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

Heading to Disneyland California 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!

This has now changed somewhat and we think it’s getting near impossible to really enjoy both parks in a single day. The addition of Galaxy’s Edge and Avengers Campus has expanded the parks to the point to get most things done you are going to need two days! You will need a park hopper ticket so that you can access both parks from 11 am. Info on where best to get your tickets from HERE

The individual Parks, Disneyland Park, and Disney California Adventure can still be done in single days each.

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 a few other things at the parks you really need to fit in as well to get the ultimate Disney 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 Rides 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. Now that Galaxy’s Edge and The Avengers Campus are both fully open and running we may need to adjust our advice and say NO, you cannot do both parks, but if you are not a Star Wars or marvel fan then you may still be able to do it…

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 is 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 in the 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

Disney California Adventure
  • 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

Disney California Adventure
  • 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 as 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

Disneyland Park
  • 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 – WEB SLINGERS: A Spiderman Adventure

Disney California Adventure
  • Thrill Rating – 2/5
  • Overall rating – 3.5/5
Web Slingers A Spider-Man Adventure

This is Disney’s first Marvel Avengers ride to be opened in the Park. The Ride is a video-shooting gallery-style ride. Utilizing cutting-edge tech to track your hands and allow you to actually sling webs. Fun for all and mindblowing for younger Spidey fans, it’s a Must ride but many due to its newness!

11 – Jungle Cruise

Disneyland Park
  • 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

Disney California Adventure
  • 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 super 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

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

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

8 – Incredicoaster

Disney California Adventure
  • Thrill Rating – 4/5
  • Overall rating – 4.3/5

Dominating the Parks Skyline as all Big Boardwalk Coasters 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

Disneyland Park
  • 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

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

Imagineering at its 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

Disneyland Park
  • 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.

5 – Soarin’ Around the World

Disney California Adventure
  • 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.

4 – Star Wars: Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run

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

The all-new Galaxy’s 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!

3 – Radiator Springs Racers

Disney California Adventure
  • 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 at, and easily the best ride in the park…With Queues to Match!

2 – Star Wars: Rise Of The Resistance

Disneyland Park
  • Thrill Rating – 3.5/5
  • Overall rating – 5/5
Star Wars Rise of the Resistance

The Headline Ride from Galaxy’s Edge, Rise Of The Resistance is an epic Saga of a ride, really befitting of the Star Wars Universe. Essentially 4 rides in one and more immersive than just about anything that has ever gone before it. This came close to taking the number one spot…but not quite!

If you have to Queue for this, then it’s going to take a HUGE chink out of your day! This is definitely your best option for Rope-Drop – See here for how to beat the Queues on Rise

1 – Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Disneyland Park
  • 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 meeting 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 Characters in 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 Nighttime 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 into your day 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 in-park dining that focuses on quick-service restaurants is the best option.


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 Genie+

Disney Genie+

We really DO NOT recommend even trying this without a Genie+ 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! Grab a Genie+ 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 45+ mins 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!

Breakfast Snack for the Rope-Drop Queue helps minimize the time in the hotel meaning you can get up later and still bag your rope-drop queue!

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. This extra time allows 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 Genie+ 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 Disneyland Rides, for attacking Disneyland Park or our Best Disney California Adventure rides for a DCA Plan of attack.

Use your Genie+ Wisely

Genie+ is your friend. Remember you cannot book Genie+ Reserve 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 a 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 Genie+slot, get booking the next. Try and keep it to rides close to the current time, but be aware of Genie+ 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 Genie+ 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 Genie+ throughout the day, 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 Genie+ Times go, don’t stress about 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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