Disneyland Resort in California is a magical place to visit. Its two theme parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park attract millions of visitors each year. There are very few un-crowded days anyway at either theme park, especially with Disneyland's 60th Anniversary celebration going on. So, how can you enjoy the magic of the theme parks, and still find some personal space on a very crowded day?
The very first thing to do is to make sure that you are in line at the entrance gates with ticket in hand at least thirty minutes before the theme park is scheduled to open for the day. If you have Magic Morning privileges (available to those guests with a three, four or five multi-day ticket), or Extra Magic Hour privileges (available to those guests staying at one of the three on-site hotels – Paradise Pier, Disneyland Hotel or Grand Californian Hotel) you will be able to enter one of the theme parks one hour prior to regular park opening on select days. Again, you should be in line at the entrance gates with ticket in hand at least thirty minutes before the theme park is scheduled to open for the one hour early entry time.
If you have taken advantage of the early morning entry time, the next thing to do is to head to those popular attractions that you want to ride that do not offer fastpass service. These are attractions such as Peter Pan, Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, Matterhorn, Finding Nemo Submarine, Toy Story Midnight Mania and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree – rides that will get very busy as the day goes on.
These first two steps will allow you to leisurely enjoy attractions in a relatively un-crowded theme park for a couple of hours at the beginning of the day. Most of the crowds will start to show up by mid-morning. By noon or one o'clock the theme parks will be very crowded on most days.
If you start to feel overwhelmed after the crowds have arrived, there are little known areas around the parks that will allow you to take a break from the turmoil. Here are the areas that I go to when I start to feel overwhelmed in Disneyland Park:
1. Along the Rivers of America between the Harbor Galley and Splash Mountain. Look for the pathway to the right of the bridge.
2. Under the Monorail bridge located to the north of the Matterhorn – there is a platform with benches that extends over the water.
3. Snow White's Grotto – to the right of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, this area has some quiet paths, benches, a washing well, and ducks swimming in a pond.
4. The Pixie Hollow Pond and fountain area that is accessed on the little pathway that starts between the Astro Orbitor and Buzz Lightyear attractions in Tomorrowland. The path comes out the other side between the Hub and the Pixie Hollow entrance, on the walkway that goes on the right side of the Matterhorn. At night you can watch the Pixie Hollow Water and Light show along this pathway. This charming, magical little light show occurs about every 15 minutes on the quarter hour after dark, but not during parades and fireworks. It is not on the park schedule.
5. At night wander through the Pixie Hollow meet and greet area. The entrance is to the right on the walkway that's on the right side of Matterhorn Mountain, just a little ways in from the Hub but past the pathway that goes by the pond and fountain area. Tinkerbell and her friends will not be there to greet you, but Pixie Hollow is magical with twinkling lights, giant foliage and flowers and little fairyland touches. Even on an extremely busy evening, you will be one of the very few people in either of these two areas. Note: Cast Members will close this area as well as the Fountain and Pond pathway before and during the Paint the Night Parade and the fireworks show.
In Disneyland California Adventure Park I seek out these areas when the park feels too crowded:
1. The back trail in the Grizzly Peak area. Rather than taking the main trail, you can access the back trail by taking the trail to the left just past the Grizzly River Run attraction entrance. This trail winds past the waterfall and mining buildings and usually has very few people on it.
2. The trail that leads to Cars Land from the Pacific Wharf area. This path is a beautiful way to enter Cars Land and rarely has many people on it.
3. Relax at the tables located around the side of Flo's V8 Café in Cars Land. You will have a nice, relaxing view of Radiator Springs Racers from here.
4. Alfresco Tasting Terrace – this wonderful, quiet area is located at the top of the stairway that is located on the right side of the Wine Country Trattoria. You have a great view of the Pacific Wharf area while enjoying delicious appetizers and alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks.