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The Ultimate 2024 Disneyland Guide: Planning & Touring Tips

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The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California has now been reopened for nearly three years, and operations have returned to normal for quite some time. But things are still, practically speaking, quite a bit different in 2024 at the Happiest Place on Earth – some of them permanently so.

If you haven’t been to the parks in awhile, it’s important to get up to date! As a guest, that means you need to come prepared for things to work in very new ways. Many of the old pre-2020 Disneyland tricks and hacks won’t work anymore. You need to have a few new tools at the ready to have the best vacation experience. That’s where this Disneyland guide comes in.

Disneyland Railroad by Small World

If you are planning a trip to Disneyland in Southern California in 2024, this complete Disneyland planning guide will walk you through all the basics of what to expect this year – new requirements, changes from what you might have experienced in previous years, new ride and land openings, revised touring strategies, and more. I’ve been there first hand all along the way, visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure numerous times each year, including another recent trip in February 2024.

I’ll continue to update this annual guide regularly to reflect more changes. So be sure to bookmark and come back to it if your trip is several months down the road from now.

(Trips With Tykes uses affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through links in this post. See our full disclosure policy linked in the menu at the bottom of this site.)

What’s New, Returning Soon, or Closed at Disneyland in 2024

Before we get to all the operational changes and new park touring tips, let’s briefly dive into what’s new to see and do at the resort in 2024. And of course, we have to discuss the flip side as well – what’s closed this year for refurbishment or for good.

MagicBands

MagicBand+ at Disneyland Castle

A little over a year ago, Disney finally brought an important technological feature to its California parks. MagicBands had been in use at Walt Disney World for about a decade, but now the third generation MagicBand, MagicBand+, works at Disneyland too.

The uses for MagicBand+ at Disneyland are more limited. As a result, fewer guests have chosen to use them than do in Orlando. I’ve found some value in using mine, but they certainly aren’t essential – especially for infrequent visitors. That said, they are a fun and sometimes useful accessory or souvenir.

To explore what MagicBands do at Disneyland as you decide whether they are a must-have or can-skip item for your 2024 trip, check out my guide to Disney MagicBands and the new MagicBand+.

Nighttime Spectaculars: World of Color – ONE & Wondrous Journeys

Disneyland Wondrous Journeys Fireworks for Disney100

In 2023, Disneyland celebrated 100 years of Disney company history during the Disney100 celebration. While this event has come to a close, a few remnants have been left behind in 2024. Most notable of these is the World of Color – ONE nighttime spectacular.

This show runs nightly in Disney California Adventure. For access to some of the better standing viewing areas, be sure to log into the Disneyland app at noon to secure a virtual queue reservation. If you want a seat to view the show, however, you’ll have to spring for the World of Color Dessert Party package.

Related: Get details on the best spots to view World of Color from my pal Jessica at The Happiest Blog on Earth.

The other nighttime spectacular for the Disney 100 celebration was the well-reviewed Wondrous Journeys in Disneyland park. In fact, it might just be my favorite Disney nighttime spectacular ever. It hasn’t run since last summer, but Disneyland recent announced that it will be returning for a limited engagement run from March 22-April 14, 2024. So if you have a spring break trip planned this year, I highly recommend adding a viewing to your agenda!

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Mickey and Minnies Runaway Railway El Capitoon Theater Exterior Disneyland

The year 2023 brought a brand new attraction to Disneyland – Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Runaway Railway has already been in Orlando in Hollywood Studios for several years, but now it also has a home in Toontown in Disneyland park. The indoor dark ride is family-friendly and has one of the very best queues that Disney Imagineers have ever created.

Check out my complete ride guide and wait time tips article on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway for all the latest details.

Toontown Renovation

Mickeys Toontown Entrance Disneyland

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway isn’t the only new offering of note in that area of the park. In fact, the remainder of Toontown around the attraction reopened in early 2023 after a significant facelift. The land has several new and reimagined play areas and much more green space. Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin returned, and the Gadget Go-Coaster got a new theme as Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Gadget Coaster.

