Updated February 12th 2017 Disney theme park prices have gone up once again. In this article you’ll see how to lock in the discount prices on Disneyland and Walt Disney World prices before they are gone forever.
Disneyland has increased prices on all one day, multi day tickets, and some Annual Passports.
In Walt Disney World, the prices for the one day tickets, multi day tickets, and some Annual Passports will increase.
There are some tricks that will allow you to lock in exclusive discounted prices on the current Disneyland and Walt Disney World ticket prices.
Disney works with a select group of tour companies to sell packages and discount tickets. Disneyland’s first outside travel partner was Get Away Today vacations (they have worked together for over 25 years). I reached out to Get Away Today and negotiated their prices down exclusively for our readers. When you purchase through our private link, you will be guaranteed to be purchasing the lowest priced 2-day and longer Disneyland tickets available to the public anywhere.
You can buy Disneyland tickets for use any time in 2017. If you are visiting the parks, buy now! If you are buy Walt Disney World tickets before this increase, the tickets will remain valid indefinitely. There is no expiration date until the first day you use your ticket.
The lowest prices on tickets can only be accessed through our private link. When you go to Get Away Today’s website directly, you will still get a great discount, but will miss out on roughly $20 of savings per ticket.
Today is an even more special day, because even though Disneyland and Walt Disney World raised their prices on February 12, Get Away Today will keep their current extremely discounted prices until February 21st for the purchase of any ticket two days or longer. Access the exclusively discounted tickets just for our readers via this private link. Ticket prices go up immediately on February 22nd!
Prices for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts have risen steadily since 2000 when the prices for admission at Disneyland were a mere $41 for adults and $31 for children. In Walt Disney World tickets cost $46 for adults and $37 for children.
These increases have come after a steady increase of attendance and an overcrowding problem that makes Disneyland busy during every time of the year.
As recorded by the Themed Entertainment Association, in 2014, Disneyland is reported to have seen 16,769,000 million visitors while Disney California Adventure welcomed 8,769,000 visitors. In Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom saw 19,332,000, Epcot saw 11,454,00, Animal Kingdom saw 10,402,00, and Hollywood Studios saw 10,312,000.
Do I have Disneyland tips I usually say?!? How much time do you have?
Now, rather than being constrained by time, I have written down my top 150 Disneyland hacks and tips for your easy use. (These are not your average Disneyland tips.)
150 Disneyland Tips, Tricks, and Hacks 2017
Buy discount Disneyland tickets in advance for a discount. You can save money and avoid a line at the ticket booth when you purchase your tickets in advance. See all my advice on finding discount Disneyland tickets (how to avoid scams and other Disneyland hacks).
Stay in a hotel that is close to the parks. You can either stay at a Disney-owned on property hotel or at a partner hotel right next door to the resort. On property hotels give you access to the park an hour early every day of your visit, but are more expensive. The partner hotels are less expensive but have many fewer amenities. See our recommendations for both types of hotels near Disneyland.
Be sure to call your hotel in advance to tell them about your vacation. Recently I was traveling with my grandmother who had never been to Disneyland. I called the Disneyland Hotel to let them know and they greeted us with a First Visit button and a special upgrade to include a fireworks view room and dessert party. All that just by letting them know I was celebrating something. If anyone in your group has an anniversary, birthday, graduation, promotion, or anything else notable that has happened recently, let your hotel know. They are looking for a reason to be nice to you!
Purchase Disney gift cards online and get 5% off when you have a Target Red Card. See our full guide on hacking the system and earning at least 5% off everything that you buy at Disneyland.
You can purchase discount tickets and then upgrade them to annual passports and save big. When you present a ticket you purchased at a discount to be upgraded to a pass, you actually get the full value of that ticket. See pertaining Disneyland tips in our guide for how to take advantage of this opportunity.
Take a photo of the back of your ticket to use in case you lose your Disneyland ticket. Using the barcode from the photo, Guest Relations is able to replace any lost ticket.
The Anaheim Convention Center is the biggest on the West Coast. Crowds from the convention center can really change the crowd levels inside both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. See more Disneyland tips in our when to visit Disneyland guide to avoid these crowds.
There are nearly 1 million Annual Passholders at Disneyland. Whether or not they come determines how full the park is. When the lower level Annual Passports are blocked out, the parks will be much less crowded. See our Disneyland crowd calendar.
Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Visiting Disneyland can be a long day. You will be walking and moving around constantly so make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes and especially shoes. Remember though, you still want to look good for all the pictures. See our full Disneyland packing list and what to wear guide.
Be sure to pack a light jacket and dress in layers. While Disneyland is located in warm southern California, expect cold evenings and mornings.
Track how far you walk. Use your pedometer or iPhone application to track how far you have walked during your trip. On average my family walks about 9 miles a day at Disneyland.
Take a picture when you park your car. The Mickey and Friends parking structure is one of the biggest in the world. Losing your parking spot can be quite easy. Take a photo or drop a pin in your car’s location so that you can remember where you parked after a long day at Disneyland.
Request a FREE Disney Vacation Planning DVD. These videos are fantastic to get an overview of Disneyland and a great way to get the entire family excited for your Disneyland vacation. Get FREE Disney DVD>
Arrive at the gate to Disneyland at least 20 minutes before opening. Many days the parks open before their scheduled opening time and you want to be ready to enter when they do. Also, the lines to get in can be long once the actual opening time comes around.
You can get an extra hour in Disneyland or Disney California Adventure before the parks open to the public. You can get this extra hour in the park by either staying at a Disney-owned hotel or by purchasing a three day or longer park hopper or non-park hopper discount Disneyland ticket from a Disney ticket reseller. Magic Morning is for guests who purchase three day or longer tickets and takes place in Disneyland Park on select days of the week, right now Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Extra Magic Hour comes when you stay at one of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels and provides alternating access to either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure on every day of the week.
If you do not have access to the Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning, start the day in the park that does not have the extra hour. If Disney California Adventure has Extra Magic Hour and you don’t have access because you aren’t staying on property, start your day in Disneyland. And vice versa. Visiting the park without with early opening will prevent you from running into lines that were formed by the crowds of people who got to enter the theme parks early. You can find this information on the Disneyland entertainment schedule.
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Booking a Disneyland vacation package can help you save money. When you book your tickets and hotel together you will save quite a bit more. See all of our information on how to save money with discount Disneyland packages.
Use the center gate to enter the parks. There is an individual gate with a turnstile in between the two long rows of turnstiles. Many believe this is just a line for wheelchairs and strollers, but anyone can use this line. Often this line is much shorter.
The best Sleeping Beauty Castle photo can be taken from the right hand side of the castle. There are fewer people from this side angle and you are surrounded by greenery rather than concrete.
Put your phone on airplane mode when waiting and riding underground rides. On rides that are underground like Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean your phone battery will die much more quickly because your phone will be searching for a cellular signal that is not there.
Listen to the Disneyland Vacations Show podcast. If you like listening to the podcasts, be sure to listen to the Disneyland Vacations show for advice on all aspects of planning your Disneyland vacation. Listen on iTunes here>
Be sure to park hop at Disneyland. This is such a nice attribute of the resort. Everything is so close together that you can really jump around from one corner to another without wasting much time. Do not feel limited in the same way you would at Walt Disney World. I always recommend Park Hopper tickets.
Pick up a celebration button. Disneyland makes unique buttons for almost every celebration including birthdays, anniversaries, honeymoons, first visits to the park, and anything else you are celebrating. Wear a button so that Cast Members will say hello and have a reason to make magic for you. That could mean anything from a free dessert to a random front of line pass or just friendly greetings. You never know! See all of our Disneyland tips about celebrating a birthday at Disneyland.
Use Disneyland’s free FastPass service to avoid the lines. The Disneyland FastPass system is essentially a way to reserve a return time for an attraction when you can ride with little to no wait. See our full Disney FastPass guide for a full explanation of this very complex system.
To plan out the best day and avoid lines, use the Touring Plans service. This subscription website will provide you custom itineraries based off years of data on crowd control and ride capacity in Disneyland. You can get a 20% off discount if you use code “DisneyDose16” when you click this link.
Updated 4/3/17: No longer works! Sadly this was changed earlier this year. Use the secret FastPass for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Next door to the FastPass distribution for Star Tours, there are two machines that are not connected to the rest of the FastPass system that distribute FastPass tickets for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. See full explanation of this trick and how disconnected Disney FastPass work here.
The FastPass systems between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are disconnected. In addition to the two theme parks being disconnected, some key attractions are not looped into the main system either. This means that you can hold multiple unconnected FastPass tickets at one time. Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and World of Color are all disconnected from their theme park’s respective systems.
Disneyland now enforces FastPass return times (the second time on the ticket). Attempt to return to the attraction before the second time printed on your FastPass ticket. If you are a few minutes late though, do not be too worried. The Cast Members are typically generous.
Use the child swap system which allows one adult in the group to wait with a child while the other rides and they can switch. This system allows for both adults in the party to experience the attraction while only waiting once and prevents the child from ever being alone.
Bring your own stroller for the kids. When visiting Disneyland, be sure to bring your own stroller rather than renting from the parks. If you do not want to bring your stroller on the trip with you, rent from a company that can deliver to your hotel rather than directly from Disneyland. Call your Disneyland hotel front desk and they should be able to arrange this for you.
If you need a wheelchair for someone in your group, do not rent one from the parks. Rent one from the hotel as these can be taken out of the park with you and walked back to the hotel.
Establish a very specific meeting point for your group in case you split up. Every time you enter a new area establish a meeting point for your group that you can all return to if you get split up. See our full guide to lost children in Disneyland.
Tell children to locate someone with a Disneyland name tag if they are lost. This Disneyland Cast Member who finds your child will make sure that they are accompanied at all times until they are reconnected with you.
Write your phone number on your child somewhere in case they are lost. It is easy to get separated in Disneyland when traveling with a group. I recommend Safetytat, a temporary tattoo for your child, as a method to put your phone number directly on your child without any skin damage. If the number is there, you will receive a call from a Cast Member letting you know exactly where you can come meet your lost child.
Talk to Cast Members whenever you get the chance. Getting to know the people who work at Disneyland makes the experience that much more dimensional and memorable. By the end of the trip you will end up having a shared experience of some sort with one of them. Ask about where they are from, how long they have been working at Disneyland, why they chose to work in the parks. You will end up hearing some fun stories.
Cast Members with solid blue name tags have received a prestigious award. The solid blue name tag honors Cast Members who have received the Walt Disney Legacy Award for embodying the leadership spirit of making magic from Walt Disney. I like to say congratulations when I see these Cast Members who have been recognized by the Disney company.
Cast Members are given pins to wear on their name tags honoring them for the amount of years they have worked at the park. Pins range from 1 year all the way up to 50. Keep your eye out for the unique pins worn on the name tag. See our photo guide to all of the pins on the name tags.
Pin trade with Cast Members. Another fun activity at Disneyland is the opportunity to pin trade with Cast Members. You will see Cast Members throughout the park with pin lanyards on. You can trade any Disney made pin with any of the pins on the Cast Member lanyards. There are even special Cast Member exclusive pins that you can only find on the Cast Member lanyards. See our Disneyland tips in our guide to Disney pin trading.
Purchase your pins for pin trading before going to the parks. Since you are going to be trading your pins away, consider purchasing your trading pins in bulk before arriving at the parks. In the parks, pins cost between $8-$12. When buying in bulk you can find bags of pins for about $1 per pin. See our pin trading guide (linked in #39) for more information.
Bring quarters and pennies for pressed pennies. Throughout the park there are pressed penny machines that will imprint special Disneyland designs on them. To press one penny it requires two quarters and one penny. If you think you may want to partake, be sure to have change and some shiny pennies to press.
Bring a poncho to the park for water rides. Rather than getting totally soaked, I prefer to bring a poncho when we plan on riding either Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Run.
Choose a goal for what you want to accomplish during your visit at Disneyland. Determine the theme and goal of each of your days. As Mousetalgia, the insightful weekly podcast on Disneyland preaches, “manage your expectations” and you will have a fantastic day at Disneyland. (You can find my interview podcast, the Disney Dose podcast, here.)
Fly into SNA/John Wayne Airport if you have the option. The Orange County/John Wayne/SNA airport is much closer to Disneyland than any of the other airports. Most of the main carriers still fly into Orange County. See all of our Disneyland tips and information on the Disneyland airports page.
Use the Uber app to get around and from the airport to Disneyland. Uber is a fantastic option for transportation that will save you a lot of money throughout your vacation. Use discount code “gavind714ue” to save $20 off your first ride.
If you are being dropped off at Disneyland, get dropped off at the Grand Californian Hotel. This is much better than the taxi stand and pick up area on the Harbor Boulevard side of the park. The hotel address is 1600 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802.
The Hotels of the Disneyland Resort will store your luggage free of charge at Bell Services. I do recommend you give a tip when you pick up your bag. You can see other Disneyland free things here.
If you bring a popped Disneyland balloon to any of the vendors they will give you a new one. Simply return to any balloon vendor with the scraps from your popped balloon.
The mailboxes throughout Disneyland are real. Disneyland used to have their own mail cancellation stamp, but now mail sent here is sent out with the Anaheim area stamp.
Gluten free items are available at almost every restaurant in the resort. Don’t be afraid to ask at the restaurant. Take full advantage of this Disneyland tip by visiting Guest Relations at either theme park to get an overview of the best restaurants to fit your needs.
