Disneyland Resort

12 Essential Disneyland Tips for First-Time Visitors

Pixar Pier At Disneyland In Anaheim, California

Disney always offers a magical experience to its visitors, regardless if it’s their first time visiting or if they’ve been there several times already. However, the experience that first-time visitors can get is no doubt different. In some cases, the attractions, atmosphere, shows, and details can be overwhelming.

At the same time, it will involve a lot of planning and preparation. If you decide to visit Disneyland by yourself or with your family for the first time, you must consider a lot of stuff.

In this guide, we’ll look at 10 essential Disneyland tips you must remember as a first-time visitor. Let’s get started.


We have a lot of tips we’d like to recommend to you, but the key takeaway here is to prepare for your trip in advance. As much as possible, research the theme parks you plan on visiting. It’s also essential to plan your itinerary and schedule ahead of time.

Look at crowd calendars and check if the date you plan to visit has large or small crowds. You also want to check the weather forecast to prepare the clothing you should wear during your visit.

Long story short, it’s all about getting prepared right ahead of time, especially since Disneyland can be easily overwhelming for first-time visitors.

Most of these tips also apply to just about any Disney theme park worldwide. However, for this guide, we’ll cover Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

12 Essential Disneyland Tips for First-Time Visitors

Before you take your trip, it’s essential to research first. This will ensure that your trip will go as smoothly and without any headaches as possible. Most first-time Disneyland visitors do their research first to maximize their time and plan their budget accordingly.

Since the total expenses for a Disneyland trip are high, you have to save money in advance, ideally months before your planned trip. Then, of course, you have to consider how many of you are going to, which hotel you want to stay in, and other essential details you value.

Without further ado, here are the 12 essential tips you have to consider if you’re a first-time Disneyland visitor:

1. Decide When You Want To Visit

Beautiful Carousel Fantasyland

We would highly recommend visiting Disneyland during the off-season. During this time, you won’t have to worry about massive crowds, and you can even enjoy shorter wait times than visiting during peak seasons.

Also, the off-season spans from early September to late November and has generally nice weather. It’s neither too hot nor too cold, and it also means you don’t have to pack as many clothing items as you have to.

However, if visiting during the off-season is not an option, avoid visiting Disneyland during holidays and summer breaks because of a surge of crowds. You can also consult a Disney crowd calendar to estimate how crowded the parks will be during your visit.

2. Don’t Forget To Make Park Reservations

Believe In Holiday Magic Fireworks Spectacular

As soon as you have your park tickets, the next best thing to do is to make park reservations right away. You have to fit it into your daily schedule and consider the distance from one ride to another. You can use the Disney Genie+ app to give you an idea of how much time you need to arrive at your destination from your current location.

If you were able to secure a hopper ticket, which is a ticket that allows you to visit California Adventure and Disneyland in a single day, then we suggest switching to the other park at 1 PM on the same day.

3. Book a Hotel in Advance


You have several options regarding which hotel you want to stay in during your trip to Disneyland. However, if you wish to access some amazing perks, your best option is to book any of the three hotels in the park. Doing so will grant you access to Extra Magic Hour, a perk that lets you experience Disney’s rides an hour earlier before the other visitors show up.

If you are short on budget, you can book a nearby offsite hotel instead. You’d be surprised to learn that most of these hotels are closer to Disneyland’s entrance than the ones inside. Of course, this will save you a lot of time as most of them are just a few minutes walk away. But, of course, this also saves you a lot of money, considering how expensive Disney’s hotel rates are.

4. Practice the Art of Rope Dropping

Black Spire Outpost - Toydarian Toymaker - Jar Jar Binks

Rope dropping simply means arriving at the gates of any given ride at least 45 minutes before the gate even opens. This way, you can get a good spot in the line and won’t have to deal with long wait times. Disney’s staff will even allow guests to enter 15-30 minutes before the gates officially open.

With rope dropping, you can go straight to some of the most favorite attractions throughout Disneyland without a huge crowd blocking your way. Even if you decide to visit during peak seasons, rope dropping will always be essential to visit the most popular attractions without dealing with huge crowds.

As long as you can put this into practice, you’ll be able to get on most of the popular rides even before lunchtime!

5. Book Dining Reservations As Early as Possible

Monte Cristo Sandwich From Cafe Orleans

You can book a dining reservation 60 days in advance, so use this to your advantage if it’s your first time visiting Disneyland. You can also book at least one character breakfast for your trip. This is a fantastic experience where you meet Disney characters as you eat your meals.

While Disneyland has plenty of restaurants, it will be hard to find a spot for you and your family if you walk in. For the most part, you’ll find these restaurants full of people who have made their reservations in advance. So save yourself the hassle instead.

