If you are planning on visiting both of the Disneyland resort parks you need to have a plan. This Disneyland Itinerary and California Adventure Itinerary allowed us to experience the best of both parks in the small amount of time we had.
When we planned our first visit to Disneyland we knew that it would be a quick one day visit. Ideally we would have at least a few days to explore the parks and experience everything, but this for this visit we had one day and had to make it work.
To start our Disneyland Itinerary I did some initial research and planning. Read our tips to plan a 2 day/1 park visit after you finish this post. They will help you organize how you will plan your day.
In this post I am sharing the exact Disneyland and California Adventures itinerary we used to make the most of our 1 day and experience the best of the Disneyland resort.
Disneyland Itinerary Planning Basics for 2 Parks in 1 Day
- Plan and do your research ahead of time. Use these tips!
- Download the Disneyland App to your phone. I suggest downloading and logging in on all devices in your party. My phone didn’t work well in the park and we were happy to have my husbands as a back up.
- Purchase tickets (Disneyland park hopper) and MaxPass ahead of time. Link them in the app.
- Create a draft of what you want to do and what you are willing to skip.
- Write out your itinerary on paper or the notes in your phone to be prepared for your day.
Our Disneyland Itinerary: 1 Day/2 Parks
How We Planned Our Day at Disneyland
We set a few basic rules for our visit based on what worked for our family. Everyone is different and you should know what works for your family before you make your itinerary.
- Prioritize rides that are not at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida. We visit WDW often and decided to ride attractions that are not at the WDW park.
- Use MaxPass. MaxPass is the online FastPass system that allows you to make reservations on your phone instead of walking to each attraction. Disneyland uses a paper FastPass system, this is much different than the Walt Disney World FastPass system. MaxPass is available for a charge and was worth it to maximize our day at both parks. Read our MaxPass tips to see if it is a good choice for you.
- Skip shows and character meet + greets.
- Space Mountain was down for refurbishment during our visit and we decided to skip Splash Mountain and Star Tours. There were a few attractions that are at WDW that we wanted to ride at Disneyland: Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear, and Big Thunder Mountain.
- Also we did a lot of backtracking and walking. This itinerary is ideal if you don’t mind walking a lot. Disneyland is a small park and we found it relatively easy to go back and forth.
- Most people start at Indiana Jones because it is one of the most popular attractions. We decided to quickly do the Fantasyland dark rides and secure a FastPass for Indiana Jones.
This may seem a bit strict for most people on a family vacation but we know how we like to do theme parks. We don’t mind rushing to the attractions because that was our goal for the trip. We wanted to experience as much of the parks as we could in our short time.
All of our visits to the Disney parks are not like this. We plan rest days at Disney and often take our time. If your goal is to do as much as possible this is the best way to get it done.
Our Disneyland and California Adventure Itinerary: One Day!
- Arrive at Disneyland around 7:45am for a 9:00am opening. We were the first people at the gate for Disneyland. The kids ran around a bit and played until the crowds started to arrive. We drank our coffee, ate breakfast, and looked at the maps as we waited.
- Once your ticket is scanned you can purchase MaxPass(if you haven’t yet) and make your first FastPass. We made our FastPass for Indiana Jones (9:45-10:45am)
- Alice in Wonderland (Fantasyland)
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (Fantasyland)
- Snow White’s Scary Adventure (Fantasyland)
- Pinnochio’s Daring Adventure (Fantasyland)
- Pirates of the Caribbean (New Orleans Square)
- Indiana Jones Adventure, FastPass Time 9:45am-10:45am (Adventureland)
- We arrived at Indiana Jones around 10:30 (Used our FastPass 9:45-10:45am) While waiting for the ride we attempted to make our next FastPass but it wasn’t working in the building so we waited until we were done.
- Upon exiting from Indiana Jones we secured a FastPass for Radiator Springs at California Adventure for 3:10-4:10pm)
- Explore Toontown Play Areas (Around 10-15 Minutes)
- Gadgets Go Coaster (Toontown)
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin (Toontown)
- I suggest riding this before Gadget’s Go Coaster and we tried, but it was not up and running so we skipped it and went back as we finished exploring Toontown. Toontown also opens an hour after Disneyland opens.
