Tips for visiting the Disneyland Resort in the summer

Summer has finally arrived, and it's time to start planning your family vacation to the Disneyland Resort!  Even if you've been there before, every year there's something new to enjoy, so families can keep coming back to experience something different.  This year, there's the new Fantasy Faire, where guests can meet the Disney Princesses and an all-new musical production, Mickey and the Magical Map.  What's more, many people have not yet had a chance to visit Cars Land.  It has become my favorite part of Disney California Adventure, and a walk through downtown Radiator Springs is an absolute must!

There's no denying that the crowds are busier in the summer in general, but for many people summertime is the only time they'll get to visit the Disneyland Resort.  For all you summer visitors, take heart! There are actually some benefits to visiting the resort in the summer:

* The parks are open longer.
* The rides and attractions are less likely to be closed for maintenance (one or more of the popular rides always seem to be closed for maintenance in the spring, fall and winter!).
* There are more shows to accommodate the crowds.

I was at the Disneyland Resort over Memorial Day Weekend, which is one of the busiest times of the year at the resort -- and honestly, the crowds were Not.  That.  Bad!  Really.  Yes, some lines were long, but I found ways to avoid most of the lines and still have a great time.

With a bit of advanced planning, there's no reason why you can't enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth even when it seems like it's the Busiest Place on Earth.  Here are five tips that will make your summertime trip to the Disneyland Resort a bit less stressful and a lot more magical:

Arrive Early, Stay Late
This sounds like an obvious piece of advice, but it's worth repeating because it's so important:  Arrive Early.  Stay Late.    Lines are shorter in the first 2 hours of park opening.

The importance of arriving early is best illustrated by the Radiator Springs Racers attraction at Disney California Adventure.  One year after opening, it still draws long lines with wait times sometimes exceeding 2 hours!  Last weekend I found myself in Cars Land 30 minutes after DCA opened, and the line for the Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS -- not the ride, the FASTPASS!  -- reached all the way to the Carthay Circle Theatre.  The return time for FASTPASS users was already at 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM window.  About 90 minutes after the park opened, they had already run out of FASTPASSES for Radiator Springs Racers!

So, the moral of the story is:  Arrive Early.  Stay Late (and line up for a Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS as soon as you enter DCA!).  You can always rest in the middle of the day when the lines are the longest.

Catch a show
Sometimes park guests get so caught up in making sure they ride each and every attraction that they forget about all the great shows and entertainment offered in both parks.  I love the shows at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for several reasons:

* Disney puts on amazing productions with professional entertainers, enchanting sets and of course, the best of Disney music.  Some of their shows like Aladdin and the new Mickey and the Magical Map rival Broadway productions.

* You get to sit and rest your tired legs for an extended period of time.

* Unless you're watching a street performance, the venue is likely to be cool and shady, so it's a fun way to beat the summer heat.

Make sure you double-check the performance schedules and arrive at the venue of your chosen show well in advance of the posted start times.  Depending on the performance, doors can open up to 30 minutes ahead of time.  Hey, don't sweat it -- that only means a longer rest time for you.

Disneyland drinks: Boysen Apple Freeze
Stay cool
This is Southern California, and it can get sunny and hot in the summertime! When you're hot and sweaty you get crankier, the kids get fussier, the lines feel longer.  So make sure you stay covered (a hat is a must!) and hydrated (a bottle of water is also a must!) to avoid dehydration, or worse, sunstroke.

Do what you have to in order to stay cool -- seek shade, purchase a battery-operated fan, ride Splash Mountain, take out one of Davy Crockett's Canoes!   There are so many great ways to keep your cool at the Disneyland Resort.  If you need suggestions, I'll be posting about my favorite ways to stay cool at the Disneyland Resort, so stay tuned!

Stay an extra day
With the addition of Cars Land in California Adventure and Fantasy Faire in Disneyland, not to mention all the entertainment in both parks, it's really no longer possible to experience either park in a single day.   The Disneyland Resort has really become a vacation destination all on its own!  I recommend staying at least 3 days, and I would stay 5 days if it was my first visit and I knew we wouldn't be going back in at least 2 or 3 years.

When you  purchase multiple-day park tickets, the longer you stay the less you pay per day.  In addition, if you purchase 3, 4, or 5-day theme park tickets, you'll get one Magic Morning early admission to Disneyland on the days the park offers it.  I can't overstate the importance of that extra hour!   With 5 minute to zero wait times, you can ride your favorite attractions multiple times and maybe even pick up a FASTPASS to ride again later in the day.  It really takes the pressure off to "get more rides in" during the day, so you can relax and enjoy.

Stay a a Disneyland Resort Hotel
If you possibly can, I think it's worth splurging on accommodations at the Paradise Pier, Disneyland Hotel and Grand Californian.  Hotel guests get Magic Morning early admission to either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure (they usually alternate Magic Mornings) for every day of their stay.

What's more, they are just a short walk away from the parks, so you can take a break in the middle of the day when it gets more crowded.  Kids can take naps or relax in the pool so everyone goes back into the parks rested and recharged.  And because they're Disneyland Resort hotels, you're still immersed in the Disney magic!  The hotels are really like extensions of the parks, with magical Disney touches everywhere -- in the lobby, along the corridors, in your room -- and the staff are just as friendly and helpful as any you'll find in the parks.

Disclosure: I was invited to a press event to preview new attractions and entertainment for 2013. Travel and lodging were provided but I did not receive monetary compensation for this post. . The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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1 Comments, Leave yours here:

justicecw on June 4, 2013 at 8:37 AM said...

Never been...but it sure looks like fun!

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