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Wall of water being shot up from a fountain with colors projected on the water as part of World of Color show

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Given price increases and time constraints, you may only have one day to visit Disneyland and California Adventure. Don’t worry, because you really can do more than you may think with just one theme park day. In this guide, I’m sharing exactly how to do Disneyland in a day including visiting both parks, checking off a ton of rides, trying some of Disney’s best snacks, and everything else you need to know to have the most magical day!

And have faith (and trust and pixie dust) because I’m writing this with direct experience doing this exact Disneyland Resort itinerary. To celebrate my engagement, my family went to the parks. Most of them are locals (I actually grew up going to Disneyland A LOT), so we wanted to do as much as possible in just a day. I’m happy to report we visited both parks, only park-hopped once, went on 20 rides, saw 2 shows, and walked through the Animation Academy! So strap on your planning hat, and get ready to dive in.

If you only have one day, this ultimate guide to Disneyland in a day itinerary and tips will ensure you have the most magical Disney vacation. This Disney guide includes an itinerary breakdown for Disneyland and California Adventure and walks you through Genie+, Lightning Lanes, where to eat in Disneyland Resort, and more!
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Prep before your day in Disneyland

Before you get to the park, you already have your work cut out for you (just keep saying Hakuna Matata and it’ll all come together). Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the process for buying tickets, making park reservations, and what to expect for that process…because it’s a bit complicated post-panini.

And a note moving forward, if you’ve never been to Disneyland Resort, there are two parks (unlike the 4 in Walt Disney World in Florida) — Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. They are quite literally across a quad from each other so you can walk back and forth within minutes. No monorails, skyliner, or driving necessary.

If you’re wondering what you’ll find in each Disneyland Resort park, open this post about Disneyland versus California Adventure in a new tab to read once you’re done here.

Buying Tickets: Reservations, Cost, and Extras

The first step in planning your day in Disneyland Resort is to purchase tickets. The process is a bit different than in the past because now you need park reservations. Meaning, you can’t just show up anymore.

As you choose your tickets (for this itinerary you want a park-hopper ticket), you’ll notice a few things. First, adding the park-hopper option adds $65 to the base price of your ticket. Womp womp. A necessary evil if you only have one day to see both parks.

Second, prices fluctuate based on the day you choose to visit. That’s because crowd levels change and so does the ticket price. For example, weekend tickets can be $50+ more expensive than a weekday ticket. Times of year also affect prices.

To purchase a ticket, you’ll need to select the day you want to visit. That’s part one of your reservation. That means you are locked in on a date.

The last choice you make is which park to start your day in. While you used to be able to run around from park to park willy nilly, now, you have to choose a starting park. Once it hits 11 am, you can then park hop freely back and forth at your leisure.

For this itinerary, I recommend starting your day in Disney’s California Adventure (DCA). This is typically the less popular morning park, which means you can cross off a lot of rides before the crowds set in.

Screenshot of Disneyland ticket checkout when selecting park reservation and starting park for the park hopper day
Select your day and starting park when booking a Disneyland park ticket.

As you finalize your tickets, you’re offered some extras — a parking voucher for $30 per car and Genie+ service for $25 per ticket. If you’re driving, you might as well pre-purchase parking. It’s not necessary, but you’re going to have to pay it eventually.

Now what about Genie+…

To Genie+ or Not to Genie+

Before we decide if it’s worth it or not, what even is it? Genie+ (not to be confused with the free Genie service) is a paid reservation system for accessing shorter queues, called Lightning Lanes (previously, Fastpass lines). What this means is that not everyone can just jump in Lightning Lanes. If you pay for the service, you pay for shorter waits.

On the other hand, the free Genie service is an in-app planner to help you plan out your Disney day. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a do-it-yourself type planner, but I found the Genie service more confusing than it was worth.

However, Genie+ in my opinion is absolutely necessary for maximizing your time in the parks, especially if you only have 1 day. As someone who grew up going to Disneyland with the paper Fastpass system, I have a lot of opinions on Genie+. Generally speaking, it’s beyond helpful, but knowing this used to be free is a pain point. Plus (and I’m warning you now), the person making Genie+ reservations is going to be on their phone an annoying amount. I was not pleased spending my one day staring at my phone and obsessing over securing reservations.

