How to Start Your Day at Disneyland

Updated July 2016

So, you know how to get started at California Adventure. It’s busy over there. Be sure you know.

How about Disneyland?

You should essentially start out in one of two directions – off to conquer all of the Star Wars stuff in Tomorrowland or to Peter Pan.


Follow me!


Option 1: Star Wars Focused

Go directly to Tomorrowland, to your right.

Be sure to review my post on the Star Wars Launch Bay for lots of details and your strategy. Follow the strategy in that post and then start with one of my touring plans when you finish there. Pay close attention to Jedi Training if you’re interested in having your child participate. You must register your child at park opening, or he/she won’t be able to join the fun.

***My only change to the touring plans would be to scratch off Peter Pan (as well as everything you accomplished in Tomorrowland). By the time you finish with Star Wars, the line for Peter Pan will be enormous. Save it for late at night if you can. Mid-day lines for Peter Pan are crowded and hot. If you plan to stay until close and kids can handle it, I recommend leaving Peter Pan until the very last option and getting in line just before the park officially closes. Don’t spend actual park time waiting in that line. If you are in line at 8:59pm and the park closes at 9:00pm, you can wait as long as it takes to ride that attraction or any other. You just have to be in line prior to close.

Not interested in Star Wars? Go for this next option.

Option 2: Everything Else

Start with Peter Pan as directed in all of my touring plans and just keep going. Pull FASTPASSES and work your way through the plans to make the best use of your time.


FASTPASSES are used in all of my plans, so be sure to know how this works. The actual machines can be seen here, below. You slide in your theme park ticket and out comes a FASTPASS. It’s like magic. (Haters wouldn’t move this day, so I had to capture them, too. It’s like they read a blog or something telling them to pull FASTPASSES. Oh wait.)


FASTPASS options at Disneyland:

  • Autopia
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Haunted Mansion (sometimes uses FASTPASSES)
  • Star Tours

Some Tips:

A few tips to keep in mind:

  • While waiting to use your FASTPASSES, you can easily knock out 3 attractions within a relatively short amount of time. If it’s logistically nearby, enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and Winnie the Pooh. Each have a short wait time in the morning and aren’t too far apart.
  • Three dark rides (Snow White, Pinocchio, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) all have super short wait times at the close of day. I recommend you skip these three until the park is nearly closed. You should be able to enjoy all three within 20 minutes if the lines are low enough. (I’ve actually walked onto each of these moments before the park closes.)
  • Never drag the family through the park if you intend to accomplish the plan I’ve laid out in under 10 minutes. Send one person with everyone’s tickets to grab FASTPASSES. Everyone must be inside the park (no sleeping in) and everyone’s theme park ticket must be scanned as entered into the park. One adult can accomplish all of these things much quicker without children, so send one adult to take care of it all.
  • While the one adult is grabbing the passes, allow the rest of the family to peruse Main Street or walk through the castle or even hop on Astro Orbitor in Tomorrowland, which typically has very little wait upon entry.
  • Have one person keep track of all theme park tickets and FASTPASSES. If children have lanyards for their pin trading, do not allow them to hold their own tickets or passes. One person should be in charge of all tickets and passes, and it should absolutely be an adult.
  • If you’re nervous about meeting the times on your FASTPASSES, set an alarm on your phone for each. While Disneyland used to be flexible on arrival, now they insist you arrive during your designated range of times.

Got other ideas? Find me on Facebook and let’s chat!

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  1. Is buzz lightyear still disconnected? Do you know how often they get changed? Also, do you know what ride in California adventure is disconnected?

  2. We will be using our e-tickets through the Disneyland app next week and won’t have physical tickets. Will this be a problem for getting fastpasses?

  3. Hello
    I wanted to know that if I was to the Buzz Lightyer fastpast and then. A Space Mountain Fast Pass. Can i then go to Disney California Adventure side to get another\3rd fast past for Radiator Springs Racers

  4. Hey Casey:
    Thank you for all your information. We are so excited for our upcoming trip, being WDW Lifers but first time for my children here. I saw you went to WDW recently, are the Big Thunder Mountain rides virtually the same for Disneyland and WDW? I am getting Confused if there is a Frozen show in March. Nothing has taken the place of Aladdin in DCA yet, right? Also, are there shows at Fantasy Faire or just princess meet n greets?

    • BTMRR is similar, but you should still ride it. Frozen show doesn’t start until May 27. The shows at Fantasy Faire are half Frozen and half Tangled. Princess meet-n-greets are there too.

  5. How are the CM’s about enforcing the return times? We are about to return to the DLR at the end of April (after a long hiatus-haven’t been since 2009) and when we were there then, you just had to return anytime after your initial return time. For example, like your FP ticket shows above shows return time of 9:40 and 10:40, as long as you showed up anytime of the day after 9:40, they would let you on. Is this still the case. Or do you have to adhere to the return times?

  6. Does it matter if I grab the space mountain tickets before the buzz light year tickets? Will the connected tickets lock me out of buying the disconnected tickets if I get the connected first in other words? Also, if I have small children but have 4 ppl that can ride rides, can I get 2 fast passes of different rides for the same times then get rider switch tickets to trade? Just wondering if I can get 2 fast passes for space mountain for one group and 2 fast passes for the other group for the same time for star tours and obtain rider switch at both and then trade?

    • It doesn’t matter which order you go in. Just be sure to know which are connected and disconnected. Rider switch ideally works like that, but some cast members are occasionally difficult about it. Just know that going in. It should work, though.

