Disneyland has tons of rides and entertainment, and doing everything at a comfortable pace requires a 2-day touring plan. Our time-saving Disneyland offers step-by-step strategy for park’s most popular attractions and experiences, including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge! In so doing, this offers suggestions for leisurely ways to “stop and smell the roses” and enjoy the exceptional Disney theming. (Updated February 11, 2023.)
With the highest attraction count of any Disney theme park in the United States, dedicating two days to Disneyland is a good idea. Although it’s the smallest park in square footage, Disneyland’s attraction density is impressive, making it akin to Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (if you’re looking for a Florida comparison). Quite simply, the vast majority of guests who are going to spend 3 days or more at Disneyland Resort should spend their “bonus” day in Disneyland (Park).
We’ve already shared our 1-Day Disneyland Itinerary, but this post is not simply “Day 2” of that. Rather, this is a stand-alone touring plan that reevaluates what your priorities and pace should be if you’re spending a second day in Disneyland. You could say this “plan of attack” is more like a “foray of fun,” as it takes a slightly more leisurely pace than our 1-day Disneyland itinerary…
Additionally, we offer minimal Genie+ guidance. This is not because you shouldn’t use these–you should buy it for at least one day–but because it’s difficult to recommend specific times to get a Lightning Lane ride reservation since it’ll differ depending upon crowds and return times. Suffice to say, consult our Guide to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Disneyland & DCAfor everything you need to know about that. While this itinerary will be helpful in beating the crowds, you really want might to consider paid FastPass to reduce your wait times significantly.
Note that this 2-day Disneyland itinerary is not a thorough listing of every attraction in the park. Even in 2 full days, you might end up skipping some stuff. For our ride ratings and reviews of each attractions, read our Best Disneyland Attractions & Ride Guide post.
If you need comprehensive assistance planning every aspect of your trip to Disneyland Resort, from where to purchase discount tickets to transportation from the airport, etc., read our Disneyland Resort Trip Planning Guide. That covers all facets of your vacation–this just covers how to spend your park time at Disneyland. There’s so much more to know, from Disney California Adventure to hotels, and more!
What this Disneyland itinerary provides is a rough blueprint for experiencing our favorite things to do in an “ideal day” at Disneyland. This touring plan assumes moderate crowd levels (see our 2023 Disneyland Crowd Calendar); actual attendance levels and wait times will vary depending upon when you visit.
Finally, the 100 Years of Wonder celebration is now underway and runs through 2024. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure each have debuted new nighttime spectaculars in honor of Disney’s 100th Anniversary. Consult our Guide to Disney’s 100th Anniversary Celebration at Disneyland & DCA for what you need to know about that, and everything else happening for the milestone.
Catch the Early Train – On the morning of your Disneyland day, at least one person in your party will need to be awake before 7 am. This is because guests with a valid ticket and a park reservation will be able to access the virtual queue system for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway starting at 7 am on the day of their park visit. This is done outside the park–before you leave your resort hotel, or from literally anywhere.
On certain days, the virtual queue for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway fills up fast. Our How to Ride Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Virtual Queue Speed Strategy is essential reading and covers everything you need to know–like increasing your chances of success! (This virtual queue is in use as of February 2023, but we expect it to be retired after Spring Break.)
Rope Drop Arrival – If you can, we recommend arriving at Disneyland’s security checkpoints about 45 minutes before official park opening time or earlier during peak seasons. (If you’re eligible for Early Entry at Disneyland, be sure to arrive even earlier and take advantage of that!)
As covered in Disneyland Park Opening & Rope Drop Tips, Disneyland’s turnstiles typically open 30-45 minutes before park opening, at which time guests are allowed onto Main Street. We recommend heading immediately for the Central Plaza, in front of the Partners statue of Walt Disney & Mickey Mouse.
Early Morning Attractions: Fantasyland — Without question, you should start the morning of the first day in Fantasyland. We highly recommend starting with Peter Pan’s Flight, which gets the longest line the quickest.
Follow that with the following attractions in order: Alice in Wonderland, Casey Junior, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Storybook Land Canal Boats, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. If the posted wait time is over 20 minutes for any of the attractions after Peter Pan’s Flight, skip it. We’ll come back later to hit the rest of Fantasyland.
