure entertainment. The lines can get as long as 45 minutes long or longer on a busy day. California Screamin is the upside down roller coaster. Smooth and fast! If you are with a family or don’t want to split up, then the line can go from 10 to 30 minutes. It moves pretty fast. If you are with a party that doesn’t mind getting split up, then you can REALLY SAVE TIME by doing single rider. Walk up to the attendant at the entrance and say “single rider” They will give you a single rider pass. Ask them where the entrance is and they will direct you where to go. You’ll go up a elevator and down and elevator. I’ve waited anywhere from 2 minutes to 20 minutes. Other single rider lines:

  1. Soarin over California
  2. Indiana Jones (At Disneyland)
The Tower of Terror is AWESOME! Not as scary as I thought and very smooth! Love the Art Deco feel ambience to it. Go check out the Aladdin show if you want to sit down and see a Broadway Style shot. It’s about 40 minutes, but worth it. The closer you are to the stage, the more stunning it is. Grizzly Bear Rapids is super fun, but you get SUPER SOAKED. Do it in the summer and make sure you put your cell phone and important possessions that can’t get wet in the free lockers by the ride. A pancho will not keep you dry in this situation. Just have fun! I usually wear my bathing suit underneath in the summer times anyways. You can take kids or yourself on the obstacle rope course. It’s fun. Go and see It’s a Bug’s Life. Might be scary. Not going to spoil it for you. They are building a new Ghiradelli Ice Cream Factory. PURE HAPPINESS! The Little Mermaid ride is very radiant and beautiful and you can sing along with all the great tunes! It’s a slow and serene ride and it does a good job of going through the story.

Don’t forget Corn Dog Castle! Love this place! It shut down for awhile because of the massive projects they were doing. Was happy to see it back in its original place!

If you want some great cocktails! Go check out the bar on the side called the Avalon Cove Bar. Try their lobster nachos, but only unless you have others with you that are hungry. Have a lava flow or some tequila! Yes, they have a full bar. It’s a great relaxing space with a fantastic view! It can get packed. Great resting spot.

You can wine taste, drink margaritas, beer taste and relax. California Adventures if more geared towards young college students and adults. At night, there is a dance area in the theme of Tron. They also have an old school arcade.

There are so many more tips….I’ll probably update this page. HAVE FUN!

Works Cited:

“Discovering The Magic Kingdom.” Discovering the Magic Kingdom. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://www.discoveringthemagickingdom.com/apps/blog/show/prev?from_id=7267362&gt;.

Disneyland. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <http://disneyland.disney.go.com/&gt;.

Disneyland Parking Structure. Digital image. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <http://www.san-diego-beaches-and-adventures.com/disneyland-california-address.html&gt;.

“Disney Parks: All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About FASTPASS.” Get Away Today Vacations. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://www.getawaytoday.com/blogs/2011/07/06/Disney-Parks-All-Youve-Ever-Wanted-to-Know-About-F&gt;.

Hungry Bear Restaurant. Digital image. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <Web. 11 Apr. 2012. .>.

Jolly Holiday Bakery. Digital image. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <Digital image. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. .>.

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3 thoughts on “Tips about Disneyland from a native Cali Annual Pass Holder

  1. Disneyland is so much fun, especially when you have a pass! A bunch of my friends and I had annual passes in high school and it was so much fun. We always used to eat at Pizza Port – it has great pasta, even though the interior is nothing special.

    • I went through a phase, where I was “over” with Disneyland. But I have definitely come to appreciate it more and more. Have you tried the pasta in the restaurant closest to Star Tours (by the corn dog court?) I like their pasta there. Sounds like you enjoyed visiting back in California. Jealous that you live in Spain! I hope to buy a timeshare in the future there!

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