- After Roger Rabbit we secured a FastPass for Buzz Lightyear (FastPass 11:30am-12:30pm)
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, FastPass Time 11:30am-12:30pm (Tomorrowland)
- Made a FastPass for Guardian’s of the Galaxy for 6:15pm-7:15pm.
- Lunch at French Market in New Orleans
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Critter Country)
- Mickey and the Magical Map 2:15pm Show (Fantastyland)
- Made FastPass for Toy Story Midway Mania! for 5:50pm-6:50pm during the show.
- At this point it was around 3:00 and we walked to California Adventure. The walk from gate to gate is only a few minutes and it makes a Disney hopper pass worth the extra money. It is very easy to park hop at Disneyland.
- Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! (Hollywood Land)
- Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters (Cars Land)
- Both Monsters Inc. and Luigi’s had between a 20-30 minute wait. They do not offer FastPass and ended up being the longest waits of our day.
- Radiator Springs, Fast Pass Time 3:10pm-4:10pm (Cars Land)
- If you can try to secure a FastPass for Radiator Springs early in your day. They were sold out by 3:00pm and we booked it during the early morning.
- Early dinner at Flo’s V8 Cafe.
- During dinner we made a FastPass for Soarin’ Around the World at 7:15pm-8:00pm. California Adventure closed at 8:00pm and we were surprised a FastPass was available. As you go through your day always check what is available.
- The Little Mermaid- Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (Paradise Pier)
- After The Little Mermaid we had about an hour before our next FastPass. We walked around Pixar Pier, took pictures, tried a few snacks, and explored. There are a few attractions but the lines were quite long.
- Toy Story Mania, FastPass Time 5:50pm-6:50pm (Pixar Pier)
- Guardians of Galaxy-Mission Breakout!, FastPass Time 6:15pm-7:15pm (Hollywood Land)
- Soarin’ Around the World, FastPass Time 7:15pm-8:00pm (Grizzly Peak)
- At any given point throughout the day we had 2-3 FastPass reservations scheduled. I updated the app while we waited for attractions and it helped save us a lot of time waiting in lines.
- Disneyland was open until 10:00pm so we walked back to Disneyland for our last few rides.
- After we rode Soarin’ I scheduled a FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain (FastPass 8:15pm-9:15pm) Once we entered Disneyland we headed straight to Big Thunder. I highly recommend riding Big Thunder at night!
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, FastPass Time 8:15pm-9:15pm (Frontierland)
- I secured our final FastPass of the night for Small World from 8:45pm-9:45pm as I walked to board Big Thunder Mountain.
- Storybook Land Canal Boats (Fantasyland)
- The wait was over 20 minutes and not really worth it. The kids wanted to check it out but I think we would skip it for next time. It is a cute attractions but I wouldn’t wait for it.
- it’s a Small World, FastPass Time 8:45pm-9:45pm (Fantasyland)
- I was happy we had it’s a Small World because even late at night the wait was over 30 minutes and we walked right on.
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
- There was not a wait at all for Nemo. This ride is a bit claustrophobic so keep in mind if you decide to ride. Although you do not submerge you are closed in a submarine with a small window. I remember this ride as a kid, when it was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and I felt the same way.
We did it!! We were exhausted but barely noticed because we were so excited to have the opportunity to experience Disneyland and California Adventure. For a Disney loving family, that lives in the Eastern US, we didn’t know if we would ever make it to the California parks.
Watch our Disneyland Family Vlog
I spent a lot of time before we left for vacation working on our itinerary and tweaking it but once we arrived at the park there were more changes-and that is okay! My husband and I talked about different options if FastPass reservations were sold out and we discussed our expectations with the kids so they wouldn’t be disappointed if we didn’t get to something.
We fully utilized the MaxPass securing 7 FastPass reservations and riding 23 attractions. It was ambitious but we had an incredible time. Having this Disneyland itinerary helped keep us focused on the day and made sure we got to everything our family wanted to enjoy.