How to Start Your Day at California Adventure

Updated March 30, 2018

***With the current transformation of Paradise Pier, there will be a few closures to deal with, depending on when you visit. Cross those off the list and move onto the next step in the strategies below. 

With a good strategy, you can see and do all of California Adventure easily in one day. In fact, with my plans, you can typically have most of the park’s attractions completed by lunch.

This post will stay updated to show you the current most popular attractions and how to fit them into your morning. I test these strategies at least once a month to make sure they work and then adjust as needed to ensure you are navigating the park in the most efficient manner.

A good start to your day is important. Let’s get started.

How These Strategies Test In the Park

I test the strategies below as the park changes and also randomly to ensure they’re the best way for you to tour. When I test them, I often share the results on Facebook with details from my day.

Here are some recent visits in which I used one of the plans below so that you can see how they worked out:

October 14, 2017

August 9, 2017

August 26, 2017

I encourage you to take a look at those posts above to see how the plans play out during an actual day in the park. You’ll learn how I adjusted my plan to accommodate a ride closure or other surprise you might encounter. While every park visit is different, it’s good to have an overall idea of what you can expect during your day.

Abbreviation Key

I try very hard not to speak “Disney” in most of my posts, but I share this strategy in my Facebook trip reports often, which requires a lot of writing with limited time. So, occasionally, I cut some corners. Take a look at this post for some help with that.

When To Arrive

Arrive an hour early for a regular park opening. Arrive 30 minutes early for an Extra Magic Hour park opening. Extra Magic Hours allow guests staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel to enter the park an hour before official park opening. California Adventure hosts Extra Magic Hour on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Disneyland hosts Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning on the remaining days. Magic Morning is not hosted at California Adventure.

Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning are explained in more detail in this post.

Below, I’ve shared plans for both regular park opening and EMH days. If you are visiting the park on an EMH day and don’t have the EMH privilege, don’t worry. I rarely do and still visit on those days and accomplish all I want to do. You can, too. It’s ideal, of course, to visit the park NOT hosting Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning, but if your schedule doesn’t sync up, you will be just fine. If you are visiting on an EMH day without EMH, still arrive about an hour prior to official park opening.

Rope Drop

The park will typically open 30 minutes prior to official park opening on both regular and EMH days. You’ll be allowed into the park and down Buena Vista Street until the Rope Drop set up before each land. Before you head toward any of them, grab a park map or two as you walk through the turn stiles.

You can set up in four places: at the beginning of Hollywood Land; near Carthay Circle facing Cars Land and the Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS distribution point, near Paradise Pier by Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, or right before Soarin’ Around the World.

My recommendation is to line up at Soarin’. Most guests will go to the Carthay Circle Rope Drop, en route to either ride Radiator Springs Racers standby or to get in line to get a FASTPASS for it. Getting in line to get a FASTPASS isn’t ideal because you’ll likely wait 20 minutes due to the huge line that will form at this time. Going straight to the attraction to ride it immediately isn’t, either, because many people follow this plan. Doing so could result in an hour or so wait. And pulling that RSR FASTPASS at opening will likely give you a return time a few hours out, preventing you from pulling another FASTPASS for 1.5 – 2 hours.

Rope Drop is a term used for when the “rope is dropped” and guests are allowed in the park. At official park opening, a cast member will remove the rope as music is played and a welcome comes over the speakers in the park. Cast members will greet you and let you know when to officially start your day.

Listed in each plan is the step to grab a World of Color FASTPASS. To get here, you’re going to walk down Buena Vista Street and into Grizzly Peak. Walk past Soarin’ Around the World, and past Grizzly River Rapids. Before you get there, you’ll see the World of Color FASTPASS machines set up and distributing. That machine looks like this:

The WOC FASTPASS is the only FASTPASS that is “disconnected”, meaning, you can hold it and any other. So, get yours and then line up as close to Rope Drop as you can. This area has restrooms and companion restrooms nearby, so you can take little ones there before you get started.

You can find a full post on World of Color at this link, but here’s where to go for the show, depending on which color FASTPASS you pulled:

Blue: Arrive an hour early and stand on the bridge, as close to the railing as possible.

Yellow: Arrive an hour early and move as close to the water as you can on either side (Yellow borders the dining package sections in the middle). You may get wet if you’re front row, so be prepared. If the wind is blowing toward the audience, you can get soaked.

If you have a WOC dining package scheduled for this day, don’t worry about getting a FASTPASS. Your meal will include one instead. Lots more details on this and where to stand in my post on Special Dining Packages with Reserved Viewing for Shows.

Your Strategy Without Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

Ok, you’re set up at Rope Drop with your WOC FASTPASS already in hand and you’re ready to conquer DCA.

Because most guests are told to go directly to Radiator Springs Racers to get a FASTPASS or to ride immediately, I recommend not going there first. FASTPASSES will not run out by the time you go get one if you follow this strategy. I promise.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s smart to always have a FASTPASS in hand. While you wait for the return time on your FASTPASS to arrive, visit other attractions that have shorter wait times.

