Disney,  Travel

How to do Disney in One Day

Aside from makeup, the majority of the questions I get are about Disney.

When is the best time to visit? What is your Favorite Resort? What are the best places to make reservations? Are certain activities worth it? Etc. My love for Disney is what some would call obsessive but I like to think of it more as an intense infatuation. Ha.

Whatever you call it, it drives me to Disney parks at least 5 times a year, all in varying lengths of stay. I have been known to disappear to Disney for more than a week but also known to take spontaneous 24 hour whirlwind trips. While normally I would never recommend anyone do Disney in a day, it has come to my attention that the majority of people fit Disneyland into a one-day extravaganza. You may not get the same experience as a multiday visit, but it is possible to do in one day with these helpful tips!

(Before we start, I would like to note that in no way will you be able to effectively do Disney World in a day. You could pick a certain park and *just* do that in a day but that’s about it. You would spend the majority of your day traveling between parks to get in at most, two rides. The proximity and size of Disneyland ­makes a one-day trip much more realistic.)

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Hold on to your hats because these here are the wildest tips in the wilderness!!!!

  1. Be prepared. This may sound like a no brainer but believe me, people show up to Disney *after* they have already opened to stand in line to purchase a ticket. If you are going for just one day, this is such a time waste. Plan the day you are going to be in Disneyland and buy your tickets online. You can decide with your friends or family if you are just going to pick one park to visit or if you will be purchasing the park hopper enabling your party to go to the second park as well. Let me say, that a park hopper is worth it. Disneyland Park is right across from Disney California Adventure (DCA). They are so close; you do not even have to go through another security check. Once you are in, you can visit either park seamlessly. Whatever your party decides on, purchase the tickets online to avoid unnecessary lines. This will save precious park time. While on the Disney site, be sure to look at the park times listed for your day. You will want to be there when park opens to close. This will help prepare you to factor in travel time to the park, and roughly how long you will be in the resort.
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  2. Make reservations. If you are just focused on rides and fast food then you can skip this tip. BUT, if you want a character dining, to eat at a sit down or any of the extras, this is important. Disneyland reservations can be made 60 days out (not 180 like WDW). Planning a nice meal or important character meal for your kids is important to do early. If you want a character dining breakfast and want to start in DCA then Ariel’s Grotto would be a great option. I personally like to do a sit down for lunch or dinner. Lunch is my go to because it is a nice intermission of the day. Usually by 1:00 you have been in the park six hours or so and want to get out of the heat for a bit. It allows for a second burst of energy to finish out the day strong, and full. If anything, making a reservation guarantees you a spot at a restaurant, tour or any other extra activity you may want to do.
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  3. Invest in MaxPass. What is MaxPass, you ask? The best thing EVER!!!! MaxPass is Disneyland’s version of the MagicBand in Disney World. For $10 a day, it allows you to add FastPasses digitally on the Disneyland app. You are able to see what is available and select the FastPass without having to be near that ride. In fact, once your ticket is scanned into the park, you can make FastPass selections for rides in DCA even if you are in Disneyland. This is such a time saver and completely worth the $10 (per person) if you are going for a day. If you select a ride and it goes down during your return time, you will receive a FastPass that is good for any FP equipped ride in that park. If you do not want to spend the money, the app is still a great resource. It shows all the wait times and can help direct your party toward the next ride. My other ride tip? A handful of the big rides have single rider lines. If you are okay not riding with your party OR you are the only one wanting to ride a certain ride, this is a great option for getting a ride in and FAST.
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  4. Go to Happy Hour. This may not be the most efficient tip for anyone trying to complete the one day Disneyland challenge with kids but if you are with friends or as a couple, this is a must. Disneyland does not serve alcohol but there are many places within a five minute walk. You could jump over to DCA (another reason for a park hopper) and have a midday cocktail in Carthay Circle Lounge or the Hearthstone lounge in Disney’s Grand Californian Resort. You could even do a little shopping and have a cocktail in Downtown Disney. The furthest away is Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Hotel. However, the eccentric theming and overall atmosphere makes it so worth it. There are so many great options for a little recharge and time away from lines but still all within the Disney experience. When you are in the park for 12+ hours, having a little happy hour cocktail never hurt anything.
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  5. Stay till close. Some people will want to cut out early because of getting there at park open. I promise, you will find things to fill the day and then some. There is something extra magical about Disney at night. Their fireworks and shows are unlike any other and to miss them would be a travesty. Whether you are watching Fireworks or Fantasmic in Disneyland or World of Color in DCA, they are all incredibly worth your night. Pick one you are the most interested in, and get a FastPass for a reserved viewing or you can do a dining package for premium viewing. This will be the icing on your Disney day.
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  6. Have realistic expectations. When you are attempting Disney in a day, for it to be fun, realistic expectations must be kept. Going in to the park thinking you will get EVERYTHING done in less than 24 hours is just setting yourself and your party up for heartbreak. When going for a shorter time, you need to make a list of “must-do’s” with your party. Have each person pick one absolutely, no matter what, it’s going to happen ride, character or activity as their “must-do”. Depending on how many people you have in your party, you could have two or more must-dos for your park day. These are priority. This is great for kids too. Especially when one is upset he has to meet Elsa you can kindly remind him he needs to “let it go” because he has his pick of Splash Mountain. Once you have your list of “must-do’s”, that is your goal for the day. You can even make an overall family must-do, like ride Radiator Springs together or get a picture in front of the castle. Knowing the goals you can make a plan to achieve them. This keeps from feeling let down and the real park priorities in the forefront of your mind. Anything that you ride or do on top of that is bonus!

ACS_0005While I could go on and on with how to make a day trip to Disney worth it, I think these six are all you need. Actually, my one other tip to add, is go longer than just a day!!! However long you decide to immerse yourself in the magic of Disneyland, these tips are gold. Be prepared, plan ahead, invest in MaxPass, take time to relax, stay all day and have realistic expectations. Keeping these tips in mind when planning your trip will effectively guide you in making the most of your time in the parks.

What are some tips you and your family use when traveling to the most magical place on earth? If you have any questions about these tips or something you would like to me cover in the wide world of Disney, please leave me a comment!

Cheers!

 

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