The Educause conference is a fantastic conference for information technology professionals in higher education. I would enjoy attending this month’s annual conference in Anaheim (as any meeting close to a Disney theme park floats the top of my list) but unfortunately, as a Serials/Metadata Librarian at the University of Washington, I would really have to work to justify Educause as being directly applicable to my day-to-day work. However, that doesn’t mean all you higher ed IT types can’t take advantage of the conference location to spend some quality time at a Disney theme park.
Educause has made arrangements with Disney to provide discounted park tickets to conference attendees (and accompanying guests). These discounted tickets are only available by contacting Educause conference staff. Conference staff will provide you with a link that can be used to order tickets. This link is not to be distributed widely (which is why I’m not providing it here…as an attendee, you need to make the contact).
The tickets that are available range from a 1-night twilight ticket (good anytime after 4 PM or for up to 4 hours before park closing if the park closes before 8 PM) to a 5-day park ticket (which is great if you’ve brought along your family with the idea that this is a family vacation). Discounted prices range from $75 for a 1-park twilight ticket to $289 for an adult 5-day park hopper ticket. Conference tickets are discounted from 6% to 12% (depending on the ticket type)….this is the best discount you will see on Disneyland theme park tickets. These tickets are only available for purchase through October 24th so if you’re planning on visiting Disneyland, get your tickets ASAP!
The remainder of this post is to provide you with background information that will help enhance your Disney experience while you are in Anaheim. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or need further information.
Special Halloween Events
Halloween is a special time at the Disney theme parks because of the additional holiday theming as well as special events and entertainment. Unfortunately Mickey’s Halloween Party is sold out for this year, but there is still lots of Halloween magic to experience including the Jack Skellington-themed Haunted Mansion Holiday, Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, and the always spooky Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. This will be your last chance to experience the Tower of Terror as the attraction closes permanently on January 2nd.
In addition, there are Dia de los Muertos decorations and activities, holiday-themed food and gifts, Disney characters dressed in their finest Halloween costumes, Main Street USA decorated with hundreds of unique Jack O’Lanterns as well as Disney’s Happiest Haunts Tour, a 2-hour historical walking tour of Disneyland Park.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Twilight Ticket
For those of you who are purchasing a twilight ticket, here are some tips that will get you the best experience for your limited amount of time
- Pay attention to park hours – Park hours vary from day to day and Disneyland Park will be closed early on Monday October 24th, Wednesday October 26th, and Saturday October 29th for guests of Mickey’s Halloween Party (which requires both a theme park admission and a separately purchased ticket). If you want to get the most out of your twilight ticket, go on Friday October 28th. Disneyland Park is open until midnight that night, thus giving you 8 hours of theme park time. If you want to see both parks, you can purchase a park-hopper twilight ticket which allows admission to both California Adventure and Disneyland Park on the same day. Start your evening at California Adventure and then walk across the plaza to Disneyland Park. During Educause, Friday night is the only night that Disneyland’s Fantasy in the Sky fireworks show will be performed.
- Download the free Disneyland app – If you have a smartphone, the official Disneyland app provides official wait times and fastpass return times, interactive maps (including attraction descriptions), entertainment and character schedules, and the ability to share/download your Disney PhotoPass photos.
- Take advantage of fastpasses and single-rider lines – Fastpass is a virtual queuing system which allows guests to avoid long lines at selected attractions thus freeing them to enjoy other attractions during their wait. The service is available at no additional charge to all park guests. There are a limited number of fastpasses distributed so there is the possibility that for a particular attraction all of the fastpasses may be distributed for the day by the time you arrive with your Twilight ticket. These are the attractions that run out most quickly so if these are available, you should pick these up first thing in the park: Indiana Jones, Space Mountain (Disneyland); Radiator Springs Racers, Soarin’ Around the World, Tower of Terror (California Adventure). All of these attractions (except Space Mountain and Soarin’) have single-rider lines so guests without fastpasses can still experience these headliner attractions without a long wait. California Screamin’, Goofy’s Sky School, Grizzly River Run, and the Matterhorn Bobsleds also have single-rider lines so take advantage of those lines to save some time.
General Park Strategies
If you decide you want to spend an entire day at the park, here are some tips to help maximize your time and experience at the parks:
- If you have a 3-day or longer park ticket (or if you are staying at one of the official Disneyland hotels), take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (EMH). Each day, one park is designated to be open one hour earlier only for guests staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel. This is a great time to experience headliner attractions which will have longer lines later in the day. For the week of Educause, Disneyland Park EMH is on Tuesday and Thursday, California Adventure EMH is on the other days of the week. Guests who are not staying onsite but who have purchased a 3-day or longer park ticket, can take advantage of EMH only at Disneyland Park and only one time during their stay.
- If you are not eligible for EMH, do not start your morning at the EMH park that day. There will already be several thousand people in the park by the time you arrive (with the consequent lines already in place).
- Lines are shortest in the morning and during the parades so plan to arrive 30-minutes prior to official opening (either EMH or non-EMH). Disney opens the entry area of each park (eg, Main Street, Buena Vista Street) before the official opening of the time in order to distribute people through the park. Food and retail stores will already be operating in those areas of the park so you can get a bite or do some shopping before the attractions open. Park hours are available on the Disneyland website.
- Use those fastpasses. Get your first one as soon as you get in the park and continue to get them when your window opens up (the time when you can pull your next fastpass is listed on the pass). If your next fastpass window opens up within an hour, consider doing the rides in that area with short lines until your fastpass window opens. After you’ve experienced your fastpass attractions, then go to another area of the park and do the same thing (pull a fastpass, then go on the rides with short lines until your fastpass window opens).
- Note that there are some fastpasses that are for shows (Frozen Ever After, World of Color). These are no restrictions on holding these fastpasses as they are actually tickets for you to attend a specific show (rather than a pass to get you into a fastpass line with a shorter wait). Frozen Ever After is a new show and the fastpasses for the show go quickly so if you are in California Adventure, head over to the Hyperion Theater early in the day to get a ticket for the show.
- By early afternoon, crowds will start building so this is the best time to see shows (Frozen Ever After, Mickey and the Magical Map, Royal Theater at Fantasy Faire, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Enchanted Tiki Birds, Turtle Talk With Crush) and go on high-capacity rides (It’s a Small World, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Little Mermaid).
Above all, don’t stress. You’re on vacation. Take a break in the middle of the day and chill. If you want to escape the crowds, catch the monorail over to Downtown Disney and have a drink and a bite at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar over at the Disneyland Hotel (magic happens when you order certain drinks). Using these tips and tricks will (hopefully) make Disneyland “The Happiest Place on Earth” as Walt originally intended it to be.
As a certified Disney Vacation Planner, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about your Disney experience!