Disneyland Itinerary From a CA Local
Hello, Kat here! So for this post, I thought I would share with you the plan my family and I usually follow in all the years that we have been going to Disneyland.
Basically, our step-by-step plan for a day at Disneyland Park with tips for which rides we FastPass, best places to eat and when and everything that we do to make the most of our day at Disneyland.
Being a Californian myself, growing up and going to Disneyland with my family was something that we did multiple times at year so we developed a bit of a pattern that we used every time we went and it has never failed us yet! So here we go...
So first things first, depending on if we are staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel or not, we will go into the parks for Extra Magic Hour/Magic Morning (7AM-8AM is usually Extra Magic Hour), which allows Guests staying at any of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels one extra hour in one of the parks before opening to the general public.
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express for delicious beignets and tasty breakfast burritos. This is my family’s absolute favorite place to grab breakfast on our way into the parks. It's located right next to the actual restaurant in Downtown Disney right across the way from Tortilla Jo’s and Build-A-Bear Workshop. Beignets are delicious fried donuts that are served in a white paper bag that is filled with powdered sugar. When you shake the bag, the donuts become covered with the yummy sugar and therefore, breakfast is served!
This place is a perfect grab-and-go breakfast place that is fast and delicious as you make your way into the parks. Also it’s less busy than the usual Starbucks or breakfast places inside Disneyland Park or Disney’s California Adventure Park.
This is always our go-to land to hit up some of the most popular attractions like Space Mountain, Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Matterhorn Bobsleds (this ride is technically in Fantasyland, but it borders the two), and it is usually the least busy of the lands in the morning. Most guest go directly for Fantasyland, the Princess Fantasy Faire, and ToonTown to say hi to their favorite Disney pals.
Space Mountain is always our first ride of the day and depending on how quickly the park gets busy, we can usually ride it 2 or 3 times without any wait in line. After conquering the stars, we just go around Tomorrowland hitting up Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Autopia, and Matterhorn Bobsleds.
Tip: Matterhorn Bobsleds actually has two separate tracks that vary in their thrill level, drops, and jerky-ness. In my opinion, the left track is the best because it’s longer, faster, and has more drops. Get in the line right across from Finding Nemo’s Submarine Voyage ride and follow it around the base of the mountain.
If you’re wondering why we haven’t gone to Fantasyland yet, especially since it is the land that is right next to Matterhorn, we always avoid going to Fantasyland until later in the day to avoid the morning rush to Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the Fantasy Faire.
Adventureland is probably one of my favorite lands for two reasons: Indy and the food!
Indiana Jones Adventure is the star attraction of this land and the first ride that we ALWAYS FastPass, mostly due to its popularity and the fact that it always has the biggest wait time. Indiana Jones is a special gem to Disneyland Park because there is nowhere else in the world that you can ride this attraction. This is a ride that totally immerses you in the world of famous archaeologist, Indiana Jones, from the queue, to the ride, and beyond! It is fast-paced, action-packed, and in this Disney Sisters opinion, one of the best rides at Disneyland Park!
Around this time, it is getting close to lunchtime, so after getting FastPasses at Indy, we usually stop at Bengal Barbeque for a quick pre-lunch snack. It's right across the way from Indiana Jones and features yummy beef, chicken, pork, and vegetarian kabobs that are all grilled to perfection and smothered in delicious sauces that are sure to get your taste buds kicking! Just sitting here typing this is making my mouth water! This is the perfect place to grab a quick, healthy snack while you are making your way through Adventureland and onto our next stop, New Orleans Square!
New Orleans Square
Now when most people think of Disneyland, they probably picture the beautiful, storybook settings of Fantasyland or Sleeping Beauty Castle and while love both of these iconic places, New Orleans Square is BY FAR my favorite land in all of Disneyland! This was the last land to be personally overseen by Walt Disney before he passed away. Here we ride some of my favorite rides, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion, two classic Disney attractions, while drinking in the magnificent sights, smells, and sounds of this little corner of magic.
