A quick scroll through my Instagram account will easily tell you where I spend most of my free time—at a little theme park in Anaheim called Disneyland.
Okay, maybe it’s not so little 😅
I’ve been an Annual Passholder since I was nine years old and worked as a Cast Member for a year back in 2014. To say Disney has played an integral role in my life would be an understatement. Many of my fondest memories happened at this happy place, including the official start of my relationship with Mike. (World of Color is a great way to ask someone out, just saying 😉)
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been visiting Disneyland several times a year, sometimes several times a month! So often that it’s become my second home. And while you could easily assume after all that time I’d be bored of it by now, that’s not the case at all. Disneyland is a place that is always changing, without losing that familiar feeling it gives you as you cross the turnstiles and enter Main Street. And with each visit I’m reminded of how privileged I am to call a theme park “home.”
And with that, I’ve decided to put together a list of things I have learned throughout my visits to Disneyland, in hopes that people visiting the park can utilize as much of their time as possible. Whether it’s your first, third, or tenth visit, you deserve to make your trip a magical one!
- Go in without a plan: If you’re a first timer or someone who rarely gets to visit Disneyland, then you don’t want to go in blind. If you do, you’ll get overwhelmed and miss out on the things you’ve been hoping to see. Before your trip, I suggest checking out the Disneyland website, where you can find park hours, maps, a list of attractions and restaurants, and showtimes. That way you can loosely map out what your priorities are for the day. Plus you can make dining reservations online! I highly recommend doing so, as many of the table-service and upscale restaurants do not take walk-ins the day of. If you have money to splurge on a meal, Blue Bayou and Steakhouse 55 are my favorite places to dine 🙂
- Stress about seeing everything: Plan or not, the last thing you want to do when you spend a day at a Disney Parks Resort is to stress. Visiting the Parks is about letting go of your worries and having a carefree day. It’s about escape from real life for a day and reliving happy childhood memories. So don’t stress! You probably won’t get on every attraction you were hoping to or get a great spot for the parade. But you shouldn’t let those things ruin your time at the happiest place on earth. Going with the flow and experiencing a change of plans can be a great memory if you let it be.
- Be rude to Cast Members: Look, I get it. A day spent at Disneyland is exhausting. It’s rough, especially when waiting in long lines with people who are pushy and impatient. Throw in a 90 degree day and you’re in for a real treat. But that is never an excuse to be rude to a Cast Member. And it happens all the time. Cast Members bear the brunt of anything that can go wrong at the Parks and they do it every single day with very poor compensation. At the end of the day, they are humans first, employees second. They feel and they’re just trying to do their job. So next time the attraction breaks down after you waited an hour in line, or you get yelled at for sitting on the railing, or the fireworks are cancelled due to weather, remember not to take out your anger on the nearest Cast Member. Believe me, they are just as bummed by the disruption as you are.
- Take advantage of fast passes: Disneyland has always been a crowded theme park. Or “popular,” as Cast Members are trained to say. But it’s grown exceptionally popular over the last few years. Meaning lines can be very long. If you want to make the most out of your day, then utilize the fast pass system. Select attractions (those with some of the longest lines) offer a pass that will allow you to return at an allotted time and skip the stand-by wait. If done right, you can get a few fast passes a day! I recommend hitting up Space Mountain first if you start at Disneyland or Radiator Springs Racers if you’re at California Adventure for park opening (they tend to sell out in the first hour!). The best thing about Fast Passes is that they are completely free! So use them! 😊
- Stay hydrated: Southern California is a state that’s on the warmer side year round, but in the Summer it gets hot. Bottled water at the Resort is expensive, but most of the restaurants do offer water cups for free! Bonus: there’s a refillable water station at three restaurants—Red Rose Taverne, Galactic Grill, and Rancho del Zocalo. So bring a water bottle and enjoy fresh water, on the house.
- Leave a Cast compliment: If you have a positive encounter with a Cast Member during your visit, something that’s worthwhile or puts a smile on your face, then I suggest giving that person a Cast compliment! It’s super easy and trust me, it really makes their day too. All you have to do it get their name and city from their name tag and take note of the time and location of the interaction. Then at the end of the day, make a stop by City Hall on Main Street and let Guest Services know you’d like to leave a Cast compliment. They’ll take all the information from you and pass it along. It’s something I try to do more often; as a former Cast Member, nothing put a smile on my face like knowing that I helped make someone’s day at Disneyland a little more magical. And as a guest, it feels magical to make my appreciation known to those who work hard to keep Disneyland in operation every day.
- Dress accordingly: And no, I don’t mean simply check the weather. Although, you should! But when you wake up to get dressed or you’re packing for you trip, remember that you’re visiting Disneyland—wear your favorite Disney t-shirt, throw on a pair of Mickey ears, or rock a great Disneybound (casual clothes that resemble a Disney character). Disneyland is the place to show off your best Disney style and it makes for great photos too 😉
- Have fun: Sure, I’ve given you a ton of rules to follow, but at the end of the day it isn’t about rules. A trip to Disneyland is about fun! No matter what you do during your visit, make fun your number one priority. With that, you can’t go wrong and you’re sure to make the most out of your time spent at the Resort.