(updated 07/06/18) As a follow-up to my last post, I wanted to share an example of an itinerary I would create for a "perfect" day at Disneyland.
A few qualifiers before I set out:
1) I'm assuming this is a normal crowded day at the parks (not during the holidays or during any other special events)
2) Your main goal is to get on as many rides as possible in one day
3) No one in the party is using a Parkhopper pass
4) We have the full day to explore
5) Everyone in your party has Maxpass for the day
Given these conditions, here is how I would plan my day. (Please note, that with any good plan it's wise to go in with the expectation that you may need to shift things slightly as the day unfolds. Disneyland can be an unpredictable place so I never take my itineraries too seriously when I head to the parks.)
7:30am - Arrival (It takes time to park, go through bag check, get on a shuttle, and enter the park, so I always try to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to that day's park opening)
8:00am - Disneyland is open for business!
8:00am - Using Maxpass get a Fastpass for Space Mountain. (I don't stop for coffee or pictures on Main Street. If coffee is a must I suggest arriving at 7am and hitting up Starbucks ahead of time or picking up your coffee on the drive over to the parks. While rides aren't open for business until 8am, Main Street will be open for photos and coffee by 7:30am.)
OPTION A: If you have children (or are a kid at heart, like me) chances are they're going to want to ride Peter Pan's Flight. This ride lasts about 1 minute and always has the longest line with no Fastpass options. As soon as the ropes drop head directly to this line in Fantasyland.
OPTION B: If you don't care about Peter Pan, head over to Frontierland.
8/8:30am - Get in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
8:30/40am - Head over to Pirates of Caribbean and check out the new red headed pirate
9:00 am - Head over to the Haunted Mansion and get in line
9/9:30 - By this time you should be able to get your next Fastpass via Maxpass, I recommend grabbing one for Indiana Jones. It's also probably time for you to head over to Space Mountain.
After Space Mountain, there are two options:
OPTION A: Complete the rides in Tomorrowland (Star Tours and Astroblasters). Both have Fastpass options so you could come back later and do these.
OPTION B: Head back to Frontierland/Adventureland and finish off that area of the park. (This is what I typically do).
10 - 12pm: Hit up the following rides
- Splash Mountain (if it's a cold day bring a poncho and disposable plastic bags to put over your shoes, you may look silly but you'll stay dry ;))
- Winnie the Pooh (almost always a 5 min wait and super cute)
- Jungle Cruise
- Indiana Jones (use your Fastpass)
------- You've just done almost everything in Frontierland and Adventureland. Pat yourself on the back. -----------
Pay attention to your Maxpass for when you can make your next Fastpass selections and look to get one for Star Tours, Matterhorn, Astroblasters, It's a Small World, or Space Mountain again. You'll want to do this throughout the rest of your day.
12:00pm - The park is probably feeling pretty crowded now. From here I would head to Toontown and meet Mickey and Minnie in their houses. If that is not your cup of tea, head back over to Main Street and take those pictures you know you've been wanting to.
LUNCH - If it were my perfect day I'd try to make a lunch reservation at the Blue Bayou Restaurant for 1:30pm. These need to be made well in advance because they fill up fast. If there isn't a rezi available, my alternative would be the Carnation Cafe on Main Street. This too requires an advanced reservation. If you don't want to make a reservation in order to have more flexibility with your schedule then you can't go wrong with a Corn Dog from the little red wagon at the end of Main Street!
2:00-6:00pm - This time can be super flexible. Some suggestions of how to use this might include:
- Grab a Dole Whip in Adventureland and watch the Tiki Birds in the Enchanted Tiki Room
- Catch the Disneyland Band as they cruise down Main Street
- Watch Mickey and the Magical Map at 3:15pm (a delightful stage performance featuring characters from your favorite movies)
- Watch the Pixar Play Parade at 3:30 and 6pm
- Check out the Dapper Dans on Main Street at various times throughout the afternoon
- Go shopping on Main Street
- Hit up some Character Meet & Greets
6/7:00pm - I'd start thinking about dinner. My top suggestion is the fried chicken at the Plaza Inn (see my post on Must Eat Disney Treats for more on this).
8:00/8:30pm - Head down Main Street and try to stake out a spot for the fireworks. Anywhere along Main Street is really fabulous viewing or if you prefer you can try to get a spot right in front of the castle.
9:30pm - Together Forever Fireworks start
10:00pm - If the line is not too long do Big Thunder Mountain Railroad one more time. It's so much fun in the dark!
10:30pm - Head over to Fantasyland (at this point a lot of the young kiddos have conked out so the lines for these rides are much shorter) and do all of the Fantasyland rides.
See if you can make it until park close at Midnight!