If you want to immerse yourself in an old fashioned American celebration, then head to Disneyland on the 4th of July. From the patriotic decorations to the special entertainment and parades, you’ll find plenty to do during the daytime. After dark, you’ll have a great view of one of the county’s best Independence Day fireworks shows.
Many of the festivities planned to celebrate the 4th of July at Disneyland are actually offered on the days surrounding the holiday as well. Expect to see special fireworks, parades and entertainment for three or four days before the holiday, culminating on the big day.
The actual 4th of July will be crowded at both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. While there will be no way to avoid the crowds, using the Magic Mornings and Fastpass programs will make them more manageable. Even though conditions will be crowded, Disney pulls out some of the best entertainment of the year for Independence Day.
Arrive at the front gate of Disneyland or California Adventure prior to the park opening and make your way to one of the biggest and busiest park attractions. Whether you sprint for Space Mountain or make a run for Soarin’ getting to these busy destinations in the morning ensures that you’ll have the chance to ride.
Once you are in the park, bypass the shopping areas and Main Street and head for your favorite rides. The lines at opening are likely the shortest they will be all day. Enjoy an early breakfast at your hotel, or grab a snack on the go and explore the park until you want to break for lunch.
Consider heading to your hotel for lunch if you are staying at the Grand Californian or the Disneyland Resort. If you have small children or are traveling with a party of mixes ages, consider taking a rest or a nap in the afternoon. So much of the 4th of July entertainment at Disneyland takes place after dark, taking a break mid-afternoon will allow you to see everything there is to see in the evening.
While Disneyland experiences more moderate weather and temperatures than its Florida counterpart, it will still be hot on the 4th of July. Pack sunblock, wear comfortable clothing and pay a visit to some of the more watery rides like Splash Mountain to stay cool during the hottest part of the day. If you do get overheated or burnt, head to the onsite First Aid center located in each park for assistance.
Don’t forget to use the Fastpass kiosks at some of the most popular rides. Waits on peak days like the 4th of July can be up to two hours for rides like Soarin; using a Fastpass cuts that time to about 10 minutes. Fastpass is free and available to everyone with a park ticket. You do not need to stay at a Disneyland resort to take advantage of the Fastpass program.
Expect to see several parades throughout the day. If there is a particular parade you are interested in seeing, you’ll need to save your seat about a half hour before the performance begins. If you don’t you may find yourself trying to catch glimpses of the floats from several rows back.
Bring along your camera and an autograph book when you visit Disneyland on the 4th of July. Since the park will be crowded, you can expect to see more characters than usual. Get in an autograph line while everyone else is busy watching a parade and you won’t have to wait as long. You can also snap photos of Mickey, Minnie and pals in Independence Day finery–red, white and blue themed outfit’s they done only in July.
If you decide to stay in the park all day and all night, take a breather in the mid-afternoon and visit some of the specialty shops in Disneyland. Whether you look for memorabilia from a favorite movie or featuring a favorite character, you’ll find plenty of offerings you won’t be able to pick up anywhere else.
While you shop, keep an eye out for special 4th of July themed collectibles and gear. Look for pins, Vinylmation characters, t-shirts and even sparkly red, white an blue mouse ears. You can also find light-up and novelty sparklers for after dark fun; some of these items are only available for the 4th of July.
If you caught the parades early in the day, then skip the early evening versions, they are identical. Instead, head to whatever rides you missed. The 4th of July is different from most holidays in Disneyland. While the park will be just as crowded, people will be sticking around until the end of the night to catch the fireworks programs.
Since everyone will be hanging around, expect the crowd levels to stay consistent until closing. If the park is offering two fireworks shows, one in the early evening and one late at night, the crowd will thin out a bit after the first pyrotechnic performance.
Once night falls, decide where you want to sit to watch the fireworks. While the World of Color and regular fireworks programs at Disneyland are great, expect to be amazed by the 4th of July Display.
You will begin to hear announcements about the fireworks about a half hour before the show. Look for a seat at this time. If you wait, you will end up standing for the program; you may not be able to find a good viewing area at all. Remain seated for the program–it is riveting and you won’t want to move around much anyway, but the park will be very dark and difficult to navigate.
Once the last fireworks conclude, either sprint for the exit or wait for a while, don’t get stuck in the middle of the pack. The 4th of July in Disneyland is one of the busiest days of the year. Every guest you’ve shared the park with during the day will be heading for the exit at the same time. You need to either be the first out of the gate or opt out of the rush entirely. Sit on a bench and watch the crowds pass you by. Once they begin to thin out, you’ll be able to walk to the exit at your leisure, without getting trampled or run down by a stroller.