I haven't been to Disneyland in years and it's my husband and kids first time (6 and 3). We've already done a touring plan, but I'd like real experiences of what worked best. Should we head straight for a certain fast pass or a certain ride, etc... Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks!
Per trip we rope drop Disneyland 2 days. On one day we like to get some roller coaster rides done first thing before lines build but since you have little ones you might not be interested in that. On the other day we try to get to Peter Pan (I know that is what everyone says) first thing and then do lots of the other Fantasyland rides. 2 of my favorites there are Alice which can build quickly and Mr. Toads which builds more slowly. Maybe while you are waiting for one of those rides, one of you can get fast passes for Star Tours - I don't think that is scary for kids and doesn't have a height restriction that I know of. Many people like the submarine ride with Nemo - I don't care for it much and will never wait long for that again but many kids do like that a lot so you might want to make that a priority because that line builds fast as well. If you want to skip Fantasyland first you could go to Buzz Light Year Astro Blasters. Kids love that one, then maybe get fast passes for Star Tours or Hyperspace if you want to do Rider Switch then head on over to the submarines. Then if the line still isn't too long and your family liked Astro Blasters a lot, do that one again or go to Fantasyland. Unfortunately the fast pass system is no longer separate for Blasters. You used to be able to hold a fast pass for it and another at the same time. I think the Roger Rabbit Spin ride is still disconnected so you might be able to hold fast passes with another at the same time But I'm not sure about that. That is a ride your little ones might like too. They'll probably like most things in Fantasyland except some of the dark rides like Snow White or Toad, which can be scary. Most if not all the dark rides can be a bit scary so if you go on Peter Pan or Alice and your kids didn't like those, do Dumbo and the carousel and then maybe go to a different land like Toon Town or Tomorrowland and do the rides I suggested above. There are many chances for meet and greets in Toon Town. The nice thing about Toon Town is that it hardly ever feels crowded. It is hard to give a definitive answer without knowing what your kids are into.
For DCA I suggest getting to Toy Story Mania first and then standing in line for Radiator Springs fastpasses. We haven't done it that way yet but may try it. In the past we have gone straight to Radiator Springs and then would get fast passes for Soarin (height restriction?) and World of Color and then go to Toy Story Mania. The line for TSM may be long at that point. I think the last time we did that plan we were lucky and only had to wait about 25 minutes. It can often be 50 to 60 minutes later in the day for TSM. After the headliners for DCA I would take your kids to the other 2 Cars rides Then after that either do the rides in Bugs Land or go to the Hollywood section and do the Monster Inc and Turtle Talk attractions and while you are over there see if there are any cool Characters around you might want to see. I would maybe leave Its Tough To Be a Bug for when you have done the above since that one doesn't seem to reach capacity often. Of course you'll have to work in your fast passes in there so that may affect in what order you want to do things since some plans require more walking. Also, I left out the Little Mermaid ride - I don't like it much but if your kids love that movie then you might want to sub that in for the Bugs Land rides or Monsters/Turtle talk since that can get a long ride too. I also forgot about the Frozen show. That is a good one, but maybe the wait for a close seat might be too much for your kids and it is a long show. I heard that you should go to a later showing and you could always see at the last minute if you can get in to avoid waiting in line. Even if you are seated far away, you can still see things well.
I forgot to add something very important - some rides are closed at opening so ask a cast member before rope drop about that - we were unpleasantly surprised to make a bee line for Peter Pan only to find that it was closed at park opening. I think they post closures near the turnstiles but not sure about that. Attraction closures can happen anytime so have a plan B or even C.
Welcome to the West Coast!
Our typical 3 days:
DL--usually coasters at rope drop. FP for Hyperspace will run out at some time during the day, so if you are doing that, either do it first or get a FP soon. I'm not a fan of Nemo either--SUPER long line--but if the kids want to do it, that would be my first ride to get it out of the way. FL lines fill as the day goes on, and with littles, that's where I'd head next, followed by Toon Town. Then I'd head to Pirates, HM, Pooh, and Splash Mtn. Get FP along the way for the big rides--ALWAYS worth it--and then plan around that.
DCA--We usually hit RSR FP first, then head to TSM. Wander around the Pier and do the rides there that your kiddos will like, hit Little Mermaid on the way out. Cars Land next, depending on RSR return time. You'll want FP for Grizzly River Run, Soarin, California Screamin (can do Rider Switch) at some point, as well as Frozen Meet and Greet if your kids are in to that, so plan those at some point. Haven't seen the Frozen show yet, but we loved the Aladdin show that was before and always hit it. Great down time in the Hollywood Studio area (Turtle Talk, Animation Academy) for when you need a break. The rest doesn't really matter, never too much of a wait for anything. Make sure to grab a FP for World of Color when you first get there, because they'll run out as well; they're not connected to the rest of the park.
