How Many Days do I need to See Everything at DisneylandⓇ Resort?
If you’re considering getting DisneylandⓇ tickets for your family, one of the first questions is how many days to plan for. While some families manage to have a satisfying trip to DisneylandⓇ Resort in just one or two days, you really need longer than that to see everything. There is a wide range of gentle rides, thrill rides, roller coasters, shows, and more in the parks. The FastPass ticket system makes it easier to get through the lines in a timely manner, but it’s still not possible to experience everything the resort has to offer in just one day.
In some cases, you may need five days to adequately cover DisneylandⓇ Park, Disney California AdventureⓇ Park, and Downtown DisneyⓇ. That number can increase if you have small children or elderly adults in your group, or if inclement weather closes some rides. Remember, it’s better to add on an additional day than to rush around the parks and exhausting yourself. Planning in advance and talking with your family members can help you determine the most realistic option.
Two Separate Parks
Your strategy for seeing everything in the DisneylandⓇ Resort will partly depend on whether or not you’re willing to buy Park Hopper passes. A standard one-day or multi-day ticket will give you access to either DisneylandⓇ Park or Disney California AdventureⓇ Park on any given day. You can also access Downtown DisneyⓇ at any time since that area doesn’t require a ticket for admission.
If your tickets are single-park tickets that only allow you to visit one pass per day, you will have to plan accordingly. Park Hopper passes will allow you to split your day between the parks for a small additional fee. This can be advantageous if there are shows you want to see at certain times, or if you finish at one park in just a day and a half. Since the Park Hopper pass allows you to leave and reenter each park an unlimited number of times, it’s a worthwhile investment if you have an active family who’s willing to move between parks quickly to maximize their time.
In order to get the most out of your trip, it’s important to understand how the FastPass system works. Any ticket holder can access a FastPass ticket reservation system inside the park to get a ticket that lets them come back to a ride for expedited access later on. For example, if you go first thing in the morning to get a FastPass for Space Mountain, you could get a ticket for 11:30 a.m. entry to the ride. At 11:30 a.m., you would come back to the ride and be granted access to a special line that lets you board the ride much more quickly.
Keep in mind that a visitor can only hold one FastPass reservation at a time. In other words, you can’t run around the park getting several FastPass tickets as soon as the park opens. Also, while FastPass is available for most popular rides, there are a handful of rides that it doesn’t cover.
You’ll have to prioritize rides and make sure to be ready to enter the FastPass line once the time on your ticket comes. Still, it’s an essential tool for seeing all of DisneylandⓇ Resort in a reasonable amount of time. Without FastPass, you could spend three or four days trying to enjoy everything in the park during peak tourist season.
If you want to ride all of the popular rides, be prepared to spend a decent amount of time in line. Even with the FastPass system, you may end up waiting an hour or more in line for the most popular rides. Seasonal crowds can vary, and they’re not just limited to the summer – Christmas vacation is a surprisingly popular time for families to visit the park!
Thus, the time it takes to see everything at DisneylandⓇ Resort can increase significantly if crowd conditions are right. If you’re not interested in the most popular thrill rides, you will probably need less time to enjoy everything you’re interested in. Still, even food stalls and gentle rides can take longer than usual during the busy season, so always make sure to arrive at the parks as soon as they open to make the most of your tickets.
Disneyland Park: Two Days
DisneylandⓇ Park is home to dozens of classic Disney rides, so it’s important to get two full days here to make sure you get to see everything. Despite its age, Pirates of the Carribean remains a popular ride, as does the Haunted Mansion. Splash Mountain is great for hot days, and Indiana Jones™ Adventure is a great nostalgia trip for fans of the classic movies. There are also endless photo opportunities around the park, thanks to the gorgeous buildings and landscaping that bring the scenery to life.
Most of the rides here are kid-friendly, so families with young children can spend plenty of time here. This park is also where you’ll find Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the newest area of the park. Since the Star Wars attractions are so popular, you may need to spend a few hours to get through their lines. The newest Star Wars ride, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, currently doesn’t have FastPass tickets, so you may want to head over here as soon as the park opens in order to avoid a long wait.
This park truly has something for everyone, so it’s hard to cover in less than two full days. While you can probably ride most rides in one day if you visit during the off-season, it’s probably not possible to ride all of them without sprinting around the park! Take your time and enjoy all of the sights and sounds of the park, and make sure to try some of the unique and delicious food.
If you want to do multiple character meet-and-greets with Disney princesses and Star Wars characters, you may actually need a third day at the park. However, if your priority is riding rides, you can probably cover this park in two days. Using FastPass on the most popular rides will help reduce wait times and keep everyone in your party happy.
Disney California Adventure Park: Up to Two Days
The newer of the two DisneylandⓇ Resort parks is more modern and focuses on thrill rides and modern Disney movies. It has character meet-and-greets that young movie enthusiasts won’t want to miss, so check schedules ahead of your visit to see what’s available. No matter when you’re visiting, though, you’ll definitely want to arrive early to make sure you can grab FastPass tickets for rides and minimize wait times.
Thrill-seekers will want to ride the Incredicoaster, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission BREAKOUT!, and Grizzly River Run. Younger kids will love Radiator Springs Racers, which offers a slightly faster ride than most traditional car rides. There are also some excellent stage shows featuring characters from Frozen and other famous movies, and these shows provide a great chance to rest your feet while getting out of the sun.
This park has some hidden gems that aren’t as well-known as the classic Disney attractions. One of them is Animation Academy, which offers guests a chance to draw a character with a trained artist. This class takes place in the Disney Animation Building, which is full of Disney animation treasures, so this landmark is worth at least a quick visit even if you don’t want the full art lesson.
Since Disney California AdventureⓇ Park has a higher proportion of thrill rides than DisneylandⓇ Park, families with small children may end up needing less than two days here. However, you can still make the most of your time at this park by going back and riding rides a second time. If it’s looking like you’ll run out of new rides, consider grabbing a FastPass for a ride you’ve already been on before grabbing dinner or seeing a show. (Serious thrill ride fans could certainly spend a third day here riding their favorite rides again, so consider that option if you’re coming here with teens or particularly brave adults!)
Downtown Disney: Up to One Day
Downtown DisneyⓇ doesn’t just have shopping! It’s home to restaurants, live music, unique ice cream shops, and even a few Star Wars attractions. It’s a fantastic place to end each day at the resort, or you can spend a whole separate day here. If you want to thoroughly explore all of the shops, though, you will probably need most of a day.
At the very least, check out the gifts that you can’t get anywhere else in the world. You can buy fantastic art collectibles that will be a stylish reminder of your vacation. Pin enthusiasts and casual Disney fans alike will find something worth buying at the Pin Traders store. The vintage-inspired Disney Dress Shop is a must-see for fashion fanatics, and The LEGO™ store is great for toy fans of all ages. Of course, the World of Disney™ store is mandatory for all Disney fans!
The good news is that Downtown DisneyⓇ doesn’t require a ticket. This means that you can theoretically fit it in during days when you visit other parks. For example, if you finish up at Disney California AdventureⓇ Park in the early evening on your second day there, you can easily go over to Downtown DisneyⓇ and check out some shopping and attractions until the shops close. Serious shoppers will want more time, though, so it’s best to ask your party ahead of time how much souvenir shopping they plan on doing.
Traveling with Small Children or Elderly Visitors
As all parents know, small children move a little more slowly and don’t always adhere to the schedule we expect them to! They may need more time than anticipated to eat lunch or may insist on riding a ride a second time. They also get tired easily and may need afternoon naps to keep going until evening. Additional flexibility is important when accommodating young ones, especially since they’re the ones most likely to want to go full speed ahead.
On the flip side, elderly visitors may not want to ride every single ride or attraction. Instead of needing more time at the park, they may actually want less! The amount of time that’s right for your family will depend on how tired out your family members get. If your group really wants to ride all the rides, though, a group with elderly members may need to move a little more slowly or rest more often. Keep this in mind if you think you need a third day at one of the parks.
While you can also theoretically split up your group at times, this needs to be negotiated with your family in advance. Make sure to have an honest and friendly conversation with relatives about their interests and how long they want to spend at the park each day. In some cases, it may make sense for very old or young relatives to go back to the hotel to rest while others continue to explore the parks. To give everyone a chance to rest while at the park, consider doing sit-down dining options for both lunch and dinner, even if your family normally eats on the go.
Accounting for Weather
While DisneylandⓇ Resort is open rain or shine, some rides may close in heavy rain or lightning. Luckily, this is uncommon, as California is generally sunny, but thunderstorms can come up suddenly in the summer. With a large number of outdoor rides at each park, though, you may find yourself with a surprisingly small selection of rides during inclement weather.
This is why it’s especially helpful to have a second day at each park. On your first day at the park, try to prioritize the outdoor rides that could get rained out later. Then, you can fit in the indoor rides if the weather turns sour. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to the end of your second day and only have indoor rides left to conquer. The best indoor rides include Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain in DisneylandⓇ Park, and Soarin’ Around the World and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! in Disney California AdventureⓇ Park.
It’s also important to take extra time to rest and drink water in hot weather. While DisneylandⓇ Resort allows you to bring in water bottles, they’ll quickly run dry on hot days. Luckily, there are plenty of water fountains around the park where you can refill. You should also try to enjoy the indoor rides and shows during the early afternoon on hot days.
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