Last Minute, First Time Disneyland Trip - Now What?!?!

My family (me, DH, DD17, DD9, DS6) are die-hard Disney fans and were last in WDW in 2019 after the Millennium Falcon ride but before Rise of the Resistance. We have never been to Disneyland and had no intentions of going but already had a trip planned to San Diego (never been there either); an article about Avengers Campus happened to come across my desk, googled to see how far San Diego is from Anaheim and here we are - you’re all up to date! :grin:
So here are my initial questions:

  1. Removing the rides that were in WDW in 2019 from a DLR plan, is it possible to get it done in 2 days? Oh, and not be overly exhausted?

  2. DD9 complains about her legs hurting after an hour of walking. Our previous trips we’ve rented those jumbo running double strollers which worked out perfectly… even though DD was a tadbit big it allowed both youngins to rest and even take catnaps. The DLR rentable strollers, how comfortable are they? Too small for a 4’8" 9 yr old?

  3. I’m figuring 1 park each day, does that make sense or can we somehow optimize our time & activities by park hopping?

  4. Since this is a last minute plan, our hotel reservations are in San Diego but thinking we should at least spend 1, if not 2 days in Anaheim - considering the timing, what are your hotel recommendations with family suites (usually we get 2 queens & a sofabed)? And, yes, we will have a rental car.

  5. Since this is last minute anything you can think of that we will miss out on? Any type of reservations? Most importantly, with an estimated CLs of 3 - 5 will we have any problems making park reservations once i purchase our tickets?

  6. If i understand correctly, the most popular rides are via boarding groups which can only be reserved the day of - is this correct? Anything else i need to consider?

  7. For those that have been, especially those that have been recently (bc COVID changed everything), any tips/tricks you recommend? Anything i’m not considering?

ALOT i know but this forum has ALWAYS came through for our WDW trips and i know i’ve come to the right place looking for answers! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Thanks in advance!


Yes. The only 2 attractions I can think of offhand at DCA that are also in WDW are TMS and Soarin, whereas DL has a lot of repeats. Though, to be fair, a few of the repeats are worth do because they are so different. (Pirates and HM come to mind)

I’ve never rented the strollers here. But I will add that both parks are within walking distance to each other., with no line, you can be out of one park and into the next in 3-5 minutes. No security between the two entrances.

I always advise hoppers, then you can adjust as needed based on which park to need to spend more time at!

The hotels on Harbor Blvd are going to be best for quick access to the parks. Most of them that border the parks are within walking distance. We all have our favorites based on different price points. I also recommend the hotels by the convention center for larger rooms/suites, if you can’t find anything on Harbor. All of these hotels I mentioned are going to be roughly the same walk from the hotel as it would driving to the parking garage and tramming in. (IMO) ALso, you REALLY don’t want to do the drive to SD and back each day if you can avoid it. It’s roughly 2 hours at best 4 or more at worst depending on traffic.

I’m not sure what you’d be interested in or what your timing would be like trying to hit the attractions you need to without running around everywhere.

Sorry, no help here as I haven’t been back since reopening.

I also haven’t been back since Boarding groups went into effect…sorry.

You should see a few familiar faces chiming in here then :grinning: They (we) are all very passionate about DLR! @93111tink @Julianne_fki @Wahoohokie @jennyturin @lolabear_la and @Jeff_AZ There are lots more, but these folks are usually very helpful in the question department and showing DLR lots of love!!


You might be able to say Mater (DCA) is like the Swirling Aliens (DHS) or whatever also, same concept, different overlay.

  1. Removing the rides that were in WDW in 2019 from a DLR plan, is it possible to get it done in 2 days? Oh, and not be overly exhausted?

