Whether old or young, a trip to Disneyland is magical. The first time I visited this miraculous kingdom I was 8 and everything was just like out of a fairytale with princesses gracefully walking around, intimidating pirates searching for gold and happy music blasting from the sky. When I returned in my mid-20s it was equally as fun and perhaps a bit more exciting as now I was tall enough to go on all the rides and frankly, remember more of my trip.

As enchanting as a Disneyland visit is, it can also be quite hectic because everyone else on the globe is just as excited as you to be there and rushes from ride to ride. To make the most of your visit and to enjoy it hassle-free, The Travelettes have created a practical guide with a few essential tips. The following advice is based on Disneyland Paris yet should translate to worldwide parks as well. Let’s begin!

Get a fast pass

The long queues are a mega buzzkill at Disneyland and nobody likes to wait in line when you could be upside down in Space Mountain. There’s free service which tells you which hours specific rides are less busy. You book a time and you return then to avoid waiting in long queues. Download the Disneyland app or use the fast pass machines some parks have to check which ride is available and book a time to return. The fast pass is only valid if you have a ticket and only for the same day, you can’t book a time for another day.  Check the Disneyland Paris website for more details on how it works.

Pack snacks and water

As fun and worth it going to Disneyland is, it’s not a very cheap visit, let’s not hide it. So, you’ll want to save money where you can. Eating at the restaurants or buying a simple burger from the canteen can be expensive so it’s advisable to take some snacks with you. Packed sandwiches, nuts, cereal bars or anything that will get you through the day. Pack a bit of extra food from your hotel’s breakfast and take it with you. Dining in Captain Jack’s restaurant can be a thrilling experience but save it for a special occasion… and for one night only.

Book in advance

If you do want to dine at a restaurant, and it might be a cool experience to try once, then you need to make a reservation in advance. Either early in the morning or even a few days in advance. Whether it’s a busy time of the year or not, the restaurants tend to be full so call and reserve a table to avoid disappointment or waiting around.

Tip: Baby strollers are left outside the restaurants usually so just keep it in mind if going with a toddler.

Going during public holidays

Don’t do that to yourself okay? I know, I did and it was madness. Okay, if work or your children’s schedules only allow you to go then, fair enough, just be prepared that the park will be packed. Public holidays are a common time people visit Disneyland. Start your day early in the morning to avoid the midday rush.

The best time to visit

School holidays and the summertime are the peaks of Disneyland parks so if you can, try to choose another time to go. In a YouTube video by BuzzFeed interviewing Disney princesses and staff, they comment that the best time to go is right after the holidays; New Year’s, Valentine’s Day or around October before the winter madness. Watch the video here for more of their secret tips.

Where to stay

Staying at the Disneyland Hotel is the dream but it’s not always an affordable dream, let’ be real. There are plenty of hotels near the parks which are still worth it and much cheaper. Most of them offer free transport to Disneyland as they know their guests mostly visit for that so save up and consider staying just outside the park. Besides, you’ll be at the park most of the day and will really only use the hotel at night for a good night’s sleep so give your wallet some love and go for a more affordable location.

Be comfortable

On your feet all day, running from ride to ride, the last thing you want to be worried about is whether your heels will make it through. Sneakers and trainers all the way ladies! Comfort is key here so make sure your feet are secure and will hold you up throughout the day. It’s also a good idea to take a scarf or an umbrella with you no matter the season you’re travelling. I was at Disneyland Paris in the summer and it still rained so I spent a good while seeking shelter and looking for a waterproof cover-up. Be prepared so you don’t take any time out of the fun.

The afternoon parades

These are a must. Whatever you’re doing during the day, wherever you are, make sure you find yourself at the main castle at 5pm to watch the daily parade with your favourite princes and princesses gracefully march along. No matter how many times you’ve seen a parade or even if you know the characters are just actors dressed up, there’s no way of not feeling like a little child when your favourite hero passes by. At least I know I do!

There’ll be dancing and singing and jolly vibes all around and just seeing the smiley faces of fellow visitors will put you in a good mood. The evening parade, usually at 9pm, is also a must-see spectacle. This one differs slightly as there’s a light show and fireworks which are sure to impress. The times of the parades might differ slightly from park to park and depending on the season so it’s best to check each park’s website.

Souvenirs, yay or nay?

Well, a bit of both. Any souvenirs you buy within the parks will be expensive so don’t go crazy but do get something to remind you of the trip. What that is might differ for each one. For some, a photo with their favourite character might be the perfect gift, for others, a stuffed animal to cuddle at night (even an adult ok?) is the sweetest thing. Eight-year-old me loved getting my signature book filled with a note from any character I met at the park. As a 20-year old, an Instagram boomerang and lots of videos were enough. Shallow? Hey, the internet lasts forever. And okay spending 3 days feeling like a child with my mum and sister was a pretty good memory.