Here is the plan:

(Screen capture this on your mobile device for easy access in the park.)

  1. Grab WOC FASTPASS before Rope Drop
  2. Grab Toy Story Midway Mania FASTPASS
  3. Ride Soarin’ Around the World (standby)
  4. Ride Toy Story Midway Mania with FASTPASS
  5. Grab Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS
  6. Visit Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff
  7. Ride Goofy’s Sky School
  8. Ride Mickey’s Fun Wheel
  9. Ride Jumpin’ Jellyfish
  10. Ride Silly Symphony Swings
  11. Ride Golden Zephyr
  12. Ride RSR with FASTPASS

You’ll likely be due to pull another FASTPASS when you finish this list. Your RSR FASTPASS will fall into the ‘exception’ category, allowing you to pull an additional FASTPASS because your return time exceeds two hours from the time you pulled the FASTPASS. You will know the exact time you can pull your next FASTPASS by looking at your RSR FASTPASS. There will be a message with your time. Take a look at this model for more info:

Review this post for lots more info on FASTPASSES.

Essentially, you have just a couple to choose from. California Screamin’ and Grizzly River Rapids are the two remaining attractions that you have not been on that have FASTPASSES. I recommend pulling Grizzly River Rapids. Either will do, but Grizzly always feels like a good option for the afternoon in case it’s a warm day. So, pulling one now should give you a return time in the sun.

Pull Grizzly River Rapids and then break for lunch. You’re in GREAT shape for the afternoon! At this point, you have been on 2/3 of the key DCA attractions (Soarin’ and TSMM) and you’re holding a FASTPASS for the 3rd one. While eating lunch, take a look at the park map you picked up on your way in and discuss with your group how you want to spend your afternoon.

DCA afternoons are great for exactly what you have left – attractions with lower wait lines like Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, Bugs Land, Monster’s Inc, etc. It’s also a good time to visit walk through options like the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and Animation Academy. See shows and characters in the afternoon, too.

If you’re nervous working through this strategy – about making it in time to grab the RSR FASTPASS – check the Disneyland app as you’re moving from step to step to see what set of FASTPASSES are being distributed. I explain how to, below.

Take a look at my post on Frozen – Live at the Hyperion for all there is to know about it. I recommend the times later in the afternoon, which work well with what you’ve accomplished already.

*If you are visiting on a day that includes Extra Magic Hour and you do not have Extra Magic Hour, still follow this plan. I used a similar strategy prior to this new plan that now includes TSMM and it worked well. I rarely have the EMH privilege and it rarely affects what I accomplish.

Here is a map with this strategy:

(screen capture this, too)


Your Strategy With Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

I haven’t tested this strategy (obvs), but have created this plan to get everyone started in the right direction. I was at opening day 5.27.2017 and will test shortly after. This plan should work for guests with or without EMH. As always, it’s ideal to visit DCA when the park is NOT hosting EMH, which is typically Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – unless you have EMH. More on that here.

As always, arrive well before park opening, an hour prior to official park opening for days without EMH.

Here is the plan:

  1. Ride Soarin’ Around the World
  2. Grab Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
  4. Ride Toy Story Midway Mania (if the wait is under 20 minutes; otherwise skip)
  5. Ride California Screamin’
  6. Ride Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! with FASTPASS
  7. Grab Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS
  8. Ride Mickey’s Fun Wheel
  9. Ride Symphony Swings
  10. Ride Goofy’s Sky School
  11. Ride Jumpin Jellyfish
  12. Ride Golden Zephyr
  13. Ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree 
  14. Ride Luigi’s Rollcikin’ Roadsters
  15. Ride Radiator Springs Racers with FASTPASS

Tested 6.3.2017 – visit this link to see timing for each step and other details


  • Why not go straight to Guardians? Because every other person in the park will be going to it or Radiator Springs Racers. Spend your first 15 minutes in line for and enjoying Soarin’ and let everyone else clog up the line for Guardians. Show up after you have one of the key attractions crossed off your list and when the line is more manageable.
  • The sequence of steps between pulling the Guardians FASTPASS and pulling the RSR FASTPASS is designed to have you get as much done in the expected 2 hours that you will have to wait between your Guardians FASTPASS and the RSR one. While I’m not a huge fan of crossing the park like this, there’s not enough to do in the immediate area. Take a walk and complete Paradise Pier.
  • Pay attention to when you can pull your next FASTPASS after Guardians. Get a good look at the FASTPASS you pulled for both the return time and when you can pull another. If the park is busy and Paradise Pier is busy (that includes Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Swings, Sky School, etc), skip what you need to in order to pull that next FASTPASS. Pull your RSR FASTPASS at the 2 hour mark and no later. Meaning, for an 8:00am opening, you’ll likely pull Guardians by around 8:30am (after riding Soarin’ and standing in line for the Guardians FASTPASS). At 10:30am, you should be eligible to pull your next FASTPASS. Note those times on your first FASTPASS, just to be sure. More on how to use and read FASTPASSES here.
  • Scared of not getting a RSR FASTPASS? The immediate attention on Guardians may warrant you having to choose between Guardians and RSR. My suggestion is to focus on Guardians and then follow the plan to get RSR after. Each new attraction will balance the park more so that each FASTPASS grab results in times extended later and later into the day. I still think it’s entirely possible to do both. I’ll work on this strategy as often as possible to ensure you get the best experience out of the park.
  • For info on Guardians characters and the Summer of Heroes experiences, visit this post.

