How to Start Your Day at Disneyland

Updated October 4, 2018

So, you know how to get started at California Adventure. It’s busy over there. Be sure you know.

How about Disneyland?

Follow me for all you need to know to maximize your time in the park.

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.)
  • 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.
  • 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 – most iconic attractions in Disneyland 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, meet characters, enjoy lower line attractions, see shows, visit walk through attractions, watch parades, etc. Then, once evening arrives, start “riding” attractions again.
  • Disneyland hosts both Extra Magic Hour (EMH) and Magic Morning (MM) on certain days. Most often, Disneyland hosts EMH and MM on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. But, there are exceptions. I detail everything you need to know about these early admission options – including if you qualify for them – in this post.

The New Disneyland Strategy for Big Kids

This plan works best when Disneyland is NOT hosting Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning. With four days a week that are free of EMH/MM, this is your best bet at getting all you want out of Disneyland.

For more on Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning, visit this post. Know exactly what these options mean, if you have access to one or all of them, and how they will affect your visit.

Arrive at the Disneyland Resort an hour prior to park opening. I explain more on why this is important (essential!) in that post above on EMH/MM. Line up at Rope Drop closest to Tomorrowland after you walk through the gates.

When it’s time to start, head to the Star Tours FASTPASS machine, which is located to the right of the Buzz Lightyear attraction.

Follow this plan:

  1. Grab Star Tours FASTPASS
  2. Ride Space Mountain
  3. Ride Matterhorn
  4. Ride Star Tours with FASTPASS
  5. Ride Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  6. Grab paper FASTPASS for Fantasmic!
  7. Grab Haunted Mansion FASTPASS
  8. Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  9. Ride Pirates of the Caribbean
  10. Ride Splash Mountain
  11. Ride Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  12. Ride Haunted Mansion with FASTPASS
  13. Grab Indiana Jones FASTPASS
  14. Ride Jungle Cruise
  15. BREAK for lunch
  16. Enjoy the Enchanted Tiki Room
  17. Ride Indiana Jones Adventure
  18. Grab FASTPASS for it’s a small world
  19. Ride Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
  20. Ride Astro Orbitor
  21. Ride Autopia
  22. Ride it’s a small world with FASTPASS
  23. Grab Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin FASTPASS
  24. BREAK for the afternoon – return closer to evening
  25. Grab FASTPASS of your choice upon returning to the park 
  26. Ride Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin with FASTPASS
  27. Enjoy Toontown houses & see Mickey in his house
  28. Ride Gadget’s Go Coaster
  29. Ride Storybook Land Canal Boats
  30. Ride Alice in Wonderland
  31. Ride Mad Tea Party (teacups)
  32. Ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  33. Ride Casey Junior Circus Train
  34. Ride Peter Pan’s Flight (use the Play Disney Parks App while in the queue)
  35. Ride King Arthur Carrousel 
  36. Ride Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  37. Ride Pinocchio’s Daring Adventure
  38. Ride Snow White’s Scary Adventures

Notes:

  • If you’re using MaxPass, select the Space Mountain FASTPASS as soon as you walk in the gate and then follow the plan above, selecting each FASTPASS as soon as you’re eligible to. Switch Space Mountain and Star Tours in the plan. Meaning, choose the Space Mountain FASTPASS and then board Star Tours immediately.
  • I don’t recommend trying to tackle every attraction in the park in one day, as they are listed above, but I put them in the best order for such if you plan to try it.
  • Not interested in every attraction? Skip one or many and move onto the next step. Just keep grabbing FASTPASSES in the order I suggested if possible.
  • If you choose not to break in the afternoon as I recommend, you can continue working through the attractions listed, however, you’ll be doing so during a very warm part of the day. Many guests get grouchy at this time, hence my recommendation to take a break. If you are staying in the park and want to avoid the mid-day heat, consider these options to stay cool: Ride the Disneyland Railroad, enjoy The Disneyland Story Presenting Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, explore Tom Sawyer’s Island, walk through Tarzan’s Treehouse, visit Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, ride the Disney Monorail, or enjoy the Main Street Vehicles.
  • This plan allows you to tackle all four mountains, Star Tours and Pirates within the first couple of hours after park opening. With that behind you, you’re in great shape for the rest of the day.
  • The Fantasmic! FASTPASS machines are located across from The Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland. If you’re using MaxPass, you must have your actual theme park ticket or annual pass to pull this FASTPASS. You cannot pull this via the Disneyland app.
  • Save Peter Pan’s Flight for a time later in the day. Even if you go directly to Peter Pan at park opening, you will most likely wait an hour to ride it. Why? Everyone else goes there first. The attraction is slow loading. It’s just not the smartest way to start your day. Save that hour wait for late afternoon or evening – not in the mid-day sun – but later on after you get other things done. You’ll wait the same amount of time as you would if you went there first thing. But, that first hour is so valuable – use it to do so much more. Also, setting the tone of the day with an hour long wait at Peter Pan can work against you. Kids want to wait in line even less than you do. Show them that they’re going to move through the park in a fun way, riding several rides to kick off the day, rather than getting stuck in one place upon arrival.
  • For guests wanting to do Jedi Training, you will need to adjust this plan to start with registering kids first. Go to registration first thing and then follow the steps above. For more on how to register, visit this post.

