1. Go during off-peak time
I usually go to the Disneyland website, look at the single day tickets and underneath the website will pull up a on/off peak calendar for the next 3 months, then I choose a off peak weak.
I prefer this time because the lines are short, the entertainment is still top notch and less crowds is always preferred.
2. Book your trip through Costco.com
We have booked out last 5 Disney trips through Costco. Disney has a good lock on their pricing but you get the added “Costco Membership” benefit (a gift card in the park and 2% cash back from Costco). You can put a deposit down on the Costco website and then pay the balance with a Disney gift card or Disney rewards card.
3. Stay at Embassy Suites
We booked this Embassy Suites through Costco for our last trip and it didn’t disappoint. The room was spacious, the Anaheim Resort Transportation only picks up from here (no stops), you get a breakfast buffet each morning, free drinks and snacks from 5-7pm every day and they had a heated indoor pool.
4. Get the Disney Chase credit card
We enjoyed the chase card exclusive meet and greets at the park, a $200 credit on our first bill and earn Disney dollars for every purchase we make. I recommend this card if you plan on going to their parks. They have special financing for the parks, discounts at certain stores in the park and your Disney dollars are redeemable everywhere in the park.
5. Setup a grocery delivery
I like to preorder groceries for our trip and have them arrive at our hotel. I use Walmart because you get $10 off your first order and they deliver to the Embassy Suites. Here is a link for $10 off. For our family of 5, I usually order 3-5 Lb. apples, 4 10oz. packs of beef jerky, 1 trail mix, 2 boxes of mini muffins, 2 loaves of bread, 1 jar of peanut butter, 1 jar of jelly all for “park” food. I would also add deli sandwich making for dinners but the hotel has a restaurant and full service bar too. Then I add some snacks or more fruit, you can also order alcohol for delivery, just a little fyi.
6. Consider parking off site
We parked in a parking lot about .5 miles from the Harbor Blvd. Guest Drop Off off West Katella Ave. and S. Harbor Blvd. near the Subway.
7. Take 1 backpack per family
We have found that food, water bottles and ponchos are the most important things in the bag. We usually have breakfast at the hotel, load the bag with beef jerky, trail mix, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, 2 packs of mini muffins to share, 2 water bottles (refill at the park or get free water at any restaurant in the park). Ponchos are nice because they fold up small and they work when it rains or Splash Mountain. Also, only having 1 bag makes security go a little faster.
8. Download the app for wait times
Now that this is available, how did we ever go without it? We always devise our plan once we have assessed the wait times and start with the lowest wait time out of Space Mountain, Star Tours, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Indiana Jones or Thunder Mountain.
9. Indulge in iconic Disneyland food
I think of popcorn, pretzels, Dole whips and of course, churros. Recently, we discovered the beignets at New Orleans square and giant Mickey cookies at Starbucks both are new favorites for us. BTW, Dorito’s were created at Disneyland.
10. Take advantage of the Enchanted Tiki Room
My son wanted to go to this attraction so bad. It was surprisingly entertaining and also a great place to get out of the rain during our February trip. We also enjoyed the short rest from walking the park all day.
11. Use the live shows as a time to break
In our younger days my husband and I would get the park at opening and closed it down 3 days in a row but that just can’t be done anymore. We learned that if we stopped and sat for a live show we would get about 25 min. of time to rejuvenate. Well needed to keep going throughout the day.
12. Eat at Downtown Disney
I love Downtown Disney for several reasons, 1. almost all the restaurants accept my Disney rewards card. 2. Parking is free to explore the downtown area. 3. You can redeem coupons at the restaurants, Wetzels Pretzels gives you a free birthday pretzel and Starbucks gives you a free drink for your birthday. Uva Bar is located in the center so you can get the “downtown” vibe while enjoying a drink and listen to live music in the evening.
13. Bring a poncho for Splash Mountain
Every time we go I think “it’s not that bad” but then getting off the ride with soaking wet jeans is never fun. If it’s summertime I wouldn’t be that concerned about it but choosing to go during off peak times usually means not ideal weather. If you have a upset child (we did hinting from the photo) the ride exits near candy shop so lots of color and sugar makes it easier to cheer up the little one.
14. Wave at the characters instead of meet them
In our experience we wait in line (about 10-15 min.) to meet the characters and then the kids either are too shy to say “hi” or just don’t want to wait any longer after you’ve been in line. Our new technique is to way at each character as we walk by the line.
15. Use ART
Parking at the park is expensive and really doesn’t save you that much time. The Anaheim Resort Transportation has really got it streamlined and makes it easy to transport around the area. You can buy daily or multi-day passes to save a little money.