Many people usually set out on a Disney vacation to go for at least 3 days, however there are some circumstances where you are only able to visit the park for one day. Whether it be being in town for a relative’s wedding/family function with limited time, wanting to see other attractions in Southern California, or just passing by to another destination. Is Disney in a day possible? The short answer is yes. Is it recommended? No, only because there is so much to see in the parks and its a shame to have to limit yourself. However, in certain circumstances, you have to do what you have to do. One Disney day is better than none right? Here are some tips to get the most out of your day.
1. Park Hopper: Even though you are just going to the resort for the day, do not skimp on the park hopper option to California Adventure. The $56 extra dollars is worth it because California Adventure seems to focus on thrill rides rather than the nostalgia of Disneyland. It may seem overwhelming to add an extra park into your day, but it makes going for just one day that more enjoyable and worth it.
2. Fastpass is your friend: The Fastpass feature is a wonderful addition to enhancing your park experience, however it is crucial to map out your Fastpass plan when you are going for just one day. Sit down with your family or group before you head to the parks and have a Fastpass priority list so you aren’t running around the parks aimlessly trying to decide what to do.
3. Skip dine-in restaurants: Don’t get me wrong, the sit down restaurants at Disneyland resort are wonderful, but with limited amount of time they can be passed up on a one day trip. Stick to fast quick service restaurants or snack carts that have equally delicious options.
4. Kids under 5: Remember how I mentioned add the park hopper above in tip #1? Scratch that tip if you are going with kids under 5. The majority of your time will be spent in Fantasyland and the day is more likely to be about their experience, rather than going on the big thrill rides. Also, it will be too much on them and you to park hop in one day. Stick to just Disneyland if you have little ones.
5. Convenient meet & greets: Part of the Disney experience is meeting the beloved characters from the movies, however sometimes waiting in those lines can be time-consuming. My advice is, if you happen to be in the right place at the right time with little to no wait to meet a character, go for it! If it’s longer than 20 minutes, don’t bother to wait because it takes up your ride time.
6. Rest for the weary: I know I have reinforced over and over about saving time, but if you do not take a break you will probably be dealing with the grumpiest people at the happiest place on earth. My favorite places to recharge are; Disney Animation Building in California Adventure, The Grand Californian hotel lobby (yes, even if you aren’t staying there you can rest in the lobby), and at Main Street cinema where they show classic Disney animated cartoons.
7. Plan out your day: Just as I mentioned planning out your Fastpasses, you need to sit down as a group and decide the main attractions you have to see during your visit. It’s all about priority on a single Disney day, so compromise and collaborate with your group before you hit the parks.
8. Early bird gets the mouse?: Start as early as possible, meaning be there when the gates open if you can. You will be able to get your Fastpasses in early and beat the crowds to the popular rides. This is one of the most important tips because you want to get a head start on everybody since you probably have less time than they do.
9. Parades and shows: What is a Disney day without a parade? However, when going to Disneyland resort for just one day, I recommend choosing one parade or show to watch (excluding fireworks). The parades and shows themselves aren’t that long, but it’s the waiting and saving your spot that takes up your time.
10. Enjoy yourself! : Don’t focus on what you didn’t see or do on your single Disney day, but focus on everything you did accomplish and get to see in just one day! It takes a pretty skilled person to pull off a Disney trip in a day, so relish in the experience and know that you are one of the brave ones that conquered (or attempted to conquer) the Disneyland Resort in one day!