Disneyland in two days | tips & tricks

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Disneyland in four days

Disneyland is my ultimate getaway to refresh – as the shirt I own says, “I only work to go to Disneyland”.

Joe surprised me with a trip to Disneyland for my birthday and we agreed to ease him into the crazy (amazing) Disney life that my family embraces by only going two days.

Disneyland on the weekend sucks, first tip, so we planned to go to on a Monday and Tuesday and add travel days before and after.

Download my Disneyland PowerPoint to create your own Disney AFK adventure!


  • Get the MaxPass if you like convenience – it’s $10/day per person but so worth it!
    • Main perk is you can reserve EVERYTHING through the mobile app including Fastpasses (as long as you’re in the park and it can tell if you’re on the other side of the ticket gate too!) and restaurant reservations
  • Start your day at Disneyland and switch to California adventure after lunch in the mid/late afternoon if you have a park hopper
  • Fastpasses are very strict with their times so make sure you return during the time frame
  • You can get another fastpass before your fastpass is used. There are two times displayed on the ticket: the first tells you when to return to ride the ride and the second tells you when you can get another fastpass
  • Bring walkie talkies since cellphone connection doesn’t always work.
    • Tune into a unique channel though since you can accidentally tune into other conversations
  • Figure out which night show you want to see ASAP to help you figure out timing
    • I highly recommend World of Color
  • Don’t try to tackle the park by land, it’s actually better to run around the whole park and ride the rides at key times.
    • We walked 11 miles on an efficient day!
  • Cheaper food can be found outside of the park in Downtown Disney but if you don’t want to leave the park, then Main Street in Disneyland and the Pacific Wharf in California Adventure are the best places to get food
  • I recommend the red cart on Main Street for a corn dog!!
  • Many restaurants (like Carnation Cafe) only take reservations
  • Short wait times range from 20-40 minutes so if you see a ride within that range, know that the line will move fast
  • You cannot get fastpasses during the early magic morning hour
  • Fastpasses don’t cost anything! It’s only the ability to make fastpass reservations over the phone that costs money but the MaxPass is definitely worth it!


Keep in mind wifi can be spotty during peak times.

  • Disneyland app
  • Download the Heads Up app that Ellen Degeneres always talks about, it’s actually a really fun game to play while you wait in line
  • Other apps you can play in line


Ride and food recommendations put in order of personal preference.


  1. (Recommended first ride of the day) Space Mountain
    • I recommend starting the day in Disneyland and running to get straight onto Space Mountain first; then the line won’t be more than 20-30 minutes.
    • After you get off, I’d recommend getting a fastpass for either Space Mountain again or for Star Tours
  2. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters 
    • There’s never a long wait! Good competitive ride!
    • If it’s longer than 35 minutes come back later, it’s likely to be shorter
  3. Star Tours 
    • Ride this with a fastpass, not worth the wait otherwise
  4. Finding Nemo (good to rest)
    • This is a good ride when
      • the line is less than a 35 minute wait or you have a fastpass
      • everyone’s tired but want to keep riding rides
      • you want to sit in AC
  5. Autopia
    • Only worth it when there’s no line, there may be a fastpass option
    • Surprisingly fun at night! Less busy at night too


Pizza Port is probably the best option in this land ($-$$). Some of the food items are decent, usually looking at it can tell you how good it’s going to be.


  1. Tiki Room:
    1. Want Dole Whip? Go into the Tiki Room outside waiting plaza and there is a secret, shorter line to get dole whip. Then you can rest in air conditioning and enjoy the show with your dole whips!
  2. Jungle Cruise
    1. Fastpass
    2. Sometimes the wait times are less in the evening
  3. Indiana Jones
    1. Definitely get a fastpass
    2. This ride breaks down often making the regular line wait even longer so fastpass is worth it because if it’s broken during your fastpass time, you can come back later when it’s working and they’ll honor it. Always check with the fastpass cast member though!


