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Gaetano Esposito




08 Jul 1981

I am a fashion and travel blogger.

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Published on: 29 Jan 2017 by gaetanoesposito

A Quick Insider's Guide To Disneyland and California Adventure

If you have grown up in Southern California, you’ve been to Disneyland. If you haven’t, you’ve been deprived. It can be the most wonderful experience in the world. It can also be the most frustrating. When I would take out-of-towners to the Resort, it was all about the planning. When I was a Cast Member there, I learned there was a science to my mayhem. Now I am going to impart this knowledge unto you. 

These are some tips that will make your visit to the “Happiest Place on Earth” that much more pleasant. Read more about my travel and gambling adventures here

One – arrive early. 

If you are staying at a nearby hotel, consider walking, you are going to be on your feet all day anyways. If you arrive very early, break out the coffee and pastries and carbo load. If you forgot to bring food or arrived too late to eat for a sit down meal, Downtown Disney offers a couple of places for lite breakfast fare. I personally love breakfast at Brannon’s Jazz Kitchen.

Getting into the park is an excellent time to talk about security. Make everyone’s day a little better by leaving stuff behind that you don’t need. There is a security checkpoint at the entrances and those large strollers with what looks like an expedition to Everest size diaper bag on it WILL be searched. As will backpacks and purses. Also, keep in mind it’s stuff you will have with you all day. Keep it simple, keep it small.

Next, which park to tackle? 

I used to say Disneyland, but now with Carsland open on the California Adventure side, I’ve switched my mindset.

First thing you after you pass through the gates is go right to Carsland and ride Radiator Springs Racers. Do not stop. Do not collect 200 dollars. Trust me, if you don’t ride this first when the park opens up, you are looking at a long miserable line with very little shade. This is of course if the little ones in your party are tall enough to ride.” What?! My child is too small for….aw!!!” I heard that so many times a day. A word of advice, know beforehand by going to the Resort website on what rides your children can go on by height restrictions.

I know they love Cars, but they still have to be tall enough to ride. 

And that goes for every ride. From Star Wars to Indiana Jones, there are height restrictions. If your child is too small for most, then maybe you might want to postpone your trip another year or two. The Resort will still be there. Either heed my advice or spend the whole day on It’s a Small World or at the Jedi Academy.

I heartily recommend a Disneyland growth chart (yeah, I know…eBay). After you get done with Carsland, I strongly recommend Toy Story Midway Mania, which is on the Paradise Pier side of the park. It is also known for its notoriously long line. Why? Because anyone can ride it and it’s very cool. From there, there is a plethora of attractions and things to do on the California Adventure side of the park. Your time though, is of the essence, which brings me to the one thing that could make or break your day: the Fastpass.

The Fastpass is a clever system designed by Disney to do one thing – drive you insane. But, there is a way to do it in style, and work the system. I created some bullet points to help you with this:

The Fastpass system is a computer ticketing system that allows you priority boarding on high traffic Attractions (yep, we still call them E-ticket rides).

You need to find the Fastpass dispenser for an Attraction you wish to ride at a later time. It is almost always located near the front of the Attraction.

Look up! When you get to the entrance of an Attraction, check the Fastpass return times. If it works in your schedule great, if it doesn’t, move along. Once you get a Fastpass for an Attraction, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GET ANOTHER ONE FOR APPROXIMATELY TWO HOURS. The Fastpass ticket will even tell you when you can get another Fastpass at the bottom of the ticket. I capitalized it for its sheer importance, you don’t want to tie up your Fastpass on an Attraction you don’t really want to ride when you could get something else.

A hot tip that usually only Cast Members know: The Fastpass computers for Disneyland and California Adventure are not linked. So you can get Fastpass tickets for both resorts within that two hour time limit.

World of Color tickets are not considered Fastpass tickets so are not governed by the computer. Grab one and it will not affect your Fastpass tickets at all.

Must dos and must haves:

- There are plenty of things to do at both parks. I have compiled my insider’s view on what you MUST do while visiting the resort.

- Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye.

- Star Tours

- Haunted Mansion

- Pirates of the Caribbean

- Big Thunder Railroad

- Space Mountain (if you go at Halloween time, its Ghost Galaxy. Scary as heck!)

Splash Mountain (but only if it’s warm outside, just like Grizzly River Run on the California Adventure side). It’s a great ride but if it is cold outside, you will be miserable for the rest of the day.

The order in which you wish to tackle these is up to you. If you are unfamiliar with the park, best to stay in one area at a time (but to tell you the truth, you can walk from one side of the park to the other in ten minutes tops, the park is built to look bigger than it is).

Also, eat in line. If the line for an Attraction is over 45 minutes, grab food beforehand and eat in line. Makes the time go by that much easier and you will need to eat sometime anyways.

There are also must haves on the Disneyland side (hope you aren’t on a diet):

- Dole Whip. You get it by the Tiki room. Heaven in a cup

- Blue Bayou for fine dining (but plan ahead and make reservations via internet or plan to wait a long time for a table)

- Or find a sucker that will get you into Club 33, the exclusive member’s only dining area above Pirates of the Caribbean.

- Corn Dogs at the red truck on Main Street. There is something about them. Something magical. Trust me on this.

- A Yoda backpack, you get them at the gift shop as you exit Star Tours. If you are a young wanna-be Jedi, you have to get one. If you are a forty-one year old man, get one anyways…it’s never too late to want to be a Jedi.

On the Disney California Adventure side I would recommend:

- Anything Carsland (quick, get it out of your system)

- California Screamin’

- Grizzly River Run

- Soarin’ Over California

- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

- Toy Story Midway Mania

As to the must haves, I kept it simple:

Starbucks is there! (really, after hour nine you will think its God)

If you are old enough, there is a beer truck on the wharf that serves Karl Strauss beer. Get the Red Trolley Ale, it’s wonderful on a hot day.

Stick to the plan and I promise your great day will be even better. In close, I will give you only a few really key words of advice.

For the World of Color show, the higher you are in the viewing area, the better. Sure you can get closer, and fight the strollers and maybe get wet and guess what? You still can’t see!

If you get lost or need advice, find someone from Custodial. They wear the white shirt and pants. Theyare a great crew and will always give the best advice. In fact, ask anyone who works there if you have a question or you need an opinion. They will always help if they can. And if they do help, say thank you, really. They work horrendous hours for not the best pay. They are there to make your day better, but they are people too.


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