They say that Disneyland Resort can’t be experienced fully in one day, and they are right. There are just too many rides, dining locations, shows, parades, shops, interactive areas, character meets, and all of those famous Disney touches along the way to really do everything. Pace yourself.
Luckily, on Friday, May 24, Disneyland Resort‘s Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park (plus Walt Disney World‘s Magic Kingdom) will open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 a.m. on May 25 (parks will reopen for the day of May 25 at the regular posted time), which means 24 hours of Disneyland Resort magic! If there was ever a chance to do it all, this is it!
It is all part of Disney’s Monstrous Summer celebrating Pixar’s Monsters University and, obviously, summer. Also, memories. The fact that it takes place over Memorial Day Weekend promises a whole bunch of Disney awesome (and happy, tired people).
However, just because Disneyland Resort is open for an entire 24-hour period doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to experience it all, because there will also be some extra activities to enjoy. That’s right, more Limited Time Magic!
According to the official Disney Parks event website:
Over at the Disneyland Resort, hit up the dance floor at Disneyland Park! Get your groove going in Tomorrowland—courtesy of the TLT “Monstrous” Dance Club—or make your way to Mickey’s Toontown, where you can party alongside some of your favorite Disney Characters.
Looking for a more royal affair? Then enter the new Fantasy Faire Royal Theatre as it transforms into a late-night dance hall—complete with live music—or cross the Esplanade into Disney California Adventure Park, where a variety of memory-making opportunities await!
Hit the road to Hollywood Land where you’ll find the freshly built Monsters University “dorms,” and check out the new Monsters University-themed float leading the always popular Pixar Play Parade. Don’t forget to stop by for a monstrous meet up where you can snap some photos with Mike and Sulley, and capture these magic moments for a lifetime! [note: not all of DCA will remain open to the public during the 24-hour period, so please check the website for more information]
So the question remains, how do you see it all? I’m here to help.
I recommend getting a FASTPASS for the very popular (rightfully so) Radiator Springs Racers ride in DCA’s Cars Land the minute you walk into Disneyland Resort. This is my advice to anyone visiting the parks on any given day, but a special event on a holiday weekend makes it even more imperative—plus, Radiator Springs Racers will not be available to the public after 11 p.m. due to a Grad Nite special event (oh yeah, it’s also Grad Nite).
In fact, while many of the “Monstrous Summer” activities will continue in DCA, some areas (including Cars Land, Paradise Pier, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™) will close between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., so try to visit those earlier in your trip or plan to save them for the wee hours (to be clear, Radiator Springs Racers is not scheduled to reopen after the Grad Nite event, so make sure you ride it prior to its closing!).
FASTPASS is something you will want to utilize throughout your visit. Most of the bigger rides will have the option available to you, so get them early; however, you can’t have more than one active FASTPASS (per park) at a time (ticket will tell you when you may acquire the next FASTPASS), so choose wisely. Indiana Jones, Star Tours, and Space Mountain are good options in Disneyland, and Tower of Terror, Soarin’ Over California, and the aforementioned Radiator Springs Racers, are the biggest lines at California Adventure. For some reason Toy Story Midway Mania does not have a FASTPASS option and that line is always pretty long (but worth it!).
Over the years, in attempts to do everything at the Disneyland Resort, we have employed a number of strategies (listed below). First, we have to agree that “do everything at the Disneyland Resort” means to ride every ride and see every show and shop—visiting with characters are an added bonus, and food, rest, and bathroom breaks, respectively, are taken as needed.
That said, I am not a big fan of itineraries when visiting the parks, but some sort of organization might be useful in trying to do it all. The key is to remain flexible. If you see a short line on an attraction that is normally longer, step from the schedule and seize the opportunity. Also, shows and parades have set times that need to be incorporated into the planning process (make sure to allow ample time prior to each to allow for the best views/seating), and those make great anchors to build the day around.
In regard to said shows and parades, if there are multiple versions throughout the day/night, take advantage of the smaller numbers on big rides during showtime (especially earlier parades, water shows) and visit attractions that are normally busier.
Here are some of the strategies that we have tried (unsuccessfully) over the years in our attempt to do everything at the Disneyland Resort in one day. However, I am fairly confident that they could work within the special 24-hour window.
1. Do one land at a time and experience everything in it. Crossing what you have done off a park map is a good way to keep track, and having a six-year-old is another.
2. Do the big rides as early or late as possible. On normal days the early morning and late night are going to have the smallest crowds, and therefor, in theory, it is easier to ride the most popular attractions in the least amount of time. This might be a bit trickier with special events in play.
3. Eat well, take a nap. Remember the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise does. Slow and steady keeps your head in the game. Also, if you are trying to do everything at the Disneyland Resort with kids in tow, it is much easier when they aren’t tired and hungry. That applies to lots of things. Feel free to use it.
4. “The sprint” is pretty much the opposite of number three. Basically, wear running shoes and eat on your feet. There are a few Disney apps available that provide accurate wait times on attractions and there is a board near the hub of each park that does the same—combined with a FASTPASS and lots of coffee you can zigzag through Disneyland Resort hitting each attraction when the numbers are in your favor.
Of course you can do a combination of the above or come up with your own plan. There is no “right way” to do everything in the Disneyland Resort, but I do think that this once, on May 24 during the 24-hour event, that it can be done.
If you have any suggestions please share them in the comments below, I would love to hear how others attempt to do it all.
Disney Parks will be keeping three theme parks open for 24 hours on Memorial Day Weekend to kick off a Monstrous Summer on both coasts! Want more info? Head to Disney Parks for everything you need to know.
Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).