It can be beneficial for one person in your group to have an annual pass just for the discounts it provides you. Price out your tickets and consider the discount rates that are provided to pass holders. The discounts provided on dining and souvenirs may make purchasing a pass worthwhile. Consider using this Disneyland hack.
If someone in your family doesn’t want to go into the park, consider sending them to the spa at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. My mom and aunt made sure I included this tip. They called it a “fantastic” spa located in the Disney California Adventure hotel. Only for those who don’t want to spend everyday in the parks–personally I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to.
Buy the souvenir you want when you see it! Every store throughout the Disneyland Resort has a different selection of items available for purchase. You do not want to set your heart on one specific item and then not be able to find that item later. When you see something you want, buy it!
Disneyland Purchases can be sent to your hotel room at any on property Disney owned hotel. This is another nice perk of staying at any of the Disneyland hotels.
There are specific locations that will hold souvenirs for you so that you can pick them up at the end of the day. These shops are the Disneyland Resort Stroller Shop, Elias & Company in Disney California Adventure Park, Pioneer Mercantile at Disneyland Park, Port Royal at Disneyland Park, and The Star Trader at Disneyland Park. They will just check items that were purchased in the parks and are not limited edition.
Disneyland pins make great souvenirs for your vacation. There are pins to represent nearly every experience in Disneyland. Each time we try something new, like the first time we rode California Screamin’ or stayed at the Grand Californian Hotel, we would buy a pin featuring that experience. It’s a great way to remember your Disneyland firsts.
Purchase your souvenirs and costumes for kids in advance. If you plan on having your kids wear costumes or use an autograph book, you should definitely purchase these items in advance to save money. You can also find plush toys of Disney characters at much better prices by buying items in advance. See our full Disneyland tips and tricks to finding the best Disneyland souvenirs.
Get your silhouette cut on Main Street. Inside a shop on Main Street you can find incredibly talented silhouette cutters who will cut your silhouette on black paper. These cuts are inexpensive and make an extremely memorable souvenir!
Don’t miss Trader Sam’s Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. Located in the middle of the pool area at the Disneyland Hotel, the bar is highly themed bar with fun tropical drinks and special effects throughout.
Try the Ice Cream Nachos at the Golden Horseshoe in Disneyland Park. These are on the “secret menu” and consist of ice cream served over waffle cone “chips.”
Check out the Disneyland Secrets Facebook page for updates on the latest news, fun historic photos, and more Disneyland hacks. On the page you can find the latest news and fun Disneyland commentary. Be sure to like the page to get a daily post from the parks.
Don’t miss the nightly sh-boom moment when the lights come on in Cars Land. Every night at dusk, all the lights come on in Cars Land to the famous sh-boom song. See the video. This nightly light show was suggested by John Lasseter’s son Ben when walking the construction site with his dad near the completion of the project. The show can be seen nightly two minutes after sunset.
For a nice view of Cars Land, enter from the Paradise Pier side of the land. This is will provide a breathtaking view of the rockwork and Radiator Springs Racers attraction.
The Grizzly River Run lockers are free for the first two hours. Located on the left hand side of the entrance to the attraction, the free lockers are a perfect place to put things you don’t want to get wet during the ride.
Be sure to pick up an entertainment schedule when you enter the parks. Do not miss the incredible shows, parades, and entertainment throughout both theme parks. The paper entertainment guide, available at the ticket turnstiles when you walk into the park (or from one of the Cast Members sweeping the street once you are inside the park), is critical.
Never wait more than 15 minutes for fireworks or a parade. For all of these in-park shows, you can still be stand back a few rows and get the entire experience.
Watch the parade at the very beginning of the route when it starts next to “it’s a Small World.” Watching from the beginning point means that you will be done viewing the parade while thousands of other people are still waiting to watch. Get in line for “it’s a Small World” right after the parade passes by. This is especially important during the Christmas season when the lines for “it’s a Small World” are extremely long.
Please watch the Disneyland Flag Retreat ceremony honoring our country. This daily ceremony happens in the late afternoon in Town Square on Main Street. All of the branches of the armed forces are recognized. Make time to see the presentation! For many this is the best part of a Disneyland visit. Check out our list of the most patriotic things in Disneyland.
Watch Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln. I have to mention this item in this list because so many people miss the show completely. The show has great American history and Disney history all wrapped up in one. Mr. Lincoln was the first human Audio-Animatronic Walt Disney Imagineering ever built.
Do not promise any specific character to your children. While there are quite a few Disney characters meeting in the parks, they change constantly. You never know who you will see.
Ask Guest Relations about specific characters so that they can track them down for you. If there is any specific character you are desperate to meet, you can ask at Guest Relations. They will have the full listing of characters throughout the resort.
Character dining can be a great way to meet characters without using a lot of your park time waiting in lines for photos. There are quite a few character dining options. You will want to check out all our Disneyland tips on Disneyland Character Dining here.
Children under the age of three can eat for free in the buffets throughout the resort.
Anyone can order kid’s menu items from counter service restaurants. While there are recommended ages for kid’s menu items that are sold from the counter service restaurants in Disneyland, people of any age can order this food. These smaller, simpler, meals can make for a great meal if you aren’t that hungry.
All food and snacks are allowed to be brought into Disneyland. While the official policy is that outside food is not allowed in Disneyland, you will not be questioned if you bring food from outside into the theme parks. See my Disneyland packing list guide .
Attractions don’t actually shut down when the park closes. Only the lines to attractions close at the listed time the parks close. You can save some of the big attractions for late at night at which point the lines will have gotten shorter and you will be able to be in the park longer. For example, if you get in an 80 minute line for Space Mountain one minute before park close, you could be in the parks an extra 80 minutes after the park officially closes.
Shops on Main Street USA and Buena Vista Street are open for 30 minutes to an hour after the official park closing time. This can be a good time to get your shopping done.
Look for the secrets of Disneyland while you are touring. In my best selling book, Disneyland Secrets: A Grand Tour of Disneyland’s Hidden Details, you can find information on secrets and stories from each land of the park. Read the book before your trip and take it into the park to spot hidden details.
Not ready to buy the Disneyland secrets book? Read our other article with some Disneyland secrets excerpt from my Disneyland secrets book here.
Make dining reservations for your group. Making dining reservations can help provide structure to your day. You can make reservations up to 60 days in advance and can cancel those reservations up until 24 hours before your seating. After the 24 hour mark you will be billed $10 per person of a cancelled reservation. See all of our Disneyland restaurant advice.
Make special requests for your dining reservation. If it is your birthday or if you are celebrating something, be sure to let them know.
Choose your dining options by looking at your daily schedule. Having a nice sit down dinner can be a great way to break up the day, especially if the park is open late. If the park closes at 9 pm or earlier, make a reservation in Downtown Disney for right when you are leaving the park.
Get a FastPass for World of Color early in the day. The World of Color nighttime fountain and projection show is incredible. Through Disney’s FastPass system you can grab a free ShowPass to reserve a specific seating area. Simply pick up a ticket right when you enter Disney California Adventure. The distribution is located in front of Grizzly River Run. See our full guide to how Disneyland FastPass and disconnected passes work here.
My favorite spot to watch the fireworks is halfway between the end of the shops on Main Street and the partners statue. You can secure a spot for the Disneyland fireworks pretty easily all the way up until the show begins.
There are now multiple Starbucks throughout Disneyland. If you think you will want Starbucks, the lines are usually much shorter at the new Downtown Disney location next to the Disneyland hotel across from the Downtown Disney Monorail station. (Or just order Starbucks instant coffee online as we recommend in our Disneyland packing list guide.)
Enter the parks from Monorail or Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel entrance. While you don’t always have to utilize this Disneyland tip, be aware that you can enter Disneyland from the end of Downtown Disney at the Monorail station and enter Disney California Adventure from the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa private entrance.
Use the Single Rider system to maximize time. This system splits up parties and lets you jump the line so that Disney can fill all the empty seats. See our Disneyland tips in the Disney Single Rider pass guide.
Do not use Single Rider for Soarin’ because this line Single Rider line often takes longer than the real standby queue. Get a FastPass for Soarin’ as they rarely run out.
If you are traveling alone, an eReader can make the lines go by quickly. Load up a new book or one of the many books on Disneyland.
If you are traveling in a group, download the Heads Up game to play in line while you wait. This is a great game to pass the time in line. The app is like charades but you talk out the answer.
The Walt Disney Imagineers have hidden Mickey Mouse heads throughout the theme parks. These are called “Hidden Mickeys” and there are entire books dedicated to helping you find them. See my favorite Disneyland books to bring into the parks.
Be on the lookout for Disneyland cats. At last count, there were over 200 cats wandering Disneyland property. These cats are tended to by Disneyland Cast Members and help keep the rodent population under control Sometimes they can be spotted during the day, but mainly they are in the planters.
If are at the resort for multiple nights (as we highly recommend), you should ride an outdoor attraction like Big Thunder Mountain or Grizzly River Run while the fireworks are going off. This is a totally unique view of the fireworks and really adds to your experience on the rides.
Both Fantasyland and Toontown are closed during the fireworks shows and for both an hour before and after. Do not plan on experiencing anything in these areas during the shows.
Find a private restroom in the Enchanted Tiki Room. The Tiki Room is one of the only attractions with its own restroom, because the attraction was originally going to be a restaurant.
Interested in a recipe of something you ate in the park or a plant you saw? You can visit Guest Relations and they will be able to get you a recipe for most dishes or identification of most plants.
Go to the Grand Californian Hotel lobby to relax. The Hearthstone lounge is a calming place to get a drink and have a snack. They have a limited bar menu. My favorite item is the flat bread. This spot is worth stopping by just for the peaceful atmosphere. Once you are done with your break, enter the parks again from the private hotel entrance.
The Carthay Circle Theater Lounge and Restaurant is a fantastic upscale fine dining location. Carthay Circle serves as a perfect oasis of tranquility in the middle of Disney California Adventure park. This restaurant is expensive and real treat! See my review of the Carthay Circle Restaurant.
The Animation Building, specifically the Animation Academy is a great break to rest your feet and get inside. You can learn to draw your favorite Disney characters, meet the stars of Frozen, enjoy Turtle Talk With Crush, or take a test to see which Disney character you are.
Request the front cabin on the monorail for privacy and fun views of the parks! Plus, this is the only place in the monorail that has air conditioning.
There are water bottle filler locations throughout Disneyland. The spigots can be found at Tomorrowland Terrace, Rancho Del Zocalo, the French Market, and the Plaza Inn. Disney California Adventure does not have water bottle fillers. I have found the best place to fill up a bottle is in the Wine Country Trattoria bathroom.
Disneyland offers private VIP tours and guided tours. There are a number of tour options ranging from very expensive VIP tour guides where you have free reign of the park to half day tours that center around themes like Christmas at Disneyland. See my Disneyland tips and review on booking a Disneyland VIP tour.
Do not fear the rain. Celebrate the forecast of a rainy day. Some of our best days at Disneyland have been on days when it has rained. All of the Southern California locals will be scared away and you will sometimes have the park to yourself. We went on Big Thunder Mountain four times in a row without getting off on one of these days.
Download the official Disneyland mobile application. Through the app you can see entertainment times, attraction wait times, character meet and greet locations, park hours, and other ticketing information.
Follow official @DisneylandToday on Twitter for live information. If you are on Twitter, you can follow along with posts and ask the account questions about your day.
You can always request the ride row you want. You may have to wait a little longer, but they will always give your preference to you. Ride in the front row of Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain. Ride in the back row of Big Thunder Mountain. Choose either the very front row or very back row for California Screamin’.
You have to eat a corn dog!!! I don’t care what your feelings are, you must try one of these deep fried delights. This is a must for every single one of my trips to Disneyland. See Disneyland tips on my three favorite Disneyland snacks.
You can purchase corn dogs from multiple places in Disneyland. The Red Wagon Corn Dog cart always seems to have a massive line, so I usually buy mine at the Stage Door Cafe which is attached to the Golden Horseshoe or the Corn Dog Castle in Disney California Adventure.
You can order a corn dog a la carte and save $2. The corn dog on the menu includes a side of apples or chips. When you remove the side, you will save $2. Be sure to request this if you don’t want the side, as it is not written anywhere on the menu.
Disneyland Counter Service restaurants will always give you free cups of ice water. Specify a large cup otherwise you will get the smallest size they have. Some of the locations will only give you a small cup.
There are a number of healthy food options at Disneyland. At almost every sit down restaurant there is a salad option and there are carts throughout both theme parks selling fruit.
The best counter service restaurants in Disneyland Park are Rancho Del Zocalo and Jolly Holly Bakery and Cafe. Both of these locations have great food and the lines move quickly. See my favorite Disneyland restaurant options.
The best counter service restaurants in Disney California Adventure are in the Pacific Wharf area of the park. I really like the asian rice bowl avaliable at the Lucky Fortune Cookery.
The Earl of Sandwich is a great sandwich place in Downtown Disney near the Disneyland hotel. The food is inexpensive and you will be emailed coupons for free sides and sometimes even free sandwiches if you sign up for their email list.
The best sit down restaurants at the Disneyland Resort are outside of Disneyland park (in the hotels and Downtown Disney and in Disney California Adventure). These restaurants also have the added bonus of being able to provide a selection of alcoholic beverages. I highly recommend the Carthay Circle Theater, Steakhouse 55, Wine Country Trattoria, Storyteller’s Cafe, and Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. See our full Disneyland restaurant review listing.
