Disneyland - Interview with an Annual Passholder

© Summer Migliori @sumomigs

This week we have a review of Disneyland (Anaheim) from an Annual Passholder (AP). Her name is Summer Migliori and you can follow her on Twitter or Instagram: @sumomigs.
Her responses are below:

What made you get a Disney Annual Pass? Do you live close to the parks (i.e are you a local?)

I live about 7 hours away from the park in the San Francisco Bay Area. I go to Disneyland over 3 times a year, so it was only natural I got the pass! I have the Signature pass. The Signature is one of the higher tier passes. It gets you free parking, the maximum discounts, and the only dates that are blocked out are in December and January. I got this one because I like going for birthdays and things, which always happen to be in the summer or during the height of spring break, which is when most passes are blocked. 

I never got to go to the parks as a child, so once I was able to afford it, I went for the first time with my mom and sister and was hooked, even though they don't have passes. I missed it so much that 2 years later my fiancé and I got Annual Passes.

How many times a year would you think you go to a Disney Park

I go about 6 times a year on average.

What is the best bargain place to eat in each of the parks? Recommend? Don’t recommend?
  • I'm one for DTD eats, especially the burritos at the Taqueria next to Tortilla Joe's. They accept AP discounts, and the burritos surprisingly cost less than the ones in the bay area. You can easily eat for around $10 a person there. Naples Pizza & Ristorante can also feed a family (or 3 hungry adults) with their 1/2 meter pizza. It's around $50, but it's still cheaper than what you would be paying at Pizza Port, and the quality is superb
  • Disneyland: If you have kids, or are an adult who doesn't eat very much, Mickey Check meals are the way to go. They come with a variety of healthy items and a drink and are around $7 (may need to double check that price). I am also a sucker for Bengal BBQ, because their skewers are surprisingly filling and affordable. If you're truly looking to save money, pack a lunch in a cooler and bring snacks in a backpack. You can put the cooler in a locker on Main Street and get your food when you start getting hungry. In terms of sit-down restaurants, there aren't many that are considered affordable, but I advise staying away from Blue Bayou. Gave me food poisoning and the food wasn't that great. You mostly pay for the ambiance and novelty. 
  • Disneyland California Adventure Park (DCA): Tucked away in the Grand Californian is an affordable quick service spot: White Water Snacks. It's the place I make a beeline for when I want some breakfast or a decent sandwich. I definitely recommend going during the food festivals, because there is so much variety that everyone is sure to be satisfied. Only downside is that AP discounts don't apply.
What is your strategy around the parks? Do you have favourites that you do first?
I'm almost afraid to share my park strategy! I once made a whole PowerPoint on the best ways to navigate the parks. Definitely start your day at rope drop and head through Adventureland. My typical strategy, which has allowed me and up to a party of 10 (!) get every single ride done during peak times/seasons goes something like this (note: this is mostly suitable for people who don't have small children):
  1. Start with the attractions in New Orleans Square (For me, it's Pirates - because it's so eerie when no one else is on- then Hautned Mansion)
  2. Head to Splash Mountain. While making a Maxpass reservation for Indiana Jones
  3. Head to Indiana Jones, then hit Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. While making a reservation for Matterhorn (this wait is usually under 25 until around 10:00 am)
  4. Then make FP reservation for Space Mountain.
Once all this is done, it should be about late morning, and then the rest of the day I do all the other rides, except for Fantasyland, which I save for night time after the fireworks. It's just so much easier to ride things right at rope drop and before closing. Around mid-day, I'll switch to DCA or go back to the hotel and come back when people are headed to dinner. Since I have an AP, I don't really watch the fireworks or parades since I'm there so often. I can't speak much to that. However, when it gets too hot or too crowded, I love taking a ride on the train, going to see Crush, or doing the Animation Academy-- basically any indoor show! 

I start in New Orleans, because it's usually pretty dead and it's so fun to be the only one on Pirates or Haunted Mansion in the morning. Plus, most of the attractions I favor are in that general area. I'm not a huge fan of Tomorrowland or Fantasyland, which is why I either save them when I have lots of downtime, or late at night. Plus, those are the two places most people rush to at rope drop, and they're already open to guests who have Magic Mornings (which is when they can enter the park an hour earlier than other guests on special days). I think it's mostly a preference and strategy thing!
If you have kids, definitely take advantage of the baby centers. They provide medicine, snacks, sunscreen, changing area, and basically anything you need as a parent!

© Summer Migliori @sumomigs

Fastpasses - what do you do?

For Disneyland FP, you have two options of obtaining them: Maxpass, or kiosk. If you pay $10 a day ($75 for the year if you're a passholder without Signature Plus), you can obtain FP digitally, which is helpful if you have a large party, mobility issues, or have limited time in the parks. FP rides have kiosks you stick your ticket in, and a FP will pop out with a return time. There will also be a time on the pass that lets you know when you can get another. You can no longer hold two FP simultaneously, and can only obtain them once you've had your pass scanned into the park. You cannot make reservations ahead of time. 

An AP is good for both Disneyland and Disney Californian Adventure Park (DCA). You don't need to purchase a park hopper. 

What Disney rides, in your opinion, have the best re-ride value?

Some of the rides with the best re-ride value are Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. Nearly every time I go them, I notice something different, or I try to look for the hidden Mickeys scattered throughout the attractions. I also love Big Thunder Mountain for the thrill of it, plus you can get some really great views of the Star Wars construction that's happening. My all-time favourite right is Splash Mountain. I can ride that one over and over again, because it's so much fun to get to know the other people in your log and experience all their reactions on the drops (same goes for Grizzly River Run, my favourite ride in DCA). 

Big Thunder Railroad © Summer Migliori @sumomigs

All Photos © Summer Migliori @sumomigs

Which rides to be wary of with kids?

I feel like Snow White, Pinocchio, and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride are pretty scary for kids. I remember them giving me some pretty intense nightmares when I was young. Even as an adult, the Snow White ride scares me!  Partly because it's so old, and partly because of the witch popping out of random places. 

Additional tips: 
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and do not stand in the middle of walkways to check your phone or grab something out of a backpack or stroller, please step to the side
  • Do try to have character interactions. They're so worth it and will add magic to your trip!
  • Do take advantage of Maxpass if you have a large party
  • See if there are any special events or activities happening when you go, like Easter Egg hunts, Festivals, special shows, etc.
  • Plan dining reservations in advance
  • Drink lots of water
  • Listen to Cast Members
  • Have fun! You're at the happiest place on earth, after all ;)

© Summer Migliori @sumomigs

Thanks to Summer Migliori for her review and strategy to get around Disneyland. You can follow her Twitter or Instagram: @sumomigs


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