6. Reserve a table at a sit-down restaurant
Sit-down restaurants, such as the Carthay Circle Restaurant (pictured above) in California Adventure, are great for a relaxing break. You must reserve with a credit card, and you can reserve up to 60 days in advance. Cancellation is free until the day before arrival. Reserve at disneyland.disney.go.com/dining or 714-781-DINE. You can also look at menus online.
7. Buy souvenirs in advance
You can save half or more on souvenirs—for kids and adults—at a Disney Outlet store. (These places might also sell merchandise made for the outlets that might not be a deal, so be careful.) Or head for the Target store on Harbor Boulevard, near the Toy Story parking lot for Disneyland. The licensed Disney merchandise here will cost a fraction of what you’d pay for a similar item inside the park. Buy matching Disney T-shirts for the whole family. It’s fun, and it makes it easy to find each other in a crowd.
8. Be aware of the smoking rules
As of May 1, you cannot smoke inside Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, or the Downtown Disney District. You can smoke in designated areas outside the entrances to those places and at designated areas at Disney hotels if you’re a guest or you have a dining reservation.
9. Download the Disneyland app in advance
It’s chock-full of information ranging from real-time wait times for rides to food choices and locations.
10. Bring your lunch
Rent a locker for $5–$7 at Disneyland or the Downtown Disney District and leave a small cooler there. Downtown Disney has a small picnic area near where people disembark from the parking tram; it’s a nice place to enjoy a meal while people watching.
11. Take non-alcoholic beverages from home
Disneyland allows you to bring your own drinks into the park as long as they’re not in glass bottles. Take frozen water bottles to keep sandwiches cold, and when they thaw out, drink from them.
Note: As of May 1, you cannot bring ice or dry ice into the park, although reusable ice packs are okay. You can ask for cups of ice at quick-service dining locations.
12. Bring a battery backup charger
You’ll probably use up your phone batteries with all the picture taking and app using. Do not count on being able to find an outlet. If you have a Fuel Rod brand charger, look for kiosks where you can swap yours out for a new one—or buy one there.
13. Buy rain gear in advance
If there’s even a hint that it might rain, stock up on cheap, single-use ponchos. You can find them at nearly any dollar store. (Inside the resort, ponchos are expensive.) Also, dollar-store umbrellas can be useful for sun protection.
14. Take a photo of your car’s location in the parking garage
For example, you might be near “Goofy 3D.” Trust me: Later, you’ll want to know that.
15. Order and pay for quick-service meals in advance
On the Disneyland app, select a counter-service restaurant that appeals to you, then enter a time frame for picking up your meal. You can browse the menu and pay for your meal in advance; then, when you get near the restaurant, the app will ask you if you’re ready to eat. When you say “yes,” your meal will be ready to pick up within minutes at a special window. If you change your mind, you can cancel your order. You can mobile order food only in the parks, not before you enter them.
16. Feel free to ask for water
You don’t have to pay $4 for a bottle of water; any restaurant will gladly give you tap water in a cup.
17. Keep an eye on your stroller
You’d be surprised how many disappear. Either leave the expensive strollers at home or stick a tracking device inside them. You’re not allowed to secure the stroller to anything in the park, in case employees have to move it, but you can disable the front wheels so it’s not easily wheeled away. Police suggest you put your name and information on the bottom of the stroller, in case it’s found. Also, snap a photo of your child inside the stroller when you enter the park. And, of course, never leave valuables inside.
Note: As of May 1, you cannot bring into the park any stroller wagons or strollers larger than 31 inches-by-52 inches.
18. Beat the heavy crowds leaving the park at the end of the day
Jump on the Disneyland Railroad at any station and ride it to Main Street, then exit the park easily from there. Alternatively, take the Monorail from Tomorrowland to Downtown Disney, where you can disembark only a few hundred feet from the tram that takes you to the parking lot. When you’re driving home from the park–tired and, hopefully, happy–you’ll reflect on your family’s Disney day.