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Old 01-29-2012, 06:54 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Gold Coast, Australia
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newbie has one day at Disneyland LA

Hi everyone! I've been a lurker for a while and love reading about everyone's adventures. My gf and I are super excited to be coming to the US for the first time in July, and we have one day at Disneyland and I wondered if you lovely people might have some advice about how to best arrange our time there. I know it's peak time and so going to be really busy, and hot, and one day is not enough - next time we'll be aiming for November or something I think. But anyway our plan so far is to get there as early as possible (an hour before opening, ideally) and then I guess go for the most popular rides first. Is this what you'd all recommend? Are the fastpasses helpful? Some of the rides we're interested in are Indiana Jones, Big Thunder railroad, Splash Mountain, Pirates, and Space Mountain. Are any of these way overrated? What else would you all suggest?
Thanks so much!
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Old 01-29-2012, 09:52 PM   #2
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Early is the right idea! First, do research and prioritize your "must do" attractions. You won't get to everything so decide what's most important. Fast passes are a must to experience the most popular attractions. We opt to walk back and forth rather then proceeding in an orderly circle to maximize Fastpass benefits. Get another as soon as you're allowed (there's a time on your pass) so you spend as little time as possible in lines. If parades aren't a big thing for you it's a great time to find shorter lines. All the rides you mentioned are a lot of fun. I also recommend Haunted Mansion, Matterhorn, and Toy Story Midway Mania. That said, once you pick a small list of "must dos", then try and relax and enjoy the experience. Have a Mickey ice cream bar, listen to the music and people watch on Main Street USA. Hope you have a great time.
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:57 PM   #3
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Hi Katherine,

I'm also a newbie here, though I've been lurking on and off for a long time. I'm the sort of weirdo who has to plan everything practically down to the minute (at least for the first few hours that the park is open). On the off chance that you are like me, I'll try and give you the sort of tips that I would want in your position. Feel free to ignore my advice if it's too restrictive. Of course you can't do it all in one day, but I think you can get most if not all of your specific list done in one day. Will you have parkhoppers or will you just be doing Disneyland?

Anyway, the first thing I'd do when I got in the park if I were you would be to get fastpasses (FPs) for Space Mountain or Indiana Jones. Do you have any interest in doing Star Tours? If so, that's actually the first one you should go for. Those FPs run out quicker since it's new. As Safari Queen mentioned, get another FP as soon as you can. FPs have two times printed on them (usually an hour apart) - the first is the time when you can go get a new pass. The other is supposedly when your pass "runs out" but you can actually come back any time after the first time printed on the pass. So if it says to come back between 9:30 and 10:30 AM, you can go get a new FP at 9:30, and you can actually use that pass at 8:00 PM or any other time after 9:30.

You want to get the ones with the longer lines done as early as possible, before the park gets more crowded. That's part of why you don't necessarily want to use your first FPs during the window. You can use them later, and all the while you're going through the queue and actually riding the attraction, the other lines are getting longer. If there are any rides in Fantasyland (especially Peter Pan or Dumbo) you really want to do, I'd do those right when you get there. Maybe send one person to get FPs for Space Mountain or Indiana Jones while the other gets in line.

It's gonna be pretty hot, so you want to do Splash in the early afternoon, if possible. This is another one you need a FP for. Last time I was there in July (admittedly a few years ago) the line got up to 90 minutes long (maybe longer). The FP doesn't eliminate all that wait time, but does cut it down significantly (I think it was 10-15 minutes from getting in the FP queue to getting on the ride). FPs make a big difference, and the bigger the crowd, the bigger the difference.

The line for Pirates moves pretty fast. It may look like it's getting long in the late morning, but it's not one of the rides you have to do early in the morning. If you can, you might want to wait until the evening, when the crowds start to dissipate a little. I almost always ride prates later in the day when the line gets a little shorter.

If you can, try to eat lunch early, like at 11:30 or so, as after about 12:30, the lines get really long. In fact, it gets super crowded for a while in the afternoon (a lot of the locals come for a while, then go home for dinner). The lines for everything will be long (food, bathrooms, stores and of course, rides). I usually take this time to do two things: A) Use some of the FPs I collected in the morning and B) sit and relax. Go to Main Street and listen to music and do some people watching or ride the train around the park. If you want to get a lot done, you'll probably want to stay late, so you will need your energy. Depending on your situation, it might even be wise to go back to the hotel and take a nap.

