7 Ways to Keep It Simple Disneyland

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This is the post for people who prefer to treat a vacation like a vacation (read: relax and unwind). It’s also the perfect post for Disneyland annual passport holders who come to the parks often. This is the laid-back version of Disneyland.

Simple Disneyland: keep your group small

Limit the number of people in your group and you automatically limit the many directions you could be pulled in. I think I could be totally satisfied going to Disneyland alone to explore all the little details and take tons of pictures of everything that makes Disneyland so special and magical.

A trip with my husband or taking one kid on a special mommy and me date would also top my list of a simple Disneyland adventure.

When I was 13, I convinced my mom to let me take my 3 year old brother to Disneyland for the day (don’t judge… it is what it is). We had so much fun and I let him do everything I remember wanting to do when I was that age. He hung on the bars and chains in the ride queues and I never once told him to hurry up or move up in line. I said ‘yes’ to every treat he asked for. We pigged out and had fun until the sun went down. And I totally ignored all the stares from people wondering if I was his mom.

When you keep your group to a minimum you can truly savor the moments and cater your day to what you want. Even if it means cramming in as many rides as possible- a lot easier with two than twelve.

Simple Disneyland: Pack light

Ditch the backpack. Most of the time people come prepped for a national emergency with food and bottled water for days. The end up lugging around a giant backpack all day on their sweaty back, too nervous to leave it anywhere and not wanting to trek back and forth to a locker. Then worse, they’re lured by the lovely scent of popcorn, the visions of frozen bananas and all the fabulous food at the park that they barely touch the trail mix they brought. If you’re not worried too much about the budget, bring your cash or Disney gift cards and leave the rest back home.

Simple Disneyland: Pick your favorites

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad after dark.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad after dark.

Fill in this sentence, “If I went to Disneyland and missed out on… it wouldn’t count as a trip to Disneyland.” You may have 2 or 3 things that could fill in this sentence. Use those 2 or 3 attractions, multiplied by your group size to determine your must-see list. If you need some help, check out our What to Ride First Disneyland Edition, California Adventure Edition and one of my favorites, What not to Ride.

Simple Disneyland: Start your day early

Even if you’re not a morning person- be a “I can ride 10 things in an hour if I manage to be a morning person this morning” person. Opening the parks is the way to go and can mean the difference between spending an hour or more in line for one ride and riding a bunch of things right away… before the heat sets in, before the crowds arrive and most importantly- helping lead you to our #5 way to simplify your Disneyland plans.

Simple Disneyland: Take a nap

If you’re staying at a nearby hotel, skip the mid-day madness and take a break. Many Disneyland experts assert that the afternoon is the worst time to be in the parks. It’s hot, it’s crowded and you’ll spend more time in line than you will in the morning or after fireworks. You got up early, you deserve a little shut eye.

If you’re just in town for the day, find a cool spot to relax and take a snooze for a few. Here’s where my husband and kids took their naps on our last visit to Disneyland and California Adventure:

  • The Tiki Room (my son slept and we all enjoyed our own Dole Whips… he still holds this against me)
  • Bench at the entrance of Mickey’s Toontown or any shady spot
  • The Disneyland Railroad (around and around we go)
  • Frozen- Live at the Hyperion, cool, dark and comfy
Other places to nap at Disneyland:
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
  • Tom Sawyer’s Island

Simple Disneyland: People watch

Fantasyland fills up fast. Beat the crowds with tips from The Happiest Blog on Earth.

My favorite pass time in any crowded place and a great alternative to having a nap. If you need a break, but don’t do the napping in public- people watching is a great choice. Pick a shady spot anywhere and be ready for some true Disneyland entertainment.

Simple Disneyland: Keep perspective

Photo credit Kelley Gallagher.
One of the main ways to simplify your day at Disneyland is to keep perspective. Most people come to the parks to make memories and spend meaningful time with loved ones. Keep that the main goal and let any mishaps roll off your shoulder. Stay prepped for meltdowns and enjoy the perfect moments as they arrive.

Who said you have to have it all? What do you do to simplify your day at Disneyland?


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