How to Start Your Day at California Adventure

Updated March 6, 2020

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 all of the park’s attractions completed just in time for a late 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 see how to make that happen.

Tips for Making These Strategies Work

  • It’s imperative that you arrive an hour early if you do not have Extra Magic Hour (EMH) and 30 minutes early if you do have Extra Magic Hour. Why an hour early? On most days, you’ll be allowed into the park 30 minutes prior to official park opening to line up at Rope Drop. (More on Rope Drop below.)
  • Review this post for how FASTPASSES work. Review this one to know what Extra Magic Hour means and to see if you qualify for it.
  • FASTPASSES are a must for these plans to work. These plans were written out logistically to cut down on walking time for those guests using the Classic FASTPASS system. If you are using MaxPass, select the first FASTPASS on each list as soon as you walk through the gate. (I clarify which one in each plan below.) Then, follow the same plan, but select FASTPASSES on your app as soon as you’re eligible each time.
  • These plans work most effectively, of course, for an 8:00am official park opening/7:00am EMH opening. However, they are still your best strategy for 9/10am days and even 10/11am days.
  • If you have EMH, I recommend using the main entrance instead of the one in the Grand Californian Hotel, as it can get quite crowded.
  • I recommend bringing breakfast/snacks with you to eat on your walk into the Disneyland Resort or to munch on while you’re walking from one stop to the next. Save a sit down breakfast for another day.
  • My goal for you with these plans is to complete – or be holding a FASTPASS for – every attraction in California Adventure by a late lunch. Start your day with one of the plans I share below and then take a break after lunch. Go back to your hotel and nap, swim, etc. Then, return late afternoon/evening. This allows you to avoid the most hectic and hottest time of the day when most park guests start melting down. Upon returning, enjoy walk through attractions, characters, entertainment, etc. If you don’t want to break outside of the park, I share suggestions for afternoon activities below.
  • Two plans below are designed for guests with Extra Magic Hour (EMH). This privilege is reserved for guests staying at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels. Magic Morning is NOT available at California Adventure. EMH is most often hosted at DCA on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. There are exceptions, however, so be sure to check the schedule online or on the app before you visit. Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning are explained in more detail in this post.
  • Once you complete one of the plans below, grab a FASTPASS for any attraction you would like to repeat. Many guests love Radiator Springs Racers at night. Consider that one for sure. Always have a FASTPASS working for you. Whether you’re in line for an attraction, stopping for a snack, eating lunch, watching a show, breaking at the hotel, etc……doesn’t matter. Always have a FASTPASS pulled so that the time you’re spending doing other things is getting you closer to the return window of the FASTPASS you’ve chosen.

How to Know When You Can Pull Your Next FASTPASS

For a thorough education on all things FASTPASS, including both Classic (free, includes using FASTPASS machines) and MaxPass ($20/day, includes using the app) visit this post:

FASTPASSES at Disneyland and California Adventure

The more you understand FASTPASSES, the more successful your visit will be. Please keep in mind the following rules that debunk many popular FASTPASS myths:

  • There is no 2 hour rule between FASTPASSES.
  • You may hold more than one FASTPASS at a time.
  • You do not have to complete the attraction you’re holding your current FASTPASS for in order to pull your next one.

To know when you can pull your next FASTPASS (physically at the machines or via MaxPass), find this one simple sentence on any FASTPASS you choose. It’s included on every MaxPass confirmation on the app and it’s printed on every paper FASTPASS Reminder that the machines distribute when you pull your FASTPASS.

In the image below, that sentence circled in lime green tells you when you can grab your next FASTPASS. Some guests set an alarm on their phone to remind them of this time. I do that often. Just be sure your alarm isn’t going to go off in the middle of a quiet attraction like Pirates of the Caribbean! You don’t want to be that guest.

Note – There are two exceptions to this rule. They are:

*You may not choose a FASTPASS for an attraction you already hold a FASTPASS for. You must ride that attraction with your FASTPASS in order to choose another.

*You may choose your next FASTPASS before the timing provided in this sentence, detailed above, if you board the attraction you’re currently holding a FASTPASS for. Example: If your sentence says that you can select your next FASTPASS at 10:30am, and you scan your ticket or app to board the very attraction you selected this FASTPASS for, you may choose your next one immediately.

(Please pay no attention to my manicure in this image. I do my nails in the carpool lane.)

The FASTPASS post I linked to above has all sorts of tips on how to make them work for you. I highly recommend you take the time to read through it. One of my favorite tips that many guests don’t know about is that if you are using MaxPass, you can use it anywhere (in and out of the parks) after you go through the turn stiles and start your day.

