Are you ready for Disneyland but don’t think you’ll be able to see everything in one day?
I’ve been to Disneyland a few times, and each time I went, I only stayed for the day. Simply put, Southern California has so much to see that Disneyland faces stiff competition for our time. We prefer to visit Disneyland in one day in order to make the most of our time there and cut costs. You may do the same. How to get the most out of a day at Disneyland is the focus of this blog post.
I’m going to share my experiences and mistakes with you so you can avoid them and make the most of your one day at Disneyland.
Make a Plan to visit Disneyland in One Day
Pick a day or time of the year
This is the very first step: check your dates and purchase your tickets in advance. There are still a limited number of tickets available per day. It surprised us because the park was packed during our most recent visit.
We always go in the spring or fall because I don’t do well in hot weather. But, apart from the summer, the kids are in school for the majority of the year, limiting our available time.
Take into account that weekdays are less expensive than weekends.
Disneyland One Day Ticket Discount
I looked into it and, to be honest, you can’t get discounts for one-day tickets. While a two-day pass appears to be a good deal, Disneyland can be completed in one day.
If you stay at the Disneyland resort for two days or more, you can get discounts, or you can get park hopper tickets for several days, allowing you to visit the Disney California Adventure park as well. This means spending more money in my opinion. If you want to get these discounts, the best place to look is online at Undercover TouristUndercover Tourist is the trusted name for Discount Theme Park Tickets . Save up to $149 per ticket. Backed by 365 Day Refund Policy and A+ BBB Rating.
Also, there are discounts if you buy tickets for several days, or if you are an eligible US military member. on certain eligible days.
Despite all of these offers, I believe I will save a lot of money if I go one day. Yes, we were rushing around, but we were also having a great time. Also, purchasing the Genie Pass for a one-day visit is well worth it. The cost is $25 per person, but you get to make the most of the park by avoiding long lines.
If you don’t want to spend more than the basic Disneyland ticket price, you should do the rope drop, which I’ll explain later.
Get the Disneyland App
Download the Disneyland app as soon as you have your tickets (even if it is months in advance) to make reservations with Genie Plus.
After downloading the app, create an account and link your ticket. The genie’s magic will be visible on the home screen. If you haven’t already purchased it, I strongly advise you to do so because it can save you a significant amount of time.
After that, it will ask you questions and prepare suggestions tailored to your trip. It will suggest what you should do, who is coming, what show you should see, and any reservations you should make.
It is critical to make reservations right away for the popular places you can book in advance. For example, if you want to dine at a specific restaurant in Disneyland (such as the famous Blue Bayou), you should make your reservation through the app well in advance, because reservations fill up quickly. You won’t want to miss out on a special dining experience at Disney if you can get it, even if we didn’t realize it at the time.
As I previously stated, if we had taken these steps in advance, we could have made reservations for Oga’s Cantina during our visit. We discovered it too late, and we couldn’t even get on the waiting list, which is a bummer. However, on the day of our visit, we were fortunate to arrive late in the day and obtain a standing table! I’ll tell you more about it later, and hopefully you’ll be able to do it as well.
You can also make food reservations through the app. The long lines for food surprised us during this visit, and we had to order ahead of time!
Once you enter the park, the application will use the information you provided earlier to make recommendations and will keep updating throughout the day.
One of my favorite aspects of the Genie Plus service is that you can get professional pictures! Photographers will photograph you and your family at various locations throughout the park. You can also have photos taken on some of the rides and download them to your phone using the app.
Places we took pictures with Disney photographers:
- Star War Galaxy’s Edge Rise of the Resistance
- Main Street
- Disneyland Castle
- Space Mountain
You can get your costumes T-shirts like we had here
How to visit most of Disneyland in one day?
Fast passes, as previously stated, are no longer used in Disneyland. It has been replaced by the lighting lane, which is included in specific Genie+ rides. I believe that having this service is essential for visiting Disneyland in one day.
It can be purchased as an add-on with a new ticket. You can also buy it as soon as you enter the park using the app, but it is recommended that you do so ahead of time. You can only reserve one lightning lane at a time.