Regardless, if you want to get on the most rides and not spend a ton of time in line queues, you need it.

It’s an add-on to your ticket for $25 per ticket. You can add it after you have purchased tickets too, so if you’re on the fence, you can wait.

I’ll share how to use Genie+ when we get to the itinerary because you can’t make any reservations prior to entering the park. Scanning your park ticket for entry is like opening the starting stall gates at a horse race. Once you do that, the reservations are on!

A final note on Genie+ is that it gives you access to PhotoPass souvenirs. Instead of paying separately for ride photos and those taken by Cast Members, you get it included! Woohoo!

Genie+ reservation page on Disneyland app
Screenshot of what your Genie+ Reservation will look like.

Syncing Up Your Team on the Disneyland App

Once you have tickets and all the extras you’ve opted for, you’ll want to add everyone’s tickets to the Disneyland app. This will make everything easier because the app is like your control panel for the entire experience. On the app, you can scan your tickets, make Genie+ reservations and dining reservations, input your parking space, mobile-order food, and see the day’s schedule for shows and ride wait times.

To add your ticket to your app, click the hamburger menu on the bottom right, then Tickets and Passes. Tap “Link Tickets & Passes” and input your ticket numbers, which you should have received in an email upon completing your ticket purchase.

You’ll want to do this for every person in your party. The way we did it was that I (as the person making all reservations) had everyone’s ticket on my app and each individual had their own ticket on their app. That meant that I could make reservations for everyone, but it also meant that everyone had access to their own ticket and reservations once I made them. That way if we got separated, everyone still had their own tickets.

Genie+ reservation party screenshot from DLR app
See how multiple tickets are at the bottom, that means I can book everyone’s Genie+ reservation in my party.

Dining Reservations

The last order of business in your planning is to secure dining reservations, if you’d like. Dining reservations open 60 days in advance around 6am PST and they can definitely book up. If you’re interested in dining at a specialty restaurant, I recommend securing those reservations.

Some options that tend to go quick are Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the Blue Bayou restaurant, which is inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

If you only plan to eat at quick service spots like we did, there’s no need to make any reservations. There’s also a ton of options for dining, so if you miss out on reservations, don’t sweat it. You’ll still be eating well!

Inside Oga's Cantina
If you can snag a reservation for Oga’s Cantina, you’ll love this Star Wars themed bar!

General Strategy for Disneyland in a Day

Rope dropping to close

Before we dive into the itinerary breakdown, I have to let you know that one day in Disneyland is best accomplished by being there from the parks’ open to close. You’ll maximize your time and be able to do the most!

When you’re there at park opening, that’s called rope dropping. Technically, this name comes from the fact that you can enter the park before park opening (around 15 minutes ahead of time), but only up to a certain point at which there is literally a rope blocking off the park. At official park opening time, the rope “drops” and you are free to explore the entirety of the park.

To get there in time for rope drop, I recommend being at the parking structure 45 minutes before park opening or even sooner. That’s because parking, going through security, and making your way from the structure to the park entrance all takes about 30-45 minutes.

The other side of this strategy is to be there until the park closes. Check the app for the most updated park hours and note that one park may be open later than the other. For example, when we visited, California Adventure closed at 10pm, but Disneyland closed at midnight.

View of Main Street USA shops in Disneyland during park closing at midnight
Main Street nice and empty at park closing

Minimize your need to park hop

While the two parks are right across the way from each other, the act of park hopping does take time, especially when you’re deep in one park and need to make your way all the way out and into the next park.

If you minimize your need to park hop, you save on precious time. For this itinerary, I have you park hopping once. However, there are some things you may want to prioritize that we didn’t that would warrant a second and third park hop (to go back and forth). I’ll outline these in the itinerary below, but they are seeing Cars Land’s neon turn on, which happens at sunset each day, and watching the World of Color show.

Cozy Cone Motel Sign in Cars Land in California Adventure
You may want to park hop a couple times to catch Cars Land’s neon signs light up.

Appoint one reservation master

I’ve mentioned it a bit before, but the best way to tackle a Disney trip is to appoint one reservation master. One person to make all reservations for everyone in the party. It’s easier to stay organized this way and ensure everyone is on the same schedule.

