For those that are aware, I received my Hogwarts letter this past Christmas! So for our anniversary and my upcoming 30th, Matt and I planned a Harry Potter and Disneyland vacation. The days leading up and on the drive down, we scoured the internet for hacks and tips for a successful trip to maximize our experience with the time we had. So here is our list of tips and hacks for planning your Disneyland vacation (stay tuned for our tips and hacks of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter blog post).
I really wish we had know about this website BEFORE we planned our trip. Regardless, it was pretty handy (and really accurate) when it came to predicting the crowds for both Universal Studios and Disneyland. We really lucked out with our timing for Disneyland since it landed on a blackout week which prevented Annual Passports and Southern California residents to use cheaper rate tickets. Therefore making the crowds much more manageable. This website uses predictions as well as history to forecast the crowd conditions throughout the year, making it a very handy tool if you’re flexible with your travel dates.
Stay at the Resort
Yes, this is a pricey option and if you can swing it, I highly recommend it. It made our trip much more enjoyable because we didn’t have to deal with parking and LA traffic. While it is pricey to dine throughout Downtown Disney and both parks, for us it was worth it to avoid the nauseating traffic in the area. We were able to walk to the park from our hotel or take the monorail into the park if we weren’t up for walking. Also, we were able to head back to the room when we needed a quick nap/break during the peak times (around noon to 2pm).
We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, which extended the magic well beyond the parks and Downtown Disney. I’ll be sharing more about our stay at the hotel in a later blog post.
Cool Perk: Staying at one of the resort hotels gives you Magic Hour access. This allows you to enter the parks an hour earlier, giving the perfect opportunity to hit the popular rides before the park opens to the rest of the crowds. Magic Hour alternates for the parks — make sure to check and see which park has Magic Hour on which days during your visit.
Park Hopper tickets
We ended up upgrading our tickets from one-day to three-day passes, which you can do before or on the day you use your one-day pass — it only costs the difference between the rate of the pass you’re looking to upgrade to and the amount you already paid. We did not upgrade to Park Hopper tickets, and we really wish we had. Disneyland is great and pure magic — however, as adults without children, it would have been nicer to have the option to go on more adult geared rides.
This is the best way to go — seriously! You can either purchase MaxPass for each day or for one day only. It’s really easy to add on through the Disneyland App and allows you to use your cellphone to make FastPass selections and easily link your park photos from Disney Park photographers or rides.
Ride Tip: while you wait for your FastPass time, head to a ride that doesn’t offer FastPass. You can see which rides offer FastPass in the Disneyland App.
Photo tip: If you have a flash sensitivity, let the Disneyland photographers know. They’re more than happy to work around it!
A MUST HAVE. Not only does it have the perks mentioned above with MaxPass, but you can order food, make dining reservations, see ride wait times, and explore an interactive Map of both parks and Downtown Disney. It also includes a daily schedule for Characters, Shows, events, and whatever else may be going on in the park that day. It covers both Disneyland and California Adventure. Oh, and did I mention your park passes are accessible on your phone so you don’t have to carry around a paper pass that could be potentially lost?
Expert Tip: Make sure to setup your credit card before hand for mobile food orders or MaxPass purchases— you cannot link Disneyland Gift Cards through the App though.
I’ll be sharing more from our stay at the Disneyland Hotel, as well as tips and hacks for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — stay tuned!
Do you have any advice that you’ve found to be helpful with planning your Disneyland trips? Share below!