Related: Best Non-Ride Things to Do with Preschoolers at Disneyland

There were some unfortunate hiccups in 2023 with the durability of some of the new play areas, but all seems to be repaired well as of my first 2024 visit. Just be aware that if you are used to retreating to Toontown during the heat of the day to escape crowds (as I often did when my kids were little), you’ll find the crowds have followed you into Toontown now!

Magic Happens Parade

Disneyland Magic Happens - Mickey Mouse opening float

The Magic Happens Parade parade had only just debuted when the parks closed unexpectedly in March of 2020. The parade ran from February through October in 2023, and a lot of guests wondered what would become of it after that. But as of February 2024, Magic Happens is back again!

This edgy parade has an energetic vibe and soundtrack and is a much-needed addition to Disneyland park. The parade goes between Main Street U.S.A. and it’s a small world twice daily. The first showing is in the daytime, and the second is usually after sunset, where elements on the floats light up, making for an extra magical show.

Tiana’s Palace Restaurant

Tiana's Palace Exterior Disneyland

The counter service restaurant French Market in New Orleans Square closed for good but reopened in September 2023 with a new theme and new menu. The restaurant is now called Tiana’s Palace, featuring Princess and the Frog, leading the way in that section of the park for the refurbishment of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure later this year.

The food is some of the very best quick service that Disney has to offer, and has already become one of my favorites (and I’m Southern, so I’m a tough judge of Cajun and Creole cuisine!). Thankfully, it has mobile order (more on that later!) to dodge the long lines.

San Fransokyo Square

Child at Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransokyo in Disney California Adventure

Last year, an often overlooked part of Disney California Adventure received a refresh. The Pacific Wharf area (in between Cars Land and Pixar Pier) is now themed as San Fransokyo, the hybrid West-Coast-Meets-Asia city featured in Big Hero 6.

Like Pacific Wharf, the area is mostly seating and quick service eateries, but there are a lot of new menu items that make it much more of a foodie destination, especially at times when DCA is in between food festivals. And Baymax is a frequent character meet and greet in the area as well. Definitely a major improvement to this area of the park worth seeing!

Disneyland Hotel DVC Tower

Disneyland Hotel DVC Villas Tower

As of late September 2023, a new tower debuted at the original on-property Disneyland resort hotel – the Villas at the Disneyland Hotel. This property features a variety of studio and one to three bedroom Disney Vacation Club (DVC) units plus a Steamboat Willie splash pad.

Related: Disneyland Hotel vs. Disney’s Grand Californian: Which Hotel is Right for Your Family?

Our family took a trip last fall to stay in the new Villas and were very impressed by the addition. Rooms feature one of several different characters (we had a Tiana-themed studio unit), and the accommodations feel luxurious while matching the hotel’s classic Disney vibe. Rooms aren’t that much pricier than the Disneyland Hotel regular rooms, so if you need the extra space or can make use of the kitchen, definitely give it a look. If you aren’t visiting at a peak time, I recommend looking into renting DVC points as a way to save big on these accommodations.

Adventureland Treehouse

Adventureland Treehouse in Disneyland 2024

What used to be the Swiss Family Treehouse and later became Tarzan’s Treehouse has now returned to its roots (pun intended). The newly renovated treehouse reopened at the end of 2023 and is inspired by the Swiss Family Robinson movie once again.

I didn’t get a chance to walk into it on my most recent visit (I’m saving it to experience with my kids!), but the exterior is breathtaking. For classic Disney fans, the treehouse seems to blend the old with the new in a highly satisfying way.

Pirates of the Caribbean Genie+ Lightning Lane

Pirates of the Caribbean Lightning Lane Entrance in 2024

For a limited time in 2024, there is a new attraction offering Lightning Lane access via Genie+ at Disneyland. Pirates of the Caribbean is temporarily available for booking with Genie+ while several other attractions nearby in Disneyland park are down for refurbishment (more on that below).