Head West – At that point, bounce to the west side of the park, which should still be relatively quiet.
Our advice would be to bounce around a little, starting with Indiana Jones Adventure followed by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, then Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Critter Country. Skip anything with over a 20 minute posted wait–don’t expect to do all of this.
When wait times start to get longer, slow down for a snack. You can head to the nearby Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for a Ronto Wrap if you’re trying to minimize your steps, or you can try one of the following options…
Morning Snack Session — With a lot already crossed off your list, it’s time to slow down and have a snack break (a big part of our days in the parks is eating!).
Head down to Jolly Holiday Bakery at the edge of Main Street and grab a Matterhorn Macaroon, try one of the twists at Maurice’s Treats in Fantasy Faire, or venture around the corner into Adventureland’s secluded hideaway for a Loaded Dole Whip. Consult our Top 10 Delicious Disneyland Desserts for where to find the best snacks at Disneyland!
Late Morning Attractions: Disneyland Classics — After the snack break, round out your morning with a trio of Disneyland’s iconic, flagship attractions. Start with Jungle Cruise in Adventureland, which can get longer lines in the afternoon due to its lack of Lightning Lane.
Then, head to New Orleans Square where you’ll do the best one-two punch of any theme park in the world: Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. After that high-powered dose of concentrated awesomeness, you’ll need to take an hour or so to collect yourself, so it’s the perfect time for lunch in New Orleans Square.
After you’re done eating, take a few minutes to explore the nooks, crannies, and shops of New Orleans Square. It’s one of Disney’s best theme park lands in the world, and you could spend hours wandering around. We prefer this romanticized version of New Orleans to the real thing.
Riverside Recovery – There are two options here if you want to recover from your big lunch. If you’re the kind who counts every calorie and is a bit sick to your stomach over the fat content of the Monte Cristo you just had, head to the Rivers of America for the only Disneyland attraction that doubles as a good workout: Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes. Then, follow that up with a stroll around Tom Sawyer Island.
If you’re the type who believes calories don’t count on vacation, head to the Disneyland Railroad Station in New Orleans Square, and do a grand circle tour of Disneyland in style, enjoying beautiful views of the Rivers of America without the pesky exercise. Personally, we far prefer the latter approach.
Afternoon Attractions: Relaxing Disney Originals — Once you’ve finished that, the middle of the afternoon is when Disneyland sees its longest lines, making this a great time to enjoy some of the gems of Disneyland that go unnoticed by most guests.
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the adjacent Disney Gallery, Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-Through, Mark Twain Riverboat, and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room are all highly recommended.
Sunset in Star Wars Land — We recommend visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge around sunset on your first day in large part so you can gauge how much time you’ll want to spend in the new land. For some people, it’ll be a multi-hour, or perhaps even multi-day, affair. For others, it’s a matter of doing Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and bouncing.
No matter how much time you end up wanting to spend on Batuu, we recommend doing it later in the day rather than first thing in the morning for a couple of reasons. First, crowds are actually worst in the morning and get progressively better as the day wears on.
Second, because Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is better at night. The lighting adds a lot to the moody off-planet atmosphere, and makes the experience even more immersive. Be sure to check out the Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities and have dinner at Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo in addition to the ride. From the area in front of the Millennium Falcon, you’ll also have a perfect view of Disneyland’s fireworks.
Ride with the Resistance – Knock out both Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance via the standby line at some point during your evening on Batuu. Do the attractions in that order, and expect Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance to take less than an hour, even if the posted wait time for the standby line is 90 minutes or longer. (Barring a breakdown, it’ll take far less time than the posted wait time suggests.)
Be aware that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance typically closes before Disneyland. If it’s open until 9 pm, we’d recommend queueing up at around 7:45 pm or so. (Perhaps slightly earlier if you’re wanting a good spot for the fireworks.) Note that if you are eligible for Early Entry, you should do Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance after Fantasyland. If you’re doing traditional rope drop, do not prioritize Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance–you’ll wait longer and the opportunity cost is too high.