Your Strategy if you have Extra Magic Hour (Without Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!)

With Extra Magic Hour (EMH), guests are allowed in one hour prior to official park opening. The crowds are much lower at this time because the park is only open to those guests staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel.

For that reason, I recommend riding lots of attractions during that hour. Since the park is so empty compared to other times, I have in my plan to go straight to pull a RSR FASTPASS. If the line is horrendous (it shouldn’t be), move on to ride the attraction and then return to pull the FASTPASS after.

Note: Recently, DCA has started allowing RSR, Guardians and TSMM to distribute FASTPASSES during EMH.

Here is the plan:

(Screen capture this image for easy access while you’re in the park.)

(This plan does not incorporate Guardians. Scroll down for that plan.)

  1. Ride Radiator Springs Racers
  2. Grab Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS
  3. Ride Toy Story Midway Mania
  5. Ride Soarin’ Around the World
  6. Ride RSR with FASTPASS (if the return time has arrived)
  7. See Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff
  8. Ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
  9. Ride Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
  10. Grab Goofy’s Sky School (and proceed on with all of Paradise Pier)

With this plan – if you finish all of Paradise Pier (including California Screamin’) – you will essentially have Bugs Land, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and Monster’s Inc left. Add the Frozen Show and walk through attractions (Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, Animation Academy, etc) and you finished with DCA.


Your Strategy if you Have EMH and Want to Include Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

  1. Ride Guardians of the Galaxy
  2. Pull a Guardians of the Galaxy FASTPASS
  3. Ride Soarin’ Around the World
  4. Grab WOC FASTPASS (near Ariel’s Undersea Adventure)
  5. Ride Toy Story Midway Mania
  6. Ride California Screamin’
  7. Ride Mickey’s Fun Wheel
  8. Ride Symphony Swings
  9. Ride Goofy’s Sky School
  10. Ride Jumpin Jellyfish
  11. Ride Golden Zephyr
  12. Ride Ariel’s Undersea Adventure 
  13. Grab Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS (should be at the 2 hour mark after pulling your Guardians FASTPASS)
  14. Ride Guardians of the Galaxy (whenever your time arrives)

Note: This plan does not include seeing the Frozen characters. If interested, squeeze them in as soon as you can after official park opening.

What About Frozen – Live at the Hyperion?

Frozen – Live is an excellent show that should be worked into your afternoon. I recommend the 2nd or 3rd show over the first. They both should coordinate with the strategy above.

For LOTS more info on all things Frozen, check out this link.

How to Use the Disneyland App to Check on Timing

I mentioned above that you can find out FASTPASS distribution times for RSR while you’re working through the rest of the morning strategy. You can do this for RSR and any other attraction that uses FASTPASSES.

Be sure you have the free Disneyland app downloaded for your visit.

Here is how to check times:

When you click on “Attractions”, this map comes up. I prefer the list, so I change it to such by using the options in the bottom, right hand corner of the screen. Click on the lines.

And, you’ll find the list. Scroll down to the attraction you’re looking for.


Click on it and you’ll see the current wait time and also which FASTPASSES are currently being distributed:

Other Tips

  • For information on how to start your day at Disneyland, visit this link.
  • Be flexible. Attractions go down for long periods of time. Be ready to move on to the next step in your plan – or to reroute all together if need be. While Disney makes every effort to keep the park running smoothly so that you know what to expect out of your day, things can change at any point.
  • Take a look at my post detailing DCA attractions to know more of what to what to expect out of your visit.
  • Leave me a comment if you have a question. Happy to help you!
Take a look at how Get Away Today can help with your vacation


  1. Hello Casey, thanks for the tips!

    I would love your help. I’m going with my family (wife and 2 daughters, one of whom will not be 40in tall) in the 2 parks on May 25th and 26th (Friday and Sunday), so I’ve seen days full of people.

    My first question is: Which park do I go on Friday and which do I go on Saturday?

    Would you buy MaxPass? For my youngest daughter worth buying?

    Without the World of Color (not available) and also without Califonia Screamin what would you do?

    And finally, which fast food restaurant do you indicate?

    Thank you!

    • Hi, there.

      Visit Disneyland on Friday and California Adventure on Saturday.

      I love MaxPass, even for families. Try it day 1 and see how much you use it. If you don’t use it enough, buy on on day 2 for the PhotoPass privileges alone. Just have one person buy it for PhotoPass.

      There’s still plenty to do even with the closures. Be ready for Paint the Night:

      I love Flo’s V8 Cafe for fast food. Enjoy!