This means that savvy Genie+ users will need to adjust their Genie+ strategies to take the addition into account. So far, this isn’t an attraction that runs out of Lightning Lane times that early thanks to its high capacity. I recommend securing more popular Lightning Lanes like Indiana Jones Adventure, Space Mountain, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and even Big Thunder Mountain first.

And as you might imagine, the addition of Pirates to Genie+ also means that guests who are used to riding this attraction through reasonable standby lines will have to adjust their strategies too. Regular lines are quite a bit longer now for Pirates, and the queue stretches through New Orleans Square in ways that unfortunately block access to visitors just walking by.

Disney hasn’t announced how long Pirates will be offering Lightning Lane, but we expect it could be until the end of summer (when Haunted Mansion reopens again). Stay tuned and watch for an end date if you have a trip during the second half of 2024.

Pixar Place Hotel

Pirates of the Caribbean Lightning Lane Entrance in 2024

Last but certainly not least of all things new in 2024….Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel just completed the final stages of a renovation to become the Pixar Place Hotel. This property was in dire need of a major refresh so I was super excited to see the finished product when I stayed at Pixar Place just a week after its January 31, 2024 reopening.

I must admit I was very pleasantly surprised by the transformation after being pretty hard on Paradise Pier in the last few years. It really feels like the property got a complete gutting – far more than the regular refresh that Disney hotels often get.

Rooms are quite large with completely renovated and bright bathrooms. Two queen rooms have a couch that turns into a daybed to sleep families of 5. Bold and bright Pixar themed character and colors are everywhere.

Pixar Place Hotel Room Two Queen Beds

The rooftop pool and splash pad are ideal for younger kids. Bonus that Bing Bong often hangs out in the lobby for a free and unique character meet and greet.

Bing Bong at Disney's Pixar Place Hotel Lobby

That said, Pixar Place Hotel is certainly not cheap by any means. I paid $405/night plus tax and some peak dates are already listed at $500+ a night. But Pixar Place is running about $150 a night less than the Disneyland Hotel. For visitors who want the benefits of an on-property stay like Early Entry, this is definitely the hotel where you can get them for a little less. The price is now much more in line with what the hotel has to offer.

Closures & Coming Soon

Disneyland is always evolving and changing, so you can also expect some closures and construction this year too. There are always a number of short term attraction closures on calendar, so always be sure to check official Disneyland sources before your trip for those. But more major things to watch include the following:

Downtown Disney

Disneyland’s shopping and entertainment district, Downtown Disney, is a serious construction zone in places right now. For now, La Brea Bakery is gone and has been replaced by a temporary location for Earl of Sandwich. A lot of other new restaurants are coming including Porto’s Bakery and Din Tai Fung, so keep watching Disney news for other announcements.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

The attraction formerly known as Splash Mountain took its last rider last year. But the log flume drop will live on in a new form! Disney is re-theming and re-doing the attraction to become Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The opening date won’t be until well into 2024, so expect construction walls on that end of the park.

Haunted Mansion Area Refurbishment

This year has also brought construction walls all around the Haunted Mansion. The queue and gardens area to the left of the mansion is getting an expansion, and the area next to Tiana’s Palace Restaurant will eventually have more open space as well. Additionally, a new shop is going in to the right of the mansion (closer to where Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be).

Essential Tips for Disneyland Planning & Touring in 2024

Disneyland 2024 Merchandise

So now that all of those dates are out of the way, how do you plan your Disneyland vacation differently in 2024? And how do you approach touring the parks in new ways? Here are all my very best practical tips.

Plan Earlier!

Remember the days when you could wake up and decide to go to Disneyland for the day? Or if you are not a local but are within a few hours driving distance, the days when you could decide mid-week to head down to Disneyland for the weekend? While I won’t say those days are long gone, they are certainly fewer and farther between.