To do that, be sure to follow the steps above on syncing up your team on one person’s Disneyland app.

Family in Star Wars Land Batuu Galaxy's Edge in Anaheim California
Enjoy Disneyland in a day with Genie+.

Disneyland in One Day Itinerary

Before we dive in to the actual itinerary, I had to let you know that I created a free downloadable version that you can always reference no matter if you lose service upon entering a forbidden temple or after descending a certain haunted, stretching elevator.

Morning: Arrival + Rope Drop

Let’s start this magical day off right by rope dropping! You’ll want to check the opening time of your first park on your reservation and plan to arrive to the parking structure (I like the Mickey and Friends lot) 45 minutes early or even an hour early, if you can manage.

Once you’ve parked, be sure to input your parking spot in the Disneyland app so by the time you leave the park in a midnight haze, you won’t need to rely on your memory to recall where you parked.

Make your way to the security lines then head to the parks — either by walking or by the free trams.

You’ll get dropped off at Downtown Disney, the outdoor shopping center. If you have loads of extra time until park opening, you can grab a coffee or bite to eat here.

If you followed my recommendation, you’re headed to Disney’s California Adventure first. Head there about 15-30 minutes before park opening.

Disneyland in a day works best when starting at California Adventure
Start your Disney day at California Adventure.

Make first Genie+ reservations

Once you (and everyone in your party) scan your ticket into the park, you’ll be able to make your first Genie+ selections. Do that first! Once you make your selection, you start the clock that counts down when you can make your next selection. It’s 2 hours OR once you’ve redeemed your first selection, whichever comes first.

If you get confused (because it can be mighty confusing), the app will always tell you when you can make your next selection. Once you redeem a Genie+ reservation by entering the Lightning Lane, check the app again to see if you’re able to make a new selection.

But, which ride should you make a selection for?

I personally would choose Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! or if you aren’t into freefall rides, go for Soarin Over the World, Toy Story Midway Mania, or Web Slingers.

Once you scan in for Guardians, make your second reservation for Toy Story Midway Mania.

Ride photo from Guardians of the Galaxy Mission BREAKOUT
Guardians of the Galaxy Mission BREAKOUT is a great first Genie+ reservation.

Knock out some rides

Depending on when your Genie+ reservation is for, you will likely have some time to kill. Check the app for wait times to decide where to go. A couple strategies are going straight to Web Slingers where the wait shouldn’t be long yet (we waited 20 minutes, first thing in the morning), or go to Pixar Pier to knock out all those rides.

We found that even an hour after park opening, we could do all of our desired Pixar Pier rides with minimal (> 15 minute) waits including Incredicoaster, Pixar-Pal-A-Round (Swinging), Silly Symphony Swings, Goofy’s Sky School, and Ariel’s Undersea Journey.

When it’s time for your Genie+ reservation for Toy Story Midway Mania, be sure to redeem it and make a new selection.

We found that we could get all of this done by about 11 am.

Introduction for Web Slingers ride in Avengers Campus in California Adventure in Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California
Pop over to Web Slingers as your first ride! It’ll be a quick wait first thing in the morning.

Cars Land, Animation Academy, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Avengers Campus

It’s time for some tough choices. Because you only have a day, things are going to get missed. It’s just a fact. We opted to skip all of Cars Land’s rides — the wait times were long and we didn’t want to pay for a Radiator Springs Racers Lightning Lane ($25 per person, not included in Genie+).

Depending on your preferences, you can do some of Cars Land or experience Avengers Campus. They have characters that come out for meet and greets as well as some shows like Spider-Man swinging, the Dora Milaje, and Doctor Strange.

If you need a more chill experience with air-conditioning (I hear ya, it’s hot in LA), try Animation Academy where there’s a character meet and greet with Anna and Elsa from Frozen. Plus, you can enter the Sorcerer’s Workshop, which includes the Beast’s Library, and Animation Academy, where you can learn to draw a Disney character.

Finally, in this space is Turtle Talk with Crush, a super hilarious live Question and Answer with Crush, from Finding Nemo. The dialogue is live and fed off of audience questions so it’s different every time and tailored to both kids and adults. You’ll be laughing, guaranteed.