Finish a busy morning following one of my strategies and want to lay by the pool? Continue to select FASTPASSES pool side with MaxPass. Use the same tip above and pay attention to your timing. Within a few hour break, you could easily accumulate 3 or more FASTPASSES that will have you completely set up for the evening when you return to the park.

What about Radiator Springs Racers?!

Just like Peter Pan, I recommend avoiding Radiator Springs Racers at the beginning of your day, whether you’re using the Classic FASTPASS system or even MaxPass. Most park guests panic with RSR thinking its FASTPASSES will be gone within an hour of park opening. They won’t. I promise.

If you’re using Classic FASTPASS and walk to pull your FASTPASS from the RSR machine at official park opening, you’ll likely spend 20 minutes just waiting in line. That completely negates the entire idea of the FASTPASS system. In each of my plans, I have included RSR where it makes most sense. I have been through these strategies many, many times and have never once missed grabbing this FASTPASS.

With or without MaxPass, if you choose RSR first, you will likely have to wait 90 minutes until you can pull your next FASTPASS after RSR, regardless of what time you pull this FASTPASS. For that reason, I suggest selecting other FASTPASSES to start your day, which will make you eligible to pull subsequent FASTPASSES much quicker than 90 minutes out. The first few hours of the day are so critical.

If you follow one of my plans and think I’m insane for not directing you to RSR first, feel free to check your Disneyland app throughout the morning to ensure you’re not going to miss pulling this FASTPASS. I share how to below. That should give you peace of mind.

Big Kids or Little Kids Plans – How to Choose

Big Kids plans include all attractions. They’re designed for guests who wish to conquer everything.

Little Kids plans are created without the bigger, “scarier” attractions little ones might not like.

Choose which works for your group based on interest.

This link share info on each attraction. Scroll through it to get an idea of what each attraction is like.

Have both big and little kids? I recommend using the Big Kids plan, as it includes all attractions. When you come across an attraction that little ones can’t ride, find a nearby alternative (cast members at the entrance to the big kid ride can advise) or have a quick snack/use the restroom. Because the big rides are scheduled for early in the day, those riding will be in and out quickly.

Your Strategy For Little Ones 

(This plan excludes Incredicoaster and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!)

Arrive an hour prior to park opening and get in line at the gate. Once you’re allowed in the park, go straight to Soarin’.

Here is the plan:

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

  1. Ride Soarin’ Around the World standby
  2. Grab World of Color FASTPASS
  3. Grab Toy Story Midway Mania FASTPASS
  4. Ride Jessie’s Critter Carousel
  5. Ride Emotional Whirlwind standby
  6. Ride Toy Story Midway Mania with FASTPASS
  7. Ride Pixar Pal-A-Round Ferris Wheel
  8. Grab Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS
  9. Ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree standby
  10. Ride Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters standby
  11. Ride Goofy’s Sky School standby
  12. Ride Jumpin’ Jellyfish standby
  13. Ride Silly Symphony Swings standby
  14. Ride Golden Zephyr standby
  15. Grab Monster’s Inc FASTPASS
  16. Ride Ariel’s Undersea Adventures standby
  17. Ride Radiator Springs Racers with FASTPASS
  18. Grab Grizzly River Rapids FASTPASS
  19. Ride Monsters Inc with FASTPASS
  20. Ride Grizzly River Rapids with FASTPASS
  21. Grab Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS (for a second ride!)
  22. Enjoy walk through attractions like Animation Academy, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, etc. See characters and shows at this time, too.


  • If you are using MaxPass, select the Toy Story Midway Mania FASTPASS and World of Color FASTPASS as soon as you enter the park and then follow the plan above, selecting each FASTPASS as soon as you’re eligible to.
  • If the park is not hosting Extra Magic Hour, this plan still works.
  • Spend the middle of your day visiting characters and enjoying walk through attractions like Animation Academy, the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, etc. Also use this mid-day time to see shows like Frozen and the Disney Junior Dance Party.

Your Strategy for Big Kids 

(This plan includes all attractions.)

Arrive an hour prior to official park opening and get in line at the gate. Once you’re let in, go immediately to Soarin’.

