It’s a good thing I grew up visiting Disneyland with my family and got my fill of rides as a kid because my teenage daughter and her friends have discovered this magical place. What can I say? It’s time for me to go back, too.
To make the most of this adventure, here are some tips from a first-timer:
1) Buy Disneyland Paris Tickets online.
2) Download the Disneyland app for your phone for wait times, which will map out your day.
3) Consider buying the MaxPass, which costs extra but saves you time getting on select rides.
4) Get there early—before the park opening—to beat the crowds.
5) Bring snacks, including water and sunscreen.
6) Take advantage of your time away from the kids by having a grown-up dinner at Catal and then heading to the Haunted Mansion for a ride. (If you haven’t been since you were a kid, prepare yourself for ghoulish sights. I took my daughter in 2013, and although the ride was pretty scary, I think I preferred the mansion’s ambience and atmosphere to the ride.)
7) Don’t miss a character breakfast. You can eat your morning meal anytime between 7 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., but no later than 10 a.m. Your last meal before park close is at 5 p.m., so try to save it for after your last ride or two (or three).
8) Loosen up! No one’s looking to see if you’re an adult or a kid. Let loose and have a good time!
9) If the kids are tired, take them on a fun spin at Cars Land or World of Colour and then head home for a few hours of sleep. You’ll be fresh for the next trip.
10) If you want to hit some rides, make sure you do them before the park closes (5 p.m.).
11) Download the Disneyland app and buy your souvenirs using a virtual shopping basket. That way, you’ll avoid carrying around a ton of stuff while you’re there.
12) Take an extra day to visit Disney California Adventure. It’s full of rides geared toward adults and teens and other entertainment options.
13) Pre-plan your meals so you don’t have to look at the prices or deal with people waiting in line trying to order food while standing there starving.
14) If you plan to go on the Matterhorn Bobsleds, make sure to get there by 11 a.m. or else it will be super crowded. We missed our chance and waited in line for 20 or 25 minutes only to have the ride break down.
15) Make sure you have lunch plans; save time by skipping restaurant lines if you’ve already eaten beforehand.
16) Don’t rush it—go on all the rides you want to hit and take your time exploring, eating and shopping.
17) If you’re an uber-Disney fan, opt for the gold tickets that allow you to skip the lines!
18) Take enough cash and cards to pay for all your purchases in one place. Don’t worry about being charged for everything; it’s called “pay-as-you-go.” You can visit any Disneyland ATMs to deposit your money or use any Disney credit cards or debit cards to make purchases.
19) Relax and enjoy the day.
20) Find a place to get photos taken together before you leave; it will be one of your best memories, and the last time you’ll see each other in person.
21) Don’t wait until the last minute to pick up your tickets. You can get them online or at a ticket booth.
22) Consider picking up a souvenir or two after you finish eating, so you can return them (and get cash back!) when you’re ready to leave.
23) Pick a chunk of time to ride the Grand Californian Tower of Terror and then head there; you can still get a fast pass for this ride if you wait in line for an hour or so.
24) Don’t forget to take photos!
25) Bring your EpiPen with you if you have any food allergies. They’re available to buy at the park.
26) If you don’t feel well, head home. Tell your friends and family you’ll call them later.
27) Don’t forget about the after-hours events in Tomorrowland: Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at 8 p.m., Mickey and the Magical Map at 10 p.m. and the Star Wars nighttime spectacular Fantasmic! At 11:30 p.m. (This show is best watched from World of Color or the Grand Californian’s tower.)
28) If you’re staying in a hotel near the parks, book a room facing the right since most of Disneyland is to the left.
29) Don’t take your shoes off and use your feet too much; this is a place where people are on their feet all day long, so wear comfortable shoes.
30) Take your time going through the park and taking photos.
Overall, it’s a great vacation spot, and I would recommend this to anyone who likes theme parks. The only thing I would warn against is that the prices are so high for Versailles Place Tour; you need at least $100, if not $200, in your pocket for this trip. That might be a bit too much for some people since Disneyland doesn’t have the best restaurants.