Beast Library in Sorcerer's Workshop in California Adventure
The Beast’s Library is a fun room. Watch it change over time!

A note here on Genie+ selections, you don’t need to be scanned into Disneyland to start making Genie+ selections since you’ve already scanned your ticket into California Adventure. That means once you’ve selected all the rides you’ve wanted for California Adventure, you can start making reservations for rides in Disneyland. I recommend snagging Indiana Jones first, because they tend to go quick!

Lunch in DCA

For lunch, I recommend either Pym’s Test Kitchen or Pacific Wharf Café. At Pym’s Test Kitchen, the idea is that every menu item is either ridiculously large or small, meaning it’s been shrunk or enlarged. Try the Quantum Pretzel, which can feed 4 people as an appetizer, the Teeny Pym-ini, a mini panini sandwich, and the Celestial-Sized Choco-Smash Candy Bar, which can feed literally 10 people — it’s massive and so sweet with layers of brownie, peanuts, nougat, and carmel!

At Pacific Wharf Café, they serve up Boudin Sourdough Bread, a San Francisco staple. Their soup bowls are top tier where my favorite is the broccoli cheddar!

Multi-layer candy bar with layers of brownie, carmel, nougat, and peanut butter all coated in chocolate.
*Not shown: this candy bar’s length of 12 inches or more!

12 PM — Virtual Queue for World of Color opens

PARK HOP

Once you’ve finished lunch, it’s time to park hop! We actually had a show reservation for Rogers: the Musical, so we stayed a bit later for that. It’s no longer playing as it was an extremely limited run, but if you have any remaining reservations, do those, then park hop!

Rogers the Musical Stage with curtain that has Captain America's shield projected on it
If you’re a Marvel fan, Rogers: the Musical is worth the hype and stress of figuring out the virtual queue!

Rides in Disneyland

Of course, if you have Genie+ reservations, those take priority! Otherwise, here are some rides to check out in Disneyland.

I recommend going in a circle around the park or following the wait times. I like to start in Tomorrowland and make my way counterclockwise. That means you’d be starting with Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters, Star Tours, and the Matterhorn. I recommend a Genie+ reservation for Space Mountain, if you can secure one and even Matterhorn.

I’d skip Fantasyland until the evening, just because this area clears out a bit when kids go to sleep. That goes for Toontown, too.

Check out Big Thunder Mountain, Enchanted Tiki Room (when you need an AC break), Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones (preferably with a Genie+ reservation), Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Splash Mountain is undergoing a much-needed theme-change to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. It’s set to open late 2024, so check back in next year.

View of a yellow car and a blue car on a guided track as part of Disney's Autopia ride
If the wait is short, don’t skip Autopia hidden in the back of Tomorrowland, one of the original rides from Disneyland’s opening.

Visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

You can’t miss Galaxy’s Edge, the newest Star Wars themed land. It’s located at the back left of the park behind Frontierland and Critter Country.

There are two rides: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Rise of the Resistance. You can get a Genie+ reservation for Smugglers Run, but to access the Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance, you have to pay extra for it ($25 per person). I’d say it’s one of the best rides ever made so whatever you need to do to get on, I fully endorse. Another strategy is waiting until it’s near the ride’s closing time to hop in line, which may be different than park hours, so check your app, or ask a Cast Member. You can also wait for the ride to come back on after a temporary breakdown — it’s dicey, but it worked wonders for us!

Also in Galaxy’s Edge, you can download the Disney Play app, which will let you hack into technology around Batuu, translate the signs, and more!

Don’t miss Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, tasting blue or green milk, and trying Cold Brew Black Caf, which is topped with Cocoa Puffs, and makes for the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

Don’t forget about your reservation at Oga’s Cantina, if you had one. You can also try a walk-up to see inside. It’s very fun!

Black Caf Cold Brew from Galaxy's Edge topped with cocoa puffs cereal
I don’t even like coffee, but this was perfectly balanced and so delicious.

