Insider Tips to Cut Wait Times at Disneyland


Waiting.

In a recent poll of Disneyland guests, the number one response for “Most favorite part of the day at Disney” was…waiting in line.

Let me get out the bread and cheese because you’ve already spotted the bologna (that means I made the whole thing up).

Hold on a minute, though, isn’t that your favorite part of the day? After all, you spend more time in line or waiting for food or attractions than you do anything else all day long. That means you have to love waiting, right? Wrong. And nothing could be further from the truth.



Personally, I hate waiting. My wife will be the first one to tell you, I’m not a very patient person. I blame my parents. You see, I got a double dose of the impatient gene. My mom is impatient AND my dad is impatient. As a matter of fact, my dad has only taken me to an amusement park once in my life because he can’t stand lines. It was my mom, whose love for thrills outweighed the “hate of wait,” that allowed me to enjoy Disney and other parks throughout my life.

So, now, I’ve made it my goal to find little ways to cut every minute and every second out of my wait at Disneyland. Every ride is different. Every line is unique. And if you, too, pay attention, you’ll discover little tricks to shave those precious seconds off your wait time and get you on to your next adventure that much sooner.

Here’s a list of tips/rides from least to greatest at Disneyland where I’ve managed to reduce my wait (outside of, and in addition to, FastPasses) through powers of observation:

 



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5. Single Rider Lines
There’s pros and cons to single rider lines. Some are faster than others, mostly due to how many seats there are, but, no matter what, they will get you on faster than the normal standby line. The obvious con is not being able to ride with your party, unless you’re extremely lucky and happen to get put together.

Sometimes, though, not even single riders will save you time. Single riders only get taken when a spot is needed. If no seats are empty, single riders continue to wait. I’ve seen Radiator Springs Racers get a single rider line with a 30 minute wait!

Single rider lines can save you a ton of time, but since they aren’t really a secret, they’re at the bottom of the list. Check out this page for a full list of rides with single rider lines.



 

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4. Rides where the left line is faster
I’m going to bunch together several rides into this category. If you will take the time to observe these rides, you’ll notice that at some point, whether up front or towards the end, the line splits into two lines. Generally, on these rides, choosing the LEFT lane is by far faster. Mostly due to the line actually being shorter in terms of square footage.

On some of these rides it’s more noticeable that others, like Jungle Cruise. Right toward the end of the ride, after you’ve wrapped around the million rooms upstairs that feel like they’re never going to end and you walk down the steps you come to a point where the lines split. The left line actually takes you to the closest boat, where as the right line goes all the way past the first boat to a boat further down. The right line has about 12-15 more people in it than the left line. I’ve gotten on boats before people in front of me simply by always going left.

Other rides where the guideline mostly works is Indiana Jones, California Screamin’, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

 



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3. It’s a Small World
It’s a Small World could almost be lumped together with #4, but the opposite advice is true here. Don’t take the left line, instead take the right line.

The left line is the same line used to board wheelchair accessible boats. This means that when someone in a wheelchair needs to board, they have to go on the left line side. The reason is that the right line exits to a set of stairs only. Wheelchairs take a long time to load (see this video for more details). That means the guests in line behind them have to wait longer than the other line that does not board wheelchairs.

Just to be clear, I’ve got no problems with wheelchairs. The simple fact is that the line that does not board them moves faster.

 

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2. Space Mountain
Space Mountain almost made my #1, but since this tip doesn’t work for everyone, it ranks at #2. If you’re traveling to Disneyland with a child that is shorter than the Space Mountain height requirement of 44″, then this will work for you. If not, sorry, you’ll have to skip this one.

If someone in your party is not tall enough to ride, get a rider swap pass. The person who gets the pass will have to wait in line like a normal person while the other person waits with the child.

However, the person who uses the pass can actually board the ride through the handicap entrance and basically walk right onto the ride. How cool is that? This is the only ride that I’m aware of where the rider swap works this way. You have to go through the FastPass line on all others.

 



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1. The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion ranks #1 on my list because of the immense amount of people you can pass if you just know where to stand.

When you first get into the mansion you will be shuffled into one of two rooms. You will either go straight or you will go left. After taking the elevator (the part where the room stretches) down to the lower level, a wall will open that lets you into the hallway leading to the ride. The door to this hallway opens on different sides depending on what room you are in.

Try to imagine all the rooms as a diamond. Cut the diamond into four equal squares, one on the top, left, right, and bottom of the diamond. You enter the lobby from the bottom square. If you go straight into the elevator it’s like entering the right square and if you enter to the left, then it’s the left square. The top square is the hallway on the lower level. If you look at which side of the square you are in connects to the hallway, you can tell what wall of the elevator is going to open.



If you are in the left room, the right wall will open, and if you are in the room straight ahead then the left wall will open. Most people just walk in and fill in the space. But those of us “in the know” immediately flock to the side that opens. You can tell who knows. We just look at each other and smile because there’s just something satisfying about it.

You can walk into the room last and leave first using this simple trick. Don’t believe me? Give it a try next time you’re at the Haunted Mansion. You won’t ever aimlessly walk in again.

Summary
One of the most time consuming parts of the day is waiting in lines. Nobody likes to wait in lines, but they’re an inevitable part of Disney. So be sure to cut as much wait time as you can simply by keeping your eyes open. If you’ve got any additional tips or rides to shave some time off the wait, be sure to share it with the rest of us in the comments below.



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