Possible to do Disneyland the park in one day?

Edited: December 29, 2017, 12:05 AM

I'm a SoCal native but haven't visited Disneyland in a while. However, I'm going to Disneyland for one day and decided just to visit Disneyland and save California Adventure for later. Is it possible to squeeze in all the main rides and some shows into one 16 hour frame? And if so can someone tell me how I should do it? (i.e. visit this land first and get fastpasses here and such)

Replies (6)

December 29, 2017, 1:03 AM

We touched on this topic about a month ago on another discussion forum, "How many attractions should you be able to get in during a full day at Disneyland?". Hopefully Robert doesn't get rid of this link and my post.


December 29, 2017, 7:13 AM

To answer your question....no

December 29, 2017, 10:36 AM

Douglas Hindley did every ride in both parks in one day. He looked a bit frazzled in the pictures as the day went on, but he did everything. It took careful planning and lots of stamina.

December 29, 2017, 11:27 AM

Based on my experience, you would need a day when the park was open for at least 14 hours and start at rope drop. If you are going alone, using single rider queues and Maxpass to manage Fastpasses and track wait times, you could do every attraction in the park in one day. (Hit Space Mountain first.)

But it will wipe you out like no other day in the parks ever has.

The better plan is to hit the highlights, and yes, that it very possible in one comfortable day. YMMV based on your cut line for "highlights," of course.

December 29, 2017, 7:33 PM

It is possible to do everything at Disneyland in a single day, but doing so is exhausting and relies on a bit of luck. However, it is relatively easy to do all of the tier 1 & 2 attractions, as well as a handful of tier 3 rides, in a 16 hour day. For a one-day visit where you're trying to do as much as possible, I recommend the following:

1. Pick a day where Disneyland does not offer early entry and arrive at the resort at least an hour before opening. Due to crowds at the parking entrance and security checkpoint, it isn't uncommon for it to take 45 minutes to get from the parking entrance to the front gate.
2. Position yourself in a good spot to enter Tomorrowland. As soon as the park opens, head directly to Space Mountain and jump in line. Don't bother with Fastpass...you should be on and off in about 10 minutes.
3. Ignore the rest of Tomorrowland for now and head directly to Fantasyland. Here, try to get on Alice in Wonderland, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride before the lines build (order doesn't matter much). Ignore Peter Pan's Flight for now...it quickly develops a long line, but it maxes out much lower than larger rides in the park.
4. After completing the above Fantasyland attractions, grab a Fastpass for Indiana Jones Adventure and a showpass for Fantasmic, then hit the E-tickets on the western side of the park while waiting for your return time. Ideally, you want to complete Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Splash Mountain before 10:30 A.M. If that's not possible, skip Pirates for later...it has the highest capacity of the four. When it is time to use your Indy Fastpass, return to the ride, then do any other E-tickets on the western side of the park.
5. Head back to Tomorrowland and grab a Fastpass for Star Tours. By this point, crowds are probably starting to build, so the exact order of attractions probably won't matter much. I recommend doing as much in Tomorrowland as you can before your return time, then grab a Fastpass for another attraction and use the app to guide the rest of your day. If there are Fastpass attractions you haven't ridden yet (or that you want to re-ride), make sure to keep getting Fastpasses as soon as you are able to do so. Shows are best enjoyed in the afternoon, as it is extremely rare you won't make the next showing. If you're not interested in the daytime parade, try Fantasyland at that time for somewhat shorter waits. For the fireworks, watch from the Fantasmic viewing area if you attend the first showing, or stake out a spot on the west side of the hub at least 30 minutes before showtime. Lastly, note that many people will leave after the fireworks and final Fantasmic showing, so the last hour is a great time to snag a few re-rides on the E-tickets.

If this is likely to be your only visit for some time, I highly recommend purchasing Maxpass. It is more of a convenience than anything, but it can save over an hour of walking if you'll be there for a full day. Also, if you're visiting by yourself or with just one other person, consider using Single Rider at Indiana Jones Adventure, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Splash Mountain, and Space Mountain (if available) to save a ton of time.

December 30, 2017, 11:22 AM

My name has been uttered, conjuring me into this discussion.

Based on general knowledge, and my "both parks' rides in a single day" achievement Mr. Koehl noted above, here's my input. (AJ's advice is quite spot on too.)

The first few park hours are critical, so definitely give yourself more time before rope drop than you'd think necessary. It'll take at least 30 minutes to get parked and then reach the park gates, and this is before the crowds get really bonkers. And you want to be at those entry gates maybe 30 minutes before the park opens, so you'll have a prime spot for rope drop. Try if possible for a mid-week day, preferably a Mon/Wed/Fri when hotel guests get early entry into DCA.

While AJ will first dash into Tomorrowland, I like to start in Fantasyland where all the rides have low capacity and no FastPasses and short ride times. My order in there is Peter Pan (it's "rope drop" or "last hour" for riding Pan), Dumbo/Alice, Alice/Dumbo, Mr. Toad, Casey Jr., the other two dark rides (Pinocchio, Snow White), and Storybook Land (it's the longest ride time of this bunch). Perhaps add a side trip from Alice to the Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland if you're going for competionism. (It's low capacity like Dumbo and not really worthwhile unless it's a walk-on.)

With MaxPass, you can start collecting FastPasses from anywhere. Space Mountain runs out first, so get that first. Get your next pass as soon as possible; don't wait until after using up your existing pass. Generally, my 2nd pass will be for the next FP ride nearest Space Mountain, then so forth slowly moving from east to west in order to minimize racing all over (so roughly Space Mountain, Star Tours/Matterhorn, etc.). MaxPass makes that less of an issue.

ToonTown opens an hour later than the rest of the park, so if you get there at its "rope drop" after mostly completing Fantasyland then you should be able to conquer Roger Rabbit and then the Go-Coaster in under 10 minutes.

Do whatever else needs riding in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland - the Autopia, Buzz Lightyear, Carousel, Tea Party, etc. I would suggest waiting until evening to do the Nemo Submarines, because even with a short line they take eons to finish and time is precious in the morning. Come back later for those.

The west side rides generally take longer and have higher capacity, so that's a good place to be later in the day. Use Single Rider on Indiana Jones (ask a cast member at the standby entrance for a SR ticket) and Splash Mountain (found at the ride's exit). Stuff like the Railroad and Mark Twain are great ways to unwind when the crowds get heavier.

(Single Rider seems more hit-of-miss on Space Mountain and Matterhorn, so work those into your morning FP strategy. Even if you're with a couple other people, still use Single Rider - you can still queue together - so it's totally worth using to save potentially hours of line time.)

Around the afternoon hopefully you'll have accomplished plenty of the big-ticket rides. Now you can see whatever else there is while working around the show schedule. Don't forget to do stuff like the Tiki Room, and grab a Dole Whip from the waiting area side. If your touring plan is working really well, take some afternoon time for a leisurely meal too - that'll keep your energy levels up through the evening on what's likely to be a tiring day. (Advanced strategy: Ride the Monorail into Downtown Disney and eat at someplace snazzy.)

At night, do as AJ advises to see the parades, fireworks and Fantasmic. If there are multiple showings for Fantasmic, do the later one (there are fewer crowds, and you don't have to stake out a viewing spot for as long). During the earlier Fantasmic, do big rides when the lines are shorter.

And have a great day!

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