1-Day Disney California Adventure “Daily Trip Blueprint”


If you’re visiting Disneyland Resort, chances are that you will have one day to spend at Disney California Adventure, the park across the Esplanade from Walt Disney’s Original Magic Kingdom. If we had one day to enjoy at Disney California Adventure these are the attractions we would do, the restaurants where we’d dine, and the metaphorical roses we would stop to smell. This post continues our series of single-day itineraries designed to answer the frequently asked question, “what would you do if you only had one day in ____ Disney park?” We call this series our “Daily Trip Blueprints,” or DTBs for short. 

These Daily Trip Blueprints aren’t touring plans or strategy guides for doing as much in a single day in Disney California Adventure as possible. In fact, if you follow this guide, you won’t come close to doing every single attraction in the park (just the ones we like best). However, as we view Disney California Adventure as the “atmosphere park” at Disneyland Resort, we think this is a good thing. Plus, a lot of attractions at DCA are off-the-shelf filler that are best skipped. Most park strategy guides focus solely on number of attractions, and totally ignore the great things that make Disney Disney. If you’re only after our ride ratings and reviews of each attractions, read our comprehensive Best Disney California Adventure Attractions & Ride Guide post. If you need comprehensive help for planning every aspect of your visit to Disneyland Resort, from where to purchase discount tickets to transportation from the airport and more, read our Disneyland Resort Trip Planning Guide.

Instead, this is a rough blueprint of our favorite things to do in an “ideal day” at Disney California Adventure with low to moderate crowds (adjust expectations downward on busier days), and when you should do them for the ‘best experience,’ but not necessarily the most efficient experience. In other words, this strives to be subjective rather than objective. If you’re looking to develop a plan of attack for visiting attractions in the most efficient order, you should consult TouringPlans.com for Disneyland, which has years of experience and the statistical expertise in terms of “attraction order.”

If budget is no issue, we recommend staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel for your visit. Note that we recommended Disneyland Hotel in our 1-Day Disneyland Plan, and that’s because we think that hotel is a better “fit” for Disneyland. If you’re visiting both parks, we don’t recommend changing hotels…that would be excessive and unnecessarily time consuming. Staying at one of these hotels puts you in a good position to utilize Morning Extra Magic Hours to see more (make sure to consult the official Disneyland Calendar to see when these are offered). Plus, these hotels have great location and are just flat out fun. If these hotels are outside of your budget, our pick is the Anaheim Desert Inn, an off-site hotel that is about a 10 minute walk from the parks.

Once you wake up from wherever it is that you are sleeping, here’s what to do… (more…)

1-Day Disneyland “Daily Trip Blueprint”

If we had one day in Disneyland and were looking for the perfect way to spend that day, these are the attractions we would do, the restaurants where we’d dine, and the metaphorical roses we would stop to smell. The idea behind this post is to answer the frequently asked question, “what would you do if you only had one day in ____ Disney park?” We are starting with Disneyland for the first post in this series of “Daily Trip Blueprints.” (Or DTB for short. Get it? We thought about calling it the “DTB by DTB.com,” but felt that would cross that line from clever into lame and corny territory…but we probably are so far across that line already that we can no longer even see the line.)

Note that this Daily Trip Blueprint isn’t a touring plan or strategy guide for visiting Disneyland, nor is it a thorough listing of every attraction at Disneyland. For our ride ratings and reviews of each attractions (which will give you a better idea of what to prioritize), read our comprehensive Best Disneyland Attractions & Ride Guide post. If you need comprehensive help for planning every aspect of your visit to Disneyland, from where to purchase discount tickets to transportation from the airport and more, read our Disneyland Resort Trip Planning Guide.

Instead, what we are providing is a rough blueprint of our favorite things to do in an “ideal day” at Disneyland with low to moderate crowds (on busier days, it will be more difficult to accomplish all of this), and when you should do them for the ‘best experience,’ but not necessarily the most efficient experience. In other words, this strives to be subjective rather than objective. If you’re looking to develop a plan of attack for visiting attractions in the most efficient order, you should consult TouringPlans.com for Disneyland, which has years of experience and the statistical expertise in terms of “attraction order.”

If budget is no issue, we recommend staying at Disneyland Hotel (our favorite) or Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel (closer to the parks) for your visit. If you only have 1 day for Disneyland (hopefully you also have a day for Disney California Adventure), your time is fairly limited and you won’t be able to see it all, but at least staying at one of these hotels puts you in a good position to utilize Morning Extra Magic Hours to see more (make sure to consult the official Disneyland Calendar to see when these are offered). Plus, these hotels have great location and are just flat out fun. If these hotels are outside of your budget, our pick is the Anaheim Desert Inn, an off-site hotel that is about a 10 minute walk from the parks.