The New Disneyland Strategy if you have Extra Magic Hour

Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning are great ways to get started on your day at Disneyland.

If you have EMH/MM privileges, arrive 30 minutes prior to the EMH/MM time to enter and use the following strategy:

  1. Grab Space Mountain FASTPASS
  2. Ride Star Tours 
  3. Ride Matterhorn 
  4. Ride Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters 
  5. Ride Space Mountain with FASTPASS
  6. Grab Fantastmic! FASTPASS
  7. Grab Haunted Mansion FASTPASS
  8. Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 
  9. Ride Pirates of the Caribbean 
  10. Ride Splash Mountain 
  11. Ride Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 
  12. Ride Haunted Mansion with FASTPASS
  13. Grab Indiana Jones FASTPASS
  14. Ride Jungle Cruise 
  15. BREAK for lunch
  16. Enjoy the Enchanted Tiki Room
  17. Ride Indiana Jones Adventure 
  18. Grab FASTPASS for it’s a small world
  19. Ride Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
  20. Ride Astro Orbitor
  21. Ride Autopia
  22. Ride it’s a small world with FASTPASS
  23. Grab Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin FASTPASS
  24. BREAK for the afternoon – return closer to evening
  25. Grab FASTPASS of your choice upon returning to the park
  26. Ride Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin with FASTPASS
  27. Enjoy Toontown houses & see Mickey in his house
  28. Ride Gadget’s Go Coaster
  29. Ride Storybook Land Canal Boats
  30. Ride Alice in Wonderland
  31. Ride Mad Tea Party (teacups)
  32. Ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  33. Ride Casey Junior Circus Train
  34. Ride Peter Pan’s Flight (use the Play Disney Parks App while in the queue)
  35. Ride King Arthur’s Carrousel
  36. Ride Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  37. Ride Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
  38. Ride Snow White’s Scary Adventures

This strategy is very much like the one without EMH/MM privileges, but Space Mountain and Star Tours are swapped.

The New Disneyland Strategy – With Little Ones

If you’re hoping to tackle Fantasyland and focus entirely on attractions for little ones who can’t enjoy the four mountains, I recommend following this plan:

As with the above strategy, this works best on a day without EMH or Magic Morning. Arrive an hour prior to official park opening and prepare to enter the park 30 minutes early. Line up at the Rope Drop closest to Tomorrowland.

(If you have EMH/MM privileges, this plan works.)

  1. Grab Buzz Lightyear FASTPASS
  2. Ride Alice in Wonderland
  3. Ride Storybook Land Canal Boats
  4. Ride Dumbo
  5. Ride it’s a small world
  6. Visit Mickey Mouse in his house in ToonTown
  7. Ride Buzz Lightyear with FASTPASS
  8. Ride Nemo’s Submarine Voyage
  9. Ride Pirates of the Caribbean
  10. Grab Splash Mountain FASTPASS
  11. Ride Winnie the Pooh
  12. Ride Haunted Mansion
  13. Break for lunch and then ride Splash when your FASTPASS time arrives

Notes:

  • Toontown typically opens an hour after official park opening. Hence, the wait to go there. I like for families to meet Mickey there if possible, and it’s nice to get it crossed off your list early. Meeting Mickey at his house is more of an experience. I love it.
  • I also understand that it may not be easy to take kids into Toontown, show them all the fun on the way to Mickey’s house and then pull them out of it to follow the plan. If you think this will be an issue, skip it and meet him on Main Street instead.
  • This is a really ambitious plan, so on busy days, you might only get the first half done before lunch. But, I wanted to provide you with the main idea. My goal for you is to knock out popular, but reasonable, attractions for little ones early. Those include Alice in Wonderland, Storybook Land Canal Boats, and Dumbo. Return to Fantasyland later in the day to enjoy the King Arthur’s Carrousel, Casey Junior’s Circus Train, Mad Tea Party (teacups), Pinocchio, etc, etc. Ride Peter Pan during the evening so that you’re not standing in that long line in the sun.
  • I recommend returning to Toontown around sunset. This area of the park gets hot mid-day because it has fewer trees than other parts due to fireworks being shot off just behind it. So, it always feels hotter than other lands. Save it for late afternoon or early evening.
  • Fill in the rest of your day with Jungle Cruise, Autopia, Tiki Room, the rest of Fantasyland, Toontown and the Star Wars Launch Bay if your crew would be interested in it.
  • Keep in mind that Disneyland includes some rides that might be scary for little ones. Visit this post to review those.
  • For guests wanting to do Jedi Training, you will need to adjust this plan to start with registering kids first. Go to registration first thing and then follow this plan. For more on how to register, visit this post.

FASTPASSES

FASTPASSES are used in all of my plans, so be sure to know how this works. The actual machines can be seen here, below. You slide in your theme park ticket and out comes a FASTPASS. It’s magic.

Visit this post to learn all there is to know about FASTPASSES. I also detail what attractions offer Single Rider options and also which work for Rider Switch.

My strategies do not include Single Rider options because not all groups can use them. If those work for you, absolutely work them in the strategy. Skip pulling FASTPASSES for any Single Rider attraction you wish and use that quick line instead.

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How to Know When You Can Pull Your Next FASTPASS

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.)