Carthay Circle Theater offers a World of Color dining package that gives you reserved seating for the nighttime fountain show. While the official package is a multi-course meal, your server will likely give you a FastPass even if you order off the menu and tell them you are hoping to see the show later that night.
Many people rave about the Blue Bayou Restaurant in Disneyland, but the menu items are quite expensive. For many of the same menu items at a lower price, check out Cafe Orleans. The allure of the Blue Bayou is the fact that it is inside Pirates of the Caribbean, but I have never really enjoyed the dark sleepy atmosphere.
If you still want to experience the ambience of the Blue Bayou restaurant you can make a reservation and just have dessert. Just make reservations for later in the night and attempt to get a table next to the water.
Plan on eating food in the parks for every meal except for breakfast. Eat breakfast at your hotel so that you don’t waste valuable time.
White Water Snacks and Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen To Go are both great places to grab breakfast if staying on property. Both of these locations provide reasonably priced breakfast entrees that are fast, filling, and tasty.
Ride Fantasyland attractions early in the morning, immediately after the land reopens post fireworks, or right before the park closes. There is no FastPass available for any of the Fantasyland attractions.
Ride Peter Pan immediately in the morning. The ride has a 45 minute line that exists nearly the entire day. Sorry no Disneyland hacks to help with this one besides: Get to the park right when Disneyland opens and get in line for Peter Pan.
Ride Toy Story Mania first thing in the morning. Just like Peter Pan, there will always be a 45 minute wait. Another time to ride is during World of Color as Toy Story Midway Mania is the only attraction on Paradise Pier that stays open during the shows. Typically the line is shorter at this time.
Ride Radiator Springs Racers either first thing in the morning or by using the Single Rider line. You should not wait longer than 30 minutes for this attraction if you follow this advice. If the Single Rider line stretches back past the bridge that crosses over the queue, get out of line and come back to this attraction later.
Take a break in the afternoon. Go back to the hotel, schedule a late lunch out of the park, or find a long show to rest. Taking advantage of this Disneyland trick will allow you to enjoy your entire vacation.
Check Disneyland attraction height restrictions for attractions before your trip to avoid disappointing your children. You will be turned away if they are not tall enough. I have seen kids checked and turned away after they waited in the entire line.
The Haunted Mansion is transformed into the Haunted Mansion Holiday from September to January. This overlay is themed to Nightmare Before Christmas. During this period, the Haunted Mansion will have a longer line. See all our Disneyland tips in our Disneyland Christmas guide.
Bring a way to recharge your phone. You could either just bring your charger and look for outlets or bring a portable charger so that you don’t have to stop. If you don’t have a portable charger, you can use one of the outlets near the tables at Rancho del Zocalo.
Be sure to bring an extra camera battery into the parks. If you are taking lots of pictures or video, your battery will likely die on your camera. Having an extra really helps.
If you are traveling with a baby, check out the baby care centers. There are fully stocked baby care centers in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
Check out the park bench in the opera house. Walt Disney sat on this bench in Griffith Park in Los Angeles while watching his daughters on the carousel when he was dreaming of Disneyland.
Listen to the area music throughout the park. The soundtracks vary from line to line and land to land. Each set of music is meant to further evoke the theme or feelings from that area. You can hear some of this fantastic music on the great WML95 Youtube channel.
The Jungle Cruise gives away free maps. This makes a great souvenir and is one of the best free things in Disneyland. See all of other Disneyland free things.
Disneyland dining plan does not work like the Walt Disney World dining plan. The system works through coupons that have to be redeemed for their total value. There is no change given with the system.
Get free bread and chocolate from the Pacific Wharf factory tours. A loaf of good sour dough can be purchased for around $5. This is a great filling snack.
Disneyland Halloween runs from mid September to October. The parks get more and more busy the closer you are to Halloween. If you want to see Disneyland during Halloween time, go to the parks in September so that you can still see the decorations, but have less crowds. See our full guide to Disneyland Halloween.
If you are planning on going to the Disneyland Mickey’s Halloween Party, do not purchase a park ticket for that day. The Halloween party is a private after hours event that happens on nights throughout September and October. The special event ticket also includes access to the park starting at 3pm or 4pm depending on when the Halloween party starts. Thus, there is no reason to double buy park admission if you plan on attending the party. See all my Disneyland tips about Disneyland Mickey’s Halloween Party.
Go midweek if you do not like crowds. The crowds in Disneyland pick up in the evenings and on weekends.
PhotoPass Cast Members will take photos on your camera. There are PhotoPass Cast Members stationed throughout the theme parks who will take your photo on their camera. You can purchase that professional photo or just have them take another photo on your own camera.
Many of the attractions take on-ride photos. These photos are displayed on a screen as you are leaving the attraction. You are welcome to take photo of these photos to avoid having to purchase them.
PLEASE turn off the flash on your camera!!! There is nothing worse than having a flash go off on Disneyland attractions. On top of that, these photos will not come out well.
Do not attempt to use selfie sticks in Disneyland. They are totally banned from inside the parks. If you do manage to sneak one into the parks and bring it on any ride, that attraction will be shut down.
Do not waste your time criss-crossing the park. If you need to get a FastPass, send one “FastPass Runner” to go pick up FastPass tickets for your entire group. Go on attractions in order rather than waste time walking back and forth.
Running in Disneyland is not allowed, but I’ve never had someone stop me from skipping through the parks. Truly, let your inner child out.
Let Guest Relations know if there is a problem. Disney is nothing if not understanding. They want to make sure you have the best vacation possible.
On the other hand, PLEASE write down names of Cast Members who were doing a really fantastic job and leave them compliments at the end of the day. Each trip I leave a list of names and comments with Guest Relations. These comments go into their permanent file and help with promotions.
Please do not be demanding. You will have much more success if you tell a Cast Member a problem or ask them for a favor and you are totally understanding that it may not be possible. Remember they are are people too.
Consider visiting Universal studios if you have teenagers or a Harry Potter fan in your family. This park is up and coming in Southern California and worth checking out for a day. See all our tips on discount Universal Studios tickets. Side note: The last time I was in the park, it was packed! Be sure to consider the Front of Line ticket. See the guide linked above on how to get the Front of Line ticket for a discount.
I hope that these 150 Disneyland hacks, tips, and tricks are helpful in improving your Disneyland vacation. Check out our Disneyland vacation planning guide for more help.
Please share this list with anyone who is going on a Disneyland vacation!
Do you have Disneyland tips to share? Comment on our Facebook page or below.
Disneyland opened over 60 years ago and now holds hundreds of secrets that are waiting to be unlocked. Learning these hidden stories of the parks is the perfect way to celebrate the 60th anniversary.
Below I have thirteen secrets from the book to share with you. These stories were all collected from interviews (many on the Disney Dose podcast) with Cast Members, previous Disneyland history reading, or time spent roaming Disneyland.
The below are excerpts from the book.
#13 Secrets of the Walt and Mickey Partners Statue
The Partners statue, unveiled in the central hub in 1993 and portraying Walt Disney holding hands with Mickey Mouse looking out toward the future, has several easily missed references to Walt.
According to Disney Historian Jim Korkis: On Walt’s tie there is a small insignia for the Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs, California. Disney had a house there and had the logo stitched into many of his ties. On Walt’s right hand there’s a Claddagh ring in honor of his Irish heritage. Both Walt and his wife, Lillian, purchased Claddagh rings during their 1948 trip to Ireland and wore them often.
#12 The queue of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is lined with big battery boxes.
Many of these props are labeled Glendale, California, USA. The batteries pay tribute to the home of Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative team of people behind everything in the Disney parks.
#11 A famous, non-Disney character is featured inside Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Behind the middle window of the constabulary is the silhouette of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. He can be seen on your upper left just after leaving the pub room.
#10 “Swisskapolka,” the theme song from the original Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse attraction, still plays on a phonograph in the upper room of the treehouse.
This song, which I guarantee will be stuck in your head by the time you leave the treehouse, was a staple for the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse theme remains in Walt Disney World.
#9 On the King Arthur Carrousel, one horse is more decorated than the others.
The white horse with the collar that reads “Honorary Ambassador” was dedicated to Julie Andrews for her Disney film work and for her stint as as the official Disneyland ambassador during the 50th Anniversary of the park. The horse is decorated with touches from her most popular film, Mary Poppins.
#8 The original Disneyland Submarine Voyage was comprised of eight submarines.
Based on world rankings at the time, this made Walt Disney the commander of the eighth largest submarine fleet in the world.
#7 Real logs were used to build the fort on Tom Sawyer’s Island.
To transport these full-sized tree logs to the island, they were floated across the river similar to the way that logs were transported in old-fashioned wood mills.
#6 A majority of the mining equipment throughout the queue and attraction of Big Thunder Mountain is authentic.
Imagineers searched swap meets, abandoned mines, and ghosts towns throughout Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, and Minnesota to find enough authentic equipment. This attraction’s development was led creatively by Imagineer Tony Baxter, who you can hear in a group discussion on this episode of the Disney Dose podcast.
#5 A large spider web festoons the ballroom in the Haunted Mansion.
This web was added when a guest with a slingshot made a hole in the large glass panels that separate the hallway from the ballroom. The glass is built into the foundation of the Haunted Mansion, so it would be impossible to remove without lifting the roof off the building.
You can still see the crack in the Disneyland Halloween “Nightmare Before Christmas” version of the attraction.
#4 The flames in the Pirates of the Caribbean looked too real for the Anaheim Fire Department.
The flames in the Pirates of the Caribbean look so real that the Anaheim Fire Department was concerned they would not be able to tell the difference between the real and faux flames during an emergency. Even though they realized that it was all part of the show, a special system was put in place to shut off the burning town effect in the case of an actual fire.
#3 Three trees along the backdrop of Toontown behind Minnie’s house form the letters WDI.
WDI stands for Walt Disney Imagineering. They are the team of designers who create everything that is included in the Disney theme parks around the world.
#2 Inside the Pirates of the Caribbean there is a real skull on the headboard.
When the attraction first opened, all of the skeleton heads were real. They were purchased from the UCLA Medical Center. The only remaining real skeleton can be found in the treasure room on the headboard of the bed.
#1 The final plans for the Jungle Cruise were made on the Disneyland construction site, by Imagineer Harper Goff.
He used a sandbox to sculpt the sand into the shapes of the jungle river. Once completed, the bulldozers replicated the sandy forms he created with his feet.
Stuff Even Mickey Doesn’t Know
When a theme park has been around for 60 years, it hides a lot of secrets. I have swept aside the pixie dust and uncovered little-known stories about the happiest place on earth that will make you a master of the magic.
In the book I develop each of his dozens of secrets into a brief story that illuminates a forgotten moment in Disney history, or sheds light on a neglected area of the park, or reveals something new about an iconic attraction, such as:
Why is the address of Disneyland 1313 Harbor Boulevard?
What’s up with the Jewish menorah on Main Street?
Why is there a fake book called “Walt & You” at City Hall?
Where can you find Sherlock Holmes at Disneyland?
Is there really a pet cemetery at the Haunted Mansion?
Shhh! It’s a Disneyland secret. Until you read this book…
Juliana Hansen, one of the stars of the now closed Aladdin: Musical Spectacular joins us on this episode of the Disney Dose podcast. On the show we discuss the incredible joy she found in playing the character and all of the other work she has performed for The Walt Disney Company.
And for more information on One Starry Night to ALS, click here.
Special Thanks to You:
The Disney Dose Podcast is an incredible joy for me to put together. I apologize for the long silence between the last show and this one. As one commentor said, I have not “dropped off the face of the earth.” I am headed to college in a couple of weeks and will continue to provide value for you when I can. In between shows find more on our Facebook page. If you enjoy the show, please leave a review on iTunes. Please feel free to send me an email: GAVIN @ Disney Dose .com
There is a very likely rumor circulating that the “Disneyland Forever” fireworks show will go on hiatus when the Disneyland Diamond Celebration ends on September 5, 2016. The show would be replaced by Halloween and Christmas specific firework shows. Beyond the 2016 Christmas season, not much is known.
During the Halloween season at the park, the “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks will be shown on regular park nights and the special “Halloween Screams” will be shown during the popular Mickey’s Halloween Party. When the Christmas season begins at Disneyland, we will once again get to see the “Believe in Holiday Magic” fireworks show on select nights throughout the season. As of now, only the “Halloween Screams” fireworks show has been confirmed.
It is less clear what, if any, fireworks show will be put on at the beginning of 2017. The smaller “Fantasy in the Sky” show may be featured. There are other rumors circulating that all fireworks shows may be put on hold as a new launch pattern is devised that would move any threats out of the way of Star Wars Land. If no new launch plan is decided on, the current launch plan would force Star Wars Land to close early with Toontown every night. The current launch area and control booth is backstage behind Toontown and on certain windier nights can have a high impact on nearby guest areas. Having Star Wars Land close early seems very unlikely. The current fireworks plan and safety procedures will change as they prepare to unveil the new Star Wars Land to the public.
Until recently, it was believed that the “Disneyland Forever” fireworks show would run continuously for years in the same way that the 50th anniversary fireworks show, “Remember Dreams Come True,” ran for over ten years. Apparently, the decision to end “Disneyland Forever” and switch back to the “Fantasy in the Sky” show was actually budgetary, according to the initial report by WDWNT.
