20 April 2016

Disneyland 101

Hello there all!!
I kid you not, my number one question I get via email, FB message, text, phone call is
"Ali, we're going to Disneyland in [X amount of time].
What are the best things to do, tips do you have,
places to eat, etc etc.?"
I get this question almost weekly.
And I love it!!
As a former cast member at both the Disney Store and Disneyland,
you can guess I've been to the park a few times in my lifetime ;)
I'm always more than willing to give ideas and tips!
Why yes that is me! 
Helping young Jedi make their lightsabers just how they want it! 
(Also this is now completely different after 6 years haha)
SOOOO I decided to write a couple posts here doing just that!
This first one will be kinda like a
"Disneyland 101".
We'll go over terms, tickets, hotels,
and general information.
Now this information will be ONLY for the Disneyland Resort!
I have never been to Disney World (someday *fingers crossed*)
and though some of the things are similar or the same,
the parks themselves are so completely different 
that I can't for sure say what works there ;)
Ok so Disneyland 101,
it begins!
The Disneyland Resort consists of 2 theme parks and 3 resort hotels.
Parks: Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure (DCA from here)
Resort hotels: Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel and The Grand Californian.
Around the resort are what we call "Good Neighbor hotels"
They aren't Disney official but they are partnered with them to provide discounted
room rates for resort guests plus these hotels will usually sell park tickets as well.
We often stay in a Good Neighbor hotel when we go.
I have only stayed once in the resort hotels.
It was one night in the Disneyland hotel before they renovated in 2010,
and it was amazing!
(I was working at the resort when they started renovations
and they sold all the bedding at the cast member store 
so I have a comforter from the original hotel!) 
 Guys, there is really NO way to get discounted tickets for Disneyland.
Just swallow the pill and pay.
(although the site ParkSavers.com is a totally legit place to get them slightly discounted!)
But really, other than that site, there really isn't.
And please for the love of all that is holy NEVER ask a cast member to get you in.
Unless you're blood related.
Cast members only get a few passes to the park and that's 
saved for THEM to get in and their families.
So please, don't be That Guy.
So there really isn't any discounted tickets, 
however, if you purchase your tickets online from Disneyland.com
or from your local Disney Store
(yes, they carry tickets my friends)
they will be cheaper than buying them at the gate of the park.
A 3 day park hopper ticket ONLINE is $295, at the GATE it's $297.
Sure not a huge discount BUT it's something when things start adding up.
Thankfully now Disneyland has changed their ticket prices
for one day park visits!
(***prices mentioned here are from spring 2016, 
ticket prices subject to change without warning***)
Now it's a little easier to go when you want to go 
(which is when the park isn't packed of course)!
For a "Value" 1 day ticket it's $95, $105 on "Regular" days, and "Peak" days it's $119.
If you're wanting to park hop the tickets for 1 day are $155 during "Value" days
and $169 for "Peak" days!
(I'll get to terms later like "value" and "peak") 
But if you do a 2-5 day ticket the prices do not change.
If you decide to purchase a 3-5 day pass you also get a Magic Morning included!
(we'll go over terms soon!)
Also important note about tickets.
When you purchase your ticket, you have an entire year to use it.
Now once it has been ACTIVATED,
as in, been swiped through one of the parks for admission, 
you only have 13 days to use said ticket.
Why is this important?
So you don't feel stressed!!
Think about if you had a 3 day ticket and toddlers
(see me raising my hand over here??)
would you really want to necessarily do ALL three days consecutively?
Or would you like to maybe take a break and then return later in the week? 
The fact that this is an option really helps families decide their vacations 
without feeling like they HAVE to be there all three days or they can't use their tickets.
Now if you choose to NOT use all 3 days before that 13 days is over,
you'll lose whatever days were left.
SO say you had a 5 day ticket and only ended up using 3.
After that 13 day window, those extra 2 days are lost to you 
and you cannot get them back.
**If you do your vacation through Costco or Sams Club 
or a travel agency then there's possibly some discounts available.
 But, at least for Costco, it has to be your entire vacation.
Can't just be your tickets if you go through their travel site.
Continue onward**
"Disney" Terms.
You've probably heard things like 
"Fast Passes"
"Single Rider Passes"
"Stroller Switch Passes"
But are maybe thinking "What the HECK does that mean??"
Well, let me tell ya ;)
Fast Passes. For certain attractions you can get a "Fast Pass" (don't worry, it doesn't cost extra)
  which means you are able to bypass a huge chunk of the normal standby line 
when you return to that attraction in the stated time on your Fast Pass ticket. 
How do you get a Fast Pass ticket? Easy. 
You use your PARK ticket, go up to the machines for the attraction of your choice 
(usually at the end of the ride or right near the entrance, 
they have big signs that say "FAST PASS DISTRIBUTION"), 
insert your ticket in the machine and a fast pass paper ticket will pop out! 
And don't forget to grab your PARK ticket back too!
Go enjoy another attraction and come back when your pass is ready to go!
Rides that have Fast Passes are here

