Disneyland in a day – nine tips on how to maximize your day and power through, where to go, what to wear, foods to try

Disneyland in a day – nine tips on how to maximize your day and power through, where to go, what to wear, foods to try
Dressy comfy and sport your Disney team apparel

Disneyland will always be the “happiest place on earth“, to me at least. I think the main reason I love going back so much is to relive the memories of Disneyland trips past, while also loving and knowing that new memories are being forged at the same time. I’ve even found myself wondering what Disneyland will be like in the future if I ever go with a partner or husband or when will I bring my grandchild here? (Take your time Jakob, this mama is not in any hurry)

Tip number one on powering through one day at Disneyland: Go with someone that matches your speed and energy. Someone that loves the same rides as you. For me, there are several people in my inner circle that I will share the intimacy of a Disney experience with. That’s what also makes up the “happiest” part for me, being with some of my very favorite humans. Connecting face to face for long chats of life stuff, good and sometimes bad, while you wait in line for a ride.

On this particular last trip, I was with my second-cousin Bethany, owner of Pink Bubbly Events and daughter of my favorite cousin Jeff. While she’s only three years older than my own son, we bonded years ago when she lived with me for one summer and interned at a company I was running. We’ve been close ever since. Not in the “talk every day or even every week or month” kind of way. I’m talking about the kind of way that no matter how long it’s been, it feels just like yesterday type of connection. I have it with her dad too. I have been blessed with many things, but an incredible family and extended family are my truest treasures.

You know it’s the right person to theme park with when you can both be comfortable with each other in silence

Tip number two on powering through one day at Disneyland: Dress comfy! You are going to log a lot of miles today. Wear your most comfortable shoes that are blister free. (Pack small bandaids and/or moleskin just in case) Dress in layers. Not only will that help mix-up the looks in all of your photos, but it also helps address a too cold or too hot situation. Pack a small backpack, fanny pack, or cross-body with the essentials: Hand sanitizer, stainless steel water bottle container, small first aid kit, sunscreen, lip balm, protective eyewear, and backup battery portable mini charger and cord for your phone. Wear clothing you can stretch in while waiting in line.

Also, when in Rome people! Dress the part. Embrace your favorite Disney character, hero or villain, and show your support. There is no better time to rock cartoon clothing at any age or wear a silly hat. This is your day. You do you boo! Just don’t be so in character that little kids think you work there. That’s when it’s gone to far.

Tip number three on powering through one day at Disneyland: Star Wars Rise of the Resistance is probably the reason you should drop everything and go to Disneyland right this minute. This latest ride is not just a ride, it’s truly an experience. Even if you aren’t a Star Wars nerd like me, you will still appreciate the design, theatrics, and technology that is used as part of the ride from start to finish. This ride will book out for the entire day! PRO TIP: Make sure you are INSIDE of the park before 9am. With your Disneyland app open and, with your wi-fi temporarily disabled so it doesn’t get stuck with the other million people on the wi-fi, be ready to request your ticket for Rise of The Resistance right at 9:00 am sharp. Make sure ahead of time to sync your app with whoever is with you so your fast passes and reservations will sync up together as well. By 9:05 am the ride was booked out for the remainder of the day and night. We made it in group 33 out of what I think is about 100 groups. My heart was racing as Bethany and I were both tapping away on our iPhones, unclear on how it exactly worked. Panic was setting in and setting in fast!

A lovely woman standing nearby heard our panicked whispers as we were discussing our options and she came over to help us. That’s the thing about the happiest place on earth, people are nice here, even to strangers when they don’t have to be. And everything is so clean! I think we rode the Millennium Falcon ride five times that day. PRO TIP: Just two of you? Hit the single rider line to maximize your number of rides. Who cares if you don’t ride together? You’re with each other all day. Besides, many times it works out that you end up together anyway. It’s a calculated risk that’s well worth it to make the most of your day. Besides, isn’t it the perfect day to have a perfect day?