With an ever-increasing number of folks traveling again, the demand for Disneyland has continued to exceed supply many times of year. That means you need to plan early to be able to go at all – to find theme park reservation availability, to lock in a hotel that doesn’t cost and arm and a leg, and to book flights to Disneyland if you are coming from longer distances.

How early is early enough? Thankfully, supply and demand have normalized a bit so you don’t need to plan quite as early as you might have in 2021 and 2022 especially. But even still, I’d say you need to plan at least a couple of weeks in advance from drive markets. I’d recommend a month or more if you are coming by air or hope to go at peak times like the holidays. If you want to snag the best pricing and availability for hotels, at least several months in advance is necessary.

Secure Theme Park Reservations ASAP

Disneyland park reservations final confirmation image

In the last couple of years, we’ve all gotten used to the fact that an increasing number of activities require advance reservations to take part. While a lot of those activities have dropped their reservations requirement (and indeed Disney World dropped theirs in January 2024!), Disneyland is one place keeping them around for the indefinite future for now.

Be sure to read my comprehensive guide to Disneyland reservations as you are planning your Disneyland trip to make sure you get the reservations part right. The bottom line is that you need to a) check to make sure there are reservations available for the days you want to visit and the ticket type you plan to buy before planning a trip and b) book those reservations ASAP.

While reservations open 120 days in advance for regular theme park tickets, it’s certainly not necessary to book them quite that early. But earlier is better, especially if you plan to go at a high demand time like Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays.

Practically speaking, reservations at at least one park usually remain open for almost all dates more than a few days in advance now (especially if you have park hopper tickets, where reservation availability is more generous). Sometimes, there are still reservations available the night before or even same day! No, that shouldn’t make you complacent. Availability can really fluctuate.

There are a lot of factors that might cause the parks to book up more quickly at some times of year. Ticket specials (especially SoCal resident deals), Disney adjusting allotment of space to annual passes (now known as Magic Keys), or the draw of seasonal offerings like Food and Wine Festival or Oogie Boogie Bash can all cause one or both parks to fill farther in advance. For example, last year I noticed most dates in October booked up in Disney California Adventure weeks in advance for one park per day tickets due to the popularity of Halloween offerings there.

Buy the Right Ticket Type

Disneyland Tickets 2022

Before making park reservations, guests of course need theme park tickets. So what are your options for regular tickets? Disneyland offers both single day or multi-day tickets (up to 5 total days). There is an optional park hopper add on for both of these as well that costs a $65-75 extra, depending on length of ticket.

Related: Disneyland Park Hopper Tickets: Worth it or Waste of Money?

Over the course of the past year, I have heard a lot of stories of guests who bought the wrong ticket in the first place or who changed their minds about what ticket was right for them after more research. In most cases, however, you really can’t afford to do this right now. You need get your ticket purchase right out of the gate because Disneyland doesn’t make it easy to change or upgrade tickets from afar.

For this reason, I also highly recommend buying multi-day Disneyland tickets from Trips With Tykes partner Get Away Today. Get Away Today is the only place that offers refundable Disneyland tickets if you get this ticket purchasing step wrong (free if you purchase their Peace of Mind Plan or otherwise a per ticket fee). Plus, their tickets are discounted off of regular Disney direct prices! Book discounted Disneyland park tickets from Get Away Today here. (And also be sure to peek at their discounted Disneyland hotels and vacation packages too – use code TYKES10 for $10 in additional package savings.)

