Millions of people flock to California every year to visit Disneyland. Many meticulously plan their visit, some use the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach and wing it. Either way, there are some useful things to know before your first visit, or if it's been a long time since your last visit.
You can spend hours on the internet researching the best way to approach your time at Disneyland but there are certain things many websites won't tell you. Keep reading for a list of 10 things you should know before making your way to the original Happiest Place on Earth.
10 You Can Get A Free Button
If it's your first visit, let a Cast Member know at City Hall and they'll give you a free button. You can also get buttons to celebrate other fun events such as engagements, anniversaries, and birthdays. This button may get you attention from Cast Members in the parks so don't be surprised if you're serenaded at dinner with the birthday song.
Disney has a special button for guests who demonstrate their Disney knowledge. Ask a Cast Member at City Hall for the quiz and if you pass you will earn an Honorary Citizen of Disneyland button.
9 The Castle Is Way Smaller Than You May Expect
If you've been to Walt Disney World and have seen Cinderella Castle you may be shocked by how small Sleeping Beauty Castle is at Disneyland. Cinderella Castle is 183 feet high dwarfing its California counterpart by 100 feet.
Both castles use something called forced perspective to give the appearance of being larger than they really are. And, even though Disneyland's castle is the smallest one in all the Disney parks, most people still get a thrill the first time they see it at the end of Main Street, USA.
8 Predicting Crowds Just Got Easier
Disneyland has peak and slow seasons and visiting during a slow season will enable you to do more with your time than stand in line. For obvious reasons, planning a visit away from school holidays is your best bet but TouringPlans.com has crowd prediction down to a science.
Using the TouringPlans app will give you wait times for each attraction and you can even optimize your plan based on which attractions you want to visit. Visitors enter data into the app in real-time so you can count on it being very accurate.
7 You Won't Find WiFi Everywhere
The Touring Plans app is great for finding your way around the park and the popular My Disney Experience app is a fun way of passing the time while in line but they'll only work when you have a wifi connection. Those with unlimited data plans won't have a problem but if you're trying to save data, or if you're roaming you'll want to search for a hotspot.
Thankfully, there are places to access Wifi inside Disneyland. While they are not indicated by signage, if you grab a map on your way in you will see the hotspots clearly marked.
6 Staying On-Site May Be Worth The Extra Money
There are four Disney-owned hotels within walking distance to Disneyland. That in itself is a great incentive to stay on-site but there are other perks as well.
By staying at an on-site hotel, you are given extended hours to enjoy the park on certain days. That means you have a full hour to spend in the park without the usual crowds. Plus, being within walking distance means no hassle with parking.
There's also the magic that comes from having a wake-up call from Mickey Mouse himself. Priceless!
5 Single Rider Lines Are Faster
If you don't mind riding alone, or with strangers, you will have a shorter wait if you choose the Single Rider Line. This is a great idea when the regular line's wait time stretches over an hour or more.
Another option Disneyland offers is the Rider Switch Program. According to Disney, an adult can wait with a child while another adult rides. Then, they "switch roles" to allow the second adult to ride without having to stand in line again.
So, keep an open mind about these options. It will get you ahead of the crowd and it's a great way to make new friends!
4 You Can Eat At Any Disney Hotel Restaurant
Did you know you don't need to be a guest at a Disney hotel to eat at their restaurant? With all the hotels a short distance from Disneyland it's easy to hop from the park to the hotel to enjoy a meal in an air-conditioned restaurant.
This means you can enjoy Character Dining at The Storybook Café at the Grand Californian, or at Goofy's Kitchen at the Paradise Pier Hotel. Or, maybe you just want drinks and apps at Disneyland Hotel's Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar.
Unfortunately, pool privileges do not apply.
3 Make Reservations For Character Dining In Advance
Don't disappoint your little ones by thinking you can make a reservation for character dining after arriving at the park. Reservations are scarce for some of the more popular character dining experiences.
Disney recommends making advance reservations 60 days in advance, no sooner, and it's recommended that you call exactly 60 days ahead of time for the more popular character dining experiences.
Keep in mind that there are several character meals at the Disney hotels so if you're having a day away from the park you can still enjoy some of that Disney magic.
2 There's Lots To Do At Downtown Disney
You'll get a healthy dose of the Disney spirit just by visiting Downtown Disney. While getting to Disney Springs from Walt Disney World requires taking a series of buses, Anaheim's version of this shopping district is an easy walk from the park.
At Downtown Disney you'll find almost 20 restaurants, as well as shops and entertainment making it the perfect place to grab a meal or enjoy a day away from the park. Many locals visit on the weekends so be prepared for some crowds on Friday and Saturday nights.
1 You'll Feel Walt's Spirit There
Walt Disney was alive to see his vision come to life when Disneyland opened in 1955. Because of this, you'll still see traces of him in many attractions.
Keep a lookout for his secret apartment above the Fire Station on Main Street where Walt would stay during the building of Disneyland. Above one of the shops on Main St. is a window bearing the name of Elias Disney, Walt's father.
Stop into the Opera House on Main Street, USA to see the original park bench where Walt first dreamed of a place where adults and children could have fun together. The place where it all began.