Whether you are visiting the Disneyland Resort with a group of 2 or 22, I can help make your day at Disneyland more magical, with the right Disneyland itinerary.
Is this an adult only trip? Even a multi-family trip with many kids can be made the best with the right Disneyland itinerary.
A wheelchair or any disabilities is no matter, I can make sure you still have a great time at Disneyland. Whether you are honeymooning with just the two of you or doing a large family reunion, I will help you plan your ideal Disneyland day.
No matter what you want your vacation to look like, no matter how many people are in your party, I can make it work harmoniously with these awesome Disneyland Itinerary tips.
Let me start off by saying that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to an ideal day at Disneyland. Every single person and every party will have their own priorities, desires, interests, wishes, and bucket lists. So this article will not be a list of Disneyland tips with certain rides you must ride or shows you must see or food you must eat, all in a specific order.
What works for one group might not work for another. My family’s plan might not work for your specific party or trip.
Instead I am going to teach you how to create the perfect Disneyland Itinerary, designed for you and by you, for your specific trip and party. So, let’s get into all the details.
Making Your Disneyland Itinerary
Should you purchase Maxpass? Or just use Fastpass?
Well first of all, what is Maxpass? And what is Fastpass? These are very important questions that you will need to know the answers to in order to properly map out your day at the parks. You need to know what each of them are, what the difference is, and which is right for you.
Okay, so let’s start with the basics. What is Fastpass? Fastpass is the (completely free of charge!) system which allows you and your party to skip the long lines for one attraction at a time. Since it is free to use, it would be silly of you not to use it, especially knowing now that it exists. You are welcome.
Here is how it works: let’s say you want to ride Space Mountain, but the wait is over an hour long! So you head over to the Space Mountain Fastpass distribution kiosk (in this situation, it is in the same location as the ride entrance but that is not always the case–the Disneyland app will show you where each of them are or you can ask any cast member for help).
You scan each of your party member’s park tickets and a Fastpass reminder paper will print out. The distribution kiosk will have a timeframe of how long those Fastpasses will be valid displayed above the entrance. You will also see this time slot specified on your tiny paper Fastpass reminder. Let’s say it is 10 am when you go to the Fastpass kiosk and the Fastpass return time is between 2:30-3:30 pm. You would go enjoy the rest of the park until that time frame. After that, you return to the Space Mountain entrance and scan your park tickets and enter the Fastpass queue, which will be much shorter.
It will maybe be about five to ten-minute wait, as long as there were not any technical issues that backed up the queue earlier. Again, it is completely free for anyone to use with a valid park ticket at both Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure. So use it, if you do not choose to use Maxpass instead.
Okay, now let’s talk about Maxpass. Maxpass is very similar to the Fastpass system. However, it is done all electronically through your smartphone and costs an additional $15 per ticket per day.
Here is how it works: So, if you were in the exact same situation I explained above, but instead you were using Maxpass, it would look like this. You want to ride Space Mountain but you see, using the Disneyland app, that the line is over an hour long.
Let’s say it is 10 am and the Maxpass / Fastpass Return Time is 2:30-3:30pm. So you go on your smartphone to the Disneyland app and request a Maxpass for Space Mountain for your entire party. In just a few seconds, you will have every member of your party with a Maxpass return time of 2:30-3:30pm. Then you enjoy the rest of the park, from wherever you are at, and then head over to Space Mountain during your return time. You can literally do all of this from Critter Country, across the entire park. You can even do it while visiting Disney’s California Adventure Park. It will save you the hassle of running back and forth throughout the parks all day. But again, it will cost you some extra money.
Deciding which is right for you may ultimately come down to whether you are trying to save time or money and which of those is more important for your trip. If you would rather save money than save time, then I recommend using the traditional Fastpass system. However, if you instead would rather prioritize time rather than a little extra money, then Maxpass may be right for you. I will also list some other factors later on in this article.
If you are going for more than three days…and/or you are staying at a resort hotel…
If you are staying on property at either the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, or the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, then you will get what is called “Extra Magic Hours.” “Extra Magic Hours” are when either Disneyland Park or Disney’s California Adventure Park open one hour early just for you and other Disney Resort Hotel guests! You will deal with less crowds and shorter lines! However, it is important to note that certain areas of the parks, like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, will not be open during that time. Instead, prioritize other rides that normally have a long wait that will be open–like Space Mountain or Indiana Jones: The Temple of the Forbidden Eye.
