Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Planning your day at Disneyland

I have been asked numerous times, "What is the best way to go on the most rides and avoid standing in long lines while at Disneyland?" Although standing in some lines is an unavoidable part of Disneyland, in this post I'll share some ideas that help me and my family get the most out of our visits.

(1) Get there early! Even if you are not an early riser (or have teenagers that aren't early risers) make an exception. Get to the park at least 15 minutes before it opens - even 30 minutes before if you can. Disneyland starts letting its guests through the turnstiles about 10 minutes before the park opens. They will have areas of the park roped off so you still aren't able to go on rides until the actual opening time, but being in the park, in the actual area you want to be in right when it opens as opposed to just leaving your hotel room or being in line at the entrance when it opens can help you get more rides in and take nice pictures before the park is crowded. Also, the locals, who make up a significant percentage of the daily attendance, tend to start arriving in droves around 10:30 to 11:00, so get all the rides in that you can before that time. My family's traditional first ride is Peter Pan, which is notorious for a pretty constant 45+ minute wait throughout the whole day. Even first thing in the morning we still wait 10-15 minutes for it, but because it is one of our favorite rides that we will go on anyway at some point, we feel it better to get on it early and save the 20 or so minutes waiting in line later in the day. We were also able to get on the Matterhorn with only about a 10 minute wait instead of the typical 30-45 minute wait throughout the rest of the day.

(2) Stay late! In the summertime, Disneyland stays open until midnight. Take advantage of every last minute! My kids have gone on Splash Mountain 4 times in a row, just walking on each time, within about 30 minutes of the park closing. I walked right on Star Tours also right before closing. These two rides frequently have wait times of over 40 minutes and, in the case of Splash Mountain, up to 2 hours during the middle of the day. Because of the many parades and shows at night, many of the ride lines are shorter during this time.

(3) Use the middle of the day wisely! Because we wake up early to eat breakfast at our hotel with the desire to get to Disneyland 30 minutes before it opens, we end up getting out of bed around 6:20am. Since we stay at Disneyland until Midnight, we often don't get back to our hotel room until about 12:30am and then we eat a light dinner. That means that we are getting about 5 hours of sleep a night and when you do as much walking as we do at Disneyland everyday, that just won't cut it. So we go back to our hotel during one of the busiest times of the day to eat lunch and take naps. We usually head back to the hotel around 1:00pm and eat and nap until about 4:30pm. This allows us to stay rested, save money on food, avoid the hottest part of the day, and take advantage of the lack of people early in the day and late at night. If you are a machine and don't need sleep, the middle of the day is a great time to see shows such as Disney Junior: Live on Stage (mainly enjoyable for children under 9) or Aladdin (all ages) in California Adventure, the Tiki Room, or to even explore Tom Sawyer Island or try out the Davey Crockett Explorer Canoes. The middle of the day is also a great time to take advantage of the Fast Pass system.

(4) The Fast Pass system. Disneyland has a free Fast Pass system set up for its busiest rides. Near the entrance to most of the busier rides is an area with a few machine kiosks. To get a fast pass, you put your Disneyland admission ticket into the machine and the machine will give you a ticket for that ride. The ticket will specify an hour-long window to come back and ride the ride. When you go back to ride the ride, there is a separate line for fast passes. You show your fast pass to the cast member and he or she lets you in the shorter line. This is the only way to ride Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure, as its wait times are normally over 2 hours long. With a fast pass on Radiator Springs, we normally end up waiting about 15 minutes. Other rides/attractions that it is wise to have a past pass for are: The World of Color show, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Star Tours, Indiana Jones, Grizzly River Run, Soarin' Over California and Tower of Terror. Only two fast passes are allowed at a time per admission ticket.