How These Strategies Test in the Parks

I test the strategies below as the park changes and also randomly to ensure they’re the best way for you to tour the park. When I test them, I often share the results on Facebook with details from my day. Follow me there to see me walk through the plans above about once a month.

Here are a couple of sample days so you can see how the strategies worked out:

9.28.2018

8.30.2018

5.31.2018 (Memorial Day) ***without MaxPass

10.21.2017

7.23.2017

Reviewing the posts above will give you a better understanding of how the strategies work in the park. You’ll also learn how I adjusted my day as needed for ride closures and other things that could come up during your visit.

Some Tips

A few tips to keep in mind:

  • Three dark rides (Snow White, Pinocchio, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) all have super short wait times at the close of day. I recommend you skip these three until the park is nearly closed. You should be able to enjoy all three within 20 minutes if the lines are low enough. (I’ve actually walked onto each of these moments before the park closes.)
  • Have one person keep track of all theme park tickets and FASTPASSES. If children have lanyards for their pin trading, do not allow them to hold their own tickets or passes. One person should be in charge of all tickets and passes, and it should absolutely be an adult.
  • If you’re nervous about meeting the times on your FASTPASSES, set an alarm on your phone for each. While Disneyland used to be flexible on arrival, now they insist you arrive during your designated range of times.

Got other ideas? Find me on Facebook and let’s chat!

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131 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Casey! I followed your strategy for CA Adventure earlier this year and it worked perfectly! Unfortunately, we got a bit off track (we had a 4 and 7 year old in tow) 😉 We are going with extended family on 11/30 and I was wondering if you have an updated strategy due to the bigger crowds for the haunted mansion and jingle cruise?

  2. Hi Casey. I have a question about the Disneyland plan for big kids with EMH. If I get a fastpass for Space Mt. first thing, using Maxpass, during EMH, what is the usual return time for that fastpass? Is it after official park opening or before? I like to enter Frontier Land, Critter Country, etc. right when they open to get on those rides first thing. I do not want to be stuck going on Space Mt. at official park opening and miss my opportunity to get in there right away. Do you have any experience with this? We will be there in December which will no doubt be very busy. Thanks!

  3. Thank you so much for all of this information! I plan to follow these almost to a T 😉 I’m hoping you can give me a suggestion though. We are going with our tall/fairly fearless 4 year old. I believe she will want to go on all the mountain/dark rides eventually; however, I’m not sure if I want to start her out on those smack dab first thing in the morning on our first day in case I scar her for life on space mountain at 8am. but I also don’t want to miss out on the best times to ride the “good” rides. Should we start out with your little kid plan for a couple of rides and then move to the big kid plan? Or can you suggest a ride or two to start off with before heading to space Mountain and star tours? We plan to utilize rider switch if she shows no interest in these rides, but I think we can work her up to it 🙂

  4. We have 4 days park hopper tickets and the privilege to enter either park earlier one of those 4 days. Where do you think it the Early Morning Hour will be best used? Disneyland or California Adventure?

    PS. we are using your big kids strategies for both parks, we will be doing rider switch since our kids are 8, 6, 4, and 2 years old. and we will probably be using Max pass.

  5. You mentioned not to try all rides in one day. If we go to half the list in one day, can we start the next day where we left off. Have you tried half the list one day and the other half the next? does it work okay?

  6. I love your plans for California Adventure! Do you have a minute by minute plan for Disneyland as well? We are going for the first time October 1. We have Mickey’s Halloween Party tickets for October 2, and planning one day at Universal Studios. What itinerary do you recommend (2 daughters ages 10 and 8)

  7. Hi Casey this is awesome thank you! We are heading down with the family first week of October. We have a 7, 5, 4.5, and 2.5 year old with us all first timers. Looking at your plan for littles and wondering if you would switch anything around if using the extra magic hour? Sorry of you have already answered this. Could you also touch on the same for California Adventure? Thanks!

  8. Hi Casey,
    I am reading your posts for couple of last weeks and all your strategies. Any tips how to combine all your tips for 1day hoper tickets for family with big kids? We will be there on Sept 15 and it is our first time visiting Disneyland. Appreciate any help!

  9. Hi Casey, can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and your site! I’ve used it on two Disney trips now! Do you happen to have any strategies for groups with big and Little kids? That always seems to be the struggle with us! We tried splitting the groups but the kids want to be together of course (cousins) so it’s tough balancing. The littles are definitely less patient than the bigs but we want to get the mountains done first of course! Thanks!!

    • You best bet is to use the big kids plan and then cross off what you’re not interested in. If big kids are going on an attraction that little ones cannot, try to find something nearby to keep them busy. Cast members can advise on that when you arrive at each attraction. You’d be surprised, thought, at how much you can all do together. Enjoy, Maria!

  10. Hi Casey,

    Thank you for your amazing website, I’ve been reading many posts and even watching some YouTube videos covering other tips and tricks for Disneyland and California Adventure and I’m? feeling a little overwhelmed by all the options available.

    I am traveling? to the U.S for the very first time from Sydney, Australia with my Wife and 11 year old son. We will be in Anaheim from September 17th 2018 until September 22nd. We have purchased a 4 day hopper pass for Disneyland/C.A. (Expedia had a deal of 4 days for the price of 2 including one Magic Morning). We have also purchased tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party for one of the evenings.

