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6 Disneyland Hacks To Maximize The ~Magic~

From one AP holder to an audience of complete strangers, 95% of whom have never been to Disneyland.

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6. Wake up with the chickens.

Paul Hiffmeyer

It's painful, I know. But the best days I've ever had at Disneyland/California Adventure are the ones where I got to the parking garage a full hour before the parks opened. Why? Because most people are going to get there when the parks open, except you'll already have gotten through the first round of security and will beat most of the crowds to the line.

Plus, early mornings are the BEST times to run into costumed characters. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, and some of the classic princesses are usually out and about as soon as Disneyland opens its gates for the day. If photo ops are your thing, it pays to be an early riser.

And don't forget - your ticket allows you multiple fast passes over the course of the day. The earlier you get to the park, the higher your chances of snagging a fast pass to a popular ride before the mid-morning rush hits - or, better yet, you might get there so early that you can ride Hyperspace Mountain without a line (and then use that fast pass for something else)! Which brings me to my next point . . .

5. Choose your fast passes wisely.

Via disneyland.livejournal.com

Listen. All of the lines are going to be long. But not all of the long lines mean long waits. You don't really need to skip the line for Pirates of the Caribbean or grab a pass for the Haunted Mansion (unless it's close to Halloween); the continuously moving tracks for those rides keep the lines going steadily.

Soarin' or Indiana Jones, though? You're going to want to get your passes for those, first, or you're going to be looking at a 20-30 minute wait even WITH a fast pass. Worse, if you wait until mid-afternoon to wander over, the passes will probably be tapped out for the day, sticking you with a two-hour wait. Two hours that you could have spent doing literally anything else.

4. Bring snacks.

Sarah Sheppeck / Via Instagram: @epicsheppeck

Honestly? As theme park food goes, Disney is pretty top tier. That being said, it's also ridiculously expensive, with a Mickey-shaped soft pretzel starting at $5 and a corndog with a drink running around $12. Save your paper for lunch or dinner at one of the sit-down restaurants - they're really pretty good - and bring some sandwiches from home to hold you over for the rest of the day. Wouldn't you rather spend that money on a pair of souvenir Mickey ears, anyway?

3. Take a nap.

Disneyland Daily / Via disneylanddaily.com

I'm serious. I keep a pillow and a throw blanket in my car on trips to Disney for this exact reason. Once the mid-afternoon itis hits and you feel yourself veering from Happy to Sleepy, there's no shame in heading back to your car and catching a few Zs before you morph into Grumpy. Just a short power nap might be all it takes for you to be up and ready for more adventures.

2. Charm the park photographers.

Sarah Sheppeck

If you're a social media maven (or you just take a lot of pictures, for posterity), it's worth investing in a PhotoPass for some hi-res shots at the prettiest spots in the park.

Park photographers are most frequently found with the big-name characters, like Mickey and Co. or any of the princesses, but they're frequently found at other great photo spots, like the center of Main Street USA or by Disneyland Railroad.

Treat them with kindness and respect, of course, but befriending a park photographer also includes catching them at a slow moment.

In December, I landed a private shoot inside the Lilly Belle train car (usually only available to visit by reservation) by pure luck - Disneyland Railroad was down for renovations, so no one was taking advantage of the park photographers stationed by it.

Parades are also a perfect time to ask for photos. Since so many people are actually watching the parade, you can head up to any location not directly on the route (I personally like the entrance of the park) and a photographer will snap some candid shots of you watching the parade from a distance, like this one. Avoiding the crowd AND getting a cool souvenir? Worth it.

1. Do what you really want to do.

And, by that same logic, don't do what you really don't want to do.

You want to ride King Arthur's Carousel? Ride it. It's an awesome carousel. Too scared to try out California Screamin'? Don't let anyone guilt you into doing it. And if all you want to do is walk around and take pictures, you can do that, too.

Disneyland is known as "The Happiest Place On Earth" for a reason. Reserving time to see the things you want to see is the key to feeling wrapped up in all that Disney Magic (although I highly suggest that everyone stays to watch the fireworks).

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