If you visit Disneyland and its neighboring park, California Adventure, you can easily spend half a grand while sitting in giant lines with screaming kids all day. One-day park-hopper passes start at $155 per person, parking runs $18 and that’s before you get into the world of overpriced food, water, souvenirs and endless lines.
There are only a few windows during which I’ll visit Disneyland and every time I go I stick to the same strategy that works every single time. When I go to Disney, I spend as little money as possible, wait in the shortest lines and visit the best attractions the parks have to offer without dealing with any of the crowds. If you follow this plan step-by-step, you can visit Disney and California’s Adventure for free (or very cheaply) while encountering the shortest lines throughout the day.
1. Visit on a shoulder season weekday
This sounds obvious, but it makes all the difference. There are only a handful of times that I’ll go to the park and it’s when crowds are at a minimum. You can check the park’s least-crowded days online, but there are some obvious ones you want to avoid. Never go to Disney over Christmas break, any three-day weekend (MLK Day, President’s Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day), Spring Break, Easter or Veteran’s Day. If you can take a day off of work in the fall or spring, that’s even better. You never want to go to Disneyland on a weekend, over the summer or especially a summer weekend. Never. Go to the beach instead.
The best times to go to Disneyland are on Spring and Fall weekdays when rain is in the forecast. Go in early-November or early-December. Weekdays in late-January through early-March (minus three-day weekends) offer cooler weather, fewer crowds, fewer screaming kids and shorter lines. You get the exact same Disney experience, but much, much better.
2. Park for free Outside of Disneyland
All the streets surrounding the park strictly enforce permit parking or don’t allow street parking at all. That’s why most people opt to pay $18 for the Micky and Friends parking structure then take a shuttle to the park entrance. I don’t like this for a few reasons. First is I’d rather spend the $18 elsewhere, second is it’s time consuming to park, get to the shuttle, wait to the shuttle and then ride it to Downtown Disney before walking to the park entrance. If you are willing to walk a little bit (a little less than a mile) then you can drop your companions directly at the front gate and then park for free.
The entire neighborhood NORTH of Interstate-5 is free neighborhood street parking. Take the exit AFTER the main exit for Disneyland Drive, this is Exit-110A for Harbor Boulevard. If you want to drop anyone off at the park entrance before parking, turn right on S Harbor Blvd. and the main gate will be on the right (this is where Ubers and Lyfts drop off). If you want to park for free, when you get off the highway, turn left onto S Harbor Blvd. Travel north on S Harbor Blvd. Cross W Ball Rd and then as soon as you reach W Vermont Ave the entire neighborhood offers plenty of street parking. The only thing you need to be careful about is that there is street cleaning one day a week. Aside from that, parking is totally free.
Once you have parked, you have a few options to get to the park. You can walk one mile down S Harbor Blvd. crossing the overpass for I-5 and the park entrance will be on the right. You can take an Uber or Lyft which will cost less than $5. Or you can take the OCTA (Orange County Transit Authority) bus. Local line 43 picks up at Harbor and Vermont or express line 543 stops at Harbor and Ball. Both buses drop off at the park entrance, the fare is $2 each way or $4 for a day pass.
3. Get Free Disneyland Tickets from a Disney Employee
The Walt Disney Company employs hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide. Many of those employees enjoy the company benefit that they can visit Disney theme parks for free, or go with friends or family. Find one of these people! I don’t care if you have a distant third cousin who has an ex that works in marketing, this can save you over $150 per person for a one-day park-hopper ticket. Sometimes these aren’t only good for Disneyland, they work at all Disney parks and resorts worldwide.
If you can’t find a friend or family member to provide a ticket, you’re out of luck. Disney rarely offers discounts. There was a time in the past where they would provide a free ticket if you performed an act of charity through a program they offered. Outside of that, your best bet is being part of a corporate function or volunteer organization so your job can get you in the park. Other than that, pick which one you want to visit (or both) and pay the hefty fee.
Generally Disneyland is the better park for younger kids and offers the classic Disney “magic” experience, but because it is older and more popular, it can get more cramped. Space Mountain and Indiana Jones are fantastic rides. California Adventure is more spacious and newer but lacks some of the charm that makes Disneyland famous. It’s a better park for teenagers. Radiator Springs Racers, Grizzly Falls and California Screaming are excellent attractions and it’s the only of the two parks where you can purchase alcohol (they also have a winery within the park).