So what else do you need to watch for in terms of tickets? Here’s what can trip up many guests and what to know:

  • One day tickets are the most complicated, with 7 different prices, corresponding to 7 different tiers (inexplicably numbered Tiers 0-6). Only Tier 6 tickets can be used every day on the calendar. Other tiers have blockout dates. Be sure that the tier you purchase will allow you to go on the day you want (as well as any day you might switch to if your vacation plans are not yet firm).
  • Multi-day tickets thankfully do not have tiers at all, so you are eligible to book any day on the calendar with them.
  • Multi-day tickets expire 13 days after first use. This makes them great for a multi-day vacation for out-of-towners. Locals who can bunch up several single day visits in a two week window might find some value as well, although usually the SoCal ticket specials (when offered) are better for anyone who lives nearby.
  • Park hopper tickets and single-park-per-day tickets each have their own separate reservation availability calendar, regardless of the number of days you purchase on these tickets. Make sure you are checking the reservation calendar that matches the ticket type you intend to buy. The single-park-per-day reservation calendar usually fills up first. If you are booking more last minute, paying extra for park hopper will likely open up more days on the reservation calendar to you.
  • Magic Key (annual pass) reservations are a totally separate system. Magic Key dates open up 90 days in advance, and many popular dates become booked very quickly. Magic Keys are not always on sale (or only some types are available), so they may not be an option for many guests to even purchase.

Consider New Hotel Options

Westin Anaheim Resort Exterior at Night
The Westin Anaheim is one of several still quite new hotels near Disneyland.

A lot of Disneyland visitors have their favorite hotels they’ve stayed in year after year, and loyalty and familiarity are certainly good things. But whether it’s been a while since you’ve investigated the choices or you are coming to Disneyland as a first timer, I’d encourage all Disneyland visitors to shop around and look at the hotel options anew.

The 2020 closures brought a lot of changes to the hotel market. Multiple new hotels have opened, some of which have some pretty tempting perks and value propositions. Additionally, the prices of a lot of hotels have gone up quite a bit in these inflationary times. As I’ve been monitoring prices closely, I’ve noticed some hotels have had much more substantial price increases than others and some have changed their included benefits. The relative prices have shifted considerably, and a hotel that used to be a deal or value may not be anymore relative to its current benefits.

If you want to get a peek at what my top hotel picks are in 2024, check out this fully updated guide to hotels within walking distance of Disneyland.

Additionally, Disney is always tweaking its benefits for on-property hotel guests. This changes the incentives for some guests deciding between a Disneyland owned hotel or an off-property Good Neighbor Hotel nearby. Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning from pre-2020 times have both been gone for quite awhile, but Disneyland began offering guests at on-property hotels 30 minutes of early entry.

As of early 2024, however, this Early Entry benefit has changed yet again. Disneyland opens early on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and DCA opens early on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. You can get a lot done in 30 minutes, but query carefully whether this is a benefit you will fully use before paying several hundred dollars more per night to stay on-property, especially given the new alternating park schedule.

Finally, one important thing to keep in mind – conventions and other special events have largely returned to the Anaheim area making hotel demand higher than ever at some times you might not expect. Walking distance hotels especially seem to book up quickly in 2024 as a lot of travelers don’t want the hassle of shuttles or harder-to-find (and increasingly expensive) ridesharing to the parks. So earlier really is better when it comes to being able to plan a Disneyland vacation with your preferred logistics.

Park Hop at 11:00 AM!

For guests who purchase Disneyland’s park hopper ticket add on, the year 2023 brought a welcome policy change for the better. When the parks initially reopened back in 2021, park hopping was only allowed at the Disneyland Resort starting at 1:00pm. As of February 4, 2023, the park hopping time at Disneyland has been moved up to 11:00am.

It’s still not quite like the good old days when there was no time restriction on park hopping, but at least this frees guests up to make lunch reservations in whatever park they prefer. It also helps with using and redeeming Genie+ Lightning Lanes more strategically (more on that below).

Adjust Your Disneyland Dining & Restaurant Strategy in 2024

Disney-California-Adventure-Lamplight-Lounge-Pixar-Pier

For a long time after the parks first reopened, things simply weren’t up to speed on the Disneyland dining front. Finally almost all restaurants are open (and at full capacity) in 2024, but the dining scene has changed quite a bit.