Disneyland Public Relations declined to comment, but suggested that more information will be presented in the coming weeks.
Just like a firework being blown by the Santa Monica winds high above Disneyland, these plans will continue to float around and change. Remember, these are all just rumors until they are set in stone and put on the Disneyland website.
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There is lots changing at Disneyland as they prepare for the vertical construction of Star Wars Land and the relaunching of “Fantasmic!” in coming months. Join our Disney Dose newsletter to stay updated on all the rumors, news, secrets, and stories coming out of Disneyland.
At Disneyland, free items abound. In fact I would say that free and Disneyland go hand in hand (or Mickey Glove in Mickey Glove). There are numerous free experiences and items available at the Disneyland Resort if you know where to look.
This list covers the noteworthy free items scattered throughout the Disneyland Resort beyond the obvious shows and attractions which are all included with the price of your Disneyland tickets.
Before you even leave for you Disneyland trip, you can receive something for free. Disney offers a free planning video that provides a helpful overview of the theme parks, hotels, and Downtown Disney shopping district. This video is extremely helpful in planning your trip, or just nice to watch while you are away from the parks.
This is another item you can receive before you ever set foot inside of Disneyland. Disney will send you an autographed character photo if you send a letter to the address below requesting a nice character note.
Walt Disney Company
Attn: Fan Mail Department
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Free Cups Of Water From Any Counter Service Restaurant
Rather than purchasing bottles of water, you can request free cups of ice water from any of the various Disneyland counter service restaurants. Be sure to ask for a LARGE cup of water so that they don’t give you the dinky small sized ones.
FastPass, Park Maps, and Times Guides
There are many different paper products used throughout Disneyland. The Disneyland FastPass you collect to enjoy attractions, time guides informing you of different show times, and the park maps passed out at the entrance all make great keepsakes for any scrapbook or collection.
Drive the Mark Twain Riverboat
While the Mark Twain is operating, you can be selected to be an honorary riverboat captain. Not only will you get to experience a trip around the river in the pilot’s quarters, but you will receive a special certificate in thanks for your help.
Right after disembarking from the world famous Jungle Cruise, ask one of the Cast Members for a map of the attraction. They often run out, so be sure to ask early in your trip because you may need to return in order to secure one.
There are special Disneyland buttons to celebrate almost every occasion, from birthdays to graduations. You can pick up a button at almost any store in either theme park and always at the Guest Relations kiosk just inside both theme parks.
Almost every table service restaurant will help you celebrate your birthday with a free dessert after a long meal. Make sure to mention that you are celebrating a birthday when you make the reservations via Disney Dining.
The Disneyland Animation Academy is the perfect place to learn how to draw your favorite Disney characters. Then, afterwards take home your artwork to be proudly displayed. The teacher will often also give out their artwork to someone in the class afterwards.
Your luck will vary on this one. Sometimes teachers refuse to give out their sketches.
When the Disneyland Railroad is operating, one of my favorite hidden experiences is riding the Lilly Belle car. This special train car was created to provide VIPs a secluded way to enjoy the Disneyland Railroad. Guests are able to enjoy a ride in the car during less busy parts of the year. Simply request a ride at the Disneyland Train Station.
After your ride on the Lilly Belle car, you will receive an awesome commemorative ticket.
Tender Seat Ride on the Railroad
While the Disneyland Railroad is currently not running, I could not exclude this experience from the list. You can ride up in the front cab of some of the train engines. This experience is fantastic and you will be able to meet some incredible Cast Members. While the railroad is closed for the construction of Star Wars Land, you can meet some of the incredible Disneyland Cast Members at the Main Street and New Orleans Train Stations. They have train engines parked here for guests to get up close and personal with. This is a fun photo op while they are working on the park.
The many musicians who play in the French Market area of Disneyland often carry Mardi Gras beads to throw to enthusiastic members of the audience. The more you are dancing and excited while listening to the music, the more likely you will be to receive beads.
New Year’s Eve Hats and Horns
On New Year’s Eve Disneyland goes all out with special bands, fireworks, and free hats and horns for all of the guests. The hats and horns are a nice festive addition to get everyone in the mood for the new year.
Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Shop located in the Pacific Wharf area of the park gives out free chocolate squares to all guests who enter the shop.
Boudin Bread Slices
Right across the street from Ghirardelli you will find the Boudin Bread Factory Tour. This perfect sourdough makes for a great snack on it’s own OR by combining the free chocolate from Ghirardelli to make a CHOCOLATE BREAD SANDWICH.
Disney Stickers From Cast Members
Many Disneyland Cast Members carry stickers to give out to kids. Most janitorial Cast Members (sweeping up trash in all white) will be more than happy to give you a sticker. Also, any Cast Member taking surveys usually has stickers to give out to people who complete the surveys.
Senior Wilderness Explorer Sticker
Check in with the Cast Member at the entrance to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail to find out how your child can become a Senior Wilderness Explorer. After completing all of the tasks, they can be rewarded with their own very special Senior Wilderness Explorer badge.
Jedi Training Academy
Kids who are selected to perform in the Jedi Training Academy not only get to dress up in Jedi robes and fight a Sith Lord, but they also receive a special certificate certifying them as having completed the Jedi Training Academy.
The process of getting picked for the Jedi Training Academy recently changed. Now, parents must register their children in the morning for the show at a booth across from the entrance to Autopia. Here parents will be given a time to return with their children so that they can prepare for the show. This is a change from the random selection process that was used previously. This new method ensures that if your child really wants to participate in this, you can make it a top priority.
Free Souvenir Storage
Disneyland offers a free Package Check Service. If you are staying at any of the Disneyland Resort hotels, you may have your package sent directly to your room. You can also just have the packages held in Disneyland Park at the Newsstand, The Star Trader, or Pioneer Mercantile and in Disney California Adventure at Elias and Company.
In order for your purchase to be stored here, you must have the receipt for item and the item may not be a limited edition run.
On Ride Photos
Your photo is taken on many of Disneyland’s most popular attractions. On many attractions you can purchase your photo at the exit (they also display your photos, so be sure to grab a picture of the picture). On Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters you can actually email your photo for free. Along with the photo your point total is nicely displayed.
This is a very nice practice in comparison to other theme parks such as Sea World where they have special face blockers that prevent the faces in a picture from displaying correctly if you attempt to take a picture of the picture.
Free Parking at Downtown Disney
The Downtown Disney parking lot offers free parking for two hours, plus an additional two hours free if you validate your ticket at any of the table service restaurants in Downtown Disney.
These rules can change during the busy season, be sure to check at the parking lot upon arrival.
Free Valet Parking at Disneyland Hotel or Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
You can park for three hours of free valet parking at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel or Disneyland Hotel when you validate your ticket at the Napa Rose or Steakhouse 55 respectively.
Again, check on the exact amount of time upon your arrival at the hotel. Tipping the valet is customary regardless.
Luggage Storage at the Disneyland Resort Hotels
Any of the Disneyland Resort hotels will provide luggage storage on the day of your arrival or departure. There is no known rule stopping non-hotel guests from using this service. This can be helpful if you are arriving from the airport early in the morning and want to go directly to the parks rather than stopping at your hotel.
If you choose to store your luggage at one of the hotels, be sure to tip the valet.
Autopia Driver’s License
Before hoping in your Autopia car, be sure to pick up a free Disneyland driver’s license. You can skip the DMV line for this one.
The attraction has undergone a renovation to add a new sponsor to the attraction. We will have to see if they are still giving out the licenses in the updated attraction.
Update 5/23/17: The Autopia Driver’s license is no longer given away for free. You can purchase your own custom license in one of the booths by the exit.
Buena Vista Street Newspaper
The entrance area of Disney California Adventure, Buena Vista Street, has its own newspaper called the “Buena Vista Street Bugle.” I make sure to pick up a copy every time I am in the parks. It acts a time capsule of what was going on during that visit.
Any Disneyland Balloon Cast Member will give you a replacement balloon if your balloon has popped. Simply bring the remnants of the first balloon with you to the Cast Member.
Dole Recipe Card From the Tiki Room
Update: As of 1/28/17 they were no longer handing out these free Disneyland recipe cards. There are seasonal recipe cards available at the Dole Whip bar in front of the Tiki Room. The recipes vary and come on a postcard sized piece of paper.
You can also request the recipe for almost any dish that you eat at City Hall in Disneyland or the Chamber of Commerce in Disney California Adventure.
First Aid Help In the Parks
The First Aid stations in both theme parks provide free doses of over the counter medication and cool dry storage of medical devices such as breast pumps or nebulizers. Ask any Cast Member for directions to the First Aid facilities in both theme parks.
Free WiFi In Hotel Lobbies
All three of the Disneyland Resort Hotels provide free WiFi in the lobby. One of my favorite spots to get work done or check in during our vacation is on one of the comfortable couches in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. You can also head up to the third floor of the hotel where there are more couches, it is even quieter, and there are far fewer people.
Samples of the Crazy Food Flavors
Disneyland not only has a wide variety of fantastic foods, they also have some unique flavors like the Mint Julep drink or dill pickle, bacon, and nacho cheese flavored popcorn. Each of these food stands are happy to offer samples of their food before you commit to a purchase.
Update 5/23/17: Disneyland no longer provides free samples of popcorn. You can still request free samples of the Mint Julep in New Orleans Square.
Free Buffet Dining For Those Under 3 Years Old
Dining at any buffet restaurant (including Disneyland character dining) at the Disneyland Resort is free for anyone under three years of age. Consider eating at the buffet if you want to avoid purchasing the kid’s meal at other a la carte restaurants.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel pays homage to the classic 1800s and early 1900s Arts and Crafts architecture style. A Cast Member hosts the “Art of the Craft” walking tour of the hotel property sharing stories of the history that inspired the design of the hotel.
This tour is a hidden gem for any fan of architecture or history. Check in with the Guest Services desk in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel for more information on the availability. The tour is open to guests staying at the hotel and those just visiting the theme parks. Generally the tour is held Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays at 1 p.m.
Mickey’s Halloween Party Candy and Bag
When you attend one of the Disneyland Mickey’s Halloween Party events, you will be given a bag for collecting candy and huge handfuls of candy throughout the park at the various trick-or-treat trails. There are also healthy snack options you can request at each station instead of the candy. While this is a separate ticket event, the special take home items are a nice addition and are worth mentioning on this list.
As part of your stay at any of the Disneyland Resort Hotels there are numerous perks that add to any resort stay.
Some of the most notable perks include:
You can request a wake up call from one of your favorite Disney Characters.
The concierge at each of the hotels has scavenger hunts that send you throughout both theme parks looking for clues. When you return the completed hunt to the front desk, you will receive a button depicting some of the attractions you experienced during the hunt.
I am constantly writing notes and to do lists in my everyday life. One of my favorite ways to bring the magic home with me is to use the pens and note pads collected from the Disneyland Resort. I have picked up generic Disneyland pens plus unique pens branded to each individual hotel.
Disney Vacation Club Members have free DVD rentals during their stay at the Grand Californian.
$400 of Discounts Plus Free Lanyards and Backpacks
There are even more amazing free things that can come when you book your vacation as a package. As an incentive for your booking, travel agencies offer wonderful extras. We partner with Get Away Today to secure exclusive low prices on your Disneyland vacation and to get the best assortment of additional free bonuses when you book your vacation.
When you book with Get Away Today you will receive:
Exclusive Area Coupons: Upon purchase you will be emailed a PDF of coupons that can be used repeatedly for 10% off the hottest Downtown Disney restaurants including La Brea Bakery, Catal, Naples, Tortilla Jo’s, and the Uva Bar. Also you will find other coupons for chain restaurants in the area.
Pin lanyard: Each adult in the group will receive a free pin lanyard to carry any Disney pins you purchase as well as your park tickets.
Disney sling backpack: Each child in the group gets a free Disney sling backpack perfect for carrying in the parks.
Fun Free Printable Downloads: As a fun way to get prepared for your trip, you will receive special printable sheets including games, vacation countdown chains, vacation reveal ideas, and more.
We have two great resources for your to utilize and enjoy:
If you enjoyed this article, you can find even more Disneyland history, tips, and secrets in our Disney Dose Newsletter.
If you are planning a trip, be sure to check out our other website at MickeyVisit.com for the Mickey Visit Disney Deals Email that features exclusive discount prices on tickets, hotels, and dining in and around Disneyland.
New details about the upcoming Star Wars Land for Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida were released during the Wonderful World of Disneyland TV special on February 21.
Harrison Ford was brought on stage to present additional concept art for the previously announced fourteen acre Star Wars Land coming to both coasts. He briefly introduced the video clip saying: “Star Wars is, for lack of a better word, AWESOME.” He continued saying “I am so blessed that I had the opportunity to be a part of it, to walk in these iconic locations, and soon you will be able to do that as well. Not in a galaxy far far away, but in a place close to home. Ladies and Gentleman, your first look at the Star Wars Experience.”
In the clip to follow, new concept art and additional information about the two new attractions is revealed.
Onboard the new Millennium Falcon attraction guests will actually be “piloting the fastest ship in the galaxy, banking left, right, firing the laser cannons.” The guests “are in complete control.”
For the second attraction which was previously identified as having the largest backstage and show building in the entire Disneyland Resort and one of the largest in Walt Disney World, you can “imagine finding yourself in the middle of a battle between the resistance and the first order in a race against time.” This attraction appears to be a new type of trackless ride system similar to one previously used in Hong Kong Disneyland’s Mystic Manor attraction.
