Disney Week: Disneyland Tips for First Timers

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I never thought I would become the Disneyland fanatic people came to for Disneyland tips. It just sort of happened. I probably visited Disneyland over a dozen times as a child but once my husband and I moved to Orange County with young kids in tow, suddenly my Disneyland visitation skyrocketed. Instead of getting sick of Disneyland like I expected to happen once I bought my first annual pass (so I could go with friends who were visiting from out of town), I began to love the resort more and more. I have become a Disneyland expert and I am constantly asked to share my Disneyland tips so I decided to put them down all in one place. I hope this guide will help thousands of Trekaroo families get the most out of every Disneyland vacation.

Stay at these Family Friendly Hotels in Disneyland

Heading to another park or want to see our entire library or Disney content? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacations.

Ultimate Vacation Guide to Disney Parks for Families

Disneyland Tips for First Timers & Newbies

DISNEYLAND TIPS FOR BEFORE YOU GO

Decide When To Go

Holidays at Walt Disney World: Disneyland tips on when to go to the park

The best time to visit Disneyland is mid-week during the off-season. If your kids can take a couple days off from school, it is certainly worth the effort. Make every effort to avoid peak travel times. Your family will spend much less time fighting crowds, standing in long lines and on peak days, one-day admission prices will rise 20% over regular day admission. Peak dates include the Christmas season, Spring Break, and peak summer. If you visit the parks on “value” days, the price is reduced by 4%. Visit the Disneyland pricing calendar for updated information. Here are my four favorite times of year to visit the Disneyland:

1. The week after Labor Day in September through the first two weeks in October: Kids are back in school so the parks are not crowded. Both parks are decked out for Halloween the entire month of October.

Good to know: September is typically one of the warmest months in Orange County  so be sure to make time for a beach day or some pool time back at the hotel.

2. January and February: While most of the country is freezing, Orange County is typically enjoying daytime temperatures between 55 and 75. If you have to choose a 3 day weekend, crowds are more manageable on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend than President’s Day.

3. The first two weeks in May: Spring Break crowds are gone, the weather is nice, and kids are still in school.

4. The first two weeks in December: This is probably my favorite time to visit because all of the holiday decorations are up but most of the holiday visitors are still doing their Christmas shopping. Park attendance is low but the wow factor is high.

Stay at these Family Friendly Hotels in Disneyland

Avoid: Mid-March through Mid- April due to Spring Break, Thanksgiving week, the weeks before and after Christmas, most of June and August, and all of July. If you do have to go during the summer months, try to visit either the first week in June (when most Southern California schools are still in session) or the last week in August (when most schools are back in session). If you do have to go on a busy day, be sure to read this post on surviving Disneyland on a crowded day.

Click next for tips on making reservations.

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About the author

Sharlene Earnshaw is Trekaroo’s Editor in Chief. She lives in sunny Orange County, CA, with her husband and 10-year-old son and daughter (twins!). She is a self-proclaimed National Park junkie and has the goal of visiting each and every one with her kids. When she isn't traveling to places like Norway, Peru, Disney World, and Hawaii with her family, she enjoys hiking, beach days, obsessively rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, and planning her brood's next trip.
13 Responses
  1. If you do have to go on a busy day (on all the days that Sharlene said not to go), be sure to take advantage of transportation. Don’t walk down Main Street unless you don’t mind getting trampled on, honked at, or lose your kids. Hop on one of the 4 vehicles that drive up and down the street, giving you a pleasant ride, and usually some great music too! And check out these tips here. http://blog.trekaroo.com/a-guide-to-surviving-and-thriving-at-disneyland-on-a-crowded-day/

  2. Tara

    The first two weeks of December 2013 the park was completely crowded. When we arrived at 10am all 4 days the parking lot was full so we were redirected to the Paradise pier hotel parking lot which took us 40 min. To get to the front gates of the park as there was no tram to take us . We had to walk from one end of downtown Disney to Disneyland gates. Same thing last year 2012 parking lot full by 12 pm the first two weeks of December. Every ride was at least 70 min. Or more wait

  3. Ashlee

    I’m a SoCal AP holder, too, and I never comment on these posts, but I just wanted to pipe up and say that the official Disney Parks app is no longer! It hasn’t worked for me for several months now. I’m super sad about it, because it was a really great app! 🙁

  4. Shawna

    Thanks for this. We usually go to the World but with one under two thought the Land might be a little easier. I’ve been trying to find the information you posted for a couple of months, and you hit everything I wanted to know. Again, thanks so much for taking the time.

  5. alison williams

    We are meeting some friends for a long disneyland weekend (meet thurs-mon) but I was going to make it a week with some beachtime. Any suggestions? Don’t want to spend a fortune. But would enjoy a beach for a year and a half old and a 4 year old.

  6. Mac

    It doesn’t look like City Stroller Rentals is a good alternative any more. It looks like their cheapest single option is $35 per day, and it also looks like you can’t get it before 10 am. For people only staying 1 day and going to be there at park opening, renting from Disney is the only real option.

  7. Hey Anaheim,
    My Dream to visit one time Disneyland!! I love disney cartoon characters and disney city and world. Your Guidelines is great and helpful who is plan to go disneyland for first time. Great Blog Dear!! Weldon and thank you very much for suggestion me for aware budget and money saving for visiting. Visit to me: touropacks

  8. Jennifer Brand

    Thanks for all the tips! I am a Disney World expert, however, I haven’t gone to Disneyland very many times. I plan to go to Disneyland more often once we move to Walt Disney World at the end of this year. We are planning a trip to Disneyland in 2019. Can’t wait!

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