Since April Insider fumbled the ball on this one, I would like to ask for your help in keeping our Disneyland strategy guide up-to-date and helpful for all Theme Park Insider readers. You can read the current version, with hyperlinks, on https://www.themeparkinsider.com/reviews/disneyland/
I've pasted that below and welcome your feedback in the comments. Please tell me what I should change, add, or delete. Thanks!
(And, yes, I will be adding discussions on other park strategy pages in the days ahead.)
** DISNEYLAND STRATEGY **
You must make advance reservations to visit Disneyland, via Disney's website. This is true for "Magic Key" annual passholders as well as daily ticket holders. Unlike at the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland's hotel guests get no special preferences for admission reservations. However, Disneyland's hotel guests can get early admission to the park on select dates.
If you want to go to the Blue Bayou or Oga's Cantina, make reservations up to 60 days in advance on the Disneyland website or the official app. You may need to use Disney's virtual queue system to get a ride time on Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, as well. Here's how to do that.
Disneyland now offers a new tool called Disney Genie on its official app to create a custom itinerary for each day of your visit. In addition, Disney offers two ways for its theme park guests to pay to access shorter wait times for many popular attractions. You can learn more about these options in our posts:
How to Use Disney Genie (free and useful trip-planning tools, plus the automated itineraries)
How to Use Disney Genie Plus (one-time daily payment to skip many lines)
How to Use Disney's Individual Lightning Lane (pay-per-use line skips for the most popular attractions)
If you get a virtual queue return time for Runaway Railway, drop whatever you planned to get there then for that. Otherwise, the good, old-fashioned free strategy is to get to the park gates at least half an hour before opening (accounting for time to park). If you are staying at one of the three on-site Disneyland Resort hotels, you can go on select attractions in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland 30 minutes before the park opens, so take advantage of that opportunity.
If you are not staying on-site, start your day instead on the west side of the park, with Indiana Jones, Jungle Cruise, or Big Thunder Mountain before heading over to either Tomorrowland for Space Mountain followed by Star Tours, or, if you have young kids, to Fantasyland for Peter Pan, then Dumbo, then working your way around the dark rides. Save high capacity rides such as Pirates and Mansion for later in the morning or early afternoon.
Many visitors will rush to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance first thing in the morning, but unless you are among those on-site hotel guests who can get to the back of the park before the bulk of the crowd, you're going to end up with a long wait for a long ride that costs you any chance at shorter queues during the park's first hour. Rise of the Resistance typically closes early - often by 8pm - but wait until later in the afternoon to ride this award-winning attraction to maximize the number of other Disneyland attractions you can experience during your visit.Tweet
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