Additional details were also released about the rest of the Star Wars Land with the statement of: “you have watched the saga, now enter these authentic locales with your every sense engaged. You’re meeting droids and aliens, entering otherworldly street markets, actually tasting the local delicacies, and going upscale at the planet’s best dinner club, or for the truly adventurous, heading down to the local cantina.”
For all of the information that we have on Star Wars Land and more concept art, enjoy the full story.
Here’s the video presentation of all of the artwork.
Taken at face value, the cost associated with a vacation to Disneyland, the “happiest place on earth,” would make anyone unhappy. However, I am here to tell you that with some simple maneuvering, you can save hundreds of dollars on your next Disneyland vacation.
These tips make Disneyland a place where any family, regardless of budget, can visit and have a wonderful time. The below tips are summaries of larger topics. For the full information on any of the tips, be sure to click on the additional information links included.
Plan Your Trip: At MickeyVisit.com, we keep tabs on all of the Disneyland deals and even send out exclusive ones to subscribers of our FREE Disney Deals Newsletter. During this off season period, by combining low hotel prices and coupons, you can save. Also, the parks will be much less crowded allowing you to experience more.
Avoid the Anaheim Convention Center Conferences
The Anaheim Convention Center is the biggest convention center on the West Coast and it is only getting bigger with a huge 200,000 square foot expansion opening soon. When large conferences are in town, the hotel room rates sky rocket. Read about when is the best time to visit Disneyland.
Disneyland does not directly offer discount tickets on their website. However, there are approved retailers who partner with Disney to offer low prices on tickets. We struck a deal with Get Away Today, Disneyland’s first official partner, to offer the lowest price on Disneyland tickets–anywhere. When you purchase your tickets from Get Away Today you will save almost $20 per ticket.
During the off season, a Disneyland package is often the best way to book a trip to Disneyland. Within the package you will not only save money on your hotel and Disneyland tickets, you will also get exclusive bonuses. There are more options and things to consider when purchasing a package, but the package can save you a lot of money. We have an in-depth article written on this topic linked below.
Disneyland Character Dining is a quintessential piece of any Disneyland vacation. When you pre-purchase your Disneyland Character Dining vouchers, you will save about 10% off of the set price for Disneyland Character dining. Read our full guide below for information on where to buy and our favorite character dining locations.
Stay Off Property at a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel
While the Disney owned resort hotels are breathtaking, consider how much time you actually will spend in your hotel during your Disneyland vacation. When we visit, all that I need is a comfortable bed and a clean bathroom. There are plenty of Disney Good Neighbor hotels just across the street from the park that cost much less than any Disney resort, but still fulfill all your needs.
Eat Breakfast Outside of the Parks or Bring Your Own
Another perk to staying at one of the non-Disney owned Good Neighbor hotels is that many of them offer complimentary continental breakfasts. I highly recommend eating a big breakfast outside of the parks before entering. This will save you time and money inside the parks. Then bring snacks to keep you going until the afternoon when the lines for lunch will be shorter. If you do not want to travel with large amounts of granola bars from home, walk half a block from the Disneyland entrance to the CVS Pharmacy at Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue to pick up some snacks.
Make sure to bring a water bottle with you. You can fill this up throughout the day with any of the easy water bottle fillers or with free ice water. Inside Disneyland Park you can find water bottle fillers at Tomorrowland Terrace, Rancho Del Zocalo, the French Market, and the Plaza Inn. Disney California Adventure Park does not have any water bottle fillers. I have found that the best place to fill water bottles with cold water is the Wine Country Trattoria bathroom. At any of the counter service restaurants, you can request a free large cup of water with ice. If you need the taste of a flavored beverage, you can bring flavor packets to dump into your water to avoid the exorbitant soda costs.
You can very easily purchase some great Disneyland souvenirs at a lower price before you leave for your trip. There is no reason to pay the high prices on a character autograph book in the parks when it is easy to purchase one at a discount before hand.
Set a budget or decide what you will purchase before hand.
Every trip we purchase a pin to commemorate a certain special experience we had. For example, being in the park on New Year’s Eve or riding Tower of Terror for the first time. These will help you remember your trip and bring up specific reasons why you loved your vacation.
Be sure to check the weather forecast before leaving on your vacation. A poncho from the drugstore is cheaper than in Disneyland. This goes for quite a few packing items. Speaking of poncho’s I always bring one along anyways because I really don’t enjoy getting wet on the water rides and then sloshing along for the rest of the day. Instead, I just throw on my poncho.
Consider Purchasing an Annual Pass For the Discounts
It is easy to spend quite a bit on meals out at night. The Disneyland Annual Pass provides discounts of at least 10% that pays for itself if you are spending enough on dining and souvenirs over the course of your trip. Consider purchasing an Annual Pass for just one member of your group.
If you think your daughter or son will want to dress up during your Disneyland trip, bring a princess dress from home. When considering the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disney princess makeover experience, keep in mind that you can actually bring your own princess dress rather than purchasing the ones that they have in the parks.
Buy Before You Go: I recommend purchasing your Disney princess dress from the Disney Store online. They frequently have sales.
Purchase Disney Pins in Advance
If you plan to trade pins while you are in the parks, you should purchase pins in bulk online before arriving at the parks. Be sure to read our full guide linked below for our advice on avoiding the knock off pins frequently sold to unsuspecting purchasers on eBay.
Did you know that the idea for eBay came from the founder’s girlfriend’s desire to sell her Disney pins?
Don’t Drive to Disneyland
If you are flying to Disneyland, there is no reason to rent a car. The parking fees are high at both the resort and hotels. Instead compare all of the different transportation options to get from the airport to the hotel. We frequently use Uber to travel in between (there is coupon on the page linked below that will give you $15 off your first ride with Uber). If you plan to make any day trips, there are offices for most of the top car rental companies within the Disneyland Resort area.
There are Disney PhotoPass photographers stationed throughout the park waiting to take your photo on their camera. While these photographers are stationed to capture the moment in order to have Disney sell you a print, they are more than happy to take a photo with your camera.
There are cash machines throughout the resort which will allow you to withdraw from your bank account for a small fee. An easy way to avoid this transaction fee is to purchase Disney gift cards which function as cash at any area of the resort and do not have any purchase fee.
During my last visit to Disneyland I was appalled to see a child who had just received his order of corn dog with a side of apples throw away the apples with the rest of the container. If only the child knew he was throwing away almost three dollars. At all of the Disneyland corn dog carts you can purchase an off-the-menu “side corn dog” which comes without the apples or chips for about $6 while the regular corn dog is closer to $9.
The best way to save money at Disneyland is to save before you even leave for your trip. Look for coupons to lower the price of the vacation before you even leave.
Plan Your Trip: As you continue your search for the lowest priced Disneyland tickets, hotel accommodations, and flights, join our exclusive FREE Disney Deals newsletter which hunts down exclusive Disneyland deals just for you.
Update 11/28/15: Almost one year ago, we shared the news that the new Club 33 dining room would offer unique experiences to non club members (see full story below). Now, I am here to tell you that these experiences are beginning to finally be rolled out. Club 33 members recently received information on the newly announced experiences for the general public. Up until this point, the room has only played host to Club 33 Members and top-level Disney executives.
The first package will include access to the exclusive Club 33 Le Salon Nouveau before the meal and a five-course dining experience inside the new 21 Royal Street dining room.
The second package includes the use of the Disneyland Dream Suite. Cocktails and after dinner coffee will be served on the balcony of the suite.
No starting date for the new experience has been confirmed. This dining room is still a part of Club 33, and as such, members of the club have first choice for dates and evenings. Eventually the public will be offered the opportunity to book the room nights that have not already been reserved by members.
I was sent photos of the new dining room five months ago anonymously. I have been waiting for this confirmation to share them.
This is the entry way sitting room that is located at the top of the stairs when you first enter 21 Royal Street.
The dining room features beautiful murals by Disney artist Leslee Turnbull. Here the Haunted Mansion is painted to appear before it became haunted.
Just off of the main dining room.
Update: Disneyland Public Relations has officially reached out to Disney Dose to fully explain the unclear letter Club 33 members received. The 21 Royal Street location will open as a private dining room requiring advanced reservations. Club 33 members will have priority to book the room, but in the future park guests may be able to make reservations. This space can seat to 16 people.
Disney has confirmed that the Royal Courtyard construction is for this project and the Disney Dream Suite will not be impacted.
Disneyland has built a new dining room above New Orleans Square adjacent to the private membership Club 33. But, unlike the club, this new restaurant will be open to the general public. The currently unnamed restaurant will rival the award winning Napa Rose in the Grand Californian and the Victoria and Albert Restaurant in Walt Disney World. This is the first time that alcohol has been served outside of Club 33 in Disneyland during regular operating hours.
That’s huge news! That info alone should make you want to share this article, but we are just getting started.
Club 33 members have received letters confirming this rumored new restaurant.
Location, Location, Location,
For the last two months, the Royal Courtyard located at 21 Royal Street has been under construction with scaffolds covering the stairway. This will be the new entrance to high end restaurant. For the last ten or more years, the courtyard has been used strictly for merchandise overflow from the Pirates of the Caribbean souvenir shop.
This the outside of the new restaurant located at 21 Royal Street in Disneyland. The photo comes from Disneyland update provider, Mint Crocodile.
Here’s how the Royal Courtyard looked upon last inspection two weeks ago. Photo by Mint Crocodile.
This courtyard is being remade to match the original Herb Ryman artwork, seen below.
Once up the stairs, guests will enjoy a beautiful dining room with views out to New Orleans Square as well as access to the Disney Dream Suite courtyard. I remember this courtyard from the time the Disney Gallery occupied the space above the Pirates of the Caribbean.
The upstairs dining room is already completed and the reports from those who have seen the space are quite positive.
Dining Experience and Menu
The restaurant will share it’s kitchen with Club 33 and based upon that, you can assume that Andrew Sutton will be the executive chef for this new restaurant as well. Sutton is currently the executive chef for the Carthay Circle Restaurant, Napa Rose, and Club 33. Seeing as he controls the Club 33 kitchen, I am almost positive that he will be head chef and that we will see an experience similar to the Napa Rose Chef’s Table offered here nightly.
The menu is currently quite fluid with no options finalized, but one version shared with me would be a 10+ course meal a la the Napa Valley French Laundry restaurant.
Inside the restaurant, Club 33 members will hold special privileges including, reserved seating and top priority for reservations.
Club 33 Copycat? Or Are They Copying Carthay Circle Restaurant?
Now, if this restaurant provides fine dining, alcohol, and beautiful views of New Orleans square, what is the difference between this new restaurant and Club 33? This new restaurant will allow someone, such as you or me, to visit Disneyland and decide that rather than paying for a year long membership to a private club, we can pay for one night. But, there is something special about Club 33, that is not achieved by this restaurant, or even by getting the coveted Club 33 reservation from the friend of the friend of the uncle of your dog. Being a Club 33 member makes you a part of a Disney royalty of sorts that provides much more than just access to a restaurant. The special experiences offered specifically to members, such as seating at the Disneyland Candlelight Processional, talks from Disney legends, and the best reserved viewing for World of Color and Fantasmic! make this membership worthwhile. There are Club 33 members who are grumbling about the changes, but I see very few dropping their memberships because of these changes.
So, this restaurant will never be able to copy Club 33, but maybe it will copy something else.
Last April, Mary Niven, the Vice President in charge of Disney California Adventure was switched over to Disneyland. Niven is the reason the relaunch of Disney California Adventure went off without a hitch. It was Mary Niven who created the FastPass system for World of Color…and now it is in Disneyland. It was Mary Niven who pushed the Carthay Circle Restaurant through the Disney corporate restrictions and was able to create a proper fine dining restaurant in the middle of theme park. And my guess is that it was Mary Niven who wanted to recreate the success of the Carthay Circle Restaurant in Disneyland Park.
Now, the big question…when will we see this new restaurant welcoming guests in the parks. The answer to that is quite exciting. This restaurant could open as early as January or February of next year.
Are you interested in Disneyland secrets and stories like Club 33, the secrets hidden inside Pirates of the Caribbean, or the super secret “it’s a Small World” doll? Well you have to check out our Disneyland Secrets eBook.
There is an incredibly wide selection of books available on every aspect of the Disney Company. This article highlights my favorite Disney books that feature the Disney films, theme parks, and company history. Over time I will continue to update this page, but for now I will present to you my favorite books, plus new books that were released this year.
Everyone in my family knows me as a Disney enthusiast. Therefore, quite frequently, the gifts I receive on Christmas morning are Disney centric. This is the perfect page to send off to your family–who I am sure knows you as a Disney fan–so that they know what to get you for Christmas. Each of the books are presented with a brief description and link to their page where you can find them on Amazon.
Disney Book List: For the Disney Fan
The books are separated into categories based on the style. The categories include: historical reading, coffee table books, and in the park reading.
Historical Disney Book Reading
The Disneyland Story by Sam Gennawey is the closest thing that Disneyland has to an historical textbook. This book is constructed as the biography of Disneyland. Not only does this book provide hundreds of quotes and stories, but it provides a thorough bibliography for each chapter that provides much more thorough reading. When you are ready to go on a deep dive into the history of Disneyland, this is the book for you.
