Spring break is upon us and I know I am not the only one scrambling trying to figure out how to keep my munchkins busy 😉
Disneyland is a fantastic option, but I know many parents who avoid it completely during busy times of the year. Truth is Disney’s crowds are largely SoCal residents, meaning even during off peak seasons the park is still pretty packed. So, instead of trying to avoid the crowds I have come up with 5 easy ways to work the crowds instead.
Here are 5 ways we beat the crowds and enjoy Disneyland even during the busiest of times.
1. Get There Early
Plan to be at the gates about 30 minutes prior to the park opening. Remember to account for the time it takes to park and catch a tram (about 30 minutes). You will get to catch the Park Opening Show with the characters which is always fun. Plus, the park will be much less crowded for the first 1-2 hours so you can jam through some the lines for the big attractions. *Always, start at Disneyland first if you have the hopper pass as CA Adventure is the slower of the two parks.
2. Start at the Back of the Park
Most visitors will rush to the most popular ride they see first. Be smart and work backwards through the park and you will be ahead of the game. Whatever you do AVOID heading over to Space Mountain because hotel guests receive early entry into the park (*1 hour early) and the only areas that are open to them are Tomorrowland and Fantasyland so those two areas will be busy early. Instead head towards Frontier and Adventureland where the lines will be much less crowded.
Bonus Tip- Our route is typically having the hubby head to Space Mountain to grab fast-passes for later then meeting up with the rest of the crew at Splash Mountain. Then we hit up Pirates and Thunder next!
Another way to avoid the crowds are to ride the main attractions during the parade and firework times!
3. Download the MouseWait App
Another way to avoid the crowds is to download the MouseWait App and check the wait times throughout the day. This app is updated by park guests not Disneyland… but they have tons of users and we have found their estimates to be pretty spot on most of the time. This allows you to take advantage of attractions that are having a random slower wait times.
The app features most attractions and show times… plus it helps you find restrooms near you to which is very convenient when traveling with littler munchkins.
4. Dine Early… plus more Dining Tips
A great way avoid munchkin meltdowns is to make sure everyone is well fed and hydrated throughout the day. Disney is one of the best theme parks in regards to allowing guests to bring snacks. So, I always pack granola bars, pretzels, goldfish etc… Make sure whenever you do plan on dining at one of the restaurants in the parks that you try to schedule it at off times. i.e.) Lunch at 11:30am or dinner at 5pm
Bonus Tip- All dining locations that have fountain sodas offer free cups of ice water. We stop by every couple hours to hydrate plus bring a refillable water bottle to keep on hand.
Bonus Tip- If you are going to catch a parade I suggest finding one the coincides with dinner time. We like to bring a blanket lay it out around 45 minutes before parade time, then we send one of us to pick up a whole pizza from Pizza Port and basically have a picnic before the parade. Its good times!
5. Escape the Heat with these off the Beaten Path Attractions
Yes, the thrills of Indiana Jones, Space Mountain and the like are a super fun way to spend your day. But, the problem is there are only a few of them. It always seems like we’ve conquered most of the big rides by mid day and our energy levels are pretty burnt. So, what we do is head to some of the less popular attractions.
Single Park Ticket: Some of our favorite escapes from the crowds and heat are: hitting up one of the shows like Mickey’s Magical Map, hopping on the Disneyland Railroad, enjoying the air conditioning at the Enchanted Tiki Room or Innoventions. Or if you are near the back of the park the Winne the Pooh ride often has little to no wait.
Park Hopper- I suggest you stroll over to California Adventure at that midday time. This park is always much less crowded than Disneyland. You can grab an iced latte at Starbucks as you enter the park then head on over to the Animation Academy. Inside that air conditioned building your munchkins can talk to Crush or find out what character they are most alike. If you have preschool aged children you could cruise over to the Playhouse Disney show… Our littlest munchkin has the best time watching her favorite characters on stage!!! Then, you can head over to Ariel’s Undersea Adventure as there is hardly ever a wait there. Same with most rides in Bugs Land… and the Bug’s Show is also indoors and a great way to keep cool and rest.
And, don’t forget to combine the above with Disney’s Methods too:
You can scan your ticket at a Fast Pass booth for the larger attractions in the park. It will give you a ticket (aka Fast Pass) to come back at a designated time. This way you don’t have to stand in the full wait time line. This can cut your wait time down significantly.
If you are traveling with older children single rider may be a viable option for you. It is a separate faster moving/ shorter line where they use you to fill in the extra seats. If you don’t mind being split up this is another way to move through the park faster.
The child swap has worked great for us. Basically, one parent and the group of kids waits in the line while the other parents waits with the baby or younger child off the ride. After the first parent and children ride they come out and hand the second parent a child swap pass. The second parent and usually 1-2 of the kids can then go straight through the exit to the front of the attraction to ride without having to wait in the line again.
*Don’t forget to check out Smart Card for discounted Disneyland tickets. You have to pay a $30 member fee but they have fantastic savings to all the SoCal Theme Parks plus movie theater discounts too!