Dinner in Disneyland (dining reservation time or go to a quick service spot)

For dinner, there are lots of great spots in Disneyland for all price points with a range of foods. As always, if you made a dining reservation, go do that! If not here are some recommended spots:

  • Alien Pizza Planet — Disneyland (Tomorrowland) — pasta, pizza, and salads
  • Bengal Barbeque — Disneyland (Adventureland) — meat skewers and veggie kababs
  • Red Rose Taverne — Disneyland (Fantasyland) — try the Grey Stuff (it’s delicious)!
  • Ronto Roasters — Disneyland (Galaxy’s Edge) — ronto wraps (pita stuffed with meat and veggies)
  • Hungry Bear Restaurant — Disneyland (Critter Country) — American food
Galaxy's Edge ronto wrap for breakfast being held by a woman's hand outstretched from the camera with a Star Wars machine in the background
Ronto wraps are always a good choice!

Evening for more rides, and parades, and fireworks

After dinner, you have time to cross off more rides. We made our way to New Orleans Square to cross off those rides (Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion).

Be on the lookout for parades, shows, and fireworks on the daily schedule and make your way to the appropriate area when it’s time (or preferably before as space fills up).

I also recommend this as a time to get your snacking on. Why not try a dessert like a Disneyland churro (it’s heaps better than Walt Disney World churros, I promise), Mickey ice cream bar or ice cream sandwich. Also at Mint Julep Bar, try Mickey beignets!

woman's hand outstretched holding a Disneyland churro
Do not leave without trying a Disneyland churro. They are elite!

Optional evening at California Adventure

There are a couple night events that may bring you back to California Adventure and those are seeing Cars Land’s neon signs light up around sunset and the World of Color show.

For Cars Land, you’ll need to make your way back there before sunset so you can ensure you’re on time.

For World of Color, you’ll want to try for the virtual queue system to get a good spot. That opens at noon each day on the Disneyland app. If you can’t find it, search World of Color and you should see the option to join the Virtual Queue.

World of Color is typically a late night show because you can only see the lit up water when it’s dark. Showtimes will vary because of that as sunset changes by the season.

Wall of water being shot up from a fountain with colors projected on the water as part of World of Color show
If you’ve never seen World of Color, it’s worth the extra park hop!

Even if you choose to park hop again, you’ll want to end your night at Disneyland because it may be open later and there are some spots that clear out at night!

Before park close – Toontown, New Orleans Square, or Space Mtn

Before the park closes, within the last 2 hours, I recommend riding Space Mountain if the wait time has gone down and you were unable to secure a Lightning Lane Genie+ reservation. If you haven’t done Rise of the Resistance, assuming it’s still open, the wait time may be lower.

This is also the perfect time to check out Fantasyland and Toontown. Specifically in Toontown, the wait for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (the newest attraction) is likely going to be the lowest you’ll see all day. Toontown was recently revamped so there’s lots of fun details, new food, and classics like Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin.

It’s also a great time to circle through New Orleans Square. This area is especially nice at night and who wouldn’t want to ride the Haunted Mansion at night?

Queue for Space Mountain goes under a sign that reads Space Mountain
Hop in line for Space Mountain if the wait time is low!

For the ultimate end to the night, hop on the Disneyland Railroad just outside of Toontown or next to the Haunted Mansion to be taken back to the front of the park, so you don’t need to walk!

You can get some final shopping in in Downtown Disney, then catch the tram back to your parking deck, where you (thankfully) already know your parking spot because it’s saved in the Disneyland app from this morning! Phew!

Tips for One Day in Disneyland Resort

Check close time for Rise of the Resistance

This might come as a surprise and a bit odd, but Rise of the Resistance sometimes closes for the day before park closing. Be sure to check the app for that day’s hours for the ride to be sure you give yourself enough time to ride!

Entrance to Rise of the Resistance in Disneyland California
We caught Rise of the Resistance right after it had been fixed post-breakdown. Check out that 5 minute wait time!

Downtown Disney District shops may stay open later

One way to get in some shopping without sacrificing your park time is to check the hours for shops at Downtown Disney District, which is outside the parks. For example, the World of Disney shop may close an hour later than park closing. That means, you can exit the park then go straight there to do some shopping before leaving for the day.

