First time at Disneyland

So we’ve been to Disney World twice, but never to Disneyland and now we’re going in April. Four adults during the week, so I’m hoping it won’t be too crazy busy. I felt like a pro at Disney World in 2019, navigating the fast passes and my touring plan app and getting in everything we wanted to see, but I feel like I’m starting from scratch with Disneyland - it’s so different with having to reserve certain days and figure out this Genie thing. Any tips for a first-time Disneyland visit vs World? Is the Genie worth it? Thanks in advance!


IIRC, reserving days goes away in January. My husband and I did DL for the first time in September. How many days will you be there? We did three days and that worked well, but we also weren’t trying to do All The Things. We had never been on RotR at WDW and it was about a 45 min wait which was great. We didn’t get Genie+. If you’re willing to rope drop or stay late, I don’t think you need G+. The wait times in September dropped drastically after 10pm.

Disneyland is still doing park pass reservations. It’s Walt Disney World that’s removing them for date-based tickets on January 9

A couple of threads for you to peruse:

  1. This is the pinned Genie thread for Disneyland – read the first post only. It includes all the information about how Genie works. It hasn’t been updated in a month or so, but I don’t think anything has changed since then.

Below I have pasted the section on the difference between WDW and Disneyland as it relates to Genie+.

WDW vs Disneyland

Below are key differences between WDW and Disneyland as it relates to Lightning Lanes.

  • Advance Purchase:
    • Disneyland: Genie+ can be purchased in advance as an add-on for the length of a ticket (not available for Magic Keys), or on the day of upon entering a park.
    • WDW: Advance purchase of Genie+ is currently not available for any ticket type (Disney has announced this may change in 2024). Day-of purchase begins at midnight Eastern time for all guests.
  • Booking Time:
    • Disneyland: You can book your first LL or ILL once you are tapped into a park (this includes the taps at the monorail station).
    • WDW: You can book your first LL at 7am (regardless of on-site / offsite status); on-site guests can book their ILLs at 7am while off-site guests can book at official park opening time of the park where they are booking the ILL.
  • Return Window:
    • Disneyland: Both LLs and ILLs dispense sequentially. You have to wait till the next available time advances to your preferred window. Lately most ILL attractions have near-immediate availability.
    • WDW: LLs dispense sequentially but you can select any available ILL window.
  • Hopping Time:
    • Disneyland: Hopping time is 11am. You must wait till return times advance beyond hopping time in due course.
    • WDW: Hopping time is 2pm. You must wait till return times advance beyond hopping time in due course.
  • Photopass:
    • Disneyland: Photopass is included with Genie+, including both on-ride photos and other in-park photographers. On-ride photos are currently offered complimentary to all guests.
    • WDW: On-ride photos are included with Genie+, but download of photos taken by other Photopass photographers requires purchase of Memory Maker. There are currently no complimentary photos at WDW.
  • On-site Advantages:
    • Disneyland: On-site guests are eligible for 30 minutes early entry at each park every day. This benefit is not offered to good neighbor hotels or special tickets as has been the case in the past. In addition, there are dedicated entrances to DCA for GCH and PPH guests.
    • WDW: All on-site guests (including named Good Neighbor hotels) receive 30 minutes early entry at each park every day. Deluxe resort guests are eligible for extra evening hours, generally Monday (Epcot) and Wednesday (MK), though other parks are occasionally offered.
  • Pricing:
    • Disneyland: The purchase of Genie+ / ILL is not subject to tax. Magic Key Holders receive a 20% discount on the purchase of Genie+ (but not ILL). There is no option to purchase Genie+ for only one park for a lower price.
    • WDW: Purchase of Genie+ and ILL is subject to tax. No annual passholder discounts apply. You can purchase Genie+ for either one individual park for a lower price or for all parks for a higher price.
  1. The thread below has some helpful information for WDW veterans. A few of us posted our rankings of how Disneyland rides rate compared to their WDW counterparts, among other tidbits of wisdom.

I’m not sure yet how many days we’re going to do - I do want to do all the things and I’m thinking two at Disneyland and one at California Adventure. I’d like to do two at each, but the cost with the exchange rate is :grimacing:

But I love being there for rope drop and at Disney World we usually stayed till closing, so maybe that will be enough time.


Thank you! There’s so much content in the forum I didn’t even know where to start. :slight_smile:

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Three days is just about right. I usually recommend 4 for first / only timers, but since you’ve been to WDW you can focus on your time on the unique stuff and branch outward as you have time. You should be able to try just about everything if you are efficient.


April is a fantastic time to visit! I love the weather in spring in Anaheim.

As for the homework, start with the understanding of G+. It’s based loosely on how Fastpass/Maxpass worked at DL when Disney first started testing the waters of charging for a FP and that was similar to how old paper fastpasses worked, but with all digital (no visiting kiosks). If you knew none of those systems, just focus on learning/understanding G+ and ask all the questions!!! It’s an amazing tool to make the most of a short/only visit. And the thread Jeff linked is one of the very best summaries available to digest it.

Reservations are still required and will be past Jan 8 for DL parks :roll_eyes: BUT we’ve kind of discovered that the night before, so many people are cancelling their reservations (passholders) that all but the busiest holiday weekends typically after availability open up the day before (sometimes lasting until the morning after for a few hours even too to grab same day). This from the Magic Key passholder availability bucket too & that’s the bucket that’s the hardest to get availability from as they seem to allocate more than what’s being taken up by 1-5 day ticket holders

If you choose to stay at a DL onsite hotel, then you’ll have all the flexibility in the world as they generally allocate far & above what is needed for onsite hotel guests to be able to pick their park & make changes even day of. Staying onsite also gives you the 30 min. extra early entry (I believe starting in January though they will alternate which park gets early entry so it won’t be both parks everyday). AND onsite gives you closer to that “in the bubble” feel that you have at WDW that you definitely do NOT have if you stay at most of the nearby off-site/Good Neighbor hotels due to Anaheim having very much an everyday city corner feel right outside the main pedestrian entrance to DL.

Other than park reservations & understanding G+ there isn’t a whole lot of prep you need to do for DLR. It’s a very easy park to navigate day-of and make changes on the fly & there’s so much changing & extra stuff in the parks that happens more organically so as long as you have a park reservation to get in, you really don’t need that much more to have an amazing time there.


We’re staying at a friend’s timeshare a few blocks away - not quite the same experience as a Disney property, but the price couldn’t be beat!

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Onsite is a crazy price (and the hotels right there next to Disney are becoming crazy too!) so I don’t blame you one bit! And I find that even with the glimpses of the real world right there at the entrance, I can easily still have a good time at DLR.