Your Guide to Getting in the Disney Parks Faster

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Features, Park Wise

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Published on May 01, 2014 at 3:00 am with 23 Comments

Ok, so you’ve been planning for months. The day has finally arrived. You’ve risen and shone, inhaled your breakfast, and now you’re ready to hit the park! You’re skipping toward the entrance only to be met with barricades. Here’s how to breeze past them as easily as possible.

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Security/Bag Check

Before you can even get to the turnstiles, you’ve gotta get frisked. Well, not you personally, but security is going to rifle through your bags. The key is for you to make it easy for them. Before you get to the bag check point, start unzipping, unsnapping, unlocking your bags. This includes purses, backpacks, diaper bags, camera cases, lunch boxes, shopping bags – anything that security can see (i.e., your Mickey Mouse wallet doesn’t have to be checked if it fits in your pocket) has to be checked. If you wait until you get to the table to start opening your bags, security will keep checking bags while you wait, but those behind you will start to get annoyed. Not nice. You’ll also have to remove your bag from your body. I’m a crossbody bag gal, and although they can see the entire contents of my bag while it’s still slung across my shoulder, you still have to plunk it down on the table. Don’t forget to look under your stroller. Whatever’s under there has to be checked, too.

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Get Park Wise: If you can fit everything you need into cargo pockets (or just regular pockets if you’re that good), you can slide by bag check and look for the “guests without bags” sign, and you’ll be one step closer to the prize! (Disneyland doesn’t always offer a no bags line).

Turnstiles

So, you’ve made it through the security check only to be faced with another line at the front gate! Use this time to rearrange yourself, put your bags back where they belong and find your ticket media. Whether it be Magic Bands, room keys or tickets, have them ready when it’s your turn. Much like bag check, being ready to rock and roll when you hit the front is appreciated by cast members and fellow guests alike.

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Get Park Wise: Lines at the gates can be long, especially at the beginning of the day. Take a look up and down the area. If there’s a cast member manning a station, chances are it’s open, even if no guests are paying attention. Lots of people are confused or blindly follow a crowd. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve passed a 30+ person line and found a much shorter one simply because we strayed from the pack. This holds true for lots of other queues in the parks as well. Always keep your eyes and ears open for ways to make your day easier.

You’re In!

You finally made it into the park! Here are a few hints to make it past the typical traps just inside the gates.

If you’re a first timer (or just love maps), don’t get stuck in the mob stopping to grab maps and times guides just inside the gates. Both are available at almost every counter in the park or from cast members. Breeze past the crowd and pick one up a little further inside the park.

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It’s also tempting to stop in for souvenirs at the gift shops that flank the main entrances to the parks. Resist temptation and keep moving! While the main shops do tend to have the widest selection of merchandise and sizes, there are smaller and specialty shops scattered throughout the parks. Trust me, you’ll never hurt for a gift shop at Disney. Meander through the main shops on your way out of the park to grab anything you didn’t find elsewhere.

Unless it’s your first time in the park, you’re headed to a pre-opening restaurant reservation, or the park is freakishly empty, save the photo shoot for later in the day. By all means, if it’s junior’s first time to set foot on magical property, snap away. Same goes for empty parks. Otherwise, you can often grab the same shots later in the day. The castle will still be there, I promise. I do always snap at least one shot while everyone is still fresh and happy, though. ;)

How do you expedite your entrance into the parks?

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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  • JFS in IL

    Our last Disneyland trip we got there early enough to be about 10th in line at turnstiles, and they DID start letting folks in about 20 minutes early so we could pick at which land entrance to await the “rope drop”. We walked onto Indy, Pirates, and would have walked onto Haunted except it was having mechanical difficulties.

    • Tennor

      I believe that was a temporary situation when there was no bakery/breakfast options open on Main Street. It allowed guests to pick up breakfast at the Jolly Holiday Bakery.

      The rope is now back at the end of main street.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      There are some days when the ropes will drop early (say, Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios, for example), so if you’re in line early, you’ll have a head start!

  • JFS in IL

    At DCA the next day we also got their early before the park opened. Once inside, we went to wait for “rope drop” time at Monsters ride (since we have the DAS for my son we did NOT have to join everyone at the FP line for Cars). When it hit 9am Sully came out for a photo shoot and to open the ride (all the kids had to ROAR I think).

  • eicarr

    While tempting to save $50, we always stay at a motel within 5-10 min. walking distance from both DL parks. Relying on shuttles is a drag that often keeps us from rushing to get there for rope drop. Breakfast from our food box brought from home keeps us focused and full of energy once inside the park. I’d love a breakfast cone in Cars Land, but I’d rather get a fast pass for Radiator Springs Racers before they’re gone.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Location, location, location!!