Yes, but you will be somewhat tired. Though I’ve found personally I can do two decently long days and be okay…the third one is unacceptable at my age though. Here is a list of attractions I would try for and I’ll categorize not to be missed as completely different or better at Disneyland than their WDW counterparts or good enough rides you should do them anyway:
Disneyland - Not to be missed

  • Indiana Jones (unique…same track as Dinosaur but MUCH better ride)

  • Space Mountain (I prefer the Disneyland version as its smoother)

  • Rise of the Resistance (since this wasn’t in WDW in 2019 and it’s amazing)

  • Matterhorn Bobsleds (I suppose this could be compared to EE and it’s not as good as that but it’s good classic fun and different enough)

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (I prefer the DLR version)

  • Splash Mountain (I prefer WDW version but it’s a fantastic ride)

  • Haunted Mansion

  • Fantasmic! (if it’s showing is MUCH better than WDW version imho)

  • Holy cow I forgot Pirates of the Caribbean. Absolutely do not miss the DL version which is far superior to WDW like @Bubblez said!

Some of my favorites:

  • Alice in Wonderland (completely unique)
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (always a good time)
  • Disneyland Railroad (A 1000 times better than WDW’s with neat dioramas in a cave to look at)
  • The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
  • it’s a small world (I prefer this version as its updated with Disney characters and the outside is better; they light it up at night with the shows)
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (now unique to DL)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey (unique to DL)
  • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island (the addition of pirates is unique)
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin (unique)
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough (unique)
  • Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats (or Casey Jr. Circus Train)
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (if open)

Keep in mind Jungle Cruise was just updated as well so worth a ride. Tarzan’s Treehouse is a different version than WDW also and I like the way it winds better than WDW’s. If your kids like the cars Autopia is much better than Tomorrowland Speedway.

DCA - Not to be Missed:

  • Grizzly River Run (vastly better than Kali River Rapids)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!
  • Incredicoaster
  • Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure (haven’t ridden it but I imagine it’s great)

Some of my other favorites:

  • Animation Academy (always a good time)
  • Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters is unique
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
  • Sorcerer’s Workshop
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic (if open should include an update)
  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
  • Soarin’ Over California (if they are showing this version vs. World version)
  1. DD9 complains about her legs hurting after an hour of walking. Our previous trips we’ve rented those jumbo running double strollers which worked out perfectly… even though DD was a tadbit big it allowed both youngins to rest and even take catnaps. The DLR rentable strollers, how comfortable are they? Too small for a 4’8" 9 yr old?

My kiddos are 14 and 17 (today in fact he turned 17! and holy cow when did that happen). It’s been a long time but I tended to prefer my stroller at DLR since I can take it all the way back to the hotel. The ones in the park that I remember were the same hard plastic ones that most theme parks have. I let my kids use them till they were 8 (and really DS got to use them till he was 11 since sissy was still 8).

  1. I’m figuring 1 park each day, does that make sense or can we somehow optimize our time & activities by park hopping?

I would honestly do this to save money and there is plenty to see in both to keep you from needing to park hop. I would have used to have told you, you can always add park hopper there if you need it because you miss something one day, but now you apparently cannot make late additions because of covid so if the money isn’t a big deal it could be insurance in case there is something you really want to get to and can’t.

  1. Since this is a last minute plan, our hotel reservations are in San Diego but thinking we should at least spend 1, if not 2 days in Anaheim - considering the timing, what are your hotel recommendations with family suites (usually we get 2 queens & a sofabed)? And, yes, we will have a rental car.

I would spend at least the one night b/w parks in Anaheim. A 2 hour drive both ways in one day times 2 days sounds like a sure fire way to die of exhaustion with two full park days. I have always stayed in the bubble and there are suites in the Disneyland hotels but even there regular rooms all sleep 5 with a daybed couch. If it were me I’d stay where I could walk to the park and given that some of the hotels seem to not let you keep your car parked there on checkout day this makes a Disney bubble hotel a nice option since they do not care if you leave your car parked there all day. I would say be very careful if you book a non-Disney hotel that you are allowed to stay parked there on checkout day if you are only going to end up spending one night and will be wanting to leave your car parked at the hotel on checkout day.

  1. Since this is last minute anything you can think of that we will miss out on? Any type of reservations? Most importantly, with an estimated CLs of 3 - 5 will we have any problems making park reservations once i purchase our tickets?