4. Be at the park gate 30 Minutes Before Opening
Have your tickets ready, be in line and be set to go at least 30 minutes before the park gates open. If you are only doing one park, you don’t have to choose where to start. If you’re doing both, see if one of them opens an hour earlier than the other and go there. I find this best when Disneyland opens at 8:00 A.M. and California Adventure opens an hour later at 9:00 A.M. Wear comfortable walking (or running) shoes and be prepared to clock a lot of distance. On my last visit, I logged 26,000 steps and 12 miles of walking between both parks.
5. Do the Most Popular Rides First Thing in the Morning and Utilize Fast Pass and Single Rider
Beat the crowds. I don’t care if it’s early or your coffee hasn’t kicked in yet. As soon as the gates open, head straight to Space Mountain, pick up a fast pass and then knock it off your list immediately. Get your fast pass, ride Space Mountain and then you’ll have your second ride ready to go either for right now or later in the morning.
As soon as you finish that, start making your way back across the park. Since it’s still early, ride Star Tours and Astro Blasters along the way before the lines start to grow. After that, cross the park and head straight for Indiana Jones. If there’s already a line then hop into single rider to avoid the crowds. In a best-case scenario, when you finish Indiana Jones, you will be eligible to receive a second fast pass.
The way fast pass works is you are assigned a time when you can return and skip the line. If you get a Space Mountain Fast Pass first thing in the morning, it might say, “Return between 8:15 A.M. and 9:15 A.M.” As soon as 8:15 A.M. rolls around, you are allowed to get your next fast pass (regardless of whether or not you’ve ridden Space Mountain). When you finish riding Indiana Jones, pick up your second fast pass for later in the day. Or go to the other end of the park and get a Splash Mountain fast pass for the afternoon when it’ll be a bit warmer.
Now it’s time to use the Space Mountain fast pass to get a second ride on the park’s most popular attraction without waiting in line. Go back to Tomorrowland, hit your second ride on that and then it will probably be around 8:45 A.M. (assuming the park opened at 8). You have a few options at this point.
If you are doing both parks, you can leave Disneyland and go to California Adventure. Follow the same strategy with the second park. As soon as the park opens (assuming it’s an hour later than Disneyland), head straight for the Fast Pass for Radiator Springs Racers (located just outside It’s a Bug’s Life). The fast passes for the two parks are completely independent of each other, so you can have passes at the same time for both parks. Go to the rear of the park and visit the Toy Story Midway and California Screamin’. If you have time, squeeze in Tower of Terror before you can redeem your Radiator Springs fast pass. Use your fast pass to skip the line at Radiator Springs Racers and congrats, you’ve done both parks’s busiest attractions before 11:00 A.M.
If you are only doing Disneyland, then keep attacking the most popular rides early in the day and retrieve fast passes when they become available. Get a fast pass for Splash Mountain so that you can return when it’s warmer in the day. Visit Matterhorn and Thunder Mountain before the lines grow. You can usually save rides like Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean for later in the day when you want to recover in lines that move fairly briskly.
6. Pack Your Own Lunch and Water
You can bring a small backpack with you onto all the rides at Disneyland and California Adventure. Load up the backpack with sandwiches, water, juice, snacks, trail mix and a small ice pack (if necessary). All the rides have little pockets where you can stow the backpack. If you have a small salad in some tupperware then the ride will mix it for you. When you enter, you’ll have your bag checked. Selfie sticks are confiscated.
At around noon when the park starts to get slammed, this is when you take your lunch break. Time it before everyone else hits the expensive cantinas and before your afternoon fast passes on gentler rides. Haunted Mansion, Ariel’s Grotto, Pirates of the Caribbean, Astro Blasters, Monster’s Inc. and any ride in Fantasyland is safe for after a meal while the rest of the park deals with lines for food and meltdowns. Pack your own refillable water bottle so that you can top it off as needed throughout the day and avoid paying several dollars every time you need water. Plus you need to stay hydrated for all the walking you’re doing.
Spend the hours from 1:00 to 3:00 taking advantage of earlier fast passes you picked up. This is when lines will be at their worst. If you want to do rides that are popular, try their single rider lines, some of which are not advertised. For example, you have to ask the attendant at Grizzly Falls for a little pass that says you’d like to be a single rider. Once you’ve crossed off a few more attractions, you can either leave by 4:00 or gear up for the evening.