Some menus are still pared back to a more limited number of choices at some restaurants. Reservations at table service restaurants are also harder to get, and quick service restaurants have increasingly moved towards encouraging guests to mobile order.

Table Service Restaurants

For table service restaurants, my best advice is to book early (and often). Reservations didn’t used to be incredibly hard to get at Disneyland except for a very few popular restaurants, but they are much more challenging in 2024. You may not be able to secure your top choice, so consider making backup reservations for restaurants you are happy with when you see they are available – because those too may soon be gone!

When do you need to plan to book dining reservations? Officially, Disneyland table service reservations open up exactly 60 days in advance, usually at 6:00 am PT. Some restaurants, however, will not open up availability at that time, releasing all availability several days later or releasing additional times in dribs and drabs.

How do you navigate the uncertainty? My best advice is to at least set an alarm to try first thing in the morning 60 days in advance. After that, I would suggest saving yourself dozens of fruitless refreshes and sign up for a Disney dining reservation monitoring service.

I highly recommend the site Mouse Dining, which is a great tool to help you snag a hard to find reservation by notifying you of cancellations or Disney adding capacity. Mouse Dining has both a free and a paid version, and I’ve had personal success using it to snag reservations many times.

If you are serious about a specific hard-to-get restaurant you’ll likely need the paid service to be competitive. This version sends instant text alerts. If you are more casually looking for openings at one of several places, the free version which sends email alerts can usually get the job done. A lot of guests book multiple or extra reservations to hedge their bets and cancel some as their plans firm up. Snagging those cancellations is possible, especially with some assistance.

All hope is not lost for the last minute planners either! Disneyland recently changed its cancellation policies for table service reservations, allowing guests to cancel until 2 hours in advance with no penalty. This means it’s possible to snag a same day reservation off of these cancellations.

Additionally, most table service restaurants have walkup availability too. You can join a same day walkup wait list on the Disneyland app on the day of your visit.

Quick Service Restaurants & Mobile Ordering

Disneyland Pym Test Kitchen Mobile Order Pickup Window

If you don’t want a fancier or longer meal, head for one of Disneyland’s quick service restaurants. Actually, don’t physically head there. First, you need to open the Disneyland app. The new normal for these dining locations is that you need to mobile order your food on the app. Disneyland thankfully still has regular lines with cashiers to enable walk up orders, but they are in smaller numbers than before. Mobile ordering will still save you time almost all the time.

To use mobile ordering, the app will first display a list of available time windows for you to return to each restaurant to pick up your order. The closer you get to peak mealtimes, the more other guests start to place their mobile orders. And the farther out the return times become (although this thankfully has improved somewhat).

The bottom line? It’s essential to order on the early side, especially if there is a particular popular restaurant that is a must-do for you (like Tiana’s Palace!). You can always cancel an order with no penalty before your pickup window if you change your mind. You can also modify your pickup window if you are running late. See the quick and easy guide to Disneyland mobile ordering that my friend Casey at Disneyland Daily has created with step-by-step instructions.

Master the Disneyland App

Speaking of the Disneyland app, it’s important for more than just mobile ordering. It’s a backup for your theme park ticket, your ticket to Lightning Lanes (more on that later), your park map, the way to access your PhotoPass images, and more. Disneyland has even been testing it to check out of stores by allowing guests to self-scan merchandise in the app.

It’s essential that you download the app, know your login and password, and load a credit card to your account. Every adult doesn’t need to have it, but the most tech-savvy adult in your party (or at least the one managing the Disneyland vacation planning) should. If more than one adult will be using it, it is sometimes easiest for both to log in to the same account so that both phones get alerts.

Note that Disney gift cards are a permitted method of payment in the app as of a few years ago. So if you’ve acquired Disney gift cards at a discount, you can use them to save on food too. The only problem is that the app doesn’t store the gift card each time, so be prepared to enter the 16 digit code anew for each purchase (hot tip: copy and paste the number in your phone’s text notes so you don’t have to fish out the card each time).

