by Character Diva
As a native Californian who was blessed to have an uncle who worked as a Disneyland cast member for over 35 years, you could say Disneyland was my home away from home. Almost every family vacation we took involved a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. So naturally, I was intrigued with what kinds of facts I could learn from The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2016.
Demographically, Tips from the Disney Divas & Devos mainly caters to the Disney World crowd. So chances are, if you’re reading this, a trip to Disneyland may still be on your Bucket List. If this is your first trip to Disneyland (or even if it’s been awhile), I highly recommend you buying this book. It contains seven sections (Planning Before You Leave Home, Essentials, Disneyland with Kids, Dining and Shopping in and around Disneyland, Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure, and Universal Studios Hollywood), and coupled with the touring plans inside the book (which to me are worth buying the book in itself), you can find all kinds of great information. The writing style is witty, the information is factual, and it’s a great way to condense Disneyland into a 337 page summary. (376 pages if you count the appendix, index and clip-out touring plans).
While some of the tips may be common sense, you can never have too many reminders. One of my favorite “unofficial tips” was “Try to schedule some time with each of your children- if not each day, then at least a couple of times during the trip.” Family vacations are meant to create memories and allow you a chance to bond with your children in a unique setting. Whether it’s just switching with someone in your party to take one child on a ride, breaking off to take one child to go character hunting while the rest of your party rides their favorite attractions, or standing in line together to get Dole Whips and getting a chance to chat and visit, setting aside some time each day is crucial.
Another question we are commonly asked is: “What is the ideal age to go to Disney?” One perk of this is book is that they break down the pros and cons of going with children of every age, as well as rate attraction appeal by each age group (Preschool, Grade School, Teens, Young Adults, Over 30 and Seniors). Knowing what attractions you want to take your toddlers on (as well as which ones to avoid) can definitely help you plan your day and cut out wasted time of standing around looking indecisively at a map as you plan your next move.
That being said, plan, plan, plan! While there are some things (such as Fastpass return times) that you can’t predict, you should have a general idea of what you want to do while you’re there. “Get a grip on your needs and preferences before you leave home, and develop an itinerary that incorporates all the things that make you happiest.” For our last trip, we made a list of our “Top 3” attractions for each person. For example, being a lover of characters, my goal was to meet at least 3 new characters, my husband wanted to ride the popular thrill rides, Tower of Terror and California Screamin’, my four year old daughter wanted to ride Dumbo, the teacups, and participate in the Jedi Training Academy, and for my two year old son (who loves trains and dinosaurs) it was all about the vehicles- mainly the Disneyland Train, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, and the Red Trolley in California Adventure. Even if you can’t cross off everything on your to do list, trying to accommodate everyone in your party’s top picks will definitely keep everyone happier (and not have you wondering what you should do next.)
While searching on the Internet for vacation tips is arguably one of the fastest ways to get information (and most likely why you are using our site), books prove to be another wonderful resource too, primarily because they can tell you about opportunities or bring up other perspectives that you may not have considered. For example, for the popular Indiana Jones Adventure, you might not be aware of the cast members “stacking” procedure. “During the first hour or so the park is open, Indiana Jones cast members often employ a line-management technique known as stacking. Simply stated, they allow the line for Indiana Jones to form outside the attraction, leaving the cavernous inside queuing area virtually empty. Guests, of course, assume the attraction is packed to the gills and that the outside line is overflow. Naturally, this discourages guests from getting in line. The reality is that the wait is not nearly as bad as it looks, and that it is probably as short as it will be all day.” Knowing this information in advance can help you navigate the rides and enjoy attractions that you may have otherwise overlooked or passed by.
Okay… so you’ve figured out how to take advantage of the ride attractions, but what do you do when you start getting a rumbly in your tumbly? The “A Few Caveats” section of Disney Dining 101 found in Part 4 offers all kinds of tips, such as “If you’re dining in a theme park and cost is an issue, make lunch your main meal. Entrees are similar to those on the dinner menu, but prices may be slightly lower.” And if character meals are something you want to try, in Part 3, Disneyland with Kids, you can get a list of which characters you will most likely encounter as well as information on where they are located, which location is the most expensive, and so on. You can also find information on what type of food each restaurant serves, and which categories they fall into for cost, quality, and value.