We enjoyed our experience with it and believe it was well worth it. However, it cannot be used for the main Star Wars attraction “Rise of the Resistance,” which requires an additional $25 per person to use the lighting lane. On the day of your park visit, you can purchase it through the Disneyland app, and because the app uses geolocation, you can only purchase it while inside the park.
If you don’t want to pay extra, plan to be there for the rope drop.
How to use the Genie Plus during your one day visit to Disneyland
You can use the app to save your preferences prior to your visit, but you will not be able to book lighting pass lines (fast lines) until you enter the park on the day of your visit.
Once inside the park (you can enter past security a half hour before the park opens), you can use the Genie+ service to select the next available arrival window for Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane entrances at select attractions. Remember that you can only make one selection after entering the park on the day of your visit.
During your visit, you may only use one lighting lane per attraction. We were able to use the application to see what was available at the time and choose based on our priorities, spending less time in line.
We arrived at the park at 7:30 a.m. and scheduled the Rise of the Resistance for between 9 and 10 a.m. Even before the park opened at 7:30 a.m., there was a 50-minute wait.
You can use the Disney Genie service Tip Board or My Day itinerary to see when you’re eligible to make another selection after you’ve redeemed your initial selection (or the arrival window has passed).
If you enter your preferences before the day of your visit, the app will provide tailored recommendations for you throughout the day, though it may only suggest what is available at the time. For example, it kept recommending things we didn’t want simply because they were available. We had little interest in the character shows because we were visiting with older children, and I had to constantly refresh it.
Thing to remember before going to Disneyland in one day
- Get and install the most recent version of the Disneyland app..
- Check that your Disneyland app account is linked to your park tickets. This will save you a lot of time.
- Check to see if you have a valid park reservation..
- Keep your Disney.com account password handy because it will prompt you to refresh and enter it again and again.
How to do the Rope Drop when visiting Disneyland in one day
If you only have one day at Disneyland, the rope drop is a must-do. The park allows you to enter past security a half hour before the rides open. You walk down Main Street until you reach the pathways leading to the other lands (Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and so on), which are then blocked off by ropes until the park officially opens.
Expect to see a lot of people doing this because they are all looking for short lines in the first few hours after the rope drop. Everyone disperses to their favorite ride following the rope drop.
To properly execute the rope drop, you must arrive at the park at least 60 minutes before it opens. If the park opens at 8 a.m., arrive at 7 a.m., go through security screening and bag check, and then proceed to the ticket check at the main gate. People will be allowed through the main gate 30 minutes before the park opens.
Remember that after 7:30, people from the resort will have early access to the rides, so if you’re staying at the resort hotel, you don’t need to do the rope drop. Everyone else should brace themselves for hundreds (thousands?) of people standing by the rope until it is finally dropped at the last moment.
Make a list of your favorite rides so you know which rope to wait for. For example, if you want to do Rise of the Resistance first, you should go through Adventureland.
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Here is a map of the Disneyland rope drop locations:
The purple is the rope that separates the entrance for early resort access at Disneyland Resort.
What you will find at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge:
This area is massive and impressive, with multiple ride systems unlike anything you’ve ever seen. You’ll find the following here:
Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers
You can build your own light saber for an additional fee of $190 for this experience. Make a reservation for a specific time slot.
Droid Depot – build your own droid!
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
This ride was fantastic….it felt like you were in the movie, assisting the rebels in battle. In this incredible ride, you embark on a mission with a large group.
On this ride, you are apprehended, taken aboard Kylo Ren’s ship, and escape with your crew.
If you arrive at the rope drop by 7:30 a.m., you should be able to ride by 9-10 a.m., which is probably your best bet for a short line without paying extra.
Some people advise not going straight to this ride after the rope drop, but rather waiting until late at night. We discovered that lines were small or the same size late at night, but we were tired after a long day at the park. Of course, it’s your choice, but it was more magical for us to go there first.
This was taken at 12 p.m. on the day we went. The wait time was then around 60 minutes. That was actually quite quick. We didn’t see it fall any smaller during the day.
How to Purchase the lighting lane for the Rise of Resistance
As said before, this ride is not included in the Genie Plus service. Of course, it is the most popular ride, and people either arrive after the rope drop or pay an additional fee to ride in the lighting lane.
Individual purchases of this are available on the application for $25 per rider.
