Top 5 Most Common Mistakes Made at Disneyland

Top 5 Signs That You’re Doing it Wrong

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5. You are standing in long lines.

WHAT are you doing?  WHY are you standing in a 60 minute long line?  Disneyland has created ways to avoid long lines via FAST PASSES and PARENT SWAPS.  You should have one in your hand AT ALL TIMES.  Last week we spent 3 days in Disneyland and observed MANY people standing in the hot, hot sun, tired and cranky, WAY past a sign that said “60 minute wait from this point”.  The funny thing was, most of these crazy long lines were RIGHT next to a Fast Pass Distribution Spot with a sign advertising return times WITHIN THE SAME HOUR.  Uh, what?  The only reason I can think of that you would NOT get a Fast Pass and stand in that giant line is if you already have a Fast Pass in your hand and it is for hours and hours from now.  And if that is the case, you are probably doing it wrong!  You gotta work your Fast Passes!  Organize your day so that you ALWAYS have a Fast Pass in your hand.  Pay attention to return times.  Get them for those long lines first thing and then jump on a ride with a shorter wait time while you wait for your Fast Pass time.  If it is hot and the water rides have long lines, you can find a nice cool spot while you wait for your Fast Pass time.  If you are in Disneyland, It’s a Small World and The Pirates of the Caribbean are nice long rides in cool air conditioning.  California Adventure has a water play area called Princess Dot Puddle Park in “a bug’s land” or you can stand on the bridge of Grizzly River Run and totally get drenched.  Use the Disneyland Waits App so you know what lines are shortest.  I have gone to the park in the middle of the summer and even during Spring Break where it has been crazy, insane packed, and still managed to never wait more than 15 minutes for a ride.  You just gotta have a plan and WORK IT.

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4. You hate everyone.

The Happiest Place on Earth can VERY QUICKLY become the Unhappiest Place on Earth.  So. Many. People.  With So. Little. Personal. Space.  And it is SOOOOOOOO darn hot.  Does that person have to stand so close to me in this very hot line with absolutely no shade?  And your feet.  Oh, the pain.  Hurts. So. Bad.  Can’t. Take. Another. Step.  Why can’t the kids stop complaining?  Yes, I know it is hot.  Yes, my feet hurt too.  Yes, I am also sad that the ride is closed that I am pretty sure was 48 miles from where we just came from.  Can I have a meltdown now too?  Why can’t everyone just make a decision for me?  Stop asking me what I want to do and just tell me what to do.  And please carry me there.  I am pretty sure I can fit in this stroller….  If you are at Disneyland during peak season, then the park is open for 16 hours and you very well may be there the entire 16 hours (17 hours if you have a Magic Morning pass!).  Walking.  For 16 hours.  (This past trip I averaged at 23,000 steps per day and it was off-peak season and only open 11 hours a day!)  And then there’s the standing.  I am sorry to tell you that it is extremely unlikely that the entire 16 hours will be crazy fabulous fun.  Have a plan, work your plan, but BE FLEXIBLE.  If your kids are melting down and throwing fits at every corner, then it is okay to leave the park and take a rest, even if you thought you were going to California Adventure for the afternoon.  If you are tempted to yank the light saber out of Darth Vader’s hand and smack your husband on the head with it, then it is probably time to take a break.  There’s this fabulous thing called SINGLE RIDER LINE.  You can find a quieter area of the park, grab something cold like a frozen lemonade or Mickey Head, try to get the kids to nap in the stroller, and take turns going on the bigger rides.  When our kids were 2 and 4, the only ride they wanted to go on was It’s a Small World.  Seriously.  Like again and again.  Over and over.  It occurred to us that it is 15 minutes long and nice and air conditioned.  So we took a nap during the ride and found there was no line when it ended so we asked the Cast Member if we could just stay on another time.  30 minute air-conditioned nap, people!  Disneyland is not worth killing anyone over.  Or losing any friendships.  Or creating a hatred for your family.  Take a break when you need one.  Separate if you have to.  Leave if you need to.  Go get a Dole Whip (from the inside line) and watch the birdies sing in the Tiki Room.

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3. You under-planned.