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

  1. Ride Soarin’ Around the World standby
  2. Grab World of Color FASTPASS
  3. Grab Toy Story Midway Mania FASTPASS
  4. Ride Incredicoaster standby
  5. Ride Toy Story Midway Mania with FASTPASS
  6. Grab Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS 
  7. Ride Jessie’s Critter Carousel standby
  8. Ride Emotional Whirlwind standby
  9. Ride Pixar’s Pal-A-Round standby
  10. Ride Goofy’s Sky School standby
  11. Ride Jumpin’ Jellyfish standby
  12. Ride Silly Symphony Swings standby
  13. Ride Golden Zephyr standby
  14. Grab Guardians of the Galaxy FASTPASS
  15. Ride Radiator Springs Racers with FASTPASS
  16. Ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree standby
  17. Ride Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters standby
  18. Grab Monsters Inc FASTPASS
  19. Ride Guardians of the Galaxy with FASTPASS
  20. Ride Monster’s Inc with FASTPASS
  21. Grab Grizzly River Rapids FASTPASS
  22. Ride Ariel’s Undersea Adventure standby
  23. Grab Incredicoaster FASTPASS (for a second ride!)
  24. Ride Grizzly River Rapids with FASTPASS
  25. Grab Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS (for a second ride – hopefully at night!)
  26. Enjoy walk through attractions like Animation Academy, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, etc. See characters and shows at this time, too.


  • If you are using MaxPass, select the Toy Story Midway Mania FASTPASS and World of Color FASTPASS as soon as you enter the park and then follow the plan above, selecting each FASTPASS as soon as you’re eligible to.
  • If the park is hosting an Extra Magic Hour, it’s very likely that you’ll be able to walk right on Soarin’ prior to park opening. Do it! I’ve done it dozens of times without EMH privileges. Since Rope Drop is set up near Pixar Pier, this leaves Soarin’ wide open to all guests and they rarely confirm if you have EMH privileges. This trick doesn’t always work because sometimes cast members will ask for room keys to identify those with EMH. If it doesn’t, you’re still in the best spot you can be – first to ride Soarin’ at official park opening.
  • If the park is not hosting Extra Magic Hour, this plan still works.
  • Grab the World of Color FASTPASS before you set up at Rope Drop since the machine is en route to where Rope Drop is held. (Near Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.)
  • Spend the middle of your day visiting characters and enjoying walk through attractions like Animation Academy, the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, etc. Also use this mid-day time to see shows like Frozen and the Disney Junior Dance Party.

Your Strategy for Little Ones if you have Extra Magic Hour

(This plan excludes Incredicoaster and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!)

Arrive 30 minutes prior to EMH opening and get in line at the gate. Enter the park and go straight to Radiator Springs Racers.

Here is the plan:

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

  1. Ride Radiator Springs Racers standby
  2. Grab Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS 
  3. Ride Soarin’ Around the World standby
  5. Ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree standby
  6. Ride Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters standby
  7. Ride RSR with FASTPASS (second time!)
  8. Grab FASTPASS for Toy Story Midway Mania
  9. Ride Jessie’s Critter Carousel standby
  10. Ride Emotional Whirlwind standby
  11. Ride Toy Story Midway Mania with FASTPASS
  12. Grab Monsters Inc FASTPASS
  13. Ride Silly Symphony Swings standby
  14. Ride Jumpin’ Jellyfish standby
  15. Ride Golden Zephyr standby
  16. Ride Monsters Inc with FASTPASS
  17. Grab Grizzly River Rapids FASTPASS
  18. Ride Ariel’s Undersea Adventure standby
  19. Ride Grizzly River Rapids with FASTPASS


  • If you are using MaxPass, select the Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS and World of Color FASTPASS as soon as you enter the park and then follow the plan above, selecting each FASTPASS as soon as you’re eligible to.
  • Spend the middle of your day visiting characters and enjoying walk through attractions like Animation Academy, the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, etc. Also use this mid-day time to see shows like Frozen and the Disney Junior Dance Party.

Your Strategy for Big Kids if you have Extra Magic Hour 

(This plan includes all attractions.)

Arrive 30 minutes prior to EMH opening and line up at the gate. Enter the park and go straight to the Incredicoaster.

Here is the plan:

  1. Ride Incredicoaster standby
  2. Ride Toy Story Midway Mania standby
  3. Grab Guardians of the Galaxy FASTPASS
  4. Ride Soarin’ Around the World standby
  5. Ride Guardians of the Galaxy with FASTPASS
  6. Grab Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS
  7. Grab World of Color FASTPASS (by Ariel’s Undersea Adventure)
  8. Ride Jessie’s Critter Carousel standby
  9. Ride Pixar Pal-A-Round standby
  10. Ride Emotional Whirlwind standby
  11. Ride Goofy’s Sky School standby
  12. Ride Symphony Swings standby
  13. Ride Jumpin Jellyfish standby
  14. Ride Golden Zephyr standby
  15. Ride Ariel’s Undersea Adventure standby
  16. Grab Monsters Inc FASTPASS
  17. Ride Radiator Springs Racers with FASTPASS
  18. Ride Monsters Inc with FASTPASS
  19. Grab Grizzly River Rapids FASTPASS
  20. Ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree standby
  21. Ride Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters standby
  22. Ride Grizzly River Rapids with FASTPASS


