Visiting Both Disneyland Parks in One Day, Which Rides Not to Miss!

Heading to Disneyland and only got one day to fit everything in? Fear not, while you are sure to miss out on quite a bit you can definitely pack in a whole lot of attractions, rides, and loads more. Our Guide to Visiting Both Disneyland Parks in One day shows you which Rides not to Miss, What else to see in the Parks, and How best to go about cramming everything into a single day of Magic!

Visiting Both Disneyland Parks in One Day

Can you Do Disneyland In One Day?

Yes, Absolutely. Disneyland is quite small and it’s easy to get around the Park in a single day. But Did you Mean Disneyland Park or Did you mean Both Disneyland Parks? Disneyland and Disney California Adventure?

Can you Do Both Disneyland Parks in One Day?

Still, the answer is yes, however you will have a very stressful and tiring day and the reality is, you are going to miss out on some rides and attractions. There is just too much in the Parks to get through it all in a single day. But if your time is limited, your budget tight, and you can only manage a single day in the park but want to do BOTH parks you can definitely get through the highlights. And we will show you how!

Our latest experience hitting Both Disneyland Parks in a Day!

This Guide is two-fold. first, You are going to miss out. No matter how well you plan no matter how quiet the day, there is just too much going on to fit everything in. So you have to Prioritise. In this guide, we will show you which rides we think you NEED to experience. Our Disney must see and do’s. The first part of the list is the Rides but there are few other things at the parks you really need to fit in as well to get the ultimate Dinsey Experience.

The second part of the Guide will explain how best to fit all this fun into your day. Even with prioritizing you can still potentially miss out on a lot if you don’t plan and execute accordingly. We show you how.

Be Prepared!

Radiator Springs Racers Scenery

First a Warning. This will not be an easy day. To cram everything you are really going to have to do a whole heap of walking, visit both parks probably twice each, arrive at rope drop, and stay until after the fireworks” It will be an exhausting and tiring day and at times you will really question if it is worth it!

We don’t really recommend this if you have young kids, really they would prefer just seeing Disneyland and you will have a much better day at the single park. Or if you have any issues getting around or walking for long periods of time, or standing! you are going to be on your feet and on the move all day. Without trying to show off I regularly compete in Marathons and the feeling is not dissimilar!

Our top 15 Ride in both Disneyland Parks

We chose 15 as really to get a worthwhile experience this is the number of rides you are going to want to hit to feel you have “done” Disneyland. Any less and you will feel you have left gaping holes and quite simply you will have to come back.

We must say narrowing it down was pretty hard. There are some really spectacular rides and attractions and more keep opening so keeping it to 15 is a real challenge. In the future when Galaxies Edge is fully online and The Marvel Campus is open and running we may need to adjust our advice and say NO, you cannot do both parks, but for now, it is still possible.

We have gone for a real balance of rides, to give you the full Disney experience. There are Classic Rides, Thrill rides, High-tech Rides, and more.

If you are planning to do the parks separately on 2 days you can find our BEST ride guides to each park below:

You May notice the running order of our single park guides different from this one. This is not just a mix-up of the two. We have gone for the complete Disney Experience and sometimes we felt you could skip a ride as the other park has an attraction to make up for it.

The list is NOT our suggested order. It is the Order of Priority. Target the top ten first then pick off the rest. But also be on the lookout for small queues, especially early in the day. Don’t skip a walk-on just because it’s not on your must-see list!

15 – Mickey’s PhilharMagic

  • Thrill Rating – 1/5
  • Overall rating – 4/5
Mickeys PhilarMagic

A joyful 12 minute 4-D Theatre show with 3-D animation, Water, light, and aroma effects. Watch as Donald (No Mickey) Gets mixed in some of your favorites Disney Scenes. Aladin, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Fantasia, and The Little Mermaid are all featured.

14 – Pixar Pal-A-Round

  • Thrill Rating – 4.5/5
  • Overall rating – 3.8/5
Disney California Adventure

Not Your average Ferris Wheel. The Swinging version of the Ride is seriously unsettling at the gondola slides about on its rails creating the illusion of impending doom! Choose a Non-Swinging for a more sedate experience.

13 – Indiana Jones Adventure

  • Thrill Rating – 3.5/5
  • Overall rating – 4.2/5
Indiana Jones Adventure Queue

A fantastically themed ride from beginning to end. As you first enter the Jungle realm and then enter the lost temple, every effort has been made to recreate a world time left behind. The Ride itself is a fun trip on a typical indy adventure complete with lava, poison darts, and Giant rolling boulders.

12 – The Haunted Mansion

  • Thrill Rating – 1/5
  • Overall rating – 4/5

The Haunted Mansion is one of Disney’s all-time classic rides. It is an old-school ghost train using simple but really clever light tricks from yesteryear to make for a really charming experience and one that really shows off the magic the Imagineers can pull off!

