One Day In a Crowded Disney Day - What Do I Do?!
I Have One Day to Fit Maximum Fun into a Crowded Disney Day… What Do I Do?!?!
You’ve planned your trip, gotten family in the car, and are overwhelmed by the day ahead. Thankfully, Disneyland Resort offers many tools to make single-day adventures painless, but for those of you wanting specific advice of when to do what, here are our tips to get the most attractions out with the least amount of line:
Before Your Trip: consider how flexible you can be in terms of when you go. A Value Day will save money and be a lot less crowded than a Peak Day; a holiday weekend can be claustrophobic compared to a Tuesday in January. If your kids have any school holidays unique to their district, go then. You can also check online to avoid conventions, though the new park pricing serves as a handy and effortless tool to do so. You can also check Annual Passport blackout calendars to select days where all but the Signature pass is prohibited—APs comprise a large chunk of daily attendance, and often their blackouts make good windows—many a summer Saturday has been found paradoxically less crowded than a Friday mid-school-year.
Morning-Of: wake up early, and eat a good breakfast! Many of the shortest lines and most coveted Fastpasses are available to guests who arrive at Rope Drop, the official time Disneyland opens for the day. You are allowed in Main Street before this time, and able to park an hour prior—take advantage so you are ready to power-walk to your must-do’s and not still stuck in security. Packing healthy snacks like bananas and protein bars will help you keep moving and taking advantage of several E-ticket attractions before the bulk of crowds settle in.
Morning: our personal recommendation is to start where you love most, and collect Fastpass in between attractions. If you love the west end, start with Pirates, but collect an Indy Fastpass on the way. Chances are your Fastpass will be not long after you get off Pirates, opening you up to collect one for Haunted Mansion or other options throughout the park. If you have to hit the future, start at Star Tours, but collect a Space Mountain Fastpass on the way, etc. Don’t forget to get show Fastpasses as they can be held concurrently with attractions ones.
Mid-Day: the worst time to get lunch is between 12-2, when maximum crowds are impacting lines and slowing your day. Thankfully, you ate breakfast early, and got in tons of rides well before 11, allowing you the perfect low-crowd window to refuel. This also positions you to be hungry again near early evening—lines for food and attractions tend to dip during parades, so plan to eat again around then and find yourself in yet another well-timed window. Now your entire afternoon is free to continue your progression through must-dos, hitting Fastpass return times in between your standby waits.
Evening: ‘kid-friendly’ attractions such as dark rides are their most empty right in the middle of parades and nighttime spectaculars, so plan for the likes of It’s a Small World and Peter Pan during those. If you intend to watch these shows but forgot a Fastpass, the advent of projection-mapping makes many less-crowded spots ideal viewing – try It’s a Small World instead of the Castle for fireworks viewing, for example.