  • If you are using MaxPass, select the Guardians FASTPASS and World of Color FASTPASS as soon as you enter the park and then follow the plan above, selecting each FASTPASS as soon as you’re eligible to.
  • Spend the middle of your day visiting characters and enjoying walk through attractions like Animation Academy, the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, etc. Also use this mid-day time to see shows like Frozen and the Disney Junior Dance Party.


How to Use Rider Switch with these Strategies

Rider Switch is a free service offered to all park guests. You may use it in conjunction with FASTPASSES (Classic or MaxPass) or without them.

The rules changed in 2018, so be sure to review those here. Essentially, now guests must use their return pass(es) from the Rider Switch system within an hour of them being issued.

Before this change, I encouraged guests to save the return passes until later in the day so as not to interrupt your progress in the morning. Those earlier hours in the park are essential for getting lots done before the crowds arrive. And, doubling up on attractions will slow you down.

Since this is no longer an option, I have a new plan for you:

Arrive an hour early each day and use one of my strategies shared, above. Use Rider Switch for the attractions you’re interested in with the exception of those that offer a Single Rider Line. I share a list of Single Rider attractions here.

For California Adventure, that includes:

  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Incredicoaster
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run

Instead of asking for a Rider Switch return pass for these attractions, move on to your next step in the strategy and know that you’ll be able to enjoy these attractions later in the day with a short line.

Afternoons are great for taking a break from attractions and instead, focusing on entertainment or even taking a break at your hotel. While one adult has kids at a show or on break, have the other tackle those four attractions that offer a Single Rider Line.

The following Rider Switch attractions do not have Single Rider Lines, so you’ll need to use Rider Switch for them if desired:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Silly Symphony Swings
  • Soarin’ Around the World

Cutting down on Rider Switch return passes will allow you to move more efficiently during your day.

The only catch with Single Rider lines is that there is no guarantee that an adult and child will sit together. And, the child has to be 7 years old to use the Single Rider line.

If those restrictions don’t work for you, simply move through the strategy using Rider Switch return passes immediately after the first ride. You’ll be delayed a bit, of course, but if you get a good start with your day, you will still make good progress.

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.

You may use the app to find this info regardless of whether you’re using Classic FASTPASS or Maxpass.

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 “show list” button.

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:

Rope Drop

I mention Rope Drop in this post several times. Here’s what you need to know about it.

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.

At DCA, you can set up in three places: at the beginning of Hollywood Land; near Carthay Circle facing Cars Land & the Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS distribution point, and near Pixar Pier by Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.

Rope Drop is a term used for when the “rope is dropped” and guests are allowed in the park. There is a physical rope set up at each of these points to hold guests back. At official park opening, a cast member will remove the rope as music is played and a short welcome speech comes over the speakers in the park. Cast members will greet you and let you know when to officially start your day.

Want coffee while you wait? Have part of your crew set up at whichever Rope Drop you choose and then send someone to Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe. Find it at the end of Buena Vista Street , on your right, across the circle from Carthay Restaurant. This location is the “Starbucks” of DCA and includes pastries, breakfast sandwiches, cold drinks, hot drinks and more.

What to Do in the Afternoon After Attractions 

As mentioned above, my plans are designed for you to get almost every “ride” at DCA completed by early afternoon. Save that time for characters, shows, walk through attractions and more. Here are some examples of what to do.

  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
  • Animation Academy
  • Disney Junior Dance Party
  • Frozen at the Hyperion
  • See characters

What to Do at Night

In addition to avoiding crowds and mid-day heat, getting all or most of your attractions done by early afternoon allows you to really enjoy all the awesome entertainment DCA has to offer.

See World of Color! With the strategies above, you grabbed FASTPASSES for it. Review this post for all you need to know about using them. I’m a big fan of dining packages and World of Color offers them. But, with the exception of the Dessert Party, you can actually find better viewing with the Blue FASTPASS. I share all about that here:

World of Color

Within each strategy, one of your steps is to grab a WOC FASTPASS. Two things make these FASTPASSES unique: 1. They are disconnected, which means you can hold this FASTPASS and any others. 2. You must have your actual theme park ticket or annual pass to pull this FASTPASS. You may not do so on the app if you’re using MaxPass. That link above shares sooooooo much more on World of Color, which FASTPASS to get, and how to secure the best view of the show. The WOC FASTPASS machine is located near Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.

