1-Day Disneyland Theme Park Touring Plan

Our 1-Day Disneyland touring plan offers any guest step by step instructions on how to complete most everything at the Disneyland Park for a magical and adventurous day. Disneyland is one of the most visited theme parks in the world with over 20 million guests annually. If you’re planning your vacation and are wondering how you’re going to get it all done, we’ve got you covered. Put those fears to rest and follow our updated touring plan.

Currently there is no FASTPASS service at Disneyland so it kind of throws a wrench into our touring plan. However, we’ve be able to write this in a way for you to bypass FASTPASS for the time being and still get most things done. During the reopening week of Disneyland we were able to put notes together for how crowds were moving during COVID and all the new health and safety measures.

Statue of Walt and Mickey Outside Cinderella Castle Decorated for Christmas

Putting this to use now, our current 1-Day plan is surprisingly easy to follow. We suggest arriving earlier than park opening for two reasons. First, lines get long at park opening and you’re going to want to be towards the front of them. Get there an hour early. Second, the parks have been opening a bit earlier than the posted time so if this ends up being the case, you’ll want to take advantage of it.

On our first day in we were able to get the following done before noon (we went in at 8 am): Indiana Jones Adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We just barely etched in Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run at noon but ran over.

With Disneyland being visited by millions of guests each year, it’s easy to wonder how, on the days you’re there, it’s not just going to be crazy busy and the lines insanely long. Sometimes this is the case! It’s especially true around major holidays and weekends. Even so, our touring plan will set you up for success no matter what the park is like when you’re there.

Most Popular Disneyland Attractions

Red Disneyland Railroad with Train Conductor Standing on Train, Green trees in Background

These rides are considered the “must-do” attractions by most guests. And of course we highly recommend them too. When people talk about Disneyland and their favorite rides, these are probably going to be on their list. Most of them are considered classics at this point since Disneyland has been opened since 1955 and many have been around for a long time. Most of these attraction also tend to have longer lines which is why it’s important to have a good plan in place.

  • Space Mountain
  • Indiana Jones
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Splash Mountain

The next level down is going to be filler attractions, some very close to being the E-Tickets like above:

  • Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • Autopia
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin

Green and Black Dim Room, Guests Board Ghost Staton Attraction

Of course there are all the Fantasy attractions like Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, Peter Pan, Storybook Canal Boats etc. We’ll cover these below in our 1-Day Touring Plan with kids.

Must-see shows at Disneyland include:

  • The Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln

While our 1-Day Plan focuses on attractions, we think that guests who find themselves with spare time or an extra day at Disneyland Park should take some time to watch the shows and park entertainment. Overall, the average guest is going to be trying their hardest to get on all the big attractions in one day. It’s just natural to try and get them done as quickly as possible.

If you really only have one day at the parks then you’ll want to follow this plan to a tee. If you have 2 or more days, you can be more leisure about your visits but the plans overall outline should still be followed.

1-Day Touring Plan At Disneyland Park

Sleeping Beauty Castle

You need to plan to be at the parks about an hour before they open. This is for two reasons: First, you never know what the security lines are going to be like. This is especially true for anyone entering from the Harbor side of the resort. These lines can get long so plan ahead.

Second, you want to be at the gates before they open them. This is what is called rope-drop and it’s when you’re there for the gate opening, being some of the first guests into the park. This is the ideal way to start the plan. Something to keep in mind is that the security lines for guests staying on property (a Disney-owned hotel) will be smaller so you may not have to show up quite as early. This is especially true for guests staying at the Grand Californian Hotel. They have the shortest walk of any guest to the park entrance.

This first plan is assuming you don’t have any kids with you that can’t make every height requirement for the attractions. If you do have smaller kids with you, scroll down the page a bit until you find our plan that includes the little ones.

Also keep in mind that this plan assumes you don’t have FASTPASS set-up or you aren’t going to be using it. We have a simpler guide that walks you through a FASTPASS Day at Disneyland that you might want to checkout if you plan to use FASTPASS or MaxPass. It’s very similar to this guide but time-wise there’s a better chance at getting more done.

Cream-spotted Bunny Sculpture in front of small tree

Lastly, do not forget to grab a 7 a.m. Virtual Queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. This will come into play later but as of right now it’s required in order to ride. See how to increase your chances of getting a boarding group. If you miss the 7 a.m. one you can try again at Noon.

Once the park gates open, make a mad dash to the end of Main Street U.S.A. and turn left. You’re headed into Adventureland where you’ll start off with Jungle Cruise. If it’s closed, head right to Indiana Jones – Temple of the Forbidden Eye. If you saw signs that this was going to be running on a virtual queue for the day, get one via the Disneyland app as soon as you get into the parks. Otherwise jump in line and ride. 

After Indy you’re going to hit Pirates of the Caribbean for a nice relaxing ride. This attraction tends to get busy during the hotter hours of the day which means longer lines. And there’s not really any shade when the line goes outside the normal queue. Pirates should be 10 minutes or less at this point.