Paying for the express lane can cut it down to as little as 20 minutes in and out!
How to get there:
You can see on this map where Rise of the Resistance is located from main entrance:
How to ride Rise of Resistance in Disneyland fast
To summarize what I said before, here are the options to ride this faster:
- Wait for the rope drop, knowing which route you will take to get to the ride
- Use the Lighting lane, paying an extra $25 per rider. If you reserve first thing in the am morning at 7:30 AM, you will find rides available from 9-10 ( we don’t regret this, it saved way more time and is a lot cheaper than coming back a second day)
- Get in line right before the park closes, after the evening fireworks (we rode this again but it wasn’t like first thing in the morning when we were fresh and fired up).
Interact with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge using the Datapad
The data pad is a Disneyland application. When you use it, you get to participate in online adventures while visiting the park. It allows you to interact with droids, listen in on transmissions, and explore Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.
When you activate the Star Wars Datapad, you’ll find a slew of tools for exploring Batuu. It will help translate the local language and signs, as well as decrypt communications “sent by the residents.”
Also, you can take on tasks that will benefit the residents. Once you complete it you get rewards like ship schematics, star maps, or galactic credits. It adds to the overall experience.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run Adventures
This ride is fantastic! You will assist in the flight of the famous Millennium Falcon. You can be a pilot, a shooter, or an engineer. This immerses you in a one-of-a-kind adventure with the challenge of working as a team.
Plan to visit Disneyland in one day for kids 8 to 13
Here is a detailed itinerary of where we went and what we did, including times and locations.
Our day began early and ended late, but we had big smiles and felt so happy at the end of it.
7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
- Indiana Jones
- Splash Mountain
- Rise of the Resistance
We got the lighting lane for the rise of resistance when we entered the park at 7:30 a.m. We were winging it, but this was our main goal, and when we arrived at 7:30, there was already a 50-minute waiting list (the park wasn’t even open yet, and there were people in front of us waiting to rope drop). So, we decided to get a spot in the lighting lane available at 7:30 for the 9 a.m.–10 a.m. slot. So we had an hour to kill.
Once the rope dropped, we went straight to the Indiana Jones ride. We stopped for coffee and the famous Bengal BBQ pork belly skewers before heading there. We then used our Genie Plus pass to get on this ride because the line was already 40 minutes long.
It was totally worth it to use the Genie Plus Lightning Lane for that because it only took us about 10 minutes to get in and out. One disappointment is that the massive stone at the end no longer drops; according to the ride operator, it has been broken for several years.
Then, we checked the app and saw that Splash Mountain only had a five-minute wait without using the lightning pass, so we went for it. Splash Mountain got us soaked!
After that, we went to Rise of the Resistance, which had a 65-minute wait by 9 a.m. However, with the lightning lane ($25/rider), it took less than 20 minutes to get in and out. We were finished by 9:30 and had already gone on three fantastic rides. Not too shabby!
We then had time to explore Star Wars: Galaxy’a Edge and experiment with the Data Pads.
There were still not many people around at 9:30 a.m. But we were still hungry, so we went to Ronto Roaster, where I tried the morning grab or the less garden wrap. While I waited, my husband and boys went to the milk stand, where you can get blue milk without having to wait in long lines!
Breakfast that day consisted of skewers, the garden wrap, blue milk, and coffee, and we were ready to go exploring.
From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Smuggler’s Run adventure
Following this stop, we proceed to the Smuggler’s Run adventure. We didn’t use our Genie Plus because the app said the wait would be only 30 minutes. But be warned: it took a little more than an hour. We started the line around 10:10 a.m. and finished at 11:30! the ride last 10 minutes or so!
After that, we went to Fantasyland, this area was already extremely crowded. We rode the Matterhorn using our Genie Plus service and the lightning pass. It helps us in finishing in 10 minutes, despite the fact that the line was 50 minutes or longer! It was ideal.
After we finished the Matterhorn, we went to Tomorrowland and rode the cute cars in Autopia, which had a short line. It was now noon, and after so much fun, we were ready to grab more food to recharge.
From 12 p.m to 3 p.m.
- Tiki bar
- Jungle cruise
TIP: Plan ahead of time to order your meals! After we ordered, it took us more than 30 minutes to receive our food. That’s pretty strange considering we ordered online. The food line was as long as some rides!