    During this vacation we will also spend some time in San Francisco, San Diego and Las Vegas.
    We have a day at Universal Studios and a WB Studios tour booked as well.

    Could you suggest a rough itinerary or which plan we should follow based on the above info to help us maximise our first time to the ?U.S? We have been planning this trip for years and I really don’t want to stuff it up!

    ? Thanks for any and all help you can give, Cheers.??

    Chris and Rebecca

  11. Casey – We just used the DL touring plan for little kids this past Friday to get started. We got our Buzz FP and then headed over to Alice. Seeing no one in line at storybook canal boats we headed over there first. Since we were the first guests to ride, we were asked to signed the guestbook. Such a magical moment!! Thank you for this plan!

  12. Hi! This is such a great site. Yours is the best of many I have looked at! Question for you, we will be arriving about noon to the Grand Californian on Sunday August 26 and will head To Disneyland Park for afternoon and evening for my son’s 10th Birthday! Any suggestions on attacking the park at that time of day (there will be two big kids my husband and I)? We will have 2 more days (one at each park) after the initial half day. Any tips for arriving that time of day would be great. Definitely planning to catch 10:30 show of Fantasmic that night. THANKS!

  13. Hi Casey,

    This is absolutely amazing, thank you for sharing. We’re from PDX and I’m taking nine 15-year-olds over labor day weekend. Our plan is to spend a day in each park. Would the above big kid plan work?

  14. Hi Casey,
    This is super helpful, thank you for sharing!
    Last summer we did adventure land- New Orleans-critter country first thing in the morning and we got done by 11 A.M. also I walked to register my daughter on the Jedi training academy while my husband went to get the fantasmic fastpasses before we started to do the rides and that plan worked great!
    Just wanted to share our experience with you.
    I just saw your plan for day start at DCA and will follow it on our next visit July 30th – August 3rd

  15. Hey Casey! With the advent of MaxPass, do you still see the need to arrive at the park one hour ahead of park opening on non EMH/MM days? We’re headed to DL/DCA in mid August and we’re staying at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel. We have no little ones in our group, and we’re all early risers. I saw in one of your previous posts that their shuttle doesn’t start until 30 min before park opening. If the latter is still true, we may walk to DL on the first day ( a Wednesday) to get our tickets scanned early and collect that all-important first FastPass.

    • Hi, Ruben. I do still recommend arriving an hour early if possible. Majestic Inn is tricky since their shuttle doesn’t run that early. We have walked from that location before and it was totally fine. Try it the first day to see how your group holds up. If it’s not worth the effort, take the first shuttle and get in the park asap after arriving. MaxPass certainly helps with these situations now. You will just be behind the Rope Drop crowd headed to your first attraction. Totally doable.

  16. Hi Casey,

    Any tips for combining these plans to satisfy both a 9-year-old thrill rider and a 5-year-old who hates roller coasters but loves simulators (i.e. Star Tours)? I’d like to start in Fantasyland so I’m thinking of following the Little Ones plan to start, but getting FP for Space Mtn instead of Buzz. Do you think we can ride Buzz without a FP if we skip Toontown? Then we could do Space w/ FP (swapping since my 5yo won’t ride it), and Nemo. I’d also like a FP for Star Tours since we all like that one. Should I pull that after Space, or is it better to do Star Tours first and then pull Space for later?

    We’ll be in the parks July 4-6 so I’m sure it will be busy. We’ll have 3-day Park Hoppers with MaxPass.

    • Hi, Ava. As always, arrive an hour prior to official park opening. Upon entering the park, select Space Mountain as your first FASTPASS and then set up at Rope Drop in Tomorrowland. Go immediately to board Star Tours at official park opening. That’s the best way to get both of these very popular rides done with almost no wait time. Ride Buzz and Nemo standby after riding Star Tours, while you’re waiting for your Space Mountain FASTPASS window. You should have all four of these attractions done by an hour into your day if you follow these steps. Arriving early is imperative.

      I would then select a FASTPASS for it’s a small world. Get through Fantasyland while you’re waiting on that return window, although it shouldn’t be much of a wait at all.

      (it’s a small world just got FASTPASSES. I haven’t had a moment to revise this post to include it.)

      After it’s a small world’s FASTPASS, select Splash Mountain and continue on with the plan.

      Hope so much this helps!

  17. HI Casey, thank you for your website. VERY helpful, I’ve noted down quite a bit of useful tips. We’re a family of 4 (my husband and I along with 7 year old daughter and 4 year old son) with a 4-day pass for the parks (no hopper) from May 14-17, 2018. Unfortunately, grad night is May 15 and 16. Can you please recommend a plan-of action so that we get in all the must-dos/sees during those 4 days with minimal waits? We’re thinking 2 days in each park.
    Any advice is appreciated.
    Thank you!! 🙂

  18. Hello! Using your strategy for DLR 1 day with little ones, at what point(s) would it be best to do the monorail and train rides? Thank you!

