Every Disney Parks fan has that one location that started it all; the one that feels like home. For me, Disneyland California was where it all began, and it continues to be the place I frequent the most. Not only because it’s where my happy place, but also because it’s a convenient stopover on our way in or out of the states from Australia.
We have covered the five mistakes to avoid in Walt Disney World, now let’s look at the home of Disney parks in Anaheim for five blunders you can avoid when visiting The Happiest Place on Earth.
Mistake #1: Not taking advantage of MaxPass
I get it, anything you have to pay extra for feels like an unnecessary rip-off. But, what if for $15 per person you could transform your Disney day into the most productive you have ever had, ticking off multiple rounds of your favorite E-Ticket attractions without backtracking through the park to collect and organize paper fast passes?
If you are thinking, that doesn’t happen in Orlando; you can do it all from your phone for free, well, that isn’t the case in Disneyland without MaxPass. Instead, it’s straight back to the FastPass systems of the ’90s where you need to physically punch your ticket at a kiosk for a paper return time. Remember that? And you didn’t even know before you high-tailed across the park if there were any left at all or if the return time was 12 hours away, blocking you from getting any more until then? Fun times…
MaxPass does away with all of that and brings the convenience of mobile FastPassing to your fingertips. Skip a round of churros and get this instead; I promise it will take you a lot further than the sugar will. As a bonus, it also includes your Disney PhotoPass for the day.
Mistake #2: Thinking you need to stay on property to get the most out of it
If you are more familiar with Walt Disney World, then you know that Disney spends a good chunk of marketing on drilling the idea of on-property perks into our minds, which can be hard to let go of when it comes time to visit the West Coast. I can not stress enough that there is little to no advantage to staying on Disneyland property, however, it will significantly increase your overall spending.
If you are looking for a few great options in the immediate area, check out this article on How to Decide Where to Stay in Disneyland. My best advice is to make the best choice for your budget and the value the hotel itself has for your family. Do not select a hotel simply because it has “Disney” stamped on it, as there are no advance FastPass options or transport freebies, it’s just your room.
Mistake #3: Not getting Park Hopper tickets
When visiting Walt Disney World, it is easy to justify not spending the extra money on Park Hoppers, the parks are a fair distance away from each other, and you have to organize transport from one to the other. It’s a whole thing. Disneyland, on the other hand, has two parks connected by a walkway corridor, so you can easily just slide out of one and into the other.
Using both parks to your advantage is a great way to avoid crowds. As everyone shifts to watch the parade or Fantasmic!, you can scooch on over to the other park and enjoy shorter wait times. It also means that if you are committed to rides in one park on a particular day, you can switch to the other for the likes of World of Color come nighttime, and tick off every item in your to-do list with ease.
Mistake #4: Skipping Fantasmic! because you’ve already ‘seen it’ at Walt Disney World.
Oh no, my friend, believe me, you have not seen the real thing. That is kind of like saying you don’t need to go to Paris because you’ve seen the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas.
Fantasmic! can be seen from many different vantage points, with a variety of options in terms of dining packages, table seating, ground seating, standing room, reserved areas for priority seating/standing, FastPasses, you name it. For a rundown on what is what, check out this article on what options you have for viewing.
Depending on the schedule at the time of your visit, you can often sit tight for five minutes after the show ends and keep your seat for the fireworks display that comes after.
Mistake #5: Planning on tackling Pixar Pier while everyone else is watching World of Color
Disney pros know that, in crowded times, the best opportunity to snag a shorter attraction line is when everyone else is being drawn out for the fireworks, a parade, or any Main Street event, but not when it comes to World of Color. Some of the Pixar Pier attractions that may close early on evenings that the World of Color show is scheduled include:
- Games of Pixar Pier
- Golden Zephyr
- Jumpin’ Jellyfish
- Pixar Pal-A-Round
- Silly Symphony Swings
- Some Pixar Pier and Paradise Gardens Park food locations
- Selected merchandise locations
Make sure you get in your four rounds of Incredicoaster before the nighttime shows instead of thinking you will sneak on while everyone else enjoys the show.
Bonus Mistake: Not considering a poncho for Splash Mountain
For years we have debated about the best way to ride Splash Mountain. Whether your conclusion involves a poncho or light rain jacket, enjoying the soaking or a regretful purchase of a new set of clothes at the nearby gift shop, one thing I can tell you is that you will get wet.
If you are basing your decision on the side by side configuration at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, then it is worth taking an extra moment of consideration. Worthy of your attention is the added aquatic peril of Disneyland’s single file log where your exposure is much more apparent.
In the heat of summer, it is easier to brush off the inherent risks of facing this ride without a protective layer. If you are traveling in the cooler months, not a fan of spending the next hour of your day dripping wet, or not into having buckets of water dumped on you (enough to sink into your undies, socks, and footwear), it is probably time to consider an outer layer.
Happy to defy the laws of nature and go it fully exposed? At the very least, put your feet up on the undersides of the log, this will stop the wave of water splashing over the sides and taking a direct route into your fancy walking shoes and their memory foam insoles.
There are many more mistakes to be made along the way, but sometimes learning the hard way is part of the fun. I hope you enjoy your next Disneyland trip with these in mind, and, if you have more advice to offer, add it below.
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.