Only dining reservations if you want them but there are lots of good quick service dining options if you cannot get ADR’s last minute. However, pre-covid it was always easier to get dining reservations at DLR than WDW last minute. In addition, if you stay in a Disney hotel they secretly (it’s known by some but not posted anywhere official I’ve ever seen) keep some dining reservations like the Plaza Inn character breakfast which is returning soon just for hotel guests. You have to call to get these so if you can’t find a TS you want online available try calling if you stay in the bubble.

  1. If i understand correctly, the most popular rides are via boarding groups which can only be reserved the day of - is this correct? Anything else i need to consider?

Only Rise of the Resistance and Spiderman require BG and these can only be reserved day of. There are some good posts on this forum about how to get one but you do it at 7am from anywhere and you’ll need the Disneyland app on your phone to do it. You have to have a park reservation to try for the 7am drop but if you do get park hoppers and have ridden your first one in one park you can try for the other one at 1pm drop.

  1. For those that have been, especially those that have been recently (bc COVID changed everything), any tips/tricks you recommend? Anything i’m not considering?

If MaxPass comes back before you go, I’d purchase it. It’s worth it. But it sounds like it’s happening soon and so far no announcement on fastpasses.


Yes, this is probably the minimum I would recommend for first timers. 3 days is better, but San Diego is great too, so I wouldn’t cut that part of your vacation too short either.

(If you just want the purely unique rides, you could probably do them in 1 day, but the duplicate rides are in many cases better, or at least worth doing every time!)

I highly recommend park hoppers, but if you must do one park per day due to budgeting constraints, it is doable.


Check out this thread with helpful info. This post has my comparisons of the rides at WDW vs. DLR:


Thank you so much! Very helpful.

Sorry… i’m not really good at the Disney acronyms… what is TMS?

From context I think she meant TSM - Toy Story (Midway) Mania.

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@Jeff_AZ and @jennyturin are amazing with their detailed comparisons and accompanying thoughts. Most other Disneyland regular commentators are in agreement. You’re in great hands with their recommendations


I was trying to type fast and messed up! Sorry!

So happy that you will be taking a detour to see DL! As die-hard Disney fans DLR is definitely a must-do at least once and combining it with San Diego is one of my favorite trips.

  1. Possible, yes. It will be go, go, go but you should have a chance to tackle all the unique stuff and even some of the duplicate stuff worth seeing. What it doesn’t leave time for is enjoying much of the ambiance which is why I recommend 3 days even for fully mobile adults, and even 4 to match the more laid back pace of the West coast. Without any parades or must-do nighttime spectaculars right now, it should be easier. However, if F! or World of Color are back by the time you go, then those are both must-do’s and changes the equation a little bit.

  2. We always bring our own stroller so we’ve never rented the DLR strollers but they look like they would be manageable for even a 9 yr old.

  3. If money is not a concern, I would get the park hoppers so that you have the flexibility. It’s hard to convey in words just how close everything is, but one of the biggest differences between the two coasts is just how compact DLR is & that makes it really easy to hop to where the low waits take you and allow you to have some flexibility between the two days in case something is down for a whole day that you have dedicated to the one park. I do understand that with a family the cost per person adds up, so if the money can and will be used for something else on the trip, then you would be totally occupied with a full day in each. But for me, this is one of the last things I cut out of the budget because I just really love the flexibility of hoppers.

  4. For a place in Anaheim with a suites/sofa sleeper here’s where we’ve stayed at in walking distance from the pedestrian entrance on Harbor. You can click the down arrow to see details on each.

Camelot Inn & Suites

Two queens and a pull-out bed in almost all rooms now. We haven’t been here since they remodeled (which included adding a sleeper to all their rooms) so I can’t comment on the pull-out, but their location is fantastic (the DL pedestrian entrance is a 2-3 min. walk south along Harbor), rooms were spacious and well maintained even before the remodel. Simple hotel and perfect if your primary focus is to be inside the parks.

