Planning perfection: Planning a Disneyland Day (part 1)

Planning perfection: Planning a Disneyland Day (part 1)

Part 1 of our Planning Perfection series: learn the 4 easy steps that unlock the absolute perfect day at Disneyland Park. And spoiler: the best trips don’t require nearly as much prep as you’d think!

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So you’re looking to plan a day at Disneyland…but now the inevitable question, where to start?! Over the course of 3 posts we’ll walk you through how to execute on a Disneyland day that can only be described as…perfection! Sound intimidating? The secret sauce is actually that less is more when it comes to planning.

Step 1: Know Your Audience

The first step in any perfect trip is really knowing your audience

This may seem obvious but knowing your audience is absolutely one of the most important pieces of advice to having a successful day at the parks. Do you have a group of park go’ers that is super gung-ho to get on absolutely every ride? Would your group prefer to eat all the snacks and make time for plenty of boozey sips? Here are a few key pieces of information to gather before planning your day at the park (remember to ask these questions to yourself too!)

  • What is your overall group size?

  • What are the ages of all attendees?

  • How important is getting on “all the rides” for attendees?

    • What about the priority of “top tier” attractions versus classic Disney rides?

  • How important is seeing shows, parades & fireworks?

  • Talk food: is eating tasty noms a priority for the day?

    • Preference for sit down meals or grab and go?

  • Gimme dat merch! Would they like to make time for souvenir shopping?

  • How about photos ops? These can include with and without characters.

  • About how many hours are they expecting to spend in the park?

  • Is there anything (ride, experience, etc.) that is “must do” for that attendee?

Write down these answers and start to get a picture of just who you trip attendees are.

Step 2: Build Your “Must Dos”

Now that you understand your group it’s time to build your “must dos” list. Perfection included, there is no way to do everything that Disneyland offers in a day – so prioritization is key!

Categorize your list into the big 3:

  • Must Rides

  • Must Eats!

  • Must Sees

Ideally you’ll have no more than a few items in each of these buckets (3 in each category is DPB certified for success.) As we’ll talk about later flexibility is key is having a perfect day at Disneyland so keeping this list short will set you up for success.

In the case of a large group you’ll want to build this priority list to balance each attendees wants and of course keep an eye out for the overlap! What is that sweet spot ride or show that everyone is super pumped for? (As a general rule of thumb, the smaller group the easier it it will be to make all attendees happy.)

step 3: Get Ahead of the clock


Know which time is important to mind and where it just won’t matter

Now we’re going to start to piece together a sketch of your ideal day. Don’t worry about going absolutely insane clocking out your Disneyland perfection day to the hour. Firstly this will take a TON of time and that schedule will likely be thrown out the window as soon as you get into your first line queue.

Here’s what I DO recommend for scheduling your perfect day:

  • Know park open & closing for the day

  • Check available times shows, parades you’d like to see and characters you’ll meet

  • Plan (and book) dining reservations for sit down meals

These will serve as your “fixed” times meaning you’ll work the rest of the day around them. I love to plug these times into my phone calendar app so I have an easy reference guide for my “fixed” times so I know exactly what times I can’t move while making other plans on the fly.

Step 4: Buy ‘dem tickets

Last step – purchase your Disneyland tickets online. Literally no one wants to spend the first 45 minutes of their day at the park waiting in the ticket queue. You’re Disney perfection, you don’t wait in lines!

I recommend adding MaxPass to your Disneyland ticket as it will afford you the best chance of always having a FastPass available (and an available FastPass means a LOT less waiting in lines.)


And you’re done planning (no really, that’s it!) Be on the look out for post 2 where we dive into what to do on the big day.

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