10 Ways to Beat the Heat + Outsmart the Crowds at Disneyland

Growing up with an Imagineer dad and then becoming a pass-holder family since our oldest was a baby I can confidently say I have my fair share of Disneyland tips and tricks to make our visits more enjoyable. Take note… these are some great tips!!

10 Ways to Beat the Heat + Outsmart the Crowds at Disneyland

1. Ice Water is FREE

Disneyland Tips and Tricks

This may seem like no big deal. But it can be EVERYTHING on a hot and sunny SoCal summer afternoon. People are NOT happy (big people & little people) when they are dehydrated and hot. This solves both. Head to any spot that serves fountain sodas and they will be happy to give you as many cups of ice cold water as you need. My kids may or may not even dump some of their water over their head to chill them out… pun totally intended!

2. 1 Ride + FASTPASS + Back of the Park

Disneyland Tips | Global Munchkins

You are going to be excited if you get through those gates early but FOCUS.

  • Send a responsible party to go grab a FASTPASS for your second favorite attraction.
  • The rest of the party should head to your number one/ favorite attraction to be joined by the responsible party soon.
    • This works best if your top two are near each other.
    • You may want to hit up your favorite attraction that does NOT offer FASTPASS first.
      • This includes quite a few in Fantasyland.
    • After you ride your first ride, head to the back of the park and begin hitting the attractions you like over there.
    • Then head to your FASTPASS attraction at the stated time on your ticket.
      • Make sure to get another FASTPASS immediately after your ride is over.

This process maximizes the number of attractions you can ride with the least amount of time in queue.

3. Disneyland First

Disneyland Tips | Global Munchkins

If you are lucky enough to have a park hopper pass make sure you hit up Disneyland Park first. It is usually the more crowded of the two parks and by the afternoon it gets pretty packed. With this tactic when the crowds get overwhelming you can escape to California Adventure and enjoy the large walkways and the mellow atmosphere.

4. Cool Off & Escape the Crowds


There are a few amazing attractions you MUST head to when the heat and/ or crowds are putting a damper on your day. *The following attractions are known to either be air conditioned and/or have minimal queue times.

  • Disneyland

    • Super Hero HQ

    • Mickey and the Magical Map

    • The Disneyland Story with Mr. Lincoln

    • Watch candy being made at the Candy Palace

    • Check out the magicians sampling their tricks and illusions inside the Magic Store

  • California Adventure

    • Turtle Talk with Crush

    • Animation Academy

    • The Little Mermaid

    • Princess Dot Puddle Park

    • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

    • Sourcerer’s Workshop

    • It’s Tough to be a Bug

    • The Bakery Tour

    • Ghiradelli- they give out chocolate samples

5. Character Meetings

Disneyland Tips | Global Munchkins

If your little one is hoping to see their favorite character make sure to inquire with Guest Relations (or any information booth). They receive a roster and generally know where most characters will be and around what times. Arrive a few minutes early and you can be one of the first in line. This will save you big time. You don’t want your kiddo to see their favorite character only to rush to the line and be told the line has closed. That is never fun!

Here are also a few sites that do a decent job giving you a general idea of where characters can be found:

6. Pack Lunch

Disneyland Tips | Global Munchkins

Many theme parks prohibit any outside food or drink (besides water). Disney however isn’t one of them.

You can save a ton of money packing snacks and lunch when you visit. Just be sure to pack it in a soft cooler. Large hard-cased coolers are only allowed in the picnic areas.

Not only will this tip save you money but, it will also help you manage everyone’s moods. It is much easier to avoid a hangry (hungry + angry) family member if you have snacks ready to go.

7. Parade + Picnic

Waiting for a parade doesn’t have to be blah. Pack a lightweight beach blanket and arrive about an hour and a half early to your parade spot. Have one parent be a squatter. Not a bad gig really now that there is a Starbucks in the park and you can catch up on social media.

Have the other parent (or responsible party) take the kids on a few rides and then head to Pizza Port where they can grab a salad, garlic bread and family sized pizza pie for everyone to share. Its cheaper than grabbing individual meals and Pizza Port will give you all the plates and utensils you need allowing you to head back to your blanket for a picnic right there as you wait for the parade.

*Some of my favorite memories are with us chowing down on pizza, people watching or playing Ellen’s “Head’s Up” iPhone game while we were waiting for the parade. And, I’m not going to lie… sitting front row at the parade is magical!!!

8. Pack Distractions

This is key! You will wind up waiting in lines. It’s just part of the theme park experience. Turn that down time into fun time by packing a few distractions in your backpack. Here are a few things we like to have. It’s age dependent but we have quite the assortment (2-13 years).

  • Bubbles (baby, toddler, kid)
  • Dollar Store Glow Sticks (kids, teens)
  • Matchbox Cars (toddlers, kids)
  • Head’s Up & MSQRD iPhone App Games (kids, teens)
  • Autograph Book and Pen– grab a cute one at Target to save $$ (kids)
  • Deck of Cards (kid, teen)

9. Firework Tips

Main Street has the best view of the fireworks but it gets C.R.A.Z.Y. If you prefer a more mellow experience head towards Small World and view the fireworks from there. The view is still very good and you aren’t smashed between a ton of sweaty exhausted people.

The other option is to double dip. What I mean is you can get seats for Fantasmic (there are a few options below with zero wait involved) and then hang out for a few minutes after the show ends. About 10 minutes later the fireworks begin and you will again have a very good view without all the hassle of the crazy crowds.

  • Fantasmic Dining Packages are now available.
  • The package includes:
    • Reserved seating right dab in the center of the show via a special FASTPASS + Your choice of:
      • Sit Down Dinner at either Blue Bayou or River Belle Terrace (priciest option)
      • Hungry Bear Restaurant Dessert Party (reasonably priced)
      • Aladdin’s Oasis Grab & Go Meal (cheapest option)
  • You can also grab a fast pass (for FREE) which gives you reserved seating on the sides.
    • *I was a bit bummed at our view though with this option. So consider yourself warned!

10. Parking

If you are driving to Disneyland you are likely to get maneuveredΒ  into one of the supplementary parking lots which are kind of a pain. To enjoy the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure which has the ease of both the tram and a walkway through DownTown Disney:

  • make sure to route yourself so you exit from the 5 freeway on Disneyland Drive.
  • Stick to the left as you cross Ball Rd and take the bridge up and over.


11. First Day of Annual Pass has ZERO Block Outs


Many people don’t realize that even if you buy one of the cheaper annual passes there is NO block out days on your first day of entry. Instead it is treated like a normal ticket!!!

*For discounted Disney Tickets I recommend checkingΒ this site.

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Disneyland Tips and Tricks

Do you have any Disneyland Tips I forgot to mention? Leave me your best tips and tricks in the comments below. I love chatting with you!


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