Did I mention a day in Disneyland is the longest day ever?

two mini backpacks and one crossbody purse all with Mickey and Minnie Mouse aesthetic

Related read >> Your guide to Loungefly (Disney’s best souvenir imo)

Get breakfast before you arrive

While Disney food can certainly be tempting including Mickey waffles and breakfast chimichangas, it can really save time to eat breakfast before you arrive. Of course, if trying Disney food is a top priority for your visit, disregard this and go crazy!

view of breakfast meal from above in a flat lay image of a nutella and strawberry crepe, glass of orange juice and water to the top right

Use the app to track your parking spot

I’ve mentioned it before, but the Disney app really is like a Genie. Don’t forget to track your parking spot before leaving your car in the morning. It makes it so much easier to find it later on in the wee hours of the night when you’re beyond exhausted.

To do that, hit the “hamburger” menu on the bottom right, scroll all the way down, and select “Car Locator.” That’s where you’ll input your parking spot and that’s where the information will stay for safe keeping for later!

View of parking structure parking spot saved in Disneyland app so you don't forget after Disneyland in a day
How handy is this?!

If you need some downtime or AC…

I don’t know if you’ve heard the news, but Los Angeles is HOT, especially in the summers, although beware of September and October, too. Factor that in with the crowds of other people all sweating and walking over 10,000 steps, you’re likely going to get warm.

If you need an AC reprieve, I have a couple recommended spots.

  • Animation Academy — California Adventure (Hollywood Land)
  • Enchanted Tiki Room — Disneyland (Adventureland) — bonus points for being able to buy Dole Whip before entering
Inside of Animation Academy building in California Adventure with scenes and animation from Ratatouille projected on the screens
The animation on the screens and music, plus the AC, make this spot a great place to chill.

Lightning Lanes you have to pay for

One of the most confusing parts of Genie+ (as if it’s not confusing enough), is that there are a few Lightning Lanes that Genie+ won’t get you into. Those are separate, paid Lightning Lanes — meaning, you have to pay additional $$ to skip the queue.

Those rides are:

  • Rise of the Resistance — Disneyland (Galaxy’s Edge)
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway — Disneyland (Toontown)
  • Radiator Springs Racers — California Adventure (Cars Land)

You can’t purchase these ahead of time, so the day of, you can monitor wait times and decide if you want to pay to skip the queue. When you do this, you will get a reservation time and have to redeem it similar to Genie+ reservations. That also means that reservations can fill up, so don’t dilly dally if you really want to go on something.

It costs $25 per person each time you want to do this for each ride, so yeah, it adds up.

Honestly, I’d say the only one that’s worth it to pay for is Rise of the Resistance and here’s why.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway can easily be done at the end of the night. The wait times drop significantly as kids start going to bed for the night. We walked on as our last ride of the night. Yeah, it broke down, but still!

As for Radiator Springs Racers, this one can usually be made faster by making use of the Single Rider Line. If you use this line, your party will be split up. They’ll take one person at a time to fill extra empty seats. Also, in my opinion it’s pretty rude to take up a Single Rider Line with a huge party. As a true single rider, nothing quite grinds my gears than knowing I have to wait for a party of 8 to fill one empty seat at a time. Up to your discretion though.

Space Mountain Ride photo with a group of 4 in the first two rows
Aside from those 3, you can make Genie+ reservations for everything else including Space Mountain!

Visit Fantasyland late when kids leave or during parades

I’ve been talking about this, but one tip is definitely to visit Fantasyland when kids get tired and families leave. That opens up Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (a favorite of mine), the newly refurbished Snow White ride, Pinocchio, and if you’re lucky Peter Pan’s Flight, which has a famously long queue.

You can also use this time to ride Alice in Wonderland, the teacups, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Storybook Land Canal Boats, It’s A Small World, and walkthrough Sleeping Beauty’s Castle (beware of the dragon!).

Alternatively, you can visit this area when parades are going on! Lots of families will flock to the viewing areas and out of Fantasyland and Toontown.

Main Street Electrical Parade main float
Parades are a fun way to spend your time, but it’s also a great time to see Fantasyland!

Disneyland park definitions

  • Genie service — the free park planner within Disneyland app
  • Genie+ service — paid, limited access to faster queues
  • Lightning Lane — the faster line (previously Fastpass lines)
  • Single rider line — a queue designated for Single Riders (parties will be split up)
  • Virtual queue — a wait system within the Disneyland app for select shows and occasionally rides (usually upon their debut opening)
  • DLR — abbreviation for Disneyland Resort
  • DCA — abbreviation for Disney’s California Adventure
Disneyland app Genie service vs Genie+
This is the home page of the app where my next Genie+ reservation can be made now. It also shows recommended rides.