3rd day is usually hopping parks and hitting rides we missed (not usually very many with a good plan) or want to do again. Good time for Character hunting as well if you didn't get to that.
Last time I went I used Lines for the first time and LOVED IT. Had a plan going in, but as interests changed throughout the day, we adjusted and went where the lines were short.
Have a fantastic trip!
OMG I totally forgot...DON'T MISS the Redwood Challenge Trail in DCA. It's a FANTASTIC way for kids to run off some steam, and there are "rangers" throughout the areas working with the kids on the challenges. Last time we were there my kids got picked to decorate and race rubber ducks down the river. Kinda sad not to do it now that my kids are older.
Good comments from "swallgren". A few more thoughts/ comments...Hyperspace = space mountain = Ghost Galaxy (space mountain at Halloween time). There was a different comment that some rides are not open at RD. I have never experienced that. Normally every thing of any significance is open at RD...maybe Tom Sawyer island is delayed? Some closures that may catch people by surprise...fantasy land and toontown will close during fireworks. Fantasy land will reopen afterwards but toontown historically would not. I have not been to DCA since cars land opened. I am not a big fan of shows (although fantasmic at DL is an exception) but the old Aladdin show was good. Not a huge Frozen fan but if it is in the same theatre as Aladdin then that is quite a venue. It is a real theatre and a venue that merits seeing for the show and the site.
I second the rides not being open at rope drop--never seen that. Maybe referring to Magic Morning? Toon Town and some FL rides also close during fireworks, but that's it.
About the rides not being open right at RD- doesn't happen a ton, but because Fantasyland has some older operating rides, some mornings they do take longer to come up than other mornings. Usually it's Peter Pan I hear about the most from others, but for us Alice is usually the one not operating right at RD. You can check with a CM before you head there, but not sure if the CMs at the rope in Main St/hub will know with certainty if that's the case, so if you get there & the ride operator lets you know to check back, hop on something next to it and you'll be able to get in line as soon as they can get it up & running. The CMs working the ropes will know if things are closed or not for refurbishments. For DL, I like to start one day in Fantasyland (because I love it & it's not so fun coming back to it later with more crowds & narrow walkways) & then head to ToonTown (opens one hour after regular park opening) and my kids love everything about it or the West side of the park (Frontierland, New Orleans Square, Splash) depending on what the kids have decided they want to do. If we plan for ToonTown, we love to try to be there right before it opens as a few of the characters will usually come to the gates and mingle for a minute then lead a few kids to their first meet & greet lines. We also like to head right back to Mickey's House and meet him with no wait & then get on Gadget's Go Coaster with no wait. My kids love to explore all the different toon cars & character houses (Mickey's, Minnie's, Donald's boat, the playground at Goofy's, the fire truck & post office near Roger Rabbit's and the jail/electric company right behind the post office & next to the Five & Dime Gag Factory store). The west side is really more for me as I love Haunted Mansion, Pirates and everything New Orleans Square. My kids do enjoy Critter Country though so when we work in the west side we like to start in that back corner & make our way back to center. They also love Tarzan's treehouse (warning there are LOTS of stairs to the top) but it's a beautiful view and there's a little play area at the end/bottom that keeps the kids occupied- great place for them to hang out while those who are tall enough rider switch Indiana Jones.
On a 2nd DL day I like to start on the West side we didn't do it yet, or Tomorrowland. I really do not love Tomorrowland though and for me, it's more fun at night so I like to try to plan to pick up our Tomorrowland FPs when they fall around nighttime, BUT my kids do both love Tomorrowland so there have been many mornings when Space or Star Tours is our first stop followed up pulling for FP the one we didn't rope drop and then riding Buzz/Nemo/Autopia until the FP is available. I totally agree with the above posters that Nemo is just not that fantastic but if it's on the plan for the day, I like to ride it early when there's not as much of a line and not as many people they are trying to cram into the submarines. I think the story is cute, if a little slow but the worst part of it for me is how compact the seating and the submarines are. I'm don't consider myself claustrophobic but the submarine rides when full make me feel very closed in, so if you are claustrophobic, this is a good one to ride first or 2nd in the day when there is very little line and you won't have to share a submarine with so many people.
As for disconnected FPs, Roger Rabbit's is connected and sadly, recently so is Buzz. The only disconnected FP now is for WOC. The 2 parks are disconnected from each other though so as long as everyone has entered at least one park that day, then you can send a runner to other park for any FPs (if you aren't starting in DCA but want to ride RSR sometime that day, this is one way to get FPs for it since they run out pretty quick).
