The Ultimate Disneyland Playbook (Full of TWG Reader Tips!)

Hello Disney fans! You might recall a while ago I asked for advice on all things Disneyland so I could impress my niece and her family and retain my status as the best aunt ever :) The advice offered was incredibly valuable! I can’t thank you all enough. There were so many great tips and tricks I decided to go through it all, organize it, and create a sort of Disneyland playbook for TWG readers. I’ve organized it according to certain categories – I hope you like it!

To Do List:

  1. Download the Disney app for wait times on rides. The Mousewait app also does the same function.
  2. Set up your Disney Vacation Account (DVA):
  • It has to be active 120 days in order to receive the best perk, which is a $20 gift card for every $1,000 in spend.
  • Buy Disney gift cards and load them onto your DVA account. YMMV but sometimes gift cards can be bought at Target with the Red Card for 5% savings. When you load gift cards into your DVA account, you can then buy Disney tickets online.
  • Using your DVA account makes everything easier because you don’t have to carry around individual gift cards and swipe each one to use them.
  • With your DVA you can pay for ANYTHING Disney.
  1. Watch for AMEX offers at places that sell Disney gift cards.

General Tips:

  1. Familiarize yourself with Disneyland’s systems: Disney’s FastPass, Rider Switch, Single Rider, and Rider With Disabilities.
  2. Bring emergency ponchos, which you can get at places like the Dollar Store, for rides that will get you wet.

Strategies to make your Disneyland experience less stressful and more fun:

  1. Go mid-week because it’s less busy.
  2. Research maps for Disneyland ahead of time to get a lay of the land.
  3. Consensus was that 3-4 days, for starters, is a good amount of time for a Disney visit.
  4. Have a gameplan. In other words, know what rides or shows you definitely want to experience and which you might be willing to miss/skip.
  5. Pack snacks and drinks to bring into the park. Eating inside the park is expensive.
  6. Dining packages can be a good deal. Use them for World of Color and other night-time shows.

Credit cards to use to offset expenses:

  1. Capital One points or Barclay Arrival Points
  2. Earn points for purchases when buying Disney gift cards. Use a Chase card for 5x points on Cardcash by ordering Target gift cards and then buying Disney gift cards with the Target gift cards.
  3. There are discounted Disney gift cards at Costco.
  4. Use Discover card to order Disney gift cards for a 5% savings and to get your 5% back from Discover.
  5. Use a shopping portal to potentially get benefits for Disney purchases.
  6. Purchase Best Buy discounted gift cards and then buy Disney gift cards.

Check out our Top Rewards cards to boost your points earning and travel more!

Tips for going to Disneyland with kids:

  1. Avoiding meltdowns may not be possible, but staying flexible and having reasonable expectations with plans can help.
  2. Don’t rush to be first in line.
  3. Don’t expect to get on every ride in the park.
  4. Expect to wait in line.
  5. Balance is key. Yes, you pay a lot for the Disneyland experience and you want to have a good time, but creating a good memory and having a good time is important, too.
  6. Take a break off property to catch lunch or take a nap.
  7. Remember, the park gets crazier at night partially because of local annual/seasonal pass holders who come to the park after work.
  8. Bring sunscreen. It’s expensive at the park.
  9. Kids under 3 are FREE!
  10. Buy Disney themed toys beforehand and give them to your kids at the park.

Helpful websites:

  1. Undercover Tourist – they offer discount tickets and hotel packages to Disneyland. Read how to Maximize your time at Disneyland.
  2. Mouse Savers – free guide to discounts at Disneyland.
  3. Disney Tourist Blog
  4. Touring Plans
  5. Dis Boards
  6. Pizza in Motion: BIG News About Discounted Disney World Tickets For DVC Members!

So there you have it, the TWG Disneyland Playbook. I had no idea there was so much great information on how to maximize not only saving money when visiting Disneyland, but also your time at the park. It sure will be a ton more fun having learned about all this and having created a game plan for our Disneyland adventure. Thanks again everyone, and here’s to the Mickey or Minnie in us all!

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8 thoughts on “The Ultimate Disneyland Playbook (Full of TWG Reader Tips!)

  1. Danny

    Just a clarification, buying the Disney GC to load to the DVA allows you to pay for a lot of Disney Hotels, tickets, cruises and other things. But you should always carry extra disney gift cards to spend in the park. Don’t load them all onto your DVA. To the best of my knowledge, I’m not sure you can spend the DVA money in the park for food, parking and other souvenirs.

  2. Mark O

    Another pointer get the popcorn bucket in the park – you can refill for $1 each time – ton of popcorn vendors throughout the park. Best bang for your buck snack in the park.

    Also buying a gift card with a target gift card is highly YMMV since it can not be done online anymore.

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