  2. Hello- we are visiting for 5 days- entering the park beginning on May 22nd ,2018. I see this is a grad night day, as is the 23rd. We want to get in all the big rides, we don’t have any little kids with us, but I love toy story mania. So my questions are: what parks should I do first, should we get a park hopper ticket, or save the money and purchase the max pass. Also- we want to take in WOC, and all the parades and both parks. It will also be during Pixar Fest- which sounds like the park will be really busy for that. Thanks so much for your advice. Also- need help on how the best route to navigate DL.

  3. We are going next week and staying at the Grand Californian, is it best to enter from the hotel, or from the main gates!

    • I recommend entering from the main gates. The entrance from the hotel is great throughout the day for entering and exiting, but at the beginning of the day, it’s super crowded. Head to the main gate instead.

  4. Hi Casey! Your site is awesome! I can’t seem to see the map for “Your Strategy Without Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!”. It says “Here is a map with this strategy: (screen capture this, too)” but I can’t see anything. Did it get deleted accidentally? If so, can you add it back or email it to me? Thank you!!!

  5. Thank you so much for all of this helpful information! We are going in early March. What plan do you recommend following if we have EMH, park hopper and max passes? Should we start at the park with the EMH and then switch parks for fewer crowds? Can I reserve fast passes on max pass for the park we are not in for the EMH?
    Thanks so much for your help!

  6. Hi Casey, your blog is awesome! I have looked at the plans for DCA and DL, but we’re planning on park-hopping, and I haven’t been able to figure out how to handle this: we will be there on a Friday and Saturday, and we will have EMH, but we will be doing the evening shows opposite of our EMH. That is, we will have EMH at CA on Friday but are doing Fantastmic on Friday night and we will have EMH at DL on Saturday, but we are doing EMH at WOC on Saturday night (due to how dinner reservations shook out). What time do we need to head other park to get fastpasses for the evening show, and should we plan to send one person to pick them up and the other two stay in the original park, or should we migrate as a group (just two adults and a four-year-old)? I am planning on doing max pass, but I understand that maxpass doesn’t help us with faspasses for the evening shows. Thanks in advance!

  7. Hi Casey! I really love your posts!
    We have been a few times in Disneyland and will be there once more next week!!! So excited!
    I’m a ride chicken, but want to try some new rides this time. I want to try Space Mountain and BTMR, I really hate big drops like the ones at Guardians and Splash Mountain. But I’ve heard BTMR & Space Mountain are just fast, no drops at all, is that right? Any extra advice?
    One more question! Is it possible doing RSR twice in a day? We will be using Maxpass.

    • Space Mountain and BTMRR don’t have huge drops, but they are fast.

      Use one of my strategies above for RSR in the morning and then keep checking the app for when the FASTPASSES for that evening are being distributed.

      Grab one when the timing works for you. Or, use the Single Rider line for nighttime.

  8. Your blog is fantastic! We visited Disney 1-2 times a year when I was a teen, but things have changed so much since then! And visiting with young kids is a whole new experience 🙂
    We’re visiting March 5-7–what is your opinion on how the crowds will be? And now that Guardians and RSR are older are the lines and fastpasses a little less crazy?

  9. So happy to have found this post. I’m doing only a one-day park hopper and didn’t know if it would be possible to get it all done. I have two questions for you. Would you recommend Friday Jan 19th, or Sat the 20th (will be at Universal on the other day). Second question- I want to see World of Color AND Fantasmic. Is this crazy? If so, what show do you prefer? Thank you!

  10. Hi! I am planning to follow the strategy including Guardians of the Galaxy on 12/21. The last thing on the list is “Grab Radiator Springs Racers Fast Pass.” So, does that mean the likelihood is that the Fast Pass time will be right away or that we should do lunch and stuff, and then ride RSR? Also, actually riding Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t on the list, which I think means the ride time will likely be after everything else on the list?
    My head is spinning!

    • Also, how come we need to go all the way to the Paradise Pier rope drop if riding Soarin’ Around the World is the first step? I plan to use Max Pass. Does it work to stay in the Carthay Circle area to be closer to Soarin’? Or should I just not question the strategy?? Thanks!

      • Another good question! I edited my post to make this clearer for everyone. Thank you so much, Rachel! I love your critical thinking. I’ve shared this post about a zillion times and no one has caught what you did.

    • So sorry I missed responding to you, Rachel! I’ve edited my post to be clearer about when to ride Guardians. I’ve also added a time to return to RSR. These are all estimates, of course, as each day is different. I appreciate you letting me know your confusion. Hope you had an awesome trip!

  11. Hi Casey…Thanks for all your hard work! We are going to Disney first week of Dec and doing a 4 day park hopper. I would love to use MaxPass but we are a family of 7 and 5 of them are kids ages 6-10. So would we have to purchase the MaxPass $10 per person per day? That can get very pricey if that’s the case. I tried reading up on it and that’s the way I was understanding it. Thought I would double check with you. Thanks!