      • Hi Casey,
        We have a 4 day 1day per park tickets. We have 4 & 10 year olds. We aren’t into Star Wars at all, would like the Peter Pan stuff but also want to see the 4 mountains and go on the bigger rides utilising rider switch. We will do the EMH for each of the parks and stick with that park for the day. With DL I’m not sure whether to follow your EMH 1 or the one for the kiddies but incorporate the bigger stuff??

        • I would use the mountain plan for your first day. Focus on getting the big rides done first. Then, on a subsequent day, use the little kid version to fill in. Still save Peter Pan for later in the day, but those two days with the listed attractions will cover the park for you easily. Cross off any repeats you don’t care to do. Enjoy!

  19. Hi Casey, We are going to be at DL on Thursday, May 17th and Friday, May 18th. My 5-year old wants to do the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique and she also wants to do the Star Wars Jedi Training. I’ve booked an appointment for the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique first-thing in the morning on Thursday because I figured she’d want to get the most out of her makeover and wear it all day long. The plan was to do the Jedi Training on the Friday but I’m starting to worry about Friday mid-May crowds and not being able to get a Jedi Training reservation. The park opens at 9:00am on the Thursday and 8:00am on the Friday. It’s also Grad Nite at DL on the Friday. Do you have any recommendations/suggestions? Should I switch up my plan or am I okay with it as is?

  20. Hi,
    Was just looking at the plan above (for if you have younger one’s) and just wondered how does it work with MaxPass? Do you follow the same itinerary but just click the fast passes off your MaxPass app?

  21. We will be visiting during the Lunar New Year celebration from the 10-13th. How would you recommend fitting that in the the DCA day?

    • I would try to focus on attractions in the morning and then the Lunar New Year experiences in the afternoon when the parks are more crowded.

      I’ll be there today sharing what I find at the celebration on Facebook.com/DisneylandDailyCasey.

      Hope that helps!

  22. This is so helpful, thank you! If we have EMH and park hopper tickets do you recommend using our EMH at the designated park and then moving to the park without the EMH for the rest of the day? I have heard the park with the EMH and MM tend to be the busier park all day. Thoughts? Thanks for your help!

  23. Great site you are a lifesaver!!! I’m going mid September for my 40th and my twin boys 5th bday. We are staying at paradise pier. I was thinking about getting the maxpass as I like the photo option that comes with it as sometimes it will just be me and the kitties so don’t get a lot of photos with us all. Do you suggest following your ‘little ones’ plan? Also my mother will be with us for part of the trip but can’t go on rides am I able to do rider switch so I can ride the ride with one little and then switch to ride with the other so I don’t have to wait again? Are most of the rides and to accommodate one adult and two Little’s? (Would hate for us all to have to ride seperate and the rider switch although convenient may take up valuable time). What do you suggest? We have a 3 day park hopper pass.

  24. Wow, so much great information here, but this will be my first Disney trip, and my head is spinning! We’ll be at Disneyland the first full week of February, M-F. We have 5-day park hopper tickets. I am super apprehensive about crowds, which is why we chose early February and 5 weekdays. How strictly do you think we’ll need to adhere to a plan? We have two kids, 3 and 7, so I think we’ll have to split up some so each kid can go at their own pace (older brother is tall enough for all the big rides, younger brother is not). Our list of essentials is not that long (they’re big fans of Toy Story and Cars, Star Wars to a lesser extent, and couldn’t give a hoot about princesses or Mickey). On one hand, I really don’t want to rush the kids through and risk sensory overload/meltdowns, but on the other hand, I absolutely cannot wait in a 2 hour line for RSR because we spent all morning on Tom Sawyer Island or something. Also, we’ll start out the week still on East Coast time, so early arrival should be no problem!! Thank you for sharing your expertise!

    • Start each day with a plan and get stuff done without the lines. Then, relax each afternoon. You have plenty of time to do and see it all with 5 days. But, no one likes a 2 hour line. Follow a good plan to avoid just about any line longer than 20 minutes. Everyone will be happier that way.

  25. Thanks for all the great tips. We have EMH at DL on a Tuesday. We have two kids who like both Tomorrowland and Fantasyland rides. Where should we start first if we want to do both sets of rides? Can Fantasyland be done later in the day without horrible wait times? Thanks!

    • Hi, there.

      I would use the New Disneyland Strategy in this post and then focus on Fantasyland after. While waiting for a few of these attractions, you could sneak in Alice in Wonderland, which will be crowded throughout the day and is best to ride in the morning. Otherwise, most of the Fantasyland rides are decent afternoon/late evening. Save Peter Pan for later, as mentioned. If you want to skip my plan to move to the other side of the park all together, go immediately into Fantasyland after completing Tomorrowland.

      Otherwise, the ‘dark’ rides (Toad, Snow White, Pinocchio) are typically 5-10 minute waits later in the evening. Dumbo, Storybook Land Canal Boats and Alice are the longest lines. Teacups, the carrousel and Casey Junior shouldn’t be too long, regardless of the time of day.

      Enjoy!

  26. Hi, question how will your plan for little ones but with magic morning? Is fastpass working in magic morning? Or any suggestions I have a 2 and 5 year old. Thanks

    • Hi, Andrea.

      I have tested out these strategies with EMH and me not having it. So, you’re set. Follow the plans that work for you (with or without Guardians, as directed with EMH) and you’ll be in great shape). Enjoy!

