Our Disneyland Checklist for families heading to Disneyland at Anaheim
Being prepared for Disneyland will save you time and money. Your experience will be a positive one if you are prepared for your Disneyland adventure.
Disneyland is an expensive experience so you will want to be ready and prepared for your visit. We have put together a comprehensive checklist on all that you will need to help you LOVE your Disneyland visit. We have concentrated on Disneyland Anaheim but many of our tips can be used at any Disneyland around the world.
BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
Your preparation for Disneyland should begin a few months before your arrival. This will make sure you have found the perfect accommodation and read all the Disneyland tips and tricks so you are ready to go once the gates open.
- Accommodation – staying at a Disneyland hotel is expensive and there are not many advantages to being onsite at Anaheim. We stayed very close to the main gates and were able to walk each morning to the gates. We have stayed in hotels and also in VRBO.com rentals which was perfect and scored a 10/10 for us on both location and the convenience of a kitchen and large living areas and bedroom. You can read our accommodation tips here.
- Crowd Calendar – these calendars will be the best predictors of when the crowds are at their lowest and highest. If possible you should look at organising your trip according to the least popular times. Trying to avoid school holidays and special event days will mean you are standing in queues a lot less. Here is one crowd calendar we have found useful.
- Planning your day – having a day plan for each day may not sound like a carefree flexible way to spend your holidays but it is essential to have a plan to get the most out of your visit and also to reduce your families’ stress levels. I read cover to cover the book The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland which I borrowed from my local library but is available to purchase online. The book contains a day plan for each day your family spends at Disneyland. I laminated my map and we followed the guide each day. We managed to easily have a turn on every ride, see every parade then ride our favourite rides again all because we had a plan. Using the guide meant we did not wait longer than 15-20mins in any ride queue.
- Buying your tickets – this is another large expense and you maybe tempted to buy from an unauthorised dealer or from an ad in the paper or online. DON’T even think about it. Tickets are assigned to people and ID needs to be shown and your fingerprint is attached to each ticket. Buy from the Disneyland website and print your tickets at home so you are ready to go at the gates. It is very rare to be able to find discounted tickets to Disneyland. Buyer Beware!
- Disneyland Apparel – every child in Disneyland will be wearing Disney shirts and it makes the day lots of fun if you are part of the Disney team! We saved a lot of money by heading to Target and Walmart closest to Disneyland where there are Disney shirts, sweaters and Disney pins to buy.
- Autograph books – when having your photo with the Disney characters you will have the opportunity to ask for their autograph. Have your book ready ad the thicker the marker pan the easier it is for the characters to use.
- Maps and parade times – once you are checked in to your accommodation have a practise walk to the front gates. Once you are there ask for a few maps and parade times, you will then be ready in the morning and you will know which parades you will be aiming for.
- Snacks and drinks – food and drink can be taken into the parks. No glass is allowed and your bags will be checked for this before entry. We carried snacks to be eaten in ride queues, pre-made sandwiches for lunch and some water bottles that can be refilled inside the park.
- Dinner – I had a few dinners prepared ready to be reheated for when we returned from a long day at Disneyland. We did eat in a few restaurants in the Downtown Disney area but a few nights we were all too exhausted to eat out and just wanted to be at home.
- Camera and phones – make sure you have fully charged both your phone and camera ready to use and also pass to the official photographers who are happy to use your camera when have character photos.
- Disneyland Apps – There are many Apps that you can download to look at ride wait times and parade times while you are in the parks.
All your organising and planning will prove it self today as you will be ready and raring to go!! You can read more about our Disneyland tips here
- Opening Times – It is very important that you know when Disneyland opens and closes for the day. You can find the official opening hours here. You will need to arrive 30-45mins before the gates open. The tickets will start being checked before the official opening time and you will be allowed to enter the park and be held behind a rope within the park. You will want to be near the head of this line in order to get your first fast pass for the day. Have your ID’s ready for each adult
- Early Bird Entry – ticket holders that purchased 3 or more days have special access to the parks before regular ticket holders. You can use this early entry to look around the park and go on some rides.
- Breakfast – we ate breakfast in the queue ( bagels, muesli bars, coffees)
- Know your plan – while waiting behind the rope in Disneyland, study your maps and plans. One person should have all the tickets ready to gain the Fast Passes. The first half of the day needs to run like clockwork in order for your time at Disneyland to be beneficial. The second half of your day can be more flexible and you can let the magic take over.
Allow one whole day here and you should be able to see the whole park. We managed to go on the Cars Ride 4 times each. Read how we did the unthinkable here. Your day at California Adventure Park will be just as fantastic as Disneyland and you should arrive early and repeat the above checklist. Our kids loved California Adventure just as much as Disneyland. The Cars area is amazing just make sure you follow our plan on how to ride the best Cars ride ever!
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