  7. Are those the only 4 thats disconnected? Can you also get some for Indiana Jones & Space Mountain? I also noticed that they cover the fastpass machines when they are not in use. Thank you!

    • Space Mountain and Indy are connected. Unfortunately you can’t pull those and others. This is a tough post to keep updated. Currently, Buzz Lightyear and Fantasmic! Are disconnected.

  8. Hi, Casey!!! 2 girlfriends & I are coming in a day early for a conference to specifically see Disneyland & CA in one day. We will be arriving Jan 10th & then taking the next day to conquer both parks. DL opens early (not staying in a DL hotel), so thinking we should arrive early to CA by picking up FPs according to your Tour Guide of both parks. Disappointed to see Soarin will be refurbished during our trip. Should be able to conquer all in a day? Hope to see you in the parks! Looking forward to it as I’m a DW pro & follow Shannon religiously. 🙂

    • Hi, MinnieSue! Yes, I would start at DCA with RSR and then head over to Disneyland unless there is more at DCA that you want to see. Soarin is the same as WDW, so don’t stress over that. I recommend spending much more time at DLR than at DCA, especially if you only have one day. Let me know what other questions come up!

      Recommended dining options for DLR in one day: Carnation Cafe for breakfast (Walt’s favorite – get Oscar’s special) and then Cafe Orleans for lunch (monte cristo, pomme frites and beignets for dessert). Make reservations for both….and they’re both DLR unique. If you can work in a dining experience that evening (Paint the Night starts on January 11), do so! You’ll have dining at Blue Bayou and then reserved seating for the parade. I’ll be at Blue Bayou that night, too.

  9. Hi Casey, any idea if the frozen show at DLR is playing through the holidays? We go tomorrow and I’m not seeing this listed on the Disneyland event schedule. Thanks! Jennie

  10. I was there 11/1. For DLR, no fastpass for the Fantasty Faire show. I asked about and they said just show up 30 minutes before. I can say – shows did not reach full capacity (the two times I saw) until about 10 minutes before showtime. Thanks.

  11. Casey,
    I’m looking at our upcoming visit and would like some clarification on the different options for Anna/Elsa/Frozen shows.
    I have down to get Anna/Elsa return tickets when we first enter CA. You mentioned in a post that they have a song-along. How is this different than what’s offered at Disneyland – “The Frozen Show?” I don’t want to repeat if they are similar shows.

    Sent from my iPhone

    • They’re actually very different shows. The one at DCA is super sweet and it’s a singalong. I completely enjoy that one. The one at DLR is more snarky and almost vaudeville in nature and people love it because it’s a twist on the movie you’ve likely seen a dozen times. Both are fun!

  12. I heard that the FASTPASS for the Frozen show is gone now. Or at least going away in the near future as it isn’t as crazy busy anymore. Is this true?

  13. Hi I recently purchased an AP and have since been to the park 5 times but can only manage to get on two rides since the lines are crazy long. I’ve read your suggestions about how to go about obtaining FPs but I don’t understand what you mean when you say they are “disconnected” would you mind clarifying this?

  14. Hi! Thanks so much for the updated post on FastPass. I was wondering how to maximize FastPass and Rider Switch. It will just be my husband and I with our 16-month old so we plan on using Rider Switch quite a bit. Do both adults need a FP to get a Rider Switch ticket?

  15. Hi, we’re staying on property and plan to do the magic morning each morning. Do FASTPASS machines only open after the park opens? I plan to follow your suggestion of riding Peter Pan first, then send my hubby to ride Dumbo with the kids while I run for FASTPASSES. What’s your suggestion as for as me lining up for the passes during the magic morning? THANKS

    • All Disneyland FASTPASS machines SHOULD work during Magic Morning. The only one I know of that does not is Radiator Springs Racers at DCA. Great plan……ride Peter Pan and then run for the passes as designed in this post while your husband takes kids to Dumbo. Well done.

  16. Hi
    I have a question, can I grab space Mountain FP after Buzz Lightyear, then go to get frozen show and Fantasmic?
    or I have to grab all the disconnected FP, THEN grab connected FP?Thank you so much

    • You should be able to grab all four since Buzz, Frozen Show and Fantasmic! are disconnected. Space Mountain is connected, so this would be your only one that inhibits grabbing others.

  17. my two kids ages 2 1/2 and 4months don’t pay to get in the parks, so they don’t have APs …if I were to get fastpasses for my husband and I would they allow my kids to use the fastpass line?

    • Hi, Stefanie.

      Since children cannot hold theme park tickets, they cannot pull FASTPASSES. Therefore, they don’t need them to ride a FASTPASS attraction with you. Little ones will be just fine without them.

  18. I have entered the park, and like you mentioned, left the rest of the family to sleep in while I gather fast passes. You did a good job of it, but you can’t STRESS THIS ENOUGH – your full party must be in the park with their tickets scanned at the front entrance in order for this to work. A ticket will not scan for a fastpass UNLESS, it has been scanned at the entry to Disneyland signaling to the computer that you are in fact, in the park. I, was very lucky though. One cast member saw me try to get fastpasses and it wasn’t working. I explained that I let my family sleep in and she helped me to get my fast passes. This will not always work, however.

  19. Thanks again for an informative article! I had no idea the Buzz Lightyear ride was disconnected. Questions: Is this the only disconnected ride in DL? As far as you know, has it always been disconnected?