Here there is also one of my favorite drinks in Disneyland, the Mint Julep, which is a lime and mint drink, that can be perfectly paired with Mickey-shaped beignets. Who doesn’t like beignets twice in one day?? You can find this stand attached to the French Market Restaurant on the side closest to the Disneyland Railroad station.
About now, tummies are rumbling and it is time to find something for lunch. Luckily, we are in the middle of the park so there are plenty of options to choose from! I will just list a few of my favorites and their locations.
- Blue Bayou, New Orleans Square: this is a sit-down eatery that features a cajun-inspired menu and a dining room that is actually in the middle of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride! So cool right? However, this place usually takes a reservation to get in so make sure and get a spot ahead of time!
- Rancho del Zocalo, Frontierland: If you’re in the mood for really good Mexican food, then this is the place to go! From burritos and tacos, to salads and enchiladas, this has it all right in the heart of Frontierland and with the perfect view of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!
- Hungry Bear, Critter Country: Another great place to eat that has a more traditional menu of burgers, sandwiches, and chicken fingers. The must-eats here are the onion rings and the special and secret, Churro Funnel Cake. Yep you read that right! The churro funnel cake was introduced as an offering during the 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration but is back by popular demand because it is just that good!
Now last but certainly not least, we come to the final land in our circle around the hub of Disneyland, Fantasyland which hosts some of Disneyland’s most iconic rides like Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and Peter Pan’s Flight.
Word to the wise, Peter Pan’s Flight ALWAYS has a line, no matter what time of day it is so if this in on your bucket list, be ready to wait at least 45 minutes for this rides. And no there is no FastPass for this ride.
Mad Tea Party and It’s A Small World are two other rides in this land that are my personal favorites, especially later in the day as the sun goes down and the lights come on.
Another attraction worth checking out in Fantasyland, especially on a hot day, is the Mickey and the Magical Map show at the back of Fantasyland by Mickey’s ToonTown. This show is sure to keep your toes tapping and a smile plastered on your face from beginning to end and it’s in a large covered stadium so perfect if you need a little shade time on a hot day.
Now my family and I don’t usually eat dinner because we are big time Disney snackers! We always have a breakfast and lunch meal but when it comes to be dinner time, we are too full from snacks that we don’t want dinner! So here are my favorite snacks around the park:
- Popcorn: this seems like a weird favorite but there is nothing like Disneyland popcorn at any time of the day! There are multiple popcorn stands around the whole park so make sure and keep an eye out!
- Raspberry Mickey Macaroon, Jolly Holiday Bakery on Main Street U.S.A: This is a recent snack find and it is so delicious! It is a pink Mickey-shaped macaroon that has a yummy and light lemon cream and actual, ripe, and plump raspberries in the middle of it!
- Giant Pickle: Another California staple and favorite among my family, this morsel is exactly what is sounds like: a giant pickle! They are sold all over Disneyland but mostly at a fruit stand in Adventureland that is right next to the Jungle Cruise and Aladdin’s Oasis. A juicy, crunchy, sweet and sour treat that is perfect for a warm summer’s day!
- Corn Dog, Red Corn Dog Wagon, Main Street U.S.A.: Now this may seem like a weird one to mention but believe when I say, YUM!! These corn dogs are fresh dipped and made in the cutest little cart right on Main Street that are a big and delicious treat or dinner.
As the night winds down, at this point, my family and I are riding certain rides over or just sitting down somewhere eating snacks and engaging in our favorite pastime of people watching. We never stake out a specific spot to watch the parades or fireworks shows but we always seem to be in the right place at the right time when those events happen, which to me has always seemed like magic that can’t be planned.
The fireworks shows are legendary and are something that I have seen many, many times over but every time we do watch them, I am reminded of how beautiful a place Disneyland really is. It is a place that brings people together from all over the world and makes them stop for a little while and marvel at the beauty and magic that is all around them.
Well, that’s it for Kat’s Typical Disneyland Day! If you have any questions about rides, restaurants or about the park itself, please don’t hesitate to comment to the bottom of this post and I will answer them as best I can! I hope this helps to make your next visit a stress-free and magical time to take in all the wonder, fantasy, and fun that Disneyland has to offer you!
See ya around the parks!