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We all had a great time on our recent holiday to California including Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, especially the kids! Lots of planning and preparation went into how best to tackle the two parks of the Disneyland Resort (Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park), including You Tube tips and tricks videos, Facebook Disney tips and tricks pages, website recommendations and more! It can all be a bit overwhelming, trying to ensure you do and see everything you can in the time you have. Despite our best efforts to plan out the 3 days we had available, most of those plans got thrown out the window once we walked through the gate! We did however do everything we wanted and more, lots of walking (20,000 steps a day!), rides, shows, and soaking up the Disney experience.
A few of our own Tips and Tricks to share from the experience are:
By staying at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels, we were able to take advantage of a few perks for hotel guests including Early Entry into the parks each day (30 minutes before the public). This worked well and allowed us to get a jump start on the day, tick off a few rides and have a head start on everyone else. We did not however get to spend very much time at the hotel, with so much to see and do we were at the parks from early until late evening most days. With the considerable cost difference between staying at a Disneyland hotel compared to a nearby Anaheim property (with many just as close in walking distance when comparing to the Disney hotels), it really is an individual preference on what your budget is and if the higher cost is justified. Personally, I would choose to stay at a nearby hotel should we visit again.
The Genie + ticket addon is a must during peak season travel. This ticket allows you to reserve spots for most rides in the Lightening Lane, basically skipping the main queue and reducing your wait times. You do need to use the Disney App and keep on top of things throughout the day to reserve your spots, with limitations and rules applicable to when and how you can access the Lightening Lane spots. Once you get your head around it all, it’s worth the ticket upgrade, particularly with young kids who aren’t great at waiting in line!
Ordering food via the App to collect from the various outlets throughout the Parks is another way to save time. Reservations for the various restaurants and special themed dining experiences open on the App 60 days prior to your visit, and book out quickly! We managed to book in for the Disney character Breakfast Buffet dining experience with Mickey and friends at the Grand Californian Hotel, which was a great experience for the kids…….and the adults!
We did purchase the 3 Day Park Hopper tickets for our time at the parks, however found that this was not needed for our visit and did not use this feature of our tickets. Each day you plan on visiting the parks, you need to make a reservation online to a particular park you wish to visit on any given day and enter this park first. After 11am on that day, you have the ability to jump between parks if you have the Park Hopper option. We found that spending 2 days at Disneyland Park, and 1 day at Disney California Adventure Park was sufficient time to do everything we wanted and would therefore suggest the Standard One Park Per Day tickets to save on the entry cost.
We also spent one day at Universal Studios Hollywood on our holiday. This was a very busy day, lots of people and queues……….and very expensive! The standard ticket price of entry was approx. USD$109.00 per person, and their version of a Skip the Line Express Pass ticket cost an extra USD$200.00 per person on the day to upgrade your ticket! It’s slightly cheaper for the Express pass tickets if purchased online, however still very pricey. We opted for the standard entry tickets for Universal Studios as couldn’t justify the extra cost for the Express Pass. This did mean that we did not get onto every ride in one day, as the standard wait times for some rides were up to 180 minutes. We did however tick off what we came to do, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the new Super Nintendo World and Bowser’s Challenge ride, and a few other rides. Food was also more expensive here than at Disneyland. The rides and attractions of Universal Studios are quite good, however in summertime it is a very busy place and would recommend visiting during quitter times of the year to avoid the masses of people and save on the entry pricing during low season.
Our trip was a long time coming, with lots of planning and excitement in the lead up and was all over way too quickly! We did have a great time…..the next adventure awaits!