Dark sky, Large White Building Surrounded by Greenery Outside Disney's Haunted Mansion Attraction

After you ride Pirates, head over to Haunted Mansion for a ghostly tour. Right after this you’ll be headed to Splash Mountain for a real cool-off. This is one of the most popular attractions in the entire park so the earlier you can get it done the better. If you’re worried about getting wet in the morning time, bring a poncho! Splash should only be 20 minutes or so.

After Splash make your way over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It shouldn’t be too busy at this point, maybe 30 minutes or less. 

At this point you should have done the following or close to it:

  • Jungle Cruise
  • Indiana Jones
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Splash Mountain
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean

This is a decent chunk of attractions and it should only be around 11:00 am – 12:00 p.m. depending on how early the parks opened.

Cloudy Sunset Over Matterhorn Mountain and Tall Green Trees

Now’s a great time for a lunch break. You’re in Frontierland so you could try Rancho Zocalo, Golden Horseshoe, or Jolly Holiday Bakery around the corner. The point is to go somewhere close to keep you on schedule. Travelling across the park to eat isn’t ideal but we also get that people have their favorite places to eat. If you can, try and mobile order your food so it’s ready to go right when you get there.

After lunch you’re going to head into Tomorrowland for some Star Tours and Space Mountain action! The wait should only be around 15-20 minutes for Star Tours and 35-40 minutes for Space Mountain. It gets longer at the day goes on so now’s the perfect time to ride it. After, head over to Matterhorn Bobsleds for a crazy ride down the mountain. The wait time here should be around the same, 35-45 minutes.

Ready for a snack? Edelweiss Snacks is close by and so are several carts for popcorn and churros. Need something creamier? It’s a walk but mobile order a Dole Whip from Tropical Hideaway and enjoy it on your walk to the next destination which is going to be Galaxy’s Edge. 

Here’s you’re going to want to do Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and this is going to finish off your main tour.

Virtual Queues

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge grey towers

We realize that virtual queues are unpredictable time-wise so just do your best. When you’re group gets called for Rise of the Resistance or Indiana Jones, head on over and get them done. You do have some wiggle room so if you think you can squeeze in an extra attraction beforehand, do it!

If you weren’t able to get a boarding group at 7 a.m. your next chance is at noon, right around lunch. Set a timer to go off 5 minutes before so you don’t forget. You may end up with a boarding group that needs to show up in an hour or you may get one that requires you to stay till park close. Again, just fit them into the plan the best you can but be sure to do them!

Finishing Up The Plan

Assuming you got all those attractions done and any virtual queues, it’s time to enjoy almost anything. Look at the wait times on the Disneyland App and if there are lower wait times for some of the favorite attractions, go do them again! If you want to see some shows, nows a great time. 

If your dying to see the parade or firework show for the evening time then go grab a spot. Have someone get dinner and enjoy it on Main Street U.S.A. There’s nothing like eating an ice cream cone while sitting on the curb waiting for the parade to start!

1-Day Touring Plan With Kids

Disneyland Entrance with Pink and White Mickey Floral Arrangement

First of all, why? Just kidding! It’s always fun to bring the kiddos along and see them enjoy the attractions. Those smiles and laughs are priceless! This plan starts off the same way as above, being at the parks before they open the gates. When they do, make a dash for Peter Pan’s Flight. It’s so…lame that you have to do this but it’s what everyone else does so get it done!

After Peter Pan go to Snow White’s Enchanted Wish which was recently re-done and is incredibly better than the old one. Next do Dumbo which tends to get a longer line as the day goes on. Then choose something like King Arthur’s Carousel, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride or Pinocchio’s Daring Journey

Finish up with Storybook Canal Boats or Casey Jr.’s Circus Train. Now head over to Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean where you should only need to wait around 15 minutes for either one. After, go over to Haunted Mansion for a cooler inside ride. Wait time should be around 25-30 minutes.

Winnie the Pooh attraction entrance

When you’re done you may want to take a lunch break at either Hungry Bear Restaurant or the French Market. Both are fantastic options for families. When you’re done, go to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in Critter Country. Galaxy’s Edge is right next door so if you have fans, head on in for some touring or, if everyone can make it, Smuggler’s Run. 

When you’re done here head into Toontown where your kids can get out some energy at the park or take a ride on Gadget’s GO Coaster. Be sure to grab a snack in here as well. There are several carts and quick service options.

Last, head over to Tomorrowland where you can enjoy Autopia, Finding Nemo Submarines and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.

Most kids want to see the parade, meet a character and watch fireworks. Now’s the time to do all this since you’ve gotten the attractions out of the way. Have dinner somewhere fun or go see a show. The rest of the day is yours!

Parent Swap Option

Splash Mountain Attraction

You can easily do a combination of both plans above by utilizing the Parent Swap Program. It allows the older guests with no height restrictions to go on the bigger attractions while one parent stays behind with the little ones. Once they are down the parents “swap” and the adult who stayed behind now gets to ride via the FASTPASS line.

In order to use this option, simply let a Cast Member know at the attraction that you want to do a Parent Swap. They will confirm who’s going and who’s staying. They will then give you a card to present once the first parent has come out. The next parent and up to 3 guests can now go through the FASTPASS line. 