  27. Hi Casey,
    I stumbled across your website and I LOVE IT! My family is going to DL on 10/7/17, which is a Saturday. We will only be at DL this day and we do not have a park hopper. Do you have a “Saturday” plan or are your plans good for any day of the week? TIA! 🙂

    • Welcome, Yvonne! Happy to help you.

      The plans in all of my posts work for weekends, too. I typically test them out on weekends, actually, so I know they’ll work with heavier crowds. If you are planning on using MaxPass, take a look at this post:

      https://www.facebook.com/DisneylandDailyCasey/posts/1318331108264529

      It’s linked in this post, too, but that will take you directly there. I share my park experiences on Facebook – down to the minute – so you can see how my plans play out. I got into LOTS of detail there.

      Use the New Disneyland Strategy and adjust it as needed. You’ll see what I did and why in that link, too. Let me know if you have any more questions!

      • Thank you so much Casey! I haven’t been to DL in 5 years, and I must admit that I have been spoiled with Magic Bands at WDW! I’m excited to try out MaxPass, and now that I’ve found your website, I’m more a little more confident with my plans!! Again, a BIG Thank You! 🙂

  28. Hi Casey,
    Just a little question? After reading this very helpful page, I am little confused regarding the tour plan order.

    The “Start your day at Disneyland” has the plan which tackles the four mountains with fastpasses (not MAX). But the (very helpful) little tables in found in your 6 steps planning process = DL Whole Family) show a different order/proposal. I’m sorry I’m so confused!

    We have two boys (aged 9) and we are after a combination of little kid and big kid rides.
    Thanks I’m advance – I think your page is wonderful 🙂

  29. I have a question. We are going to Goofy’s Kitchen for breakfast at 8:15 before the park opens at 10am. I was thinking we would ride the monorail into the park that morning. Is there a disadvantage to that over going in the main entrance and waiting for rope drop? Also, we aren’t hotel guests, but I don’t think the monorail is reserved for hotel guests in the morning, is it?

  30. Hi Casey! My family will be going to The parks the first week in October for 4 days. We will be staying on property. The first 2 days is dedicated to my son. 1 day in DCA and 1 day in DL. I have been reading your site for tips and strategies for months. I noticed you have an EMH strategy for DL and a different one for little kids without an EMH. But what strategy would you suggest for an EMH that is toddler focused at DL?? Also we plan to do the Minnie and friends character breakfast at the last seating, which should be about 1030 am, based on what I read.

    • Hi, Laurie.

      I would follow the Little Kids strategy for EMH just the same as I have it suited for those without EMH. Depending on your knowledge of Disney parks and your family’s dedication – I would suggest going to Peter Pan instead of pulling that Buzz Lightyear FASTPASS – if you know your family will be there well before EMH opening and know how to go directly to Fantasyland. If you can do that, skip the Buzz FASTPASS, ride Peter Pan, and then move on through the rest of the plan.

      You sound like you know what you’re doing, so I’m thinking you’ll be ok. Have the best time!

  31. First, I need to say THANK YOU for all of this information. Because of your methods, I rode everything on the list in Disneyland….BEFORE noon (showed up at rope drop).

    A few things to note here (and I apologize if it’s already been said) but some info before I begin:

    Arrival: ~7:30am, Wednesday June 14
    Went solo

    Order:

    1. Grab fast pass for Star Tours
    2. Rode Space Mountain (5-10 minute wait, line was moving so quickly it was hard to keep up)
    3. Rode Matterhorn (Being a single rider, I “walked-on”)
    4. Rode Star Tours with fast pass
    5. Rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (no fast pass needed, 5 minute wait)
    6. Grab fast pass for Indiana Jones
    7. Rode Splash Mountain (walk on, single rider)
    8. Rode Haunted Mansion (5 minute wait)
    9. Rode Pirates of the Caribbean (5 minute wait)
    10. Rode Indiana Jones with fast pass

    That hit all the major stuff for me in Disneyland. Time to completion: About 4 hours

    A note about the “Single Rider” option: I saw multiple groups do the “single rider” and quite a few of them managed to sit with their family/friends anyway and skipped the line.

    I then switched over to California Adventure, where I also was able to walk on many rides (even in the afternoon). I’ll post a comment there about what I did on the article for that one (link at the top of the page).

  32. Hi Casey, it is the best article i have read on the internet so far, thank you for sharing! so according to this tips, do not need to grab FT for all the rides, isnt it? i will visit disney just on my own, and will do single ride, do you think is it still worth to get FT for some busy rides?Thank you ^^

  33. Hey Casey! I know you’re super busy with the opening of Guardians today! Looks awesome! We arrive at DLR Monday night and I’m worried about some of our planning due to rides opening and closing. Specifically, I’m torn on what to do on my Wednesday and Thursday mornings both which will be at Disneyland. With Space closed on Wednesday, we’ll have to try to do it Thursday which is MM. However, most suggest doing Fantasyland during MM. Thoughts??? Help please!

    • Hi, Sabrina.

      I would use my plan for Disneyland and substitute grabbing the Buzz Lightyear FASTPASS instead of Space Mountain. Grab that, ride Star Tours, ride Matterhorn and then anything else you can fit in prior to your Star Tours FASTPASS time. Does that help?