Once you wake up from wherever it is that you are sleeping, here’s what to do… (more…)

Little Red Wagon Review

little-red-wagon-disneyland-121

Little Red Wagon is the world’s first food truck, bringing delicious street food to guests of Main Street USA in Disneyland since Walt Disney first conceived of this revolutionary concept while sitting at a pub in Griffith Park and yearning for a place where kids and adults could enjoy corn dogs together. He then came up with the idea of a “theme park” as an afterthought, because he didn’t want to pay permit fees and other expenses of operating his Little Red Wagon corn dog food truck on public streets. Or something like that. While that history is absolutely inaccurate, Little Red Wagon is basically the greatest thing ever.

In actuality, Little Red Wagon was not conceived of by Walt Disney (it’s a far more recent addition to Disneyland than that), but I think it embodies his vision for Disneyland. (As everyone on the internet says in an attempt to add validity to their own opinion, “it’s what Walt would have wanted.”) His dream for Disneyland being a place for the young and young-at-heart is realized for me personally to a slight extent with Little Red Wagon. I would never even consider eating a corn dog in the real world, but in Disneyland some sort of carefree, youthful attitude takes hold of me, and I often find myself running to Little Red Wagon with glee.

So, how are the corn dogs at Little Red Wagon? Well, I think I’ve pretty much already answered that by calling Little Red Wagon “basically the greatest thing ever,” but since I try to write reviews that are more than 250 words, I’ll throw in some fluff and ridiculousness to beef up the word count here. Continue reading to find out more, but don’t say you haven’t been warned. (more…)

Earl of Sandwich Review (+Hotel Stay Giveaway!)

DSC_2603 as Smart Object-1 copy

Earl of Sandwich is a sandwich shop in Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris. There are also a few other locations, mostly at airports, around the United States. The restaurant has developed a cult following among Disney fans, particularly for its inventive “Holiday Turkey Sandwich,” which is basically like a mash-up of Thanksgiving dinner in a sandwich.

Each of the Earl of Sandwich locations are unique, but they share the same common backstory. It’s an interesting story that combines true historical figures (yes, there really were Earls of Sandwich) like John Montagu, the supposed inventor of the sandwich in 1762, with a bit of fiction–or perhaps just a bit of truth-stretching–about the history of the sandwich. It is true that Earl of Sandwich’s founder is a descendent of John Montagu, but it’s unclear how many other parts of the story are true. Regardless of what’s true and what’s imagined, it’s nice in that it makes Earl of Sandwich more than just a generic sandwich shop. The paintings of the various Earls of Sandwich, antique books, and things like the “Sandwich Charter” all on the walls give the various locations their own unique wrinkles.

The Earl of Sandwich at the Downtown Disney location in Walt Disney World is always incredibly busy, likely because of its inexpensive price, good sandwiches, and very positive word of mouth. We’ve heard from many Walt Disney World fans who make special trips to Downtown Disney just to visit Earl of Sandwich! Given its prominence at Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World, we think this Earl of Sandwich review is the perfect place to kick-off our second Downtown Disney Area Resort hotel giveaway. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter! (more…)

Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante Review

Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante is a quick service restaurant in Disneyland’s Frontierland that has a Mexican menu. Although it’s technically counter service, much like Plaza Inn, it’s sort of a ‘buffeteria’ style location with higher quality options on actual plates and with real silverware. It’s also priced slightly above other counter service restaurants in Disneyland, but the portion sizes and ambiance make this forgivable.

Beyond just the buffeteria style, Rancho del Zocalo is a lot like the Frontierland version of Plaza Inn. As opposed to the Main Street and Sleeping Beauty Castle view at Plaza Inn, you get a nice open-air Big Thunder Mountain/Frontierland or romantic “star light” view at Rancho del Zocalo. (I’ve been out of the dating game for a while, but if I were looking for a cheap, romantic place at Disneyland to take someone, the inside area at Rancho after dusk would be near the top of my list!) In place of high quality American comfort food that’s fitting of Main Street, you have high quality Mexican (comfort?) food that’s fitting of Frontierland.

Of course, nothing is more important to a restaurant than its food, but that great ambiance is what keeps us coming back to Rancho del Zocalo. This is something Disneyland counter service restaurants seem to nail far better than their Walt Disney World counterparts, and Rancho del Zocalo is no exception. (more…)