6. Make Sure To Wear Comfortable Clothes

Main Street Electrical Parade

Always dress according to the weather. Most of your adventure throughout Disneyland will involve a lot of walking, so you must wear comfortable, lightweight, and even breathable clothes. The same can be said for your shoes as well.

On average, you’ll walk around 8 to 10 miles daily, depending on your planned schedule. If you visit during summer, wear lightweight and breathable clothes. On the other hand, if you visit during winter, it would be ideal for wearing layers of clothing alongside a thick jacket.

Also, make sure that you wear shoes that are already broken in. Avoid wearing a new pair, as it will only make your trip uncomfortable.

7. Don’t Forget Your Essentials

A Disneyland Castle

When packing your stuff for your trip, always bring your essentials. These items can be helpful throughout your adventure; without them, you’d only make your trip miserable. There are lots of things you’d want to bring with you, but for the most part, you should never forget the following:

  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Hats and sunglasses
  • Change of clothes
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Lightweight backpack
  • Powerbank and charger
  • First aid kit
  • Camera
  • Rain poncho

There are several other items you’d want to bring with you, though most will boil down to personal preference. The ones we included in the list are essential items you should not forget to bring.

8. Bring Snacks With You

Pinapple Dole Whipe Donut

Eating Disney’s snacks is part of the experience, but with their wide selection, you’ll be depleting your budget sooner than you think. So, if you want to save a lot of money, we highly recommend bringing your snacks.

You don’t have to bring a lot, just enough to fill your tummy before you proceed to your next destination. Of course, you can buy Disney’s snacks occasionally, but bringing some of your own is always a good idea.

9. Learn More About the Shows You Want To Attend

It's A Small World

You can find plenty of exciting shows in any of the four theme parks, and if you take the trip with your family, it’s worth noting that there will always be something for everybody. That said, certain shows are only available on certain days of the week. So if you’re interested in watching those shows, make sure you know their schedule so you can plan ahead of time.

You can use the Disneyland app to look at the various entertainment options available and their respective schedule. And if you want to attend one, arrive at least an hour earlier to get a good spot.

These shows are popular among visitors, so they can fill up quickly if you don’t arrive earlier.

10. Check the Rides’ Height Requirements

Runaway Railway

If you bring kids during your trip, remember that most rides will have a height requirement. If your little one isn’t tall enough to ride it, then Disney’s staff won’t allow them to do so. This can cause a meltdown, especially if your kids look forward to a particular ride.

To save yourself the trouble – and a possible unhappy moment – make sure to check each ride’s height requirement so you can know which ride your kids can get on. Also, cast members will check if your kids are tall enough to ride.

11. Schedule Your Shopping at the End of the Day

Inside The Droid Shop

If you want to go shopping, we recommend doing it at the end of the day. You don’t want to walk around Disneyland carrying many shopping bags with you all day. While you can just rent a locker to store them, it can sometimes be inconvenient.

Instead, you have to do your shopping at the end of the day. After all, shops on Main Street will remain open for an hour after the park closes. This gives you plenty of time and opportunity to buy souvenirs and other gift items without interfering with your daily schedule.

12. Buy Disney Gift Cards at Target

Disney Gift Cards. Disney Gift Cards Are Accepted Online Or At The Disney Store.

The last time we have is designed for those who want to save money on their Disneyland trip. This involves buying your Disney gift cards at Target to take advantage of their 5% discount. As long as you have the Target Red Card, you’ll be able to save 5% on all purchases at Target, including Disney gift cards.

While a $5 saving for every $100 spent won’t sound that much, you’d be surprised to learn how you’ll pay throughout your stay in Disneyland.


As a first-time visitor to Disneyland, you must ensure everything is accounted for before your planned trip. Hopefully, our tips will help you make the most of your adventure in this magical kingdom and have memorable moments while at it.

There are many attractions to visit and things to do in Disneyland, so make sure not to miss out on any of those.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Bring Cash or a Card to Disneyland?

Disneyland accepts non-cash payments across most of its establishments. However, we still recommend bringing a bit of cash with you as there are still some things you can only pay with cash.

How Much Can I Expect To Spend per Day in Disneyland?

This would depend on several factors, such as your preferred accommodation, dining option, and more. However, if we’re talking about averages, then this is how much you can expect to spend every single day:

  • $104 per day for park tickets
  • $400 to $600 per night on hotels
  • $70 per day per person for food and drinks

This would equate to roughly $700 per day staying in Disneyland. It’s no doubt expensive, but it is indeed worth it.

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