Itinerary Planning Strategies
As a rule, begin your days bright and early. In fact, getting into the park as soon as the gates open is one of the keys to shorter waits. If you're staying at one of the Disney-owned hotels, take advantage of the early admission days they offer.
Based on the time of year, each park's operating hours vary. To find out what the hours will be when you visit, call www.disneyland.com.
When you add up all the time it may take you to get to the gate, this means you'll be getting up early, especially if you want to have a sit-down breakfast before you go and find yourself standing in line with everyone else who wants to do the same thing.
When you're making your plans, don't forget to also allow extra time for that special Character Breakfast if you plan to do one.
Divide Your Days
Visiting a theme park requires a lot of walking, so you may want to schedule several breaks throughout the day, especially if anyone in your group tires easily.
If you're visiting the Disneyland Resort for one day, there's no way to see and do everything in both parks. If you only have one day, you can either buy a Hopper ticket that allows you to visit both parks and take in the top attractions in each one, or get a single-park ticket and use it to see as much of one park as you can.
An easy plan is to divide your theme park day into three-or fourhour blocks: a morning excursion, afternoon excursion, and evening excursion. For example, you could arrive at the park early in the morning, break for lunch at noon when it's most crowded, and take time to relax at the hotel for a few hours, taking a nap or a dip in the pool. Once everyone is rested, go back to the theme park again for a few hours before breaking for dinner. After dinner, you can experience the nighttime shows and attractions such as Disneyland's fireworks and Fantasmic! or California Adventure's Electrical Parade and go on the rides until the park closes.
The Contrarian's Plan
This plan goes against the crowds. Sleep late in the morning or have a leisurely breakfast in a local restaurant after everyone else has rushed off to the entrance gate, arrive at the theme park around 10 A.M. or noon and stay late into the night.
You can ride almost every ride in Disneyland in a single day if you use RideMax, get in when the gates open, stay late, and occasionally hustle to stay on schedule. Adopt a slightly more leisurely pace and buy a Hopper pass, and using RideMax, you can take in all of Disneyland and California Adventure in two days. See Chapter 7 to find out how.
During summer, the parks are open quite late, and if you have enough energy left, the nightlife at Downtown Disney goes on until midnight or even 2 A.M. during the busy season.
You're on vacation to have fun, not to see Disneyland in an exhaustion-tinged haze. If your child is old enough to walk, think twice before pushing him or her around in a stroller all day. You're likely to tire yourself out while your child remains full of energy late into the evening.
JUST FOR PARENTS
No matter how tempting it is to keep going all day long, you'll have more fun if you take a few breaks. If you just can't bear to leave, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride gives your feet thirteen minutes of rest. You can also sit down in air-conditioned comfort for the Enchanted Tiki Room and other shows. Also, when you're making your plans, allow enough time for the kids to see the characters, including the time you may have to wait in line to do so.
Another way to get a break from the theme park without going too far away is to have a meal in Downtown Disney. Crowds are less dense there, and the food may be better. Take the monorail to the Downtown Disney exit, go to the Rainforest Café and the kids may be so busy watching the animated critters rage and bellow during the fake rainstorm that they won't even realize they're outside the park.