This isn’t your typical “Disneyland Tips” post, we are diving deeper and letting you in on the secrets to hitting up all the rides in both parks in ONE DAY!
If you haven’t noticed already, we kind of love Disneyland. A few weeks ago we went without any of our kids (yes, kids make it more “magical” but when you are wanting to get on all your favorite rides in the span of ONE day.. kids will just slow you down LOL). I can honestly say that this trip was the most productive trip we have ever done to Disneyland. Ok, Ok I know this isn’t an actual “FOOD” post or a “RECIPE” (I know you are thinking, “wait, isn’t this Favorite Family RECIPES”?) .. but maybe consider this post as a “recipe” for the perfect day at Disneyland. 🙂
We followed all of these tips and it made our trip unbelievably awesome. We endured rain, heat, and over 15 miles of walking (Emily did about 17 miles because she was our “runner”.. more about that later) all in ONE day. It. Was. Awesome. We went on a fairly busy day, yet we hit every single “big” ride in BOTH parks and still even rode some of the small “classic” rides like Peter Pan and It’s A Small World. We did everything we wanted to do, yet we really weren’t rushing too much, we still had time to sit and enjoy meals throughout the day.
Before I get into the ride tips, allow me to help you out in your vacation booking process:
One little tip about actually booking your trip is to TALK to a travel planner to get the best deals before you go: The key word here is TALK. I know there are millions of places you can book your travel through online but we have ALWAYS found the best deals when we talk to an actual travel agent. The past few years we have booked through Get Away Today and we always will… why? Because they actually have people you can TALK to.
Yes, they have deals online– but they can get you the best deals when you give them a call. They have actually *been* to almost all of the hotels in and around Disneyland and they know their stuff. They can even tell you which of the hotels have the best free breakfast buffets… because they have actually eaten at them. This last trip we called them up and told them exactly what we were looking for– something with big rooms (with the bedroom separate from the living area and a full kitchen), a *good* breakfast buffet, a pool (and hot tub), within walking distance to the park (but a shuttle available if we were too beat to walk back… which happened to be the case) and all for a decent price. If you are looking to book a trip be sure to use our discount code FAVORITE for extra savings!
We stayed at the Homewood Suites by Hilton and it was exactly what we wanted.. and more! They had a full-on breakfast buffet so we could fill up on good food before going into the park. They also had appetizers around dinnertime so we could come get a bite to eat and go back to the park. The rooms were very clean and family-friendly. We loved having a fridge that we could keep snacks and food cold in. Here are a few pictures so you can see how nice this hotel is:
Ok… we are getting closer to the tips, but first, a quick disclaimer: Obviously sometimes it will be impossible to hit up ALL the rides in both parks in one day. If you go on a day where the crowd meter is at a “10”, it might be a little difficult to pull it off. If you go on a “ghost town” day, you might even be able to do all the rides several times! We went on a day that was between 7-8 on the crowd scale.. so we were dealing with some pretty decent crowds, yet we were still able to conquer Disneyland/California Adventure in one day. If you follow these tips, you should be able to knock out a decent amount, if not ALL the rides you want.
7 SECRET TIPS FOR HITTING UP ALL THE RIDES AT DISNEYLAND IN ONE DAY:
1. Don’t Waste Time Souvenir Shopping: Get the stuff you want to wear to Disneyland BEFORE you go. Don’t waste time in the gift shops when you could be on the rides! If you are wanting to get actual “DisneyParks” souvenirs, go to the DisneyParks shop in Downtown Disney on a day you don’t have a pass to the park. This will save you some major time. We bought our souvenirs the day after we were in the park. We didn’t feel rushed at all (we spend a couple hours there actually) and they had all the items from inside the park you could possibly hope for– plus they were all the “DisneyParks” brand so you know they are the exact same as what you can get in the park!
2. Wear the right clothes: If you look around other sites with Disneyland Tips, they will tell you to dress comfortably… I am going to go one step further and say, “dress REALLY comfortably”. I am talking workout/yoga pants, tennis shoes, and a light weight shirt (avoid black if you can– black will make you feel 5-degrees hotter in hot weather but on the flip-side if you are willing to wear white, it can cool you down by the same amount). Bring a light-weight wind-breaker.. NOT a sweatshirt. A wind-breaker will keep you warm AND dry, plus is it light weight. You can roll it up and it hardly takes up any room. Sweatshirts on the other hand are bulky, will absorb water, and weigh you down– you need to be able to MOVE if you are going to go on all the rides!
Wear stretchy, form fitting workout pants. They dry quickly and work great for hot or cold weather. Opt for shorter yoga pants in the summer and long ones in the winter. Avoid jeans at all costs (even denim shorts). Have you ever walked around in wet jeans? I have too.. not fun. They NEVER dry! The last thing you want is to be in wet jeans all day- it will make your day miserable.
