How To Do Disneyland In One Day

Since we’ve been married we’ve been fortunate enough to go to Disneyland 3 times. Each time we’ve been we’ve never had more than one day in Disneyland. Needless to say, we’ve become really good at getting all of Disneyland done in one day.

This one day plan will give you a detailed guide on how to do all the main rides and attractions of Disneyland in one day. We won’t cover food because realistically you can eat wherever you want whenever you want. Plus, Disneyland let’s you bring in your own food so pack lots of snacks and water.

There are also a few optional things you can do to make your day in Disneyland longer, if something is considered optional, we will make that very obvious as it usually comes at an additional cost or involves cutting something else out of your day.

Last thing before we get started, during our times at Disneyland we’ve learned some fun facts and throughout this post we will share some of them with you.

Fun Fact: Disney Cast Members are not allowed to point with one finger (considered rude in some cultures so they always use two fingers) or say “I don’t know”.

Here is everything we want to accomplish when we go to Disneyland:

Ride (for sure):

  • Space Mountain
  • Astro Blasters
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Indiana Jones
  • Splash Mountain
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Peter Pan’s Flight

Ride (if time allows):

  • Mad Tea Party
  • It’s A Small World
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • Autopia
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mark Twain Riverboat

See:

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Disney Parade
  • Disney Fireworks

Eat:

  • Dole Whip
  • Mickey Beignet

Now, in order to get everything done in one day you’ll need to start your morning early.

Optional Choice: If you stay at the Disneyland Hotel, the Grand Californian, or Paradise Pier you get a free Magic Morning. Magic Morning allows you into the park one hour earlier than regular park guests. These hotels start at about $300 per night so this is definitely optional. If you choose to do this, we suggest riding Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean then getting an Indiana Jones FASTPASS as soon as the park officially opens to everyone. These mornings alternate between Disneyland and California Adventure, Disneyland’s days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday which means you should stay either Monday, Wednesday, or Friday night at the hotel.

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We have never actually been there right at opening and have still been able to get everything done that we wanted to. If you want to get everything done then we suggest getting there at least a half hour before open. This means getting there at 7:30am or 8:30am depending on the morning you go.

The first thing you need to do is get a Space Mountain FASTPASS. Space Mountain is almost always the ride with the longest line. We’ve seen it as long as 3 hours!! We will assume this FASTPASS has a return time of 1:10pm – 2:10pm. This means we can not hold another FASTPASS until 1:10 pm. Since we’ve never actually been at the park right at open, the line is usually already over an hour by the time we get in and that is going to really cut into our day.

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Optional Choice: do the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. It is usually a short line so you won’t wait long but you can definitely skip it as it is more geared towards the kids. It is very close to Space Mountain so it won’t take much to tack it on.

One of our favourite rides, since we’re a competitive family, is Astro Blasters. Astro Blasters is a Toy Story themed ride where you need to shoot lasers at targets to receive points. The nice thing is it’s really close to Space Mountain so you don’t have to go far. By now the line should be around 30 minutes which we can wait in.

Fun Fact: The high score on Astro Blasters is over 2,000,000. Out of our family the best we’ve ever got was 248,000.

After getting the new high score (send us a screen shot if you did because that’s amazing), we might want to take a quick break and grab a snack. We always bring our own food but there are two things in Disneyland that are must-buys. Unfortunately, we only just learnt about one of them so we have never actually tried it, the Mickey Beignet. These usually are sold out by noon and are only available at the Mint Julep Bar and Cafe Orleans. Now would be a good time to go and grab one of them.

After eating our delicious treat, we want to go to one of the rides which usually has the longest rides. Since it will still be morning, we want to get in line for a ride that has a short line but usually has a really long line. For us, it’s always a decision between Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain. Whichever of those two rides has the shorter line, we get in that line. We will use our next FASTPASS that we can get at 1:10pm on the other ride. So, if Splash Mountain only has a 40 minute wait and Indiana Jones has a 60 minute wait, get in line for Splash Mountain and then at 1:10pm we will get an Indiana Jones FASTPASS.