One valuable tip I didn’t know (mainly because I had never gotten to the park THAT early) had to do with park security and entrance to the park. For all of you who are following the advice to get their early, make sure you follow this key tip: “If you arrive before security screening begins and go straight to the turnstiles to await admittance, you will ultimately be directed to abandon your position to go through security. If this occurs, you’ll find yourself behind people who arrived 20-30 minutes after you. Therefore, if you arrive before security is set up, wait in one of the open tents for the security folks to arrive.” The last thing you want to do is wake up at the crack of dawn, think you’re going to be the first one to enter the park, only to be told you have to go back and start all over again. So if you’re trying to be one of the first ones into the parks and you arrive before security does, make sure you wait by the security screening checkpoints.
Another invaluable snippet of information is in the: “Excuse me, but where can I find…” portion of the book. Whether you’re wondering about a place to put all of your packages, are craving a mixed drink or beer, or even if you need a prescription filled, a cure for a headache, or a place to charge your cell phone, The Bare Necessities section offers all kinds of answers to your most common questions. And while you can always ask a cast member for assistance, it can save you a lot of time and hassle (not to mention remedy the situation a lot quicker), if you already know the answers in advance.
Now of course, there is only so much information about Disneyland that can be crammed into less than 400 pages. So you won’t find detailed information on places like the Mint Julep Bar (and their Mickey Mouse beignets!) or the delicious Kitchen Sink from Clarabelle’s. You also won’t find information on Anna & Elsa’s Boutique in Downtown Disney or how it compares to Bibbibi Bobbibi Boutique, but for the most part, you will find a very thorough overview of the hotels, dining options (including those within a 15 minute drive of the parks), and what attractions, parades, shows and other forms of entertainment you can find at the parks.
Disney Diva Tip: If you are looking for a fascinating, and more in-depth book about the evolution of Disneyland, the Unofficial Guide also offers: The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution on Walt Disney’s Dream. From the “Once Upon a Time” introduction, I was immediately hooked, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, even taking a trip down memory lane with the mention of the “rocket rods”.
One last note: If you are planning on touring other popular theme parks and attractions in Southern California, you won’t find many tips or references in this book- It is about Disneyland after all. And while you won’t really find information on Knott’s Berry Farm, Legoland, Magic Mountain, Medieval Times, or other popular southern California attractions, it does have a small section of the book devoted to Universal Studios Hollywood. This section of the book is only a brief overview, but if you are curious about the 2016 Harry Potter expansion or any of the other attractions at Universal, it is a nice added bonus to buying the book. It also comes with one touring plan option for Universal, which is nice, though as the book recommends, if you have small children, you may want to skip this theme park and opt to stay at the House of Mouse.
Overall, I found the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland to be a great resource and would definitely consider buying it if you’re planning an upcoming trip to Disneyland. My sister was amazed at how quickly they made their way through Fantasyland when her family followed the “The-Dumbo-or-Die-in-a-Day Plan”, walking onto a couple of rides without another guest in sight. The touring plans are definitely worth their weight in gold. Whether you’re a Disneyland veteran or this is your first trip to this happy place, you will love this book.
So what do you do if you want to own a copy of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland (or any of their other books? Read our reviews on The Unofficial Guide to Disney World with Kids and The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando) Well you could order them from Amazon.com by clicking here, or you could enter our contest! That’s right- The Unofficial Guides have once again offered to give away one copy of ANY Of the Unofficial Guide books. Whether you’re going on the Disney Cruise Line, going to Universal Studios or other Florida destinations, or you want to experience one of the Disney parks, there is a book for you! Click here for more details.
And don’t forget, we all need help planning our vacation and a Vacation Specialist will help you plan your trip as well as SAVE YOU MONEY. With this guide, our own site and a Travel Specialist like our favorite Patricia Payne, she can help you make the most of your next vacation!
Disney Diva Disclaimer: Liliane Opsomer from the Unofficial Guide series provided me copies of the book, “The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland” and “The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream” to review for free. She has also generously allowed our site to give away a copy of another Unofficial Guide book for free to our readers. I received no other compensation for my review, and my opinions are 100% entirely my own.
Also, all of the copyrights for the photographs used in the article belong to Liliane Opsomer or Seth Kubersky and are being used with their permission.