General Disneyland Tips for First Time Visitors

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Since the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is approaching quickly, I though I’d offer some suggestions for those that are coming out west that have never been to Disneyland before. For this post, I’ll just focus on some general things to keep in mind when you are at Disneyland. I’m also working on posts that will deal with the same for Disney California Adventure, dining on and off property, and a comparison of attractions that exist at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World.

Keep in mind that these are merely my opinions. Even though I work for the Walt Disney Company, my opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Walt Disney Company. As a resident of Southern California, I have been to Disneyland more times than I care to remember. This is my home Disney park and Disneyland is my absolute favorite place to be on Earth. So, without further ado, here are some general tips for the Disneyland theme park… 

  • Get the “Mouse Wait” app from iTunes or the Google Play store on your phone. This app will help you save time while in the parks. It features pretty accurate wait times and it’s FREE. My wife and I have been using this app for the past several years whenever we’re at Disneyland. Other features in this app include:
    • Times the theme parks are open
    • Closed Attractions
    • Show Times
    • Character finder
    • Height restrictions
    • Attraction Videos
    • Hidden Mickey’s at Disneyland and DCA
    • Disneyland Secrets
    • Menu’s at the restaurants at the parks

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  • Peter Pan’s Flight should be a ride you do early in the day. Otherwise, use the app above to watch the wait times. The average wait time for this attraction seems to be around 40 minutes. Anything less than that, you should make your way to this attraction immediately. If the wait is over 40 minutes, keep on checking.

  • The best time to ride Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye is during the first showing of Fantasmic. For some reason, this is when the line for this attraction appears to be at its smallest. Otherwise, get fast passes.

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  • If you’re going to see Fantasmic (and you should because it’s the best version of Fantasmic at any of the Disney theme parks), go for the second show (or the third if there is one). The crowds for the first show are the largest with people camping out a few hours before. The crowd for the second show is generally smaller and doesn’t allow guests the ability to camp out for hours. If there is a third show, the crowds are so small that you could virtually get right up on the Rivers of America five minutes before the show starts. Keep in mind that the third shows are something that gets added when crowds are large enough to justify.  So, they may not show up on the listed show times initially.
  • I know that the big attractions like Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, the Matterhorn, and Big Thunder Mountain are easily identifiable as attractions that should not be missed. However, there are some smaller attractions that you should see if it’s your first visit to Disneyland.

    • Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln on Main Street U.S.A. – if you like the Hall of Presidents at the Magic Kingdom, this is a must see.  Also, if you don’t want to see the show, go in the lobby to cool off. The lobby has some interesting Disney artifacts to look at in air conditioning. Also, they play Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years (featuring Steve Martin and Donald Duck) that ran in the theatre where this attraction is located during the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland on a continuous loop. So, it could be a great way to kill some time and cool off while taking in the history of Disneyland at the same time.

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    • Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through – this won’t take up a ton of time and is very interesting. They tell the story of Sleeping Beauty through interactive window scenes from the film. It may not be the most thrilling attraction, but so unique that it should not be missed.

    • Disneyland Railroad – ask a cast member about seating in the Lilly Belle car at City Hall. It’s not always available, but worth asking about. This car has a lot of Disney history to it. Even if you can’t get in the Lilly Belle car, it’s still worth going on for the simple fact that this is Walt Disney’s Railroad. As you may know, Walt was a huge Railroad fan. Having this railroad was a must for him. Though I haven’t been on the Railroad at the Magic Kingdom, I’m told that the Disneyland version of this attraction is better.

One experiment I love to tell people about is in perception. Start at the train station on Main Street U.S.A. Notice how far away Sleeping Beauty’s Castle appears. Then, go down Main Street U.S.A. all the way to the castle. Look back at the Train Station. The Train Station will not appear to be as far away as Sleeping Beauty’s Castle did on the other end. Imagineers scaled the buildings on Main Street U.S.A. in a manner that gives the impression that the park is huge and vast when you enter. However, when you’re looking to leave the park, the entrance won’t look so far away. After all, when you’re leaving, you’re probably a little tired. So, psychologically, it’s better for you to think you don’t have very far to go in order to exit the park.

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Lastly, if it is your first time at Disneyland, make sure to go to City Hall on Main Street U.S.A. and get your free “1st Visit” button. Wearing that button will only increase the magic of your first visit to Disney’s original Magic Kingdom.

 


6 thoughts on “General Disneyland Tips for First Time Visitors

    1. Thanks! Dumbo Double Dare and the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend will soon be here. Fantasmic is one of my favorite things at DL. I hope you get to enjoy a showing.

    1. I’m not sure about good books. However, I think that the link to the Disney Tourist Blog that I linked in this article has some excellent information. Tom and Sarah Bricker have a Disneyland Planning area that has some great information (and awesome pics as well!). I also would check out wdwinfo.com. They are mainly focused on Walt Disney World. However, they do have a Disneyland section on their web site as well. Are there any specific questions you have? I could try to help. Trust me when I say that Disney World planning is more complicated than Disneyland. If you’re a regular at Disney World, you might expect all Disney parks to have similar planning involved. Disneyland is easier. Although, I do understand wanting to experience everything on your first visit. Good luck in your planning. If I can help, let me know.

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