For many people, summertime means the smell of hot, buttered popcorn wafting through the air, the laughter of small children on a warm summer evening, and the neon glow of themed attractions. For southern Californians, that experience has a decidedly more magical tinge to it. Living in the Los Angeles area means that Disneyland can easily be a quick day trip rather than a full-length vacation, and there are many tips and tricks, from food, to hydration, to timing your visit that can help you maximize your trip.
Many Disney enthusiasts will encourage you to download the Disneyland app, available from the App Store and the Google Play store. It provides the user with a full map of the resort that can be toggled between different menus to display wait times, character interactions, and dining options. It also allows access to virtual queues for select attractions. Another really great feature of the app is mobile checkout (at select locations), applicable to both food—in the form of mobile ordering instead of waiting in a physical line—and merchandise, by using the app to checkout and to pay for souvenirs instead of standing in line to pay.
As far as merchandise goes, I recommend purchasing what you want when you see it, as the park’s many shops tend to blend together after a long day of walking around. If the item is something like a sweater that you might not wish to haul around the park on a hot summer day, single-day-use lockers are available for rental in each park and in the esplanade between the parks. If you’re planning to browse through the shops, I would recommend doing so prior to the evening’s parade or fireworks show, as many of the shops become crowded after the show.
A really useful feature of the app is that it can show you where the closest bathrooms are. In my experience, the least crowded ones seem to be the restrooms underneath the Hungry Bear restaurant in Critter Country. The exception to this is on a hot day, when Splash Mountain is at its busiest and foot traffic to the area increases. Another really nice option for bathrooms is at the Black Spire Outpost Market in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. While this option is definitely more crowded, it has really great theming and it has a water bottle refill station out front that has a surprise lurking inside. Water bottle refill stations have begun cropping up all over the park, and they are a really excellent way to reduce waste and save yourself some change. Some other locations these can be found are on Tom Sawyer Island, in Red Rose Tavern in Fantasyland, and near Autopia in Tomorrowland.
During those really hot days when Splash Mountain gets especially busy, there are other options to beat the heat (and crowds). In Disneyland park, guests can take refuge from warm weather at the opera house, where they can enjoy air conditioning while viewing a presentation of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. In Disney’s California Adventure park, my favorite option for warm weather is visiting the Animation Academy in the Disney Animation building, located in Hollywood Land. This offers guests the opportunity to follow along with a Disney artist as they provide step-by-step instructions for drawing beloved Disney characters.
As far as dining options go, Disney has become more inclusive in recent years and most restaurants offer at least one or two vegetarian options. Over at Avengers Campus in Disney’s California Adventure Park, Pym Test Kitchen features Impossible products in some of their size-defying options. Another really great option is the ronto-less garden wrap from Ronto Roasters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland park. A good way to get the most bang for your buck, food-wise, is at Plaza Inn. I’m a huge fan of their lunch and dinner options, because they are generous portions at a reasonable price that leave me feeling full for the rest of the day, whereas many other options have me snacking on large quantities of churros afterwards. If I am feeling hungry after eating, my favorite option is a Dole whip float, especially on a warm summer evening.
From downloading the app, to planning your meals and knowing where to escape hot weather, there are so many different ways you can strategize ahead of time to maximize your trip and get the most out of your Disneyland visit. Do you have any Disneyland tips of your own? Be sure to tag us @topanganewtimes and tell us what they are!