Disneyland resort is the original Disney park, and now home to my favorite park; California Adventure. Each park offers a unique experience that seems to be ever changing lately. The best way to enjoy this location is over a minimum of 2 days, and there’s a few reasons why.
Yes, You Need At Least 2 Days
The parks are right next door to each other, so it seems like park hopping would be a breeze! But in reality it takes a good chunk of time and adds a lot of extra steps to an already exhausting day. Even if you do plan to park hop, you’re not going to see everything. The parks are HUGE! And growing all the time! The sheer number of attractions is going to keep you busy, but then there will be lines that slow you down as well! If you’re absolutely sure 1 day is all you need check out this 1-day itinerary, otherwise here’s our advice for maximizing 2-days at Disneyland Resort
The best tip I can ever offer is to get out of bed and get to the parks before they open. It sounds like the absolute last thing you’ll want to do on vacation, I know. But it will help you get a good start on the day, and give you some free time in the afternoon at the height of Southern California heat.
The ideal attraction for rope drop is Space Mountain, so head there ASAP. The attraction does not have a single rider line, most of the queue is outdoors, and it’s near the entrance which means everyone makes a beeline for it. After that, make your way over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and use MaxPass (or a runner) to secure FastPasses for Splash Mountain. From Thunder Mountain go straight to the Matterhorn, another outdoor line that gets long quick. If you don’t mind single rider Matterhorn has that option.
By the time the crowds start rolling in, you’ll have knocked out the 3-4 biggest attractions at Disneyland. Which means you have time to enjoy a sit down lunch (or brunch) and make your way through the park at your own pace. You’ll want to use a FastPass for Star Tours, Peter Pan, and Indiana Jones. But otherwise you shouldn’t run into many lines. Start in Adventureland and work clockwise around the park.
By late afternoon you should have gotten through most of the Disneyland rides. If there’s any you want to ride again, skipping the fireworks will get you on them quick! But if you’re ready to wind you can grab a bit to eat and stake out your spot on Main Street. Fantasmic is a wonderful show at the back of the park, but you absolutely need to see the castle fireworks at least once.
MISSION: Breakout is still pretty new, so if you want to ride it rope drop is your best bet. You can then use a FastPass if you’d like to ride again. If you prefer something with a little less adrenaline head towards Radiator Racers. You’re next stop should be Soarin’ Over the World, if the wait is more than 45 minutes though get a fastpass. The majority of the queue is outside and even in the morning it can get hot fast.
If you’re ready to take on Grizzly River Rapids it is nearby, use the Single Rider line unless you absolutely can’t. With this trick you’ll practically walk right on, and the boats seat 8 so there’s a good chance you’ll end up with at least 1 other person in your party.
There’s still a lot to do, even as the crowds start coming, so you’ll want to grab a quick bite and head towards Pixar Pier. Grab a FastPass for Toy Story Midway Mania and stake out the line for Incredicoaster, the reincarnation of California Screamin’. California Screamin’ rarely had a line longer than 30 minutes, since the new version is almost identical I expect the same – but it hasn’t opened yet so I could be wrong.
Between Fastpasses checkout all that Pixar Pier has to offer, Mickey’s Fun Wheel and Ariel’s Undersea Adventure are two of my favorites. If you’re in need of a little break check out the Cove Bar/Lamplight Lounge to enjoy a colorful cocktail (non-alcoholic available) and take in the view.
Actually that’s the ideal location to be for World of Color, so if you’re down to hang for a while just stay put. I highly suggest checking out this show, even if it’s the only nighttime show you catch. It’s spectacular and I can’t think of any ride worth passing it up for.
Still want more? Check out my Best Strategies for Disneyland Resort. And don’t forget to sign-up for our newsletter so you never miss a thing!