Fun Fact: Mad Tea Party has tea cups with varying speeds. The orange teacup with diamonds and the purple one are the fastest spinners. The two teacups with hearts are the slowest.

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After Splash Mountain we will head to Pirates of the Caribbean. This ride has no FASTPASS and it is nice and close to both Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain. It also does not have FASTPASS so if we want to do this ride, which we do, we will have to wait for it no matter what. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Haunted Mansion both have FASTPASS so we will use our last FASTPASS of the day on whichever of those has the longest wait time. Remember, though, we can not get another FASTPASS until the start time of our Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain FASTPASS time has started. This means whichever of those two we don’t want to FASTPASS, we will wait in line for right after Pirates of the Caribbean.

Let’s take a break and recap where we’re at so far:

  • Got a Space Mountain FASTPASS for return between 1:10pm – 2:10pm
  • Rode Astro Blasters
  • Ate a Mickey Beignet
  • Rode Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain (whichever line was shorter)
  • Rode Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Rode Haunted Mansion/Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (whichever line was shorter)

Now let’s look at things we still want to do:

  • Ride Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad/Haunted Mansion
  • Ride Space Mountain
  • Eat Dole Whip
  • Get Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain FASTPASS
  • Ride Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain
  • Ride Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Ride Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Meet Mickey Mouse
  • Watch the parade
  • Watch the fireworks

Let’s assume now it is 1:10pm, which means we should go to Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain, whichever we haven’t rode yet, and get a FASTPASS for that ride. Let’s assume our return time is between 5:10pm – 6:10 pm which means at 5:10pm we can get our next FASTPASS.

To get to the ride we should do next we have to go right by the Tiki Juice Bar, which means it’s time for Dole Whip. This is a must for us because it is the most delicious thing to eat in all of Disneyland and you can’t even argue with us! 🙂

Fun Fact: Club 33 is a private club in New Orleans Square. Club 33 is also the only place in Disneyland that sells alcohol. Club members pay $10,000 a year plus a $25,000 non-refundable initiation fee and there’s a 14-year waiting list to join.

After eating our Dole Whip, we need to make sure we use our FASTPASS so we will go to Space Mountain and ride it. The FASTPASS line is usually still long and in our experience we still wait about 10-20 minutes which is significantly shorter than what the normal line will be.

After Space Mountain, we will head over to the Matterhorn Bobsleds which is in Fantasyland. This ride is another one that is notoriously long to wait for but we have always had really good success going in the single rider line. The reason this works so well is that the bobsleds for this ride seat 5, that means when a family of 4 or 2 pairs get in there is always a leftover seat for you. Sometimes you even get lucky like my family did this past trip, my dad, mom, and brother all got on the same bobsled. If you really want to ride together then you’ll have to wait in line and who knows how long that will be. Taking the single rider line is one of the best ways to cut down on waiting in line and we’ve always had the best success at this ride.

Fun Fact: Walt Disney had an apartment above the Disneyland Fire Station. When he was at the park he would always have the light on in the window. Since his passing, the light has been permanently on.

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We will skip all the rides in Toontown because they’re very “kiddie” rides and aren’t something that will give us a ton of enjoyment. We still go there and walk around because it’s such a cool place to be and the best place to see Mickey Mouse, at Mickey Mouse’s house, which we’ve done the past couple times. This wait is usually 30-60 minutes and since you’re in Disneyland, you gotta see Mickey. After that we should head to finish the rest of Fantasyland.

In Fantasyland, the rides we like to ride are Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Peter Pan’s Flight. These rides do not have FASTPASS available so we will have to wait in line. We’ve never waited much longer than 30 minutes for either of these rides so after an hour or so these rides will both be done.

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Optional Choice: You can add It’s A Small World to your day but the wait is usually much longer there, although FASTPASS is available there, but remember the FASTPASS rules, which mean you’ll have to wait in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or skip it and do It’s A Small World instead.