Okay, so there it is. Tips from a militant Disneylander. Really, though, the most important thing is to have fun with the one you're with! Wishing you the best on trip and especially your Disney day!
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Old 02-02-2012, 10:14 AM   #4
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I'm also a diehard DL goer and fan. We get to the parks early to get in line for ropedrop. Utilize Magic Morning hours if you can as well as utilizing FP's on major attractions. We'll often immediately head to Buzz or Space Mountain or Star Tours to get an FP, then head to ride Subs, then Matterhorn, then go back and use our FP. We do that sort of thing all day. Getting through Fantasyland rides is always the challenge due to kids and their parents. Long lines. But, in one day, we've ridden almost every attraction before if you play your cards right. And that includes seeing Fantasmic!, Fireworks and the Parade, so it can be done but doing it commando style.
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Old 02-02-2012, 06:56 PM   #5
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Thanks so much Safari Queen, OldBrownShoe, and zeitzeuge! I really appreciate it. I'll print these out and take them with us.
Thanks again,
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:15 AM   #6
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As someone who lived 10 miles from DL for 4 years and went easily 200 times, here's my suggestions:

First you can have more than one fast pass at a time. The Fastpass has 3 times on it. The first one is when you can return to use it... the second one is when you're supposed to have used it by... ignore that time. The third time is in small print at the bottom and it tells you when you can get another fast pass. This time is either the start time of your current fast pass or 2 hours after you got the fast pass, which ever is shorter.

rope drop.. go to Space Mountain, get a fast pass and ride it, the line should be very short. When you get off Space Mountain, you will probably be close to getting another fast pass. I would normally go to the Matterhorn and ride that..

However, you might want to hit Finding Nemo. Personally, I think that ride is over rated and cramped and long - the loading and unloading of the subs is the worst in the park. On several occasions, I have asked the CM's to use the stationary viewing room. (It's for handicapped and people who don't like/want to get in the subs.) The stationary viewing room, while not moving like the subs, is a movie of what you see through your sub porthole without the claustrophobia. There has never been a line for the viewing room and it cuts at least 10/15 minutes off he ride time because there is no load time.

After either Matterhorn or Nemo, you are more than likely ready to get another fast pass. Get one for Star Tours now. If the line is short, ride it.. if not, go to Peter Pan's Flight. That line may be long, but it will only get longer as the day goes on. This is one of my favorite kid rides in the park. With the exception of Alice in Wonderland (which you want to ride as it's unique to DL), the other 'dark rides' in Fantasyland usually don't have long lines.

After Peter Pan, continue through Fantasyland to Frontierland. Check your fast pass time and the times for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Either get a FP or ride it or both. If you can get a FP for BTMM and the FP return time for BTMM is close get the FP. If you have time to kill before the next FP, ride Pirates. Now depending on your next return time, you'll either want to get another FP or ride something until you can get another FP.

If you need to ride something, I would suggest Indy. If it's up and running. It breaks down ALOT. When you ride Indy, ask for the 3rd row. It's the bounciest and most fun

After Indy, go to Splash Mountain and either ride or get a FP. After Splash, you're at the entrance to Winnie The Pooh. It's cute and if the line isn't TOO long worth a ride. Come back and hit Haunted Mansion.

You now have hit, or gotten a FP for every major ride in the park. What's left? Buzzlight Year is fun if you like laser shooting games. In Toon Town, Roger Rabbit's Toon Car Spin is crazy fun AND the Fast Pass system is NOT part of the rest of DL's fast pass system so you can get a FP for this ride no matter WHAT the time is for your next fast Pass.

I have always said It's a Small World is 13 minutes of my life I'll never get back, but I still ride it. You'll probably want to do it to say that you've done it once in your life. Teacups are a true 'whirl and hurl' ride, but can be fun. The Story Book Canal boats are kinda cool, but I like doing them later at night because the ducks like to sleep on the displays and there's one scene where it looks like England is being invaded by GIANT KILLER DUCKS. (it's silly.)