Single Rider Passes. For some specific attractions they allow a "Single Rider Pass". 
These passes allow you to almost completely bypass the standby line
you are NOT going to be riding WITH your party.
Hence the "Single Rider" of the pass.
They will use single riders to fill seats that are otherwise empty.
Like on Indiana Jones, there's 5 seats per row in a vehicle,
say only 4 are filled,
they'll have a single rider ride in that empty seat.
It's a very quick way to get through some of your favorite rides!
Rides that allow this are here
Rider Switch/Stroller Switch pass. Same pass, different names.
Some people call them "Stroller passes", others call them "rider switch".
To use these, you must speak to the cast member at the front of the ride you wish to ride 
and ask for the pass. 
One person will then get to go on the ride while the other waits with the kids.
Then the one getting off the ride gives the pass to the one that hasn't ridden yet 
and back through the exit you go! 
The cast members will then guide you to where you need to go 
and then off you go on your ride!
Rides for rider switch here  
Magic Morning. OK so I mentioned Magic Morning above when I mentioned tickets. 
See? I remembered! 
So what that means is when you purchase a 3-5 day ticket,
you automatically get a Magic Morning. 
Meaning, you can get into the park one hour PRIOR to park official open 
on ONE day (you don't necessarily get to pick the day though).
That's huge!! 
You can get on rides so much faster and without the crowds.
Maximize that hour to either shop (trust me) 
or ride the rides that always have crazy lines.
Park Hopper. This is in regards to your PARK ticket. 
Ok so there's the single park a day ticket or the park HOPPER ticket. 
Meaning that you can go to BOTH Disneyland and DCA on the same day.
If you do NOT purchase the "park hopper" option, you cannot
go to both parks on the same day.
Easy right?
PhotoPass. Ok guys. I'm a HUGE lover of the PhotoPass photographers.
They are NOT paid by commission!
They are there specifically to take your pictures for your memories.
They take them with their own cameras of course,
and they will put the pictures on a card that you can purchase their prints from later
(again, greater detail in another post).
But guess what?!
They will also take the pictures with YOUR cameras!
You read that correctly!
No need to only take selfies when a perfectly good photographer is right there!
They also can do fun things to your photos
with certain poses and even certain characters can magically
find their way into your memories! ;)
Just ask the photographers anywhere you see them and they can give you details also!
Peak vs Regular vs Value days. Ok friends. 
When I say "Peak days" I mean days that are super busy. 
ie. holidays and weekends in the summer.
"Value" days are when it's super empty.
ie. middle of the week from January to Memorial Day.
"Regular" days are all the ones left over hahaha
ie. check out this calendar to see by month what days are what price ;)
(if it just takes you to the normal ticket page, click on the 
"1 day, prices vary." button and it will show you the calendar for the rest of the year)
General Information.
- At the gate of each park there is always a map of the park you're about to enter
as well as an Entertainment schedule.
Don't worry I'll go into that in another post!
- Every cast member you see, you can ask a question.
You don't have to go looking for a specific person to answer any of your questions.
  They are all trained to know most of the information or 
know how to obtain such information!
- The cast members dressed in red and blue plaid with white ascots are
Guest Relations cast members.
Meaning they have the most parkwide knowledge since they are everywhere.
They are also the ones that are in City Hall
(where you can get your celebratory buttons, give compliments to cast members 
and also complaints, and they are the lost and found)
and some of them do tours in the park!
 (Again I promise I will go into WAY more detail in another post)
- The custodial cast members ALSO have maps and schedules in their pouches 
if you've lost yours and need a new one, 
just ask nicely and they'll be more than happy to give you one!
SO there you have it!
Disneyland 101!
Next will be MY top places to eat at the park ;) Stay tuned!
If you have any questions or if I missed something please feel free to comment below
or you can email me at alimills.88@gmail.com!

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