This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.
For our first family holiday Stateside, a visit to Disneyland was top of our Family Bucket List, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. The happiest place on Earth was unlike any other theme park we had previously visited, from the roaming characters to the beautifully decorated streets and amazing street parades. The park is like it’s own city, and despite the crowds, everything flowed well and didn’t impact our enjoyment at all!
Below is a list of our top 5 tips for visiting Disneyland and California Adventure Park with kids:
1. Book accommodation close to the park
After a huge day at Disneyland, the kids (and adults!) are going to be tired, and simply wanting to head back to the hotel room for a rest. If staying onsite at one of the Disneyland hotels is out of the budget, there are plenty of Good Neighbor hotels that are more affordable and within easy walking distance to the entrance. We stayed at the Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites so we could easily walk the 5 minutes to and from the gates, and it included a free continental breakfast. Having a hotel room close by also makes it easier to pop back to the room in the afternoon for a late lunch and nap, before tackling the parks again in the evening for parades and fireworks.
2. Download the Disneyland app
Use the Disneyland app on your phone to track your Fastpasses, monitor wait times for rides, order food, view photos, and find your way around the parks when one of the kids manages to lose your paper map! You’ll also be able to access MaxPass through the app, which allows you to purchase and access FastPasses directly from your phone.
3. Take a pram or stroller
Whether you bring your own or hire one for the day, you will not regret it! Trust me, by lunchtime their little legs are going to be tired, and it’s also handy to stash all your water bottles, snacks and jumpers in when you get sick off carrying them around in your bag or backpack. Disneyland and California Adventure Park are well set up for families, with plenty of pram parking available near rides and attractions.
4. Maximise ride time with the FastPass system
I studied all of the FastPass tips that Casey has listed on her website, Disneyland Daily. While it seems a bit confusing and overwhelming at first, mastering the system means you can make the most of your time at Disneyland by skipping the queues for some of the most popular rides. Simply scan your entry ticket at the FastPass distribution booth, take note of your return time (a 1-hour window), and return to ride at the allotted time. The FastPass will also state the time you can pull your next FastPass ticket.
5. Magic Morning really is magic!
If you are staying at a Disneyland hotel you’ll have access to Extra Magic Hour, and those who bought a 3-day+ ticket will be able to take advantage of Magic Morning. You’ll be able to enter the park an hour earlier than the official opening time and beat the crowds. As we had purchased a 4-Day Park Hopper ticket, we had one Magic Morning to use (and on our last day too!). We planned out the night before where we would visit first and headed straight there after grabbing a coffee on our way in. With the park being so quiet at that time in the morning, we knocked over 2 sections of the park and started pulling FastPasses before it got busy.