Disneyland: What to do while you’re there. 

Dear Disney Traveller:

If you haven’t already read my “What to know before you go” post then I would head over and have a quick read of that one first. This post, however, is about enhancing your experience inside the parks once you are there.

Photo Pass: This is one of my favourite Disney products! You can buy a photo pass when you arrive a Disneyland or online before you go. The main benefit to buying online beforehand is that they send you a CD with extra stock photos that you can use. The downside is that you have to order it within a certain amount of time before your planned visit and allow long enough for it to be delivered it’s also hard to find the right site for this. We found that they gave us quite a selection of stock photos in our online account anyway so next time I won’t buy it in advance, just when I get there.
You can buy the photo pass from a few places in the parks and in Downtown Disney, they are available at the photography stores in each area, here they will give you a lanyard with a barcode which you simply need to present at the rides and to the stationed photographers so that they can link your photos to your account.
The ride photos are always fun but when you buy them individually they can be $15 each. The photo pass is $39usd for unlimited photos for 1 day and $78usd for a week, this means that you can have the photo every time that you go on a ride. If you are there for a few days you will probably do most rides more than once and this will help you take some funny photos and you can choose the best of them later.
On top of the ride photos, there are photographers stationed around the parks at scenic points. Think in front of the castle, the fountain, the giant Ferris wheel etc. To find just have a look at the Disneyland App which will show you them all. When you get to the photo point the photographers are usually standing with a Tripod, though in some spots they just have the camera around their neck. Either way, you can usually spot them pretty quickly. Wait your turn and then show them your photo pass. They will take a variety of photos for you in different poses and help suggest them to you when you start running out of ideas. They can also set up a photo for a “Magic Shot” which is where they photoshop characters into the photo with you.
In addition to all of the ride photos and the scenic photo stops you also can use the Photo Pass anytime there is a photographer at a Character Meet and Greet. Some characters won’t have a photographer with them but most of the more famous ones will have them.
It is also good to note that if you don’t have the photo pass these photographers will always take a couple of photos with your own camera or smartphone too.

FASTPASS: Firstly you automatically have access to the Fastpass system as a part of your entry ticket. You don’t need to pay extra for it like you can in some theme parks.
Fastpass is a system that waits in line for you so that you can enjoy yourself doing other things. Not every ride offers Fastpass, however, there are 7 or 8 rides in each park that do and you can also use it to reserve great seats for the World of Color show.
You are allowed to get 1 Fastpass every 2 hours or a new Fastpass when your last one is ready to be used if that is less than 2 hours away. Hot Tip: The time when you are allowed to get your next Fastpass will be printed on the bottom of your Fastpass ticket.
For rides, the Fastpass gives you a timeframe to return between and when you do you then have access to a special line which moves much quicker than the regular one. My recommendation is to make sure that you have your next Fastpass before you return to the ride for your turn.
You can have several Fastpass tickets at once depending on what times the Fastpass return is for the rides. You can also see when the Fastpass return times are using your Disneyland App.
What can you do while you are waiting for your Fastpass though? Well, you can enjoy the other rides, the app will show you estimated wait times for these. You can have some lunch or dinner, go shopping, see a show or parade or if you know that you love that particular ride you can even line up in the regular line for it and when you’re done if your Fastpass time is close then it’s almost like you get to ride twice in a row.

Planning out your day in the park: This will depend on how many days you will have there and what your interests are. If you want to see the shows and parades then these will structure your day as they are at set times.
There are a couple of rides that are more popular than others and the Fastpass times and the lines fill up sooner than the rest. The new Cars Ride in California Adventure is one, Toy Story Midway Mania is another and I would guess when the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride opens where Tower of Terror was this will too. It is a good idea to try to get to these rides or Fastpass machines first thing in the day.
I don’t tend to plan out the whole day, instead, I plan a couple of moves ahead and I find that my plans are constantly changing. I use the time that I am waiting in line for rides to check the Disney App to see what the wait times are doing and what characters are nearby for photo ops.


Disneyland: What to know before you go, the basics.

Dear Disney Traveller,

Where to start?! There are so many tips and tricks to make the most of your Disneyland Holiday, whether you have 10 days in the parks or only 1 so here are just a few of mine:

To start with you need to plan right. I always recommend buying a Hopper ticket no matter how long you have, the Hopper ticket allows you access to both of the parks in Anaheim on the one day. As one park will open earlier than the other and the second will close later than the first this is a great way to maximise your time in the parks. The parks are located across from each other so it is very easy to walk between the two of them.
The Hopper ticket also means that you can take advantage of the ebb and flow of the line times. If you notice that the lines in one park are starting to lengthen then sometimes the lines in the other park might be better.
There are also multiple parades and shows in each park and you can easily jump between parks to go see the different shows. For those who aren’t a fan of the rides then the Hopper ticket is great for this reason too.

One of the hardest questions to answer is also one of the questions that I am asked the most often: How many days do you need to spend at Disneyland?
I guess the answer to that will always depend on the individual and what interests them. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it I love almost everything that you can do at Disneyland, the rides, the shows, the parades, the fireworks, the magical moments, the character meet and greets, the photo pass opportunities. Because of this I always find that I could have used more time there no matter how often I go.
Honestly, if you only have 1 day then it is still worth the visit however if you have the time then go for as long as you can. 5 days is a good amount to do as much as you can without exhausting yourself. There is a special 10 day ticket that you can buy from Travel Agents in Australia which I always recommend if you are going to be staying in Anaheim for enough time. There are plenty of other things to do in Anaheim and with the 10 day ticket you can pop into Disney for a half day after shopping or in the evening after visiting other parks. Also, the difference in price the last time I checked between a 5 and 10 day ticket was only around $20aud per person.

Before you go make sure that you download the Disneyland App onto your smartphone and that you will have internet access on your phone while you are there. At the time of writing this blog they still don’t have free Wifi in the parks at Anaheim so you will need a local sim or a data plan that works in America. I buy a local US sim for around $40usd which gives me unlimited calls, texts and data for a month. Even if I am only there for a week it usually works out the best option.
The Disney App is a big help in making the most of your time in the park, play around on it a little before heading over so that you know how it works, this will save you time working it out when you get there.
Not only can you see all of the ride wait times on the app, you can also see when the current Fast Pass distributions are. I will cover off on the Fastpass system more in a separate post for while you are in the parks.
You can also see what characters are in the park at any given time for photo opportunities and see where the special photo spots are for those with the photo pass which is another highly recommended product that I will cover off on in my ‘while you are in the parks’ blog.
You can also use the app to book Character Dining, to see all the offered services in the parks, find the closest restrooms, check the menu at the nearest cafes, see the shows in the park and what times they will be on or just to help with your bearings and find the shortest way to get your next destination.

Money Saving Tip: Once you are in the parks you will see everyone wearing their best Disney Merchandise. Knowing that we only had the budget for a couple of special souvenirs from the parks when we were there my friend and I had pre-purchased a pair of matching Disney tops to take with us and wore them when we got there. People loved them and many asked us where we’d bought them, we then had to break the bad news to them that we’d brought them with us from Australia.