Their pool is a very small one on a rooftop area. Just next door to the north (away from the parks, but really close) is a McDonald’s and right next door to that is a Panera. So some decent food options for outside the park. Their parking lot is tiny, but we’ve always been able to stay parked there until 3pm on our check-out day and if willing to pay another day of parking, stay the full day.

Tropicana Inn & Suites

A sister property to Camelot Inn & Suites also has two queens and a pull-out bed in almost all rooms. We also haven’t been since they remodeled so again can’t comment on the new rooms. But again, their location is fantastic (they are just south of the Camelot with an empty lot in between the two properties and they are only two doors down from the pedestrian entrance to DL so super short walk). Their rooms were a little more squished and less maintained than the sister property, but the remodel should’ve addressed the maintenance issues in some of the rooms & still a great option if your focus is to be inside the parks.

Their pool is what the Unofficial Guide calls a ‘puddle in the parking lot’ that is fairly common among the Harbor Hotels. Parking here is exactly the same as the Camelot, squished but we’ve always been able to stay until 3pm on check-out day or pay an extra day’s worth of parking to say the full day.

Fairfield Inn

Two queens and a pull-out in most rooms. Their pull-up is definitely only child-sized being a pullout armchair rather than sofa and is extremely narrow. I usually stuff the cushions on either side so the kid sleeping in it doesn’t slip down the gaps in their sleep. The rooms also don’t have any carpet so whether that’s a pro or con for you, something to consider. They do have some “Disney themed rooms” but I wouldn’t ever pay the extra for the theme & especially because the theming is mainly a mural of the Cinderella castle in WDW’s MK and the old water tower for MGM/DHS, so it doesn’t match the theme park you’re actually visiting.

They do have Pizza Hut express on either the 2nd or 3rd floor as well as an eating/game/arcade area which feels a lot like a compact arcade/food court area at the All Stars properties in WDW. The Fairfield is located just behind the above mentioned Panera on Harbor so you’re close to both the Panera and McD’s and both will be in your path to and from the parks making for an easy meal outside the parks in either direction. They have more parking but they also have more rooms so their parking can also get full & squished. I believe we’ve always been able to stay all day without an extra fee, but their parking is on the higher end (something like $24/day?). Their pool is another one of those ‘puddle in the parking lots’.

Park Vue Inn

This is one that we love mostly for its location (it is right next to the IHOP that is directly across the street from the pedestrian entrance to DL) and the fact that their customer service has always existed and most of times been amazing (some of the other hotels along Harbor are somewhat lacking in this department). They have one queen and one bunk bed rooms and a very few select two queens/1 bunk bed rooms. The one queen/1 bunk is a small room and probably doesn’t have enough beds for your kids’ ages (we have squished two small children on the upper bunk with one sleeping on each end of the bed, feet meeting in the middle) and a third kid sleeping on the bottom bunk, but that was when my kids were 8,6 & 2 yrs old. But if a 2 queen/1 bunk bed room is available their location cannot be beat (except of course by the Grand Californian that exits to DCA). Pre-covid they did a free bfast (had just changed it from full hot to continental in Feb 2020 but no idea what they are doing now).

Their prices are slightly higher than the other’s I’ve mentioned on Harbor but they don’t charge for parking separately and with the free continental bfast it’s worth considering what parking and bfast would cost you when you compare with the other hotels. In my considerations, they often are still slightly higher BUT if nowhere else is a deal it’s fairly similar & their location really cannot be beat along Harbor. Their parking lot never seems to be crammed full, even though they are small & they also have historically allowed you to stay all day on check-out day. Their pool is also in their parking lot, but has a nicer feel than some of the other ‘puddles in the parking lot’ situations. It’s not amazing, but it at least doesn’t feel like a parking lot pool. They also have a Coldstone at the front of the property and you get 10% off there with your room key. Their location also puts them square next to a lot of food options with IHOP being just to the north and then to the south a Denny’s & Tony Roma’s. Then a short walk down & across the street (Disney Way) is my favorite off-site place to eat in Anaheim, the Pizza Press (on-site of the hotel located on that corner, The Anaheim Hotel). We always order online ahead of time to beat the long lines for the Pizza Press because it is insanely popular and gets the most crowded at the end of the day once the parks are closed.