11 – Jungle Cruise

  • Thrill Rating – 1/5
  • Overall rating – 3.8/5
Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise is a family boat ride around a jungle river-themed to resemble several of the world’s Remote Jungle habitats. lined with model animals and scenes depicting jungle life, the cruise is accompanied by a hilarious commentary supplied by a live guide. Seriously funny and not to be missed.

Watch on YouTube

10 – Toy Story Midway Mania

  • Thrill Rating – 3/5
  • Overall rating – 4.3/5
Toy Story Midway Mania

A Fantastically over-engineered 4-D Shooting game where you take part in a series of suer fun Midway Style games with digitized ammunition and targets, fun for the whole family and can get seriously competitive!

Tip – Make sure you check our Toy Story Midway Mania Page for tips on how to make sure you win and how to unlock bonus rounds!

9 – Guardians Of The Galaxy – Mission: Breakout

  • Thrill Rating – 5/5
  • Overall rating – 4.3/5
GOTG MB Rocket

One of the Resorts Badest rides. The number 9 position reflects how we feel the ride has suffered from it’s makeover to Guardians of the Galaxy but it is still one the top rides in the resort. And from here on in, the competition is HIGH!

8 – Incredicoaster

  • Thrill Rating – 4/5
  • Overall rating – 4.3/5

Dominating the Parks Skyline as all Big Boardwalk Coaster do, the Incredicoaster takes Pride of place. The Ride’s theme is a little weak but makes up for this by being a really good, solid coaster. The only inversion in the resort!

7 – Pirates Of the Caribbean

  • Thrill Rating – 3/5
  • Overall rating – 4.1/5
Pirates of the Caribbean

A Boat ride through the golden age of pirates featuring everything you would expect from the masters of plunder and mischief. A phenomenally detailed creation where you will spot something new no matter how many times you ride. An all-time classic.

6 – Peter Pan’s Flight

  • Thrill Rating – 2/5
  • Overall rating – 4/5
Peter Pans Flight

Imagineering at it’s absolute best. A simple flying boat ride over models of old London, Neverland and beyond, brought alive by simple but stunning lighting techniques that turn the mundane into a dream world. Despite the HUGE queues and no Fastpass line, it is one you just have to wait out for.

5 – Space Mountain

  • Thrill Rating – 4/5
  • Overall rating – 4.4/5
Space Mountain queue

Supersmooth, perfectly themed and really fun space-themed rollercoaster. Not the Scariest Rollercoaster in the world but the fantastic theming and superb layout make this really feel like you are zipping through space rather than just riding a boring old rollercoaster.

4 – Soarin’ Around the World

  • Thrill Rating – 4/5
  • Overall rating – 4.6/5
Soarin Around The World

Soarin’ is a technological Marvel. Any review will completely fail to do the ride justice and just has to be experienced. The sensation of flying is realized in a way you never imagined and really takes your breath away.

3 – Radiator Springs Racers

  • Thrill Rating – 4/5
  • Overall rating – 4.7/5
Radiator Springs Racers View

This is ride theming on a whole new level. The Imagineering team has completely recreated the Sonoran Desert and built a race track for you to blast around. Immensely fun, staggering to look ant easily the best ride in the park…With Queues to Match!

2 – Star Wars: Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run

  • Thrill Rating – 4/5
  • Overall rating – 4.5/5
Smugglers Run Logo

The all-new Galaxies edge is the obvious big draw at the minute, and while the whole land is an attraction the Chance to fly the Millenium Falcon is an opportunity not to be missed. Regardless, riding the newest ride in the park and one that has arrived with so much fanfare is an obvious Must-Do when visiting the park. It helps the ride is seriously fun as well!

1 – Dumbo the Flying Elephant

  • Thrill Rating – 2.5/5
  • Overall rating – 5/5
Dumbo The Flying Elephant

That’s right our Number 1 MUST DO Ride at Disneyland is the Humble Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Why? It’s just pure refined Disney Essence. It is what made us all love Disney as children, why we still do today, and why your children will too. Simple, Childlike Wonder personified by a ride.

What Else Not To Miss

Disneyland is not all about rides. There are Shows, Meet and Greets, Parades, and Firework Spectaculars. Here is what else you should and shouldn’t see.

Meet and Greets

Meet and Greets are part and parcel of the Dinsetyland Experience and there are many Disney characters all over the parks to grab a quick photo with. It really wouldn’t be a trip to Disney without meet Mickey, Minnie, or a Princess. However, on such a tight timescale, you are going to need to limit your meets to your favorite characters and skip or postpone if the queues are just too large. You will tend to find lighter queues for Character sin DCA over Disneyland

Disneyland Parades

Again Parades are part and parcel of the Disney experience so make sure you find time to fit in the Disney parade. Take the time to get some rest from all the storming around the parks!

Fireworks Show

You have two Night-time Spectaculars to choose from. The Fireworks show over the Castle or the world of color Fountain Show over Paradise Lagoon. It is a No-Brainer. We Love the World Of Color Show, but nothing beats Fireworks over Sleeping Beauties castle. We only recommend the Fountain show if you have seen the Fireworks before, or you just mess up and are in DCA at Nightime Spectacular time and cannot get over to Disneyland Park in time.

The shows can be timed to be at different times but you won’t get across to see both. Some nights the World of Color show has an early or later showing as well. If so try and catch that, but if you are still going at 10:15 for the late show you have a lot more stamina than us.

Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk Through

As the name suggests the Sleeping Beauty castle at the center of the park is a full working attraction where you can take a walk through the hallowed halls of the castle.

Great Dining

You are not really going to have time to cram in any of the character or Signature dining experiences in But there are still loads of options available. We often eat off-resort but this is not really a great idea as the trek away from the parks will just eat too much time. So it is park dining but focuses on quick-service restaurants and keeps it varied.

Fantasmic and Frozen Live

Sorry, these both fall into the, not really got time for these! Fantasmic falls foul of the Fireworks show and at over 1 hour in length, you just don’t have time for Frozen. If you are a SUPER die-hard Frozen fan, then you could fit it in, but know it will be at the expense of some of the other rides and attractions


Make no mistake, this is going to be a tough day. It will leave you exhausted and broken. The planning element will help you get through your list of must-do’s but it won’t help much with the exertion. You are going to be on the go from sun-up till well after sunset if you want to get Disneyland “Done”

Should We Buy A MaxPass?

Disneys MaxPass

We really DO NOT recommend even trying this without a MaxPass The ability to secure ride times from anywhere in both parks is the only way to make this viable. Even if the parks are really quiet having to stand in the full standby line for every ride just takes too much time and treking to each ride to grab a Fastpass again is too tiring and time-consuming. Grab the MaxPass or just stick to one park! Read more about this here.

Arrive at Rope Drop.

You are going to need to Maximise your time in the park and that means getting there at Rope Drop, or park opening to normal people. In fact, it means getting there a good 30+ mines before to bag a good spot in the QUEUE to get into the park at rope drop. We said it is going to be a long day!

Choose Your First Park!

Splash Mountain Review

We can’t tell you which park to pick first as this will depend on the Daily Schedule. Unless you are staying in a Disney Hotel You will not have access to Extra Magic Hours or Magic Morning. These extra hours allow certain guests to hit the parks early and get a jump on the crowds. The alternate Which Park operates these daily. You need to choose the Park that Doesn’t have an Extra Magic Hour on.

The other park will already have queues forming and MaxPass bookings being filled before you even step foot in the park. So head to the other park so you can get a jump on some of the busiest rides before they even have a queue. You can easily fit in 3-4 rides in the first hour this way!

For advice on which rides to attack first see either our Best Dinsetland Rides, for attacking Disneyland Park or our Best Disney California Adventure rides for a DCA Plan of attack.

Use your MaxPass Wisely

Your Maxpass is your friend. Remember you cannot book MaxPass Return Times until you enter the first park. But from then you can reserve times for rides in BOTH Parks. Enter your first park and pull the app up and get booking straight away. Target the rides with the biggest queues and head straight to the furthest rides away with the shortest queues. Early on Lots of rides can be walk-on and you can get through 3, 4 even 5 rides in the first hour or so. This is the key time to max out on the best rides with minimal wait times.

Remember as soon as you have used your first MaxPass slot, get booking the next. Try and keep it to rides close the current time, but be aware of MaxPass slots filling up. If you see Radiator Springs Racers nearing 4/5 pm BAG a slot now. These will fill up and leave you with a 90min queue! Monitor all popular rides constantly and jump on them when you can.

If you do miss out and fail to get a MaxPass for a big ride and the 60+ minute queue is really not enticing you. Check to see if it had Single Rider. Also, keep checking the MaxPass, They can and DO become available again as people cancel. KEEP Checking!

Final Advice

Disney Duck

Remember, have FUN! It can quite easily fall by the wayside in the clamor and intensity to get on the biggest and best ride, But it is not meant to be like that. You are here for fun. It is meant to be the Happiest Place On Earth!

Take time out to explore, to notice the little things, to enjoy the Lands. If a ride queue gets silly and the MaxPasses go, don’t stress it. Either suck up the queue or just sack it off for this time, you can always come back. There is a very good reason we put Dumbo at Number 1! It is far from the best ride in the Parks but it is the pure essence of what your Dinsey trip is supposed to be about, Pure Childlike fun. Don’t let something silly ruin that, Shrug it off, Smile, and have some FUN!

Have Your Say

Have you tried to visit Both Parks in One Day? How did it go? did you pack in everything you wanted or was it a disappointing disaster? Let us know in the comments below any tips or tricks you learned to pack in everything or share with us any harsh lessons you learned? Maybe you have a question about visiting both parks, or maybe you just want to tell us our ride list is WRONG. Whatever you have to say just fire away in our comments section below!

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