Here is what it looks like:

How These Strategies Test In the Park

I test the strategies 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 many, many details from my day. Follow me on Facebook to see my monthly tests as I complete them.

When I test, I do so alone, with my kids, in heels on Dapper Day, and even once with 50ish people! I, by no means, run from attraction to attraction. My intention with testing is to make sure the strategies work for you guys.

If I’m solo, I walk through the park as a family would – as I have many, many times over the years with my own kids – pushing a stroller and corralling children. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. I do my best to mimic a family’s walk through so that you can see how my plans would work for you.

Here are some examples showing how I used one of my plans so that you can see how they played out:

Late August 2019 – every attraction at DCA done in four hours!

February 16, 2019

February 28, 2019 – arrived a bit late for a 9:00am opening; unexpected very busy day

July 27, 2018 – finished every attraction with the exception of Bug’s Land by noon!

May 8, 2018 – with about 50 people with varying knowledge – from EMH until breakfast at 10:00am

March 30, 2018

December 22, 2017 – includes both a morning at DCA and afternoon at Disneyland – 3 days prior to Christmas!

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 work 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.

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.
  • Consider Rider Switch to help with a day that includes little ones. The rules have changed recently, so be sure to review this link for updated information.
  • Consider Single Rider lines to help with a day sans little ones. I don’t include Single Rider lines in my strategies because they don’t work for all guests. But, California Adventure has a lot of them. Take advantage. More on those lines and how they work at this link.
  • Have fun! While I’m a big fan of focusing on a plan to maximize your park experience, but no one likes a dictator. Use my strategies to get you started, but pay attention to how your crew is enjoying the morning. Adjust as needed. Take plenty of bathroom breaks, water breaks, and stop for snacks if your budget allows. If you see a character that includes a short wait time, jump in line! When I test my strategies, I do all of those things and still accomplish everything I intended.
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  1. Hey Casey! Like others have said, your blog is so helpful with all the tips. We are headed there at the end of this week! As I study the plans, there seems to be some back and forth in the park as I follow along on the map to what you suggest. I can see my group being like “why can’t we go ahead and ride this when we are right here…” and me getting mad telling them Casey said not yet! ? so In following the big kid with magic hour and fast pass, what is the reasoning in starting at incredicoaster And toy story mania then going all the way to soarin’ then back to the toy story and other Pixar rides? And then again towards the end with riding RSR then going to ride monsters but then back to do the other cars land rides?

    • Hi, Blythe.

      Thank you so much.

      Good question! I do my best to keep the order of attractions in the best possible way to avoid criss-crossing the park unnecessarily. And, you’re smart to be armed with some reasoning. 🙂

      So, with your example, you’ll board Incredicoaster with no wait at all, then Toy Story Midway Mania with little or no wait. Same with Soarin’ if you go in this order. Those are 3/5 of the big attractions at DCA. Walking on all of them is ideal. I have you conquer those two and then circle back to Soarin’ because your next stop will be Guardians of the Galaxy, which is accessible from the front of the park after you walk down Hollywood Blvd.

      If you’re not using MaxPass, you’ll walk over to Guardians and grab a FASTPASS on your way back to the front. Once you’re done riding Soarin’, your Guardians window should open, allowing you to ride it next. That’s 4/5! Hopefully in the first hour.

      While you wait for your RSR window, you’ll then proceed to move through Pixar Pier. Most of these attractions will have a 5 minute wait time if you follow this order. By the time you complete the pier, you should be able to select your next FASTPASS and ride RSR shortly after. At that point, you’re nearly done with the entire park.

      Does this make sense? Please let me know if you need further clarification. Happy to help you!

  2. Hi Casey,

    Thank you for all your help! For rope dropping Soarin’, do we just walk over to Grizzy Peak area? You mentioned the three locations of roap drop and there doesn’t seem to be one over there, so are we able to just line up at the ride (will be entering from main entrance).

    Thank you for your wonderful site!

  3. Hi Casey,
    I’ve been studying this plan for littles and it looks great. One thing I’ve been noticing throughout the day, as I follow along in the DL app, is that RSR fastpasses run out by 11am. If we follow this plan, it seems like by the time you book your RSR Fastpass that the return time could be anywhere between 3-5pm. And then it seems by the time you are ready to book the next Fastpass that RSR is out and their would be no way to book a 2nd ride…even if I didn’t book one for Monster’s or GRR. Is it busier in the parks now that ROtR is open? Also, I’ll be going during Spring Break, so I can only imagine RSR will run out earlier in the day.

