6 Rookie Disneyland Mistakes to Avoid

castle at disneyland
by Erica Riley // 0 Comments

A visit to Disneyland is an investment and for some a once in a lifetime experience.  It’s important that you make the most of the opportunity and create memories that will last a lifetime.

A little bit of advance planning can make a big difference especially if it’s your first time at Disneyland.  You don’t need to nail down every detail, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you don’t make any rookie Disneyland mistakes.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure for more information.

disneyland minnie mouse ears hat
Disneyland has been a bucket list destination for over 60 years now.

6 Mistakes to Avoid at Disneyland

It’s easy to get excited and overlook important details when planning your trip to Disneyland.  If you want to see as much as possible while during your Disneyland vacation without wasting precious time or money, these are the mistakes that you need to be sure to avoid.

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#1 Not Getting a Park Hopper Ticket

A lot of people don’t get a park hopper ticket because of the additional cost, but that is one of the biggest Disneyland mistakes you can make.  A park hopper ticket gives you so much flexibility and freedom because it allows you to visit both Disneyland and California Adventure on the same day.  

Since the parks are within a minute walk of each other, you can easily jump back and forth all day long. You can get fastpasses in both parks and run from park to park depending on what rides have the lowest wait time.

Outside of the convenience of being able to jump from park to park, it is a better use of your time.  In all honesty, it is difficult to spend an entire day just at Disney California Adventure.  You will probably regret not getting a park hopper ticket and spending a full day in each park.

There aren’t that many rides, and the majority of them have incredibly long wait times. You spend a lot of time standing in ride lines at Disney California Adventure, and that time can be better spent at Disneyland where the lines are shorter.  There is also a lack of entertainment, adult rides, and top-quality restaurants at Disney California Adventure.

It is nice to mix and match the classic Disney rides and entertainment at Disneyland with the Pixar-themed and thrilling attractions at Disney California Adventure.  The two parks compliment one another well, and you day feels more balanced and magical when you hop between the two parks throughout the day.

poster for pixar pier in California Adventure
Pixar Pier is one of the areas inside Disney’s California Adventure.

#2 Not Using the Disneyland App Properly

The Disneyland app is an essential part of any Disneyland trip, but so few people use it to its full potential.
Most people only use it to check the wait time for rides and not for all the other information it provides guests.

The app tells you everything you need to know when you’re in Disneyland.  It tells you how long the ride wait times are, when and where characters are greeting guests in the parks, showtimes, and so much more. 

There is a map that shows you where everything is, and it guides you to your destination just like Google Maps.
You can even view your photopass and ride photographs, store your park ticket, and order food on the app.

emotional whirlwind inside out ride at California adventure
The Disneyland app lets you check schedule information for rides, shows, and more.

The app makes your day so much easier.  It’s important to download the app and create your account before you arrive at Disneyland. You can spend some time getting used to the app and seeing all its functions.  That way you’re familiar with the app before you arrive at Disneyland and don’t have to spend any of your precious Disney time trying to learn how to use it.

#3 Not Using Mobile Order

Mobile order is a newer addition to the Disneyland app, and it is a game changer.  Not using mobile order is one of the biggest rookie Disneyland mistakes you can make!

Mobile order allows you to pre-order your quick service food and pick it up when you get a notification that it is ready. You avoid standing in those long quick service lines! 

rides at California Adventure
You can use Mobile Order at California Adventure and Disneyland to save time.

It is impressive how quickly your mobile order food is ready! It is significantly quicker than standing in the normal line.  One of the best things about mobile order is you can order your Dole Whip on the app and avoid standing in the infamously long line!

Not every quick service restaurant is offering mobile order yet, but most of them are.  You can look on the Disneyland app to see if mobile order is available or there is a sign indicating if mobile order is available at the restaurants.

You can’t pay with cash when mobile ordering, but you can use basically any other payment method. They even accept Disney gift cards!  You can even apply your annual pass discount through the mobile order app as well!

It is a great system, and it will only become more and more popular in the years to come.

mickey mouse
Mickey can’t wait to welcome you to Disneyland.

#4 Not Using Single Rider Lines

Single rider lines are one of the best ways to save a lot of time at Disneyland. People from the single rider line are used to fill empty seats in an attraction.  This ensures the ride is operating at full capacity, and the lines are moving as quickly as possible.

If a ride holds three people, but there are only two people in a group, somebody from the single rider line is used to fill the last seat in the row.  Single rider lines normally move much quicker than the normal line. You get to ride the most popular attractions with a significantly shorter wait.

It doesn’t get better than that!

