How will the crowds be on Monday 16th Presidents Day at Disneyland?

February 12, 2015, 4:43 PM

I'm going to be in town for a convention and I have a chance to visit DLR for the first time! I have been to WDW going on 41 years now and I am excited at the possibility of visiting both parks. It should be very busy, but open late (bonus!). The possibilities are endless, yet limited. Unfortunately I will not get to the parks until after 2pm and cannot get there early. I already have my ticket (park hopper). What suggestions do you have for a newbie on Presidents Day?

Replies (4)

February 12, 2015, 6:23 PM

So let me see if I understand this correctly: You are a Walt Disney World veteran who will be visiting Disneyland for the first time on Monday, February 16th, you can't arrive until 2 P.M., and you've only got one day to tackle both parks? Good luck!

In all honesty, it is not impossible to do this, but you will be essentially doing a highlights trip. The parks will be busy, so expect waits of at least 60 minutes for headliners (they will drop off in the evening). It is both fortunate and unfortunate that many attractions are closed in preparation for the 60th anniversary (Splash Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Soarin' Over California are the big ones), so while you will miss some things it may discourage some from visiting.

Given your situation, I would suggest doing the following:

1. Get to the park as early as possible. If you can't get there until 2 P.M., then get there as close to 2 P.M. as you can. If you happen to get there early, great. Honestly, although it is a tough decision, I would probably recommend skipping DCA and only doing Disneyland if you end up arriving after 3 P.M.

2. Go to DCA first. As you have been to WDW many times, the only two must-rides for you here are California Screamin' and Radiator Springs Racers. However, if you wish to ride Tower of Terror to compare it with Florida, go grab a Fastpass for that first thing and then head to Paradise Pier. If you don't have a Tower Fastpass, get one for California Screamin', and if you do use Single Rider. After California Screamin' (or while waiting for the Fastpass), go ride Radiator Springs Racers using Single Rider. Once you've done these two rides (and used your Tower Fastpass if applicable), get over to Disneyland.

3. In Disneyland, grab a Fastpass for Indiana Jones Adventure. If none are available, go get one for Roger Rabbit's Car-Toon Spin instead. In Disneyland, you'll want to do Fantasyland and Toontown first, as these areas close early for the fireworks (Fantasyland reopens, Toontown doesn't). Other than Peter Pan (which is closed) and Snow White, you'll probably want to do all the dark rides in these areas. Use your Fastpass at the appropriate time, and then get one for another ride ASAP (try for Space or Thunder, and if both of these are out go for Star Tours).

4. After completing Fantasyland and Toontown, grab a quick dinner and then decide where you want to head next. Between 8 and 10 P.M., it will be difficult to cross the park. Four of the five remaining must-rides are on the west side of Disneyland (Indiana Jones, Pirates, Haunted Mansion, and Thunder Mountain), but this area tends to be a little difficult to navigate at night due to Fantasmic crowds. Tomorrowland only has one remaining must ride (Space Mountain), but there are a few other rides worth doing if you're stuck over here (Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear, and Nemo). Whatever you choose, do one, then switch sides about 10 P.M. to do the other. If you want to see Fantasmic, go to the second showing and you'll be able to get a decent spot 10 minutes before the show (standing room only).

I hope that helps. If you hadn't already purchased a ticket, I would recommend you hold off until a future visit, but following the above should allow you to experience the major headliners that don't exist in Florida as well as a few older classics. If you find that things are quicker than expected (or you have free time at the end), feel free to add other attractions. Just keep in mind the following:

