There are more ways to tour Disneyland and California Adventure than you can imagine. How do you decide which is best for your family?
First, some tips:
- Start early – Arrive prior to the park opening. Fewer lines and less traffic makes this time of the day better for riding more. For a full day, we arrive at least 30 minutes prior and often an hour prior to the park opening. California Adventure will sometimes let people in as early as 30 minutes before the posted open time. It pays to be there early!
- Take advantage of mornings. While people sleep in, work and go to school, you should be utilizing the park. Mornings give you an opportunity to do more. Don’t waste it.
- Divide your day. After enjoying a busy morning, try to relax at lunch and regroup. Depending on everyone’s mood and behavior, start thinking about the second half of your day. Confirm timing for parades and shows to fit into your park touring.
- Consider a break around 2pm to avoid afternoon meltdowns and a hot, busy park. Afternoon hours are most crowded, so take advantage of your hotel room being so close and escape for a bit. Swim, nap, shower and re-group for your evening visit.
- Use FASTPASSES. If your group includes little ones, send one adult to the fast pass distribution booth to grab passes as needed. You will need one theme park ticket or annual pass per person to insert into the machine to receive a fast pass back. Have one adult carry all tickets during your day to decrease the chance of them getting lost.
- Utilize touring plans (below) for guidance on how to navigate the park. I’ve created two versions – Littles and Big Kids, with one and two day plans for Disneyland and one day plans for California Adventure. Height restrictions, my knowledge of line times, and personal experience guided my design. These are proposed schedules for your days, which help you walk through the parks in an organized fashion, utilize fast passes and enjoy key attractions that fit into your time allotted. A lunch break has been included, which can be adjusted to work with your plans. Not every ride appears on every plan. Some were omitted due to time restraints or because I think they’re worth missing.
Updated December 2017:
While the touring plans below work well for many guests, I now recommend you read and follow the suggestions within these two posts sharing how to start your day at each park. After running this site for nearly 4 years and visiting the parks weekly during those years, I’ve learned smarter ways to tour.
In these posts, I share more details on these new strategies and link up to examples showing how successful they are. Essentially, I have created plans that allow you to conquer most of the iconic rides in each park by lunch time. It’s totally possible! MaxPass will allow you to tour more efficiently than the Classic (Digital) FASTPASS system, but these plans work with either option. I’ve left my older touring plans on this page because many people love them. But, I recommend you follow these posts:
Here are the pages individually for printing, saving and easy view on your smart phone:
DLR 1 Day Littles
DLR 2 Day Littles
DLR 1 Day Big Kids
DLR 2 Day Big Kids
DCA 1 Day Littles
DCA 1 Day Big Kids
Disneyland, Entire Family (With the last column listing nearby alternate options if kids are too little to ride) – 1 Day Plan
California Adventure, Entire Family (With the last column listing nearby alternate options if kids are too little to ride) – 1 Day Plan
One Day at DLR & DCA for Entire Family
Finally, here is how to check for attraction refurbishments during your stay:
Last step is next: Adding Extra Magic!