Disneyland in One Day with Toddlers {Part 2}

Yesterday, I shared how to prepare for a one day trip to Disneyland with toddlers and what helped us make it to lunchtime.

I really thought skipping my daughter’s nap was going to make the afternoon and evening be full of eye punches (if you read yesterday’s post, you know what I mean), but seeing a show while eating lunch really was a great substitute for her nap.

With all the excitement of Disneyland, both kiddos weren’t going to nap at all (I already had that in the back of mind). With all the fun things to look at, I wouldn’t nap either if I were a 1 year old (to be candid, I wanted to nap. But, what’s that? Moms don’t nap). But doing Disneyland in one day, skipping a nap is ok with me. We are there for an experience not naps.

So, here are the rest of my tips and what helped us make it until 9:30pm (plus we drove home):

How to Do a One Day Trip to Disneyland with Toddlers (Part 2)

Disneyland with Toddlers

  1. Grab a Fast Pass. Yesterday’s post, we left off  at Tomorrowland. So, we grabbed a fast pass for Star Tours. There’s a 40 inch height requirement. So, only my son and hubby got fast passes for that one. My tip: grab a fast pass for a main ride you want to ride with your kid. Those usually have long wait times (like 45 minutes to an hour and a half). So, a fast pass will cut the time to 10-20 minutes. I wish I could say that you can get multiple fast passes at one time. You can’t. If you hold one, you can’t get one until an hour before the current one you hold starts (fast passes tell you a time window you can come back to the ride. So, our Star Tours fast pass said 6:30pm-7:30pm. That meant, we could get a another fast pass at 5:30pm). So, the plan was: when my son and hubby are riding Star Tours, my daughter and I would go get fast passes for another ride.
  2. Park Hop/Go Meet a Character and See a Show. We had park hopper tickets and had a couple hours until the Star Tours fast pass was available. So, we wanted to go meet Captain America in California Adventure. Captain America is a family favorite (my son was eating a churro; that’s serious business). The line for that wasn’t long at all. Then after meeting him, we saw another show (Turtle Talk with Crush). This gave more opportunity to rest our legs. There’s a carpeted waiting area. So, I let my daughter run around, while we waited for 10 minutes for the doors to open (she had been in a stroller or was held most of the day; so, let her run, right?!). The kiddos got a kick out of Crush. People asked him questions and he would answer them. It’s pretty funny. Then, we went sight seeing in Cars Land (just sight seeing, so we could give them a break from waiting in lines, plus the main Cars ride is a 2 and a half hour wait; with a fast pass, it’s a 45 minute wait). Then, we headed back to Disneyland.

    Meet Captain America California Adventure

  3. Get Another Fast Pass. While my hubby and son went to go ride Star Tours, my daughter and I went to go get a Fast Pass for another ride. Then, my daughter and I tried to go find a princess, but we weren’t successful. That’s ok. We just did more sight seeing. The waits for rides were too long (my son and hubby were done with their ride pretty quickly – fast passes help alot). So another tip or pep talk: realistically, you probably will only get two fast passes in one day. So, pick out the rides you want those for a head of time. Then, we went to meet Chewbacca together. He loves to give hugs. That’s right next to Hyperspace Mountain in the Launch Bay.

    meet Chewbacca Disneyland

  4. Eat Dinner in Downtown Disney. I recommend eating at one of the restaurants that have an express take out line. We did Tortilla Joe’s Express. It’s right next to their restaurant. The express is sort of like Chipotle (but way better). You pick tacos, burritos or nachos and load it with what you want and pay. Here’s why I recommend an express line: you don’t have to wait for an hour or two for a table, it costs less than the park food and dining in, you can eat outside and let your kiddos run around for little bit and then go back to the park. Tip: If you don’t have a 3-Day pass, make certain you get your hand stamped while exiting the park to go eat; so, you can get back into the park.
  5. Ride More Rides During the Parade and Go Home. There is pretty much no wait for most of the rides during the parade. So, you can ride 2-3 rides while that is going on. We rode, and this is a #momfail moment, Haunted Mansion. The last time I rode that was Christmastime when it was more colorful with Jack Skeleton. So, I totally forgot how creepy, spooky and dark it is. But, FYI my kiddos haven’t had nightmares. So, they’re ok. But, I don’t recommend that ride. What was I thinking? I know. I know. I wasn’t. Forgive me please? So, to get their minds off of that, I talked to them about Captain America, Star Wars and the highlights of the day. And they were fine. Then, we rode Pirates of the Caribbean. They loved that one so much! Then, we called it a day. It was 9:30pm. We were all exhausted. So, we rode the bus to the parking lot and drove home. The kids fell asleep within 3 seconds of being in the car.

So, to recap: change your mindset. Know that there will be mainly kiddy rides, shows, character meeting, snacks, water and bathroom breaks. And that’s perfect! It’s for the kids. Aim for rides that are 30 minutes or less. Get fast passes for two rides that have longer wait times. Eat outside of the park. And while waiting in line play games, sing songs, dance and eat snacks. Recognize your kiddos’ signs of fatigue. If they’re cranky, it’s showtime or ride the train that takes you around the entire park a couple times.

Overall my kiddos did awesome. They got better at waiting in line; because, they knew there was a load of fun at the end of the wait. So, you can do this! You can do a one day trip to Disneyland with toddlers. It’s a day of fun and exhaustion. You will be tired and sore the next day (so make the next day a movie marathon day and/or only do things that require sitting – like building legos or doing puzzles). But, going to Disneyland only happens once in awhile. It’s a special day of fun together as a family.



  1. says

    Such practical tips, Lu! And I totally agree about riding rides during the parade. It’s a great time to take advantage of shorter wait times. I love the photo with Captain America…too cute!!

    • says

      Yes! Parade time is definitely opportunity to get on more rides. The next time we go, we will see the parade! I want my kiddos to experience that! We are such Captain America fans. So, I was so happy we got a photo!

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