Looking for a way to stretch your dollars a little more and save some money during your trip to Disneyland? Stay at a hotel near the park! There are several that are under $150/night. There are about 5,000,000 hotels within 15 minutes of the park that are much more affordable than the Disney hotels. Some are walking distance away, some a short bus ride away (yes, the buses and public transportation in California is safe), and others are a short Uber away. If you stay at a hotel near Disneyland, you will never have to pay for parking. There are much cheaper and easier options available to you.
If you are not going to rent or bring a car and don’t plan on visiting the other places in Southern California, then I recommend staying at one of the Disney resorts. All the Disney resorts have easy access to the Monorail and park entrances. Hotel guests can board the Monorail either from the Downtown Disney or Grand Californian Hotel and Spa stops. You can skip the park entrance and be dropped off in Tomorrowland! Another really cool benefit is you get to enjoy select attractions before or after regular park hours with their Extra Magic Hours. Disneyland Resort guests get access to 1 park on select days. Disneyland Park on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and Disney California Adventure Park on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Unfortunately, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is not available as part of the Extra Magic Hour. Visit here for more information on Disneyland Resorts. Guests staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa also get to use a special entrance into Disney California Adventure. This is a great option to avoid having to pay for parking or renting a car.
Getting out of Disneyland at the end of the night can be a nightmare. There are tens of thousands of people all being ushered out of the park and into a line for the shuttles to get back to the parking structure. There are a few options with this. You can dip out a little early to beat the rush or look through the shops (they stay open later) while everyone else waits in line. Or you can just go out with everyone else and wait in a long line for the shuttles back to the parking structure. My recommendation would be to wait out the lines by going through the shops on Main Street or Downtown Disney. The stores on Main Street will be busier than the ones in Downtown Disney. However, this will be the perfect time to pick up souvenirs and get an ice cream, coffee, or that final churro before you leave. I have also found that it is quicker to get back to your car and on your way home when parking at the Toy Story parking lot off Harbor Blvd. Their are a lot of shuttles to take people back, so you get to your car quickly, and it’s not as difficult to exit the parking lot.
A fanny pack, like this water-resistant fanny pack, is super helpful and convenient when you visit a theme park. It’s so nice not stashing everything you need in your pockets. I keep a portable charger, a couple snacks, sunblock, and my sunglasses at the end of the night and when I’m on a ride in mine.
You will want to rent a locker if you bring a backpack or a bunch of gear. They are so clutch, and your back will thank you. I always use a locker to stash my sweatshirt, snacks, and a water bottle. My brother uses it to store a backpack with a change of clothes and supplies for the kids. I recommend using the lockers on Main Street. They are about halfway down on the Tomorrowland side of the park. You will be very happy getting a locker and not lugging around all your gear all day.
Now, this isn’t a total necessity, but a portable charger is nice to have with you. Between texting, social media, the Disney app and taking pictures your phone will use up a lot of juice. I’ve definitely seen people really stressed out because their phone was dying or dead. The easy solution for this is to bring a small portable charger with you. I bring one with me whenever I visit Disneyland Resort, and it has saved me more than once. I recommend this 10,000 mAh charger by Anker. It is smaller than a cell phone and can charge an iPhone or Galaxy fully twice before needing to be recharged.
This is probably the most important of all my Disneyland tips and tricks for families. When you go to Disneyland with older kids that go off on their own, or with a group of friends that split up, it’s always wise to set a home base or meet up point. When I’m with my family, we always pick a spot before going on a ride that we will use as home base. The best home base locations are the Walt Disney and Mickey statue in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland and the water fountain near the entrance at Disney California Adventure. Those 2 locations are easy to find and always have cast members around for safety. Tell your whole group that if they ever get separated to go to your selected meet up location and to wait there until someone comes for them.
The parades and fireworks shows gather large crowds. Certain pathways are also roped off and no one is allowed to cross those lines. This is a great time to head over to some of the more popular rides to get in line. The lines are typically much shorter during parades and fireworks shows, allowing you to sneak more attractions in during your visit.
The Disney Parks do not hold back with their fireworks and light shows. They are simply amazing, and you need to see at least one during your trip to Disneyland. Most people try to mash up as close to the launching point as possible for the shows. In the Disneyland, everyone tries to get as close to Sleeping Beauty’s castle as they can. This is not the best course of action. The best way to see the fireworks shows is to be a little further back and toward the center. You want to try and be middle back and to the center. This gives you a great view of everything going on without having to turn your head side-to-side to see everything in the periphery. Being a little further back is also ideal for filming because all the lights and fireworks will be in frame without panning. You want to make sure you show up and claim your spot at least 45 before the show, though. What we usually do is have 1 or 2 members of the group hold the spots while the others get in one last ride. This can be a dangerous move, though, because certain parts of the park are blocked off for the fireworks. I would probably say your best move is to try and get on Star Tours real quick and then head back if you’re going to try this. Another amazing Disneyland trick is to be on a ride when the fireworks are happening. The Storybook Land Canal Boats, for instance, will stop in the middle of the ride to give you an incredible view of the fireworks.
When it rains at a Disney Park, things clear out fast. Most people don’t like being out in the elements like that. An awesome Disneyland tip is to hit the park hard if you’re prepared for the rain. The popular rides might have lines early in the day, but later on they clear out when people are just over walking around in the rain. Rainy days are perfect for getting in a lot more rides than you’d normally be able to. As I said before, it only rains maybe 20 days a year in Southern California and you’ll know in advance if it will. Anaheim is not like Orlando where you have random showers throughout the day. If it’s going to rain, chances are it’s going to rain all day. READ MORE: Come see the best Disney World tips and tricks!