How to Disneyland- from a local.

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Happy Friday friends!!! This weekend I will once again be reunited with my favorite place and I’m all sorts of excited about it! One of the most popular questions I get in my IG DM’s is what to do at Disneyland and what rides I recommend. Most people ask with the mindset that they won’t be able to do it all, so it’s always hard for me to answer that question because I believe, with ample planning, you can get on EVERYTHING! We’re embarking on a full day of fun, so in lieu of that, I thought I’d share how we typically go through and take advantage of everything the parks have to offer. 

I’ve been an annual pass-holder for about 4 years now & I completely consider myself a Disneyland local. Now that we’re living in Orange County, we’re a short 20 min drive (without traffic) from The Happiest Place on Earth and we pretty frequently take advantage of that. Some days when I get off work early, we’ll head down just for dinner and to get on two rides and call it a night. Over the weekend we’ll go for a half day and then head home to do grocery shopping and relax. Being a pass-holder allows for that luxury because we don’t feel like we need to do EVERYTHING at the parks EVERY. TIME. 

So, being a professional Disneyland go-er, I thought I’d break down how I recommend you do the parks. This is how we do it when we take friends/family and are spending the whole day with the goal of  accomplishing everything. Disclaimer- this is a longer post, so bear with me! 

This is the breakdown for park-hoppers; when we go, we typically jump between the two parks & IMO this is the best/ most efficient way to do it! ALSO, I highly suggest downloading the Disneyland app so that throughout the day you can see wait times for various rides. After you leave the parks you can always delete the app if you don’t need it anymore. Below in bullet form, is our breakdown!


—> Get to the parks right at opening and go straight to California Adventures. Get a fast-pass for Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. This one is Joey’s favorite and is one of the bigger rides so the wait time is typically at least an hour for stand-by. 

—> Check the Disneyland app for wait times for the Incredicoaster & for Radiator Spring’s Racers. Whichever one has a wait time of less than 30 min, go straight there and get a line. Once you can get another fast-pass, grab one for whichever ride you did not do. 

–> Now you’ve officially handled all the BIG rides in the park. Now you’ve got to jump around a bit. Staying in California Adventures, go straight to The Little Mermaid (this one is my favorite in CA Adventures). It’s a super cute ride with the nostalgic of the movie that will have you feeling like a kid again! The line is typically no longer than 30 min. 

—> Afterwards, it’s worth heading over to Goofy’s Flight School, it’s a smaller ride that has you thinking its just for little kids, but once you’re on, you’ll have a good time with the subtle drops and turns! 

***Somewhere here you should check to see if you can get your next fast-pass and head that way if you can. If your fast-pass time for Guardians is nearing, hit a few more rides then head over to the ride entrance. 

—> Next, do the loop over to Mickey’s Silly Symphony SwingsThis is an easy place to get some amazing shots of you/your friends soaring over the entire park. 


—> Afterwards, hop on over to the Pixar Pal-A-Round Ferris wheel. I always opt for the swinging gondolas, so if you don’t have a fear of heights, it’s worth it for some fun! 

—> IF you have the time before your fast-pass expires, try to get on Toy Story Midway Mania. If not, find your way back before heading out of the park.  This one takes some major time keeping skills. The wait it usually 45+ min so if you have some games on your phone, like Ellen’s HeadsUp app, here’s a good line to use it in! The wait is long because the ride is long. It’s a good 4-5 minutes of playing fair games against your friends-which makes it worth the memories! Sometimes they offer fast-passes for this ride but in all honesty, your fast passes are better suited for other rides if you can just suck it up and wait in the line for this one. 

—> Once you’ve finished the rides above, take a break and head into Disney’s Animation Academy. It’s an indoor building which is nice to escape the heat if it’s hot outside. They have a sign in the front of the room where you can see the schedule for what characters they’re drawing at what times. This is a free little class where an animator teaches you to draw various Disney characters. This is a great way to take home a free souvenir! We do this every time we go and are trying to draw all the characters they have available!


—> Next, if you can get another fast-pass, grab one to Soarin’ Over The World. This one we usually skip because it’s kinda like if you’ve done it once, you don’t really need the thrill of doing it again. BUT if you’ve never done it, you totally should! It’s an unique experience everyone should do once! 

—> Now, if it’s warm out- head straight over to Grizzly River Run. This one is a river-rafting adventure that is SO MUCH FUN, but you get SOAKED. If it’s cold out, I’d say skip it. You won’t want to spend the rest of your day freezing. 