    • Hi, Michael.

      Good questions.

      It is a bit busier now and will be during Spring Break for sure. You can certainly start by choosing RSR, but by following my plan, you’re really only delaying that choice 30 minutes and gaining so much by doing so.

      I would follow my plan and keep watch of RSR. Choose it again – right after you’re eligible – for a second ride that night if this is important to you. If all else fails, remember that it has a single rider option, too, if you’re comfortable with that option.


      • Thanks so much for the reply Casey! We’re going for our 1st time in less than 2 weeks and your site has given me so much valuable information.

  4. Hi I had made my outline and plans before seeing your outline i would love to email you it and for you to provide feed back why it would or wouldnt work…

  5. Oh my goodness! Your plans are AMAZING! We are planning to do the ‘Big Kids’ plan for our day in CA. The only thing we will not be doing is the Incredicoaster. Do you have any suggestions on how to make that adjustment? Should we pull RSR fastpass first? Toy Story Midway Mania? We will be using MaxPass for our trip! Thank you in advance!

  6. Your posts are so informative and helpful. We did DL for a day last year and are returning this year, attempting both parks. We were going to do both in one day but with the current special, it isn’t much more to do a 3-day pass.
    Our first day won’t begin until about 4pm. Would you recommend Disny or CA for that day? Our children are old enough to do all the rides.
    Also, we did MAX Pass before and will for the full day, but will it be worth it later in the afternoon? Won’t it be hard to get fast passes at that time? Thank you for any tips.

  7. I have 2 questions. First off when you say don’t grab a Radiator FP right away because you will have to wait 90 minutes, is that because it jumps so fast, meaning if I get in at park opening and the return time is like 20 minutes from when I enter should I grab it? Or if park opens at 8 the return time will probably already be 9:30 so I should wait. I’m just confused about the 90 minutes. Which leads me to my next question how do you wind up with a few FP? I understand about it showing on the FP when you can get your next one, but isn’t that based on when you pull and use, so the most you could have at at time is 2? I thought I read people having 4 at a time…not sure how that would happen. I do plan on having maxpass but not early entry.

  8. Hi Casey,
    First, THANK YOU for all this wonderful advice! I’m confused on one thing. You make a point of suggesting not wasting time by going to RSR first thing as well as not grabbing it as your first MaxPass, but in your plan for EMH with Littles (our situation) you suggest going there first and selecting that MaxPass first. Am I understanding that correctly?
    Thanks in advance!

    • You are understanding it correctly. I recommend going there for EMH if you arrive the recommended 30 minutes early. Because only EMH guests will be in the park, you won’t wait long for the attraction if you’re early.

      Exit it and then grab a FASTPASS for it if you want to ride again. (You will want to.)

      If you’re using MaxPass, select RSR as soon as you walk in, ride it, and then move on with the plan.

      Most guests want to ride it multiple times which prompted me to design the plan like this. It also works with DCA because there are fewer things for little ones to do.

      Does that make sense?

  9. Hello there!! I am thinking about doing a 1 day park hopper on June 5th. We will only be in California 3 days. I know that Star wars should be open by then but I can not change my trip. Is 2 parks in one day doable. Knowing that I can’t see and do everything, but still wanting a fun good time? Thanks in advance!

    • Hi, Renea.

      It will be very busy, but you’ll be just fine with a good plan. Use the tips in this post and the One Day Plan I share for your best bet. Arriving early and using MaxPass will be essential. Enjoy!

  10. Hi Casey, first off your site has been ESSENTIAL in helping me prepare for our trip in April so THANK YOU!
    This might be a dumb question, but I was wondering about pulling a FastPass for RSR while using Rider Switch? We are staying on property, have Max Passes, and we are planning on following your plan for Little Ones with EMH and being there at Rope Drop. If we ride RSR standby first thing and use Rider Switch, do we need to wait for Step 2 to pull a FastPass for RSR until after the 2nd party/Rider Switch rides? I know this will slow our progress down in the morning but my boys are 1.5 and 4, and Cars Land is pretty much the entire reason we are coming out to California 🙂

    • Hi, Beth. Glad I can help you!

      Use MaxPass to select your RSR FASTPASS immediately upon entering the park. No need to wait for your standby ride or the Rider Switch ride to come and go.

      The strategies I share are suited for all guests – without MaxPass – as not all guests want to budget for it. So, each is tweaked just a bit when using MaxPass. Does this make sense?

      • Perfect, thank you!

