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The Best 1 Day Disneyland Itinerary

If you are visiting Disneyland Resort for a family vacation, I generally recommend a 3-day itinerary. That way, you can enjoy both of the theme parks – Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.

However, sometimes, you really only have one day to explore Disneyland. Perhaps you are doing a day trip, or you are including a day at Disneyland in a longer Southern California vacation. In that case, we have some recommendations for the best one-day Disneyland itinerary.

For this one day trip, we recommend only visiting one of the two theme parks. Disneyland is the most classic option, and so that is the itinerary we are recommending.

Keep in mind that if you do plan to visit both parks in one day, you will need to purchase the park hopper option on your ticket. In addition, you will need park reservations.

Disclosure: We’ve received complimentary tickets as part of a conference, and have also paid our own way. This post contains affiliate links and a purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no cost to you.

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Disneyland railroad station at night

The Best 1 Day Disneyland Itinerary

To get the most out of your one day at Disneyland, you’ll want to start at park opening. In Disney-speak, this is referred to as “rope drop”.

Rope drop is when they officially “drop the rope” holding back the crowds, and allow guests into the area with the attractions. At this time, guests can already be through bag security and the ticket turnstiles. Therefore, you’ll want to arrive at the front of Disneyland well before the official park opening time.

Guests staying at one of the three hotels on Disneyland property (the Grand Californian, the Disneyland Hotel, or Disney’s Pixar Place Hotel) will have access to early park entry. Each day, one specific park is open to resort guests 30 minutes before the official opening time. Again, this means you can already be through security and the park turnstiles.

Not every attraction is open during that time, but it does give you a good head start. If you are able to take advantage of it for your one day at Disneyland, you should.

Entrance to Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway with "Line Starts Here" sign


To fully take advantage of your time at Disneyland, we recommend getting Genie+. Although this is offered at an additional cost, it can be helpful if you only have one day to visit the park.

You are able to add it on right when you purchase your tickets. With Genie+, you can make “reservations” to the most popular attractions and minimize the wait times.

If you don’t purchase Genie+, we would recommend using the free Disney Genie service. To use this, you’ll select your top experiences on the app. Then, the Disney Genie will give you an overview agenda with general times to experience your choices.

Where to Start

This is going to depend on a few things. If you are traveling with younger kids who want to experience the fairytale rides of Fantasyland, start there. Otherwise, we’d recommend starting in Tomorrowland. Some attractions in both lands are open during early park opening.

As soon as you can, we recommend booking your first Genie+ allocation. Indiana Jones Adventure is usually my choice because it’s a popular ride and then lines can get long.

In addition, if you want to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, you’ll want to purchase your Individual Lightning Lane. Unlike at Walt Disney World, you can’t choose the time of your Individual Lightning Lane, so keep an eye on the times and book it when the time is convenient for you.

Rides to consider at Disneyland include:


  • Space Mountain
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue


  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • it’s a small world


  • Indiana Jones Adventure


  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

New Orleans Square

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Haunted Mansion


  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Puddles in New Orleans Square


When it’s time for lunch, you’ll have lots of options. We recommend eating in Disneyland Park to save time during your one-day visit.

Eating at a quick-service location will save you the most time. Use mobile ordering on the Disneyland app to skip the line to order. It can be very easy to order everything you want and then just go to the pickup area to get your food.

If you’d rather have a table-service meal, our favorite place is Blue Bayou. In this New Orleans Square restaurant, you’ll be dining along the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. The food is great, and it’s a fun experience (although less time and budget-friendly). Make a reservation because it’s very popular.


In addition to standard mealtimes, you’ll probably want to enjoy some snacks during your visit. The full list of our favorite Disneyland treats is in this post. But, we’d most recommend the beignets at the Mint Julep Bar and the iconic Dole Whip.


Disneyland is even more than just attractions and food. There’s also lots of great shopping that you can do, right in the park.

Our favorite Disneyland shop is the Emporium along Main Street USA. At the Emporium, you’ll find a large selection of traditional Disney souvenirs, including stuffed animals, collectibles, jewelry, and clothing.

There are also some great specialty shops throughout the parks offering specific items, like Star Wars souvenirs and French perfume. During your one day at Disneyland, you’ll need to prioritize your shopping. So, it’s a good idea to look at the shops in advance and decide where you want to go.


In addition to attractions, you may consider seeing some entertainment at Disneyland. This includes Fantasmic!, character greetings, fireworks, and the Magic Happens parade. Look at the list of options and the entertainment schedule on the app before you go, so you can add these to your plan for the day.

The exterior of It's a small world with no crowds

Park Hopping

This one day plan only includes Disneyland Park. If you want to park hop, you’ll need to be aware of a few things:

  • You’ll need to have a park hopper ticket and that comes with an extra cost
  • Guests can hop to the next park starting at 11 am
  • You’ll have to prioritize certain rides at each park, because you won’t be able to do everything
  • To maximize park hopping, plan to spend most of your time, from opening to close, in the parks
Disneyland Train Station at night

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