(5) Have a plan! Have a general idea of how Disneyland is laid out so you don't waste time walking clear across the park trying to find rides. As funny as it might sound, study a map of Disneyland before you go. If possible, go on a few rides in each area you are in to avoid wasted time walking back and forth. Know what rides usually have short wait times (Snow White, Pinocchio, Tarzan's Treehouse, Pirates of the Caribbean, Winnie the pooh, all rides in Bugs Land, The Little Mermaid, etc) and go on them during the busier parts of the day. This will especially come in handy if you have to drive to get to Disneyland and can't go back to the hotel in the afternoon.

Hopefully some of these tips help with getting the most out of your days at Disneyland! If you have any more ideas to add, feel free to respond and post them!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Disneyland Ride Tracking Sheet

Here is the ride chart my family uses to track our rides at Disneyland. Since we go from Monday through Thursday, I have space under each day for Shelby, in this case, to put a tick mark under which day she went on each ride.

Disneyland Ride Chart Shelby 2015
Land Ride Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Main Street USA Disneyland Railroad        
  Great Moments with Mr Lincoln        
  Main Street Cinema        
  Main Street Vehicles        
  The Disney Gallery        
Tomorrowland Astro Orbitor        
  Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters        
  Captain EO Tribute Closed        
  Disneyland Railroad        
  Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage        
  Jedi Training Academy        
  Space Mountain        
  Star Tours        
  Starcade Closed        
Fantasyland Alice in Wonderland        
  Casey Jr Circus Train        
  Fantasy Faire        
  It's a Small World        
  King Arthur's Carousel        
  Matterhorn Bobsleds        
  Mr Toad's Wild Ride        
  Peter Pan's Flight        
  Pinoccio's Daring Journey        
  Pixie Hollow        
  Sleeping Beauty Castle        
  Snow White Grotto        
  Snow White's Scary Adventures        
  Story Book Land Canal Boats        
  Tea Cups        
Frontierland Big Thunder Ranch        
  Frontierland Shooting Expedition        
  Mark Twain Riverboat        
  Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island        
  Sailing Ship Columbia        
  The Golden Horseshoe Stage        
  Thunder Mountain Railroad        
  Tom Sawyer Island        
Adventureland Indiana Jones        
  Jungle Cruise        
  Tarzan's Treehouse        
  The Enchanted Tiki Room        
New Oreans Square Disneyland Railroad        
  Haunted Mansion        
  Pirates of the Caribbean        
Critter Country Davey Crocket Explorer Canoes        
  Splash Mountain        
  Winnie the Pooh        
Mickey's Toontown Chip N Dale Treehouse        
  Disneyland Railroad        
  Donald's Boat        
  Gadget's Go Coaster        
  Goofy's Playhouse        
  Mickey's House        
  Minnie's House        
  Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin        

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Disneyland News and Rumors August 2015

Some major announcements were made at the D23 expo last week. For those who are not familiar with the D23 expo, it is the expo that Disney holds every year in Anaheim to update fans on the happenings of all things Disney. The past 4 years had been rather uneventful as it relates to additions to the Disneyland. But not so this year.

The Force Will Be With Us Soon!
For starters Bob Iger, Disney's CEO, announced that both Disneyland and Disney World will be building Star Wars Lands at each of their properties. A video of the announcement can be seen below:

The crowd erupted as Bob Iger announced the Star Wars Land in Anaheim. I'll have to admit, I got a little teary-eyed as I saw the excitement on Mr Iger's face as he was getting ready to make the announcement followed by the audience's reaction.

