How to #win at Disneyland

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Being a California girl with a dad from the greater Los Angeles area, I’ve been lucky enough to go to Disneyland several times. I think I’m close to 10 at this point. I know I’ve been more as an adult than as a child. We went a few times as a family, then every year high school seniors got to go for a grad night when you get in after hours and ride all night (my bestie and I had a great time, so much so that we fell asleep on a curb on Main Street at 3am).

me and the sibs
damn, we are cute!!!!

A few months later I went back with my aunt, grandma, and cousins. Shout-out to my kick-ass aunt for running across the park with me not once, but twice to get a photo with Belle, my favorite princess.

Then there was a long lull while I was in school (basically I did nothing while I was in school. Except thankfully earn my degrees). My sister took her family, and my parents and I tagged along. This time we went to California Adventures too.

Found the Club 33 entrance!

Then for my 31st birthday, I had the urge to go again, but without kiddos. I grabbed a few of my best friends and we went for the day and had a blast. So much so, that 2 years later I repeated this trip-this time with a lot more friends (11 to be exact!) Plus, my sister and her family were in the park the same day, and a few friends of friends were around as well. Across the day, I had a total of 18 people celebrating my birthday with me-am I blessed or what??

So, over the span of 2 posts, I’m going to share how I do Disneyland as an adult in one day, with no kids. We learned a lot of tips and tricks on this last trip, especially with having a large group of people.

Where to stay

When I went with my sisters family and for my 31stbirthday we stayed at the Best Western. It’s right across from the park, so the location is perfect. With the kids, it was convenient in case they needed to go back to nap, or at night when someone went back to stay with them while the rest of us (ahem, me) stayed in the park all night. But even with just me and my friends, it was so nice to be so close to the park. We got there when the park opened (because I demand it to be so every time) and left pretty late at night. One friend was done riding rides after dinner, so she could easily walk back and have the room to herself while the rest of us went back into the park for the night. The other nice thing was we didn’t have to deal with parking at the park, and the hotel had a continental breakfast, so we didn’t have to worry about that. The not nice thing? The price. Now, it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the resorts and other hotels in the area, but for being broke 30-somethings, we couldn’t afford much. Thankfully I had credit card rewards I used for most of the hotel.

Thunder Mountain Railroad!

So, when I had 11 friends coming with me for my 33rd birthday, we got a house through AirBnB. The house was fantastic. It was large, had plenty of space for us and was a 5-minute ride to the park. We had to take 3 Ubers/Lyfts in the AM to get there; at night we all left at different times and did the same to get home. It was easy and super cheap when split up amongst so many people. Our house cost for 2 nights was only $70 per person! Plus, with having a full kitchen, we got food for breakfasts at home (way cheaper than eating out) and snacks for the park, etc. If you want to go this route, just be prepared to book in advance. I booked the house in July for a trip in January-they were filling up fast. So, if you can plan out that far ahead, I recommend it.

The 2018 crew on Pirates of the Caribbean!

One park or two? One day or three?

Again, we are talking about broke 30-somethings here. We don’t all have tons of vacation days and we did go right after the holidays, so some people had just been on vacation. So, we only went to the Disneyland and not California Adventures, and only for one day (one couple did get a three-day hopper pass on their own). With my sister, we did the three-day hopper pass because we got a relatively good deal on it and we wanted to take kids to both parks. But for my birthday trips, it was too much. Personally, I don’t like going to both parks in one day. Each park on its own is difficult enough to cover in one day, trying to see both is challenging. So, unless you can get a great deal or discount, I don’t recommend hopper passes. But some people don’t mind them. I don’t ride much in California Adventures; it’s mainly rollercoasters which I don’t like. So, having been to Disneyland a few times with intense jam-packed days, I’d be willing do to a half-and-half day with California Adventures. But if you’ve never been to either or don’t really remember them, I recommend devoting a full day to each park.

Jungle Cruise!

BUT- see my other post on how to totally nail going to both parks in one day (with the caveat that we did not have kids in tow!)


Make restaurant reservations, even in non-peak season, even if you are in Downtown Disney. You don’t need to pay for either park to get into Downtown Disney, so plenty of people are just there to eat and shop. So, I recommend reservations to eat no matter whatever you are inside or outside of the parks. My other post has some other food-related details as well if you prefer to try and eat at restaurants minimally.


And did you know there is a restaurant inside Pirates of the Caribbean? The Blue Bayou takes reservations up to 60 days in advance, and it fills up FAST. I have yet to be able to get a table…someday…. Many other restaurants fill up just as fast. There are some more “fast food” like places in the park but they are pricey and crowded. Sit down restaurants can be booked out in advance but are really expensive. But probably worth doing at least once!


And with that, I am going to leave you hanging….until my next post with 13 ways to totally #win at Disneyland and California Adventures!

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