At 7:15am we sat down at the Grand Californian guest entrance, third in line. We ate our muffins and waited for the hotel guest ‘exclusive’ start to our morning with the early morning hour ahead of general park opening. How would today go? Would Maxpass work? How much could we really get done?
I had three teen/tween girls with me, and I was ready to rock it out! About a month before we sat down and determined our must, our wishes, and our “no thanks” rides and experiences. I was as ready as I could be…
In this article I will detail our day, and share what we accomplished on our one day, two parks Disneyland adventure.
The hotel guest entrance began letting us tap into the park at 7:45am. We walked down past Grizzly River Run to the ropes near Paradise Pier to begin our day. We were yes, literally at the rope! Here is the timeline:
8am first ones on Incredicoaster, then on to Toy Story Midway Mania. From here we went to:
- Little Mermaid
- Soarin’ over California
- Mater’s Jamboree
And then our fastpass at Radiator Springs Racers, fastpass Mission Breakout, Grisly River Run, and we kept on going, stopping at shops and posing for pics as we continued our quest!
- Monster’s Inc
- Silly Swings
- Bing Bong’s Candy Store
- Toy Story Midway Mania (fastpass)
11:45 check into and immediately seated at Lamplight Lounge
1pm finished eating, grab Jack Jack Cookie Num Nums and head back to hotel room to drop our loot! We grabbed bottles of water and headed into Disneyland! This was a definite advantage of staying at Grand Californian – easy access!
Now it’s Space Mountain fastpass time, as well as meeting…
- Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and a Storm Trooper!
- Meet the Evil Witch
- Stop for a Mickey Bar
- Do a little shopping
Then we had our stacked fastpasses – Indiana Jones, Big Thunder Mountain, and Haunted Mansion before heading to Blue Bayou for dinner.
Note that we had the single worst experience I’ve ever had anywhere on any Disney property and left without eating due to inexcusably hostile staff. We had to seek out other dinner as we didn’t eat at Blue Bayou. This crushed some more ambitious plans and ate up a LOT of time at least two hours all said and done- but hey! Every Disney day has at least one setback.
Once we had a some grub from Bengal BBQ (a personal fave!) we were ready to rock a few evening plans. We rode:
- Buzz Lightyear
- 1 1/2 loops on the Disneyland Railroad
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Watched fireworks
- purchase new Starbucks mugs (oh the line! 40 minutes here…)
and finished the night with more shopping and snacks. We were back in room at 10:05pm.
Basically? It was a GREAT day! You’ll notice that we didn’t hit Fantasyland or Toontown. A part of this ambitious day is that we met the Fab 5 at a character meal outside the parks the night before. Goofy’s Kitchen allowed us to meet & greet characters outside of our precious park hours as well. We also shopped Downtown Disney the day before so that we didn’t have to save energy for all of this.
Did we do everything or do all the things on my list? NOPE!
Did we do some things that weren’t on the list? YEP! Meeting the evil queen for one, was 15 minutes WELL worth the time it was so fun. And we had a magical day (one outrageous experience excluded) – which was the whole point!
My tips for a single Disneyland Day:
- Have a park hopper ticket- we enjoyed NO waiting at DCA in the morning, and used almost exclusively (Pirates & train being only exceptions) fastpass in the afternoon/evening at DL.
- Set with your group the top few “must do” attractions – and get them done before dinner. By the time we had eaten and were on Pirates our final “must” of the park – we had nothing left to attempt more rides the girls were all exhausted and getting cranky.
- Be flexible and have a long “if there’s time” list.
What we didn’t get to
Finally, I’ll share my list of things we wanted to do but either couldn’t, or didn’t have enough time for.
- Splash Mountain
- Fantastyland dark rides
- Daylight photo in front of castle
- Meet: Edna Mode and Marvel characters (schedule didn’t work as they didn’t begin until afternoon)
- Meet: Mike & Sulley (characters didn’t come out as promised on app)
- Meet: Dr Facilier (meets cancelled)
- Ride: Small World, Autopia
- Ride: Matterhorn (closed for repair)
But really – we did dang SO MUCH in a single day – we really did feel we were winning at Disney! It was an exhausting and incredible day, we clocked just over 10 miles walked. And that’s with staying at the closest possible hotel. Just something to consider!
Hope this recap of our great Disney day is helpful and that you have a wonderful trip! I’m always happy to answer questions as needed – just leave me a comment or shoot me an email any time.