  • amyuilani

    Great tips as always, Jessica!

    While this doesn’t pertain to a line specifically, I want to offer one piece of advice to park goers. DO NOT STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF A WALKWAY OR DOORWAY. Seriously, everyone does it! It causes people to split around you and bottlenecks form. Now, people are backing up and having to line up to get around you. Have some sense of spacial awareness! If you need to regroup for whatever reason, move to the wall and get out of the main walkway. Do not spread out in one long line across the middle of the walkway.

    • martinjbell1986

      I feel like I’m the only one with spacial awareness when i’m in Disneyland

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Amen, sister!! I get that it can be overwhelming, but it’s helpful if people don’t leave all common sense outside the gates. ;)

  • 99disney

    Great advise, cargo shorts are great my wife gives me glasses, cameras, etc to carry ,also, DON”T BRING KIDS ha ha. avoid scooters at all costs.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Cargo shorts seem to be a favorite!

  • mikecov

    For Disneyland a trick I occasionally use is to enter through the Downtown Disney Monorail. Got to be there early and of course make sure it’s running that day. Usually you are inbound and passing over the entrance just as the Main Gate is letting the first guests in. You’re getting off just as the first guests make it into Tommorowland. It’s something I learned from my father 50 years ago. His main reason, besides the old Monorail Bar right next to the turnstiles was that back then Disneyland charged 50 cents to park in their lot but hotel parking was free!

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Good one! We used the monorail often when staying at the Disneyland Hotel.

  • DebG

    I think its the Birmbaum guidebooks that suggest, if given a choice for lines, the lines on the left will be the shortest.We have used this suggestion for years now. We used to breeze through lines with no problem.Unfortunately (or fortunately) the tourbooks have caught on and others now know this trick.The lines are not as drastically shorter on the left as they used to be, but it’s still a bit of a timesaver.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      I’ve heard that tip quite a bit, too. I noticed it really holds true at counter service restaurants where you can use both sides of the register.

  • DobbysCloset

    (Hopefully by the year 2020 all park guests will have a ParkWise “app” on their mobile devices. That, or we’ll have cloned miniature Jessicas in our Cargo Pockets reminding us to be commonsense-ical when visiting the Parks.)

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      I think one of me is plenty!! Haha!

  • animatronic

    When we head down to Disneyland from San Francisco we usually stay at a resort hotel and are pretty close to the Monorail entrance in Downtown Disney. We grab the Monorail which drops you back in Tomorrowland and bypasses the front gate. It’s a great way to get to the back of the park first thing in the morning and you can hit some bigger rides (Space Mountain, Star Tours) and then work your way to the front from Tomorrowland to anywhere you chose.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Another vote for the monorail!

  • gtsouthard

    Man I’ve got a couple of REALLY good ones that work every time. However I think I’m going to hold onto them and not out it on the net. It wasn’t so long ago no one knew about riding in the wheel house on the mark train . Now thanks to a few well placed you tube videos, over the last year is become so well known its almost impossible to do it. I suppose it’s ok to keep some”secrets” just that sometimes.

    One thing I’d like to say is, be careful. People do run at rope drop. Some of them are pretty dangerous when doing so. Little kids get run over by morons pushing giant strollers that have decide THEIR kids (who a lot of the time aren’t old enough to know or care where they are, nor will they have ANY recollection of it) have to be the first to ride Peter pan and dumbo no matter who they hurt. When we visited in Feb I saw a guy run over a little girl from another family when the gates opened, look back at her and audibly snicker at her. Little did he realize type drop awaited at the end of main street. The little girls giant target father caught up with stroller guy. Dude was lucky the mother had told security what had transpired and took him and his whole family some where to discuss it. He was about to receive a swift and thorough butt whipping.

    So be careful and watch out for your little ones. Most importantly behave like a human

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Rope drop brings out the marathoner in some people, so definitely be aware of your surroundings because some others won’t be.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    Also remember at the WDW parks, the new turnstiles also have 2 things on each side to tap your Magic Band/Ticket to, so if the one in front is open, step around and use it (CM’s will wave you around as well).

    As for the bags, also make sure they are off your shoulder (or security will tell you to take it off).

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      The new turnstiles will, hopefully, expedite the entrance procedure! I can’t tell you how many people I’ve been stuck behind who haven’t been able to run a ticket through the card reader correctly. Haha!!