…but you’ve never been before, or you haven’t been in a long time, and you have no idea how to see all of the resort in the four-day vacation you’re taking with your family. Do you go in haphazardly, just going to see what catches your family’s eye? Do you formulate a plan so every minute of the day is scheduled? People do both of these, and while both courses of action have their merits, I think it’s really up to the individual. Everyone wants to make the most of their time at the resort and make family memories that will last forever, but if your trip is in the middle of summer when families from all over the world are doing the same thing and locals on vacation are taking advantage of a local attraction AND school and youth groups from all over are taking in the day…. Well, let’s just say that seeing everything in a short four-day trip is far from an easy feat to achieve.
Now, I’m not going to claim that I know everything about Disneyland or that my method of seeing the world of Disney is the best one for you. However, I will say that this is probably a good way to do it if you don’t want to feel rushed and if you have children between the ages of five and twelve. I do hope that this guide is helpful to you even if you don’t fit my criteria, and that perhaps any helpful hints you get from this help you to have the most magical vacation ever.
Break down your trip per day. This is probably the biggest hint I can give anyone. If you have more than one day at the resort, break down your trip as much as possible. The theory is basically the same no matter how long you plan to be at the resort, with more time spent there total logically meaning more seen at a slower pace.
In two days, see all you can of Disneyland in one day, all you can of California Adventure in the other, and with any remaining time the second day revisit Disneyland to see anything you missed out on in the first day. Check out Disneyland.com to see list of attractions and make a priority list of things to see and things to skip, especially if you plan on coming back. I would say to skip shows generally (with the exception being Captain EO) but make time for either Fantastmic! or Magical: A Fireworks Spectacular one night and World of Color the other. Celebrate! A Street Party is fun if you have little ones, but it’s not Disney’s finest street show, so making time for that is really up to you. If you want to watch shows like Billy Hill and the Hillbillies or the Jedi Training Academy, both of these shows are adjacent to or in the same facility as a restaurant, so you can eat lunch or dinner while taking in this fantastic entertainment.
In three days, break up your time at Disneyland into two days and your third day is spent at California Adventure. You can see all three of the nighttime shows this way, which I highly recommend as they are a huge part of the Disney experience. Daytime shows can become more of a priority if you want, but I’d still say that you should focus on the experience of the great Disney attractions that fill both parks. The best way to attack Disneyland is to break it up into East and West sides and take one side each day. East being Adventureland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and Critter Country; west being Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Toontown, and Main Street. That seems like a lot to do in just a few days, and it is. Make a priority list, but you don’t necessarily need to stick to it.
In four or more days, you break down seeing the parks even more. Take only a few lands a day, take in shows where you can if you want, and you can see almost everything you want to see, even with crowds and long lines. This is an especially good tip if you have little ones, so they won’t be overwhelmed by everything they’re seeing and can take things one thing at a time. Breaking things down this much also gives you a chance to give everyone a chance to relax in the hotel room or by the pool without feeling like you’re missing out on something at the parks.
Other tips to make the most of your trip?
-Take lots of pictures and make memories to share with everyone you know. However, be careful of taking pictures inside rides or attractions. Many attractions prohibit photography of any kind, while others just dislike flash photography or anything that has a light attachment that could ruin the appearance of the ride’s specially designed show lighting for everyone else in the ride with you. In other words, if the ride is dark, keep it that way. If you do want a flash photo of something inside a dark ride, ask a Cast Member if it would be possible to take a few shots with flash. They might be able to arrange for you to ride separate from other guests so you can get the shots you want without disrupting the ride for anyone else.
-Make reservations for seating or dining in advance when you can. It will help keep your time spent holding a spot for a show or waiting in line for dinner to a minimum, so your time can be spent on more rides or at other attractions.
-Don’t shop throughout your trip, just at the very end. You can mentally take note of what you want to take home, and then when the time comes to shop, pick and choose the items you want most or what would be the most cost-effective for you. This will help you save a lot of money in the long run.
As you may have guessed, this won’t be my last post on the subject. Stay tuned, and have a magical day!