It’s a pretty cool system and a really good way to combine both plans so you can get a lot done. You can also do both plans by having one parent take the little ones and do the kids plan while the other parent takes the older ones and does the regular touring plan.

It’s not always fun to be separated but if you feel like it’s the easiest way to get things done, go for it! Whatever works for you!

Plans Can Change – Be Prepared

Pirates of the Caribbean Fountain

We mentioned weather as one of the things that can impact your plans at Disneyland. Honestly, it’s usually for the best if you come prepared. During heavy rain at the park, most people go and hide somewhere because they weren’t prepared for it. They tend to go into restaurants, stores and shows or huddle around bathrooms. This is the perfect time to hit the bigger attractions either for the first time or second depending on what you’ve already done. So if you’ve done 
Indiana Jones and you’re over in Tomorrowland, you may want to pause your activity there and head back over to it for a shorter wait.

Being prepared for these situations includes having rain gear like ponchos and umbrellas with good shoes. You can accomplish a lot on days like these. They tend to happen in the summertime so be sure to check the weather before you go to see if it calls for rain.

If you’re travelling with kids, especially little ones, naps and feeding can change how much you get done in a day. It’s not always easy to designate one parent to stay behind while the other one goes off. If you have a little one with you who needs to be breastfed, there is an indoor nursing station with AC on Main Street where you can go. Otherwise you can feed anywhere in the park. If the parent who is staying behind doesn’t want to miss any of the big attractions, it’s a great idea to feed during shows.

Peter Pan's Flight Entrance, Dim Lighting with Brown Sign

If you have a child who falls asleep, change your plans up a bit and hit the attractions that offer parent swap. That way the child can sleep and there’s always a parent with them and no one misses out on anything.

If you find that one of these attractions is closed, skip it and move on or fill it in with an attraction that’s in the same location. Your overall goal is to continue circling around the park, always one step ahead of the crowds so as long as this is being followed, it doesn’t matter if you need to swap one out.

If you do find yourself falling behind, you may want to skip a smaller attraction or show and move on to the next big attraction. You’ll know if you’re following behind if you come across an attraction that has a 45+ minute wait. Occasionally, there are days where for some reason the crowds just spread to every land and attraction and that when you know you’ve come on one of the busiest days. Stick to the plan though and you’ll make it through.

Dining During Your Visit

Bayou style restaurant with lanterns

Dining is the second most important thing during your visit to the parks. For some, it’s number one. Wherever it falls, make sure you make it part of your day. We mentioned above a couple of times of when you can stop and eat. However, these are just referencing quick service meals. 

If you want to get as much done in the day but still have time for fine sit-down dining, we recommend you make those reservations for the evening time. For Disneyland Park, these would include the following restaurants:

  • Blue Bayou
  • Club 33
  • Cafe Orleans
  • Carnation Cafe
  • River Belle Terrace

For Disneyland, you can make reservations up to 60 days in advance. We would recommend doing so for any of the above restaurants.

Parades and Fireworks

Sorcerer Mickey on parade float

Of course you’re going to make time for these! Everyone loves a good parade and firework show by Disney. So it’s not a matter of if you are but rather how you are going to fit it in to your touring plan. 

We recommend doing these during the evening time so that you can get as many attractions done during the day as possible and then just sit and relax afterwards. 

Disneyland typically does an evening parade, sometime around 6-7 p.m. It differs based on the parade they are running, if it’s light based or not, and if they are running an afternoon parade or not. Be sure to check the times guide on the app in the morning to see what time it’s at. 

You’ll want to get a parade spot about 45 minutes before it starts. Try and find a shaded spot where no one can sit/stand in front of you. Main Street U.S.A. is usually pretty good, sitting on the curb.

Fireworks are always going to be in the evening time, sometime after dark, for obvious reasons. This may be one of the last things you do at the parks before heading out. We recommend getting to a spot along Main Street U.S.A. or in the HUB area about 1 hour before they start. Again, check the times guide in the morning for the exact start time.

Afterthoughts

White Mark Twain Ship Disneyland

Stick to the plan. You’ll notice that we always head left in the morning and make a half circle before heading to the other areas of the park. This is especially useful when Extra Magic Hours/Magic Morning Early Entry are going as these force guests to the right, into Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. They tend to get caught up there for half the day so lands like Adventure, Frontier, New Orleans and Critter Country stay empty till around noon.

Make sure you work in some dining and plan for parade and firework viewing at the end of the day. Make sit down reservations 60 days in advance and, again, in the evening time if possible.

Most of all, be proud of what you’ve accomplished in the day. You’ll get a lot done in 12 hours that takes most guests 2 days to do. It’s all about having a plan!

Disneyland Planning

For guests looking to plan a Disneyland Resort vacation we highly recommend you check-out some more of our guides. We have a tickets savings guide that can help you keep cash in your pocket when buying your legitimate, discounted tickets. We can also recommend some of the best hotels to stay in whether it’s on property or around Anaheim. Lastly, be sure to see our planning guide for up-to-date information on the resort. 

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