I visited Disneyland for the first time during spring break with a good friend of mine. It’s peak season at the park yet we were able to get a lot done thanks to some clever tricks. Most would call these “life hacks”, but the word “hack” implies you’re using something differently than its intended purpose. Instead, I’m calling them “sneaks” I’m sure a lot of this is common knowledge, but maybe this will help out some other first-timers.

The Golden Rule of Disney Theme Parks: Act like an idiot – Always ask for forgiveness, not permission. Do not wear your Disney apparel; it makes it obvious that you’ve visited before. If English isn’t your first language, even better. Acting like an idiot can be difficult, as the park’s primary demographic is children under 10 who often do not have fully-developed mental facilities. Because of this, hoardes of industrial engineers have spent thousands of hours optimizing the crap out of the it so it is nearly impossible to do something you are not allowed to do. However, you are not an idiot. You are a smart person pretending to act like an idiot, which may be the only thing more dangerous than an actual idiot. I’ve found employees tend to have sympathy for idiots, especially since helping you get what you want ultimately makes their lives easier.

With this Golden Rule in mind, let’s move on to some other sneaks.

  1. When you enter the park, immediately get FastPasses for Buzz Ligthyear then Space Mountain – You can hold a FastPass for Buzz AND any other ride. I believe Buzz is only ride where doubling up is possible. You also want to get a FastPass for Space Mountain as early as possible, and whenever you can after that. On the day we went there, it consistently had a line of 1.5 - 2 hours, even after 10:30pm. As I found out, you can always

  2. Single rider lines are your friends – During the day, single rider lines can cut the wait for rides anywhere from 1/2 to 1/4. At night, it turns some rides into virtual walk-ons. Of course, this works for best for small groups. You won’t be able to ride with your friends, but since we were trying to ride as much as possible this didn’t bother us. They do a poor job of advertising the single rider option so you should always ask if it is available. If no one is manning the single rider option line, just walk up to the loading area through the exit anyways (see: Golden Rule). The single rider line turned the Indiana Jones ride, normally a 70-90 minute wait, into a 15 minute wait all told including the 5 minutes it takes just through the exit to the loading area. Splash Mountain and Bobsleds are the other two rides that see huge time savings with the single-rider lines.

  3. There is a second Dole-whip line in the Enchanted Tiki Room waiting area – Dole-whip is pineapple-flavored soft serve and it is incredibly delicious. Normally, there is a consistent 10-15 minute wait for Dole-whip throughout the day. This can easily be avoided by waiting in the second, hidden line on the other side of the pavilion that can be hard to spot. Go through the turnstile to waiting area of the Enchanted Tiki Room to access it. The only downside to this is that they play this commercial from Dole (who sponsors the ride/food stall) where they take credit for making the pineapple a food of the people as opposed to food for royalty but conveniently failing to mention the fact that they overthrew the Kingdom of Hawaii to do so. Before I could voice my outrage, Disneyland cleverly placated me with delicious soft serve, demonstrating once again that my simple mind is easily manipulated.

  4. Get compensated when rides break – Rides will break when you are at Disneyland. It happened to us thrice in one day. When rides break, don’t be that person who complains under their breath. You really don’t need to; you are a sneak, and as such you have only waited in line for perhaps 10 minutes instead of 60 minutes like everyone else. However, if you ask nicely, you might be able to get something for your troubles. If you’re on the ride AND they de-board you OR you are in the FastPass line, you’ll get a FastPass with no date on it for your troubles. If you’re on the ride when it breaks and they DON’T de-board you, ask if you can go through again when you get back to the station (they’ll probably offer this without you asking).

  5. Security doesn’t pat you down – Interpret this as you will.

Other Tips:

  • Star Tours is not worth your time. We only rode it because we had a FastPass (and even that was an accident) and I still would have regretted it if it wasn’t for the AC.
  • I thought food prices seemed surprisingly reasonable because I lived in San Francisco for so long that my reality is distorted. However, you can definitely get away with eating a big breakfast and then snacking smartly throughout the day.
  • The park has anticipated every scenario you can imagine. In keeping with the idiot theme, I left my headlights on. Needless to say, my battery died. I told some security guard and no joke, 90 seconds later this guy appears out of nowhere to give me a jump. So if you need help, just ask.