Condensed Disneyland in a Day Itinerary

Don’t worry, I know that was a lot and to ease your worries on the day, I’ve created this free downloadable version so you’ll always know what’s coming next on your itinerary.

  • 7 am — arrive at parking structure
  • 7:45 am — enter California Adventure and reserve Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT Genie+
  • 8 am — Web Slingers
  • 8:30 am — Redeem Guardians Genie+ reservation and reserve Toy Story Midway Mania Genie+ reservation
  • 9 am — Pixar Pier rides + Toy Story Midway Mania when it’s time for Genie+ redemption
  • 11 am — Cars Land rides including Radiator Springs Racers single rider line or paid Lightning Lane
  • 12 pm — Virtual queue opens for World of Color
  • 12:30 am — Lunch at Pym’s Test Kitchen or Pacific Wharf Café
  • 1:30 pm — PARK HOP and Disneyland Attractions (ex: start in Tomorrowland and move counterclockwise)
  • 4 pm — Stay Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Cold Brew Black Caf pick me up
  • 6 pm — Dinner at Alien Pizza Planet or Ronto Roasters
  • 7 pm — More Disneyland attractions, parades, fireworks show
  • 7 pm (alternate) — Park hop to DCA for Cars Land neon lighting and World of Color
  • 1 hour before park closing — Fantasyland and Toontown
  • Park close — Catch Disneyland Railroad to exit and shop at Downtown Disney District

What to bring for your day in Disneyland Resort

No matter how much it would be nice to be hands and bag-free, a trip to Disneyland warrants a packed day bag. Here’s what to bring to Disneyland:

what to pack in a Disney day bag including camera sunglasses reusable waterbottle snacks phone charger and more
This is what I packed in my Loungefly bag every day at the Disney parks.

How much does it cost to Disneyland in one day?

$250


Ticket — $170

Parking — $30

Food — $50

Souvenirs — up to you!

My Travel Essentials

  • Travel Insurance – Going on an international trip? Don’t forget travel and medical insurance with SafetyWing.
  • Travel Card – If you’re new to travel hacking, fear not! My favorite card for beginners gives you $750 in rewards when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months, plus lounge access, 10x points on hotel bookings, and free TSA pre-check!
  • Get Your Guide – Check out Get Your Guide for a one-stop-shop for booking travel activities.
  • Booking.com – This is my favorite hotel search aggregator, specifically for reading reviews. On Booking.com, the reviews can be searched for keywords like WiFi, breakfast, pool, amenities, etc.! So helpful!
  • Anti-pickpocket bag – Worried about having your valuables swiped? PacSafe makes the best travel bags with zippers and straps that lock and with mesh steel enforced fabric.
  • Give the Gift of Travel – This is the perfect gift for travelers in your life! Tinggly allows you to gift experiences around the world, perfect for birthdays, weddings, or anniversaries.
  • Staycation Idea – Check out Resort Pass, which gives you day passes to resorts so you can use their pool, spa, and fitness center, a great staycation idea!

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If you only have one day, this ultimate guide to Disneyland in a day itinerary and tips will ensure you have the most magical Disney vacation. This Disney guide includes an itinerary breakdown for Disneyland and California Adventure and walks you through Genie+, Lightning Lanes, where to eat in Disneyland Resort, and more!
Click here to check out this Disneyland 1 Day Itinerary and Tips for your most magical Disney family vacation. This Disney travel guide has info on Genie+, California Adventure, and Disneyland parks.
This is the ultimate guide for visiting Disneyland in a day including post parks -- Disneyland and California Adventure with Genie+ tips, where to eat in Disneyland, how to get PhotoPass, why you should be using the Disneyland app, and so much more!
In this ultimate guide to Disneyland in a day, learn what rides to make Genie+ selections for, which park to start in, as well as an hour by hour Disneyland in a day itinerary.

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Recent PhD graduate and hyper-planner of Periodic Adventures, my goal is to share travel inspiration, budget tips, detailed guides, and fun travel stories!

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