Location: Anaheim, California
Address: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802
Ticket Price: $112+ per person
Dress Code: Casual+ (Wear comfortable shoes, bring sunglasses, hand sanitizer, and sunscreen!)
Prohibited Items: Drones, weapons, illegal substances, large tripods & selfie sticks,
glass containers, pets, suitcases & large bags, etc. (Check their website for a complete list!)
Special Diets: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian
Disneyland is one of the most recognizable places in the United States, and somewhere that was on our California “bucket list”, so when we had some extra time to spend in California, we decided that we had to visit “the happiest place on Earth”! I had visited before as a young child (I didn’t remember much), and my husband had never been there, so we both decided to swing by a gift shop and asked for “First Visit” pins, which signaled to cast members (aka Disneyland employees), that we we’re visiting for the first time, which ended up being a great decision (more on that later). Despite the fact that we lost a wallet (which the cast members incredibly helped us hunt down!), and that we’d accidentally visited on a holiday (hello long lines!), we had an amazing time. Here is everything you need to know for your first visit to Disneyland, and advice that can help even the most veteran Disneyland lover have an amazing time!
Disneyland is comprised of 3 main properties, Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, and Disneyland Resort. Visitors have the option to choose between Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. The focus of this post will be Disneyland Park, which is where these photographs were taken.
Disney MaxPass is THE best thing you can buy during your visit. For an extra $15 per ticket, you can use this fast pass system to schedule one ride every 1 & 1/2 hours, which means you get to skip (almost) all of the lines at popular attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, etc. This freed up so much time for us, and allowed us to experience more of the park, because at one point there was a 5 hour wait time for the Pirates of the Caribbean. FIVE. HOURS. Set an alarm to book your fast passes every 1.5 hours, which can be done on your phone. Instead of only being able to ride 3-5 of the popular rides, we were able to do just about every ride in the park in one day!
There was still a bit of a wait when it came to the rides we set up with our MaxPass tickets, because while you do get to skip 98% of the lines, they alternate a bit between the fast pass riders and regular lines guests, but using these tickets reduced our wait time for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride from 5 hours and 15 minutes to only 22 minutes, which as you can imagine allowed us much more time to explore the rest of the park. Download the Disneyland app to see wait times around the park in real-time, which is great for determining which rides you want to schedule when it comes time to book your fast pass tickets.
The busiest rides that I absolutely recommend setting up fast passes for, if you’re interested in riding any of these rides include:
Pirates of the Caribbean (3.5 hour average wait time)
Haunted Mansion (3 hours average wait time)
Indiana Jones (2.5 hour average wait time)
Splash Mountain (2.5 hour average wait time)
Space Mountain (2 hours average wait time)
Star Wars Launch Bay (2 hour average wait time)
Pro Tip: Wear comfortable shoes! You’ll be walking and standing during most of your time at Disneyland, so be sure you’re comfortable.
Pro Tip: Be sure to avoid a sunburn! California is notoriously sunny and warm, even in the winter, so be prepared with sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, etc.
Pro Tip: If you want to collect Disney pins, bring a few from home. The cast members will even trade with you, so be sure to have some you don’t mind exchanging for others you might love!
When it comes to dining, it’s easy to plan out meals ahead of time, because all of the menus for each eatery can be found on Disneyland’s website. If you have dietary concerns, allergies, or special diets, you can even bring your own food and drinks into the park, or call their hotline (714-781-DINE) and ask for a list of restaurants that are suitable to your specific needs. However, when it comes to the sit-down character restaurants, you’ll need to make dining reservations 2+ months in advance, and no, I’m not joking. We didn’t know this before visiting, and every nicer restaurant we tried to visit, they told us that reservations fill up almost as soon as the online booking goes live, but that they’d put our names on the lists in case anyone missed their reservations (no one missed their reservations). This was disappointing for us, but I’m glad I can warn my readers who go to Disneyland, so that they can eat where they’d like without missing out.
Restaurants you should make reservations for several months in advance inside Disneyland Park include:
Blue Bayou Restaurant (you can see the boats from the Pirates of the Caribbean rides go past in this one!)
Fantasmic! Dining Packages
River Belle Terrace
Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge Experience
If you don’t want to make reservations, or if you’re unable to do so, there are still lots of great options around the park for drinks, snacks, and even full meals. One of my favorite places we ate was the Harbour Galley and Red Rose Tavern, which serves delightful French food in a Beauty & the Beast themed restaurant. Fairfax Market was also a great spot to grab healthy, vegetarian options (plus with a name like that it has to be amazing ;).
Adventureland is where Disneyland guests can find just what the name implies – adventure! I loved the outdoors vibe of Adventureland, and the experiences here were much more involved than elsewhere, like climbing Tarzan’s Treehouse, or dodging water on the Jungle Cruise. Just like every ride at Disneyland, even the lines for these experiences were incredible well appointed, and each told their own unique story, which made even waiting in line a fun experience in and of itself!