-Allow a minimum of 7 hours for Disneyland. This means you need to hop over no later than 5 P.M.
-Disneyland has Fastpass on Autopia, Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure, Space Mountain, Roger Rabbit, and Star Tours. Do not count on Fastpasses being available for Indiana Jones Adventure or Space Mountain. Indiana Jones Adventure offers Single Rider, which is recommended if Fastpasses run out.
-DCA has Fastpass on California Screamin', Goofy's Sky School, Radiator Springs Racers, and Tower of Terror. Radiator Springs Racers Fastpasses will be long gone by the time you arrive, and Goofy's Sky School may have run out (though I don't recommend wasting time with that ride unless you count credits). It is also possible Tower of Terror will have a return time later than 5 P.M., so don't expect to use Fastpass at all at DCA (it's still worth a try, however). Fortunately, all of these attractions except Tower of Terror do offer Single Rider lines.
-Except for the attractions listed in the above plan, don't bother with any attractions that exist at WDW. The only exception would be the Jungle Cruise if time permits.
-Depending on lines and time, it may be advantageous to use the Disneyland Railroad to get from Toontown to wherever you're going next. If it makes sense to do so, I recommend riding the railroad along the Tomorrowland > Main Street section to see the Grand Canyon and Primeval World dioramas.
-You probably won't have time for shows, but if you happen to arrive early and the schedule works out I recommend seeing the Aladdin show at DCA. It's the best theme park show I've seen anywhere. Unfortunately, it is an hour-long show so you probably won't have time (it's not worth compromising time over at Disneyland just to see it).

Lastly, have a good time!

Edited: February 12, 2015, 7:12 PM

Awesome and thank you, AJ! You're a pro! I thought I posed a pretty good challenge and you knocked it out of the park! I was thinking of sticking to the front of DCA as far back as Cars Land, so no California Screaming. Head over to DL starting with Fantasyland as you suggested and hit the dark rides (hello again Mr. Toad and finally a chance to ride Alice in Wonderland!), possibly Car Toon Spin and definitely Pirates and Indiana Jones. Everything else is a bonus. Haunted Mansion and Thunder Mt would be nice, but not necessary. What am I looking forward to the most? ToT! I know it is different than DHS but my favorite ride of all time is ToT. A quick bite to eat, what do you think? No sit down but best food quality, must have snacks are good too.

Thank you again!

February 12, 2015, 8:25 PM

You're welcome. Disneyland is one of my local parks (it's the closet to me, but I spend more time at Knott's) and I've been an on and off passholder practically my whole life. I don't like to brag, but I have done every ride at the park in a standard operating day and did manage to get 40 rides in on a Black Friday, so I know it pretty well. As I have yet to visit Walt Disney World (or Florida in general), I don't know how those parks are, but it's quite easy to get a lot done at Disneyland even when it's busy.

As for California Screamin', if you're not really into roller coasters it makes sense to skip it as it is a serious roller coaster. In any other case, however, do not miss that ride. Although it is just a roller coaster, it's in my top 50 (out of over 350). If you're worried about the time to get back there, remember that the parks aren't very big. It is less than a ten minute walk from the gate of Disneyland all the way back to Roger Rabbit's Car-Toon Spin, and DCA is even smaller. Also remember that the entire Grizzly Peak area is closed, so that reduces the amount you have to explore significantly.

If Tower of Terror is a priority, definitely go get a Fastpass for it first thing if you can. If you check the wait time board in Buena Vista Street it will let you know if Fastpasses are unavailable so you don't have to go back there to discover they're out. While I haven't been on Florida's Tower (which everyone considers superior), I still think the California version is an outstanding ride and the best drop tower I've experienced.

As for food, it depends where in the park you are. Toontown and Tomorrowland don't really have anything good for food, but the Village Haus in Fantasyland isn't bad. If you're on the western side of the park, Bengel Barbeque in Adventureland and the River Belle Terrace in Frontierland are pretty good, though most say the French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square is the best counter service restaurant at the park (I rarely eat there so I can't say). I've also heard good things about the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café on Main Street, though I haven't been there myself. As for snacks, there are popcorn and churro carts throughout the park as well as the Dole whip stand outside the Enchanted Tiki Room. All of these are good, but none are musts (especially when the Dole whip stand gets a 45 minute wait...it does happen).

Edited: February 13, 2015, 8:51 AM

Lucky for you that many rides are closed for rehab in the Winter season (not really since temperatures are over 80 degrees). You'll miss DCA's Soarin' and the Rapids Ride and Disneyland's Splash Mountain. Just focus on what's not available at WDW, although Toy Story Mania is a shorter line at DCA (45 minutes) unlike DHS (120 minutes). You could skip Frozen Fun. Can't miss is Radiator Springs ride in Carsland. Recommend the Aladdin show. WDW won't have a photo op with the Marvel characters (Captain America or Thor) so go to Disneyland's Innoventions to get it. This photo op might end at dusk. It is hard to do both parks on a single day if this is your only visit.

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