ChrisH

Disneyland / California Adventure / Universal

20 posts in this topic

Hi All,

Long time lurker, first time poster.

I am traveling to L.A. for the first time in late September with my Wife and 11 year old son. I’ve been looking through several posts and even YouTube videos covering tips and tricks for Disneyland and C.A and I think I’m more confused then ever. Evan as semi-regular visitors to the QLD parks, the California parks seem overwhelming.

We are going to get a 3 day hopper pass for Disneyland/C.A. And probably just one day for Universal Studios. I love thrill rides but also enjoy more sedate types particularly if the theming is great. My Wife enjoys rides that are sedate through to mildly thrilling and my Son is probably about the same (although he says he’s keen to step it up a notch this time 😄). We would also like to soak up the overall Disneyland / Universal experience.

Can I ask a big favour? Can someone suggest a rough itinerary to help us maximise our first time to the U.S? I really don’t want to stuff this trip up!

Thanks for any and all help you guys can give, Cheers.

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Welcome Chris!

i personally don’t have many helpful hints as it’s been over a decade since by last visit to LA. 

I’d suggest you and your family make a list of “must do” rides and attractions and aim to tick those off first wherever possible. Make sure you utilise the free queuing system for the major rides allowing you to do the “lesser” (for lack of a better word) rides whilst you await your allotted time on the big guns. 

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Disneyland / DCA

if you have a 3 day hopper pass, I would suggest that you do 1 park each day and on the 3rd day do a half in each park. Make use of the Fast Pass system to maximise your time on all the rides. If you are staying at a hotel near Disneyland, they typically have a rooftop deck where you can view the fire works instead of being in the massive rush at the end of the night.

Best idea is to buy a disney Max Pass, which gives you a fast pass every 1hr30min instead of every 2hours and also allows you to get a fast pass without having to physically go to the booths. It will also include photo pass which will link all your ride photos, character photos to you phone and give you a digital copy. This will cost around $20-40USD.

in DCA you need to go straight to the rapids ride to get world of Color tickets at the very start of the day or else you won’t be allowed to view the show.

Uni Studios

make sure you are at the park for opening time because around 12pm / 1pm all the busses of Asian tourist arrive and it is just kaotic. Best way is to do all the rides/attraction in the morning then shows after lunch. You must do the studio tour because it is so amazing beware you do sit in the tram for about an hour though.

Edited by joel
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Paint the Night is a must, be sure to see this amazing Parade even if it means a bit of a wait. 

Also despite being able to see the outside the park there is nothing quite like the magic of fireworks from the hub or Main Street at Disneyland for a first time visitor. 

 

Not sure if World of Color will be back up (it’s suffering major down time presently) or Fantasmic is showing but if so see them. Fantasmic especially. A hot tip to avoid the crowds for these is you have a few extra dollars is to purchase a dining package. You can either eat at a restaurant or do dessert and then you get a private viewing area for the show. A night special treat for the family and takes the stress and waiting out of your night. 

 

So much to see and do at both parks and you’ll have so much time to soak in the atmosphere. 

 

I would suggest two days at Disney, then do your universal day and then finish with your 3rd disney day. 

Unless you like getting squirted with water and wearing 3D glasses Universal will be a let down after Disney (Potter and Studio Tour excluded). Water World is a must for Universal though. 

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The one thing you haven't indicated is the amount of time you have over there. If there's space \ time in the schedule, Another Disney day is never going to hurt, especially if it happens to be a busy day\days in the park.

I definitely agree with picking the highlights to make sure you get them done, but I also recommend picking your path at Disney and working your way around, rather than hopping your way from one side to another. I can't remember the detail, but a study was done that suggested when everyone reaches the hub they naturally gravitate in one direction - I recommend going the other way (i wish i could remember which way it was, but i'm sure someone here remembers!). There's plenty of planners, guides, hints and tips, so best thing to do is have a google, and see which seems a best fit for you.

Understanding your preference for lower thrill attractions, Magic Mountain probably isn't worth the hike, however, don't ignore some of the other parks (Like Knott's for example) if you have the time in your schedule.

While you can watch fireworks from many hotels, +1 for catching it on main street \ the hub.

+1 Don't miss Fantasmic if it's operating, paint the night is also pretty cool, and world of color if it's back up by then.

With an 11 year old, there may the the eye-roll that some things are too childish - especially in fantasyland. By all means ignore the fantasyland flats if a carousel or dumbo is too 'kiddy' for you (they're still good though) but don't walk past the fantasyland dark rides - even if you only do them once. Toontown is still worth a look as well. Everything in Disney is suitable for all (most) ages, so unless you can see the full experience and make a call then, give it a try - at least once if you can.