My friend Jessica from the Happiest Blog on Earth has even more detail and information in this detailed guide to the Disneyland app.

See Characters Up Close & Get Hugs Again!

Chip n Dale Character Meet and Greet at Disneyland Disney100

One of the favorite parts of a Disneyland vacation for many visitors – especially young kids – is seeing favorite Disney characters. These encounters were highly modified for a long time. But in 2024, hugs and close encounters are fully back for character meet-and-greets!

There are still characters that pop up in the distanced spots (especially on the Disneyland Railroad balcony overlooking Town Square in Main Street U.S.A.). So if you don’t want to wait in a long line to see a character, this is a helpful alternative I’m glad has stuck around. Check the Disneyland app under the Entertainment menu option to see the many locations where characters will appear in the parks, both near and far.

Disneyland character dining has returned entirely to its pre-2020 modes of operation as well. Characters come by tables again in addition to sometimes doing a parade or dance a few times per hour. Some restaurants will also take a character photo with guests to start the meal. See all the details in my complete guide to Disneyland character meals.

Have a New Strategy for Lines & Crowds

Disneyland Peter Pan Wait Time sign

If you don’t want to be standing in line for rides (who does?), you’ve got a LOT new to learn in 2023. Fastpass, MaxPass, Extra Magic Hour, Magic Morning, even virtual queues for rides…. most of the tricks and hacks we used to use to shortcut lines in the good old days are GONE.

In their place are a few brand new tools that you absolutely need to know about. Whether you use them or not, they will affect how long the lines are and what rides you should do and when.

So what are these new options? The most important ones to know about are Disney Genie+ and paid Lightning Lane. Disney Genie+ is a pretty close cousin to MaxPass and allows guests Lightning Lane access for up to 20 eligible attractions. Paid Lightning Lane is a separate Fastpass-like offering for 3 additional super-popular rides with a separate fee.

If you want short waits most like the Fastpasses of old, these are upcharges that you should seriously consider. The flip side of course is that they can make standby lines for everyone else much longer. See my complete FAQ for Disneyland’s Genie+ and Lightning Lane and then read these additional advanced Disneyland Genie+ strategies for all the details.

Genie Plus Lightning Lane Sign at Disneyland

For those of you who like to shortcut lines by going during less busy times, is it even possible to find a less crowded day to go to Disneyland in 2023? With the theme park reservations requirement, there are fewer really slow days at Disneyland. That said, midweek dates are still usually going to be less crowded than a holiday weekend – except for when a SoCal resident special is live.

Disneyland crowd calendars can help, but I find them less reliable than before, especially many months in advance. Personally I’d say that it’s less important to try to game the dates you are going to go to hope to luck into low crowds rather than just pick what works best for your travel schedule.

How else can you minimize your Disneyland wait times in 2023? This is an ever changing target, but here has been working of late:

  • Rope dropping still works. Starting early is vital to a successful touring plan. Get in the front of the line to enter the parks up to an hour before park opening and you’ll be in prime position for your first ride of choice – and probably also your second and third. Although early entry means that on-property guests have a half hour head start on all other guests, there aren’t enough on-property guests to make lines long by the time everyone else is let in at rope drop. And because early entry is in alternating parks, rope drop in the park not offering early entry is a level playing field for all.
  • Use single rider lines when available. Single rider lines are back but not necessarily for all the rides that offered them in 2020 and in quite the same way. But they are a great benefit, especially if you are flying solo or have older kids who are ok riding alone.
  • Know when paid Lightning Lanes may sell out for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. While most rides offering Genie+ or paid Lightning Lane don’t run out of reservation times until late in the day, paid Lightning Lane for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge can still go very fast on high crowd days. Check out the latest strategies and trends in my Guide to riding Rise of the Resistance.
  • Hop in line for one last ride a minute or two before closing time. As long as you are in line before the park officially closes, you get to ride. Lines are often very short at this hour as many guests head for the exits. Squeeze in one last ride, especially if you are a night owl!
  • Ride during the fireworks or parades. Now that fireworks, parades, and other shows are back at Disneyland, a lot of guests won’t be on rides in the minutes that lead up to and during the shows. Fantasyland attractions close during fireworks nights (usually weekends only), but you can head elsewhere in the park to find shorter ride lines.

