Friends, with the very recent announcement that the prices to have your next magical experience have increased upwards of 25%, I want to have a bit of a conversation with you about whether Disneyland is “worth it”.
First, I want to give you my take on why the prices have gone up. I saw a stat that said the single-day, one park ticket price for Disneyland has increased threefold since 2000. Most of the pain is in the prices of the highest Annual Passes. My take on this is fairly straight-forward. Disney needs to control the crowds somehow. Galaxy’s Edge was just confirmed to open in California in June. This alone is going to drop an atomic bomb on both parks for many months. I’m not saying that Disney is completely innocent here, as far as some calling them greedy. Certainly added profits and revenue are great side-effects. However, Disney also recently announced some price increases across the Nation at Walt Disney World. The difference is that while WDW also has Galaxy’s Edge opening this year, their increases were very small in comparison to Disneyland’s. This cements to me that it’s not at all a greedy move. It’s crowd-control, period.
I will say that it’s unfortunate that it happens. It’s sad that there are many families that will effectively be priced-out of a magical experience. But for some, the challenge is just to work harder to save up and wait a little longer to make it happen. Conveniently, those folks might have just avoided the massive crowds by being patient and saving up.
Some will go no matter the price. We are not what I consider financially well-off. My wife and I both work full time to make things work. We have two kids that normally make the trips with us. We are not currently Annual Passholders but we had been in the past. Because of our feelings about Disneyland and how much we adore the place, we would likely find a way to make it happen, no matter the price. This gets me to answering the title of this article.
Is Disneyland worth it? Let me pull this apart a little to help me illustrate my point. The phrase “worth it” means different things to different people. What does it mean to you? I like cars. I enjoy car shopping. I love watching YouTube videos reviewing cars from A to Z, typical econo-boxes to Ferraris and Bugattis. I love cars! If you were to ask me if owning a $300,000 Lamborghini was worth it, I’d proudly exclaim, YES! But, would I ever buy one? Heck no! Why? While it would be an absolute dream car to own and to drive and to show off, ownership would not make any sense. I certainly could not afford it. The loan payments, the ridiculous insurance, gas, tires, maintenance/repair, and speeding tickets would completely break us financially. Would it be worth it? Yes. Would it make any sense? No. The question about a trip to Disneyland shouldn’t be, “Is it worth it?” Because that answer would always be YES. The question should rather be, “Does it make sense?”. Because we all are in different financial situations, I can’t tell you that Disneyland makes sense. It wouldn’t be fair to tell you that. But, if you could dig in, make a plan, save your money, and dream big, you will discover that it will ALWAYS be worth it!
In an earlier article, HERE, I discussed the idea of separating the financial aspects from the magical experience itself. I won’t re-hash that here, but it does fit here nicely. The bottom-line here is to save up the money, make a smart plan and budget it all accordingly, and make it happen. Once you experience it (again, if it’s been a while), you will never have to approach the topic of the worth of a Disneyland trip. Because, duh!
Generally, folks visit Disneyland with their lovely children. It’s absolutely a family-affair. Like many events parents get a lot of joy from watching their children having a great experience. It’s a lot like watching the kiddos unwrap their presents and seeing that sparkle in their eyes. Walt himself even said he wanted his theme park to be enjoyable to both children and adults.
After 18 years of marriage and every visit to a Disney park including our children, we wanted to do something we’d always talked about doing but never made happen. We went to Disneyland as a couple. No kiddos. Wow. What a very different experience. Thanksgiving weekend in 2018 was when we made it happen. Yes, things at the park were very busy but overall, we felt a lot more relaxed. Our hotel was a little further away than we had envisioned so we ended up using Uber to travel to and from so it was a little like being chauffeured.
Currently, we are not passholders so we had to make some things work a little different. We left our vehicle parked at the hotel. Even this small detail took our anxiety down a notch. One of the biggest differences we noticed was that we could really take it slow. We didn’t feel like we were hurrying around as much. We still used MaxPass and took advantage of some of our normal strategies. We definitely maximised our attraction and show scheduling. We discovered that reserving dining options was also much easier with just a party of two than it had been for three or four.
One interesting thing we noted was that even though we usually let our kids go off and do their own rides and gave them a money card to buy snacks, we felt even more free to do anything we wanted and look for things we’ve never done or stores we never visited. We did feel a little guilty for not including our children but we had such an amazing time that we enjoyed it all immensely. I mean, it’s still Disneyland!