The Unofficial Disneyland Encyclopedia contains references for almost everything, every person, and place in Disneyland past and present. With explanations for items ranging from the now defunct Crocodile Mercantile store to the area previously known as Magnolia Park. Each time that you open up the book, some new tidbit will jump off the page.
The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansionwalks readers through the twisted story leading up to the creation of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. This fascinating story could be the most unique back story to any Disneyland attraction because Walt Disney passed away and left no heir apparent for who would be the leader making the final decisions on the project. Each scene of the attraction is highlighted and dissected piece by piece. A fun read.
Mouse Tales: A Behind-The-Ears Look at Disneylandwas the first popular non-Disney approved book to appear on the market. The book is filled with stories collected from ex-Cast Member interviews. This book is lighthearted and really dishes on the past of the Disney company. Watch out if you don’t want to have any of the secrets of the park divulged. This book reveals the early not-so-politically correct backstage happenings in Disneyland.
On the Disney Beat: Over 30 Years of Chronicling the People and Places in Walt’s World is a combination of a memoir and history book highlighting a few key people in the “Disney World.” The book is written by long time journalist Chuck Schmidt. Over the years he has been responsible for providing unique coverage of the Disney Parks and opens up about being amember of the press in this book. He also highlights the stories of a few incredible people he has met over the years working for Disney.
In Service to the Mouse: My Unexpected Journey to Becoming Disneyland’s First President is my top recommendation for anyone who is even slightly interested in Disney history or business. This book written by Jack Lindquist, the first president of Disneyland, offers a behind the scenes look at all of the fun he had while working for the company. The book is a light read–separated into chapters by story. If you are anything like me, you will laugh out loud and finish the book the same day you pick it up.
Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms is the memoir of Disney Legend Marty Sklar, who served as head of Walt Disney Imagineering for quite awhile. The book is written in a similar style to In Service to the Mouse, however this book focuses on the history and facts while In Service highlights the emotional situations.
Inside the Disney Marketing Machineis the memoir of Lorraine Santoli, former Director of Corporate Synergy for The Walt Disney Company. In the book, she shares stories from her early days working with the celebrities as a Disney publicist, time leading the marketing Disneyland, and unique appointment to the new division of corporate synergy under Michael Eisner.
Windows on Main Street: 35 Years of Creating Magic at Disneyland Park is the memoir of Van Arsdale France, the man who created the world class concept of “Cast Member” training and the Disney University program. The book not only provides incredible lessons learned from his work creating the Disney training programs, but also stories ranging from the construction of Disneyland to the tough managerial style of Walt Disney. This book has been out of print of years, and was only just republished. This masterpiece is a vital addition to your Disney library.
The Adventures of Tom Nabbeis an aptly titled book as it reflect the author’s first role working for Disney: playing Tom Sawyer. Nabbe lived just down the road from Disneyland and visited frequently during the construction of the park, which led him to be hired as the first actor to play Tom Sawyer. You won’t want to miss this book that culminates in the years leading up to Tom Nabbe receiving his well-deserved window on Main Street and Disney Legend award.
From Jungle Cruise Skipper to Disney Legend: 40 Years of Magical Memories at Disney is written in a similar style of one of our Disney Dose podcast interviews. The book traces the life of Disney Legend William “Sully” Sullivan from his first days working in Disneyland through his forty year career at Disney which culminated in his leadership of the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. The book includes many fascinating stories that are a perfect addition for anyone who is a fan of the details behind the Disney history.
Fiction Books Featuring Disney
The Kingdom Keepers series are perfect books for anyone eight and up who wants a fiction book. This is a Young Adult series written by Ridley Pearson that tells the story of what happens at the Disney theme parks when the guests go home.
The Posters of the Disney Parks provides a unique look into the changing process of creating the masterful Disney parks posters. Also inside is a beautiful gallery highlighting the most unique Disney parks posters from around the world. This book is a great piece to leave out on the coffee table for people to flick through.
The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic was recently updated to highlight new changes and stories from the Haunted Mansion attraction. This book traces the creation of the attraction through stories and photos from the first conception of a haunted house in Disneyland through the completion of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland and of the other Disney Parks around the world.
Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Moviesis written in a similar style to the Haunted Mansion book mentioned above. The book follows the creation of the attraction through it’s inspiration of the block buster Pirates of the Caribbean films. These glossy books tell the story through rare photos and stories and are great additions to your library.
Decorative Art of Victoria’s Era is the original book from which Walt Disney Imagineer’s drew inspiration to create the Haunted Mansion. The original concept drawing for the mansion was traced straight from pages of this book. While it was published in 1950, the price is still relatively low considering the mark that it had on Disney history.
Books to Pass the Time in Disneyland or Walt Disney World
These books are filled with information and written in a way that is perfect to read at home or to take with you into Disneyland. These books help to enhance the magic in the parks or bring the magic home with you.
Steven Barret has written Hidden Mickey guides for each Disney theme park around the world: Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line. These books identify the hidden Mickeys that Imagineers often incorporate into the various new attractions. Bringing this book along on your vacation turns your trip into a special scavenger hunt.
Seen, Unseen Disneyland is a photo guide to the unique design elements of Disneyland. This book will surely reveal something new to you during your next visit to Disneyland. Filled with fun photos and details from Disneyland park, this is a great way to visualize hidden details from Disneyland at home.
Lots to Do In Line, a sort of multiple choice test for the small details hidden in the queues for attractions around you, is a nice way to pass the time spent waiting in line. The questions range from recounting specific details on a sign to locating items on a scavenger hunt list. The book is great for families with young children. There are versions for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
The Imagineering Field Guide series is a fun pocket sized book that provides insightful tidbits of information about the history and surroundings in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The book series includes rare concept art, interesting facts and figures, glossy photos, and incredible stories. Click here to see all of the Imagineering Field guides created for each park.
Disneyland Secrets Makes the Perfect Christmas Present
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my new book, Disneyland Secrets: A Grand Tour of Disneyland’s Hidden Details. The book is filled to the brim with secrets, each developed into a brief story that illuminates a forgotten moment in Disney history, sheds light on a neglected area of the park, or reveals something new about an iconic attraction, such as:
Why is the address of Disneyland 1313 Harbor Boulevard?
What’s up with the Jewish menorah on Main Street?
Why is there a fake book called “Walt & You” at City Hall?
Where can you find Sherlock Holmes at Disneyland?
Is there really a pet cemetery at the Haunted Mansion?
Shhh! I don’t want to give it away. The answers are secret, until you read this book.
The book is now available on Amazon in both print and Kindle editions. For the Christmas season we are offering exclusive bonuses to those who purchase the book. Included are even more secrets and a free copy of the digital version of the book. Claim your bonuses after purchasing here.
What are your top Disney books? Comment below (one giveaway entry per comment).
This Disney Dose podcast presents the audio from Imagineering 60 Years of Disneyland: Part 2 continuing Walt Disney’s legacy. The panel is moderated by Leslie Iwerks, the granddaughter of famed Disney Animator, Ub Iwerks. Leslie is directing the much anticipated documentary on Imagineering: The Imagineering Story.
What caused the big change at Walt Disney Imagineering
How each of them got their big Disney break
Which films were the biggest inspirations for their time at Disneyland
What it means to be a “Disney Brat”
What allows for people to find their passion and jobs at Disney
How one received a masters class in parades
What allowed the young Imagineers to work up the ranks
How they thought about the Disneyland 60th Anniversary
Which book you need to read to become an Imagineer
How they created the floating head for the Haunted Mansion
And so much more…
Plus: Listen for this week’s Disneyland Secret about the Disney Traditions training program
Special Thanks to You:
The Disney Dose podcast is a production put on for you, the Disney enthusiast. Please let me know if you are enjoying the show by leaving a review on iTunes. You can also contact us to share your thoughts and show ideas. Contact me here.
This Disney Dose podcast features a presentation from the D23 Expo titled Imagineering 60 Years of Disneyland: Working With Walt. The panel is moderated by Leslie Iwerks, the granddaughter of famed Disney Animator, Ub Iwerks. Leslie is a documentarian who is producing the much anticipated documentary, The Imagineering Story.
Marty Sklar, Orlando Ferrante, and Richard Sherman joined Leslie on the panel. Marty Sklar is the former principal creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering (a fancy way of saying he ran the show). Orlando Ferrante is the former Vice President of engineering, design, and production for Walt Disney Imagineering. Richard Sherman is a member of the songwriting team behind classics ranging from films like “Mary Poppins” and “Parent Trap” to attractions like It’s a Small World and Tiki Room.
This panel presentation is a can’t miss attraction and is filled with stories about the opening years of Disneyland told straight from the people who lived them.
Click The Play Button Below to Listen:
In this episode you will hear:
What was the most important year in Disneyland’s history
Why Pirates of the Caribbean is so perfect to ride over and over again
What Walt Disney said when he liked something
How Walt Disney crafted contracts to save the most money and stretch the limits of their creativity
Why the model shop was so important at Walt Disney Imagineering
How Richard Sherman wrote the Tiki Room song
How Walt Disney lived his life in such a way that everyone had to keep up
What drove Walt Disney to create all of the films
And so much more…
Plus: Listen for this week’s Disneyland Secret about Disney’s relationship with Coca Cola
Special Thanks to You:
The Disney Dose podcast is a production put on for you, the Disney enthusiast. Please let me know if you are enjoying the show by leaving a review on iTunes. You can also contact us to share your thoughts and show ideas. Contact me here.
These photos are from a trip backstage at the Haunted Mansion attraction.
The way that Walt Disney Imagineers created the ghost effect throughout the classic Haunted Mansion attraction is by using mirrors and reflections to create a whispy effect on the ghost figures. In reality, the ghost figures are in one room with their reflections being cast into another room causing them to appear to be able to float through tables and fly.
[button href=”http://disneydose.com/backstage-pirates-caribbean-disneyland/” primary=”true” centered=”true”]Click here for photos of the Pirates of the Caribbean[/button]
1. This “Ghost” Struggles to Blow Out a Candle
2. Crowned King of the deadly dance
3. Crowd of the undead dance floor
4. Who knew that ghosts rode bicycles.
5. In the graveyard these ghosts are constantly having a swinging wake.
8. The little ones just gets to me–in a creepy way
9. Would you want this ghost to follow you home?
1o. Row upon row of hitch hiking ghosts…like the gift bag table at a petrifying party
(These photos come from Mark Correy of the Vintage Disneyland group on Facebook. Drop by and take a look at all of the awesome photos there.)
Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is both the first haunted house that I ever experienced and the best quality I have experienced to date. Whether you like the Disneyland version of Walt Disney World one, there is room for one more in almost every Disney Park across the globe.
Disneyland lifts my spirits. My visits are the highlight of my year. Something about the park, makes me fall in love more and more with each visit. Just glancing over these incredible shots makes me want to pack my bags and hop on the plane right now.
The photos we have collected below all come from Mike Billick, just one of the photographers who contributed to our Disneyland Secrets wall calendar.
Without further ado, here are ten Disneyland photos that will make you want to visit right now.
10. Ariel’s Undersea Adventure on a bright sunny day.
Located on the edge of the glittering Paradise Pier area, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure takes you under the sea and through the story of the Little Mermaid. This is a great attraction, with AIR CONDITIONING, that is almost always less than a five minute line. Save this for the afternoon, and enjoy the beautifully upgraded attraction.
9. Shoot For the Stars in Tomorrowland
The kinetic movement of the Tomorrowland Orbitron draws you into the land. This is one of the beautifully designed “weenies” featured in the Disney theme park. You can read the full story on what a weenie is, how they came to be named this, and what the weenies throughout the park are in our new book : Disneyland Secrets: A Grand Tour of Disneyland’s Hidden Details.
8. All Aboard the Disneyland Railroad
The Disneyland Main Street Station is the first thing and the last thing that you see during any trip into Disneyland Park. This beautiful station serves as a beacon drawing excited guests farther into the magical land. I recently rode around the park inside the Ernest S Marsch engine, and the train lover in me went crazy.
7. Get Soaked on Grizzly River Rapids
Nothing feels better than a ride on Grizzly River Rapids on a hot day. In fact, my favorite time to ride is in the cold season or at nighttime when I can just ride around and around multiple times without any wait. Of course I pack my poncho and put plastic bags from the store at the exit to the attraction over my shoes before I get on.
6. Join the Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed in It’s a Small World
It’s a Small World and the accompanying theme song is one of the most iconic pieces of every Disney theme park. This “happiest cruise that ever sailed” provides an incredible journey around the “world” past hundreds of cute singing dolls. I love the shot below that really brings the nighttime attraction facade to life.
5. Go Pilfering With the Pirates of the Caribbean
For the first twenty times I rode the Pirates of the Caribbean, I tried to take photos of the incredible sets and fast moving figures. But, every one turned out too dark or blurry. Instead of taking the incredible dark ride photo tips from our friend Tom Bricker, I have decided to settle for the better photos that others take of the attraction.
4. Gaze at the sunset over Sleeping Beauty Castle.
There is no time that I like more than dusk in Disneyland. I love to take photos of my own during this time, in fact that’s when I took the iconic photo of the top of Pirates of the Caribbean that now serves as our podcast cover art. This shot of the castle perfectly captures the time when the sun is still shining but the lights have come on around the park.
