Surviving Disneyland: Top 12 Tips

Disneyland may be the Happiest Place on Earth but meltdowns, swollen ankles, sore backs, empty wallets and then some come with it.  So I've compiled a list of my top tips to survive and have the best time in Disneyland:

1. Find the Right Place to Stay
2. Plan Your Trip Itinerary
3. Prepare for the Car Ride/ Travel Time
4. Take a Picture of the Back of Your Tickets
5. Arrive 30-60 Minutes Before the Park Opens
6. Forget Magic Hour and Go To the Opposite Park
7. Don't Miss Character Dining
8. Experience the Magic of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
9. Take Advantage of Rider Switch Pass
10. Indulge in Must Have Disney Food, Snacks & Treats
11. Go On Rides During the Parades
12. Use an App

1. Find the Right Place to Stay



Not everyone's budget includes a Disney Resort Hotel and there are other fabulous options in the area.  We decided to stay at the Hyatt Regency Orange County because of the room options.  We selected a Kid's Suite which was so ideal for us.  We also were able to get a Queen Suite for my mom and mother-in-law two doors down which gave them their own space but were able to pop by easily.  The Kid's Suite is two bedrooms and 1 bath and plenty of space for a family.  My girls were busting at the seams over the bunk beds.  I loved that the bottom bunk was a double if you wanted more than one child to sleep there.  The room also boasted a microwave, fridge, desk, two flat screen tv's and free wi-fi.


Mickey and Minnie (with the help of the hotel staff and mommy) stopped by to surprise the girls with a welcome gift.  I live for those ear to ear smiles and contagious giggles.  It was the perfect start to our stay at The Hyatt Regency Orange County.








The Hyatt Regency Orange County was a full service hotel with all the amenities you would look for on a vacation.  There were two heated pools, a fire pit, a Starbucks, a Family Fun Zone, a game room, a restaurant, a bar, a Disney Desk, gift shop, deli and much more.  The hospitality begins from the moment you drive up.  The hotel staff helped us unload our Griswold car and helped us up to our rooms.  The welcome treats and daily water bottles were another nice touch.  We enjoyed the pool on more than one occasion and grabbed snacks from the deli which was perfect for running out to the park.  The Hyatt Regency Orange County offers a shuttle bus that runs every 30 minutes and the girls loved coloring in the Family Fun Center as we waited.  I thought the Disney Desk was a huge plus where you could buy tickets and get your Disney questions answered.


Finding the right place to stay can be the hardest part in planning a vacation so I highly recommend The Hyatt Regency Orange County.  Rest assured you can cross this off your list and stop spending time researching all the places around Disneyland to stay.



2. Plan Your Trip Itinerary

I wrote out a detailed itinerary for each day with the essential items like parade times and restaurant reservations.  I sent this to all the adults in our group and kept it in my Notes section on my phone.  This way I didn't have to stress about missing anything.

Tuesday June 12th (CA Adventure Day)
Park Opens  9 am
Meet & Greet Anna & Elsa 9:00 am
Grab CARS Fastpasses
Disney Jr. Show 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 2:15, 3:15, 4:15
Lunch- Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta  (Recommended by Cast Member)
Dinner - Wine Country Trattoria - 6:10 pm 24 hr cancelation #481031769329
Paint the Night Parade - 8:45 pm
Park Closes 10 pm

3. Prepare for the Car Ride

The worst part about traveling is getting there and home, am I right?!?!  Disneyland isn't really flying distance for us but a 4-5 hour car ride is a long time for anyone let alone toddlers.  I had snacks and activities planned to keep the meltdowns at bay.

This was their morning of surprise which included a surprise gift bag, Mickey Mouse Munch I made, Autograph Books I made and personalized water bottles.


The girls got a surprise gift bag as we were loading up the car and here is a gift from when we were getting ready for bed the first night.
  • Good Behavior Gifts & Disney Dollars
    • My girls responded really well to these good behavior Disney Dollars.  If they were calm and behaving they got a Disney Dollar.  At the end of the trip they turned them in for real money and got to go shopping in Downtown Disney.

  • Snacks
    • Mickey Mouse Trail Mix
      • Combine pretzels, raisins, red & yellow M&M's, and rice Chex





4. Take a Picture of the Back of Your Tickets.


Purchase your tickets from Get Away Today and once you have them in your possession make sure you link them to your app or take a picture of the back in case you lose them.

5. Arrive 30-60 Minutes Before the Park Opens


You can enter the park 30 minutes before it opens to shop, take pictures or get in line.  Lots of people will arrive early so you need to arrive extra early to get to the front of the park entrance line.

6. Forget Magic Hour and Go To the Opposite Park

We did this for the first time this last trip and we did actually like it.  Only one park has Magic Morning at a time and so that's the park with way more people first thing in the morning.  We hit up the opposite park and enjoyed less people and shorter lines.

7. Don't Miss Character Dining






We've loved Goofy's Kitchen in the past so that is where we made reservations this past trip.  We usually like it because you get to see the traditional characters and also see a lot of them on your list instead of chasing them around the park.  This time there were only 4 characters besides Goofy at the front and we had to wait forever for those 4 to come around.  Unfortunately, I can't give this character breakfast two thumbs up this time.  Your other options include Minnie & Friends in the park, Surf's Up and Chip and Dale's Critter Breakfast in the hotels.

8. Experience the Magic of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique



If you have a little girl then the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is an absolute must on your Disney list!  Make reservations 90 days in advance and get ready for the cutest experience ever.  Your little one is literally treated like a princess and dolled up from head to toe.  Packages vary but hair, makeup and nails are included and may I suggest that you bring your own Princess Dress to save a few bucks.



9. Take Advantage of Rider Switch Pass

If you have little ones that are too small for a ride or too scared some of your party can wait in line and ride the ride.  Before getting on the ride ask a cast member for a Rider Switch Pass and when you get off the ride you hand it to the other people in your party and they get to cut the line.  This way someone always stays with your little one but no one misses out on a ride.

10. Indulge in Must Have Disney Food, Snacks & Treats
  • Minnie Mouse Cake Pops
  • Matterhorn Macaroon at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe
  • Peanut Butter Sandwiches at bakeries around the park
  • Mickey Mouse Brownie at Main Street Bakery
  • Dole Whip
  • Mickey Mouse Pretzel




11. Go On Rides During the Parades

Half the park disappears during a parade so grab a seat at the parade for the first show but ride rides during the second show to enjoy shorter wait times.

12. Use an App


I don't think you can do Disney without an app these days.  Check wait times, find characters, download Disney Photographer photos right to your phone and more.


This is a sponsored post.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.  Thank you for supporting brands and companies that have received my stamp of approval!

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