Channing Sargent
March 04, 2017 11:50 am
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Some people go to Disneyland and spend all day standing in lines. Do not be one of these people. Instead, be a person who goes to Disneyland and spends all day going on rides. (Or eating snacks, because Disneyland is also for snacks.)

With a little information, some planning, and a penchant for what we like to call “strategery,” you can go gangbusters in the Mouse House.

Of course, you can definitely check out Disney’s own line-skipping suggestions.

Or, follow the tips of one self-appointed Disneyland Tactical Officer (who also happens to be a Hello Giggles writer who may or may not be writing this very article). Known for hitting all the rides in Disneyland and California Adventure in a single 14-hour day, her reputation speaks for itself.

1]Be a single rider!

Some rides, like Indiana Jones and Radiator Springs Racers, have single-rider lines. You can enter the line with your friends, but once at loading, you have to agree to be split up in whatever way the cast member ride-filler person sees fit. Single riders fill in empty seats when groups don’t add up to ride capacity. They help the lines move faster, because no seat goes wasted.

2Go tech savvy with the Disneyland App.

Download it. Use it. The Disneyland App is basically an operational guide to skipping lines. It lists real-time wait times, submitted by riders. It tells you which rides are closed, and which rides offer Fast Passes (see next tip). If you’re doing Disney by just haplessly wandering up to rides and trying your luck, you’re doing it wrong. Download the app. Use it. Level up to Disney Guru.

3Fast Pass OP tactics

Major rides at Disney offer Fast Passes. They’re listed on brochures available at the gate, and on the Disney App. Fast Pass allots each rider an appointment time to return to the ride and enter the Fast Pass line that moves straight to loading with little-to-no wait time. You can only have one Fast Pass at a time. So, here’s what you do:

As soon as you enter the park, check the wait times on the Disneyland App. Get a Fast Pass for the ride with the longest wait time (usually Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, or Indiana Jones).While you wait for your appointment time, go on rides with shortest wait times. Or shop. Or eat. Or see non-ride attractions like parades and shows and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

As you reach your appointment time, get another Fast Pass for a different ride. (Your pass will state what time you can get a new one, which is usually just before your appointment slot begins.) Go on the ride with your first Fast Pass. Then go on short-wait rides. Eat. Shop. See some attractions. Begin again.

4Be an early bird!

At Disney, the early bird really does get the worm. That is, if you arrive super early and get in line at the entry gate before the park opens, you’ll be some of the first people in. You can bang out all the major rides before noon, and feel like a dang champ. Then spend the rest of the day just taking it easy. Gorging on treats, drinking at California Adventure, leisurely hitting a ride when you feel so inclined.

5Or go night owl.

After the fireworks, the crowds thin out. If you have the stamina, stick around. You can re-employ your early bird strategy late at night, and do all the major rides all over again. Or, hit the kiddie rides like Peter Pan, which are packed during awake-kid hours.

6Skip the fireworks!

Wait times drop significantly during the fireworks, because everyone’s standing around Main Street, waiting for the display. Though the park becomes hard to navigate at this time, with Main Street completely cordoned-off, do not be deterred. Swim upstream. Dance to your own rhythm. Snake your way through the crowd to your favorite rides. You’ll be able to get most of them in with hardly any wait at all.

7Be weatherproof.

Guess what thins Disney out faster than a sale on churros? RAIN. Southern Californians are afraid of it, and the Disney savvy use this for a massive advantage. Though the rain can shut down some outdoor rides, like Dumbo, it will make lines disappear as people hunt for ponchos and duck for cover. Be fearless.

8Don’t forget California Adventure!

If you’re in California, and can afford a Park Hopper Pass, do it. And don’t forget to consider Cal Adventure when you’re gathering data for your day plan. The app list wait times there, too. Those rides offer Fast Pass, too. Some rides, like Radiator Springs and Soarin’ Over The World, fill up fast and the Fast Pass appointments run out early. Therefore, they’re prime candidates for early-birding.

9Know your off-seasons.

It’s not like Disneyland is ever empty, but there are definitely times where it’s considerably less crowded. For shorter lines in general, avoid the last two weeks of December, any major holidays, and pretty much April-August (when grad nights and summer vacationers descend.) Best bets for low crowds are the beginning of November and December, and January through March.

10Know the no-line rides.

There are lines that are ALWAYS crowded, but there are also rides that are never packed. These are great for the middle of the day, when lines for the big ones start to hit the 90 minute mark, and you need to kill time before your next Fast Pass kicks in. Some great ones to remember are: Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, The Enchanted Tiki Room, Disney’s Hall of Presidents, and The Little Mermaid ride in California Adventure.

Happy riding, guys!

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