7. If You’re Staying Late, Take an Afternoon Break at the Grand Californian Hotel or in Downtown Disney
Find some air conditioning, a soft couch, take a nap, check your phone, rest and relax for a little bit. If it’s around 3 or 4 P.M. this is the perfect time to bounce if you’re good on rides or get recharged for another round. Maybe you have more fast passes for later or you want to watch fireworks or a parade. The version of yourself a few hours in the future will be very thankful if you take a break earlier in the day.
There is a separate entrance and exit gate to and from the park near Grizzly Falls in California Adventure. Make sure you hand is stamped and your ticket allows for reentry. Leave the park, make your way to the hotel lobby (or sneak into the pool area) and just relax for an hour. It’ll make all the difference if you’re staying in the parks later that night.
Don’t do Disneyland and California Adventure the same way that everyone hits those two parks. Do the opposite of what everyone else does and you’ll have a much better experience. Park north of I-5 for free, get tickets from a friend or family member who works for Disney, do the most popular rides as soon as they open, pack your own lunch and rest while everyone else is being insane. Then kick back for some fireworks knowing you did Disney better than everyone else.
No matter how many gifts you register for your wedding, it’s impossible to come out ahead. The value of gifts never surpasses the cost of the wedding. The smart move is to elope, and then use the savings to buy all the stuff you wanted without imposing on friends. That way you can get all your presents for a discount and set a good precedent for marriage.
There’s no room for logic with wedding planning. Reasoning in the face of tradition is like reading On the Origin of Species to the Pope. There’s no point in arguing about the point of weddings. The point is to just have a wedding and not ask questions. The $51 Billion wedding industry learned clever ways to trick you into following tradition whether you know it or not. It was one of those tricks that landed me in Crate and Barrel on a Saturday at 8 A.M.
There was a long list of places I would’ve rather been that a big box home goods store that early on a weekend. Starting with back in bed. We were registering for household stuff whether I liked it not. Crate and Barrel was the least of a whole lot of evils. It was directly across the street from the apartment and offered a private tour for engaged couples. If I had to register for kitchen mixers with the general public, they would’ve found me smashing decorative plates against designer furniture. “Oh, wow, this sectional was hand-crafted.”
The bland catalog store reeked of captivity. It was all stuff. Expensive stuff. It was the 30s-version of IKEA. In 10 years I’d be dragged into a West Elm. The only difference between Crate and Barrel’s $5,000 sectional sofas and a $200 futon was the futon doubled as a bed without annoying cushion gaps.
They tried sedating me and the other dudes with donuts, bagels and muffins. Maybe if they distracted us with some self-immolation, we wouldn’t rebel against our fates. It was a glimpse into putting on a few hundred pounds to deal with the misery of PTA meetings. We spiked the orange juice and balanced pyramids of pastries on our palms to survive the morning.
The Crate and Barrel rep told us we should register for furniture that cost thousands of dollars. “People do it all the time. You can make it a group gift so your friends can contribute to buy you the present.” I was looking for a throw pillow to press firmly against my face. The few possessions I owned would end up in a crate. I was bent over a barrel.
They showed us the thousands of knives we could buy for our marriage. I didn’t know why every life achievement came with knives. When I graduated college, the only job offer I got was a pyramid scheme to sell knives to couples about to get married.
Just as I was about to ditch the tour, store and registry on principle, the sales rep threw out a casual offer. “If you have a grasp on the store layout, each of you can pick up a gun.”
I wasn’t sure I heard him right. “A gun?”
“That’s right,” the sales rep wheeled out a table of weaponized registry scanners.
“What kind of gun?”
“A super awesome fun gun.”
No. No way were they tricking me into partaking in a wedding registry by offering a gun. Although it did look fun. And everyone else seemed really interested. And he did challenge me to shoot the first target. And it made a really cool sound when he made a direct shot. Fine, give me the gun!
I steadied my nerves. I closed one eye to center on the target. I stood three inches away from the bar code. I depressed my finger, the red laser flashed. The gun beeped and I registered my first target. It was a dish set. The couples and staff cheered. I had blood on my hands.
The fog of war consumed us. Beeps echoed off decorative vases. The cash registers dinged. Screams and shrills overtook the store. When the other guys and I recovered, we didn’t remember the details. We could only survey the damage. There were 74 items on our registry. There were corpses littering the battlefield. There was a scorched Earth of furniture.
It wasn’t my fault. I blamed my superior officer. I was following orders. It wasn’t me. This wasn’t a reflection of who I was. It was the shelling, the propaganda, the endless blitzkrieg of weddings that made me do it.