Nighttime Spectacular: Fireworks – Disneyland rotates through an assortment of fireworks shows, with the normal version (at least as of right now) being Wondrous Journeys for Disney’s 100th Anniversary. Disneyland Forever and other seasonal shows could temporarily replace it, though.
Regardless of the fireworks show, we recommend following these viewing location tips for Disneyland’s fireworks. Currently, there is no nighttime parade at Disneyland, and you’ll see Fantasmic on the second night of this itinerary–unless you book the Fantasmic Dining Package. If you’re a big nighttime spectaculars person, you might consider watching Fantasmic both nights regardless (entertainment schedule dependent). We love it.
Evening Attractions: Better at Night — Splash Mountain, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the Matterhorn are four attractions that are better at night. We have a full list of the 10 Best Disneyland Attractions at Night, in case you have time for more than these four.
You won’t have time for all of them before the fireworks–or even on day one–but do what you can. After the fireworks, depending upon how long Disneyland is open, continue working your way through the attractions on that list. You can also take advantage of attractions that have Single Rider lines, making it easier to do more if the park is still crowded.
Race for Tomorrow(land): Head to Tomorrowland and do Space Mountain.
Regardless of whether it’s the classic Space Mountain, Ghost Galaxy at Halloween, or Hyperspace Mountain to promote all things Star Wars, Space Mountain is a blast.
Matterhorn Mornings: Continue the thrill-ride fun by heading over to the edge of Fantasyland and riding the Matterhorn, the highest peak in the park. The peeks you see of Disneyland while racing around on your bobsled as the morning light illuminates the park will start your day out right. If the line is already over 30 minutes for the Matterhorn, skip it and return later.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage: Two words: outdoor queue. Not only is this unthemed, outdoor queue unpleasant during the middle of the day when the sun is overhead, but it’s unthemed and the attraction loads incredibly slowly, making this really unpleasant later in the day.
Guest reaction to this attraction is a bit mixed, but we love the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. It takes guests aboard actual submarines to get under Tomorowland’s mermaid lagoon. It’s a relatively long attraction with some pretty scenes and fun detail. You can also take a spin on the monorail if you’re already ready to relax.
With that popularity comes lines that rival some of the park’s biggest rides. There are two lines for this stand, and the one inside the Tiki Room waiting area is almost always shorter.
Magic Mountain(s) – Not the Six Flags version north of Los Angeles, but two-thirds of Disneyland’s “mountain range.” Even though you might’ve already done Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain the previous day, consider doing them again.
The experiences are very different during the day, and it’s still early enough that you should be able to beat the crowds back to Frontierland and Critter Country. (Depending upon the season.)
Lunch: Carnation Cafe – Our favorite restaurant in Disneyland for an inexpensive, table service meal. We love Carnation Cafe both for its menu and the quaint charm it exudes. It’s hard to describe, but it feels like what you’d expect of a Walt-era restaurant at Disneyland.
We really like the outdoor seating area, and the Sourdough Bacon-Cheese Melt is my favorite thing on the menu. The Meatloaf is shockingly good, too. Also, the Classic Malts are delicious.
Return to Tomorrow(land) – Early afternoon is a good time to hit other Tomorrowland attractions that you’ve missed, including Star Tours: the Adventures Continue, Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, and the Disneyland Monorail (if you didn’t do it earlier).
Skip Autopia unless you have small children who really want to drive. Otherwise, it’s nothing special.
Disneyland Classics: Take Two – As with the first day’s “Relaxing Disneyland Originals” section, post-lunch is the perfect time to do classic Disneyland attractions that either are high capacity or are less popular than “sexy” thrill rides. Attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion are certainly worth revisiting, and you should likewise do any classic rides or shows you missed on day one.
Late afternoon is also a great time of day to do ‘it’s a small world.’ The sun is low in the sky, making the open-air outdoor queue more pleasant, and the clean white facade really shines against the crisp blue sky.
Tale of the Lion King – Depending upon how much spare time you have, and your fondness for stage shows, you might consider seeing a late afternoon showing of Tale of the Lion King in Fantasyland Theatre near it’s a small world.