Meh nothing worth the price

New Orleans Square

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean
  2. Haunted Mansion


  • Cafe Orleans ($)
  • French Market Restaurant ($$)
  • Blue Bayou Restaurant – Pirates of the Caribbean restaurant ($$$)


  1. Big Thunder Mountain
  2. Critter Country
  3. Splash Mountain


  1. Stage Door Cafe
    • Their corndogs are the best next to the red cart corn dogs on Main Street
    • Quick food that you can eat anywhere in the park ($) but a good spot is outside on the River Belle Terrace area
  2. Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante
    • Great if you’re craving Mexican food ($-$$)
    • Best place to eat is outside near the fence so you can watch the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster riders!
  3. Golden Horeshoe
    • Only worth it if you are spending more than 2-3 days in the park and have never seen it before
    • Also great to rest your feet and watch a surprisingly funny show
  4. River Belle Terrace


  1. Matterhorn Bobsleds Rollercoaster
  2. Storybook Land Canal Boats
    • Worth going twice – once during the day and once at night!
    • This ride may or may not close during parades
  3. “It’s a small world”
    • Only worth it when there is a short line – usually during parades or fireworks shows and at random points in the day you can wait less than 30 min or even walk straight on.
  4. Peter Pan
    • only worth it if you have a Magic Morning and can hustle there quickly and have never ridden this ride before.


  1. Village Haus
    • This quick food joint is the best option here and one of the best in the park

Main Street

Amazing shopping, food and drink choices as well as handy services.

  1. Disneyland Rail Road
    • Worth it to get around to the other parks and rest your feet.
    • Also a fun ride! Although last time I rode it they covered up the dinosaur part
  2. Storage lockers available behind the little fruit market stand


  1. Starbucks!
    • Always a long line but worth the wait
    • Exclusive Starbucks California Adventure park mugs available
  2. Carnation Cafe
    • Only takes reservations – another perk of the MaxPass is you can reserve over your phone
  3. Refreshment Corner (Looks like a big red cart)
    • Best cord dogs ever
    • Usually super long line – we split up so I could find a good seat and he bought the food
      • Communicated our locations via the awesome walkie talkies!

California Adventure

Hollywood Land

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout!
    • Fastpasses can sell out shortly after the park opens but the MaxPass may have changed how they deal with fastpasses now


  1. Radiator Springs Racers:
    • Fastpasses can sell out shortly after the park opens
    • Usually best to do single rider on this, sometimes you’ll still get in the same car as your friends but if you choose to wait so that you can all ride together, your wait will be over 1.5 hours easily and that’s a lot of time wasted!

Pacific Wharf – Food court

  1. Pacific Wharf Cafe
    • Delicious soup bowls made out of fresh sourdough bread
    • Best quick food option!
  2. Sourdough bread bakery is connected to this cafe and offers free bread samples “The Bakery Tour” is behind the cafe.
  3. Rita’s Baja Blenders
    • There are margaritas here!
  4. Cocina Cucamonga a Mexican Grill
    • decent quick Mexican food
  5. Lucky Fortune Cookery
    • decent quick Chinese food

Paradise Pier

  1. Toystory Mania
    1. No fastpass available but worth the wait!! Sometimes better to check this ride around dinner time or later, tends to be less busy
  2. California Screamin’
    1. Never a wait longer than 25 minutes!
  3. World of Color Show!!!! Only at night
    1. Fastpasses are available too, the park map has details
  4. The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
    1. Never more than a 5 minute wait, a good ride to rest on
  5. Goofy’s sky school
    1. No fastpass but can be fun if the wait is less than 40 min
  6. Golden Zephyr
    1. Breaks down with the wind kicks up so always closed on a windy day

Grizzly Peak

  1. Soarin’ over the World
    • New film introduced in 2017 or 2018, used to be only about California but it is now about the world!
    • Good smells involved but fair warning to those with a fear of heights – you get into a seat that rises up anywhere from 20 – 50 feet? My grandma hates heights and can now do it so anyone can! She just had to start with her eyes shut and slowly work then open.
  2. Grizzly River Run
    • Fun if you don’t mind getting soaked!
    • Check the weather throughout the day to see when it will be hot and time it so you can go during that time.

Buena Vista Street

Great for shopping and there are storage lockers near the entrance.


  1. Carthay Circle Restaurant ($$$)
    • Celebrate a special occasion!
    • No age restriction so there are sometimes tired/crying babies and kids
  2. Carthay Circle Lounge ($$)
    • Cheaper alternative for those 21+
  3. Starbucks!
    • Always a long line but worth the wait
    • Exclusive Starbucks California Adventure park mugs available

I will update this post over time to fine tune it and add to/organize my tips section! Share your best Disneyland & California Adventure park tips in the comments below.

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