Every year, it seems to get harder to stay out of long lines at Disneyland. According to our poll below, most people want to wait less than 30 minutes, but waits at the most popular rides can be 90 minutes or more on a busy day, thirty times as long as the ride itself.
The vast majority of those who took our poll about Disneyland lines said they wanted to stand in 30 minutes or less, but to do that, it takes planning and few tricks and tools.
These tips will help you have more fun and spend less time in line. In fact, you may save so much time that you can shorten your stay, which is the best way to cut your Disneyland travel costs.
For smaller crowds, plan your trip off-season. To choose the best time to go, find out when to go to Disneyland.
Getting to the main gate at least 30 minutes before the park opens may also help, and you might get to one or two rides before everyone else catches up with you.
Seven Ways to Shorten the Wait
These tactics will all shorten your waits. They're listed in order from most to least effective.
Use Ridemax: This clever, inexpensive software tool costs just a fraction of what you'll pay for tickets, but it can cut out hours of waiting. In fact, by using it, you could shorten your stay by a day or more and still do everything, which can save you a lot of money. Read our review to find out how much time it has saved
Get a FASTPASS:. Disneyland's answer to long lines at their most popular rides is called Fastpass and the best thing about it is that it's free. Pick one up and go do something else while it saves your place in line. If you see what others think about Fastpass, you'll see that quite a few people think they're too much trouble, but by using it for just a few really busy rides, you could trim hours off your day's waiting time. All the ins and outs, pros and cons are in the FASTPASS Guide.
Break it Up: If you are alone or with others who don't mind splitting up, head for the Single Rider lines at selected popular rides. Cast members use people from this line to fill single empty seats, and the wait is much shorter. Rides that have it are listed on the Disneyland Ride Sheet.
Use Your Mobile Device: It can help you find rides with the shortest waits and a lot more. To find out which ones work best, see the review of Disneyland iPhone apps.
Parents, Don't Stand in Line Twice: Here's the problem for two adults with one or more kids. The kids either don't want to go on a ride or they can't because of height or weight restrictions. The time-wasting solution is to send one adult through the line while the other waits outside with the kids, and the other gets in line when the first returns. They essentially wait twice for the same ride. You're a smart visitor; get in line together and when you reach the loading area, tell a cast member you want to "switch off." The waiting happens in the loading area, with the second adult riding as soon as the first one is finished.
Timing is Everything: Arrive early enough to be parked, through security and standing inside the entry area by opening time. To do that, we recommend arriving at the parking garage an hour before the park opens. Visit major attractions early, late, or during parades. Lines tend to be shorter then. You can also check with the wait times boards near the Adventureland entrance or at Carthay Circle, where current wait times are posted.
Be an Early Bird: It's hard to avoid waiting for popular (but non-FASTPASS) rides like Finding Nemo or Peter Pan's Flight, no matter what you do. Disneyland sometimes offers Magic Morning early entry to guests of the Disneyland Resort hotels and with some multi-day tickets. If you're using this benefit and staying at a Disney hotel, use Disneyland's Monorail entrance in Downtown Disney and you'll get off just above the entrance to Finding Nemo - and after you've found him, head to Peter Pan. This same strategy works at opening time on non-Magic Morning days.
- Don't Listen to Them: If you use the touring routine from any of the popular guidebooks, you'll find everyone else who read that book in line with you.
Stay Out of Line Everywhere Else
Don't Stand in Line Outside: Buy your tickets in advance online, and you won't have to stand in line at the ticket booth (with the kids tugging on your sleeve, begging you to hurry up). Find all the options in the Disneyland ticket guide.
Alternate Entrances: Smart Disneyland visitors know that you can enter Disneyland through the Monorail entrance in Downtown Disney. At peak times, this can be a time-saver, but beware. While the line outside can be short, if only one monorail is in service, it comes every 10 minutes and can be partially full when it gets there, which means you may have to wait for one or two to arrive before you get on. It's a 10-minute walk to the main gate from the monorail entrance, which may get you in faster except during the busiest times. There's also an entrance to California Adventure from the Grand Californian Hotel. Walk through the lobby, past the pool and Napa Rose restaurant to find it.
Eat Out of Sync: Eat lunch before 11 a.m. or after 1 p.m. Restaurants will be less busy. If you've already seen the parade, find an eating place away from the parade route and have your meal while everyone else is watching.
- Shop Early: Shops on Disneyland's Main Street often open before the rest of the park, and they're not as busy then as they are in the evening. Disney hotel guests can ask to have their packages delivered to their rooms. If you're staying somewhere else, check your purchases at the booth near the exit gate and pick them up when you're ready to leave. Ask the salesperson in any shop for more information.
How Long Is Too Long?POLL: How long are you willing to wait for a Disneyland ride?
☐ 15-30 minutes
☐ 30-45 minutes
☐ 45 minutes to 1 hour
☐ I'll wait more than an hour for a special ride
There's more about visiting Disneyland here, too. Find out where to stay, what the weather will be like, take a photo tour and learn about character greetings.
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