While waiting for our food at Galactic Grill, we listened to the Disneyland brass band, and my boys entertained themselves by playing with the Tomorrowland Kugel fountain water ball.
This ball is made of solid granite and weighs more than ten tons. Children can easily spin it. Why? Because it is supported by a thin layer of pressurized water. Because of the water, it is frictionless and easy to spin. All of the kids were having a great time with it.
We also got to see that wonderful brass band playing Star Wars music while we waited. A true delight.
After we finished we head to adventureland and visited the tiki room and grab the delicious pineapple whip.
Once we done, we explore A bit more and got in the Jungle Cruise!
From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Big Thurnder Moutain
- Space Mountain
We then rush over to Frontierland to ride Big Thunder Mountain. With twists and turns around every corner, this is a thrilling ride for all who take it. The line was about 30 minutes long, and while we waited, we made a reservation for Space Mountain’s lightning lane.
Here we enjoyed the view of Mar Twain Riverboat
Then, I had a chance to grab the beignets at Juliet Cafe because we had time before our appointment on Space Mountain. We were in and out of Space Mountain in under 20 minutes! It was almost 5 p.m. and getting dark outside.
from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Star Tours experience
- Pirates of the Caribbean
We then decided to do the Star Tours experience because the line was only 30 minutes long (we didn’t need to use the lightning pass). However, while waiting in line there was a medical emergency and the line was delayed for more than an hour.
After that, we went to Pirates of the Caribbean, which had a half-hour wait.
From 7 p.m to 9:45 p.m
- Dinner and Halloween light show
For dinner we got corn dogs and more BBQ skewers at Bengal around 7 p.m. (ordering online took half an hour).After eating, we went shopping on Main Street, bought some souvenirs, and took some photos. Around 8:30, we began preparing for the fireworks.
They were scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. and end at 9:45 p.m. You need to save a spot an hour before. They don’t let you save spots earlier.
Unfortunately, the fireworks were canceled due to “atmospheric conditions high over Disneyland.” So, we were forced to settle for the Halloween light show projected on the castle’s walls and in the sky above.
From 9:45 to 12:00 a.m.
- Smuggler’s Run
- Oga’s Cantina
- Indiana Jones
After that, we decided to return to Galaxy’s Edge, which had mostly emptied out by that point and was a lot of fun to explore. We rode the Smuggler’s Run again, this time scoring more points!
We checked to see if there was any space at Oga’s Cantina before leaving Galaxy’s Edge, and we were lucky enough to get a standing table! They will let you stay for 45 minutes if you order two drinks and snacks per person. It was a victory for us!! This place is incredible and has a really fun atmosphere.
Following this experience, we spotted a Disney photographer and took some evening photos in front of the Millennium Falcon, which is stunning at night.
To finish we ride one more time the Matterhorn and Indiana Jones to end a fantastic day!
We visited everyone of our favorite rides and rode some of them twice. Of course we tried all the delicious and unique food we wanted – and again, don’t miss those BBQ pork belly skewers in Adventureland!
What to Eat in Disneyland When You Visit in One Day
remember you can bring water bottle like this to the park
- At Ronto Roasters, you can get a morning wrap for $13.49 or a Ronto less garden wrap for $13.99. here is the menu.
2. Get some blue milk from the milk stand at Star Wars Galaxy. $7.99
3. Rocking bay 7 food and Cargo offers a beef pot roast.
4. Get yourself some Mickey beignets At mint Juliet bar.
5. Order a Dole whip from the tiki room.
7. Mickey-shaped pretzels at variouspretzels cars.
8. Order the succulent Pork Skewers from Bengal .
9. At Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, be sure to try the Disney Macaroon or the Matterhorn Macaroon.