Tale of the Lion King has a cast of around 20 performers, including incredibly talented singers, dancers, and drummers. It’s a reinterpretation of the Lion King, with a story-theatre approach using dialogue, song, dance and live percussion to tell the story of Simba’s journey.
It features unique arrangements of “Circle of Life,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” Tale of the Lion King uses colorful costume designs, scenery, dancing, and Swahili to present a culturally-rooted twist on the story. We love Tale of the Lion King. It’s incredibly well done–a high energy change of pace from montage shows that keeps the whole family engaged.
Sleeping Beauty Sunset – The best time for photos at Disneyland is sunset. The best spot for these sunset photos is Snow White Grotto, on the right side of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Not only can you get photos of the castle and grotto, but also the Wishing Well and Fantasyland by peaking through the castle archway.
After this, head to Tomorrowland. The two best options for stunning sunset and dusk photos are the monorail platform (go up through the exit) and second floor of Star Wars Launch Bay. Both of these locations will offer panoramic views of Tomorrowland and beyond.
Dinner: Plaza Inn — The fried chicken at Plaza Inn (read our full review) is the stuff dreams are made of. To quote Kramer, “I need that chicken, I gotta have that chicken, you leave those roasters alone, Kenny never hurt anybody.” (Just pretend that Plaza Inn is managed by a dude named Kenny.)
If you had a big lunch and another hearty meal is too much, stop at Disneyland’s Beauty and the Beast restaurant, Red Rose Taverne (read our full Red Rose Taverne Review for what we recommend ordering). The food is pretty good and there’s something for everything. We recommend dining in the outdoor seating area to enjoy the ambiance of Fantasyland.
Fantasyland Cleanup – Depending upon when you visit, you may have anywhere from no time after the fireworks (in which case, move this forward) to 2 full hours. Time allowing, plan to do some attractions in Fantasyland both before and after Fantasmic and the fireworks.
From the beginning of the first day until the very end of the second day, it’s taken us a while to come full circle on Fantasyland. However, the end of the night is the second-best time to hit Fantasyland attractions, and the first night was better spent on Disneyland’s stellar night rides.
Hopefully, you only have a handful of attractions left to do this evening. Perhaps Mad Tea Party and Pinocchio? Even if you already did them the first morning, Casey Jr. and Storybook Land Canal Boats could be worth revisiting at night. They’re relaxing, whimsical ways to ‘put a cherry’ on top of your visit to Disneyland, so to speak. (Alternatively, we’re not averse to racing to Adventureland for one last ride on Indiana Jones Adventure, if that’s more your style.)
Nighttime Spectacular: Fantasmic & Fireworks – Fantasmic is Disneyland’s best nighttime entertainment, far superior to its Florida cousin. You’ll want to head to the Rivers of America about 45 to 60 minutes before showtime, where you’ll prepare yourself to enter Mickey Mouse’s imagination.
As the masses slowly leave after Fantasmic, start edging your way closer to the waterfront. Trying to run with the bulls (more like inch with the sloths given the pace) and exit as everyone else does is frustrating, so waiting here to watch Disneyland’s fireworks is your best option. Plus, there are projections on the Rivers of America, so it’s actually a pretty good spot.
After the fireworks end, you’ll either continue crossing Fantasyland attractions off your list, revisit some nighttime favorites or, if it’s closing time, slowly make your way towards the exit. Hopefully with a smile on your face, having enjoyed a relaxed-but-fulfilling two days at Disneyland.
Nightcap: Trader Sam’s — If you just haven’t had enough, head to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Hotel after Disneyland closes for drinks and uniquely Disney fun. Trader Sam’s is more fun than a barrel of drunken monkeys. Even if you’re not a drinker, it’s a blast.
Plus, it’s a great place to do so more eating…you know, if you weren’t already waddling from all the eating “demanded” of you in this Disneyland itinerary! The convenient location of both Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam’s are why we consider Disneyland Hotel an ideal location for a Disneyland vacation.
Disneyland veterans: what do you think of our 2-day itinerary? Do you agree or disagree with our approach? Any attractions, restaurants, or other things you’d emphasize? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!