Disneyland is crowded. This has become a universal reality. It is unfortunate, virtually unavoidable, and has become sadly consistent. When a new or newly refurbished land, attraction, or rose-gold gift dispensary opens over an already impacted summer weekend, the resort can reach capacity. As can guest frustration. The recent Disney California Adventure Pixar Pier premiere on Saturday, June 23, was another such notable occasion.
Disneyland Resort used to enjoy what we now remember fondly as an “off season.” Way back when, on a Tuesday in November, guests might expect to ride Space Mountain and the Matterhorn in the same day, with the sun in the same relative position in the sky. That was before Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, bounding and Instagram made Disneyland the exceedingly popular pop-culture destination it is today.
If you want to avoid the heavily crowded festive periods, you may want to skip summer entirely. On the other hand, if your desire to experience new lands, new attractions, and the latest rollouts of snacks and sundries outweighs your need for elbow and breathing room, come prepared.
It takes a rather dramatic occurrence for the Disneyland Resort to run out of parking spaces, but expect it to happen often once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge debuts. The Pixar/Disney connection is noteworthy, though nothing compares to “Star Wars” short of “Star Wars” itself. Still, those hoping to be inside Disney California Adventure at rope drop—when something new is being unveiled—the situation surrounding every parking facility may be downright chaotic.
Advice: Arrive as early as you can and try to remain calm. You won’t be the only person eager to get parked and get going. In fact, maintaining your calm is our advice for basically any Disney issue—and life in general! Truly, our best recommendation is to get a hotel room within walking distance of the resort. Or, even better, stay at the resort if you can swing it. You’ll have a much wider window of time, be one less vehicle taking up space, and be among the happier arrivals at the Happiest Place on Earth—which Cast Members always appreciate.
While you can ride the new Incredicoaster without a FastPass, this might not be the best use of your park time. The Incredicoaster standby queue affords guests a more in-depth examination of the brand new backstory, which is worth enjoying when time isn’t at such a premium. Advice: Until the new-attraction smell wears off and the summer swarm dies down, go for the FastPass and catch the attraction’s backstory online.
Warning: Securing FastPasses for new and coveted attractions can be dicey, as they’re in limited supply and go fast. A thrill ride of sorts in itself is being present at rope drop when the stampede to the distribution kiosks (which are always located in the vicinity of the attraction) commences. Think “bull run,” but with Mickey ears. If you prefer a more sane and measured approach, spring for MaxPass and reserve your ride times via your mobile device. If you’re not up to spending the additional $10 per admission ticket for the MaxPass benefits—which include Disney PhotoPass photo downloads—ask yourself how much you care about all those “E-Ticket” rides. With MaxPass, you can double—if not triple—the primo rides you can enjoy on a crowded day. Disney is betting most will spring for the ten more dollars.
Unless you absolutely must—and most people do—don’t bring a bag. Not having a bag is like taking the express elevator in a high-rise—on a weekday: you can skip right past that bag-check line, which can move somewhat efficiently—or not—depending on everyone in front of you. If you don’t have a bag or stroller, you can put this time to much better use—like standing in line for a Dole Whip!
And yet, the security process does continue to become a more smooth and streamlined process, thanks to the addition of more screening aisles, better crowd control, and increased shade. Advice: Know where the security checkpoints are so that you’ll be ready when you arrive (assuming you have a bag).
A little patience will go a long way—with or without a bag. Your only real priority is to enjoy yourself. It’s why you’re there! And don’t forget to stay hydrated—it’s summer, after all, and Disney has plenty of beverages and treats to keep you cool and energized this summer.
Got your own bit of advice for weathering crowded summer days at the Disneyland Resort? Leave your comments below.