Single riders are used to fill empty seats, so you will be separated from your group. It is a small inconvenience to pay for cutting down on your wait time. Set a place for your group to meet after the ride, and you’re good to go.

If you have small children or want a ride photo of your group together, then you might want to skip single rider lines. But for everybody else, they’re the perfect way to maximize your time.

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Not every Disneyland attraction has a single rider line, but some of the most popular attractions do.  The best and quickest moving single rider line is at Radiator Springs Racers. It moves super fast and is normally less than 20 minutes before you get on the ride!  The worst single rider line is at the Incredicoaster. It moves painfully slow, and it is often times faster to use the regular line.

#5 Not Getting to the Park Early

It is essential that you get to the park early! The earlier the better, so don’t forget to set that alarm.

No matter what park you plan on visiting, you should plan to be there when the gates open. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are incredibly busy all year around. A lot of Disneyland rides don’t offer fastpass and have a long line all day long.  Disney California Adventures doesn’t have that many rides in the park. Fastpass goes quickly for all the attractions, and there are long lines the rest of the day.

The parks are quietest first thing in the morning, and it is your best chance to ride a few attractions without much of a wait. If you want to ride Peter Pan’s Flight or any other Fantasyland attractions, first thing in the morning is the best time to do it!

its a small world ride at disneyland
Arrive early to beat the crowds at popular Fantasyland rides, like It’s a Small World.

One more thing to be aware of is what park has Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic Hours is when the park opens an hour early to Disney hotel guests and guests with a three or more day ticket. They are allowed into the park early before the general public to experience the park with fewer crowds.

This is great if you have access to Extra Magic Hours, but it can kill your morning strategy if you don’t.
You can find out which park has Extra Magic Hours on any given day by visiting the Disneyland website and checking the park hours.

The park with Extra Magic Hours will be busier at opening time because there are guests already in the park and increasing the wait time.  You want to plan your visit, so you’re visiting the park that doesn’t have Extra Magic Hours.  That gives you a completely empty park to take advantage of, and you get a lot more done than at the park with Extra Magic Hours.

#6 Not Hydrating

It is always hot in Anaheim, and you dehydrate quickly. This is even more true when you’re at Disneyland walking around even more than you usually do. It is essential that you stay hydrated!

big thunder mountain railroad at disneyland
Be sure to take a break between all the exciting rides to drink some water.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to stay hydrated either.  Don’t forget to bring a plastic or metal water bottle with you as glass bottles are not allowed for safety reasons. There are water bottle filing stations throughout the park, and you can get a free cup of ice water at any quick service restaurant.

Thankfully you can stay hydrated for free and not be stuck paying Disney’s high price for a plastic water bottle. Plus it is much better for the environment if you bring your own water bottle and fill it up throughout the day.

It can be quite difficult to remember to stay hydrated at Disneyland though. You’re so busy riding rides and meeting characters that drinking water is often isn’t a thought.  If you’re not great at remembering to drink water, you can set a timed reminder on your phone or download an app that reminds you to drink water.

You don’t want to get a headache or any other physical symptoms of dehydration at Disneyland. It takes a lot of the fun out of it!

Make the Most Out of Your Time at Disneyland

There are a lot of Disneyland mistakes you can make even if you’re an experienced Disneyland guest.  The good news about all the Disneyland mistakes on this list is they are super easy to fix!

disney parade
Your dreams can come true at Disneyland!

Some of these mistakes may seem small and inconsequential, but they can make your Disney trip a lot less enjoyable. Something as little as ordering your food on the app can make a big difference and save you a lot of time.

Disneyland is magical no matter what, but it become even more magical when you reduce your wait times and make it easier to navigate the park.  With these tips and tricks in your back pocket, you’re sure to be a Disneyland expert next time you visit.

Just be sure to say hi to Mickey for me!


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disneyland castle with text overlay: disneyland mistakes to avoid

Expert Tips for Planning Your Disneyland Vacation

  • Splurge and get the park hopper tickets
  • Download the Disneyland App before your visit
  • Bring your own water bottle (not glass) to save money and stay hydrated.
  • Grab this free trip planning checklist to help you get ready for Disneyland (or any holiday).

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Last Updated on March 12, 2021

About the Author

Erica is an avid solo traveler who has been to over 40 countries. She loves spending long periods of time in each country to get a sense of the country and culture. Erica’s favourite travel activities include attending local theatre and dance performances, wandering through museums, eating way too much food, and riding every rollercoaster she comes across. Find out what she is up to on her blog Travels with Erica or on Facebook here.