Using touring plans for Disneyland won’t just save your sanity, it can also save up to 3 hours of wasted time a day. Disneyland may well be the ‘happiest place on earth’ but not when the park is crowded. Long lines mean long waits and long waits aren’t much fun. Especially when you only have a one day ticket. Is it possible to do Disney in a day during peak season? According to a research team who use cutting-edge algorithms to develop touring plans the answer is yes. Each one is tailored to suit a particular visitor demographic but as I was about to discover, using a touring plan isn’t for everyone.
Making the most of the mouse
Whether or not you decide to use a touring plan for Disneyland, it’s worth arriving early. Clutching my One Day Touring Plan for Adults like a lucky charm, I’m through the gates and onto my first ride before you can say ‘Jiminy Cricket’. Each succinct written instruction reminds me of the SatNav in my hire car minus the American accent. Head for Tomorrowland as soon as the park opens. Ride Space Mountain. Gotcha. Three minutes of screaming is followed by an impressively short wait for the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. So far, so good – but here’s where it gets tricky.
Say goodbye to spontaneity
I am desperate to ride Star Tours – come on guys, it’s right there – but the instructions send me away from Tomorrowland. I almost ignore the plan at this point but the rapidly increasing crowds convince me to do otherwise. I head obediently to the Matterhorn Bobsleds then walk for what feels like miles to the opposite side of the park. Doubling back like this helps to avoid crowd build-up but makes for a lot of walking and could prove difficult with littlies in tow. ‘I know you want ride the teacups, honey, but the map says we have to walk past them,’ is unlikely to cut it with under fives. That said, enduring the odd tantrum is still better than waiting in line for hours.
Go hard or go home
By 2pm my slightly crumpled piece of paper is doing a mighty job. It seems the mouse has met his match. Disneyland is absolutely heaving with people but I haven’t waited longer than 25 minutes. Not bad when lines frequently stretch past the 3 hour mark. Using a plan also has an unexpected side benefit – zero arguments about where to go next. On one of my frequent rest breaks – and believe me, you need ‘em with all that walking – I take a closer look at how the plan works.
How touring plans for Disneyland works
As a general rule, popular rides are up first supplemented by the occasional FASTPASS when queues get long. It’s not publicised but there’s no need to come back at the appointed hour with your FASTPASS. Any time after this is fine although you can’t get a different FASTPASS until you’ve used the first one. Another timesaver is the Solo Rider queue available at some rides. Savvy couples willing to sit separately can also use this. While it’s fun to ride with a companion, it’s more fun not to endure a long wait. I reach the end of the touring plan – and pretty much the end of my endurance – just before the evening show. I have done Disney in a day. And lived to tell the tale.
Disclosure: The writer paid for her touring plan and received complimentary entry to Disneyland.
Want some more Disney tips? We’ve got advice for visiting Disney World in Florida during peak season and visiting Disneyland Paris. We’ve also reviewed the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando.