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

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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!)

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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…)

Disneyland Restaurant Reviews

Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. See more Cars Land photos by Tom Bricker: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/cars-land-photos/

Our Disneyland Resort restaurant reviews offer opinions and photos from some of our favorite restaurants at Disney California and Disneyland. Each review contains a detailed description of the restaurant’s ambiance and style, along with lots of Disney food photos, and our picks for the best dishes to order and ones to avoid. There are dozens of restaurants in each of the Disneyland Resort theme parks, and chances are that you won’t have time to try them all…unless you’re a local or are taking a really long trip! Over the last few years, we’ve dined at the majority of the restaurants in Disneyland (park), Disney California Adventure, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Disneyland Hotel. Downtown Disney and Paradise Pier Hotel are our only real blind spots as far as dining goes.

If a restaurant that you’re considering is absent from the reviews below, feel free to ask about it in the comments. We’ve thus far only reviewed a portion of the restaurants at which we’ve dined, as we try to eat at each restaurant a couple of times before reviewing it, unless we feel we tried the “core” of the menu and got the full experience in one visit.

Disneyland restaurants are scored on a scale of 1-10, with the score being based solely on cuisine and ambiance. Service can be very inconsistent at all Disney restaurants, which is why we don’t factor that into our scores except in certain (noted) circumstances. Due to this inconsistency, we recommend reading a few reviews (not just ours!) of the same restaurant before making a decision on whether to dine there. No matter what you read anywhere, we wouldn’t base a dining decision on reviews that factor service heavily–the reviewer may have had awful service and you may have great service, or vice-a-versa.

As for the scores, they should be viewed like letter grades: 10/10 is an A+, 8/10 is a B-, 6/10 is a D-, (and so on), with any score below a 6/10 being varying degrees of failing. Any restaurant that gets a 8/10 or above is one that we’d recommend. If the restaurant’s score is below that, we’d recommend skipping it. There are too many good dining options to mess with the mediocre or poor ones.

The reviews here are just for the Disneyland Resort in California. We have reviews for Disney restaurants around the globe, including Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland. Check out our “Disney Dining Reviews Index” page to find them all.

Here are our reviews and other dining resources from Disneyland Resort… (more…)