The Anaheim Hotel

This one doesn’t have suites or three sleeping surfaces but they do have some 2 King rooms and so if you have 3 of you that would be comfortable sleeping in a king it’s another option. This another of my favorites because it’s usually the cheapest price and the location is still a short walk, with the only con being you may have a wait to cross at Disney Way so that might make it more a 10 min walk, but if you catch the light just right it can be 5-7 min). The fact that it has my above mentioned favorite Anaheim eatery- The Pizza Press- only helps matters. The lobby and common areas were very nicely remodeled to a mid-century theme but rooms themselves haven’t and are in motel-style outer buildings but they are clean and spacious. Some rooms have been more well-maintained than others but if you stay on a ground floor, a lot of the rooms have a fenced patio area that is nice to have some outdoor space.

Their pool is a giant Olympic sized pool and they do have some nice “grounds” areas around it definitely taking away both the puddle and the parking lot feel but unfortunately it doesn’t have a lot of shade around it. I do believe you can park until 3pm on check-out day here as well, but definitely something to double check with the front desk as I know they do offer day parking and are one of the most popular hotels that have local guests paying to use it for the shorter walk than any of the “on-site” Disney parking, so they might be keen to be able to use that spot for a paying day guest vs. one checking out.

Castle Inn & Suites

This hotel is one door south of The Anaheim Hotel so the walk just start to get a bit longer, but their price is often really great as well. They have a 2 queen, sofa bed option as well as some other options to give you separate sleeping spaces (2 queens and a separate living space with a sofa sleeper and a 2 bedroom with one being a King Bed and another being a 2 queen). We have only stayed in their standard 2 queen (no sofa sleeper) so I’m not sure how their sofa sleeper is. The hotel itself was clean & comfortable, but very dated and somewhat castle kitschy décor but it was also all well-maintained. And the theming was definitely continuous from the lobby to the rooms, so that level of detail won me over to it. But I could also see it being considered very cheesy by some.

Their pool is in the parking lot, but has some light castle theming (4 towers around it to be castle turrets) so it’s a slight upgrade on the puddle in the parking lot, but in essence is still that. Their parking was really full our one stay there, but it wasn’t the most squished parking we’ve done on Harbor and there were no problems with us being parked there until noon on our checkout day (but we didn’t plan to be there later so we didn’t ask if 3pm or later was any issue).

Residence Inn Marriot at Anaheim Resort/Convention Center

This is definitely a pricier option but if you want the space and a nicer hotel then this fits the bill. They hadn’t brought back their free breakfast buffet when we went in June and their rooms were still a relatively high price, plus their parking rate is the highest of any hotels in the are, so we passed on staying here, but if they have breakfast back they do an amazing job with their full buffet and because it’s a great buffet we often don’t need to eat until late midday if we eat the buffet before hitting the parks. The walk here isn’t bad, but can get up to 15 min. if you have to wait for lights at both Katella and Disney Way. With good lights & a faster pace you can be there 10 min, maybe even just under. They also have a parking garage so there’s never been an issue finding a space or being cramped here. It does also come with $26/night parking charge, but historically you can be here all day on check-out day with no issues or extra charge.

As for the rooms, they have 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom suites. The one bedrooms are either 1 King or 2 Queens and a sleeper giant sleeper sofa in the living area. My kids LOVE the the giant sleeper sofa and rate it as one of the most comfortable places they’ve slept on our Anaheim trips. And all suites have a full kitchen which we’ve never made use of because we are always in the parks, but if you wanted to cook a meal, it’s absolutely available to you. We’ve never splurged for the 2 bedrooms (and I wouldn’t unless you REALLY wanted a 2nd bathroom) but it adds a kid-themed bunk bed room and 2nd bath with a tub. But we’ve always found the 2 queens and a giant sleeper to be more than enough sleeping space with 3 young kids.

