Welcome to your Undercover Tourist 1-Day Disneyland tour guide for adults! While we love visiting with our tadpoles, we Disney-loving “big kids at heart” also spend time in the theme parks with our partners, friends and adult relatives without the kids. Leap and I always enjoy making some Disney time just for us. There are so many dimensions to Disneyland whether you are on a date or pal-ing around with your besties. We have a whole post on why you need a Disneyland adult trip (as if you need an excuse). But this Disneyland tour guide for adults tells you how to do it. It's your step-by-step plan for what to do and in the best order. It will really help you maximize time and hit the most popular rides and best eats.
For those of you visual learners who love a quick bit of information, our froggy friend @TheDisneyBenches partnered with us to put together this handy one-minute park hopper guide for adults. While we've geared this plan for people who are hopping, you can just take the parts that apply to your park or divide it up by each day for a slower pace, if you're not hopping. No worries! Also, there's no one correct way to do this. We’ll also dive into a few things you need to know to pull this off and offer a few other suggestions should you find yourself with extra time or if you have wider interests or want a substitution.
Our Hoppin' One-Day Disneyland Tour Guide for Adults
Let’s discuss the tips in the 1-Day Disneyland Tour Guide for Adults video and add some details about how to pull this off:
You'll. want to arrive before park opening for rope drop to accomplish this Disneyland tour guide for adults. The parking lots open one hour before the earliest park opening. If you are walking in from your on-site or nearby off-site hotel, security generally opens 45 minutes before park opening and the park gates open about 30 minutes early. Get in the park, grab your coffee and buckle up for this wild ride!
1. Indiana Jones – Hit this popular ride after rope drop for the shortest line of the day. If you missed rope drop, consider purchasing Disney Genie+ to skip part of the line and many of the rides on this itinerary.
2. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – This here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness, but it’s a perfect amount of wild if you are not an extreme thrill-seeker. It's on Genie+.
3. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run – Any "Star Wars" fans? You get to pilot the Millennium Falcon, shoot the train or engineer the ship. The line is shorter in the morning, but Single Rider is always a quick option if you do not want to wait and are not hoping for the pilot seat. (Single riders usually end up as engineers, but you never know … ) This ride is on Genie+.
4. Grab a bite in Batuu – That breakfast Ronto Wrap is YUM! There is a plant-based option that is also yummy. You can grab some tea drinks as well. Mobile order it to skip the line and this wrap will fill you up and keep you going. If Docking Bay 7 is open (usually opens at 10:30 a.m.), the Cold Brew Black Caf is popular with adults. It has chocolate puffs on top!
5. Haunted Mansion
6. Pirates of the Caribbean
7. Jungle Cruise – Dole whip is nearby, just sayin’.
8. Space Mountain – It's on Genie+.
9. Buzz Lightyear – It’s just across from Star Tours if you can fit it in or want to swap it out for Buzz. Both rides are on Genie+.
10. Lunch at Pizza Planet (another favorite nearby lunch choice is fried chicken at Plaza Inn)
11. Park hop to Disney California Adventure (Park hopping is available after 1 p.m. If using Genie+ try to line up your first ride for DCA in advance)
12. Incredicoaster (single rider available and Genie+) – This thrilling upside-down coaster is toadally fun but is not for everyone, so maybe try Goofy’s Sky school if you don’t love the loop, or maybe even the Silly Symphony Swings, which never has a wait but does offer a great view of Pixar Pier, Paradise Gardens Park and the water.
13. Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout! – This former Tower of Terror drop ride is so much fun. Which song and video sequence will you get? We have a favorite. Do you? It's on Genie+.
14. Avengers Campus – Follow our guides to Avengers Campus and characters to find out more. You can look up showtimes in the Disneyland app. WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure now has a Single Rider line (and is also an individual Lighting Lane selection)!
15. Radiator Springs Racers – Rev your engines. This dark ride meets thrilling race through the desert is so much fun. We usually skip the line by using the Single Rider line. You can also purchase individual Lighting Lane for it if you want to ride together and don’t want to wait.
16. Lamplight Lounge – Ideally, you want to have reservations for dinner for this table-service location, but those get released 60 days out. If you cannot get a reservation, try to join the Walk-Up List for either Lamplight Lounge or Lamplight Lounge - Boardwalk Dining (closes earlier). You have to be near the restaurant to join the list through the Disneyland app. What to eat here? Lobster nachos, burgers and fun themed drinks. Check out the secret menu too! Can’t get into Lamplight Lounge? Try Carthay Circle Alfresco Dining, which also has fun bites and drinks and a Walk-Up List.
17. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – If you are a "Star Wars" fan, this is a must-do. This ride closes earlier than the park closes, so be sure to check its hours on the Disneyland app. On a night that the park is open until midnight, this ride generally closes at 9 p.m. but it could close earlier. We have a lot of tips for riding this popular and immersive ride in our Rise of the Resistance post, but hopping in line just before the ride closes for the night is one of our favorites. If the ride breaks down close to its closing time you might miss out though (it hoppened to us once). So, if it’s your first and only time riding, you might consider purchasing an individual Lightning Lane earlier in the day for when you are in Galaxy’s Edge so you have time to ride it after Millennium Falcon, rather than waiting until the end of the night.