3. Adore the Snow Wishing Well and Grotto.
The Snow White Wishing Well is one of my favorite areas of the park. In the late afternoon, when the trees are perfectly providing shade for the area, I love to sit and gaze at this beautiful scene. There is a great story behind the origins of the marble statues, that you can read here.
2. Take a Spin on the Mad Tea Party Spinning Teacups.
The Mad Tea Party teacups are one of my dad’s favorite attractions. On almost every visit we jump in one of the tea cups and go for a whirl.
1. Why not DROP into the Tower of Terror on this beautiful California day.
The Hollywood Tower Hotel, with all of the greatest glitzy and glamor of the Hollywood golden age is one of the best themed attractions in Disney California Adventure, aside from Cars Land.
Disney announced today that the Rivers of America Area and Disneyland Railroad will close temporarily starting January 10. These closures are a part of the construction for the brand new Star Wars Land that we recently told you all about.
Attractions along the Rivers of America, including:
Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia
Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes
In an exclusive comment, Disneyland Public Relations confirmed that the above attractions will be closed for AT LEAST a year.
They also said that the Rivers of America will just be partially drained. It is too early to tell how this will visually impact the entire area, but we know that the river will not be completely fenced along the perimeter. In other words, won’t have another Wall Street, like when Disney was finishing up Disney California Adventure.
The Cast Members who have been displaced due to construction will all be offered roles in other areas of the Disneyland Resort. But, with both “Fantasmic!” and the “Aladdin the Musical Spectacular” closed, there will be quite a few performers and entertainment tech workers displaced. Maybe the new Frozen musical will hire some of them into developmental roles?
What Do These Disneyland Closures Mean?
These closures likely mean that the Rivers of America and the Disneyland Railroad will be heavily impacted by the new Star Wars Land addition. When the Indiana Jones Adventure was constructed, the water ways of the Jungle Cruise had to be altered to properly fit the new attraction. Perhaps similar accommodations are being made in the Rivers of America area. For quite a long time, there have been rumors of connecting Critter Country and Frontierland around the backside of the river. If they are finally going forward with this plan to create a path, then that would explain the long closure.
In regards to the Disneyland Railroad, Adrienne over at Mouse Planet suggests that the construction of Star Wars Land may require a rerouting of the Disneyland Railroad. She questions whether they want to avoid using the same style of bridge and tunnel entrance that is used going into Toontown. This would make an already thematically rough transition from Frontierland into Star Wars Land more difficult. Perhaps they will either move the railroad in closer into the park or push it all the way to the outside of the new berm along the outer edge of Star Wars Land.
Disneyland Public Relations has no comment regarding our speculation at this time.
Also, be sure to check out one of my favorite documentaries, Waking Sleeping Beauty, that was narrated and directed by Don Hahn. This is the story of how Disney Animation went from their worst years the renaissance period.
Finally, we discussed the new PBS Documentary, “Walt Disney: American Experience.” This new four hour feature will document all sides of Walt Disney. Most incredibly, the Walt Disney Company has no final say journalistic say over the film. The heads of the company will see the documentary, with the public when it airs on PBS on September 14 and 15.
Special Thanks to You:
The Disney Dose podcast is a bi-weekly production put on every week for you, the Disney enthusiast. Please let me know if you are enjoying the show by leaving a review on iTunes. You can also contact us to share your thoughts and show ideas. Contact me here.
Frozen the Musical will open in Summer 2016 in the Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure, replacing Aladdin the Musical Spectacular. The last showing for Aladdin will be on January 10, 2016. Be sure to follow along on our Facebook page and join our newsletter for coverage of the final performance.
Below is an article from October of 2014 where we reported the rumor that Aladdin would be replaced by Tangled the Musical. Since then we have learned that the Tangled the Musical that was in development was put on the Disney Cruise Line. But, we were correct that the Aladdin show was headed out the door.
This announcement of the new Frozen show has left me wondering if the theater will go through any major renovation before the addition of Ana and Elsa. Read the original story for all of our speculation and comments. What are your thoughts on the addition of yet another Frozen show?
Original Article from 10/26/14 Below————-
For years, Aladdin the Musical Spectacular inside of Disney California Adventure has been rumored to be closing. Now, we have a likely timeline for the creation and installation of another musical that will take the place of Aladdin when the show ends sometime around the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.
Disney California Adventure’s Aladdin the Musical Spectacular has been performing for more than 11 years. There is no other show in Disneyland park that has lasted this long save for “Fantasmic!”. Back in 2012, Disney attempted to remove Aladdin to replace the show with Toy Story. After the uproar of the fans, the new Toy Story show was cancelled.
The Genie is one of my favorite characters in all of Disneyland. See our post dedicated to the actors who bring this character to life daily in the Aladdin show by clicking here.
There are rumblings that Aladdin is on the short list to be replaced sometime in late 2015 or early 2016. This entire project rests on the completion date of Shanghai Disneyland, which is officially scheduled for late 2015 but will probably end up closer to early 2016. This has been confirmed by sources inside management at Disneyland and by the fact that Bob Iger has extended his career as President and CEO until 2018. This is supposedly to make sure Shanghai Disneyland, which is intended to be his crowning jewel, is fully up and running.
Once Shanghai Disneyland has opened to the public, many of the entertainment producers and Walt Disney Imagineers will once again turn their focus to the stateside parks. Also, the creative budgets will be largely freed up as this huge project comes to a close.
With the new production, there could be a full renovation of the Hyperion Theater. This large theater can seat up to 2,000 people. When Disney California Adventure was built, the original plan was for the creation of a large traditional theater lobby with room for restrooms and concessions. One of the goals of this version of the theater was to host large award shows and other functions. While the theater could never become home to the Oscars– Dolby Theater holds more than 3,000 people and has one of the largest stages in the world– many of the smaller industry specific shows would be possible. This of course would be the most extensive possible plan and I don’t see a renovation this size happening until the rumored Disney California Adventure renovation part 2. In this second phase of renovation, the Imagineers would attack the Hollywoodland Area, re-theming much of the land. A wait and see approach is recommended for this one. Could be a long wait….
There are a couple of possibilities for the new show that will replace Aladdin. Many sources point to the new Tangled the Musical that will be debuting on the Disney Cruise Line. Since 2013, This show will debut onboard the Disney Magic in 2015. Back in 2011 when Toy Story the Musical was announced to be replacing Aladdin, Toy Story was performing aboard the Disney Wonder. The current rumor is that Tangled will debut on the Disney Cruise Line in 2015, enjoy a two year run, and then the show will be enlarged and sent to Disney California Adventure.
There is also the recently opened Aladdin show on Broadway in New York. The stars of the show, TONY James Monroe Iglehart and Adam Jacobs, assured me during an interview on the Disney Dose podcast that the Broadway version was quite different than the one found in Disney California Adventure. However, you have to assume Disney Theatrical would prefer to be the only people showing Aladdin. A new cast will debut the show in Tokyo this May and other touring casts are sure to follow.
The final piece of this puzzle is Beauty and the Beast– Live on Stage. This show has been running for 23 years in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. So, this one will be a battle. If Tangled the Musical proves to be as successful as expected on the Disney Cruise Line, both Walt Disney World and Disneyland will attempt to move the production to their resort.
What do you think of these rumors about Aladdin? I personally have always enjoyed the show even though I have seen it SO MANY TIMES! Are you ready for a switch? Or should Aladdin stick around for another ten years similar to the Beauty and the Beast Show in Orlando?
That’s up to the Disneyland Resort and for us to find out. I hope that you enjoyed this news brief, I highly recommend you sign up for the Disney Dose newsletter and our Facebook page for more on the future of Disneyland and fun articles weekly.
Disneyland has announced the new “Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari” experience which will debut on September 21 and continue until December 2nd. In this new morning special tour, guests will be served breakfast and then given a crash course in Jungle Skipper training. Then they will get to pilot their own boat through the jungle.
The breakfast will include “an assortment of fresh pastries and scones, exotic fruit and chia parfait, eggs cooked to perfection, glazed pork belly bacon, pan-seared sausage and roasted golden potato-and-onion hash.” Also included will be a variety of juices and warm beverages.
But, guests won’t be doing this experience for the food. When else can you pilot your own Jungle Cruise boat? They will be taught some special Jungle Skipper lessons before they are put behind the wheel of their own boat to recite the famous Jungle Cruise spiel.
Then, let’s add one more thing Disney fans love–souvenirs. At the conclusion of the experience guests will be given an exclusive collectable tribal mask based off of the original concept art for the Jungle Cruise Attraction.
Now, guess the price with me…..I was actually surprised to find that this entire experience will only cost you $300. Spots are booking up fast, so go take a look at the official booking page for information on availability.
Now here’s my only question, do guests get to fire the gun?
Walt Disney appeared as a Jungle Cruise skipper on the Disneyland television show.
Here’s all of the mumbo jumbo you need to know if you choose to go (hey that rhymed). Waking up at 5:30 for this would be quite early.
Theme Park Admission
Disneyland Park admission is not included in the tour price.
At the end of your adventure, you’ll be escorted out of the park. If you have purchased admission for the park that day, you will be able to re-enter once the park opens.
Please book online to make a reservation.
Reservation must be paid in full at time of booking
Registering Guests must be 18 years of age or older and have a valid photo ID.
Guests 16 years of age and under must be accompanied by a registered adult (18 years of age or older).
When making your reservation online, a confirmation number will be emailed to you. Please bring your confirmation email, along with a valid photo ID.
Check In will take place at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
If you do not have your confirmation number, you may use your last name and a valid photo ID.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa valet service will be provided and a guide will be there to escort you to your Jungle Cruise Sunrise Breakfast Experience
Please check in at least 30 minutes prior to the start of your experience.
The terrain for the event will be uneven/rough. Please wear comfortable shoes that will help you through this terrain.
The Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari Breakfast experiences may be cancelled due to inclement weather without notice.
Reservations must be cancelled 72 hours prior to the event to avoid a full price cancellation fee.
If you do choose to go, be sure to share photos and your experience with us here or on the Facebook page.
Have you ever ridden the Buzz Lightyear shooting rides at any of the Disney theme parks? Today we will share the secrets on how to get a much higher score on the attraction. Use these tips to amaze your friends with your high scores and blow their scores out of the water. You may even make it onto the high score board located at the exit of the attraction.
(The information below is applicable to the Disneyland attraction in Anaheim, the attraction in Tokyo Disneyland, and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast in Disneyland Paris. During our recent visit to Disneyland Paris we found that the attraction was kept up poorly and greatly preferred the original Disneyland version. From my understanding, Tokyo Disneyland’s version is equal to the California Disneyland version.)
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster Tips
10. Know the Target Values
Each of the targets in the attraction are worth different amounts depending on their shape and whether they are lit or unlit.
The value of the targets are as follows:
Circle – 100
Square – 1,000
Diamond – 5,000
Triangle – 10,000
See our next tip, so that you really can get the high score.
When the lights are lit they are worth 10x the point values listed above for the first person to hit it. Previously the lit targets were connected to an online game themed to Buzz Lightyear. But the game has been taken down, and now the targets are lit randomly. If you really want to get serious about your next visit, take a look at the video of the attraction and plan out the best path through the attraction.
9. Ride Alone, and Choose Your Gun
No, I don’t mean go to the parks alone. Just, get your own vehicle when you are boarding the attraction. Right when your guns are activated, test the accuracy by firing at the wall. Most times the guns are pretty accurate, but occasionally you will want to switch to the second gun in the vehicle.
Also, when I do ride with another person, I find that we argue over who gets to drive.
8. Ride on the Left: Left Side, Best Side
Generally, the left side gun is much better situated to achieve the highest score possible. This is another reason to ride in your own vehicle.
7. Keep Firing Once You Find a Target
Once you discover a target, make sure to fire repeatedly. The target values are worth the same amount every time and you don’t waste time refocusing.
6. Put the Second Gun on the Seat
Each of the guns has a flashing red light scope that goes every second. The lights of other shooters’ guns can be quite distracting when you are looking for your own. The lights on the second gun in your car will still go off, even if no one is firing the gun. To reduce the level of distraction, place the other gun from your car not being used on the seat.
5. Keep Firing When the Ride Stops
The ride stops frequently in order to load people who are disable or to retrieve something that someone left in a vehicle. When the ride stops, your gun is still active. This is the time to rack up the points. My highest scores have always come from times when the ride has been stopped.
4. Keep Firing. Period.
Jokingly called the “better luck next time bonus,” you receive 100 points for every five times that you fire and miss a target. Just keep on firing and you will continue to accumulate points even if you don’t hit the target.
3. Know Were to Find the Highest Value Targets
The most important thing is to have intention while shooting. In almost every room there is a valuable target hidden in plain site. Below see our list of the locations of the valuable triangle targets.
Backside of the robot’s hand in the first room.
Behind the moving saw blade of the spaceship in the first room.
In the alien planet room, find the triangles on the back of the circle of moving aliens, right as you enter the room.
Shoot the target on the outside of the jack-in-the-box to open the box, then hit the triangle on the alien that pops out.
On the walls of the dark starry tunnel, there are three hidden triangles that occasionally have lights glimmer across them.
Inside of a box on the opposite side of the room from Zurg in the final scene. You must hit the circle to make the target pop out of the box.
See tip #9 for the locations of the two most valuable targets in the attraction.
2. Shoot at Emperor Zurg’s Chest
This is the highest valued target in the attraction, worth 50,000 points. There is a tiny unmarked hole in the middle of Emperor Zurg’s chest armor in the first scene where he is featured and the last big scene where he is featured.