And then here a few others that we haven’t tried personally but have heard good things about so they are in my rotation to check on availability when we look to book something, but either the price or lack of availability has kept us from trying it out.

Del Sol Inn

A close family friend who also recommended The Anaheim hotel to us have recommended this one for larger families because they have 2 queens and bunk beds rooms. They are located behind the Denny’s (next to the Park Vue up above) so they are also a great location. The last time I checked they did charge for parking.

The Courtyard Marriott Theme Park Entrance

I often hear about how great the larger room size is for this hotel. I believe most rooms are a large layout that includes bunk beds and an extra bathroom. They also have a really fun looking water park area, but I also hear the slides aren’t much fun for 7+ and there’s no real pool area because the area is mostly dedicated to the fun kid water park. The rates for this hotel always seem to be closer to what you would spend to stay onsite so we’ve yet to splurge to stay here.

Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel

This is another one I hear a lot of good things about for families, but always seems to be on the pricier side, so we’ve never booked it. They have a fun water play area too and still have a quiet garden pool. Some of their buildings have skylights that allow bright light straight into the room midday so naps can be difficult if you plan to go back for naps (and need it to be dark for everyone to nap).

Best Western Plus Park Place OR Best Western Plus Anaheim Inn

These are two Best Westerns just a couple of doors down from each other really close to the pedestrian walkway on Harbor. I hear great things about them equally. We’ve never ever seen a room available when we book so that’s always a good sign too (we tend to book our trips within 30 days of going). I believe they both serve free bfast as well.

  1. DLR has such a laid-back pace that there is a lot that you can still find and see and do as a walk-up in the park. If there is any dining that you want to try for, they have a new walk-up list on the app that if available, you can join a stand-by/walk-up list to get called back for a table. The hostess stand can help you get setup to do this or if you’re tech savy, it’s very easy to do on the DL app by selecting the restaurant and then clicking “Join Walk-up List” and follow the prompts to enter the party size and any details. You do have to be within range of the restaurant so if you’re too far then you won’t be able to join, but this means they are keeping that availability reserved for those who really and truly will want to & be able to use it. And then for park reservations, if you know your dates I would book them sooner rather than later just in case. But it does seem that most days have availability right now.

  2. As mentioned BGs will only be needed for Webslingers and Rise of the Resistance. We had better luck with scoring Webslingers BGs in general and when we did they were earlier in the day too. This matters bc if you were able to use whatever BG you got at the 7am drop before noon AND you have park hoppers, you’re eligible to try for the noon drop of the other park’s BG attraction. So another reason to consider the park hoppers is that it could up your potential from 2 to 4 BGs. If you don’t have park hoppers and you get a 7am BG, even if you’ve used it by noon, you won’t be able to try for a BG at noon because you’ll have already gotten one for the park you started in and since you can’t hop you won’t be able to try for the other park’s attraction. Example, you have reservations to start in DCA and at 7am are able to score a lower number BG for Webslingers. Your BG is called and you return to use it before noon. If you have park hoppers then at the noon drop you can try for a Rise BG. However, if you don’t have park hoppers you’re not eligible to try for Rise since you can’t hop to DL and you aren’t able to get a 2nd BG in the same day for Webslingers. So it just depends on how many chances at either of those that you want to try to have. With Rise also being at WDW it may be perfectly acceptable to you to only have one shot on your DL day at it (with the noon time being just a back-up in case something goes wrong for you at the 7am chance). And while Webslingers isn’t in WDW, if your family wants to be able to have multiple chances to try for it (or vice versa would be ok with just one ride on it), then that’s a consideration on whether or not to get the park hoppers.

  3. Get the DL app and start familiarizing yourself with mobile ordering (you can do the whole process up to checkout from home to get an idea of what return windows are available when). If you want to try eating at the Pym Test Kitchen in Avengers Campus then know that the mobile ordering timeframes drop in batches throughout the day so you won’t necessarily see all the times at once and they can go fairly fast so if you see a timeframe that works for you grab it as soon as you do (you can always cancel/modify it later without penalty). With the limited time I would definitely come up with a solid gameplan on what/when/where to eat so you aren’t spending too much time on making those decisions in the park. But also have options/flexibility for nearby areas in case there are any issues with the original plan.

