Top 5 Tips to Make the Most of Your Time at Disneyland

There is so much to experience at Disneyland, and it can be a challenge to find time to enjoy all of the rides, see the entertainment, and try the foods that are on your “must-do” list. Especially for first-time visitors, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with so much to do, and many wonder how they can better manage their time at the parks.

We will take you through our top 5 tips for making the most of your time at Disneyland so you can experience more during your visit!

1) Arrive early at the parks! It can be challenging to get everyone in your party up to get to the parks in time for rope drop (when you line up at the various ropes blocking off the lands), but it’s crucial to take advantage of this morning time to get on several popular rides with shorter waits. Many guests make the mistake of sleeping in and are surprised when they arrive at the park to encounter long wait times and Genie+ Lightning Lane return times already pushed back later into the day for certain rides.

We recommend arriving at the gates at least 30-45 minutes before park opening and making sure to account for travel time, whether you are driving, walking to Disneyland from your hotel, or taking the ART Shuttle. If you are at the front of the group at rope drop, you may even be able to walk right onto certain attractions. You can experience several attractions in the morning and then enjoy the rest of the day at a more relaxed pace. To make the most of your park day and minimize time waiting in long lines, arriving for rope drop is one of the most important things you can do. See our Disneyland rope drop strategy for more details!

2) Take advantage of Early Entry if you have it. Disneyland Resort Hotel guests can enjoy Early Entry, which allows them to access the park 30 minutes before opening for select attractions. It is available for either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure depending on the day. This is a significant perk for Disneyland Resort Hotel guess which will allow you to enjoy even more valuable morning time for popular rides. See more on-property hotel perks for guests in our guide!

3) Utilizing Single Rider is especially important in saving time at the parks. This service allows you to enter a separate line where you’ll split up from your party to fill individual seats in ride vehicles that aren’t occupied by groups in the standby line. Often, the Single Rider line ends up taking a huge amount of time off of your wait if you don’t mind riding without the rest of your party.

There are several experiences where riding alone doesn’t significantly impact the overall ride experience, like for WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, the Incredicoaster, Space Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and more. It’s especially useful for Radiator Springs Racers to save you from extremely long wait times or buying Individual Lightning Lane for this ride. See our guide to Disneyland Single Rider for everything you need to know about this service!

If you’re riding Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!, be sure to utilize the Buddy Pass, which works similarly to Single Rider but is designed for small parties of two people together to fill the remaining ride seats in vehicles. Both Single Rider and Buddy Pass will allow you to save time at the parks if there are long lines for rides!

4) Mobile ordering is essential for saving time at the parks. This allows you to avoid long ordering lines by ordering ahead from participating quick-service restaurants through the Disneyland app and selecting a pickup window. Waiting in ordering lines can take up a big chunk of your time, so mobile ordering takes the stress away and allows you to order from anywhere.

Once you arrive during the window, you’ll press “I’m Here, Prepare My Order” and your food will be made for you. Mobile ordering is very convenient and easy to use, helping you to save a lot of valuable time at the parks. Make sure to consider where you’d like to eat and put in your order earlier in the day rather than later​​—arrival windows will get further out from your ordering time as the day goes on, especially during peak times. It’s better to place the order and end up needing to push the time back or cancel it (which you can do without penalty) rather than being hungry and ending up with a later arrival window than you were planning. See our guide to mobile ordering at Disneyland for everything you need to know.

5) Utilize the Disney apps to avoid long lines. In addition to booking Lightning Lane reservations and placing mobile orders through the app, you can also use the Disneyland app to monitor wait times, look at park maps so you know where you’re going, and see where characters will be appearing in the parks (see our guide to Disneyland character meet-and-greets for everything you need to know about seeing characters).

All of these features will help you plan your day effectively and make the most of your time in the parks. If you do end up waiting in a longer line, you can explore the offerings of the Play Disney Parks app, which will keep you entertained and pass the time. See our guide to the Disneyland app for everything you need to know about its offerings!

With a bit of planning ahead to manage your time effectively, you’ll be able to enjoy a great, fun-filled day at the parks. See some more of our best tips for making the most of your time at the parks in our list of 10 tips to experience more at Disneyland.

At Mickey Visit, we share the most important tips for planning your trips to Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Universal, and beyond. Each week, we’ll share some of our top tips here on Laughing Place.

Laughing Place recommends for all your Disneyland Resort travel planning
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Gavin Doyle
Gavin Doyle is the founder of and the best-selling author of “Disneyland Secrets”. Mickey Visit has been featured by Travel+Leisure, ABC, the LA Times, OC Register, Forbes, and more and reaches millions of readers planning Disney vacations each month. Over 100K subscribers receive their free email planning newsletter.