  12. Hi there!
    What are the chances you could create a map for the ‘Your Strategy if you have Extra Magic Hour (Without Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!)’?!? That would be incredibly helpful if so! Not that the plan isn’t helpful enough, but for a newbie…I would be forever grateful!

  13. Hi Cindi,

    I so appreciate all of your ideas! What time should I reserve Ariel’s Dining to take my granddaughter to meet the princesses?

    • Hi, Renee.

      I recommend an early lunch for princesses at Ariel’s. Don’t interrupt your busy morning with other tasks. Focus on getting stuff done and then have everyone meet late morning or early afternoon at Ariel’s. Ask to sit outside so you can all discuss what you accomplished on the busy boardwalk. So much to do! And, this area allows for so much to be seen. Enjoy it all.

  14. Hi Casey – We will be going to California Adventures on 11/8 an EMH day without EMH and we want to include Guardians. Would we still follow your advise as above or is there a different strategy for that situation?

  15. Hi Casey! I was looking at your plan for guardians without EMH, would you suggest waiting to meet Anna and Elsa until afternoon? Or fitting the ladies in somewhere in the morning?

  16. Hi Casey,
    We are visiting in October and I think we plan to utilize the Maxpass system. Do you recommend the same plans if using maxpass vs.using the traditional fastpass system?

  17. Hi Casey, does maxpass change this? I’m guessing with maxpass we can fastpass RSR immediately then follow your steps? Thank you 🙂

  18. Casey, thank you for all the information you provide for so many of us. Quick question about starting the day at DCA. We’re going to ride Galaxy 1st, but also want to get the Blue WOC FP–would it work for my daughter to head the direction of Galaxy and pull our 1st FP via MaxPass when the park opens (we’re always near the front of the admission line to the parks) and for me to head for the WOC kiosk to pull that FP, then join her over by Galaxy?


  19. I’m planning on following your Extra Magic Hour/without Guardians plan and am not fully understanding the wording, can you help? I understand that I grab a fastpass to RSR first, but then both 2 and 6 say to ride RSR with fastpass. Is that just a suggestion based on when your return time is? Or is #2 supposed to be to ride RSR WITHOUT fastpass, which would get us two rides in one day? Thanks for all your help!

    • Hi, Julie.

      Happy to help you! Sorry for the confusion.

      Poor wording on my part. I update these posts constantly and just went too fast on this one. I corrected it, but essentially you will ride RSR and then grab a FASTPASS for it. Then, you’ll ride it with a FASTPASS at step 6.

      Thanks for letting me know about this!

  20. Thanks for all of the information! I was planning to follow one of your itineraries, but I was a little confused. Under number 7, the first two things listed are: “Your Strategy if you Have EMH and Want to Include Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

    Ride Guardians of the Galaxy
    Pull a Guardians of the Galaxy FASTPASS”

    Does this mean we will be riding Guardians of the Galaxy twice? First thing and then again at the return time from the FASTPASS? I just want to be sure I do things correctly since it seems that in the morning it is so important what you do with your time, especially since we will have the extra hour. Thanks so much!!!

    • Exactly. Most people want to ride more than once because it’s new and because there are essentially 6 versions of this ride to explore. It has 6 different songs that accompany the videos and drop sequences. Enjoy!

  21. Thanks Casey for this post! We (familly of 4 w/ 5 and 7 yo) will do one day at DCA on Tuesday 8/15. The park opens at 9:00 that day. We love Cars, so RSR is priority one for us, but I will follow your GOG day start plan, knowing RSR should work out fine, though riding it twice would be great! Will do Frozen show too at 3 or 5. What do you advise on a WOC Carthay Circle (early show) dining time to best make this all happen? I’m guessing lunch there is a bit quicker meal, and we could do this as a lunch, but am open to anything to make the day smooth. A midday break would be ideal as you’ve recommended but I am not sure when to fit this in? (we are staying at an entrance hotel). We could do a quicker WOC dining option but my husband wants to eat at the Carthay Circle. I guess sitting at Frozen is a nice break if we can’t make it to room. Have two days at Disneyland after this first day at DCA, so wanting the trip to start off well without too much exhaustion. So appreciate your thoughts, thank you!!

    • Hi, Wendy.

      Check with Disney directly regarding the timing for the Carthay Circle Lunch. This dining package keeps changing and the times are not always the same to choose from. 714.781.DINE is the dining line. Wish I could help! So sorry I don’t have the exact info. Hope you enjoy your visit! You have some good plans made and you’ll appreciate them so much during your trip.

      • Hi Casey, thanks for getting back to me. I was just hoping for your advise on what time is best to schedule the Carthay Circle meal in terms of how this will fit into the one day CA Adventure day plan you’ve set out. Carthay has times available basically all day from noon thru 7:00 that will give us the early show for WOC. Would you suggest trying to do like a 12:30 lunch followed by Frozen at 3:00, or would this not allow us enough time to get all the rides in and block out prime fastpass return time? Or we could push the show and meal both back into the evening more, or maybe it is better to space the meal and show out since its quite a bit of sitting. I am thinking with a long meal and frozen show we will not have time to head back to our room to rest that day. I know this is all subjective, but would really appreciate what you would recommend for us w/ 5 and 7yo to keep it all fun. Thanks so very much!