The humanity and depravity has to end. Now I’m surrounded by stainless steel frying pans, cast-iron grills and crippling post traumatic stress disorder. I wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats. I reach for water and see the Crate and Barrel registry glass that made me pull the trigger. I’m haunted by the memory and sweat through the designer sheets on the bed. Amazed and dismayed at what became of me.
The follow-up book to the bestselling Crazy Girls, F**k My Student Loans is a story of the wrong way to pay for college at every step of the way. A true account of how to accrue over $120,000 of debt at two of the nation’s most-expensive schools, F**k My Student Loans is an examination into the business, history and current state of student loans.
This book puts loan companies and world-class universities under the microscope to examine why the charge so much in the name of a college experience. F**k My Student Loans is a must-read for all current and future college students and their parents. Anyone who wants to know how to pay for college needs to read this book and do exactly the opposite.
Click here to download on Amazon.
There is actually a part of me that understands where you’re coming from. I’m unemployed. I recently graduated school. I work freelance and I don’t want to sit in my apartment all day. But taking your desktop computer into a coffee shop is going to ruin things for everyone.
How much of an asshole do you have to be to set up your entire home office inside of a mediocre coffee chain? And you have to use the extra large table, don’t you? Because you didn’t just lug your work station inside. You had to make extra trips for the monitor, computer mouse and ergonomic keyboard, you schmuck. Read more
Facing an array of failure on the cusp of my college graduation and impending one-hundred-and-twenty-thousand dollars of student loan debt at the age of twenty-six, my life options have never been more clear. Through a detailed analysis of employment potential, career prospects and quality-of-life projections, the only thing I have going for myself at the moment is hoping that my girlfriend of six months is actually one of those secret millionaires.
Most people might say something stupid like, “The love of your awesome girlfriend is worth more than money,” which is completely true if I wasn’t such a greedy bastard. She is all that I’ve got right now. And I mean that in the most heartfelt way, provided that she is pretending to be a hard-working actor to test my devotion and worthiness of her millions. Read more
My dream superpowers used to be awesome. I don’t know if I had fewer demands, less practicalities or just a better imagination when I was a kid, but my imaginary world superpowers used to be really cool. This weekend, I posed the same question to myself and found the results to be a really sad reflection on everything I want out of life.
When I was a kid, it was a tough call between being invisible and being able to fly. Flight had an early lead since I could soar over New York City, see everyone’s homes, hang out with the birds and scare the hell out of window-seat passengers on airplanes.
I always thought that would be kind of neat to share casual hellos with people staring out the window of a 747, never taking in mind the suction of the nearby jet engine. That’s not what a superpower entails. I could take huge leaps, impress everyone at school and catch any fly ball, thus earning a starting spot with the Yankees. Then puberty hit and invisibility made a roaring comeback.
Flying was useless in the face of staring creepily near the showers of the popular girls of Staples High School. Yeah, I could rob banks and sneak into any event that I desired, but who cares when you’re thirteen and naked girls can’t see you? There is no superpower greater in the world to a tween boy than the prospect of seeing boobs in the pre-Internet age. Hell and high water and the like.
Of course now I could simply walk into a strip club with my current income level and would have no problem with seeing boobs and being invisible to those same naked girls whose high school hotness led to too many bad life decisions. I don’t really want to fly, I could get hit by a jet, I’d run out of energy halfway across the Pacific Ocean. What if I get hungry and I’m too far from the nearest Quiznos chain? Yeah I could forgo traffic, but why would I want to fly to work earlier than necessary? Great, I could be told by my boss that I suck ten minutes earlier in the morning. Thanks, flying power.
Invisibility? Still has its allure with getting to go places and stealing money, but I want to be useful. If no one can see me then it takes the luster away from the already-useless college degree. There was a period in college when I wanted the superpower to have sex without protection and never get an STD or knock a girl up. It was both unimaginative and creative at the same time.
Lately, though, my dream superpowers have become sad and pathetic. They are a terrible reflection of how much I have completely resigned and thrown in the towel with my entire life. Let’s go through some of my dream superpowers I have recently listed:
I feel as though the only way to make my life to work out this ideally would be if I was a victim in a toxic spill. I could also have been trapped in a radiation chamber or found myself on a new planet where my body reacted differently than on Earth.
The moral of the story is know what you want out of life. If you set your goals and clearly define what you want to accomplish, then you’ll know how to properly answer “What would your superpower be?” since it’s the only way your dreams will come true.
First off, let me start by saying how fortunate I am to have a job in the first place. There are a lot of people who are hurting and too many of my co-workers and bosses are my Facebook friends for me to say anything that would get me fired.
