Happy New Year (and a week)!
Perhaps against the better judgement of a local (which we technically can’t quite class ourselves as yet) we decided to see in the New Year at Disneyland Resort. This is not to be confused with Walt Disney World in Florida, that we are rather in love with and have spent our Summer Holidays in 2013 and 2015. Because of our love for all things Mickey The Mouse we do somewhat consider ourselves to be (huge) Disney Fans and I have previously blogged about the magic that is Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Incidentally, being such fans, and being told Disneyland, California is just “down the road” from Irvine, may or may not have helped influence our decision to move countries. (Delete as you see fit). Anyway, with the grandparents in tow we decided what better way to see in 2016 and the continuation of our California Adventure than fireworks over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
Having read up on spending NYE at the House Of Mickey we decided to go bright and early in case the park reached capacity and closed. Apparently so did everyone else.
I rapidly discovered the information I had read was neither helpful or accurate, so here is my survival guide to NYE at Disneyland, California.
- Plan Ahead – If you are a ‘wing it on the day’ type of person I would recommend you avoid the park on the busiest day of the whole year. (We were there on Thanksgiving as well, NYE was much busier). Planning ahead may seem like the most un-magical way to spend your day, but you will be glad you did! Think of what and where you might want to eat, what rides are a must do for you and your party, and where you want to be when that clock eventually does strike 12. And when I say plan ahead, I mean days in advance not whilst you are stood in the
queueline for the main gate.
- Book Restaurants – Forget trying to save money on NYE, if you are there for the long haul you need time to rest and recoup so scheduling in proper breaks really helps keep everyone motivated, hydrated, well fed and able to make it till midnight. We went for a character breakfast so we could sit and eat as much as we liked whilst the characters did all the hard work and came to us. I also booked us in an evening meal for 6pm. Food and a sit down at this time of night can help give everyone their second wind.
- Dress with layers – The UK readers will most likely snigger at this tip, as if we would dress with anything less than a huge winter coat, scarf, gloves, wolly hat and 10 layers under our huge winter coat to go outside on NYE. BUT this is Southern California and we are learning quickly the temperatures in “winter” differ slightly to the UK. Whilst watching the parade it was easy 18 degrees (64F) and it was hot, we wanted nothing more than a t-shirt on yet as soon as the sun went down at 5pm the temperature dropped just as rapidly and was down to 8 degrees (46F) so those hats and scarfs were needed to keep us going until midnight. We took jumpers and coats and kept adding layers as and when we needed too. It made us much more comfortable.
- Do consider coming late – Now of course another year could be different, but I would honestly consider coming to the park at 9.30pm. So many hundreds of people left after the first set of fireworks that help to celebrate the New Year in with the East Coast and Walt Disney World there is no way the park would refuse entry to new comers at this time. It does of course mean you don’t have the magic of being in the park all day, but if seeing in the New Year means more then its definitely worth considering.
- Keep your party together – This sounds silly and obvious but even as a seasoned Disney visiter it is important to think about. It might sound easy to spilt up whilst some people visit the
toiletsrestrooms and others head off to a ride but if you want any hope of seeing each other again before midnight just don’t! At this point in the park all walk ways are packed, packed so much that one way systems are in operation the whole way around. If you try to get from one area to another you are easily looking at a 40 min walk just around the diversions alone.
- Parking – It seems that Disneyland definitely does suffer with overcrowding compared to the vast acres that WDW have to play with. We learnt very quickly that to get into Mickey and Friends Parking Lot you need to know the Flyover Trick otherwise you are bound for car parks and buses galore before even getting close to the Disney Plaza. Coming from The 5 North take the exit for Lincoln, left onto Lincoln and left again onto Manchester, stay in the left lane the flyover appears just after the southbound exit of The 5, it takes you straight into the parking structure. On a busy day like NYE the entrance from Disneyland Drive will be closed meaning crowds are streamed by being made to park further away.
- Do not mind sitting and waiting – If you go prepared to queue (like all good Brits always do!) for the fast rides then the crowds won’t bother you. If like us, spending time together and enjoying the magic is more important, then plan to stop and wait for parades. We picked our parade spot a full hour before the parade was due to start, and we had an awesome view! If you have little ones, use this time to give them snacks or lunch (and feed the older ones if need be!) play games or take the time to plan what area you want to visit next. And when the parade comes past – be prepared to be thrilled, amazed and LOVE your viewing location!
- Accept that everyone wants to see the Fireworks – Embracing this fact quickly and early on will make your day more enjoyable. There is no one special quiet location (that we have found) that will mean you will have the most perfect view, so make the most of what you do have. Everyone is there for the same reason, to celebrate the New Year. Some may camp out along Main Street USA from 5pm onwards, we opted not too and even considered bailing before that clock hit 12, but in the end after deciding the fireworks were as important as the atmosphere we happily stood at the end of main street infront of the huge Christmas tree and welcomed in the New Year (did I say there was no perfect spot?!)
- Restrooms – I do not think for 1 second that we know of the best restrooms in the park, it is something of a bug bear of mine (again comparing to WDW where they are easily double the size) and I have never seen waiting times like it for both the male and female
loos restrooms. Literally fastpasses should be given for people with small children needing to go pee all the god damn time! We did however luck out with the restrooms over near It’s a Small World and the entrance to ToonTown, it was large, clean, practically empty and for those with babies two changing stations!
- Have Fun – Remember this is the happiest place on earth! *Try* to relax and enjoy the magic. We actually found that all cast members on NYE had up’d their game. They were even more attentive than we have known them to be before (and they usually are pretty excellent!) there was an air of excitement that I haven’t felt before within the whole park, yes undoubtedly it was/is the busiest we will ever see it, but hey! It’s New Year and time to celebrate. Would we ever consider doing it again? Hells Yes.