If you don’t have the energy to make it to the back of Disneyland for Rise (or you rode earlier via the Lightning Lane), do Soarin’ in Disney California Adventure instead. It never disappoints. Another popular choice is Toy Story Midway Mania! For a short wait, The Little Mermaid is a nice, slow ride with great music and scenery. Remember that Disney California Adventure generally closes earlier than Disneyland, so keep an eye on the time. Wait times drop off at the end of the night, which allows you to get a lot done at the end of the night.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to consult our refurbishment calendar before you visit to make sure all these suggestions are available to you.
Additional Fun at Disneyland for Adults
After our tour ends, there is so much more to do if you have some energy left and the parks are still open. We highly recommend seeing fireworks or projection shows or hitting some more rides at Disneyland. Wait times drop off after fireworks so it’s a great time to fit in some more rides. Fantasmic! returns in time for summer. Sleep in the next day!
If you want to end your night in Disney California Adventure instead of running to Disneyland, World of Color is a great show with fountains of light, projections, music and more. Save your feet and just find a spot with a view of the water. Leap and I love to watch nighttime entertainment because sometimes the tadpoles crash or need to go to bed so we need to leave before our favorite shows start. We, adults with later bedtimes, can stick it out better than toddlers.
You might enjoy parades or cavalcades or meeting characters. So if those are important to you you might skip a ride that is less interesting to you to make time for these additions. The character cavalcades are short and sweet. That means they do not take any time out of your day to see them. We tend to catch the first one on Main Street before we hop!
Unofficial Themed Days
There are unofficial days that adults love at Disneyland. There may be dress-up days or special interest days where you share a certain vibe with other guests in the know. Gay Days and Dapper Days are the bigger events, but there are mermaid days and tiki days and, of course, May the Fourth, which brings out "Star Wars" fans.
After Dark Parties
As an adult, you likely have a later bedtime. The After Dark parties are a hit with adult Disney fans, with special hours after the park is closed, costumes allowed for adults, short wait times, special entertainment, food and rare characters.
Are you visiting during one of many festivals at Disney California Adventure? You can enjoy extra food and entertainment during Lunar New Year, Food and Wine Festival, Halloween Time/Plaza de la Familia in the fall and during the Festival of Holidays. There are fun bites and themed beverages than can make your day a little more delicious and exciting.
Tools to Streamline Your Day
Visiting Disneyland as an adult means moving faster and more efficiently than families with small children and strollers. Our one-day park hopper Disneyland guide for adults will set you up nicely to do it all. But there is room for improvement if you want to really maximize time, especially if you visit on a weekend or at a busy time. Here are tools that can help you accomplish the most in your Disney day.
You saw that earlier we mentioned Genie+. It’s the replacement for FASTPASS and MaxPass. It costs extra, but it allows you to skip the standard queue and use the Lightning Lane for select rides. It also includes all your PhotoPass photos for the day (be sure to ask for Magic Shots!). You do not need to have Genie+, but it certainly shaves time off the wait for those rides so you can spend more time having fun. Our Genie+ Guide and FAQ will get you on your way. We sell Disneyland tickets preloaded with Genie+, and we sell regular tickets without Genie+ in case you want to wait until you are in the park to add it to your ticket.
Individual Lightning Lane
There are a few premium rides that you can purchase Lightning Lane access for individually, whether or not you use Genie+. They are not included with Genie+. These rides are new or popular and have long standby wait times. You might want to spring for them or use the Single Rider line, which is included with WEB SLINGERS and Radiator Springs Racers for free (but not for Rise of the Resistance).
Single Rider Lines
You are all adults. While it’s fun to ride together, you might find it more fun not to wait in a long standby line. Using Single Rider may allow you to get to ride an extra ride with your free time or go enjoy a relaxing meal or meet a character instead of standing in line. You can wait in a shorter line with the Single Rider line, but you do not get priority seating or get seated with other members of your party. You will fill in empty seats with other parties.
On Radiator Springs Racers, sometimes we end up in the same car anyway or end up racing each other! But that’s only if we get lucky. Don’t try to request that from the Single Rider line. You agree to separate once you step into that line. To us, it's worth saving an hour or more of time to split up.
These Disneyland rides offer a Single Rider line:
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Splash Mountain
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
These Disney California Adventure rides offer a Single Rider line:
- Grizzly River Run
- Goofy's Sky School
- Radiator Springs Racers
- WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure
- Monsters Inc. (Parties of 1 or 2 can collect a Buddy Pass from the ride entrance and use the ride exit to fill in available seats.)
You can Mobile Order at many quick-service restaurants including the ones mentioned in this post.
Well, that's our 1-Day Disneyland tour guide for adults. If you plan to visit for two or more days, you can save some green on Disneyland Resort tickets when you purchase from Undercover Tourist. We sell one park per day and park hopper tickets as well as any ticket pre-loaded with Genie+.