This is part 2 of our Planning Perfection Disneyland series. We recommend starting with part one of the series here.
So you’ve taken the first 4 critical steps to have the perfect Disneyland day, and your “week of” homework is completed! Now we’ll dive into everything to do on the day of your visit – think everything that happens on the big day before stepping foot inside the park. Like all things Disney Perfection, we’ll keep it stress-free with a 4 simple steps guide.
Step 1: pick your “go time”
Now that you know your audience, you’re armed with all the info you need to pick the perfect arrival time. Here are our recommended start times by audiences types:
Before Park Open
Groups that want to do ALL the things (rides, fireworks, shows)
Groups with the priority of getting on as many rides as possible (including major attractions)
Early risers who will be up anyway
Within 1 – 2 Hours of Park Open
Families that have tons to pack
Those who are excited about rides but are willing to miss a few major attractions
Folks who are instantly turned off by an early wake-up
3+ Hours After Park Open
Groups ready to trade a more relaxed, easy start to the day for getting on fewer rides
Those who are “just here for the snacks”
Groups prioritizing parades, fireworks, and shows
Remember that the earlier you arrive, the less crowded Disneyland will be, which makes a huge difference in ride wait times. Use these guidelines as a starting point and select your perfect arrival based on it. Let your audience be your guide!
step 2: Dress (and pack) the part
The kind of day your group defines as “perfection” will drastically change how you pack and dress for the park.
Here are the packing starters we recommend for everyone:
Empty plastic water bottle (absolutely no glass)
Mini or full-size backpack
And now to customize:
Camping out for the fireworks or a parade? Add a blanket or towel big enough to fit your entire party.
Coming with kids? Strollers, sun nets, sanitizing wipes, and a stroller fan will be your friend. We love the advice from this Afar article on packing light with kiddos.
Going for a marathon 12 hour day? Pack a portable phone charger and a sweatshirt for when the temperatures drop.
And for the dress code:
When it comes to what to wear, we say almost anything goes. Is your goal to snap tons of photos? Rock your adorable summer dress and don’t fear if others view it as a touch impractical.
Even when spending 12+ hour days in the park, we haven’t found it necessary to wear head-to-toe activewear – but if that’s your preferred attire, go for it! There’s no strict wrong or right thing to wear as long as you feel good in it. Comfortable shoes, on the other hand, are a must for every outfit!
Step 3: Get Your Tech Straight
You’ve already purchased your tickets in advance. Now ensure you and your party is set up with the Disneyland app. Download the app at home over WiFi. The app is key to monitoring wait times and getting Fastpasses.
We like to designate one party member as our “group leader” and scan our entire parties’ park tickets into their app. You can do this by going to the “My Tickets” section of the Disneyland app and then pressing the “+” in the upper right corner. Next, press “Link Tickets & Passes” and scan the barcode for each ticket (or enter the ID number manually.)
Having all tickets linked is critical for booking Fastpasses and saves a lot of hassle while in the parks. It also expedites entry at the gate!
Steps 4: Nail Your Arrival
The car is loaded up, and you’re off! For a more magical entrance, we recommend parking in the Mickey & Friends or Pixar Pals lots (you can route your GPS directly to these parking structures.) Here’s the key, though: never head straight to these lots without first checking to see if they’re full, especially when arriving after 10 AM! Look for lot closure updates on the Disneyland Today twitter.
The other critical piece of info to sticking the landing on your “go time?” Don’t underestimate your total arrival time. It’s easy to forget the length of wait times to get into the parking structure, through security, and onto the trams. At their peak, getting into the parking lot can take up to 45 minutes. Account for about 30 minutes to get through security lines and onto a tram (generally.)
Now you’re just steps away from the start of it all…your perfect Disneyland day is set to begin! The final part of our Planning Perfection series dives into what to do once you’re through those magical gates.