5 Ways to Make Visiting Disneyland More Special

Jul 26, 2010 by Lindsay Pullin

Being a Southern California resident my entire life, I must admit that Disneyland has played a large part in my adolescence and psyche.

I have memories and pictures that span my entire life. My friends worked there, I’ve had season passes and gone hundreds of times.

I always know when it’s 9:30 pm in my house because I can hear the fireworks show at Disneyland booming away, even though I’m separated by no less than 3 cities.  It’s definitely in my blood; my dad remembers standing behind a chain link fence watching the park being constructed with anticipation.

Now we’re in the middle of summer, and Disneyland calls to millions of tourists, patrons, customers, and locals across the state, country, and the world.

Therefore, I’d like to share with you all, the best lessons I’ve learned about Disneyland as a result of my absolute obsession with the infamous House of Mouse:

1. Fast Pass is, and continues to be, a brilliant invention. Have you heard of it? It’s a relatively new ticket idea that saves a spot in line for you; but more realistically it serves to save you time to enter the line amongst the throng of the queue. Big name attractions like Splash Mountain (especially during the summer), and any roller coaster can have wait times that last for hours. In the summer, the park stays open later, but that still doesn’t justify standing in line for 4 hours.

With “Fast Pass,” instead, your ticket stub enables you to get a fast pass while all those “suckers” have to wait it out. A side tip: If you do decide to stand in line, take the time you’ll have lots of it, to appreciate Disney’s amazing line making skills. This company herds people like cattle, they loop everyone in and out and all over the place to accommodate for the thousands who are willing to wait. Get a fast pass for a big ride first, and then hit up other rides with shorter lines in the mean time.

2. Walt Disney was OCD about details; so take the time to enjoy them. In the rides and all over the park, you may not even notice the intricate details incorporated into the Disney experience.

For instance, when switching “lands” (from Adventureland to Frontierland), you won’t be able to see, or hear the other lands. Everything is in character, and all 5 senses are addressed.

Look up: You won’t see any airplanes or banner ads; Disney owns the air space and keeps it closed–once you’re in Disneyland, there’s no evidence of the outside world.

Walt Disney himself said, "I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the Park. I want them to feel they’re in another world." Bonus tip: Look for “Hidden Mickies” (Mickey’s profile).  All rides have them, and they can be tricky to find. It might be a moving shadow; or it might be a blatant Mickey. Or, go on a “treasure hunt.” This website is more than helpful in telling you more about this concept. There’s hidden places everywhere. The fire station at the entrance hides Walt Disney’s old apartment. There’s an art gallery above the Pirates of the Caribbean.

3. You’re really hot and you need a place to sit down. Then try the Tiki Room. It’s recently been updated, and yeah, it’s a little campy. However, it’s air conditioned and the wait time is always short.  Also, try the movie theater on Main Street. You can watch all the old Mickey Mouse cartoons in air conditioned bliss. The train is a nice place to rest your feet, but the only air conditioning you’ll get is when you go "back in time."

4. “I’m too old to do that.” Here’s what I think when I hear this attitude:

There’s a man who dresses up as a conductor every day, and drives a train in circles around Disneyland. What are you too old to do again? I recommend riding all the children’s rides (Storybook Land, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey)

"Why do we have to “grow up?” I know more than a few adults who have a child’s curiosity and sense of wonderment toward life–they’re people who don’t give a hang what the Joneses’ do. You’ll see them at Disneyland every time you go there:

“They’re not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought – sometimes it isn’t much, either."-Walt Disney.

5. Be in the right place at the right time. Never try to cross the park during a parade, as the streets are all blocked off and people are sitting on the curbs. This is the optimal time to be in New Orleans Square, riding the Pirates of the Caribbean, or the Haunted Mansion. Certain rides have extra short lines during parades, so plan your location according to these times. Want the best seat in the house for the firework show? Try riding Story Book Land at 9:25pm, they stop the boat and you can watch while you float. An even bigger tip about being in the right place at the right time–come during the week. There are approximately 40,000 guests at Disneyland every day. The crowds triple on the weekends. And never go on a 3 day weekend!

Disneyland is an exhausting experience. After a full day of walking around in the hot California sun, tempers are sky high, and the walk to the car (and the legendary sized parking structure) can seem daunting.

My final recommendation: after the final show of the evening, get a churro or a cup of coffee, and wait for 20 minutes while the majority of the crowd leaves. Once you get home, take two aspirin and a glass of water and sleep for 10 hours.

Sometime having too much fun, does have a price to pay.

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