I just came back from a two-and-a-half day solo trip to Disneyland. I’m a long-time lurker and occasional poster and I’ve benefitted a lot from all the great info people post here and I wanted to pay that back a little. Alas, I don’t think I can put together an hour-by-hour trip report. But here are my takeaways:
• I went without my kids and had the most relaxed Disney vacation of my life. All parents should do this at least once.
• For my arrival day, I put together a loose itinerary that required very little waiting in line— I saw the Flag Retreat ceremony, the parade, and Disneyland Forever. I did the datapad games in Galaxy’s Edge, and I grabbed whatever rides had short lines or convenient Genie+ return times. I also just wandered around and enjoyed the atmosphere. I have a tendency to get into a maximizing mindset (which I suspect is something I have in common with a lot of people on this forum!) and starting with a no-expectations first day helped set the right tone for the rest of the trip. I felt like I was able to enjoy the entire experience, rather than dashing from ride to ride.
• Although I tried not to focus exclusively on maximizing my number of rides… I still gave SOME thought to maximizing. Between Genie+, single rider lines, and the Lines app, I spent very little time waiting in line, and I got to do just about everything I wanted to do, even though I was there on days with 8 or 9 level crowds. I have some philosophical objections to Genie+ but as a practical matter, I found it well worth the cost.
• Speaking of things I object to philosophically but did nonethelesss… I paid for one ILL, for Rise of the Resistance.
• The other ILL rides (WS and RSR) had single-rider lines, so I used those instead of buying an ILL. I used single rider twice on RSR. In the morning, there was a posted 75 minute wait, and single-rider was essentially a walk-on. In the evening, the posted standby time was shorter (60 minutes) but I waited much longer in the single rider line (about 30 minutes). I was a little surprised— I would have thought that the shorter the standby wait, the shorter the single-rider line. But there didn’t seem to be a correlation. I wonder if there is some percentage of park visitors who don’t know about single-rider lines in the morning but find out about them as the day goes on? (With WS, I went on once in the early afternoon when the single rider line was a walk-on to the pre-show room, and then maybe a ten minute wait inside. All the other times I checked, the single rider line looked like it would be at least half an hour. Again, there didn’t seem to be a correlation between single rider line length and standby wait.)
• Initially, I planned to use Becky G’s Genie+ parkhop strategy— spend the morning acquiring G+ reservations for the park you aren’t in, so you’ll end up with a bunch of reservations around 1PM when you switch. But I found that my preferred schedule was to stay at one park all morning until about 2PM, then go back to my hotel and nap and escape the heat, and then head over to the other park around 4 or 5PM. So a bunch of LL reservations at 1PM in my second park didn’t work for me. Instead, I found it best to use the morning to fish for MEPs. In particular, Grizzly River Run seemed to be down every morning between 9AM and 10PM, and I got multiple MEPs out of it. Not sure if that’s always down or it was just my trip, but it’s one to watch. (A word of caution: during the 7:30-8AM EE, not all rides are active, so some G+ rides show as “down” when they really just haven’t opened for the day. Booking them won’t let you get an MEP. If you’re going MEP fishing, it might be wise to check what rides are supposed to be open in EE and which ones aren’t.)
• Five and Dime at DCA were an unexpected highlight of my trip. It’s well worth taking fifteen minutes to catch them.
• The hot fudge sundae at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain was the single-most overpriced item I encountered in my entire visit. Fourteen bucks for a modestly sized sundae with so-so ice cream (and, admittedly, very good chocolate)! Outrageous! Especially since for that money, I could get four massive scoops of vastly superior ice cream at Salt & Straw. I expect park prices to be inflated but (as we say in the UK) I felt like Disney was taking the piss.
• The best food value I encountered was the Asian Chicken Salad at the Pacific Wharf Café-- it was delicious and fairly priced (even by real world standards)
•I made a point of doing a few rides I had never done before. Biggest disappointment: Mickey’s Philharmagic. Happiest surprise: Golden Zephyrs. I’m not going to claim Golden Zephyrs is an undiscovered E-ticket but if there’s not much of a queue and you can do it around sunset when the pier is just lighting up, it’s a lovely mellow experience.
• I loved Galaxy’s Edge. It would have been easy for the Imagineers to just re-create a location from the films. Creating a new planet felt like a bold creative risk that paid off wonderfully, and I wish it had gotten a better reaction from parkgoers. I think I spent more time there than any other single land, just wandering around doing datapad games and taking in the atmosphere.
• This was my first visit since I got an Apple Watch and the noise notification on my watch was going off constantly. Sounds routinely hit levels that can (in the long term) cause hearing loss. It’s probably OK for a brief visit but I’m a little worried that frequent park visitors are going to damage their hearing. I’m undoubtedly more aware of this issue than most because I already have a mild hearing impairment and I’m very concerned about doing further damage to my ears. But it’s still weird to me that nobody ever talks about this issue. It feels like something that is eventually going to result in a class-action lawsuit. In the meantime, I encourage people to bring earplugs and wear them on noisy rides. Trust me that even mild hearing loss can have an impact on your quality of life!
• I forgot how impossible it is to navigate Disneyland when the parade and fireworks are going on (and even beforehand, when they start closing things off in preparation). One evening, I made some plans that required me to walk from DCA to Galaxy’s Edge in the fifteen minutes it would usually take. Rookie mistake! It probably took me close to an hour, because I kept having to backtrack after discovering that my intended route was closed off.
OK, that’s my infodump. If anybody has any questions about any of the above, let me know!