Disneyland (CA)

A Disney World Vet in Disneyland: Last Minute Details

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Tomorrow is the big day when I shove off for my first ever visit to Disneyland! I’ve done plenty of research and planning, and even arranged some last minute details. I think my bags are packed and I’m ready to go, but with going to a new place I’m not as confident in my preparations as I am when I go to Disney World. I’m sure I’ll be just fine, but there’s always that anticipation of going to a new place, especially since I’ll be flying by myself and meeting friends there. Well, what were some of the items on my to-do list before taking off? I thought I’d share some of them this week for people who might be in a similar situation.

Park hours for Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure are only made available about 45 days out. Being a Disney World regular this baffles me since the Florida park hours are posted about six months in advance. So with only a few weeks left before my trip I finally got to see what time I could start touring each morning. Since I am a Touring Planner and this is my first trip, I’ll probably be up for rope drop most mornings. It really helps to be coming from east to west in this case, since I’ll be wide awake at the crack of dawn anyhow.

The parks will open at 8 a.m. on each day of my visit, but I’ll be spending most of my nights at Disney’s Paradise Pier, so I’ll be able to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hour being offered for the summer. Similar to what is offered at Disney World, both parks will be open an hour early each morning for resort guests. However, Disneyland also offers early entry on select morning to their annual passholders. To take advantage of this offering guests must register online to attend. Not all of the attractions are open for the Extra Magic Hour, but I’m sure I’ll love getting a jump on things early in the morning before the crowds get crazy.

Speaking of getting a jump on things and managing crowds, I have downloaded the Disneyland edition of Lines for my phone. I’m really looking forward to putting it to good use on my first trip. If you aren’t familiar with our app, you’re really missing out. Our staff has worked hard to collect data to accurately predict wait times at both Disney World and Disneyland. This is a wonderful tool to have at your disposal when touring any of the parks. You can also access our Touring Plans right on your phone so you don’t have to carry around a printed copy. Pretty nifty, huh?

Of course, packing is at the forefront with my trip right around the corner. I’m a notorious over-packer, so I’ll be checking one bag and carrying on another. It will be filled with many of the items I usually take with me to Disney World, but I’ve been told  to be sure I have a long sleeved shirt or sweater for the evenings since the temperature can drop into the 60s. I don’t know why people were telling me this as if it was something to worry about; those temperatures sound delightful to me. Otherwise, I’ll have my running shoes for days in the parks, along with flip flops for hanging out around the resort, and a pair of nicer shoes for my dinner at Club 33. Shorts and skirts with light tops will be the name of the game for the daytime with the ability to layer them with a long sleeve shirt if needed. Basics like band-aids and toiletries will also be packed away in my checked bag so I don’t have to worry about the size of bottles and all that jazz. All of this good stuff will be packed into my obnoxiously colored suitcase so I can pick it off the baggage carousel with ease.

In a similar vein, I’m bringing a bigger carry on than usual so I can bring plenty with me to entertain my for 5 hours on an airplane. Hopefully I’ll get some sleep during my flight, though since I’ll be getting up at about 3:30 to make an hour trip to the airport. This particular bag also has a bunch of little pockets and such inside, so that should help to keep me organized at 5 am after my hour long drive to the airport. It will take everything I have just to find my gate by then!

Once I arrive at LAX I’m sure I’ll take a few minutes to get my bearings before finding my suitcase and really being on my way to Disneyland. I’ve opted to try the Super Shuttle to get to the Best Western where I’ll be staying for my first night. I’ve heard some mixed reviews on this service, but the price really can’t be beat. I’m paying just $16 to get to me my hotel! Disney also offers a shuttle service to their resorts for folks who may be going that route. In addition, taxis and hired cars are always available, but will come with a bigger price tag.

I’ll be sure to report back about my trip when I return. If you are heading west this weekend for the D23 event, keep an eye out for me in the parks, and I hope you all have a wonderful time!

How about you? What are some things you do to prepare shortly before you head off to Disneyland? Let me hear your suggestions in the comments!

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Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is khelmstetter05@yahoo.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

6 thoughts on “A Disney World Vet in Disneyland: Last Minute Details

  • Can’t wait to hear about your trip. We are Disney World lifers and are planning a Disneyland 2013 trip!

  • Awesome! I am a regular at Disneyland who will be going to Disney World for the first time next month. You’ll have a blast at Club 33 and Cars Land. I’d love to know what you think of the differences between East and West!

  • Enjoy your trip out here. It will be very different from the World, but DL resort has its own magic. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the original

  • Personally, I think you need to sit back and smell the roses. DL is more laid back than WDW. I love it. We never follow a schedule, just go with the flow. It’s easy to do.
    There are definite things you will have to do which are different/better than WDW — the whole main street where it all started, Small World, Indiana Jones, CA Screamin’, Cars Land, to name a few. Plus there are many new things I haven’t seen yet.
    You’ll find it so easy to hop across the courtyard between DL and CA. Catch the shows, enjoy the ambiance. Grab smaller meals at the parks and nicer ones at DTD or the hotels.
    Hint for next time John Wayne airport (SNA) is much closer, easier, and cheaper than LAX.
    Enjoy … I wish I was in your suitcase 🙂

    • Char, my first trip to DL will be in a little over a week but I chose LAX over SNA because the tickets were significantly cheaper on SWA. In our case the savings seemed to outweigh convenience factor. I know it’s hard to quantify but how much more convenient is it?

  • Get ready to have fun! I’m a DL vet and I just got back from my first trip to Disney World, and I have to say Disneyland is much better than the Magic Kingdom. You will have a great time!


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