        One more question – I know you recommend having each adult grab a different FASTPASS when using Rider Switch, which makes sense. But how would that work for our 4 year old to get to ride with each of us when we have different FASTPASSES? Would he only get to ride on the Rider Switch times for the rides he doesn’t have his own FASTPASS? Am I understanding it correctly where, in order to double up his ride times with our Rider Switch, we would have to wait to pull his next FASTPASS until the time he is given where he is allowed to pull another FASTPASS??

        As an example:
        My husband and 4 year old each pull FASTPASSES with Max Pass for RSR. I pull a FASTPASS for Goofy’s Sky School (but my son can’t because he has the 90 wait for another FASTPASS w/ RSR). So I would ride Goofy’s solo, then my husband and son ride on Rider Switch? And they would ride first on RSR then my son can ride again with me on Rider Switch…did I understand that right??

        Thank you so much for your help!!

  11. Hello there!! The California Adventure with Big Kids plan with NO max pass…..How long would you say that typically takes?? I had a friend reccomend which I like the flexibily of adding it shopping/character breaks. But also LOVE your plan of ride or bust with time to do whatever after. I very much appreciate all you do!! ?

  12. Hi Casey! We are excited to be returning to Disneyland next week and using your recommendations – they made our trip 3 years ago SO easy! I was looking at your CA plan for little ones with EMH and did not see Pixar-Pal-Around – any recommendation on what order to fit that in? That is a must do for my 6 YO. Thank you!

  13. I will be there with my family in 19 days! Myself, hubby and 2 boys – 4 and turning 7 there. Is there currently no nighttime parade or show at DCA?

    • Hi, Melissa.

      Mickey’s Soundsational Parade begins on 1.25.2019. It will run through Disneyland, however. Also at Disneyland, Mickey’s Mix Magic (a lazer/light show) will begin on 1.18.2019.

      There is no parade expected anytime soon at DCA, and we’re still waiting for info on World of Color’s return.

      Keep this page bookmarked for more info as it’s available:

      Feel free to check back in with me, too. Happy to help you.

  14. I am going to follow your Big Kids plan with EMH. Would it still work if I grabbed the RSR fastpass first and then the Gaurdians one second? We will have MaxPass. We like to ride RSR at least 2-3 times so I don’t want to miss out!

  15. I’m staying at the Disney’s Grand Californian, Dec 29 & 30 and think I’ll have access to the early magic morning as a perk. My cousin lives in LA & is going to join us for the 2 days. Can she enter with us with our hotel key? It would be 4 adults & 4 kids.

  16. Pretwnd you only had one day at DLR, and it had to be Monday, Nov. 26, but California Adventure was your focus (since your friend hasn’t been since 2005). (2 adults, park hoppers with max pass) Would you, personally, still rope drop Disneyland and then head over to CA after an hour or two, or would you just enter CA first and use this strategy, even though people are already there for early entry? (9 am official opening) Having a super hard time making this decision…

  17. Couple quick questions – you say ‘standby’ in your plans. Is that just meaning the regular wait line? Also I have a 18 month old, 4 and 6 year old, and there will be 4 adults. Should we do the big kid plan so the adults can do some rides too? We will be there 2 days Disneyland and 1 day DCA

    • Standby is the regular line.

      I would do the Big Kids plan at DCA. Then, do the Big Kids plan at Disneyland on your first day there. On your second, fill in with smaller rides for little ones that you missed.

  18. What ages do you consider big kids and little kids? I am taking a 6 and 9yo and am trying to plan both parks to make the most of the trip.

  19. Does your DCA strategy change any at Halloween to allow for the evening overlay of Guardians? I’m so looking forward to trying all your strategies when we go next week!!

  20. Hi Casey! Do you have a good map of the parks that will print on letter sized paper? All I could find are the interactive maps and the brochure map. Thanks!

  21. Hi Casey. Would you recommend this plan(Big Kid with EMH) for a visit on Monday, December 17th? I know it is supposed to be very busy that time of year and I was wondering if you would alter the plan at all? Thanks and I love your blog.

  22. I am so confused everytime I read “Rope Drop” on your posts. what is that? is it the action of getting there earlier or a place where we need to go? why do we need to go there?

  23. Thank you so much for ALL this information! I’ve been looking for a long time on a schedule like yours as were taking my 7 and 4 yr old girls for the first time! I’m nervous where to go first, when to get a fast pass, how to get food my kids are always hungry. So, your article about grabbing coffee while you wait, and where to start first and when to grab a fast pass makes me feel so much more relieved! Thank you so very much!!!

