Since I was little, after seeing adverts on TV, it was a dream of mine to be able to go to Disneyland. I’m sure lots of other children had the same dream! Fast forward 20 odd years and my younger sister requested to go to Disneyland for her hen party and my brain literally EXPLODED.
I scoured through the internet, looked and blogs, articles, reviews, you name it, I found it. I very much like to be in control, so I had to know all the little details about everything that was going to happen or could happen. Now that I am back, I wanted to share my experience of Disneyland specifically and some tips and tricks! We also went into Paris but I think that’s another blog post!
There are thousands of vlogs, blogs and articles online about Disneyland. Don’t laugh, you will actually find them extremely helpful because it is very difficult if you don’t plan your day.
If you want to save money, stay in a hotel outside of Disneyland. I stayed at Hotel L’Elysee, Val d’Europe and this was honestly the best decision I made. It was a stunning hotel, super clean with great views. Opposite the hotel is the Val d’Europe shopping mall, with lots of well known brands and there is a designer outlet a few minutes walk away as well. This hotel offers a free shuttle service, right outside the Disneyland Park and it takes no longer than 10 minutes. It was completely worth the money!
Arriving at the park
Aim to get to the park for opening time. The park opens at 10am. I was only able to get into the park at around 11:30am and I feel like I wasted a lot of time. Hop onto the 9:45am shuttle and you will reach Disney right before the rides open. I especially recommend going earlier if this is your first time, so you can get all the good pictures outside City Hall, the Disneyland Park and Sleeping Beauty’s castle!
Take a map! I downloaded the app but you have to have mobile data on, so I struggled to get a good enough internet signal on my phone. When we finally got into the park, we literally spent an hour deciding what to do. We completely missed where the maps were (right as soon as you enter Disneyland, there are maps after you scan your ticket!!)
Plan where you want to use your Fast Pass and scan it straight away! Fast Pass is such a good idea. You get it with your ticket automatically, if you order the tickets online and it means that you can scan your entrance ticket on the fast pass machines and then the machine will give you another ticket with a time, where you can come back and jump the queue! We went to Big Thunder Mountain and it was a 70 minute queue. We scanned the fast pass and didn’t go on the ride until 2pm, so this should give you an indication of when to scan it, for the busier rides. Also, you can only have one Fast Pass on the go at any time and it is only applicable to certain rides.
Speaking of tickets, you will notice that you have to use your ticket a lot in the park. I researched this beforehand and purchased lanyards for everyone so I completely recommend this. I got them from Amazon, they were not Disney themed but you can do this of course. It just made the whole process easier and we didn’t have to worry about searching for our tickets
Another really useful item, was a side bag/cross body bag. They are small, easy to carry, they keep your belonging safe and away from pick pockets. Honestly, it might sound like a trivial thing, but I got all the girls on the trip to take a small bag and it was again, such a life saver! I purchased mine from Primark for £6 and actually I’m still using it as its so handy!
Research the rides as they are very well hidden and when you find them, they don’t give you any information! Half the time I thought I had found it but it was a shop or a restaurant! I would say that the app is good in the sense that it tells you what the age range is and more information about it. In the end, we went on 5 rides – Curious Labyrinth (this was a maze. For children) Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, It’s A Small World (SUCH A NIGHTMARE and totally not worth it “ride”) and Hyperspace Mountain.
Food. All the articles I read before I went, told me – no, they SHOUTED at me, to take your own food. My plan was to go to the mall early in the morning and grab some snacks or make some food, as our hotel was in such a great location, this would have been super easy. Unfortunately, we left the hotel so late that I didn’t have time to do this and therefore we had to find somewhere to eat. That took a lot of time and honestly the food experience was just a waste of time and money. We ordered fish and chips but they were absolutely awful (only the English can do a good ol’ fish n chips) and one portion was super expensive. Snacks were also pricey. I completely regret not doing this, so PLEASE take this advice.
Ears! They are quite expensive in Disneyland so buy them beforehand. I purchased 6 for the bride tribe, on Etsy for around £40. One set of ears costs that much at Disneyland!
Take a power bank. These things are amazing. One of the girls bought one with her and we all ended up using it. Obviously you are going to be taking lots of photos and videos – charging up your phone in the middle of the day just helps ensure you don’t miss out on recording some amazing memories!
Explore all the little shops before making a decision on what to purchase! Most people want to buy something and I am most people. I spent the amount I had allowed myself for Disney march in one shop and then found something I liked even better in the other! The shops are all themed, depending on which area you are in, so definitely browse before you buy!
Get a good view for the parade. The parade is at 5:30pm every day and people started queuing for it from 4! I joined the crowds at around 5pm and we were quite lucky to get to stand near the front. I would definitely recommend to get in line earlier and stake out where you are going to sit (we were in front of the castle, so it was a lovely view) and another tip here is, as soon as it is finished, RUN to a ride. We went on Buzz Lightyear as soon as the parade was moving away from us and managed to get on with only about 20 minutes of a queue. When we got out, the ride had a 90 minute queue!
Duration of stay
Stay till 11pm! The rides close at 11pm, when the illuminations night show is on. As we got to the park late, I made sure we stayed right till the end. We finished in the park around 8:30pm and then made our way outside to Vapiano, an Italian restaurant to have a meal. We then made our way back to watch the fireworks.
Regarding the fireworks, I thought that the further back we were, the easier we would be able to leave the park, but the experience is so much better, the closer you are. The castle is lit up and whilst they do have fireworks, it’s the illumination that they display on the castle that is worth it, so try and get closer, I wish we had done this!
This part of the list is more for me as I want to go back again. When looking through the pictures I found myself wishing we had taken more pictures in certain parts of the park. I would recommend:
- Go up Sleeping Beauty’s castle and get someone to take a picture from down below. It would look ABSOLUTELY AMAZING
- Take a picture far away from the castle, where you can see the castle in the distance.
- Take videos before going on the rides (we were soooooo scared and worried about Hyperspace Mountain that we ended up somehow persuading at least 3 families out of the queue! Totally recommend going on it but I wish we had short videos of our craziness!
- Pictures in the merchandise shops – don’t buy anything if you can’t spend a lot of money but at least you get a picture with some cool merch!
- Take a picture at night, with the castle behind you. This was easily achievable if we had waited till most of the crowd had left.