All that said, hope you guys have a blast and enjoy all your time on the west coast- both in SD and DLR! And any other questions, ask away!


Following since I’m in the same boat, except for not last-minute. I’m very fluent in WDW but haven’t been to DLR since a last-minute trip in 2005. I hope you have a great trip!


Exciting! Let us know if you have any questions! We on the DL side of things don’t have much attention. WDW gets all the love on this forum. :joy:


1st of all, truly an AWESOME breakdown of all the rides so thank u!!

Very good points to consider. Thanks!

A couple of follow-up questions…

  1. Haunted mansion different @ DL vs WDW?
  2. How is MaxPass different than Fastpass? I have yet to look into this but, now you mention it, should prepare just in case it comes back before out trip
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HA! Got it! I was hesitant to reveal my lack of prowess around Disney acronyms - glad i asked vs continuing my search for the answer.


OMG!!! This is intense!!! & THOROUGH!!! I love it! Thank you! I’m going to use this as my main vehicle for planning!

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Yes! Exterior and a little bit of the interior as well. Also as far as I know, DLR is the only one with Hatbox Ghost!

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  1. Haunted mansion different @ DL vs WDW?

I believe slightly so. It’s not very noticeable to me other than a portion of it is walkable on one and ridable on the other. I prefer the outside of the DLR one though it doesn’t have the neat interactive graveyard so that probably bumps WDW to better again if it’s open. I think the general consensus is WDW is better but I love the Jack Skellington overlay only at DLR if you go between Halloween and New Years.

  1. How is MaxPass different than Fastpass? I have yet to look into this but, now you mention it, should prepare just in case it comes back before out trip

MaxPass is just the phone app you use to get your Fastpasses similar to the free way you’d do it at WDW. However, at DLR there is no pre-book of three Fastpasses. Everything is booked day of. So it’s more like the old version at WDW before they did the pre-booking of three Fastpasses where you can only get one at a time and you can only get another one at the end of two hours or when your next one becomes valid. You can get a new one as soon as your next one becomes valid but before you ride it. This is still the way WDW operates after you use your first three so it’s a very similar system without having three up front you have to use before you can get more. If you purchase MaxPass at DLR you can do them on your phone the way you can at WDW instead of the old fashioned way of running to the actual ride and getting one from a machine and you can get them every 90 min or when your next one becomes valid instead of every 2 hours so you get a 30 min jump on acquiring more when they start getting far out and you can save your legs all that running. Which is also a benefit if you go back to your hotel room for a midday break. You can just sit there and keep getting more (you don’t have to use them to get new ones) while you rest. There is only a 15 min window of being late though so be careful what time you book them for. You can come 5 min early or 15 min late. When you hit 15 min late if you aren’t there you’ll see the fastpass fall off of your future ones.


As mentioned before, there are small differences, but it depends on when you go. DL has their regular Haunted Mansion up from Jan-Aug and yes indeed they are the only ones with the Hatbox ghost. The effect is awesome and worth seeing if time allows, but not necessarily a must-do (unless you are a Haunted Mansion and/or imagineer Yale Gracey super-fan).

Then Sep-Dec is Haunted Mansion holiday with a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay which so well done and goes all out on the Christmas/Halloween combined holiday theme. If you’re going after mid-August it’s likely that Haunted Mansion will be down to transform (also true of early Jan to transform it back). For us it’s a must do (and I never had an interest in the Nightmare Before Christmas franchise until riding the Holiday version of Haunted Mansion). But I understand it’s not everyone’s jam, so depends on where you fall on if it’s a must-do or not.

I am very skeptical that Maxpass will return as we knew it and am pretty sure that anything new won’t be in effect before August 16th. If you are planning to go after August 16th, then keep your eyes peeled on all your favorite Disney news sources as I’m pretty sure that right around that time is when whatever is replacing FP/Maxpass will be rolled out for the US parks.