How to Win at Disneyland- Part 1

Day 1 of 3 16 + hour days.

I’m sure there are lots of strategies for getting around Disneyland, but my husband, Rob and I tend to stick to the same route with minor adjustments. We have a 7 and 9 year old, so things have changed since they were little, but this is the usual path we take with or without the kids. If there are holidays or new attractions opening, you have to change things up, but in general, we start day one in Disneyland, day two in Ca Adventure and then day three back in Disneyland. We always get the Park Hoppers but the first hour is the best so we have our plan for each park. If you’re staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel you get the extra magic hour, which is even better, but we’ve never been able to afford that. Our biggest tip is be in line at least 20 minutes before the park opens because you want to be the first one on the rides when they open those gates.

To start off, once we get in the gate, Rob heads off to get our locker. It’s $10 for a big locker that holds our lunch, portable phone charger, everyone’s flip flops and hoodies depending on the time of year. I have a smaller backpack I keep with me that holds a few munchies like jerky, peanut butter crackers and trail mix, as well as water, and sunscreen.

While he’s getting the locker, I take everyone’s tickets and swipe them at the Fastpass kiosk for Hyperspace Mountain or Indiana Jones (one the first day, the other the third day). They usually stop by the bathroom and then meet me at Peter Pan because the line is long all day and doesn’t have a Fastpass. Next, we go to Indiana Jones or Space Mountain, whichever we didn’t swipe, and we ride it once with a shortish line. Next, we go to Matterhorn and ride the single rider line, which usually means we walk right on if it’s still within the first hour.

By this time, our Fastpass is ready so I take all the passes and swipe them at Star Tours and we meet at our first Fastpass ride, Space Mountain or Indiana Jones, and get to walk right on. After that, we usually have about 2 hours to kill before the Star Tours Fastpass is ready, so we ride some of the classics depending on which side of the park we’re in.

If we just got off Space Mountain, we’ll walk to Fantasyland and ride the Tea Cups, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, or Mr. Toad’s, whichever has a wait time of less than a half hour. Once we’ve done a few rides in Fantasyland, we go over to Adventure Land and ride the Jungle Cruise and or Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates usually has a consistent half hour wait throughout the day and because it’s such a long ride, it’s a good one (like the Haunted Mansion) for resting your legs towards the middle of the day when you’re tired.

If we had just got off Indiana Jones, we would do those in the opposite order. Pirates and the Jungle Cruise first, then off to Fantasy Land.

By now, it should be close to lunchtime, so we go to the lockers and make a quick salami sandwich, and stuff our faces with chips, apples and cookies at a table outside by the fruit stand. Sometimes we pop a five hour energy at this point, but we usually save that for the evening and use this break to get a big Starbucks in the Market House, which is right next to the lockers. The meal isn’t too heavy to make us want to take a nap, but it gives us and the kids fuel to get right back out there.

The Star Tours Fastpass should be ready by now, so while Rob re-loads the locker and takes the boys to the bathroom, I’ll go over and swipe the tickets at Space Mountain (since it’s my favorite) or Splash Mountain if it’s the summer and the line is long all day. Then we meet and ride Star Tours before heading over to CA Adventure.

We usually do a Park Hopper to get the most out of our day, but to keep it simple, I’ll just stick to Disneyland today.

To see how we continue the craziness, check out “How to Win at Disneyland (Part 2).”

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