  24. Hi. Thanks for all the info. On non-EMH at DCA days can you still ride Soaring prior to rope drop or do people just make line, but you can’t ride it until official park opening? Do you still recommend doing Soaring 1st on a non-EMH day or will the line for Toy Story be long by the time you ride Soaring & make your way to Pixar Pier? Thanks.

  25. Hi. Thank you for your great post. We are going on a Sat with no EMH at DCA. Can you still ride Soaring before rope drop (RD)? If not, do people start lining up for Soaring before RD since the RD is not until the Ariel ride area? If we can’t ride it before RD, do you still recommend doing Soaring at RD? I’m scared the standby line for Toy Story will get long by the time we ride Soaring & make our way to Pixar Pier. Thanks.

    • You can’t ride it prior to Rope Drop on a non-EMH day. Guests do line up as soon as they’re allowed in the park, so be there an hour early, as I suggest. You’ll be first in line and in great shape. Toy Story will be totally fine by the time you get there. I’ve texted this plan many times and still get a 5-10 minute wait for Toy Story each time.

  26. Hi Casey! I know Guardians of the Galaxy has an amazing queue, if we have a fast pass will we get to see the queue or does fast pass skip that part? Thank you so much!

  27. Thank you so much! We followed your advice and made a few tweaks of our own— my five year old decided she wanted to ride the Incredicoaster three times in a row during early magic hour. With that we still hit everything with virtually no wait. We road Radiator Springs twice too! Thank you so much for your tips! I did a screen shot of the lists and that made it easy! The only problem was that our daughter was spoiled and has no idea what it was like to stand in line in the olden days 😉

    The only thing I would change slightly on your list is on the Disneyland list for the Fantasmic fast pass— maybe specify that it is a paper ticket. We were used to only looking on the app but figured it out!

  28. Hi Casey,

    Thank you for the posts and strategies! They are very helpful especially for a first timer like me! I read through your post above and understand that you recommend getting FASTPASS and riding Guardians of the Galaxy before getting FASTPASS and riding Radiator Springs Racers. But I also read your Facebook post on December 23rd 2017 with the full day experience tackling both parks with MaxPass. This is the link: In that Facebook post, you did RSR first and then did Guardians of the Galaxy, which worked very well on that busy day.

    I’m just a bit confused with which post is more updated. My friend and I (Two adults) are going on June 17th (I know that will be a very busy day) with Park Hopper ticket and we are going to visit both parks in one day. We want to do both RSR and Guardians. Is that possible and if yes, which one of the two you recommend going first? Thank you!

    • Hi Casey,

      How would you suggest a day at DCA without MAXPASS for my family of 4 (older kid short enough to even ride Incredicoaster and younger one barely 38”). I think it will be a waste for us and just planning to get one Maxpass for the photos.

      Sorry if it’s a repeated question, I tried looking for this info on here but didn’t find it.

      And I cannot thank you enough for such a detailed website!!

      Thank you!!

      • You’re so welcome! Happy to help you.

        All of my strategies are laid out with guests NOT using MaxPass in mind. So, choose a strategy that you like and follow the steps.

        It’s ideal to use MaxPass if your budget allows (and it makes sense), as DCA is spread out. Without MaxPass, you’ll be criss crossing a bit. But, it’s all totally possible without MaxPass.

        Grab at least one, as you said, for the photos.

        Have the best time!

  29. Hi,
    I’m going to DCA this upcoming Sat. June, 9th. I plan on getting there when it opens, I want to get on the rides that have long lines early on, but I have a daughter who also wants to see Elsa and Anna. Will the line for that be long? Should I do that first? I do plan on using the maxpass as well for rides. I just don’t know if I should stand in line for some rides first or go get in line to see Elsa and Anna. Your advice would be appreciated.

    • So sorry for missing this, Brandon! Hope you enjoy your visit to DCA. You should be there right now.

      For future reference, meeting Anna and Elsa is worked into one of my plans in this post…..I recommend meeting them at the timing I share here.

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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!!!

  34. 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!

  35. 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!

  36. 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.

  37. 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?

  38. 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!

  39. 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!

  40. 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!

  41. 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!

  42. 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.

  43. 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?

  44. 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?

  45. 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?

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

  47. 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?


  48. 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!

  49. 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!

  50. 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!

  51. 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.

  52. 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!!

  53. 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.

  54. 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.


  55. 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!

  56. 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.

  57. 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!

  58. 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?

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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

  66. 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!

  67. 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!

  68. 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!

  69. 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!

  70. 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.

  71. 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!

  72. 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!

  73. 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

  74. 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.

  75. 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!

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