Now, at this point in time, we head over to spend the rest of the day at Disneyland. If you have time later, you can always come back to hit some of the smaller rides, but honestly, all I’ve left out are rides meant for smaller children, things like dancing cars (which are basically tea cups but in the theme of Pixar’s Cars).  


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—> If you can get a fast-pass (you have to keep track on the print-outs you get from other rides, on the bottom it’ll tell you at what time you can get another one. They usually have you wait about an hour from the time you last got one) go straight to Space Mountain and get a fast-pass. Again, this is a bigger ride that always has hour long lines. 

—>After, since you’re going to find yourself in Tomorrow Land, you might as well get on Buzz AstroBlasters. This is a fun, interactive game where you compete with a partner shooting a laser gun at targets trying to rack up points! 

—> Head straight to Adventure Land and get on Pirates of the Caribbean (this is my ALL TIME FAVORITE RIDE). Honestly, when it’s just us, this is the first ride we get on just because I’m always so excited. But in the case where we’re trying to be most effective and get on everything, it makes better sense to start elsewhere in the park.

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—>Check your Disneyland app and see the wait times for Thunder Mountain vs Haunted Mansion. Go to whichever wait time is less. And then head to the following one right after.

—> Now, you should be able to get another fast-pass, head to Indiana Jones and get a fast-pass to return later. Indiana Jones typically as a longer line than other rides and is one that is pretty long to get through as well if you choose to do stand-by. 

***Here, you should probably head to Space Mountain and redeem your fast-pass. 

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—> Next, head out to Fantasy Land, take your standard castle photo, I mean- is it a trip to Disneyland without one? Head through Fantasy Land to It’s a Small World. This one is usually a pretty quick line. 

—>After It’s a Small World, I would head back to Fantasy Land and get ready to wait in a few lines. All the rides within Fantasy Land are original rides and unfortunately do not have fast-pass capability and are also typically where ALL the children hang out- hence, double the wait time when you’re trying to get on smaller rides with adults and with tons of small children that are unable to really get on other rides throughout the rest of the park. I’d immediately get in line for Peter Pan’s Flight. This one is a classic and one that I vividly remember from my childhood years. It always brings back the butterflies of my very first trips to Disneyland with my mom & dad. 

—> Head across the way to Snow White’s Scary Adventure

—> Next hop on over to Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. 

***Here, check the time & redeem your fast-pass for Indiana Jones if applicable. 

—> Head back to Fantasy Land afterwards, or if you’re still here and the time has not begun for your Indiana Jones time slot, get in line for King Arthur’s CarouselThis is one of Walt Disney’s wife’s favorite rides and there is a horse that is her very favorite (you can do your research and find that very one to ride if you want!) Again, another very photogenic spot!

—> Next, walk on over to Dumbo The Flying Elephant. Yes, this is a little kiddy ride, but it’s classic and you’ll also get a super cute view of the Fantasy village and castle. Head on over to Indiana Jones here if you’re time is up!

—> If you’re getting off Indiana Jones, here is where I would say you should head over to Splash Mountain. Whether or not it’s cold/hot, you can get away with getting on this ride and not getting soaked. Ask an employee to seat you where you’ll get the least wet. Typically towards the back of the log. If you’re not yet ready for Indiana Jones, get in line for Alice in Wonderland. 

—> If you’re coming from Splash Mountain, walk across the way and get on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Again, a shorter, smaller ride- but super cute and totally worth the mere 10 minute wait it might require. If you’re getting off Alice in Wonderland check your Indiana Jones time slot and head over to do the above suggestions. 

—> After you’ve completed both scenarios, head back and get in line for Tea-cups (if you like that sort of thing). Joey gets vertigo from the teacups so we never get on, but if you’re a Disneyland 1st time visitor, I feel like it’s one of those things that you just have to be able to check off your list. 

—> Next, hit Storybook Land Canal Boats, this is a super cute little boat ride where you get to see miniature set designs of all your favorite Disney princess’ homes and villages. 


Now, throughout the day, you may need to stop for snack and bathroom breaks which of course WILL HAPPEN and will not ruin your day. In a future post, I’ll talk about all my favorite foods and snacks! Hint- Soft pretzels are my favorite and I cannot get through a Disney day without a Mickey Mouse Pretzel! 

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Hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about how we get through Disneyland! I’m already planning my next trip as I finish writing this!










  1. This was so fun to read, Amanda!! I have never been to Disneyland, so I’m 100% consulting this post if I go (Or I will share it with anyone I know going!). That pic of you on the swing is too stinkin’ adorable & oh my gosh, that pretzel looks so yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never been so this was such a super fun read. I’ll definitely bookmark this for my future trip. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together! Cannot wait to see your fave foods!!


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