  22. Hello! I will be traveling with my husband and 3 kids (6, 4, and baby). I was wondering if your plans work with using Rider Switches and if we would still be making good time by following your plan? We will be at the parks in a couple of weeks and I am hoping we could get lots done this time around. Thank you so much for all you do for these Disney tips! I love them and I hope they will work out for us.

    • Hi, Marie.

      I encourage you to use Rider Switch as often as possible. However, I suggest you save those return passes until later in the day and not interrupt your morning strategy. Doubling up on attractions that allow Rider Switch will stall your progress. Instead, have one parent later in the day – in the afternoon sun, to take kids to Animation Academy or Redwood Creek Challenge – and allow the other parent to catch up on rides by redeeming all those Rider Switch return passes. That way, both parents get to enjoy the attractions, but it doesn’t interrupt the progress I hope you’ll make in the early hours of the morning when the crowds are lower.

  23. Hey Casey! First and foremost, thanks for creating such an amazing site and sharing so much incredibly detailed info! I’m going to DL and DCA on July 14th during the D23 Expo (I will be covering it as press for my own blog) and had a few quick questions for you.

    We haven’t decided on getting a 1, 2, or 3 Day Hopper yet since we are attending parts of the convention on some days too, so I’m not sure we will have Magic Mornings or not yet. That said, our game plan is to hit DCA first in order to do Guardians, Radiator Springs Racers, and Soarin’ and Screamin in the Morning before. Based on this info, my questions are:

    1) Do you recommend getting a Fastpass for WOC before the rope drops even if we are going for Guardians early? (After we ride Soarin’?) I noticed you recommend it “without” Guardians, but not with in your post.

    2) My girlfriend is a huge Disney Princess fan, and I scheduled for us to do the lunch dining experience at Ariel’s grotto at 11:10am based on your timing recommendation. I originally had it for 1pm, and there is also 12:50pm, and 11:30am available. Do you think an 11:10am reservation gives us enough time to hit all 4 of the rides above before hand?

    Any thoughts or recommendations on how to schedule the morning (assuming we don’t get the Magic Morning) to hit all of the newer bigger stuff, and then do the Princess Lunch, would be truly appreciated! We are coming in from out of town and it’s also for her 30th Birthday, so I’d like to fit in as much of DL and DCA as possible on Friday in case we only get Park Hoppers for that day.

    Thank you so much in advance!!

  24. Hi Casey. thanks for the great info! I’ve got a question about the rope drop at Paradise Pier. In this post you say that it’s NOT there during EMH but instead at Fiddler’s.
    “You can set up in three places: at the beginning of Hollywood Land; near Carthay Circle facing Cars Land and the Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS distribution point, or near Paradise Pier by Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. (On EMH days, this third Rope Drop option is pulled back into Grizzly Peak to the left of Fiddler Fifer Practical Cafe.)”
    But on Monday June 12th you wrote on Facebook that the rope drop was at Paradise Pier so you were able to ride Soarin’ before park open. My question is can you confirm that this rope drop is at Paradise Pier on all EMH days or was that just a one time deal?
    We are going this weekend and plan on rope dropping DCA Sunday. I’d love to be able to ride Soarin’ early like you did on June 12th.
    Second question, How bad do think the crowds will be this Sat, Sun, Mon with the 4th of July on Tuesday and all?
    Thanks for everything you do!

    • Adam,

      I’m so sorry I missed your comment. Somehow, it was approved in my list, but I see that it required a response. I hope you had a good visit!

      From your questions:

      Rope Drop has been consistently set up at Paradise Pier and Soarin’ has been available prior to official park opening. I’ve enjoyed it several times prior to rope drop!

      Hope the crowds were manageable. I was there briefly on the 3rd and they were OK.

  25. Thank you so much for the information! I just had two questions. We (2 adults, 11 y.o., 8 y.o.) will be at DCA on Monday, July 10. We don’t qualify for EMH, but can get into the park at 8 a.m. Since we’re staying at a Good Neighbor hotel within walking distance, we’re going to take a post-lunch break. We’re not going on the GoG ride, so RSR is our biggest priority. If we wait to FP it, do you think the return time will end up falling in the middle of the afternoon when we’re hoping to be at the hotel?

    Also, We have a 5:45 dinner reservation with the dining package for the 9 p.m. World of Color show. Are there any rides that have a shorter waiting time in the 5-8 pm range? Thanks again!

    • Hi, Carol.

      It’s hard to tell with the blocks of times on FASTPASSES. But, you can check throughout your morning sot that you don’t interfere with your afternoon break. (So smart to take one!)

      The return times have been earlier lately due to Guardians being so popular, so you should be ok, but check before pulling those FASTPASSES.