  34. Hi Casey! I am going to DLR with a 3 and 6 year old first week of April with 4 adults for one day (actually 6 hours as are coming from a cruise in Long Beach). My 3 year old is Minnie crazed and my 6 year old is Star Wars crazed. Should we split up? My 6 year old will probably just do star tours and want to wander around the bay and I think would enjoy the rides you have on the littles. Would appreciate your advice on how to maximize our time there! We plan to be there when doors open and leave around 3:30 in hopes we will make it back to Long Beach before 6! Hopefully the traffic isn’t too bad!

    • Hey, there. I think you should split up for a bit to tackle Star Wars Land and avoid waits. Take the 3 year old to Fantasyland and then Toontown, which opens about an hour after the park opens. Then, meet back for lunch so you can enjoy the park together. Have fun!

  35. I didn’t read the links in this article so I am not sure you addressed ride closures, which should be included in this post. Ride closures happened to us several times during our first and recent trip this past weekend. On our first trip and on our first day of our first trip many big attractions were down at opening. This really screwed up our first day which crowd level wise was a 10 out of ten, and made going to Tomorrowland first was a huge mistake since both star tours and hyper were closed. So, trying to learn from our mistake we tried to use the line apps to see what would be down when first entering. I checked the app which said Peter Pan was not closed so we head there but it was down – again, messed us up. We woke up early and stood in line for a long time to get to a popular attraction before the line built but all that planning and waiting didn’t help. Maybe you could discuss things like this as these ride closures affected us 2 out of 3 days at park opening and therefor do not seem rare. Going to closed attractions first thing in the day really made us feel like failures at park planning even though I spent so much time and effort doing it.

    I would like to warn people about the touringplans paid service which I have used for WDW and for this recent visit to DL. For our trip to WDW they predicted crowd level of 6 to 8 but they were mostly 9 to 10 for most of the parks for most of the 6 days we were there. For our DL trip they were even more off. Our first day was predicted to be a 5 but it was a 10 (Friday). Our last day was predicted to be a 3 but it was a 6 (Monday). We had planned somewhat around these predicted crowd levels so if you are paying for this service only for their crowd predictions, I would reconsider. Apparently, they only based their predictions on the past instead of considering actual holiday school break dates which were different this year than the past. I did not know that they would ignore significant facts such as that when making their predictions.

    • Hi, Romaine.

      That is frustrating. I’m sorry. There are signs up outside both parks – before security – noting what is closed that day. Other than that notice on site, there is no way to know what rids will be down, especially if they’re unexpected and temporary. I keep this list as up to date as possible, but that won’t cover unexpected or temporary closures:

      https://disneylanddaily.com/refurbishments/

      I’ve heard the same about the Touring Plans crowd predictors. There is really no use any longer for any app outside of the free Disneyland app. The park is now providing most of the information 3rd party apps do, so trust Disney over outside sources. The Disneyland app will tell you which attractions are down, too.

  36. Is buzz lightyear still disconnected? Do you know how often they get changed? Also, do you know what ride in California adventure is disconnected?

  37. We will be using our e-tickets through the Disneyland app next week and won’t have physical tickets. Will this be a problem for getting fastpasses?

  38. Hello
    I wanted to know that if I was to the Buzz Lightyer fastpast and then. A Space Mountain Fast Pass. Can i then go to Disney California Adventure side to get another\3rd fast past for Radiator Springs Racers

  39. Hey Casey:
    Thank you for all your information. We are so excited for our upcoming trip, being WDW Lifers but first time for my children here. I saw you went to WDW recently, are the Big Thunder Mountain rides virtually the same for Disneyland and WDW? I am getting Confused if there is a Frozen show in March. Nothing has taken the place of Aladdin in DCA yet, right? Also, are there shows at Fantasy Faire or just princess meet n greets?

    • BTMRR is similar, but you should still ride it. Frozen show doesn’t start until May 27. The shows at Fantasy Faire are half Frozen and half Tangled. Princess meet-n-greets are there too.

  40. How are the CM’s about enforcing the return times? We are about to return to the DLR at the end of April (after a long hiatus-haven’t been since 2009) and when we were there then, you just had to return anytime after your initial return time. For example, like your FP ticket shows above shows return time of 9:40 and 10:40, as long as you showed up anytime of the day after 9:40, they would let you on. Is this still the case. Or do you have to adhere to the return times?

  41. Does it matter if I grab the space mountain tickets before the buzz light year tickets? Will the connected tickets lock me out of buying the disconnected tickets if I get the connected first in other words? Also, if I have small children but have 4 ppl that can ride rides, can I get 2 fast passes of different rides for the same times then get rider switch tickets to trade? Just wondering if I can get 2 fast passes for space mountain for one group and 2 fast passes for the other group for the same time for star tours and obtain rider switch at both and then trade?

    • It doesn’t matter which order you go in. Just be sure to know which are connected and disconnected. Rider switch ideally works like that, but some cast members are occasionally difficult about it. Just know that going in. It should work, though.

  42. Are those the only 4 thats disconnected? Can you also get some for Indiana Jones & Space Mountain? I also noticed that they cover the fastpass machines when they are not in use. Thank you!