3. Eat at the “Walk-Up” places: Get in and get out. If you are really wanting to hit up the rides hard, skip the sit down dining. On this last trip, we opted to do one “sit down” place and eat the rest of our meals on-the-go. If you must sit down to dine, be sure you have a reservation booked in advance (the sooner the better). Keep in mind, just because you have a set reservation time, that doesn’t mean you will be seated at that time. Your reservation time and the time you are actually seated can be two very different times. You will want to check in at your reservation time (or slightly earlier) but still be prepared to wait up to an hour on busy days. Know your dining time and give yourself a little wiggle room between fast passes.
4. Be strategic about what rides to go on and when: Before you go, download a Disneyland rides app to your phone. This is crucial. MouseWait, Mouse Addict, and Disneyland Explorer are the most popular. Choose the one that you find suits you best (read reviews HERE). These will give you accurate wait times and a heads up on any unexpected ride closures (so you aren’t running across the park just to find out a ride is closed for maintenance). When you first get to the park, get Fast Passes (see #6) and then go against the flow. Spend the first part of the day over in Frontier Land and the water rides… people usually wait until the afternoon to go on these rides because they don’t want to get wet and cold. Put on your windbreakers and go to these rides FIRST– think about what a typical tourist would do.. and do the opposite. Who cares if you get a little wet, because you are prepared and dressed for it 🙂 (see #2)
5. Focus on the popular rides and fit in the smaller rides in between fast pass times: This kind of goes along with #4 because it involves some strategy. When I say “hit ALL the rides in one day”, I am talking about all the popular, big rides. The ones with fast pass options. I’m not talking about the “Dumbo” ride and “Alice in Wonderland”… you can probably fit in a few of these types of rides (as I mentioned, we did Small World and Peter Pan and a few smaller ones in California Adventure) but hit them up in between your fast pass times when you have 30-45 minutes to kill (check your app to see the wait times and decide from there).
6: Have a “Runner” (and more Fast Pass secrets you NEED to know): Designate someone to be your “runner”– this is someone who will take your tickets and get the fast passes for everyone in the group. You can take turns being the “runner” or you can have one person do it. Emily is a FastPass PRO and did most of the running for us. You will want to get a new fastpass as soon as you possibly can (it will tell you on your fastpass card when you are allowed to get a new fastpass). If you have time to kill in between fast passes, this is your time to go on rides with small wait times.
When you first get to the park, get fast passes for the shows you would want to go to (Fantasmic! or World of Color) and then go for your most popular rides (Cars or Space Mountain). The “show” fast passes are separate from the “ride” fast passes, so you can get a show pass without waiting to get a fast pass for a ride.
Now, this is VERY important when it comes to FastPasses: Everyone has to be checked into a park to get a fast pass. To make it VERY clear… don’t send one person into the park to get all your fast passes early. EVERY PERSON needs to be checked in to a park for them to get a FastPass (it doesn’t matter WHICH park.. they just need to be in one of the parks). When we were standing in the FastPass line for Cars, the man ahead of us got all of his family’s tickets and went to get fast passes while his family was still getting ready… BIG MISTAKE. He could only get a fastpass for himself because the others hadn’t gotten to the park yet. DON’T MAKE THIS MISTAKE. You will be sorry!
Also, something to keep in mind- always keep your eye on the rides you have fast passes for. If that ride closes at all during that hour of your fast-pass time, you can go back ANY time throughout the day and ride (this actually HELPED us several times and gave us more flexibility). Just have your fastpass ready when you decide to ride and let the workers in the fast-pass line know that it was closed during your time.. they will let you in the Fast Pass line, no problem.
7. Do Single-rider (and parent switch if you have kids): These two things are just awesome. If you are really wanting to cram in the rides– do single rider! We would do the single rider option in between our fast-pass times. You will have a fraction of the wait (seriously, a lot of times you can just WALK on). No, you don’t get to sit by the people in your group, but you will all get to ride on the ride without waiting long at all! You can stand in line with them and everything– you probably just won’t sit next to them on the ride. Because we constantly had Fast Passes, we got to sit by each other on almost all the rides. Really, we only had to do single-rider a few times– and it was SO worth it because it gave us more time to do other rides that we COULD do together. Consider it. Here are the attractions that offer single rider:
- California Screamin’
- Goofy’s Sky School.
- Grizzly River Run.
- Indiana Jones Adventure.
- Radiator Springs Racers.
- Soarin’ Over California.
- Splash Mountain.
- The Matterhorn.
Also, if you are doing Disneyland with small kids who can’t go on the big rides. Do the “rider switch”. Take the smaller kid(s) to ride on a smaller ride while the first parent and older kids are in line and then do a switcheroo.. (a couple of the older kids will be able to ride TWICE.. win-win for them). Go to the entrance of any ride and the worker will tell you how to do the rider switch. SUPER easy and SO worth it!