      I would check out Bugs Land, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, and the Animation Academy during the 5-8pm time frame. You will have covered a lot of the park if you follow one of my strategies during the morning. These options will be most of what you’re lacking.


  26. Hello!

    Our family of 7 (age 9 and older) will be at the parks late July! We will only be at the parks for two days and have park hoppers. Is there a plan that incorporates both parks for one day? I’m a little overwhelmed and want to make sure we have a plan in place. We have a character breakfast with Minnie that I’m planning for Friday at Disneyland and that is the only plan so far lol Thanks so much for your help!

    • Hi, Angie.

      I actually recommend not hopping and focusing on one park at a time – at least until you get through the morning strategies for each park. Both of those will take you to the most popular rides and get you set up for your afternoon/evening. Fantasmic! FASTPASSES will be available for Disneyland by the time you visit. And the DCA plan incorporates WOC. Both of those are nighttime shows.

      So, staying within the same park makes the most sense.

      Make sure your character breakfast is as late as possible so that you can get as much done as you can in the morning at Disneyland. Then, break for “brunch” around 10:30am.

      Let me know what questions you have!

  27. Hello again!

    Here’s some info on my trip to California Adventure for anyone interested in some tips:

    Time of arrival: ~11:45 (I started my day in Disneyland)

    1. Grabbed fast pass for “Guardians: Mission Breakout” (at this point, the fast pass gave me a time between 8-9pm). The wait time for standby was about 75 minutes, which blew up to around 120 later in the day.
    2. Rode California Screamin’ (~15 minute wait in the single rider line)
    3. Rode Radiator Springs (~15 minute wait in the single rider line)
    4. Grabbed fast pass for “Soarin’ around the World”.
    5. Rode Grizzly River Run (~5 minute wait in the single rider line)
    6. Grabbed some much needed lunch! Took about 45 minutes at the “Wine Country” restaurant.
    7. Rode “Soarin’ around the World” with fast pass (~10 minute wait)
    8. Rode “Goofy’s Sky School” (walked on, single rider)
    9. Did various shopping, hopped back and forth between the two parks for a few hours.
    10. Rode “Guardians: Mission Outbreak”
    11. Finished out the day with Main Street Electrical Parade and Fireworks to end the night.

    This is in no way optimized (since I bounced around a lot), so I’m sure you could do it in a slightly different order.

    Use those single rider lines even if you’re in a group! There’s a good chance you’ll ride near your family/friends anyway and you skip most of the line.

    A final note: I thought it would be a bummer that I was going to ride “Guardians” last, but it turned out to be my absolute favorite ride hands down. Ending the day with your favorite ride and then the parade/fireworks? Capped an UNBELIEVABLE day at the parks.

  28. Hi Casey! I am so excited for our 1st trip to Disneyland in November. I am so thankful that I found your plans! Being a WDW veteran, I was so nervous about a touring strategy. I can’t wait to try out your plans. I do have 2 questions….did the Frozen show replace Aladdin? And how long is the Frozen show? Thank you and have fun today in DCA!

  29. Hi Casey, I didn’t see it specifically on the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! section, but I’m assuming that you still advise pulling the World of Color FP prior to rope drop?

  30. Your website has been a HUGE help in planning our late June vacation – thank you so much!! We have 9:30 reservations for Ariel’s breakfast, no EMH or Magic Morning – any advice on how to work around the breakfast and still accomplish as much of your plan as possible? Is there usually a long wait time to meet Elsa and Anna? Thanks again!!

    • Hi, Kate. Anna and Elsa’s wait can be long. Have you considered a lunch at Ariel’s instead? It will free up your morning and allow you to get so much done prior to dining.

  31. We used your general plan last weekend (very busy-Disneyland reached capacity!), and it worked great for us. Thank you so much! It made the day less stressful.

  32. I don’t know how so many can be excited after reading these articles…it is simply overwhelming. Looks like it takes 3 years of College classes to learn all the rules and strategies. I wanted to go to Disneyland until I started reading all the ins and outs of FastPass, MAXPass, SinglePass, SwitchPass, Disney App, etc. Excuse me while I take an aspirin.

  33. I am reading this now and going to both parks June 4-10 and we are very excited about the Guardians of the Galaxy. I know you said back in April you would update but i don’t see it yet. I LOVE YOUR site!!! Thank you and hopefully this works for my kids. I have heard through other blogs to get the Racers Fast passes first? Is this true? Does Guardians have a Fast PAss? Please help

    • Hi, there.

      I don’t agree with starting with RSR first. I’ve designed all of my plans to NOT go there first, which allows you to avoid the crowds and get so much more done.

      I’ll have an updated plan for Guardians next week! It will have a FASTPASS.

  34. We’ll be traveling from Oklahoma to take our Cars obsessed 4 year old to Disneyland and DCA on May 29 and 30! Its memorial day weekend, so we are prepared for the crowds…but are bummed that we can’t get the EMH because we had planned on only getting the 2 day passes. Since the Cars ride will be such a big deal for our family and crowds will likely be bigger, do you think we should go straight for the RSR Fastpass?! I’m nervous 🙂

    Also, what are your thoughts on getting the park hopper passes vs. the 1 park per day passes?

