Nobody wants to go on a Disney vacation and come back feeling like it wasn’t worth it. Unfortunately, that happens a lot and it’s all due to the amount of stress that you can easily face if you aren’t quite sure what you’re getting into. Luckily, there are a few simple tricks that will help you manage your time so you can truly have a stress-free Disneyland vacation.
Pick the Right Hotel
Picking the hotel you want to stay in at Disneyland may not feel like an important or particularly stressful decision to have to make. There are a lot of reasons for this. One reason is that many people don’t actually know how the Disneyland Resort is laid out. It’s just not common knowledge for a lot of people who don’t spend much time with Disney but only have some awareness that it’s a family entertainment geared vacation spot. There are two main things people look at when choosing a Disney hotel. One is price and the other is the theme. Both are important deciding factors but there is more to it than that in planning a stress-free Disneyland vacation.
What hotel you book will significantly impact the type of experience you have at Walt Disney World. That goes for picking a non-Disney-owned Good Neighbor hotel, or any of the three Disney hotels: Paradise Pier; Disneyland Hotel; The Grand Californian Hotel and Spa; or even a Disney Vacation Club villa which you can purchase points for without actually being a member.
A hotel’s location, as well as the balance of amenities, has a strong bearing on how stress-free your trip can be. Think about the perks you need and the ones you don’t need as you evaluate the options in light of your budget. Paradise Pier is the cheapest (but still pricey) Disney hotel. It’s not as conveniently located, so you pay for it in time and effort getting to the parks (Paradise Pier is where we stayed for our honeymoon and we loved it!!).
Non-Disney hotels can be a phenomenal value, but you have to be sure of their location. Preferably on Harbor Blvd. somewhere in between Clementine and Katella.
Consider the Number of Days
Another way to help create a stress-free Disneyland vacation is to be very selective about the number of days on your trip. Sometimes the length of your stay can be very rigid. other times you may have more time to work with. If you have to make the trip short, you have to plan accordingly and manage your expectations. If you have more time for vacation, say, 5-days, then you can afford to loosen the reins and space things out a bit. You should never try and pack too much into a single day if you don’t have to. It’s also good to remember that doing more doesn’t automatically create more value.
One of the most important things you can do when booking your vacation days is be very clear about travel days and keep them separate from vacation days. What I mean by that is, if you have a 6-day block of time, you must remember that two of those days won’t be good for much, other than a visit to Downtown Disney. Don’t think of it as a 6-day vacation. It’s really a 4-day vacation. If you misjudge how much time you have, you will wind up trying to cram too much into your trip and that becomes stressful and demanding, if not ultimately disappointing.
The length of your stay should also be a deciding factor on the types of multi day tickets you purchase. Longer stays have no need for park hopper options, while short trips may benefit from the ability to combine two park experiences in one day. If you do park hop, however, you will need to once again manage your expectations. You have to accept that you will be able to do less in each park in order to sample both. On the plus side, the parks are very close together. You can get by with one and a half Disneyland days and a half-day at Disney’s California Adventure, but that’s the bare minimum in my opinion and it may cause unnecessary stress.
Plot Your Story
Disney is all about storytelling. The resorts have a story to tell and so do the parks, the various lands, and even each attraction. When you visit a Disney park, you are immersed in the story, but most of that story is thematic. It sets you in a place and time. As a guest in a Disney park, you write your own story, and that’s what planning a Walt Disney World vacation should be all about. Part of that story is discovery and you want to be open to new things that will make your visit feel more exciting and fun. However, you also need to plot your story if you are going to avoid the stress of having to always improvise wherever you go.
If you don’t have a clear path forward and you have to make too many spur-of-the-moment decisions, things can go wrong, you can feel overwhelmed or possibly defeated. It’s really important to create a loose framework for your trip that you can comfortably play in. Make sure you’re up to date on availability and closures and that you secure the reservations you need for an effortless and entertaining vacation.
Get a Tour Guide
There are lots of ways to prepare for your trip and to make plans that save time or money or both. You can plan a lot on your own. It’s actually very easy to do. Disney offers typically reliable insights and puts a fair amount of control in your hands. The earlier you start taking advantage of that control, using the Disneyland app, the more stress-free your trip will be once you arrive. But if you have money to spare and you really don’t want to plan the trip yourself, you can pay for a personal tour guide. There are also a variety of tours offered at the parks and resorts. These provide structure to your stay without additional planning. You get extra insights and some bonus perks like skipping the line for some attractions.
If you can afford to pay a tour guide, they will lead you through everything and you won’t have to plan anything. If a tour guide is out of your depth, consider Disney Genie, a free app feature that directs you to attractions with low wait times and provides tips to improve your stay. Another way to get more out of your trip if planning is stressful for you is to go through a travel agent who specializes in Disney. Travel agents don’t cost you extra, but they can help plot your stay and provide expert guidance.
Want more help? Here are some crazy things you can do at Disneyland!
And here’s why you should consider planning your Disneyland vacation for the Christmas season.