If you sleep in, have a relaxing breakfast, then mosey on over to the park around noon with your iced latte in your hand with absolutely no idea of what rides are there and what rides you want to go on, then you absolutely have no right to complain about anything – the rides, the lines, the crowds, the park – NOTHING.  Disneyland requires research and pre-planning.  It is a LOT of money to pay to stand in line all day and only go on 2 rides.  There are existing conveniences offered at the parks that you would be a fool not to take advantage of.  Know what your priorities are (specific rides, attractions, characters, shopping, shows, etc).  Know what rides have Fast Passes and how to work them.  Know what rides your kids are tall enough for!  If only one parent is going on a ride, always get a Parent Swap.  The other parent can go again with the older kids, or you can go again without waiting if your spouse is not interested in the ride (it is for 3 people to go back on the ride with no line) at anytime for the remainder of the day (versus Fast Passes that have time restrictions).  And there is no dilly dallying at Disneyland.  You can’t stand around, move slowly, or be indecisive in Disneyland.  Get in a line and then decide on what to do next.  Time is LITERALLY money.

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2. You over-planned.

If you planned every single detail of the trip down to every single second, then you will need to prepare yourself for some serious disappointment.  Rides breakdown.  Like ALL the time.  Rides are down for renovations ALL the time (last week Matterhorn, Indiana Jones, Peter Pan, and California Soarin’ were all closed while we were there).  Kids have meltdowns.  Adults lose patience.  Restaurants run out of popular items.  Stores sell out of specific characters.  Go with a plan, work the plan, but BE FLEXIBLE.  You have to be able and willing to adjust the plans and know the park well enough to come up with a Plan B.  And you have to not ruin your day over a change in the plans.  I have found that there are attractions that the kids absolutely love that are not rides. My kids could easily spend the entire day at The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in California Adventure if I let them.  If they are having a great time, then maybe we can skip one of the other rides.  Disneyland is an experience that includes much more than just rides.  There is SO much fun to be had in Disneyland.  Don’t ruin it with unrealistic expectations.  *This is totally different from Walt Disney World where you literally can plan every single detail down to every single second with dining plans and Fastpass+.

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1. You forgot to have fun.

Disneyland truly can be the Happiest Place on Earth if you allow it to be.  It is crazy, it is chaotic, and it can be stressful, but it can be a LOT of fun.  If you have small kids, be sure to take turns on rides so you can experience the park from your children’s eyes.  And make sure you prioritize things for yourself too.  Get the Dole Whip.  Put on some Magic Ears.  Wave at strangers on a train. Chat with Cast Members.  Try to beat your high score on Toy Story Midway Mania!  Beat Zurg on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.  Space Mountain is my all-time favorite ride.  I smile like a FOOL when I am on that ride (they take photos of you to prove it).  It would be a shame to miss out on my favorite ride because I got too caught up in everyone else’s needs!

Other mistakes I have made: Wore the wrong shoes.  Forgot to pack a sweatshirt ($52 mistake – had to purchase one there!).  Forgot to reapply sunscreen to everyone.  Missed the group photo.  Paid for bottled water (every restaurant will give you a cup of ice water – great for refilling reusable bottles).  Didn’t purchase the special locking pin backings (the ones they come with fall off almost instantly).  Carried a heavy backpack instead of paying $10 for an all day locker.  Forgot to take off my hat on a ride – my husband lost his hat on Goofy’s Sky School a few years ago and I lost my hat just last week on Splash Mountain (my favorite Disneyland hat with a brand new pin on it too*)!

*UPDATE: I filed a claim for my lost Disneyland hat before we left at the main Lost & Found just outside the park by the entrance.  They not only found the hat but they mailed it to me one week later!  WOW!  And it still had my brand new pin on it!  Gotta love Disney!

What mistakes have you made at Disneyland?  I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

More Disney tips can be found here in Debbie’s Disney tips.

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2 comments

    • Debbie says:

      Thank you! They are also called rider swap, baby swap, child swap, or rider switch passes. It seems to vary by ride. You can ask the cast member at the entrance of the ride and they may ask to see the person you are swapping with and want to see that they have a younger child with them (sometimes they don’t care). We found on our last visit that many rides had you ask the cast member at the exit of the ride. I have also seen where your entire family can line up for a line then swap turns where you board the ride. I hope this is helpful!

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