A Busy Mom’s 3-Minute Guide to Disneyland



We had planned to take my mom to Disney for her 60th birthday back in 2020. We finally made it in 2022!

Hey, mama. I know you’re busy. So in this post, I’m just gonna give it to you straight. We just visited Disneyland in California in February 2022 and learned some things the hard way. Though I’d love to give you all the details, there are SO many Disney blogs out there that will give you better info and take up more time to read. If you’re like me, you don’t have an extra five or ten minutes. You maaaayyybe have three. Without further ado, please benefit from our education here in a busy mom’s 3-minute guide to Disney!

Covid Crowding

Great pic of these boys! But you can see that big crowd down in Pixar Pier behind them!

If you’re planning a visit during a time of year that is usually light in attendance (like, um, February), buckle up. According to Disney staff, the park being closed for 13 months just made us Disney fans all the more eager to go take our “missed” trips. The February crowds this year could have passed for June crowds any other year. ALL lines . . . entry, food, rides, snacks . . . are LONG. Just mentally prepare for that.

Disney Genie Plus: Just the Facts

Though we are smiling here, we waited three hours in line at the Radiator Springs Racers standby line!
  • This service costs approximately $20 per person, per day. (Disney recently changed their policy and adjusts the price of Genie+ depending on the crowds on any given day, so the prices can vary slightly).
  • It will allow you to enter the Lightning Lane (think 5-minute wait) ONE TIME per day on SELECT rides that offer Lightning Lanes.
  • Two of the most popular rides require extra fees ($10 to $15 per person) to use their Lightning Lanes EVEN if you have paid for Genie Plus. And yes, you can only do this ONE time per day.
  • You get all the Disney PhotoPass photos (photos taken by Disney staff for “free”). Disney recently made all the PhotoPass photos taken ON rides (you know, the ones that capture your screaming faces) free to all guests, including those without Genie +.
  • Standby wait times are SUPER long (think in terms of hours, not minutes) at rides that have Lightning Lanes.


The food at Pym’s Test Kitchen in Avenger’s Campus is AMAZING and the absolute best we’ve ever had at Disney!
  • For five of us, each meal eaten in Disneyland cost an average of $100.
  • Bottles of water purchased in the park cost $3.75. Consider bringing your own refillable bottles. We saw lots of people filling up at water fountains and restaurants.
  • Eat breakfast in your hotel room or at your AirBnB. You can order up an Instacart order (even at the hotel) and have cereal, protein shakes, fruit, and yogurt before you go.  You’ll be glad to have the extra ride time, avoid another line, AND save lots of money.
  • Consider packing a lunch. Sandwiches and grapes make for an easy lunch that can be eaten during a parade or standing in line. Again, the savings add up!
  • If you are going to eat in the park, use Disneyland’s app to order your lunch or dinner. The mobile order option allows you to choose your dining window and change it if your plans change. When you’re ready, just show up at the restaurant you ordered from, click “prepare my order,” and you’ll be eating in no time. You’ll be glad for one less line and a bit more time to find a table.

Stand in the Right Line

There are now three types of lines: single rider, Lightning Lanes, and standby lines. Even we seasoned Disney-goers found out too late that we’d been standing in the wrong line (for a LONG time). Don’t assume that just because a line is long, it’s the standby one. It’s worth the extra walking to go straight to the front of the ride and trace your line to its end. Trust me!

Battery Pack

You will be using your phone almost constantly to check wait times, mobile order your food, find restrooms, and do all your normal phone stuff. It’s well worth the money to buy a battery pack to plug your phone into before you go. Disney does have them for sale at the park. But of course, you’ll pay the Disney premium.

Find All Your Superhero Gear and Keep Your Sanity

We were SO happy with our easy, breathable shopping experience in this store. Plus, you can buy this IronMan suit for only $8000!

If your kids are into superheroes, skip the insanity at all the other shops in Avenger’s Campus and visit the Studio Store, tucked back by the Monsters, Inc ride. It’s got ALL the superhero merchandise found in the other, smaller stores without the crowd craziness. Why? Because it’s absolutely gigantic AND no one knows it’s back there! The store in the Guardians of the Galaxy ride may have a couple of different things that this store does not. But overall, everything else you’d find in Avengers Campus is here.

Well, my friend, your three minutes are up and your kids are fighting again. I hope this guide helps you enjoy your Disney experience even more. Please feel free to share your tips in the comments. We Disney Mamas gotta stick together! Have a wonderful time making memories with your fam at the Happiest Place On Earth!

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.