That all said, I am way too useless of an employee and undeserving of a reasonable salary to earn what I describe to my creditors as “A living wage.” Between splitting my time between working various day jobs and being a full-time student in screenwriting, the hours don’t exist to make a living. Even if they did exist, I made the massive error of choosing an education in inventing dialogue between imaginary people, so it’s not going to pan out from a day job perspective regardless.
So considering the facts that I get paid poorly, don’t deserve to be paid any better or don’t have the available hours to work a full-time job, it’s left me only one option to earn a reasonable living: office supply theft. And on a grand level, too. This is not to disrespect my employers or hurt the company. Rather, it is the only way to earn a respectable living in accordance with the Department of Labor. I steal office supplies to do their work for them.
This isn’t your occasional pencil or paper clip stealing either. That isn’t going to add up to enough to justify the work that I am taking off the hands from The Department of Labor. Essentially, I need to steal enough office supplies to add two or three dollars-per-hour to my hourly wage.
This is how the middle class was formed.
It is a sort of subset of the middle class. One existing entirely on ink toner, file cabinets and ergonomic chairs that are stolen to edge my way into some sort of tax bracket. Any tax bracket. One that justifies that I have a high school diploma. This raises a separate question: why don’t tax brackets have names?
You could do this the way that divisions in the NHL used to have really nifty names to them. They used to have the Adams Division, Smythe, Norris, Patrick, etc. It was really nice before they switched to the boring Eastern, Central, Northwest and so on. We could have tax brackets like the Wendy’s First Date Tax Bracket at the lower end. Work our way up to the Groupon Dinner Party Bracket a little higher. Step up to the Android Beta Bracket. All the way up to the Wiping Ass With Hundred Dollar Bills Tax Bracket.
And if I am going to make the jump from the Procrastinating Starving Artist Tax Bracket to the Soulless Day Job Failed Artist Tax Bracket, then the only way to do it by stealing enough office supplies that does the Department of Labor’s job for me.
If I can slowly roll an office chair out of the building. Or hide a filing cabinet under my shirt. Or place a hat on top of the printer and pretend that it’s my robot friend. Tell one of the interns that he has to sell one of my fledgling screenplays. Something that, over time, adds up to an extra two dollars an hour, then at least I can feel like a respectable member of society.
A respectable member of society with stolen ink toner all over his hands and face because I don’t know how printers work. Only then can I feel like a true American tax payer. One that knows how to steal and how to complain.
Through a combination of the global financial crisis and thinking that Lehman Brothers was a great place to invest because he thought it was Brooks Brothers, my dad is declaring bankruptcy.
For starters, this changes the entire “My dad can beat up your dad” school-yard argument into the proud declaration that no one who can discredit credit agencies better than my old man. The thing that really pisses me off about the whole matter is that I was totally unprepared for bankruptcy because I thought it would be as fun as it is on Wheel of Fortune.
From watching Pat Sajak, I was unfairly mislead into thinking that bankruptcy would not only be good, but that there would also be a tremendous amount of joy and entertainment involved. I expected whistles, a flute-like sound effect, a hot chick prancing around and a live studio audience while a repo man would take my placard for a free cruise to Hawaii.
Not only is there little to no fun involved, but there are also no parting gifts. If you go bankrupt on Wheel of Fortune, there’s still a good chance that you’ll walk away with either cash or night at a hotel. In real-life bankruptcy, not only are you denied staying in a hotel in the greater Los Angeles, but you’re denied at every single Motel 6 because you can’t get a credit card to put down a deposit.
When you go bankrupt on Wheel of Fortune, confetti falls, there’s sparkling glitter on everything so that you’re distracted and you don’t mind that much. Plus you have the sympathy of an entire studio audience. Real life bankruptcy gets you a half-assed blog post from your kid across the country whose student loans are not wiped clean from declaring bankruptcy.
Every preparation for life that kids get is a terrible representation of reality. If you go bankrupt in Monopoly, you can hold on to dozens of hotel properties and still get $200 just by not forfeiting. Have you ever in your entire life finished a game of Monopoly? They take a week’s investment minimum with multiple players racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, but you can still win a beauty pageant.
Real-life beauty pageants can be gorgeous retarded women that hate gays, and they’ll still get a book deal out of it while I’m forced to google “Chuck-E-Cheese discount codes.”
Pat Sajak’s is an _sshole, but because I was lied to by his crappy game show, I don’t have enough money to buy an “A.”