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Tips for Visiting Disneyland Resort This Summer

Michele Himmelberg

by , Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

My friends and family are always asking me for tips about the parks at Disneyland Resort, especially in the summer when guests come to town and want to play. I’ve been collecting some thoughts from parents who are wise enough to plan ahead and whimsical enough to go with the flow when little ones get weary.

I bet you have lots of tips from your visits on how to best enjoy the parks. Please share them with other readers in the comments below. This video has some cool tips from cast members and guests – and check out the list below to help you plan your visit this summer.

At the parks:

Important basics (good reminders for out-of-town visitors):

  • Head to your favorite attraction first thing in the morning and get a Disney FASTPASS ticket.
  • Make reservations in advance if you want to dine at a specific, sit-down restaurant (714-781-DINE).
  • Store items in a locker (less weight to lug around on a warm day).

Summer deals:

  • Check out www.Disneyland.com/offers for special ticket and hotel offers, including special offers for Southern California residents.

OK, I know you’ve got lots more. Tell us your thoughts on making the most of your visits to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks.


  • In the summertime when the park is in its peak season, our family tries to move in a clockwise direction around the park. This way you are not zigzagging back and forth to attractions and wearing yourself out quicker especially when the whether is warmer. Most people tend to head toward tomorrowland. This is your chance to head through adventureland and new orleans square when its the least busiest. Ride the Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder with little to no wait in the morning. Get fastpasses for bigger rides such as Space Mountain and Star Tours that can be used later in the day and do not expire. The fastpasses have a one hour time span on them to return but they are good the rest of the day.

  • We have a family with small children and hit the park at 8am to get on the Storybook Land rides first thing; after getting my cup of coffee on Main Street. We can usually hit them all before 11am; then we get a fast pass for Splash Mountain so we can get on around 2 or 3 pm when it seems most hottest. Our clothes dry pretty fast too. If it’s just the two parents and children, ask for a parent pass for the one who is staying back with children while the other is on the bigger rides. After the heat and numerous rides, a much needed jolt of energy is sought, so I take my receipt back to Main Street and get my refill of coffee, for free, good until the park closes!

  • When I’m in DCA and its hot out, I normally go to the animation studios and watch turtle talk with crush, they also have more fun activites for families to do in there. Its a lot of fun! I could sit in there all day 😀

  • My brother and I are new Premier passport holders, making our first, my 2nd trip to Disneyland. My “home” resort is Walt Disney World, however, it was really nice to experience “the original”. The highlight of my trip was Star Tours as well as the lunch we had at our hotels restaurant, Storytellers Cafe. It wasn’t as expensive as you would think. The food was incredible as well as the service. My only wish was that we would have eaten there earlier in our trip so I could go again!

  • If you care more about getting your money’s worth and want to do as many rides as possible – skip the parades, fireworks, and fantasmic – the wait times are always shorter when these are going on. Pirates and Haunted Mansion are always walk-ins during Fantasmic – my sister and I once walked straight into Pirates with no wait and got our own boat! =D Then, we went on it again! Great place to rest those tired feet.

  • Katie is right about the Golden Horseshoe. Billy Hill and the Hillbillys are hilarious. Watch for the “train thing.” If you really want to cool down they serve the best rootbeer floats. Another tip bring a folding fan, they easily fit inside a bag or purse and are a great way to keep cool in line.

  • We always take a foot break and ride the train, but I would say the best 3-4 hours we spent at the park with the kids was to take a break from around 2-6. We all head back to the hotel. We can swim, rest and recover from the day. Plan your rides for the evening too!
    this way everyone is refreshed for the evening.
    We always go early, break, and then close the park down each day we go. This way really takes care of grumpy, overloaded kids (and adults)

  • I like to get the kids an ice cream cone at Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street and take it down to Carnation Plaza and enjoy it at one of the shaded tables.

  • While I’ve visited the resort many, many times, the best trip ever was when we stayed at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels. We had access to Magic Mornings, giving us extra time at Disneyland on some of our favorite attractions before the park opened to the public, as well as early entry to ToonTown (after Magic Mornings, but before ToonTown opened for the public). We were able to visit a lot of attractions that morning, and could spend the busier part of the day enjoying all the entertainment, shops, and restaurants.

  • When we need a break from walking we like to ride the train around the park. Sometimes we go around more than once. When it’s hot out, the monorail is also a good option as it’s air conditioned somewhat.

    Also, if we need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the parks we head out to the Grand Californian. On the way in there from Downtown Disney there’s a nice little patio and a little path to follow. It’s mostly unused, shady and a good place to let little ones get out of the stroller and stretch their legs.

    You can also find quiet places on Tom Sawyer’s Island if you follow the shoreline instead of going to the inner part of the island.

    Take or buy a bottle of water and you can refill it at drinking fountains throughout the day.

  • Bandanas and a plastic baggie are your friends!! A bandana run under cool water (sinks work just fine) and then tied around your neck will help keep you super cool. And if its still damp when the sun sets and its a bit too cool, toss it in the baggie without worrying about it getting other things wet in your bag.

