Disneyland has lots of fun attractions to offer family members of all ages. There are stores, exhibits, parades, fireworks and of course, rides. Unfortunately, as with all crowded theme parks, one of the perennial pains of visiting Disneyland is the amount of time you can spend waiting to go on popular rides like Space Mountain or Peter Pan. There are some ways to help reduce waiting in lines at Disneyland.
First, plan your family vacation for the off-season. Going in the summer, on holidays, around spring break, and during other popular times will mean more people in Disneyland waiting in lines. Lines get longer and wait time for some of the most popular attractions can exceed an hour. Planning a vacation in January, February, October or early November means visiting the park when crowds are smaller, which translates to less wait time.
Also, what day of the week you visit the park can make a difference in the length of lines. Season pass holders generally believe that Tuesdays seem to be the least busy days. Mondays are busier because they are next to the weekend, and the same holds true for Fridays. If you can, try to visit Disneyland on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, as this too will minimize wait time.
Beyond picking the right season and day, it can pay off to be mindful of the time when you choose which attraction to visit. If the fairy tale-themed rides of Fantasyland are your favorite, plan to go during a parade or later at night when most of Disneyland's younger guests are either occupied or asleep. Naturally, arriving to the park early or planning to stay late will allow you to reach many rides without the crowds. Additionally, it is often useful to plan meals and snacks contrary to regular eating schedules. This will pay off in two ways, since you won't be waiting in line for food and you will have shorter lines for the good rides while everyone else is!
Disneyland also offers a FastPass which can be very useful, if you know how to best take advantage of it. The very busiest rides in the park have FastPass distribution machines at their entrances. With your passport (your day's ticket), you can receive a FastPass that will allow you to return to the ride later in the day and skip all or most of the line. Of course, as with many things, the FastPass is not always as easy to use as it may seem.
The return time stamped on the FastPass may be anywhere from an hour to four hours after the time that you get it. While you are free to ride any other rides in this time, you'll have to wait in line. In addtion, each guest's passport is only eligible to have one FastPass at a time. That means that if you are holding a FastPass for Space Mountain, you won't be able to get another one until the start of your return time. On the other hand, there is no limit to the number of FastPasses you may use within a day.
There are many Disney fan sites that discuss the use of the FastPass, and suggest possible bugs or hacks that will allow you to hold more than one at a time, but it's probably too much to count on them. It's also important to keep in mind that FastPasses are often not available during off-peak days, when the lines are already shorter, or at the end of very busy days when the machines have run out of paper.