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Question for frequent visitors to Disneyland & DCA

San Francisco...
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315 posts
1 review
Question for frequent visitors to Disneyland & DCA

I am wondering how people plan their day in either park.

I've been many times, but last time was about 10 years ago.

My understanding is that the parks are much more crowded now than they use to be.

I am planning to go for 3 days in September. The days are show as "ghost town" on the isitpacked website.

So...how do you plan your day? I already know, get there early and use the early entry when possible.

Aside from that, what do you do first? Do you hit one land, do everything there and move to the next? Or do you move back & forth to various rides?

I have seen people mention hopping back & forth between the parks during the day, but I would think it would slow you down.

My plan right now is to look at the rides and make a list of what I want to do.

And as a side note, I really don't like the submarine ride (is it now called Finding Nemo?). Hated it as a kid. Rode it as an adult and still hated it. That one won't make the list!

8 replies to this topic
Las Vegas, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Anaheim, St. George
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30,722 posts
94 reviews
1. Re: Question for frequent visitors to Disneyland & DCA

What dates in Sept?

First, Sept is blazingly hot! Expect their will be times during the day, especially mid afternoon, you wont want to do as much, and likely will want to stay inside Disneyland Park as with alot more trees, its substantially cooler.

What you do party depends on your style, and everyone is different. We try though to do the attractions we are most interested in that first few hours after Park opening time, and pick up a Fastpass often during that time for a busier attraction.

We tend to visit in Disneyland Park Indiana Jones first as it tends to break down alot during the day, or pick up a Fastpass for the attraction. Then move to Tomorrowland for Space Mountain and Star Tours and whatever else people are interested in doing. If we do Peter Pans flight, that usually is a first thing on whatever day, and usually do things we are interested in in Fantasyland early as well. If we are planning on riding RSR we may also quite early pick up a Fastpass for that.

We really think of the two Parks as one big Park, and use the Disneyland App as well as Mousewait to show us where the shorter lines are after that first few hours at Disneyland. Some of our Group will go back and forth alot more than others finding the shorter lines to maximize their time.

Also, in later afternoon, Disneyland Park numbers will really swell, and its nice to hop to California Adventure Park for a while which will have less numbers.

Edited: 06 May 2018, 01:06
Long Beach...
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7,721 posts
2. Re: Question for frequent visitors to Disneyland & DCA

I'm not a frequent visitor, but I was in a similar position as you last year.

Disneyland- We grabbed fast passes and did FantasyLand in the morning. Afternoon we watched shows and did other rides that we were on our list. Then evening entertainment, more rides, walk around. Love Disneyland all lit up.

DCA- we loosely followed Disneyland Daily 'how to start your day..' which worked out well.



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2,969 posts
82 reviews
3. Re: Question for frequent visitors to Disneyland & DCA

We go to our favorite ride for whatever park we start at. We may do 1 or 2 rides in that land and then move over to another land. We then loop back if we have a fast pass or go to something else that is close. Yes, Disneyland is getting busier. Last trip in November 2017, we were getting fast passes more than what we are use to. Have fun. I'm with you on Finding Nemo. Wait till you try the new cars on the Matterhorn. We think it is too rough now.

We use our 3rd day to hop between parks. The day we start at DCA, we tend to go back over to Disneyland.

Yucaipa, California
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for Anaheim
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4. Re: Question for frequent visitors to Disneyland & DCA

I normally start by looking at entertainment choices and times. In fact, I make sure to choose a day when the entertainment I want is offered. That might mean looking at the official entertainment schedule on line.

So, for example, a day when fireworks are scheduled as well as Fantasmic. Then I look at the rest of the entertainment and times and how everything fits together. I started doing this years and years ago. Before that I would just go and wonder what "might" happen and then wonder why somethings didn't. Prior to the Internet I would call the park after I had a date in mind.

Once I have the entertainment list and times, I work in my rides around those starting with the most popular.

I used to like just walking around Main Street in the morning until I finally took the advice to get on popular rides first and then come back to Main Street. But I do always start my morning with a ride on the Horse Drawn Streetcar.

I go once a year (usually, sometimes twice) for one day.

Edited: 06 May 2018, 03:37
tucson, az
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4,419 posts
12 reviews
5. Re: Question for frequent visitors to Disneyland & DCA

We go for what we want to do first. Last time it was Alice in Wonderland, and then Storybook because it was so dead. Then we went to It's a Small World which was, again, dead.

The next day we headed for Jungle Cruise then Pirates.

My dad can't do thrill rides so we skip them and get in his favorites first.

My brother- who usually takes off on his own- grabs fastpasses and happily criss-crosses all over the Parks.

Yucaipa, California
Destination Expert
for Anaheim
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21,633 posts
2 reviews
6. Re: Question for frequent visitors to Disneyland & DCA

In regards to "hitting" one land at a time, I do try to stick to a general area of Disneyland and then move to another. But it's more like east side versus west side.

I think it's most important to know which lands or areas get more crowds at certain times of day than others. Meaning I wouldn't just choose this land rather than that other land just for the sake of having an order to the lands. That's where advice is helpful.

If you have multiple days you may find that you enjoy one area or land the most or slightly more than others. And it's okay to spend a lot of time there because you do!

Edited: 06 May 2018, 03:49
Pecos, New Mexico
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595 posts
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7. Re: Question for frequent visitors to Disneyland & DCA


If you haven't done so already download the free Disneyland app. This will give you a look at wait times. Certain rides are always quite busy even on "ghost town" days and you'll want to plan Fastpasses around that. For instance, the Radiator Springs Racers Fastpasses tend to run out fairly early. Even on a supposed "light" days they may be gone by mid-afternoon. I like to plan my California Adventure day so I am in Cars Land as the sun goes down. It really is a fun experience, all the neon lights come on and they play music from Cars while people dance in the street - it's like a block party. I try to have an evening FastPass for Racers.

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1 post
9 reviews
8. Re: Question for frequent visitors to Disneyland & DCA

We go every year. Actually planned a trip in September as well. I like it because even though the hours are shorter it is the least crowded . With a three day hopper we will usually try to "focus" on one park per day than the other on the next. The third day is reserved for the most hopping. Check the schedule because the parks do have different closing times depending on the day. California Adventure (DCA) is somewhat smaller so we also reserve our early morning hour (that you should have gotten with a 3 day hopper) for Disneyland. The first thing you want to do that day is get a Fastpass seating ticket for Fantasmic over in Frontierland. It doesn't count towards your allotted Fastpasses for the day. If your FP reserves you the 9pm showing you can also stay after the show to watch fireworks from that area. Also download the Disneyland app. It will make it a lot easier to check on wait time for rides, showtimes, make dining reservations etc..There is also a Maxpass you can get for $10 more a day per person in your party. It may seem like a lot but it allows you to make your next FP selection right as you check in for each ride so your not stuck running to the next FP kiosk. You also get the photopass for every day you purchase the maxpass. (Tip: if your budget doesn't allow $10 extra a day per person, one person in your party could technically purchase the Maxpass just to get the photopass for your group)..As far as what rides to start with, it really depends on what you are looking for. For us thrill rides are most important and fill up fast. So in DL; Indiana Jones, and Space Mountain have FP. We will usually do that and Pirates which doesn't have FP option. In DCA the rides we reserve first are: Radiator Springs Racers(our favorite there), Soarin, and Guardians. Yes September is hot but I prefer the heat. You can always plan to ride water rides in the middle of the day and see shows.

There are a plethora of utube videos that you can watch between now and then that are very helpful as well. Either way once you do your research and make your lists, remember to stay flexible and have fun!

Edited: 06 May 2018, 12:59
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