Enjoy!

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It is expensive, but the VIP ticket for Universal is worth looking at. 

You get breakfast, VIP front of line access to all rides and attractions for the entire day.  While on the tour, the guide will hold your bags etc to prevent you needing to use the lockers, you also get lunch and a VIP tour of the backlot, which is a bit longer than the standard but, the bus is airconditioned, and you do get to get out and walk around some of the set areas (we got to walk around the little europe and war of the worlds sets.

I recommend booking an early morning our time. even if you book a later one the VIP pass is valid beforehand. we used it to sneak a ride on Harry Potter before the tour started.

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10 hours ago, troll under the coaster said:

It is expensive, but the VIP ticket for Universal is worth looking at. 

You get breakfast, VIP front of line access to all rides and attractions for the entire day.  While on the tour, the guide will hold your bags etc to prevent you needing to use the lockers, you also get lunch and a VIP tour of the backlot, which is a bit longer than the standard but, the bus is airconditioned, and you do get to get out and walk around some of the set areas (we got to walk around the little europe and war of the worlds sets.

I recommend booking an early morning our time. even if you book a later one the VIP pass is valid beforehand. we used it to sneak a ride on Harry Potter before the tour started.

+1

I was about to type this suggestion.

Did the 8:45am VIP tour in March , it was awesome

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My tip for DCA is to head for Cars and grab a fast pass as the first thing you do. We missed fast pass on it the day I went and the standby queue was well over an hour, and that's at its shortest.

We had a meal reservation for 4pm which then scored us a private viewing area for World of Color. Definitely the way to go. Be sure you wear comfortable walking shoes to the parks too.

The Incredicoaster is loads of fun, be sure to get a go on it. I felt Soarin' wasn't worth the amount of time we had to queue for it.

Indiana Jones at Disneyland was the must-do attraction but it was up and down all day the day I was there. I would recommend a fast pass on that as soon as you arrive. Also, find a wait-times app for your phone, and bring a power bank with you.

I haven't been to Universal so I have no tips - I do hear the VIP is worth the cash just for the front-of-line though.

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Also if a ride goes down at Disney, It is probably worth just waiting in the line because the problems can normally be resolved in 5-10 minutes. If the ride is evacuated and a message broadcast over the speakers you should probably try again later because it could mean a long fix.

The ride that goes down all the time is splash mountain and it will take almost an hour every time because they have to clear the back log of logs from each zone.

You have to go on "Its a small world" just to say you have ridden it and you will remember the song very easily for the rest of your life.

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On 27/08/2018 at 11:49 AM, AlexB said:

Can honestly say i've never once seen (or heard about) a stoppage on Splash. I'm sure it does happen, but I can't imagine the in-show exits would differ much from Pirates though.

Have witnessed first hand 2 stoppages on Splash. One I came part way through and waited out about a half our restart, the second it was down probably 45-1hour. They don't always evac though, they will try and restart if possible.

 

Space will cascade stop regularly. Takes about 1/2 hour to cycle out the ride as they attend each brake zone 1 by 1 in turn and release brakes and cycle out cars to evac.

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Once again thanks for all the great tips. A couple of follow up questions...

What are the rules in regards to loose items. Obviously the QLD parks have a mix of lockers or free compartments at the ride itself. Is it similar with Disney/Universal? I will most likely be carrying a backpack etc.

We ended up buying a 4 days for the price of 2 park hopper from Expedia. (For Disneyland). Does anyone have experience with these? If so, is it still ok to leave the park and return on the same day?

Cheers guys.

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With Disney, loose articles (including backpacks) are allowed on all their rides and can be either worn or placed on the floor on the coasters for example, some rides will even have a pouch for you to store smaller items such as wallets, keys, etc. 

With Universal, there is a pretty strict no loose articles policy. Luckily,  there are free lockers located outside of some rides (the Mummy, etc). The time is calculated based on the wait time of the ride, with plenty more time given for you to collect your items. And of-course, there are paid lockers if you wish to store your bag or something for a little longer.

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Park hoppers allow unlimited re-entry on days the ticket is valid to both parks so yes it is ok to leave either park and return later in the day/night. You don't need a hand stamp they just scan the pass again at the ticket gates and allow you access back into the park.

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Disney has the best loose articles policy in the world... NONE.

 

You can take anything and everything on every ride with you. You will be shocked at what Disney does in terms of ride capacity and operations compared to EVERY (yes including Universal just up the road) other theme park in the world. Simply watching the dispatch operations at Space Mountain is an attraction in itself.

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