Disney Darlings, I have gotten a few Instagram messages requesting info on this subject. From whether or not to get the Park Hopper Ticket, if it’s worth it spending extra money on MaxPass or how to best plan your time for a short trip. So, I thought what a perfect blog topic to write about. For me, it’s easy to forget that sometimes people need to plan because I have a Disney Annual Passport and so I just lollygag around the park at a leisurely stroll. For some though, they are on a time crunch and only have a few days to experience the most Disney Parks have to offer. Using my expertise, here are my recommendations for how to make the most of a 3-day Disneyland trip.
Get the Park Hopper Ticket and Invest in MaxPass.
I always recommend it to people when they ask if they should get MaxPass. I firmly believe that it is worth every penny, even with the increased price recently. With MaxPass you get to book your FASTPASS on your phone; saving you time from having to find and then walk to the distribution sites for each ride. It also lets you know the exact time you can get a new FASTPASS and gets you the most up-to-date time available. That alone is worth it to me if you’re going to be going heavy on the rides.
But, in my personal opinion, the even better bonus feature is the unlimited PhotoPass downloads. I love taking photos with the characters and in the designated PhotoPass areas. I honestly love having the option to go through the photos in my own time, download them, and then post them to social media. You also get the photos in full resolution in case you want to have them printed afterward. I can’t speak highly enough about MaxPass. The Park Hopper Ticket option is explained in my next recommendation more thoroughly, but I also believe that it is a solid investment as well for a 3-day trip.
How to Plan the Most Efficient Use of Your Days.
This is my broken-down plan for doing a 3-day Disneyland trip after carefully considering all options that I, as an avid Disney-goer, know about the parks.
Day 1 – Ride All of the Rides!
My friend Iris and I tried to ride all of the rides in one day back in 2017. We got 34 out of 44 rides, but we left early that day because it was the premiere of Game of Thrones Season 7 and we weren’t going to miss that. If we didn’t have to leave early, we would have completed all the rides. This is important because it shows you that if you plan accordingly you can ride all of the rides in one day in both parks if you know what you’re doing. I should write a blog post on that also, to be honest… maybe I’ll do that next. Where was I? Oh yes, riding all of the rides.
Do you have Magic Mornings? If you do, use it to your advantage. If your Magic Morning is at Disney California Adventure (DCA) do all of the smaller rides first and get all of your FASTPASS reservations for the bigger rides. Get to Radiator Springs Racers first thing, because those go quickly. In fact, if your Magic Morning is at DCA, I’d say ride Radiator Springs Racers first thing if you can so that you can save your FASTPASS for another ride. Then do all of the smaller rides, and get the earliest available FASTPASS – this is where MaxPass is incredibly useful.
If you are in Disneyland first, ride everything in Fantasy Land first thing before the crowds get too big. These rides tend to have longer waits as the day goes on and are only about 5-10-minute waits first thing in the morning. We got all of Fantasy Land done in the first hour we were there, that’s 6 rides in under an hour. Peter Pan will have the longest wait, so prepare for 30 minutes there right off the bat – people run to that ride at rope drop; Dumbo is the second-longest wait. Some of the rides have single rider, if you can afford to use this option, do it, it will save you even more time. I also recommend, if you want to see Fantasmic! or World of Color, getting a FASTPASS for one of those first thing in the morning. If you are doing Fantasmic!, this should also be the day you stay to watch the fireworks since they are both in Disneyland and you won’t have to run across both parks in 5 minutes. All in all, this is your day to do as many rides as possible, which brings us to Day 2.
Day 2 – Shows, Parades and Character Meet and Greets.
I recommend this for day 2 because your feet are going to be tired from walking on day 1. This is a chance for a more laid-back relaxing day. Get your tickets to whichever nighttime show you didn’t see on day 1. If you saw Fantasmic! and the fireworks the night before, get your tickets to World of Color – if you want to do that. This is the day to chill inside the Enchanted Tiki-room and watch the birds of the jungle sing you into happiness. Or to grab a seat on the sidewalk to watch the parades. Or stand in lines to meet your favorite characters – again, this is where MaxPass’s unlimited photo download will be your bff. Get all of the photos!
The all-new Magic Happens Parade opens February 28th, 2020 and that one is going to be packed, so you will want to get seats relatively early. Ask a cast member which way the parade will be coming from, they usually do two shows and it goes up one way and comes back down the other for the later. Sit near the entrance or exit of the parade. Try to avoid Main Street, USA, which is where everyone goes to sit first.
Go to ToonTown to meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse, or in front of City Hall and Great Times with Mr. Lincoln. If there is someone you can’t miss seeing, ask cast members with “ask me about characters” buttons on, they have the schedules for who will be out when. Royal Princess Hall in Fantasy Land has princess meet and greets as well as 2 shows for Beauty and the Beast and Tangled. Step into the Animation Academy in DCA for Turtle Talk with Crush, drawing lessons with Disney Animators or an Anna and Elsa meet and greet. Then go right across the street for Philharmagic and meet and greets of your favorite Marvel superheroes. Trust me, there is enough in this department to fill your entire day again. And it releases a lot of the stress having to plan around ride lines and FASTPASS return times so you can relax more while enjoying all of the shows.
Day 3 – Everything You Didn’t Get to Do on Days 1 & 2.
Unless you have the ability to freeze time, you’re not going to get to everything on day 1 &2 so day 3 is your chance to get to everything you missed without having to be stressed about not fitting it all in on days 1 & 2. This is your day to take your time, wind down and go at a slower pace if you need to. Three days in a row is tiring, your feet will hurt and you are going to be sore. Plus, if you have kids with you, they might be a little cranky by this point from all the lines and might need a little extra sleep. So, assess what you would still like to do, or even do again. And use this day for that.
This is why the Park Hopper Ticket is so invaluable because you can do way more with a Park Hopper and a plan than you can just doing one park per day. I fully believe that with a well-executed plan you will be amazed how much you got done in your 3 days.
If You Can’t Get the Park Hopper Ticket.
What if you can’t afford the Park Hopper Ticket? This happens, I get it. Trips to Disney are not cheap and some people use all they have just to get there but have no fear, I have a plan for that as well.
If you have to get the Single Park Ticket, start with Disneyland. It has the most options for what you are there for. Again, start with Fantasy Land, and get your Fantasmic! tickets early – they are usually gone by 11 am. Use that Magic Morning if you have it. If you are trying to get on Rise of the Resistance, the new Star Wars ride, you need to be there before 7:30 am to make sure you get into the park on time. Boarding Passes will be gone by 8:01 am, that is a serious endeavor. Plan your day around the shows and parades. A good time to get food is when you are waiting for a parade to start. You can sit and eat as the show goes by if you get the right spot. You may find that you didn’t get to do everything you wanted to do in Disneyland and go back the next day, or you may want to head over to Disney California Adventure for day 2. The world is your oyster! Do what you want to do and don’t feel pressured to get everything done in one day. And hydrate and rest! Don’t forget to take breaks otherwise you will burnout and day 2 and 3 will be miserable. Listen to your body!
So, there you have it. How to tackle Disneyland in only 3 days and make the most of your short trip. It’s not a full-proof plan, but it does give you a guide to make the most magic possible. Remember to make the trip your own, do what you want to do and what brings you the most joy. Don’t get so bogged down with the planning that you forget to make memories. Most of all, have fun! You’re in the Happiest Place on Earth! No matter what you do, if you do it confidently you will be stress-free and have a great time.
Until next time, Disney Darlings. Keep your dreams big <3