    • Space Mountain and Indy are connected. Unfortunately you can’t pull those and others. This is a tough post to keep updated. Currently, Buzz Lightyear and Fantasmic! Are disconnected.

  43. Hi, Casey!!! 2 girlfriends & I are coming in a day early for a conference to specifically see Disneyland & CA in one day. We will be arriving Jan 10th & then taking the next day to conquer both parks. DL opens early (not staying in a DL hotel), so thinking we should arrive early to CA by picking up FPs according to your Tour Guide of both parks. Disappointed to see Soarin will be refurbished during our trip. Should be able to conquer all in a day? Hope to see you in the parks! Looking forward to it as I’m a DW pro & follow Shannon religiously. 🙂

    • Hi, MinnieSue! Yes, I would start at DCA with RSR and then head over to Disneyland unless there is more at DCA that you want to see. Soarin is the same as WDW, so don’t stress over that. I recommend spending much more time at DLR than at DCA, especially if you only have one day. Let me know what other questions come up!

      Recommended dining options for DLR in one day: Carnation Cafe for breakfast (Walt’s favorite – get Oscar’s special) and then Cafe Orleans for lunch (monte cristo, pomme frites and beignets for dessert). Make reservations for both….and they’re both DLR unique. If you can work in a dining experience that evening (Paint the Night starts on January 11), do so! You’ll have dining at Blue Bayou and then reserved seating for the parade. I’ll be at Blue Bayou that night, too.

  44. Hi Casey, any idea if the frozen show at DLR is playing through the holidays? We go tomorrow and I’m not seeing this listed on the Disneyland event schedule. Thanks! Jennie

  45. I was there 11/1. For DLR, no fastpass for the Fantasty Faire show. I asked about and they said just show up 30 minutes before. I can say – shows did not reach full capacity (the two times I saw) until about 10 minutes before showtime. Thanks.

  46. Casey,
    I’m looking at our upcoming visit and would like some clarification on the different options for Anna/Elsa/Frozen shows.
    I have down to get Anna/Elsa return tickets when we first enter CA. You mentioned in a post that they have a song-along. How is this different than what’s offered at Disneyland – “The Frozen Show?” I don’t want to repeat if they are similar shows.

    Sent from my iPhone

    • They’re actually very different shows. The one at DCA is super sweet and it’s a singalong. I completely enjoy that one. The one at DLR is more snarky and almost vaudeville in nature and people love it because it’s a twist on the movie you’ve likely seen a dozen times. Both are fun!

  47. I heard that the FASTPASS for the Frozen show is gone now. Or at least going away in the near future as it isn’t as crazy busy anymore. Is this true?

  48. Hi I recently purchased an AP and have since been to the park 5 times but can only manage to get on two rides since the lines are crazy long. I’ve read your suggestions about how to go about obtaining FPs but I don’t understand what you mean when you say they are “disconnected” would you mind clarifying this?

  49. Hi! Thanks so much for the updated post on FastPass. I was wondering how to maximize FastPass and Rider Switch. It will just be my husband and I with our 16-month old so we plan on using Rider Switch quite a bit. Do both adults need a FP to get a Rider Switch ticket?

  50. Hi, we’re staying on property and plan to do the magic morning each morning. Do FASTPASS machines only open after the park opens? I plan to follow your suggestion of riding Peter Pan first, then send my hubby to ride Dumbo with the kids while I run for FASTPASSES. What’s your suggestion as for as me lining up for the passes during the magic morning? THANKS

    • All Disneyland FASTPASS machines SHOULD work during Magic Morning. The only one I know of that does not is Radiator Springs Racers at DCA. Great plan……ride Peter Pan and then run for the passes as designed in this post while your husband takes kids to Dumbo. Well done.

  51. Hi
    I have a question, can I grab space Mountain FP after Buzz Lightyear, then go to get frozen show and Fantasmic?
    or I have to grab all the disconnected FP, THEN grab connected FP?Thank you so much

    • You should be able to grab all four since Buzz, Frozen Show and Fantasmic! are disconnected. Space Mountain is connected, so this would be your only one that inhibits grabbing others.

  52. my two kids ages 2 1/2 and 4months don’t pay to get in the parks, so they don’t have APs …if I were to get fastpasses for my husband and I would they allow my kids to use the fastpass line?

    • Hi, Stefanie.

      Since children cannot hold theme park tickets, they cannot pull FASTPASSES. Therefore, they don’t need them to ride a FASTPASS attraction with you. Little ones will be just fine without them.

  53. I have entered the park, and like you mentioned, left the rest of the family to sleep in while I gather fast passes. You did a good job of it, but you can’t STRESS THIS ENOUGH – your full party must be in the park with their tickets scanned at the front entrance in order for this to work. A ticket will not scan for a fastpass UNLESS, it has been scanned at the entry to Disneyland signaling to the computer that you are in fact, in the park. I, was very lucky though. One cast member saw me try to get fastpasses and it wasn’t working. I explained that I let my family sleep in and she helped me to get my fast passes. This will not always work, however.

  54. Thanks again for an informative article! I had no idea the Buzz Lightyear ride was disconnected. Questions: Is this the only disconnected ride in DL? As far as you know, has it always been disconnected?

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