For DCA, the best plan is to start Toy Story Midway Mania (TSMM) but it definitely has days that isn't open right away. We have gone one morning where we went a full circuit around the whole pier and nothing was ready until we got all the way back around to TSMM, but that's only once in many many days of starting at TSMM. The line builds SO fast for TSMM so even if it is an instant 15-20 min wait, it's worth it. Usually if you go first right at rope drop, it's walk-on or 5 min wait, but on busy days with later openings it can start out at 20 min. We like to accomplish everything on the back of the pier that we want to do (usually it's TSMM 2x and the Fun Wheel- non-swinging, but there's also the Carousel and Cali Screamin' too) You can send a runner for a FP for RSR while the rest of you head to TSMM, but you can also easily swing back and get an RSR FP after accomplishing the back of the pier (it will be more for midday/afternoon by then so it really depends on what your plan is for taking a midday break or what you will be doing afterwards). Either way, head back towards Carsland after the pier and enjoy Mater's, Luigi's until the RSR FP is available. And if you have time to kill, you can meet Mater, Lightning or ride Mater's multiple times (one of our kids' favorites!). My kids also both love Ariel's and the kiddie rides in Bugsland but those are easily worked in anytime since they seldom have longer than 15 min waits.
Agree that Redwood Challenge Trail is an awesome experience for kids. My kids beg for it and love it every trip. They've seen the Frozen show once but haven't asked for it again. It was well done, just a little long. We much prefer the Storytelling at the Royal Theater in DL at the Fantasy Faire area.
Lastly, if you plan for any characters know that the DL App (that you should download if you haven't already) has posted times for characters but DL frequently changes things on the fly so be prepared for characters not to be available at the times listed and just try to find out from the CMs wearing "Ask me About Characters" buttons when/where you can find certain characters. If there's anyone your kids MUST see, try on your first day so you can keep trying on subsequent days to avoid disappointment if they are not available all of a sudden on your last day even if it was scheduled that they would be available (we have had this happen more than once or twice so that's why I bring it up because it's not always easy to break it to a kid why they can't see a beloved character they were hoping for).
Anyway, any other specific questions, let me know, my kids are 4 & 5 and we love to go so we have plenty of experiences to share knowledge from!!!
All great tips! Thanks to everyone for sharing! Less than two weeks until our trip. Yay!
Awesome that the countdown is nearing the end!! Hope you guys have a great time!
About how long do you spend in ToonTown when you RD it? We're interested in Mickey & Minnie's houses and Roger Rabbit (my kids are significantly older than yours!) but we'd like to explore and enjoy the ambiance.
ToonTown most usually opens one hour after the park's regular opening so when we "RD" ToonTown it's our second rope drop of the day (if you have Magic Morning or Extra Magic Hour it could potentially be your third!)
We generally spend 30-60 min depending on how leisurely we can afford to be with what the rest of the day's plan is. My kids love to just run around & play at Goofy's and the Post office area though so a good chunk of our time is spent doing that. If you go right at opening for Mickey & Minnie their waits would be 5, maybe 10 min each. Also, Roger Rabbit's should stay pretty low, but if it for some reason is a 30 min wait on your way out, pull a FP, go ride It's a Small World and by the time you're done there you'll be within 20 or so min of your FP and can use some of those of those minutes to finish exploring ambiance of ToonTown, maybe meet Goofy or Pluto or Donald or Daisy as they are often out & about in ToonTown.
Maybe I should have used he word "down" instead of closed. Often at least one ride or more will be down at rope drop - I have tried to go to PP at rope drop and it wasn't open, same thing with hyperspace and star tours and RSRs. This is like how they break down in the middle of the day but instead they start off that way. When your trip consists of 4 mornings (i.e., 4 rope drops) and when on one or two of those mornings you go to a ride first thing to get that advantage only to find it closed, it can really impact your morning - especially if you get up extra early and wait for over half an hour for that rope drop and it was basically for nothing. Maybe it doesn't happen "a ton" but it certainly happens enough to be aware of and have a back up plan. During the day you can use the app to avoid going to rides that are down, so see if you can figure which ones are down if you can at RD - sometimes they announce it at the rope but only those right in the front can hear. I've done 9 rope drops at DLR - once PP was down when we went there first at RD. Once Hyperspace was down when we went there first at RD, once star tours was down when we went there first at RD and once RSR's was down when we went there first at RD. Maybe I am just extremely unlucky but 4 out of 9 times seems like decent odds of having it happening to everyone at least once.