10. On Main Street, you can get a Churro Toffee at Candy Palace and Candy Kitchen.
11. Galactic Grill‘s Blue Raspberry Slush with Glow Cube
12. Tropical Hideaway‘s Bao Buns
13. Galactic Grill serves Nestlé® Mickey’s Ice Cream Sandwiches.
14. Oga’s Cantina serves Jabba Juice, Jedi Mind Trick, Batuu Bits, and Cliff Dweller with a souvenir.
Having a plan is your best bet for making the most of your time in Disneyland. Go for the most popular attractions early in the day, before the lines form. Every day, however, is unique. Most attractions have shorter lines earlier in the day. There are three ropes when you line up for the rope drop. If you want to go to Rise of the Resistance first, start at the rope leading to Frontierland. The map is as follows:
To make the most of your time, go through the list below in this order!
Skip any attractions that do not interest you.
Favorites that we prioritize
- Rise of Resistance
- Smuggler’s Run (Millennium Falcon)
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Matterhorn Bob sleds
- Space Mountain
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Star Tours
- Splash Mountain
- Jungle Cruise
- Haunted Mansion
Everyone has unique priorities. Make a list and use the app to assist you. When you’ve finished with your favorites, spend the rest of your time exploring what interests your family the most.
Take water and food breaks, and if possible, use the app to order food to go. Also, use the application for waiting lines to check the times. When you are finished, go back and ride your favorite rides again. especially after the fireworks at the end of the day.
It’s a Small World, Astro Orbitor, Walt’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Toon Town are all good options for younger children. Some rides have height requirements, so make sure they can do the rides you want. If the adults want to take turns on rides, look for the rider switch.
Disneyland in One day for young kids
Add this to the favorite for younger children:
In Critter Country
Winnie the Pooh’s Many Adventures
The following attractions are still available in Tomorrowland.
- Disneyland Monorail
- The Astro Orbitor
- Finding Nemo
- Buzz Lightyear
Disneyland Train (there are 4 stations in different lands, hop on and off at any station).
In the afternoon, we found Fantasyland to be quite crowded.
- Mad Tea Party
- Storybook Land Canal Boats
- It’s a Small World
- Alice in Wonderland
- Casey Jr. Train
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
- Peter Pan
- Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
- King Arthur’s Carousel
Make the most of your visit by prioritizing what you want to see and planning ahead of time, as young children will undoubtedly become tired after hours of walking around the park.
The Tarzan Tree House and Toon Town are both closed until early 2023.
Toon Town (closed when we visited)
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
- Gadget’s Go Coaster
- Jungle Cruise
More Information for your One Day Visit to Disneyland
Cost of a day in Disneyland for a family of 4
Tickets to Disneyland range from $114 to $179 per person. Prices can be found here. Each Genie pass costs an additional $25.
You also pay an additional $25 for the Rise of Resistance fast lane ride, for a total of $100, which may be preferable to standing in line for three hours.
Disneyland ticket prices and Genie+ membership fees increased unexpectedly in October 2022!
Just keep in mind that ticket prices can continue to rise, making this trip more expensive by the year.
Few ways to save on Disneyland tickets
- As previously stated, purchasing multiple-day tickets is the best way to save money. However, the overall impression is that you spend more. Also, try to get tickets during the week, which means taking the kids out of school…but if you can, do it! The difference could be up to $30 per ticket, which equates to a $120 savings for a family of four!
- Obtaining a Disney Visa Card provides a $300 credit if you spend $1,000 in the first month. That shouldn’t be difficult; I spend that much just getting groceries.
- Triple AAA discount for Disneyland Resort: buy tickets at your local office and save up to $5 per ticket. Look here
- Different credit cards, such as the Target ReD card or the Walmart card, provide rewards in the form of points. These are additional discounts, and you can use them to purchase Disney Gift cards through their portals. Then you’ll use those cards to buy your tickets. The discount is only a few dollars, but it should work nicely. Most shopping portals do not accept gift cards, but it is worth checking to see if they are available.
- Cash back and points: Using points is your best bet for saving money. Do we all have credit cards that offer cash back?. You can use the cash back credit cards offer to purchase your tickets. If it is an amount you use on a regular basis on your credit card, it is completely worth it. Good credit cards for purchasing Disneyland tickets using cash back or reward points:
- For example, the Disney Visa Card is best for Disney-specific perks and financing, and you can earn a $300 statement credit after spending $1000 on purchases in the first three months after opening your account.
- Chase Amazon Prime, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Premier® Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and Chase Freedom Unlimited are some other good cards.
I hope this helps you enjoy your time in Disneyland!
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