When you enter the first room with Zurg, aim for the large green square on the bottom of his gun. The figure will turn towards the gun that has hit the square. At this point, switch over to shooting at the little hole on his chest worth 50,000 points.
1. Register Your Score and Receive Your Photo
When you get an earth shattering score because you utilized the tips in this article, be sure register your score. After getting off the attraction, you can put in your name and email to be sent a copy of your score and a photo of yourself. Then, if your score is one of the highest of the hour or an all time high score, your initials will be featured on the scoreboard for all of the world to see.
If your score says 999,999 on the ride vehicle, then you have maxed out the score screen. To see your real score, you must visit the kiosks at the exit of the attraction to see your full score underneath your photo. While scoring this high sounds impossible to most, myself included, the high scores for the attraction are over 7 million.
Finally, take a look at the score value chart below. What is your current high score and what do you want your high score to be in the future?
Level 1 Star Cadet: 0 – 1,000
Level 2 Space Ace: 1,001 – 10,000
Level 3 Planetary Pilot: 10,001 – 100,000
Level 4 Space Scout: 100,001 – 300,000
Level 5 Ranger 1st Class: 300,001 – 600,000
Level 6 Cosmic Commando: 600,001 – 999,999
Level 7 Galactic Hero: 1,000,000 +
This attraction continues to be quite popular with the Disneyland community. In fact, Disney Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter was recently seen racking up tons of points on Buzz Lightyear before attending the Disneyland Candlelight Processional. Even with the popularity, the line for the attraction moves quite quickly. Generally, we will not wait to ride the attraction unless the queue is shorter than 15-20 minutes long.
Just for fun, be on the look out for Hidden Mickeys in the attraction. Here’s a close up on a great one in the queue. Do you know where you can find this?
Are we missing any top tips for getting the high score on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters in Disneyland? Please share them and share this article.
For more about Disneyland, join us on Facebook and on our newsletter. You need to check out our guide to Disneyland ticket discounts if you are headed to Disneyland any time soon. I saved more than $20 per ticket during our last trip.
Ben Harris Seen Here at the Disneyland Main Street Station
The Disney Dose podcast is joined by Ben Harris. While working for Disneyland and the team that opened Walt Disney World, he served in numerous positions from Disneyland Railroad conductor to operations manager. While there he was responsible for sharing the news of the tragic JFK assassination with all of Disneyland as the park announcer. Later, he gave Walt Disney and a group of executives the tour on the Jungle Cruise that got the new attraction script approved.
This interview is filled with a rollercoaster (or maybe, hilly train ride) of emotions. You really can’t miss this conversation with Ben Harris if you are a fan of Disneyland, Disney history, or incredible stories.
Click The Play Button Below to Listen:
In this episode you will hear:
How he got his job at Disneyland
Why he drove Walt Disney on the Jungle Cruise
How he met Walt Disney for the first time
What he did at Disneyland when President John F Kennedy died
Why he was such a good announcer
How he helped to design the Disneyland tour guide program
Which heads of state he toured around Disneyland
How he changed the Jungle Cruise script
What he did when interviewing nervous Disneyland Cast Member candidates
Why Tinkerbell didn’t land so gracefully after leading the fireworks
You could win a copy of my new book, Disneyland Secrets by answering our trivia question of the week. Listen to the podcast for the question then submit your answer and email below to be entered to win.
Win a Copy of the Disneyland Secrets book!
Good luck to everyone. This contest is only open from August 26-September 3, 2015. Only US residents may enter.
Special Thanks to You:
The Disney Dose podcast is a bi-weekly production put on every week for you, the Disney enthusiast. Please let me know if you are enjoying the show by leaving a review on iTunes. You can also contact us to share your thoughts and show ideas. Contact me here.
Star Wars Land has been announced for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. During the D23 Expo, Bob Iger got on stage and announced to a crowd of 7,500 people that “they would not just be building one of these, but building two” new Star Wars Lands. The excitement in the room was palpable as Bob Iger continually was interrupted by cheers from the audience, so much so that he said, just “give me a chance.”
See all of the new updates at the bottom of this article. Most Recent Update 1/11/2015
What We Know About Star Wars Land
Bob Chapek, the Chairman of Parks and Resorts talks about Star Wars Land
The new 14 acre lands represent the largest single land expansion ever and will be themed to a “remote port, one of the last stops before wild space.” Uniquely, “every store and restaurant will be operated by local inhabitants making the experience deeply immersive. Nothing in the land will be out of character or stray from mythology.” Two new attractions were announced. One will allow guests to “take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon.”
See the full presentation from the Disney Parks Presentation by Disney Parks Presentation Bob Chapek and Head of the Star Wars Creative Portfolio, Scott Trowbridge.
Later that day more information was provided and pictures were allowed at the Disney Parks Presentation. This presentation was hosted by the newly appointed chairman, Bob Chapek. While they mainly rehashed information from the the presentation in the morning, our photographer Chris Murray was able to grab shots of all of the concept art that was presented.
Bob Iger joked, “this one looks like my uncle.”
Once Bob Chapek had repeated all of the information from the morning presentation, he brought Scott Trowbridge, the chief creative Imagineer in charge of Star Wars, onto the stage. Trowbridge acknowledged that this project has “40 years of dreaming to live up to,” and that the project is only possible because of the incredible partnership between “WDI, our park operators, and most importantly our team members at LucasFilm.” Before leaving the topic of Star Wars Land, he hinted at the classic blue milk, which I am sure will be sold in this new land. He went on to describe a series of new experiences coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World that will debut before the new land opens–some even opening in the next two months.
Coming Before Star Wars Land
The Star Wars Launch Bay will be a special experience that aims to bring to life the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. This experience will be filled with exhibits that provide behind the scenes looks with props and the latest versions of the new Star Wars video games. There will also be a collection of new meet and greets with Star Wars characters inside of the Launch Bay. This new attraction will be located in the Animation Courtyard at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World and in Innoventions at Disneyland. (Also announced for Innoventions is a new Marvel experience). You should expect this new experience to open around October 11, 2015. Disney recently put out a casting call for actors for Star Wars Launch Bay and required them to be able to start on that date.
Next announced was the new Season of the Force event that will be coming in Early 2016 to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This will be an event “inspired by the popular Star Wars Weekends” and will include special food offerings and character meet and greets, plus other special attractions. In Disneyland we will see addition of an incredible overlay for Space Mountain, that will transform it into Hyperspace Mountain. Compare this overlay to the Halloween Ghost Galaxy version. Hollywood Studios will receive a new night time fireworks show themed completely to Star Wars. No word has yet been given on the length or start date of this special “Season of the Force” event, beyond the Early 2016 listing.
The concept art on the left appears to be an overhaul for the Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant in Disneyland.
Finally, they announced that a new destination from the new movie will be coming to the Star Tours attraction this winter. You should expect to see the new destination in place in later November or early December as they prepare for the new movie.
Disney also just announced after the event that Disney Visa Cardholders will have exclusive Star Wars Darth Vader meet and greets in both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios. These meet and greets will open in early 2016, most likely along with the Season of the Force special event.
So, now that you have all of the information that was given to us in the presentations, it is time to dig into what all of this means for Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and give you some background on the team that is designing all of these new Star Wars offerings for the Disney Parks.
Where Will the new Star Wars Land Be Located?
The Disney internet has been abuzz leading up to the D23 Expo. Rumors have been swirling that the new Star Wars Land would replace Toontown in Disneyland. Well, once the park had been announced, the official DisneylandToday Twitter account was quick to counter and say that Toontown would not be removed:
This is great news. Once this tweet was sent, the news spread like wildfire and people began to draw out the possible placement of attractions in the new land.
This new land will really be expanding the capacity and reach of the park, with very little being lost. The only thing being removed is the Big Thunder Ranch area and the backstage buildings behind the area. The backstage buildings will be relocated across the street to the recently purchased property. While the festival area and Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue do serve as nice tranquil spots, the loss of these areas will be more than compensated for by the incredible new Star Wars land.
There are really two layout options for the land, and Joseph Pimentel, the Disney reporter at the OC Register, captured the possible layouts that would fit the description of the expansion area. One version would simply push the park out and into the backstage areas, while the other would connect Critter Country and Frontierland, looping all the way around the Rivers of America.
So now that we have an idea of where the land may end up in the parks, we have to ask the question, “when will we get Star Wars Land?” Using history as a guide, my guess would be 2020. The Disney California Adventure major additions took about 5 years from announcement to completion. From 2007 to 2012 the park opened the new Toy Story Mania attraction, World of Color, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and the final culmination of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street. Most likely, Disneyland and Hollywood Studios will follow similar timelines with their expansions. Hollywood Studios will open Toy Story sometime in the next three years, probably about one-two years in advance of Star Wars Land.
Add the recent ruling by the Anaheim City Council that if Disney spends $1 billion dollars expanding the Disneyland Resort, they won’t have their tickets taxed for the next 30 years. The ruling states that Disney must begin the construction by 2017 and complete the construction within 7 years to avoid the gate ticket tax. This means that the latest Disney will open the new Star Wars Land will be 2024. But, I don’t see this ever happening, because they want to ride the Star Wars tidal wave that has begun and will continue through the next releases of Star Wars films that are currently scheduled up until 2019. It is in the best interest of the parks and the studios to get the land open as soon as possible.
Who Is Leading the Creation of Star Wars Land?
There may be more of a secret theme park battle going than any Disney or Universal spokesperson is willing to let on. I am of course talking about the newly built and soon to be completed Wizarding World’s of Harry Potter in Orlando and Hollywood. These new lands are forcing Disney to become better, as we discussed here. So, it is quite interesting that Scott Trowbridge was put in charge of this new Universal-busting project for Disney as he was one of the lead creatives for Universal Studios just 8 years ago. While there he led the creation of the Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, The Simpsons ride, Sesame Street 4-D, led early development of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter–he even starred in the official Harry Potter announcement video before he left in 2007. Now, he is leading the Star Wars expansion, and ironically, starred in the announcement of the new Star Wars Land at the D23 Expo.
Harry Potter Universal Orlando
This cross pollination can only be a good thing for theme park fans and the Disney Parks. Star Wars is in good hands at Walt Disney Imagineering and with the Board of the Disney Company. Here’s one more story for you before we go: two other versions of the Star Wars Land were presented to the Disney Board of Directors. The board rejected both of the original concepts because they weren’t anything original and in their opinion fell flat. The Board of Directors continually sent back the designs until the Imagineering team landed on the design that we see in front of us today. When this land opens sometime around 2020, expect something that will knock your socks off and something that Universal will not be able to counter with even the most powerful Harry Potter confundus charm.
Star Wars Land Updates
Update 8/26/15: The Big Thunder Ranch area has been said to be closing on January 11, 2016 at the close of the holiday season at Disneyland. No official confirmation has been given.
This article will be updated with any other Star Wars Land news or information that we receive. Think of this as your hub for news from the new Star Wars Land coming to Disneyland and Hollywood Studios.
Update 9/11/15: Tom Staggs, the Chief Operating Officer of the Walt Disney Company announced today that ground would be broken for Star Wars Land in early 2016. No opening date has been provided. Also, this will be the last year for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney Hollywood Studios. This area will soon become the construction site for the new Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land.
Update 9/14/15: Santa Claus will meet and greet with guests in a new Critter Country location this year, instead of in his usual location in the Big Thunder Ranch area. It seems that they are quickly phasing out that area completely as they prepare to begin construction on Star Wars Land.
Update 9/25/15: The Disneyland Railroad, Rivers of America, and “Fantasmic!” will all close for more than a year during the construction of Star Wars Land. Read the full details here>
Update 12/20/2015: (Includes Some Spoilers From Star Wars: The Force Awakens) The new film features the Millennium Falcon prominently throughout all of the space scenes. With the Falcon slated to be one of the new attractions for Star Wars Land, it will be interesting to see which films they mainly draw from. According to Screamscape, the new attraction could use the same ride system of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction out at Universal Orlando. This system will feature individual “cockpits” that will enter into moving miniature Imax screens that would allow for guests to feel as if they are actually flying the Millennium Falcon. Supposedly guest’s actions will actually change the outcome of these scenes. This is all very exciting stuff, but I will just add one opinion: I hope one of the two new Star Wars Land attractions features physical Audio-Animatronic figures at some point and creates a space this isn’t just on a digital projection screen. I have faith in the Imagineers and believe that they will create something truly unique.
Update 1/11/2016: Just a day after the closing of many popular Disneyland attractions to begin the construction of Star Wars Land, Disney has released concept art the depicts how the back half of the Rivers of America will appear when the attraction reopens next Spring. Reports to Disneyland Cast Members state that the attractions will reopen in mid April.
This image appears to confirm that they are rerouting the Disneyland Railroad closer into the middle of Disneyland Park. While the rerouting doesn’t seem to be nearly as dramatic as some reports, the railroad and Rivers of America will end up shorter than they were before both attractions closed. The artwork above is quite encouraging on the front that Disney will put money into improving the scenes along the riverbanks. Overall I hope that this closure leads not only to the positive construction of Star Wars Land, but also to the improvement of the entire Rivers of America.
Be sure to follow along on our Facebook page where we have been constantly posting photos from the parks as they prepare for Star Wars Land construction.
Faster Than the Millennium Falcon Can Make the Kessel Run