Final Thoughts

Disneyland Jungle Cruise Entrance

Disneyland is undoubtedly different in 2024, but still exudes much of the same joy that we all expect from the Happiest Place on Earth. And now you should be armed with all the information you need to adjust accordingly and take maximum advantage of the new rules.

Where to Book Your Disneyland Vacation & Save Money!

Get Away Today Graphic Disneyland 2024 Kids Ticket Deal

Save big on your Disneyland vacation with trusted Trips with Tykes partner, Get Away Today. Get Away Today sells park tickets at a discount, helps you find great deals at both on-property and off-property hotels, and provides expert customer service from representatives who visit Disneyland all the time.

For park tickets, don’t purchase direct from Disney and pay more! Book discounted Disneyland park tickets from Get Away Today here. Tickets purchased now are valid through December 31, 2025. Both park hopper and single park per day tickets are available, as well as tickets that include Genie+.

To take advantage of hotel and other package discounts from Get Away Today, explore and book Disneyland vacation packages here. Be sure to use code TYKES10 for $10 in additional savings.

Current Get Away Today Specials & Deals:

  • Kids Special Ticket Offer!: For visits from January 8-March 10, 2024, kids ages 3-9 can visit for as low as $50 per day! Deal valid on 1, 2, or 3 day tickets (note: Get Away Today sells multi-day tickets only). Genie+ and/or park hopper option is available as well. No blockout dates but use is subject to theme park reservation availability.
  • Southern California Resident Offer: SoCal residents can get three day tickets for as low as $75 per day for visits on weekdays from January 2 -June 2, 2024. Can be used on non-consecutive days.
  • Extra Day Free Tickets: Get 5 days at Disneyland for the price of 4 with this extra day free special for longer vacations.
  • 3rd or 4th Night Free: available at select Anaheim area hotels exclusively through Get Away Today bookings (can be combined with all ticket discounts).
Taking a trip to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California in 2024? Get all the latest planning and touring tips, from park reservations to Disney Genie+ to what's new and coming soon at Disneyland in 2024.

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John McFarland

Sunday 29th of May 2022

Thanks for all of the helpful information. My wife and I are trying to plan a trip for us, our 4 kids (all under 9, with the youngest being almost 3) and probably a few grandparents. We are excited!

Like you, my wife and I are planners and since, this will most likely be our only Disney trip for the foreseeable future, I want to do all that I can in the pre planning stages to help set the trip up for most success (knowing that there will be unforeseen things, ride closures, melt downs, and other unexpected issues.) With all that being said, we are looking at trying to go to Disneyland one of the three following dates, so I wanted to see if you had any insight and advice on these dates and any other thoughts that can help us plan a truly magical trip for our family.

1) November 14-17, 2022 - this is currently our first choice, as it will be Christmas season but probably without the thanksgiving to New Years crowds? It seems park hours, shows, rides, and everything should be going strong as it’s the start of Christmas season at Disneyland. Thoughts?

2) September 5-9, 2022 - this is our second choice, as it seems to be less crowded. - in your experience what do park hours and entertainment look like in what in theory is off season? - saw that D23 is 9/9-9/11, which in theory will bring crowds before and after, right?

3) October 10-13 - 3rd choice, but know that due to Fall Breaks, tends to be more crowded then the other two options. - if crowds are comparable then would rather see Christmas then Halloween at Disneyland.

I know that this become a long post and you probably get a lot of “please help me plan my trip” comments, but any advice and insight you can share would be greatly appreciated! Again, thanks for all that you do and all the helpful posts! And, thanks in advance for any advice you can give my wife and I.