Hope this helps

P.S. you could also start the day a little different by getting a fast pass for Star Tours on the way to Space Mountain and then just ride space mountain getting a fast pass later in the day for SM.
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Old 02-06-2012, 12:20 PM   #7
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Others can disagree, but for a first time visit, I'd highly recommend getting the latest edition of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. Very thoroughly researched and spot-on advice in terms of how to minimize waits. The current edition (2012) appears to include information on the newly rehabbed Star Tours. If you've only got a day it's $18 well spent.
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Old 02-10-2012, 08:20 PM   #8
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Thanks so much Chuckers and SeattleRedBear! Much appreciated. We're going to get that book, too.
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Old 02-11-2012, 04:02 PM   #9
Missing my day trips to Disneyland :(
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You know, I was thinking about my post and I want to amend it...

You've gotten some great advice from us, however, many of us have been to DL so many times that we forget what it's like to be a first/second, third time visitor.

While I've given you advice on how to maximize your ride time, you also need time to just soak in the magic. The main things, ride wise, you want to hit would be Space Mountain, Star Tours, Matterhorn, Peter Pan, Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion (which is a MUST in November because it is re-themed for Halloween/Christmas), and Splash Mountain. Those are the big rides. If you're spending the whole day there, you really shouldn't have a problem hitting them.

You'll probably want to catch the parade.. check if there are one or two parades that day. Everyone tends to crowd around the beginning of Main Street and the castle hub. Ask at information, which is at the front of the castle hub if this is a parade that stops or if it is continuous. If it stops, it will probably stop in 3 places. Main Street circle, the castle hub circle, and around It's a Small World. Also ask where it starts (sometimes it goes main street to Small World, or reverse.) Either way, stopping or not, a lesser crowded area to watch is up by It's a Small World.

The fireworks are best seen at the juncture of the hub and main street. Get there about 30 minutes before they start.. that area gets PACKED.

They may have another show there called Fantasmic. I LOVE this show. It's located on the river around liberty square and new orleans square. IF you have the money, getting a priority seat for this show is SO worth it. There's usually two performances, one at 8pm and one at 10 pm. If you do the 8pm show, it's tough to get to the fireworks. If you go to the 10 pm show, it's basically impossible to get a space after the fireworks unless you have a priority seat. People start saving space for this show 2-3 hours before hand. It makes the river area REALLY crowded. The priority seats are expensive.. I think around $50 for the show, but so worth it. You get a personal dessert/cheese tray, drink of your choice (coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soda) and a seat that's dead center for the show. If you are going to get the seats, get the 10pm show. You can get there after the fireworks and you won't have to fight to find a seat.


There's a place opposite the Indian Jones ride, Bengal Barbeque, that serves, what I call Meat On a Stick.. It's AWESOME! The chicken or beef sticks are fantastic. R2P2 (Red Rocket Pizza Port) in front of Space Mountain is good, too. I always have the Chicken Fusilli. I believe it's one of the few cafeteria places that gives soda refills. If you want table dining, make a reservation at Orlean's Cafe. They have THE BEST Monte Cristo sandwiches I have eaten ANYWHERE. (it's the same sandwich in the Blue Bayou for about $10 less).
For dessert, there's a little shop down a side street in Main Street that serves fresh made chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches. Also on Main Street, there's a bakery that has fantastic cinnamon rolls which are BIG and great for breakfast. Ask for it heated.
I would avoid the mexican place, Rancho del Zocalo, next to Big Thunder, several of my friends and myself, have not felt well after eating there. The Village Haus, in Fantasyland isn't great and neither is the Hungry Bear in Critter Country - they're both over-priced-dry-burgers places.

If there's anything else you want to know, just ask

If you choose to reserve seats for Fantasmic or make a reservation at Orleans Cafe, CALL DISNEY at least week before you go. The number is on the Disneyland Web site.. I don't remember it off the top of my head anymore.
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Old 02-11-2012, 11:07 PM   #10
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Thanks so much Chuckers!! This is great
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:41 PM   #11
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You didn't specify a day, but if you have flexibility in which day, make it a week day. The weekends can be very crowded as that's when locals with Annual Passes go. So if you can visit on a week day it'll be much easier to get more in. Other than that, the others have provided some great advice. Hope you enjoy your trip!!
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Old 02-25-2012, 05:12 AM   #12
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Thanks so much Sphyrna! We thought that might be the case, and will be going on a Friday.
Thanks again everyone
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