5 Ways to Maximize Your Day at Disneyland Resort
So your family is packed, your day is clear, and you have a single-day ticket to Disneyland Resort and you’re wondering: “how am I possibly going to do all of this?!” Between navigating dining, peak pricing days, massive crowds for food and attractions, and your own family’s needs and pacing, there are a lot of factors to consider when organizing a Disney Day that’s both manageable and relaxing. Thankfully, while planning a one-day Disneyland Resort adventure can be overwhelming, there are many resources available to make your day as seamless as possible. We are going to go over some general tools available to all guests, as well as some special recommendations curated by the TPC team, to make an action-packed day easy to plan.
Fastpass: the hallmark of any well-planned Disney day, the Fastpass remains the best (and most economical) tool available to the average parkgoer. All guests have equal chances at securing Fastpasses to the their favorite rides or attractions from the moment the park opens, by visiting “Fastpass Return” kiosks near the line entrances to their desired attraction. Fastpasses are loaded onto your park ticket by inserting into the kiosk, and you will receive a printout receipt with your “Fastpass Return Time,” a one-hour window in which you can join the shorter Fastpass queue and bypass the regular line. You can get your next pass either once you’ve used your current one or when 90 minutes have passed—but show Fastpasses do not count so you can get them anytime without a waiting period. We recommend getting Fastpasses to must-do popular attractions as soon as you get to the parks—Radiator Springs Racers for DCA, Space Mountain for Disneyland proper—and getting more as you use them.
Maxpass: for those not eager to spend the day running to varying kiosks for FP, you can get MaxPass for $15/ticket/day, which includes the ability to make mobile reservations and get unlimited PhotoPass downloads for images assigned to that park ticket. You can add Fastpasses straight from the app without visiting a kiosk and can occasionally get access to “sold-out” Fastpasses later in the day!
Dining Reservations: if you have to visit a premium dining offering such as Blue Bayou or Napa Rose, having a dining reservation can eliminate waits and stress day-of. Book up to 60 days in advance to guarantee your seat and walk in ready to relax come park day.
Mobile Order and Pay: for those avoiding quick-serve lines, many places from ice cream parlors to restaurants throughout the resort offer Mobile Ordering through the app, where you can select an arrival window and bypass the line. This is great to utilize before boarding a ride—you indicate when you’ve arrived at the pick-up window so your food won’t get too warm/cold!
Nighttime Spectacular Dining Packages: another premium option for those seeking peace of mind (or less eager to arrive at Rope Drop for a Fastpass on a crowded day), Disneyland offers some advanced dining reservations with a small premium to guarantee priority VIP seating for nighttime spectaculars such as Fantasmic or World of Color. Depending on the season this surcharge can be quite small compared to your meal price, and spares you stress and soreness from having to camp out hours+ in advance in crowded audience spaces.
What if my trip is coming right up and I haven’t had time to make advanced reservations?
Thankfully unlike its Florida counterpart, most dining and attractions at Disneyland Resort are very accessible day-of, as Fastpass+ and extremely-advanced dining reservations are not offered. You will have the same odds of securing Fastpasses, quick-service dining spots, and show reservations as any average parkgoer arriving at rope-drop—though we have included some options for those wanting some things taken care of in advance at a small premium.