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Going to Disneyland this summer? Our complete guide to what's new, what to avoid and secret perks

STAFF WRITER
Slinky Dog from “Toy Story” illuminates the street during the Paint the Night Parade. The second viewing of the parade is usually less crowded.
BILL ALKOFER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

If you’re planning to head to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure this summer, Mike Miranda, Disney’s operations manager for guest relations, has one important piece of advice for you: Be patient.

Summer is the busiest time at the Disneyland Resort. This year, its two theme parks are expected to be more crowded than usual as Disneyland officially turns 60 on Friday. To commemorate the diamond anniversary, which kicked off May 22, Disney has “diamondized” the resort with themed banners and décor. It also has remodeled several rides and debuted three new nighttime attractions. But the expected high crowd level doesn’t mean you and your family should stay away.

We’re here to help you navigate how to get the most of your days at “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

Park prices

Single-park one-day tickets went from $96 to $99, and tickets for ages 3 to 9 increased from $90 to $93.

New nighttime attractions

Paint the Night Parade: A 17-minute extravaganza that features 1.5 million LED lights on eight floats, plus 80 performers wearing light-up costumes.

Disneyland Forever: A 14-minute fireworks display featuring new projection-mapping technology that envelops guests with movie and animated scenes on the surrounding buildings. Visitors have the option to watch the show along Main Street, U.S.A., from It’s a Small World or on the banks of Rivers of America.

World of Color – Celebrate! California Adventure’s new water-and-light show.

Revamped attractions

The Haunted Mansion, the Matterhorn Bobsleds and Peter Pan’s Flight

Upgraded technology

Soarin’ Over California and Indiana Jones Adventure

Best places to take toddlers

Mickey’s Toontown: This attraction features an interactive playground, colorful places to explore and a ride for any height: Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. Mickey and Minnie are often spotted here.

Fantasyland: There’s King Arthur’s Carousel, shows in the Fantasy Faire and plenty of rides for small children.

Tomorrowland: Young Padawans (ages 4-12) can train in the Force during the Jedi Training Academy before riding the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster ride, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Autopia and Astro Orbiters.

New Orleans Square: Take your kids on a log raft ride to the Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, where they can explore.

Critter Country: This is where you’ll meet Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride is also in this area.

A Bug’s Land: This area has a puddle park, Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train and Francis’ Ladybug Boogie ride for kids.

Hollywood Land: Catch a Disney Junior! live show and meet Olaf next to Stage 17. Anna and Elsa are inside the Animation Academy. Ride Monsters Inc. and watch the Frozen Sing-Along at the Crown Jewel theater.

Paradise Pier: Toy Story Mania! is the must-do ride in this area.

Best times to go

Tuesdays or Wednesdays: Midweek days are slower than weekends.

Early mornings: Go when the park opens. Lines get longer later in the day.

Evenings: Crowds tend to die down after the parade and fireworks.

Extra help

Baby centers: Located at the end of Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A., next to the Photo Supply Co., and in the Pacific Wharf area at California Adventure. Both offer a breastfeeding room, changing tables, high chairs and child-size toilets.

Strollers: Strollers are $15 and available outside Disneyland.

Insider tips

Plan your day: Visit City Hall or the Chamber of Commerce to get help with dining, FastPasses and more.

Use the FastPass: This free service provides visitors with a time to come back to the attraction and wait in a shorter line. You can get a FastPass every two hours.

Street Art: Park custodians are trained to draw Mickey or other characters with their broom or mop on the pavement. All you have to do is ask!

Alternative Nemo Ride: If you’re claustrophobic or just don’t want to wait in line for the Nemo Submarine Voyage, ask a cast member to take you to the Marine Observation Outpost, where you can watch a video similar to the one being shown in the submarine.

Single-rider lines/child swap: Parents whose children are too small to ride some attractions can alternate, with one staying with the kids while the other hops into the single-rider line, which bypasses the longer standby line and offers a reduced wait time.

Best advice

• Have one person in your group rush to gather tickets for the FastPass as soon as you arrive.

• Visit the busiest rides first, such as Matterhorn Bobsleds, Space Mountain, Star Tours and Toy Story Mania! If the wait is 30 minutes or less, go for it.

• Make an online reservation at Disney’s most popular restaurants to save time and energy at disneyland.disney.go.com.

• Visitors who order a prix fixe meal at Ariel’s Grotto, Carthay Circle Restaurant or Wine Country Trattoria will receive a preferred viewing FastPass for the World of Color show.

• Download the MouseWait app to find the rides with the shortest lines at both parks.

Contact the writer: jpimentel@ocregister.com


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