Two hours after Bob Iger made the announcement, it was Bob Chapek's turn to give further details on the project. Unfortunately not much in the way of details was given other than some small tidbits about the 2 news rides that will be coming to the Land. The first will allow guests to fly the Millennium Falcon on a "customized secret mission." The second ride will "put you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance." Both rides and the much of the new land will be based on the new trilogy coming out, with the exception of some old trilogy characters making appearances here and there from time to time and a possible Cantina eatery which, according to theverge.com, Bob Iger was quoted as saying, "...there will be one." Three artists depictions of the new Star Wars Land are posted below:

 Not mentioned either is weather Star Tours will move into the new Star Wars Land or if it will stay where it has been for the past 30 years in Tomorrowland.  No completion date or even a date when construction will get underway was given but the expansion will take place in the northern reaches of the park as shown in the below picture:

Update: Although it was originally thought that Mickey's Toontown would be a casualty of the new Star Wars Land, the official @DisneylandToday said this on August 16th- "It is not replacing Mickey's Toontown. It will be in the Big Thunder Ranch area, inclusive of some backstage locations." So the Star Wars Land boxed area in the picture above is close to being accurate except Toontown is safe and additional storage buildings to the north need to be added into it.

The total expansion will be 14 acres. To give a little perspective, Cars Land in California Adventure was almost 12 acres. It sounds like the only existing part of Disneyland that will be removed for the makeover will be The Big Thunder Ranch.

In other Star Wars News, the bottom level of the Innoventions building in Tomorrowland is currently under construction to become Star Wars Launch Bay - an interactive attraction that will allow guests to see props from the upcoming movies. Here is the official statement from Disney on the new Launch Bay:
This interactive experience will take guests into the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, including opportunities to visit with new and favorite Star Wars characters, special merchandise and food offerings. Star Wars Launch Bay will be located in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and in Tomorrowland at Disneyland park. Also at Disneyland park, Star Wars Launch Bay will share the space with the reimagined Super Hero HQ, featuring opportunities to meet and take photos with super heroes like Captain America and Thor, as well as experience the returning Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries. Both experiences will be available for guests later this year.
As described in the statement, the top portion of the Innoventions building is getting a Marvel makeover. Also Micechat reports that the old Captain EO building is rumored to be getting outfitted with a new movie preview for The Force Awakens.  The target completion date for this temporary "mini" Star Wars Land in Tomorrowland is mid-November 2015. Also rumored for November 2015 is a new sequence to be added to Star Tours based on The Force Awakens.

Another interesting bit of news to add to the new Tomorrowland equation is reported by Change.org. They report that as of September 25, 2015 bands will no longer play at Tomorrowland Terrace. Weather this is related to the makeover that Tomorrowland is getting is speculative, but it's hard to imagine it's completely unrelated.

Disney's Property Acquisitions.
Over the past year or so, Disney has been buying various building around the Disneyland area. Two such places they bought last year are 1515 and 1585 S Manchester Ave, next to the freeway. One of the office buildings is 160,000 square feet. Another property they purchased is the Carousel Inn. According to the Orange County Register, it was purchased on March 23 for $32 Million. Suzi Brown, a Disneyland spokeswoman confirmed the purchase and added that the current management group that is running the Carousel Inn will continue to run it. In essence, Disneyland is not going to add the Carousel Inn to it's list of Hotel properties, but rather is probably going to use it as a part of a future parking expansion. Micechat reports that Disneyland is planning on building a major parking structure, to be complete by 2018 in space across Harbor Blvd and behind the many hotels there. That is where the Carousel Inn comes into play. Again, according to Micechat, the Carousel Inn will be demolished and a sky bridge will be constructed above Harbor Blvd allowing safer passage from the new parking structures to Disneyland. A view of what this will look like can be found below:
Carousel Inn is marked with the star. 
Adding the new parking structures will help ease the burden of the current parking problems at Disneyland and, depending on the capacity of the structures, may allow for future expansion of Disneyland as well.

Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters
Last but not least, the Disney Parks Blog is reporting that the new ride that is currently under construction replacing Luigi's Flying Tires, will be called Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters. According to the blog:
Luigi has invited all of his cugini (cousins) from his hometown of Carsoli, Italy, to visit his Casa della Tires. To help celebrate Race Day in Radiator Springs, they will demonstrate the dances of their village with Cars Land guests when the all-new Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters opens early next year.

That's all the news for now. Be sure to check back in November for my latest News and Rumors update!