Update to Disneyland and California Adventure in 1 day (spoiler - it went really badly)

October 18, 2015, 7:41 AM

This is an update to this thread: http://www.themeparkinsider.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=702

First of all I'd like to say a huge thanks to everyone for the feedback, especially AJ and Douglas since their advice was pretty much spot on :)

We started the day at Disney California, and managed to do everything (including the Aladdin show, and Soarin as an extra bonus) by mid day which made us super optimistic for the next park too.

We went straight to Indiana Jones and managed to grab a fast pass, and then a fast pass for the 10:30 Fantastmic showing too. This was around 2pm so we figured we had plenty of time to get on the other rides - wrong. Pretty much every single ride had a wait time of over 2 hours. We decided to go on Matterhorn Bobsleds since it had a wait of only an hour which was a huge mistake - the queue was outside in the blistering heat, and the ride itself was by far the worst across any of the parks we visited.

The queues were still showing over 2 hours, but we managed to find a ride we wanted to go on with a fast pass available (Star Tours) but it was for exactly the same time as the Fantasmic show.

At this point we were really tempted to go home, and honestly I wish we had. We had the idea to hope that queues for rides such as big thunder, splash mountain, space mountain, star tours and the haunted mansion would die down as the day went on but that wasn't the case. Haunted Mansion didn't drop below 2 hours queue time whilst we were there.

It's a shame as we're going to Japan early next year and we were keen to go to Disneysea, but this experience has pretty much killed any motivation we have to go to any more Disney parks again :(

tl;dr going to Disneyland on a hot Saturday with an organised event there is not a good idea :D

Replies (7)

Edited: October 18, 2015, 12:05 PM

I'm sorry to hear that you didn't have a good time at Disneyland. Had I known about those crowds, I would have advised you differently, but nobody expected them. Disneyland is always busy on October weekends, but for whatever reason this year has been the busiest on record for those dates. The day you visited, Disneyland was very close to closing the gates (they may have even done so briefly), and those kinds of crowds are practically unheard of outside of holiday periods. From what I heard, 96,000 people visited the parks that day when they are designed to hold around 70,000 comfortably.

Do not let this one experience ruin all of Disney for you. What you experienced was an anomaly and should not be taken as the norm. Go to Tokyo DisneySea...it is regarded as one of the best parks in the world, and when the time is right give Disneyland another chance. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed your time at DCA and I hope the rest of your trip worked out well for you, but it is very unfortunate that you ran into such bad luck.

Edited: October 18, 2015, 5:29 PM

Man was this post is depressing...

Sorry you guys had a bad time.

The reason you probably did not enjoy Matterhorn is because you went on the right side. At a point in the line, it splits up into two sets of switchbacks- a right side and a left side. Many people assume that it does not matter which side you go on, but it does. Matterhorn is actually two different roller coasters. The left side lets you ride one of the coasters and the right side lets you ride the other. Usually there is a cast member who directs you to one side or the other. However, if you ask, you can go on the side that the cast member is not directing you towards. Now the question is which side is superior? Although some might disagree, almost everyone says the left side is superior. It is faster, has more drops, and is overall a better experience. I know a lot of people who said they hated Matterhorn, and then I told them to go on the left side. Now they all love it!

Also, these Disney lines now a days are crazy. I remember going to Disneyland on Saturdays about 6 or 7 years ago and being upset that Peter Pan was a 30 minute wait. Then I went to Disneyland on Wednesday 10/14 (we happened to have school off for no reason that day) and Peter Pan was a 30 minute wait. That just shows how crowded Disney has gotten in the last few years.

If I were you, I would still go to TDS as it is one of the best Theme Parks in the world! However, I've heard from a friend of a friend who lives in Tokyo that TDS regularly gets 4 hour plus waits.

October 18, 2015, 10:16 PM

The Tokyo Disney parks are always packed, but the crowds there are unlike those in the US theme parks.

Imagine a park where everyone read TPI, or some equivalent, and followed every optimization rule in the book. That's the Tokyo theme parks. You'll need to arrive at least an hour before park opening, and run (literally - people in the Tokyo parks sprint at rope drop) to your first Fastpass location and first ride, in quick succession. I'd suggest running for Journey to the Center of the Earth, getting a Fastpass for that, then riding 20K next door. Most people run for Toy Story, but it's the same ride as the US parks, so I'd save a ton of time by skipping it and opting for TDS-unique attractions instead.

Despite the crowds, you will enjoy the best theme park visit of your life at Tokyo DisneySea - though it might spoil you for all future theme park visits! ;^)

Edited: October 19, 2015, 6:13 AM

At least the first half of your day went well!

In my brief experience with today's DLR (a five day trip in 2013) it was readily apparent that DCA was significantly better at accommodating masses of people than Disneyland (it has much wider walkways and modern queues). Perhaps if you had started your day at Disneyland, then gone to DCA things would have worked out better. Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but more than anything, trying to do both parks in one day is probably never a good idea. However, if you only have one day you have to do what you have to do.

October 19, 2015, 10:28 AM

That's just it. One day is tough and will make you not enjoy yourself.

Edited: November 10, 2015, 8:44 AM

Thank you all again for the replies (and sorry for late reply myself!) - it's crazy to hear that they almost closed the gates on that date! It was unbearably busy, I mean I've been to a lot of busy theme parks before but I've never seen anything close to this.

It's typical too that on one of the busiest nights, the fireworks were cancelled due to the weather also :(

Thanks for the tips on Matterhorn, to be honest I wouldn't be surprised if we were on the left side (faster, more dips) but our main take away was that it just felt very rough and unsafe, we both came away hating it, and it put us off going on Big Thunder which we probably would've enjoyed :)


Luckily there isn't anything at Tokyo Disneyland that I'd like to see other than Star Tours and Splash Mountain (gutted we didn't get to do these in LA!) so no real incentive to try to do that park also.

Thank you very much Robert for the tips! I agree with you that I'd much prefer to see the DisneySea specific rides and attractions rather than anything we've been on before. Although I wouldn't mind another go on Midway Mania ;)

Edited: November 10, 2015, 9:16 AM

This is actually a bad idea. You really need about 3 days to do the whole resort and have it be enjoyable. 2 days at Disneyland and 1 day at DCA. The way the crowds have been this past year even during the off-season I'd even suggest a 4th day. Hopefully the price increases to the annual passes will diminish the crowds that spike around 3-5, and the park won't feel so horrifically crowded.

With just 1 day to attend a park, you might have enjoyed Knotts Berry Farm or Universal Hollywood more. Knotts is a great 1 day park and is usually never excessively crowded.

Sorry your experience wasn't great. My last putting to DCA was unenjoyable as well. Hopefully your next visit will have more time and will be more enjoyable!

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