We absolutely recommend planning and executing on an adventure to Disneyland as just a couple. You’ll go again soon and bring along the children, right? Enjoy your significant other’s company. Look at the sparkle in their eyes and create this unique memory to keep forever.
Friends, in the normal course of running a theme park ride or attraction, repairs, maintenance, and upgrades need to happen. Also, Disney is keen to keep things lively, fresh, and relevant to whatever seasonal or popular trends are happening. For these reasons, attractions and shows are closed. Disney refers to this closure as a refurbishment and thankfully in most cases, these are short closures.
Because you want to get your precious money’s worth and experience as much of the resort as possible, you need this information to help plan your trip. Like a lot of things in life, Google is our friend here. There are many resources that provide up-to-date refurbishment information. We don’t have a favorite. Most places provide accurate information but it’s usually smart to look over at least 2-3 websites to corroborate the info. The interesting bit here is that Disney itself doesn’t publish this information in an easy to digest format on any of its websites. They do have current, live info on their calendar and mobile apps on a per-attraction/show basis, but they do not list it otherwise. I can understand this as they want to sell tickets and this could be considered a negative influence on that goal.
Here are a few websites we use and cross-check for this important info:
As you are planning your next trip To Disney, please refer to these resources to ensure you have the latest info as to what you may be missing out on. Sometimes, it’s enough to adjust your schedule. Sometimes, you can’t handle not riding Pirates of the Caribbean. We get that!
Disneyland offers many ways to abbreviate your wait in long queues. We’ve written in-depth on the Fast/MaxPass offerings. We will also write more about strategically planning riding attractions that do not offer these advantages. Single-Rider is a really effective way to get on that attraction quickly.
Currently, the rides with Single-Rider at the California Disney parks are as follows:
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Splash Mountain
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Space Mountain
Disney California Adventure Park:
- Grizzly River Run
- Goofy’s Sky School
- Radiator Springs Racers
As with many of these offerings that Disney provides, there are some trade-offs or compromises. Firstly, it’s called Single-Rider for a reason. It’s just you. If you’re with your family or a group, there’s no guarantee that you’ll all be on the same vehicle together. And chances are, you will not be. For this, we advise using a Fast/MaxPass to ride the attraction once together with your group to get the pictures and have the experience together. For future rides, go Single-Rider. Another gotcha is that sometimes Single-Rider is not available at these locations. Sometimes, due to traffic or other demand-related situations, the attractions do not offer this benefit. Most times, you’ll see a sign or some indication that it’s available or not. Or, asking a Cast Member will get you that information. Because these Single-Rider options are usually taking a different route to get to the platform, please listen and respect the instructions given. Especially from the super helpful Cast Members.
For Matterhorn Bobsleds, the option is extremely efficient and you will get many rides in a very short time. They are constantly pulling from the Single-Rider queues and your wait time is usually very short. You may be placed in either the left or right queue, or you may be given the choice. But if you love this attraction, Single-Rider is pure gold!
Splash Mountain is also really good to take advantage of this program. The lines are much shorter than the Standby or Fast/MaxPass queues. They tend to still be a bit of a wait but very worth it.
Indiana Jones Adventure is a bit hit or miss. Sometimes they don’t do Single-Rider. And even when they do, it’s not as efficient as the others. Still worthwhile to use this on this attraction, absolutely. But they only let a few through at a time since they have to load the handicap elevator and only 6-8 folks can comfortably fit. Again, it’s still better than Standby so go for it.
In Disney California Adventure, definitely use it on Incredicoaster (formerly California Screamin’) and absolutely use it on Radiator Springs Racers. These attractions usually have amazingly long standby lines and the Single-Rider option is heaven!
Here, at ToDisney, we provide the hints and tricks to maximize your fun. The Single-Rider option on these attractions are outstanding ways to accomplish this. As mentioned, always look or ask a Cast Member to find out if Single-Rider is available for that attraction. Also always be kind to those lovely Cast Members! They work hard and have kind of a rough job but they continue to be happy and helpful. If you get on Twitter, send out a hashtag #CastMemberCompliment and mention the name and where they were. Also link @DisneylandToday and/or @Disneyland in your tweet. The company sees these and passes the praise along in a really cool way.
Some of the information here is based on articles from Southern California newspapers or Wikipedia. One amazing article from the L.A. Times has a ton of great information regarding minimizing wait time for attractions.