The Disneyland Rules

Updated January 2, 2019

There are a million ways to tour the parks, but a few rules will make your visit successful.

These are non-negotiable for crowded days and highly recommended in general.

Take a look!

1. Arrive early.

I recommend arriving an hour prior to park opening. Check the daily schedule to know what time the park opens for business and get there well before. Take a look at my post on how to start your day for more details. Know the difference between Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning and if you have one or both of these privileges.

Why so early? Others will be sleeping in. Let them slumber. Enjoy the park with lower lines. It’s totally worth the early wake up and coffee run. Plus, you’ll likely be let in 30 minutes prior to official park opening. Don’t miss that.



2. Have a plan.

Use my touring plans or create your own. If you don’t commit to a plan, that’s OK. Just have a general idea of what you want to accomplish for the morning before you arrive.

Even a loose plan will help you stay focused and will hopefully deter the chaos of not knowing what is next.

Consider these posts for how to start at each park:


California Adventure




There are a handful of rides at each park that allow FASTPASSES. Know ahead of time how this system works and use it.

Consider taking advantage of single rider lines and the child swap system, too. Being familiar with these options will come in handy during your visit. I cover all of this in the FASTPASS post.


4. Leave mid-day.

I know it’s tempting to stay all day and squeeze every minute out of the parks. I’ve done it. But, I don’t recommend it – especially with young children. Leave after lunch, around 1-2pm, for an escape back to your hotel.

Whether you’re staying at a DLR Hotel or off-site, there are options for relaxing and dining in addition to spending time in your room. Even Downtown Disney has options. Just escape from the chaos of the parks. A few hours can re-set everyone’s minds and attitudes.

Enjoy a swim or nap or relax and watch TV for a couple of hours. Shower before returning and be refreshed for the night time hours.


5. Return for the evening and plan to stay late.

Disneyland comes alive at night and the park feels entirely different from daytime. After a break at your hotel, you’ll be ready for the evening and I recommend you stay late.

If your little ones can handle it, consider staying after fireworks. Many people leave then, so you’ll enjoy lower lines if you can handle the later hours.

***For upcoming events at the park and dates to keep in mind, visit this page. I update it every day with all that is happening at Disneyland.

***Want LOTS MORE information on how to survive Disneyland and get the most out of your visit? Review this post.

Let me know how I can help!

Take a look at how Get Away Today can help with your vacation


  1. Hi Casey,
    Me, my wife and 10 yr old daughter will be visiting Disneyland California Adventures in the 3rd week of July 2016. Vll be travelling from Dubai & this will be our first ever Disney visit anywhere. Reading your site has given me a lot of information and we will be having just one full day for DCA and need to try and cover most part of it. FYI will be staying at Camelot inn Anaheim.
    As this will be almost the peak season and just by reading about fastpasses, return tickets, long wait lines, the summer heat (we are used to that), etc….gives the chills and really getting stressed out as how to manage it.
    Ive been reading your strategies on the site, but still seem to be confused.
    Could you possibly help me out how to go about our whole day right from start to finish and which fast passes to collect, which rides to prioritize, etc……
    The main attractions that we would not want to miss are Anna & Elsa (meet n greet, sing along), World of Colors, California Screamin, Fliks flyers, Radiators Springs Racers, Soarin Over California (also soaring over the world if it will be operating by then), Toy story mania, Tower of Terror, Grizzly river run and Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue.
    Any other rides apart from these (which we shouldn’t miss or replace from the above list) would be a bonus.
    Are fast passes available online in advance?
    How do we capture our photos for the whole day, do we use only our camera, or use photopass (dont know much about it) or a combination of both??
    We wouldn’t mind leaving early and stay till late without a break.
    Will all this be possible to cover in a single day with any plan or strategy?
    Sorry for so many Q’s, would appreciate your help for this as u seem to be the expert !!

  2. Casey, I clicked on the link above for the daily schedule for the 2 days we are going. Aug 31 and Sept 1…and I’m literally sick right now!
    Why does it say 10am-9pm?!?!?!??
    I don’t understand!
    Should i change our entire vacation? What am I missing? Why am paying same amount as other days they are open 8-12am!!!
    I don’t know what to do now 🙁

    • Hi, Christi.

      As the seasons change, the park hours change due to less crowds. So, it’s good for you in some ways, as kids will be in school and you’ll have less waiting in line, but you will miss out on late night hours. It’s really a trade off, but you can come out ahead with the lesser crowds. Keep that in mind before changing your dates. Often those holiday or mid-summer hours look appealing because they’re plentiful, but that is often to accommodate a very crowded park. Hope that makes sense.

    • Mauricio,

      For the most part. Disneyland and DCA are the same regarding the rules. My only exception would be that if the park closes early (8pm), you might get away with a nap in the park, in a stroller rather than spending so much time out of the park. That works for some kids, but not for others.