Disneyland Front Gate Train Hayley

One-Day Plan for Disneyland Resort and California Adventure

On our way to Japan, my daughter and I had a 24-hour layover in Los Angeles. Despite a sleepless night at the Crowne Plaza, we definitely made the most of it! Not only did we visit Universal Studios Hollywood, but we also made our way to the House of Mouse. It was an extra sweet trip because she had visited both parks when she was five years old, so to see her back on the grounds at 15 (she’d turn 16 just a few days later!) was pretty amazing. I’ll readily admit that I got a little misty-eyed a few times! Emotions aside, we learned a lot on our short trip. Here are our 10 tips for Disneyland and California Adventure!


The park was packed when we got to Disneyland in the evening. It was a Tuesday, so I’d hoped it wouldn’t be so bad (and maybe it wasn’t), but the wait for Hyperspace Mountain (the Star Wars-themed outfitting of Space Mountain) was 90 minutes, so we had to skip it.

Astro Orbiter Disneyland

We did make a stop at Astro Orbiter, Hayley’s very first ride. It had been so sweet a decade ago when we climbed in together and she didn’t know what to expect. Once the ride got going, she squealed and threw her hands in the air. We were so lucky to capture the moment on camera.

California Adventure

While it’s true that Disneyland Resort is smaller than Walt Disney World, I’ve always loved the design. The compact nature of the Resort makes it so much easier for families to get from one park to another — and then to Downtown Disney for a bite or souvenirs before hopping on the tram back to the parking lot.

Pixar Pier Disneyland California Adventure

Walking across to California Adventure is always so much fun because it’s still Disney, but it has such a different feel to it. For those seeking greater thrills, this is definitely the place to go. I feel the same way about Hollywood Studios down at Disney World in Orlando.

Again, the lines were super long so we didn’t get on much but we did see how cool the Tower of Terror looks now that it’s Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT!

We made our way through California Adventure with one very clear goal in mind, but we definitely paused on the Pixar Pier for a few minutes to appreciate the view. Really, does it get much more beautiful than this at an amusement park?

The Incredicoaster

When we visited Disneyland Resort in 2008, we noticed the California Screamin’ roller coaster at California Adventure, but no one was brave enough to get on. I’ve always regretted that because I really love Mickey Mouse and his face on the loop was so adorable!

Incredicoaster Disneyland California Adventure

Less than a year ago, on June 23, 2018, Disneyland reopened the ride as the Incredicoaster. The long-awaited sequel to The Incredibles had finally been released and it was the perfect time to rebrand this coaster with new theming.

Here are some facts about the Incredicoaster:

  • Built by Intamin
  • 8th-longest roller coaster in the world (and third-longest steel coaster in the USA)
  • Longest ride with an inversion
  • Accelerates from 0-55mph in four seconds

What was it like to ride? Exhilarating! We really loved it! I’ll readily admit that I was a little disappointed when Mickey Mouse was dropped in favor of The Incredibles, but I think the theme works wonderfully. It’s smooth, surprising, and a lot more thrilling than you’d expect.

Incredicoaster Disneyland California Adventure

We chose to do the single rider line to cut down on wait times and this was our one regret. If you can, enjoy this coaster with a companion!

10 Tips for Disneyland Resort and California Adventure

After spending the day running around both parks, we have a lot of insight to share. For now, we’ll limit our suggestions to a list of 10 Tips for Disneyland Resort and California Adventure.

  1. Buy your tickets online. Don’t waste precious time in line fighting with the crowds. Go straight through to the entrance and head straight to the rides. Plus, if you compare ticket prices online, you might even be able to save some money!
  2. Stay at a Disneyland HotelThis is a perk at any Disney park, but because everything is so close together at Disneyland Resort, you’ll be able to easily walk to your hotel room in minutes. You’ll also enjoy the Extra Magic Hour perk every single day among other benefits!
  3. Prepare for Security. Have your bags open and have your keys, phone, coins and belt ready to hand off to a guard in the security line. Not taking anything into the park? Look for the line for guests with no bags — so much faster!
  4. Use MaxPass. For just $15 per day, per person, you’ll be able to make FASTPASS reservations from your smartphone, instead of having to wait in line. As long as you are in either park, you can book your spot! A huge benefit is that this add-on comes with unlimited PhotoPass downloads so you won’t have to buy the pictures individually.
  5. Mobile Ordering Service. Planning to grab a bite while you’re in the park? Don’t wait in line — use Mobile Ordering Service! Using your smartphone, you can choose your meal, pay for the food and then select a pickup time. It’s that simple!
  6. Download the Disneyland App. I’ll readily admit that this app frustrates me sometimes, but it can be helpful! It provides wait times, park maps and is necessary if you’re using the MaxPass or the Mobile Ordering Service.
  7. Use the Single Rider Line. Wait times can get crazy at any amusement parks, especially Disneyland and Walt Disney World. One way to skip the queue is to make use of the Single Rider line. You won’t be able to sit together, but you’ll be able to continue on your adventure much quicker.
  8. Pick a Meeting Spot. One of our most important 10 tips for Disneyland and California Adventure is to pick a meeting spot. That way, if you split up, you’ll know where to find each other.
  9. Consider Matching Clothes. Hayley and I got separated at Osaka Station in Japan (on her 16th birthday!). The first thing they asked me was what she was wearing — and I couldn’t remember. Life can get hectic. Consider making things a little easier by wearing coordinating clothes at Disneyland.
  10. Have a Plan. Everyone knows which rides they want to hit, and which they could skip. When you all get on the same page and come up with a plan (including checking the ride height requirements!), you’ll save time and reduce stress. This helps a lot when you’re choosing FASTPASSes!

Do you love Disneyland Resort? What’s your favorite part? Do you have any tips? Leave us a comment because we’d love to hear from you!

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