Monday, January 30, 2006

Disneyland Tip #3

Make priority seating reservations for your table service meals. Although Disneyland has far fewer restaurant options than Walt Disney World, it's still a good idea to make priority seating reservations for any table services restaurants you plan to visit. Priority seating reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance by calling (714) 781-DINE.

During our last visit, we had priority seatings at the Carnation Cafe for three mornings during our trip. Each time there was a long line of people waiting to be seated. After checking in at the podium, we were immediately ushered to our table, bypassing the long line of hungry and envious people.

We also love to have lunch at the Blue Bayou restaurant. The restaurant was very busy the day of our priority seating and they were not accepting any walkups. So if you had wanted to eat there and hadn't planned in advance, you were out of luck.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Disneyland Tip #2

FastpassTake full advantage of the FastPass system. The Fastpass system is a great way to reduce the amount of time you spend standing in line for an attraction. Although it's not available for all attractions, most of the more popular attractions have the fastpass feature available.

When you arrive at an attaction that offers Fastpass, you insert your park ticket into the Fastpass machine and out pops a FastPass ticket. On the ticket it indicates a one hour window for you to come back and ride the attraction without waiting in the regular line. Only a designated number of Fastpasses are available each day so the earlier in the day you get a Fastpass, the earlier your return time will be. Return times are posted on a sign above the Fastpass distribution area so you'll know what your return time will be before you get the Fastpass.

There is also a limit to the number of Fastpasses you can have at one time. You are eligible to get another Fastpass after the either the start time of your one-hour return window or two hours after you received your last Fastpass. Here are two examples of how this works:
  • At 10:00 AM you go to Space Mountain and get a Fastpass with a return time window of 11:15 AM to 12:15 PM. You would be able to get your next Fasspass at 11:15 AM, which is the start of your one-hour return window.
  • At 10:00 AM you pick up a Fastpass for Space Mountain but this time the return time window is between 6:30 to 7:30 PM. Instead of making you wait until 6:30 PM to get your next Fastpass, you would be able to get one two hours after you were issued the Fastpass, which would be 12:00 PM.

When it's time for you to return to your attraction, you'll use a specially marked Fastpass Return line. A Cast Member will check your Fastpass to make sure you're not entering before your return time window. The amount of time you'll save waiting in line depends upon the attraction. At some point, all Fastpass return lines merge with the regular line and you'll end up waiting in some sort of line. However, it will be shorter than if you had waited in the regular stand-by line.

A little known fact about Fastpasses at the Disneyland Resort is while you are not able to use them to enter the return line before the start of your return window, you are able to use them anytime before park closing that day. So if your return time window is from 11:15 AM to 12:15 PM and you don't make it back to the attraction by 12:15 PM, you are still able to use the Fastpass anytime up until park closing. This is important to remember and will help you make the best use of the Fastpass system.

One thing we like to do is pick up a Fastpass for an attraction before we ride it. For example, it may be 9:30 AM and the wait time for the Buzz Lightyear attraction is only 10 minutes. The Fastpass return window for the attraction may be from 10:30 to 11:30 AM. We'll pick up a Fastpass before entering the regular standby line and save the Fastpass for use later in the day when the lines are longer. Because the Fastpass has such an early return time, we're eligible to get our next Fastpass after 10:30 AM.

The smart thing to do is be aware of when you're eligible to get your next Fastpass and to make a point of getting one as soon as your eligible. This way you'll have a selection of Fastpasses to use later in the afternoon and evening when crowds are at their peak and the allotment of Fastpasses for the day may have been reached.

Another thing to remember is that the Fastpass sytems for Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure are not connected. So theoretically you would be able to get a Fastpass for an attraction at Disneyland and them immediately go over to Disney's California Adventure and pick up a Fastpass for one of the attractions in that park.

The Fastpass system is a win-win situation for both the park guest and for Disney. Guests are happy because they spend less time in line. Disney is happy because guests who are not waiting in line may be shopping or dining, therefore creating more revenue for Disney.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Disneyland Tip #1

As my reputation as a Disney fan spreads, I am occasionally asked to provide tips on how people can make the most of their Disneyland vacation. I decided to list a few of things that come to mind.

Get to the park before opening time. The first few hours that a park is open are what I refer to as the "golden hours." The crowds are fairly low and it's a great time to ride attractions without long lines. As tempting as it may be to stop and browse through the Main Street shops, I urge you to resist and take advantage of the low crowd levels to ride some of the more popular attractions. Many people use their vacation to sleep in and eat a leisurely breakfast before wandering over to the park mid morning. You'll see an increase in the crowd level around 11:00 AM. By that time you would have covered all the attactions in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hooked on Podcasts

Sometime in mid 2005, I discovered Podcasts and I've been hooked ever since. For the first few months I was satisfied with the Disney Insider, an official Disney podcast that provided the lastest exciting news, interviews and events from the Walt Disney Company. Some that wasn't enough and I began to crave regularly fixes not provided by the bi-weekly Disney podcast. A search on iTunes provided me with a stash of official and not so official Disney-related podcasts on which to satisfy my cravings.

As a result, I now subscribe to six different podcasts. I would probably subscribe to more, but I've downloaded all previous episodes of these podcasts and am gradually making my way through them. Three of them are official Walt Disney podcasts and are all much better than you might expect from this behemouth of an organization. The other three are fan-based podcasts, where you get nitty-gritty detailed information, mostly about Walt Disney World.

My absolute favorite is WDW Today, hosted by Matt Hotchberg of He is regularly joined by Len Testa of the Unofficial Guide and, Mike Scopa of, and Mike Newell from These guys are the ultimate Disney geeks and very knowledgable about Walt Disney World. They are also very funny in a way that not everyone will get or appreciate, but I love it. On a couple of occasions, Mary Waring of has made a guest appearance. It was because of information on Mary's website that we learned about the free Dining Plan offer that prompted our decision to make the trip.

When we decided to make the almost spur of the moment decision to go to Walt Disney World in October instead of our planned trip to Disneyland, the first thing I did was order a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World of which Len Testa is co-author along with Bob Sehlinger. This book should be required reading for anyone contemplating a visit to WDW. The information was invaluable. I also visted and re-read all of Mike Scopa's past articles which provided first hand insight of the parks and resorts. With the knowledge and expertise of these guys, our trip was infinitely better than any first time visitor could reasonably expect. Now this knowledge is available via podcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

All I can say is... outstanding!


In an effort to make things a little more organized and because Blogger doesn't provide the basic functionality of allowing its users to categorize posts, I've made some changes to my Disney Adventures Blog. I've moved my October 2005 Walt Disney World trip report to its own blog and added another blog for my as yet unfinished trip report from our December 2005 Disneyland trip. These reports can be accessed by clicking the desired link in the Trip Reports section located on the right hand side of the page. This will make it easier for people to read a specific trip report without needing to scroll through pages of other posts.

I plan to use the Disney Adventures blog as my main blog for general Disney information and trip planning. If I get particularly ambitious, I'll move the two 2004 trip reports to their own blogs as well.

Currently, I'm working on adding pictures to my WDW trip report. In an attempt to accomodate those still using dial-up, I've tried to keep the picture sizes small. Larger versions are available just by clicking on the picture.