Let's get down to Dis-ness!
Make A To-Do List
Something the impatient me does months in advance is write an 'attraction hit list' and a list of characters I'd like to meet. These are usually things I haven't done before, are newly opened since my previous visit or were closed when I was last there.
Then 3 months before I'm due to go, I'll check on the website which attractions will be closed during my trip and cross them off the list! Then I can move on to the next point...
Plan Your Schedule
You can do this two ways - the super organized, meticulous way or just a rough outline of what you want to fit into your day. This is where your to-do list comes into play as you'll need to fit in all the things you want to see and do!
I have done it both ways and had my days planned down to the minute of where I need to be at what times, as well as just having a list of the main 4-5 parades, meet and greets and the like jotted down with their times and as long as I made it to them, the space in-between was free. Both options work just as well as each other and it all depends on the type of person you are and how much you want to squeeze in. However I do highly recommend doing something of this sort to make sure you don't miss out on anything.
Grab A Pass!
Fast pass, Photo Pass you've probably heard of them and I have to admit that I've only used one of them a handful of times.
The Photo Pass+ is an ingenious idea that I touched upon here, but something I actually have never utilized. Now despite having a great camera myself, I can't actually take my own photo and although my Mam tries her best I think the shots taken by the official photographers are a great thing to have. That and the price of individual ride photos has sealed the deal that I am for sure going for this option in 2016!
As for Fast Past I personally feel really bad being able to jump the queue while little kiddies etc have to wait double/treble/quadruple the time...but that's personal preference.We had a bunch of hotel fast passes when we stayed in the Disneyland hotel and so tried it for one or two rides but I find standing in line is half the experience! If you don't want to waste time waiting in lines though this is a great option for you! They are available on a range of certain rides/attractions within the two parks and when you go to get one they will have a time you must return but you get to jump the line. Here's a little more info.
Be Kind To Others
This might seems strange but is something that has always made my day when on holiday in Disneyland especially. If you see someone struggling to take a photo, or a family where a family member is missing from the photo as they are taking it, just pop over and ask if they'd like you to take a photo of the whole family. I can't count the amount of people I ran over to at Central Plaza last year and it's always such an amazing feeling when they are thankful for something so simple. One family I remember was a Mam, Dad and little girl on their first visit. The Dad was getting a photo of his girls in front of the castle and I approached him to ask if they'd like one together. His face lit up and once I'd taken a couple (pro tip - always take 2 or 3 shots to make sure everyone is looking and no one blinked!!) I walked away watching them standing admiring the photos which was awesome.
In 2010 I had a similar experience when we got chatting to a father and his toddler daughter who were sat next to us at a character breakfast. He was no longer with the mother and rarely got to see his daughter so he was telling us how special this trip was an no expense had been spared. What gutted me was he only had a phone camera and so when the characters came around I got some fab shots of the two of them with Donald, Mickey and Chip & Dale on my DSLR which I later emailed to him to print off. He was very grateful and even shed a tear.
Last but not least on this point is for people who aren't the biggest fans of children, like myself. You are in Disneyland - remember that. Be patient and kind and if that means letting a little kid on the pink elephant on Dumbo, or letting them skip in front of you to meet Minnie Mouse first then so be it.
Pick and Reserve Your Restaurants In Advance.
So maybe not on your first day if this is your first time at Disneyland, but I'd suggest to scope out the places you think you might like to eat online beforehand, check them out when you get there and then book in for your evening meals! If you're like me, and are not a big eater you may usually stick with the hotel buffet for evening meals but there are a lot of amazing restaurants to make use of in the parks - this is definitely where you want to make sure you have gone for your Half Board PLUS meal plan
Stay In A Disney Hotel!
A lot of people will tell you that this is a more expensive option and no, I completely refuse to agree with that. Depending on which Disney hotel you choose, which vary in price and then comparing the price of park passes separately you will see how much of a saving you are actually making.
Now this post isn't about the price, so check out my Disneyland on a Budget post for that. ;)
So apart from the value for money and proximity to the parks (making your traveling time less and therefore giving you more time in the parks ;P) I guess my main reason for saying stay in a Dis-hotel is the experience. It keeps the magic going even after park hours are over, with the option to browse boutiques, sleep in themed rooms (with the Disney channel on TV!) and meet characters in your lobby being just a few plus points.
Extra Magical Hours
This option is only open to those who take my last piece of advice! Yet another point to back up my awesome opinion eh? haha When staying in a Disney hotel you get many perks but Extra Magical Hours means that the Disneyland Park is open to you before it opens to the public! Use these to make the most of rides that tend to get bigger lines later in the day like (but not always) Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan's Flight, Mad Hatter's Tea Cups, Le Carrousel de Lancelot, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Space Mountain: Mission 2. As a photographer, I also like to use this time to get some good photos without a heck load of people being around.
You have no idea how many people I've seen tottering around Disneyland in little skirts and dresses and I can't imagine that getting on and off rides can be very practical like that! Sure, you wanna look cute for photos and stuff but if you really must wear cosplay style princess dresses or night out style bodycons, be sure to pop a pair of shorts or something on underneath to save your modesty :P
Remember that Paris isn't Florida and it actually experiences proper seasons (which I have to add that is one of the main things that makes me adore DLP over WDW) and so take things that coordinate with the time of year you are going. You can always check the weather forecast online before you pack your suitcase.
I suggest comfy clothes like leggings or jeans with cute Disney t-shirts, cardigans or hoodies that you can easily fold up into your bag. These are practical for running about the parks and being able to explore while being comfy and easy to adjust to the changing temperatures throughout the day.
Take a peek at what I packed for our last visit in October here!
Obviously, everyone enjoys different aspects of a Disney holiday and so these tips mightn't all apply to you but I'm sure everyone can take at least one of them and adapt it to suit their style.
Let me know in the comments which of the above you do and what one thing you'd recommend someone on their first visit do to make the most of their time!