    • Hi, Brigette.

      I still recommend this plan and to go get Soarin and TSMM done first. Check the app to make sure RSR won’t run out for peace of mind. But, it won’t. 🙂

      I also think one park per day tickets are totally fine and a great way to save money.

      Hope so much this helps! Don’t stress over the crowds. You’re doing your research. You’ll do just fine.

  35. Great touring plan, Casey, thanks. I love the idea of heading to TSMM instead of RSR.
    I have a question: we will be in DCA on June 5, which is just after the reopening of Tower of Terror (and an early entrance day but we don’t qualify). We are traveling with our 4 young adult children who all will want to do TT. How might you fit that into the above plan.

  36. Hello

    We are visiting next week on a week day and ideally need to do both parks in one day, we are two adults, do you have an ‘Adults strategy’? Sorry if this has been asked before…

    Many thanks

  37. Love all your advice! We will be there in June with 6, a mom, daughter and 4 boys ages 10-4. Salute to Troops tickets, so no Magic mornings. 4 days. Can you give us advice for a boy centric schedule? They are there for the rides, we don’t care about WOC or Princesses. They do like Frozen and the Electric Light Parade.We need a plan geared for Boys! Hard to find. Any advice?

    • I actually think this plan would work just fine for you. Skip grabbing the WOC FASTPASS and meeting Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff. Proceed on, other than that. You’ll get lots done early and then can go back to repeat favorites. Enjoy!

  38. I just read the comments and saw your response to someone else on this topic so feel free to delete my question! Thanks for a great web site!

  39. This plan looks so great! We will be there after the new Guardian of the Galaxy ride opens. Where should that fit in? Eek! We are not staying on-site and will be to DCA on June 11 or 12. Thanks!

  40. Thanks so much for all your wonderful tips! We will be staying at the Grand Californian and when reviewing your post it seems I can get WOC fast passes prior to the rope drop so I was wondering if you knew how early they start distributing fast passes for WOC I would like to get them at the earliest time they distribute these. Thanks so much!

  41. If I get the RSR FP as my 2nd FP as you recommend, what do you think will be the approximate return time? I need to leave the park by 11:30am-Noon.

  42. Visiting both CA parks for the very first time about a week after Guardians of the Galaxy opens. We have 3 day park hoppers and will be trying to do and see everything possible. Already booked a WOC lunch package for day 2 so we won’t need to get FPs for that. Please offer advice about FP strategies considering GotG will be brand new. I’m well versed in WDW planning but DL and DCA are a new adventure for me!

  43. Hey Casey! Love this plan. How does Working Cars Land and a Bugs Land into this plan go? My kids are quite little (2 and 4) so some of the paradise pier rides may not really be their speed. Should we still stick with going to TSMM first and Soarin and then go pull the RSR pass? My son is Cars obsessed, and both kids are Toy Story obsessed and would love to meet Buzz and Woody.


    • Hi, Liane. I would still stick with this plan. Most of those rides in Paradise Pier will work for your crew. The two rides in Cars Land (outside of RSR) and Bugs Land are typically low wait lines. You’ll be just fine as is!

  44. Hi Casey! Thank you so much for this post!
    Do you think it is possible to do RSR and TSMM before 9 am?
    We will have breakfast at ariels grotto and we love the 9 am time there because we get the princesses’ presentation…plus we will celebrate DDalmost2 birthday…
    Planning on using rider swap too

  45. Hi Casey
    Loooove your reports they are so informative. Just wondering if they have a separate line for world of colour for the bridge (if you have a blue fastpass) or is there only one line for the blue fastpass anyway. I have only just learned that the bridge is a great place to watch world of colour from and when we were at Disneyland over 2 years ago we joined the coloured line according to our fastpass but got terrible seats even though we were near the front of the line. By the time we got to our area there were already 2 rows in front of us at the railing. Actually have just re-read your post. Are you able to stand on the bridge and wait for world of colour if you get there an hour early – like claiming your spot or is it roped off? Your advice is most appreciated.

  46. Hello, thanks for this plan, it’s awesome! I have a question for you. We are traveling to Disneyland in May. We have breakfast booked at PCH Grill at 7am on a Thursday. DCA opens at 8am that day. Are we still going to be ok sticking to your plan? I’m not sure how long breakfast goes for, and I don’t know if we will make it for rope drop. We plan on doing 2 days at Disney Resort, and 1 at DCA, so want to fit it all in if we can. Your site has been full of lots of useful information for out trio, we can’t wait!! Cheers, Cindi

    • Hi, Cyndi. You won’t make Rope Drop, but you shouldn’t be too far behind. Arrive 10 minutes early to your breakfast so you can get in as quickly as possible. Then, head to DCA and get started. Enjoy!

      • Thanks Casey! I’m sooo excited to go to Disneyland!! I’ve been reading up on all your tips ? You are so lucky to be at the Happiest Place on Earth all the time!