Some Disneyland visitors end up spending several days just to do everything once, running up their vacation costs in the process, but don't despair. Our 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.
TimingFor smaller crowds, plan your trip off-season: between January 2 and the middle of February, between Easter and Memorial Day1, or between Labor Day2 and the end of September. Any time of year, weekdays are less busy, especially Wednesday and Thursday, and Sunday is quieter than Saturday.
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 WaitThese tactics will all shorten your waits somewhat. They're listed in order from most effective to least effective.
- Use Ridemax: This clever, inexpensive software tool can cut out hours of waiting. In fact, if you use it, you can shorten your stay by a day or more and still do everything, which can save you a lot of money. See what others think about Ridemax.
- Get a FASTPASS:. Disneyland's answer to long lines at their most popular rides is called Fastpass. Pick one up and go do something else while it saves your place in line. See what others think about Fastpass.
- 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. See our review of iPhone apps to find out which ones work best.
- Parents, Don't Stand in Line Twice: Here's the problem: 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 with the kids, and the other gets in line when the first returns. You're a smart visitor; get in line together and when you reach the front, tell a cast member you want to "switch off." The waiting person hands the kids off to the other as soon as they're off the ride and gets on right away without standing in line again.
- Timing is Everything: Arrive early enough to be parked, through security and standing inside the entry gate by opening time (we recommend arriving at the parking garage an hour ahead of time). Visit major attractions early, late, or during parades. Lines tend to be shorter then. You can also check with the cast member at the booth near the Adventureland entrance, where current wait times are posted.
- Be an Early Bird: It's hard to avoid waiting for 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 the Monorail entrance in Downtown Disney and you'll get off just above the entrance to Finding Nemo - and after you've found him, head over 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).
- Alternate Entrance: Few people 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.
- Eat Out of Sync: Eat lunch before 11 a.m. or after 1 p.m. Restaurants will be less busy.
- 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. You can check your purchases at the booth up near the exit gate, pick them up when you're ready to leave and you won't have to carry them around all day. Ask the salesperson in any shop where to take them.
How Long Is Too Long?How long are you willing to wait for a Disneyland ride?
There's More!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.
1 Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May.
1 Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September.