5 Disneyland Holiday Survival Tips: Part 1

5 Disneyland Holiday Survival Tips: Part 1 Picture

Are you considering a trip to Disneyland this holiday season? (We also love Disney World, as evidenced by the pic above, but we'll save that for a later date.) Despite the crisp temperature, bustling crowds, and the shorter days of sunlight, winter is one of my favorite times to go.  I prefer Disneyland during the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas because there’s an even more magical feel when it’s festively decorated for the holidays. There are strolling carolers, an enormous Christmas tree, and faux snow falls after the nightly firework show.  Everyone should experience it at least once. The down side is a lot of people will be trying to do just that on the same day you are too!

As a former local resident who grew up near Disneyland, and married a former dancer in the parades, here are my suggestions on how to get the most out of your holiday visit to the park. 

5 tips for beating the crowds at Disneyland:

  1. Avoid actual holidays You might be considering going on Christmas Day thinking there will be fewer people. However, you’d be wrong. Amazingly, it’s one of the busiest days of the year, right along with New Years Day. The sweet spot for me has always seemed to be the week right before or right after Thanksgiving. The holiday décor is up, but the crowds haven’t started to swell yet. About mid-December to New Years is the peak holiday time. 
  2. Get up early I know it's your vacation. You probably want to sleep in. However, the early morning hours will be the least crowded, and the best time to get on the popular rides before long lines form. If you arrive during the rush hour, which is usually 30 – 90 minutes after the park opens, you can get held up in the parking and tram ride process for a good 30 – 40 minutes. Arrive a half hour before the park opens so you can park, get through ticket entrance and be in the park right as it opens.
  3. Eat early ?The food areas are most crowded for lunch between 12 – 2pm, and 5 – 7pm for dinner. Valuable "play" time can be lost waiting in food lines or waiting for a table. The best strategy is to eat your meals slightly earlier, or later, than everyone else so you can beat the rush and get back to the rides.  
  4. Take iconic photos at the end of the day Just inside the main entrance is the iconic Mickey Mouse-faced landscaping we all know, and feel compelled to take a photo in front of. It’s a great shot to have, but I suggest you wait until later in the day to take it when the crowds have subsided. It’s easy to access from anywhere in the park by simply riding the train back to the entrance.
  5. Travel in a clockwise pattern I’m not sure why, but once people walk down main street they tend to drift to the right and start at Tomorrowland. Then they continue through the park in a counter clockwise direction. You can avoid the crowds and get on rides quicker if you go the opposite way. Start at Adventureland and work your way around the park in a clockwise pattern. Try this out and see how much time you save by going against the flow.

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5 Disneyland Holiday Survival Tips: Part 1

Shannon is a mother of 3 teens, who hit 40 and decided that instead of a "mid-life crisis", she wanted an adventure of a lifetime. She convinced her wonderfully open-minded husband to pack up their house, sell most of their possessions, and travel the USA in an RV for a year or two. Besides homeschooling her kids, running their online program, Watts in the World, Shannon loves to explore new places. Nothing is more exciting than waking up in a new city everyday, and discovering what's great abou ... More

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2 comments

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