Similar to Extra Magic Hours, guests who purchase multiple park hopper tickets–usually three or more days in a row–will receive one “Magic Morning” during their stay. This is exactly the same as Extra Magic Hours, but you can only do it for one day for every three days you have booked, usually. And again, not all areas of the parks will be open so be sure to prioritize your must-do rides that will be open and take advantage of the shorter lines before the park opens to the general public.
If you are going with a small group…
If you plan to visit Disneyland with a group of about 1-3 people, you will likely benefit from staying together most of the day. I recommend planning a bit of your day with your party ahead of time.
Planning and speaking with a smaller group of people is much easier than trying to make plans than with a large group of family and friends with different agendas and interests. My only exception to this rule is if you would really rather prioritize time over your bank account. If you want to avoid walking back and forth around the park all day, then Maxpass is still beneficial. It is completely up to you. Really, it can’t hurt anything but your wallet.
If you are going with a medium-sized group…
If you plan to visit Disneyland and / or Disney’s California Adventure with a group of about 4-7 people, you will have a blast. This is such a good size for a group. You get some of the pros of a smaller group, like easier communication. But you also get some of the pros of a larger group, like always having people to talk to or things to talk about.
However, you may also deal with the cons of both ends as well, like differing opinions and preferences and deciding whether to use Fastpass or Maxpass. I recommend planning ahead of time to see who wants to do what and when. Then, maybe split up into smaller groups throughout the day so everybody is happy.
If you are going with a large group…
Going to Disneyland with a group of 6+ people, you will probably want to spend the morning and mealtimes together but might like to split up into smaller groups throughout the day. That way, parents of small children can take their kids on all the Fantasyland rides while the adults and teens can ride the thrill rides. But you don’t have to sacrifice family time, either.
If you are going to Disneyland with small children…
Look ahead of time online at all the height requirements and measure your child in order to avoid wasting time and heartache at the parks. Also, if your children still take naps, don’t skip them. Make sure to incorporate their usual nap times into the schedule. Don’t stress about missing out, you will probably only miss the busiest and hottest parts of the day anyway.
If you or somebody in your party are Thrill-seekers…
Thrill-seekers will need to maximize their use of the Fastpass system and should probably consider purchasing MaxPass as well. Thrill-seekers should make a list of their must-do attractions and make sure to Fastpass them and/or do them first thing.
If you or somebody in your party are Atmosphere and Show Lovers…
Be sure to use the Disneyland app and check the times for all parades, shows, character meet and greets, etc. If you want to see Fantasmic! or World of Color, you should get a Fastpass for them to get good seats. You can Fastpass shows and rides at the same time.
If you or somebody in your party needs a wheelchair or has other disabilities…
Some of these amazing Disney Parks accommodations include the Disney Parks Disability Access Service Pass (or DAS pass for short). You can find tons of tips on how to use the Disability Access Service, if you really need it. It is only for those who have any medical conditions that make it difficult for them to wait in a conventional queuing system like most other guests. To explain it rather briefly, it works in a similar way that the Fastpass system works. You go to an attraction and get a return time and then return later through a shorter line or through the attraction exit.
Wheelchairs are allowed inside both Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure Park, as well as the Downtown Disney District and Disney Resort Hotels. Obviously, you can bring your own chair with all the features you are used to.
However, you can also rent a wheelchair for only $12 (plus a $20 refundable deposit) or you can rent an EVC for only $50 (plus a $20 refundable deposit). These rentals are located just outside the entrance to Disneyland park, on the right side. It is the same location where you would rent any strollers, as well.
If you or somebody in your party are Penny-Pinchers…
I already wrote extensively on this here. It is my specialty, of course!
But here are a few quick tips:
- bring your own snacks and food into the park
- do not buy souvenirs and instead save the freebies like park maps or Fastpass reminders
- Look for discount tickets on my here.
Now you can probably see why I said that there is no “one size fits all.” Everyone’s’ perfect Disneyland itinerary will be different. It all depends on what you want and the people you are traveling with. I hope these tools on how to create your perfect Disneyland Itinerary were very helpful!