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Now, the Disney Parade times vary by the day so you will need to check that before you go. Usually the parade is either 3:30pm or 6pm and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday it’s usually both. We’ve always been there over a weekend when both times are available so what we do is we watch the parade at the 6pm and make sure we get good seats that have both a good view of the parade but also a good view of the castle so we can stay in the same spot for the Disney Fireworks. By now it’s probably close to 5pm. This means we should start looking at getting seats for the parade. The parade route can be found on the Disneyland Map but it basically runs from It’s A Small World to the end of Main Street so anywhere along there is a good seat for the parade, but we want to have the same seat for the fireworks which have projections on the castle so we want to be on the north side of the Walt Disney statue between that and the castle along the right hand side to see the parade best. An hour should be enough time to get the seats you want.

Fun Fact: Disneyland has about 200 feral cats that they release at night to catch mice within the park.

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Now that we have the seats we want, we need to use our Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain FASTPASS, but we don’t want to lose our seats either. Since we’re saving seats for the parade and fireworks we will have to take turns riding Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain in groups. Not a big deal because good seats for the parade and fireworks are definitely worth it. Also, we can now get another FASTPASS for another ride. So, on our way to Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain, we will stop by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad/Haunted Mansion and get a FASTPASS for whichever one we haven’t done yet. Hopefully they are still distributing FASTPASS tickets for whichever ride we are yet to do because if the day is really busy they might have run out. Make sure you take everyone’s park tickets (including those saving seats for the parade and fireworks) to get the FASTPASS so everyone can return as early as possible. Once the first group has ridden Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain the other group can now go and be back just in time for the parade to start.

As of now, the Pixar Fest parade is fantastic. This last time we went was the second day of Pixar Fest, both the parade and the fireworks, and as always, Disney did a fantastic job with them and it was spectacular.

Time for another recap of what we’ve done:

  • Got a Space Mountain FASTPASS for return between 1:10pm – 2:10pm
  • Rode Astro Blasters
  • Ate a Mickey Beignet
  • Rode Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain (whichever line was shorter)
  • Rode Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Rode Haunted Mansion/Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (whichever line was shorter)
  • Ride Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Ride Space Mountain
  • Eat Dole Whip
  • Get Indiana Jones/Splash Mountain FASTPASS
  • Ride Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Ride Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Meet Mickey Mouse
  • See the parade

We still have to:

  • Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad/Haunted Mansion
  • Watch the fireworks

We are making good time so far because as soon as the parade finishes we can go ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad/Haunted Mansion while waiting for the fireworks to start. Again, since we want to save our seats for the parade, we will have to go ride in groups. If our FASTPASS return time is good for anytime between 8pm – 9pm, then we can use those. Otherwise, we will have to wait in line. The line shouldn’t be too long and both groups should be able to wait in line, ride the ride, and get back to our seats in time for the fireworks.

Fun Fact: The Dream Suite is a luxury apartment above Pirates of the Caribbean. It is meant to entertain VIP guests but Disney selects random park guests to stay there, too!

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The Disney Pixar Fest fireworks we saw while we were there this past time were amazing. We won’t give a lot away but there was a flying object in the sky that was very Pixar. It may or may not have involved balloons, sorry if that gave it away.

After the fireworks it is time to get some sleep after a very long and exhausting, but hopefully fun, day.

One last recap of everything we did:

We rode:

  • Space Mountain
  • Astro Blasters
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Indiana Jones
  • Splash Mountain
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Peter Pan’s Flight

We saw:

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Disney Parade
  • Disney Fireworks

We ate:

  • Dole Whip
  • Mickey Beignet

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Hopefully the next time you are in Disneyland you have more than one day to enjoy it, but if you’re crazy like us and have to get it all done in one day then this plan might just be a lifesaver for you as it was for us.

Fun Fact: The Matterhorn has a basketball court inside it for cast members to play on their break.

Next week we will go over how to do all of Disneyland in one day with kids so look out for that post.

Never stop adventuring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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