How to Plan a Disneyland Vacation

It’s about time to plan a Disney vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth and the experience will be unique, memorable and nostalgic!

Surely, elements of visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will feel like a blast from the past. And, no, we are not going to plan a Disney vacation while advocating for fanny packs like the Nerds’ grandmother in the picture above!

What we are advocating is a more connected and present experience. Sure, sure, the masks and the sanitizer may detract from the magic a bit.

However, we expect that the overall experience may just be an improvement – at least in the short term. Expect lower crowds (due to state mandated capacity limitations), shorter lines, less time strategizing on the Disneyland app, and more time enjoying friends and family (and Mickey Pretzel…we’re fans, but you probably knew this). Add to this a more direct touring strategy.

For the short-term, there will be no zigzagging across the park to get a Fastpass, only to jog back across the park to get in line. There will be no stressing or planning or setting timers to ensure you get a new Fastpass the moment it is available to you or ensuring your entire party (sometimes it really is herding cats) gets to the attraction within the Fastpass return window. Instead, if you feel like getting in line, then get in line. If you’re hungry, eat. Spontaneity – something in short supply in recent years at Disneyland and Disney World – is bound to return. At least for a while.

This picture reminds me of traveling to Disneyland with my mom from Northern California. When we would plan a Disney vacation, we almost always planned to skip school and visited in September – the quietest time of the year – when the weather was a little cooler and crowds a little lighter. Disneyland has done an amazing job increasing attendance in September and October with their incredibly popular crowd-pleasing Halloween Time events including Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disneyland and Oogie Boogie Bash – a Disney Halloween Party.

Although we are unlikely to see either this year, they have elevated the once docile fall season to some of the busiest (and best) times of the year. Disney Park Nerds are the first to agree that we are living in a Golden Age of theme parks. The attractions and technology are better than ever, the theming is nothing short of incredible and the introduction of technology has allowed different groups to experience the parks differently.

We Nerds are very strategic in our approach to Disneyland to maximize rides, minimize waits and have as much fun as possible. But this all comes at a cost. It means focusing on utilizing all of the tools available instead of simply enjoying the day. The idea, for the Type-A Nerd, that a new Fastpass is not secured the moment it becomes available is not how the Nerds role.

DISNEY NERD TIP: Learn about Disney Vacation Club to help with your planning

READ MORE: Top Ten Photo Spots in Disneyland and California Adventure

In fact, the strategy of a Disney park visit is one of the things the Nerds enjoy most. It adds an extra element of engagement and energy and focus on the day and we are huge fans of Fastpass and Maxpass (I mean…we really LOVE Maxpass). Our competitive nature demands that we use every tool in the  arsenal to have a great day any time we visit.

So, with these tools temporarily shelved, the day may still involve some zigzagging to select one attraction queue over another – and sure, the Nerd may walk a little faster as they approach the entrance to make sure they secure their place in line – but each walk ends not with a better position for a future ride, but with a huge payoff…experiencing a Disneyland attraction!

We are excited to see how this all plays out and to get a little taste of nostalgia for a Disneyland long ago (or more likely a Disneyland that never was)…so dust off your old photos and plan a Disney vacation.