1. Buy Your Disneyland Park Tickets in Advance
As with most theme parks, ticket lines can be long. Ticket lines for park admission at Disneyland get long quickly, even first thing in the morning. You can save at least 10–15 minutes in your day at the park by purchasing your tickets before you get to the park. With that ticket in hand, you can hop right in line to get through the entrance gate. If you are staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel or a Good Neighborhood Hotel, you can get your tickets included in your vacation package.
2. Arrive at the Park Early
Get to the park early, even before the rope drop happens. Typically the park gets busier by mid- to late morning. Arrive at the park as soon as it opens to visit some of the most popular attractions before the lines form. If you are staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, you’ll have access to the Extra Magic Hours, giving you an extra hour at the park open and close at one of the two parks each day. This is a great option to get in early before the park opens for general admission. You can ride your favorite rides before the majority of riders even enter the park.
3. Ride the Popular Rides First
Each park has tons of rides, but there are always a handful of very popular rides that lines form for even right at the start of the day. Ride your favorite rides first to avoid the long lines that will gather later on in the morning. One example is Radiator Springs Racers. FastPasses sell out by mid- to late morning, and the line is long from the moment they open the park gates before the rope even drops.
Single-rider lines are the best kept secret at any theme park, in my opinion. Many of the rides at Disneyland offer single-rider lines. If you don’t mind riding next to a stranger, this is a great way to avoid long lines. We regularly split up to take advantage of this timesaving technique. My girls discovered the joy of the single-rider line this last trip. They rode Goofy’s Sky School 16 times in a row.
5. Get a FastPass
The FastPass option for the popular rides allows you to get in a shorter line at a pre-selected window of time. You can generally have only one FastPass at a time, so plan your FastPass with careful consideration. If you ride your favorite ride first as suggested above, you could grab a FastPass for that same ride for later on in the day and avoid a line for a second ride. The earlier in the day you can do those popular rides, the less waiting you’ll have to do overall.
If you plan to get autographs and photos with your favorite characters, consider purchasing a Character Dining experience. Many of the characters you’ll see throughout the park (and some you won’t see anywhere else) can be found at the Character Dining experiences. You won’t have to wait in line to see them, and you have to eat anyway. Get a break from the So Cal heat and skip the lines. While Character Dining isn't inexpensive, I fully believe it is worth it for the added time you don't lose by waiting in lines. You spend a lot on your vacation, you want the most out of it.
7. Use the Rider Switch
If you have young kids, you’ll want to use the Rider Switch Pass. The Rider Switch allows one adult to ride the ride with the kids who can ride, while another adult stays with the ones who can’t/don’t want to ride. By using the Rider Switch, the waiting adult can go back and get in a shorter line to ride the same ride. This eliminates you having to wait in a long line twice so all adults can enjoy a ride. It also allows little ones the opportunity to ride a second time instead of standing around because the Rider Switch allows the adult to bring up to two people back on the ride with them.