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Disney Tips From a AAA Travel Counselor

Make the most of your visit with these Disneyland® Resort tips from a AAA Travel Counselor who specializes in Disney vacations.

AAA Travel Counselor Nikki Sprott

Photo: Kathy Ray

Whether you’ve been to Disneyland® Resort many times or are in the process of planning your family’s first visit, you can always learn something new from a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. AAA Travel Counselor Nikki Sprott has years of experience planning the perfect Disney vacation for eager families (and visiting the parks herself, of course). She’s got the lowdown on must-see live shows, park tricks and magical secrets—and even the best place to meet Mickey Mouse.

WHEN TO GO

Play Hooky

“The best time to visit the parks is when the kids are in school,” says Sprott. “Summer vacation and school breaks always bring more visitors to the parks. So if you can sneak away for a few days in while school is in session, you’ll be able to enjoy shorter lines and easy access to shows and attractions.”

Sprott says the best times to go are late April through May, September and early December. But if you decide to take a trip in the summer, you’ll have the added bonus of summer hours, when the parks stay open later.

Red the Fire Truck is a must-see for kids at Cars Land (Disney California Adventure® Park).

Photo: As to Disney artwork/properties © Disney

Rise and Shine

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you should sleep in. Set those alarms and be sure to eat a hearty breakfast, because entering the parks when gates open is the best way to make the most of your time at Disneyland® Resort. Head to popular or non-Disney’s FASTPASS® Service attractions early in the morning so you won’t waste time in line later in the day.

If you stay at Disneyland® Resort Hotel, you can get into the parks even earlier.

“When you stay at one of the three Disneyland® Resort Hotels, you can take advantage of Magic Morning,” Sprott says. “The parks open one hour early exclusively for Disneyland® Resort guests. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, Disneyland® Park opens early, and Disney California Adventure® Park (including Cars Land) is open early on the alternate days.”

Disneyland® Hotel in Anaheim, Calif.

Photo: As to Disney artwork/properties © Disney

Never Mind the Cloudy Days

California is famous for seemingly endless sunny days, but every once in a while the forecast calls for clouds and rain. Don’t let a drizzle make you seek out alternative indoor plans. Pack the ponchos and head to the parks anyway. Your reward for braving the less-than-perfect weather will be magical. (Think: short lines for your favorite attractions.)

AAA Members who book a vacation package with a Disneyland® Resort Hotel or Good Neighbor Hotel get up to a $150 Disney gift card from AAA.

ACCOMMODATIONS & DINING

Where to Stay

Staying at a Disneyland® Resort Hotel definitely has its perks. Not only do Disneyland® Resort Hotel guests have access to the parks’ Magic Morning early admission option, but they can also take advantage of the hotel’s location; it’s just a quick walk to the park gates. Enjoy a midday break for lunch, a dip in the pool or a nap at the hotel before hitting the parks for round two.

Disneyland® Resort Hotel guests can also take advantage of charging privileges available with [their] Disneyland® Resort ID,” Sprott says. “Charge meals, tickets and merchandise directly to your room. You can even have souvenirs purchased in the park delivered to your hotel.”

Chowing down

Did you know you can bring food and drinks into the parks? Pack a bag so you’ll always have your family’s favorite snacks on hand to refuel during a long day of fun. But be sure to take advantage of fun themed dining options in the parks, too. Time your meals around parades so you’ll have more seating options.

Sprott suggests making reservations for Disneyland Resort dining character experiences as early as 60 days prior to your visit.

“There’s even a special phone number that you can call to make reservations,” she says. “Just ask your AAA Travel Counselor.”

Enjoy a dip in the Monorail Pool at Disneyland® Hotel.

Photo: As to Disney artwork/properties © Disney

MAGICAL ADDITIONS

Live Shows & Entertainment

Looking for a way to relax without letting the fun stop? The Disneyland® Railroad offers a leisurely tour of the park, where you can learn the park’s fascinating history. Or sit down and enjoy one of the many exciting live shows.

Pixar Play Parade in Disney California Adventure®, Disney’s Aladdin—A Musical Spectacular and World of Color are some of Sprott’s top suggestions.

“My favorite show of all time is still Fantasmic,” she says.

Arrive early to ensure you get good seats. Or, for World of Color, guarantee your Preferred Viewing Location by purchasing a World of Color dining package and enjoying dinner during your show.

Meeting Mickey Mouse

The best place for a photo op with Mickey Mouse? Definitely Mickey’s House in Mickey’s Toontown, Sprott says. He also likes to visit Main Street U.S.A.

“You can also find out where he will be by referencing the theme park guide, which is available at the park entrance, to see where he will be that day,” Sprott says.

Put these tips to good use—start planning your Disney vacation today! Buy Disneyland® Resort Park Hopper® Tickets at your local branch to save up to $5 per ticket or purchase non-discounted tickets online.

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Janice Yip-Hudson, AAA Travel Counselor, Daly City, Calif.

Today, people's lives are so busy. We're thinking three days ahead just to get through our to-do lists. I love helping my clients plan vacations where they have nothing to do but relax; where time stands still, and you're just on vacation.

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