Experiences in Adventureland:
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye
Pro Tip: If you want a great view of the park, climb up to the top of Tarzan’s Treehouse, you’ll be able to see all around the park, and it’s a great spot to meet if you’re exploring the park with friends.
Characters in Adventureland:
Moana (near Aladdin’s Oasis)
Aladdin & Jasmine
Tarzan & Jane (Near Tarzan’s Treehouse)
Fantasyland is home to perhaps one of the most iconic Disneyland rides of all time, “It’s a Small World”. Personally, I don’t see the appeal, but if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone at Disneyland talk about the ride, I could use that money to fly back to California right now and take my entire family to Disneyland! This area is beautiful, and perfect for searching for details, because everything here is so ornate!
Other experiences in Fantasyland include:
King Arthur Carrousel
Mad Tea Party (Tea Cups)
Sleeping Beauty Castle (you can walk through it!)
Peter Pan’s Flight
Royal Hall (where you can meet princesses!)
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Characters in Fantasyland:
Alice & the Mad Hatter (near the teacups)
Aurora from Sleeping Beauty (she wanders near her castle)
Ariel (inside Royal Hall)
Belle (inside Royal Hall)
Cinderella (inside Royal Hall)
Cinderella’s Fairy Godmothers (near Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique)
Evil Queen from Snow White (near Pixie Hollow)
Gaston and the Beast
Rapunzel & Flynn Ryder or Jasmine & Aladdin (in front of Royal Hall near the purple umbrella)
Snow White (inside Royal Hall)
Tinker Bell and other fairies (in or near Pixie Hollow)
I LOVED Frontierland. I don’t know what it is about this area that just spoke to me, but I loved all of the contrasting pops of bright oranges, reds, blues, and greens, and all of the different textures that made this area fun to photograph. It also wasn’t very crowded, which is saying a lot, because as I mentioned earlier, we visited on a holiday, and there were hardly any people here, except for the lines to the attractions.
Experiences in Frontierland:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Mark Twain Riverboat
Frontierland Shooting Exposition
Sailing Ship Columbia
Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
Characters in Frontierland:
Woody & Jessie from Toy Story (near entrance)
If you’re looking to watch fireworks, parades, or band performances during your visit to Disneyland, most people and guides will tell you to head here. If you want a great, quiet place to watch the fireworks, without waiting 2-3 hours in Mainstream, USA for a seat, head to the “It’s a Small World” ride, there are benches and seating over there, small crowds, and a great view of the fireworks! Plus, by the time you get to the front of the parks after the fireworks show, most of the crowds will have dispersed.
Characters in Mainstream, USA:
Mary Poppins (sometimes near Baby Care Center)
Different characters pass through here at different times
This is another area that’s primarily geared towards young children, but if you’re looking for classic storybook characters, unique gift shops, or something sugary to eat, this is your best bet.
Experiences in Critter Country:
Davey Crockett Explorer Canoes
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Characters in Critter Country:
Winnie the Pooh (all near near The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh or the exit of Splash Mountain)
Mickey’s Toontown is the cutest little area of Disneyland, and while it’s geared more towards little children, my husband and I went here when we first arrived at the parks early in the morning, and it was basically empty. We spent about an hour going from area to area just having fun and enjoy being together and being silly before it began to fill with little kids.
Pro tip: at any amusement park, get there early and start towards the back and make your way forward. You’ll skip crowds and get to hit rides and experiences before the crowds make their way back there, since most people start with rides that are closest to the entrance.
Experiences in Mickey’s Toontown:
Chip ‘n Dale’s Treehouse
Gadget’s Go Coaster
Mickey’s House and Meet Mickey
Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
Characters in Mickey’s Toontown:
Mickey & Minnie (inside their houses)
Pocahontas & John Smith
Winnie the Pooh
New Orleans Square
New Orleans Square is my favorite section in Disneyland. It’s beautifully decorated, there are more lush plants here than anywhere else in Disneyland, the vibe of this area is refined yet fun and romantic, and the stores and attractions in this area are more interesting and intricate than any other area. It’s also somehow cooler (temperature wise) than the other regions, and has more places to escape the heat, plus the outfits the store workers here wear are beautiful. If you’re seeking more elegant gifts and refined dining, head to New Orleans Square for beautiful trinkets, decor, and jewelry. I’m not usually one to waste time shopping when I could be exploring a new place, but I am so glad I took time to peruse the shops here, they were really cool!
There are also jazz bands that perform here regularly, and the decor of the area really brings me right back to our adventures in New Orleans a few years ago. Plus, the food here is pretty great too, almost like NOLA cuisine!
Attractions in New Orleans Square:
Pirates of the Caribbean
The Haunted Mansion
Characters in New Orleans Square:
Dr. Facilier and Tiana (near River of America)
Pocahontas (near River of America)
What are your tips and tricks for visiting Disneyland? Let me know in the comments below! Thank you for reading!