    Before you go – head to your local craft store and pick up glow sticks! They are $1-5 and the kids will love them for the nighttime shows (and you’ll love that you didn’t have to pay $20!)

  • When our girls were smaller a favorite lunch time spot to cool off was on Tom Sawyer,s Island. Mom would take the kids over to cool off in the shade and I would bring over lunch from the Stage Door Cafe. There are benches along the back side of the island near the waters edge; very shady and the paddle wheeler passes right by.

  • Download one of the smartphone apps on disneyland to your phone for wait times etc. I have the DL wait time free one on my AT&T Iphone. Helps you spot when to visit which ride. Be aware there is are dips around parades and Fantasmic, 1 when the young kids leave and the teenagers who come in the vening have yet to arrive and one around people lining up to see the parades and fantasmic. You can often nip on busy rides then no problem. If you are single visitor or a parent who can slip away on your own to do Splash Mountain or Indiana Jones use the single rider ticket to avoid lines. Lastly remeber for the best experience many rides are a different experience in daylight or when it is warm and at night. Splash Mountain is fantastic at night but take s a while to dry off.

  • So just how hot does it get at DL during the summers? I’m accustomed to “summers in the south” and summer trips to WDW where the highs are in the 90s and the heat index is well into the triple digits. I’m wondering how it compares.

  • Bring a Camelbak water supply with filter to the parks to keep hydrated!

  • A few other tips for those out-of-towners

    1. Fastpasses are still valid after expiration time.
    2. By CA state law all restaurants that have tap water available must be given to the asking party for free upon request. Just ask for a CUP of water. If you generally ask for water generally Castmembers think of bottled water.
    3. All water-type attractions will a have little to no line wait first thing in the morning and after dark.
    4. There is one train available after Disneyland Park Closing. Be sure to be at either New Orleans Square right after parking closing, Toontown at six minutes after closing, and nine minutes after closing to board the train. This train allows the conductors to close each station at the end of the night.
    5. Do not run, walk fast.
    6. Main Street shops will remain open until one hour after park closing. Plaza Inn closes one hour before park closing, Blue Bakery closes 45 minutes after closing and Gibson Girl closes one hour after park closing.
    7. Do not stand, sit, or anything on a trash cans
    8. When brings food or any other non-alcoholic beverages into the parks, please remember that it must be sealed in either a bag/baggie (for food) and drinks must be sealed in original container.
    9. The Grand California entrance is for hotel guests for the day.
    10. Just in general don’t try anything that is not respectful to yourself, others, or Disney Parks. Listen to all safety rules, and if you need any help look for the official name tags of Disney Castmembers. To more easily ID one look in a park guide map for reference.

  • Go see Billy Hill and the Hillbillies at the golden horseshoe! They are so talented musically and they are SO funny, plus it is air conditioned and they have the best chili-cheese fries. I think it’s a great spot to be during the hottest and most chrowed part of the day.

  • Make a plan of what rides you and the family want to do the most. Arrive at the park early, and take advantage of the shorter lines for those rides. Take advantage of the fast passes for the most popular attractions. We like to head back to the Grand Californian for an afternoon swim. It lets all of us take a break from the busiest time in the park. It feels great to let everyone cool off and be refreshed and ready for an evening of fun at the parks!

  • Get to the park early, like before the 8am opening. Once it opens, you get a good 2hr window or so where you can do as much rides as you can. By noon, a lot should’ve been done already and you can go back to the hotel and avoid the hottest time of the day. Then, just go back to the park in the late afternoon/early evening.

  • We always go get a Fast Pass at Star Tours or Space Mountain first then go do some other rides. Last week we went into Disneyland, got our fast pass, then headed over to California Adventure and went into the park 20 minutes before the rides opened and waited in front of the Ariel ride until it opened and got right on. We always use the single rider tickets at California Screamin’ and Indiana Jones so we don’t have to wait to get a fast pass or wait in line.

  • In Disneyland there are a few rides that are 15 minutes long; Small World, Pirates of Carib, and taking the train all the way around the park. These are a great cool break and the lines move fairly quickly to get on them. I read somewhere that by the end of your visit, especially during the summer, you will have averaged 1 attraction per hour. That includes your line time, meal breaks etc. I’ve tracked that since I read it and it’s pretty accurate. So, get your FastPasses, yes, but also make sure that you go to your “must see” list for each member of your party first. Then fit in the rest. That way no one goes home disappointed. Have Fun!

  • Eat meals at odd hours. The restaurants are less busy.

  • Bring a spray water bottle, sunscreen and a hat! Putting on a wet hat (wet at a water fountian or water play spot) feels great on a hot hot hot day!!!!

  • Put suntan lotion on, wear comfy walking shoes, keep drinking water! POTC, HM and Muppet 3D are also nice to see when it’s really hot–cool and indoors!

  • Don’t forget that you can’t take off your shoes in Dot’s puddle park – I throw flip flops in the stroller. We also like to take in glo-stick necklaces etc. for the kids so I don’t have to pack in their light up toys every night. 🙂

  • Watch one of the 3-D shows. I enjoy It’s Tough to be a Bug because it’s air conditoned and the “acid” spritzes are refreshing

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