Pro tip number four on powering through one day at Disneyland: SNACKS! Treat the day like a food & drink festival and sample your way through menu items you mutually agree on with your theme park buddy. Splitting helps you enjoy more than a bite, but not get too overly full on any one “meal“. Bethany and I have a routine of hitting Starbucks on the way to the park and ordering our usual beverages and two orders of egg bites.

Bethany and I warmed up on a few rides on our way to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge that included my childhood favorite, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Bethany’s favorite Thunder Mountain. For breakfast we hit up Ronto Roasters. We both got ronto morning wraps and decided to skip the blue milk.

Deciding ahead of time balance would be key, we unanimously agreed that we needed to alternate between nurshing food and sweets. We headed over to Adventureland to catch our Indiana Jones fast-pass and ito check out the pineapple dole whip stand. PRO TIP: There are now TWO places in Adventureland that sells dole whip. The usual one and now they also added another location next to the Jungle Cruise, just across from the original stand a skip, hop, and a jump that offers different flavors beside the standard pineapple dole whip flavors. Read all the dets here!

By early afternoon, it was time for more nourishment. We had just entered Carsland and the Cozy Cone Motel was offering bacon mac-n-cheese in large bread cones. Yes please! Once again, we split it between the two of us along with 2 bottles of water. No day is complete in Disneyland without the 2nd Starbucks order. It’s a rare day in my normal life that I will hit up Starbucks twice in one day. It’s a necessity when I’m at Disneyland.

Later we grabbed burgers at the Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland and more water and celebratory diet-cokes ending the night back on Main Street with two Disney macarons. When you’re at Disneyland, you owe it to yourself to live your best life. Can calories even count when you’re that happy?

Pro tip number five on powering through one day at Disneyland: Sync your Disneyland apps which links your tickets so you can order all of your fast-passes together. Identify one person in your group that will set multiple alarms on their phone to know exactly when to order new fast-passes. We arrived at 9am and left by 10pm and went on a total of 18 rides. (Refer back to tip number one – make sure your theme park buddy goes at a similar pace as you want to go)

Pro tip number six on powering through one day at Disneyland: Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities! After all, celebrities – they’re just like us! They go to Disneyland too! We spied Ariana Grande’s brother Frankie Grande. Plus, we ran into them right when they exited the Star Wars Rise of the Resistance ride shown below on the left.

Pro tip number seven on powering through one day at Disneyland: Drink lots of water and use every opportunity to use a bathroom every time you are near one. What’s the weather? Depending on the time of year, you may need to make stops to re-apply your sunscreen. Safety first! As someone who has recovered from Stage One Melanoma Skin Cancer, fair skinned friends – beware!

Pro tip number eight on powering through one day at Disneyland: Don’t shop until the end. Unless it’s something really small or that you can wear, think about saving your souvenir shopping to the end of the day. It saves you from having to carry it all day. Plus, it lets you see everything and think about that one special thing you want to take back. Because less is more people. My parents raised me that when we traveled I could get one special thing the entire trip. I quickly learned not to be too eager to find that special item for fear something better would come further into the vacation. Now, I don’t hold hard and fast to this one item rule. If I really want something and I know it will bring me joy, I get it if it fits the budget.

That said, if the item you spy is potentially customized just for that one gift shop you are in and it won’t be carried back at Main Street, consider getting it the 1st time or make a plan to go back if needed.

Pro tip number nine on powering through one day at Disneyland: Take lots of photos and video throughout, but edit them and look at them later. You already know if you got the shot or not. Be in real time. You friends don’t need your Disney play by play in real time. Be where your feet are. You are probably with someone you care about face to face surrounded by the wonders of Disney. Cut the screen time and just be. You can edit and flood your feeds later when you are somewhere less exciting, like at the gate at the airport, your flight back, or not until you get back. Do whatever floats your boat and allows you to really be present. Observe how cast members at Disneyland, regardless of the position or job they are doing, do it 100% and with joy so that you can have the best experience. There’s a reason for that and a book explaining why and how it works. Be Our Guest, perfecting the art of customer service is a great little read. You can grab a copy the next time you’re at Target.

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Alysse Bryson
Alysse Bryson

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