Welcome to your Undercover Tourist 1-Day Disneyland tour guide for thrill-seekers! If you love drops and loops and exciting rides in the dark, this park hopper day is all about you! For those of you short on time, watch our one-minute park hopper TikTok guide for thrill-seekers. 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 over two days for a slower pace if you're not hopping or are splitting your trip up over two days with one day in each park.
You want thrills and you might want them quickly, without the wait. We will also share tips to skip the lines, access the Lightning Lanes and tell you where you can go solo with Single Rider or use Mobile Order to get you back to the thrills the fastest. Buckle up for the wildest ride in the wilderness Disneyland and Disney California Adventure style with this 1-Day Disneyland tour guide for thrill-seekers. (And hop over to our Instagram page to see our friend @TheDisneyBenches give even more thrilling deets!)
One-Day Disneyland Tour Guide for Thrill-Seekers
To follow this plan as laid out, you'll need a Park Hopper ticket and a theme park reservation starting at Disneyland Park. You'll want to arrive before park opening to take advantage of the shortest lines of the day at rope drop. Disneyland parking lots open up one hour before the earliest theme park opening. Other security entrances for on-site and off-site guests open up about 45 minutes before park opening. The park turnstiles open 30 minutes early. Ropes contain guests at the hub until official park opening time, which is when the ropes are dropped and you can head to your first attraction. Line up to the right near Tomorrowland to head to Space Mountain.
1. Space Mountain – This Tomorrowland roller coaster in the dark is a thrill-seeker favorite. At times, usually for May the 4th and surrounding days and weeks, it gets an exciting Star Wars overlay as Hyperspace Mountain. Toadally fun! You'll get the shortest wait of the day at rope drop or by selecting the Lightning Lane with Genei+.
2. Matterhorn Bobsleds – This thrilling Fantasyland ride on the icy slopes of the Matterhorn is a bobsled-type coaster. Watch out for the Yeti and your back. We have found that leaning forward instead of resting against the seat makes for a smoother ride. There are two sides to choose from, the left and the right. The left feels a little faster to us. You can use Single Rider or Genie+ to skip the lines for this ride, although we find the wait to be pretty short in the morning.
3. Indiana Jones Adventure – Cross the park to Adventureland to ride Indiana Jone Adventure. This is a ride we like to use Genie+ for.
4. Snack time – Grab a breakfast chimichanga to-go at Ship to Shore Marketplace across from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Be sure to pick up some salsa packets!
5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – This ride is offered on Genie+.
6. Splash Mountain – This water ride with a drop has Single Rider and Genie+.
OK, so let's say that you rope dropped early, made good timing and accomplished all this by 11 a.m. Great job! But now what? You can't hop until 1 p.m. Here are some suggestions if you hoppen to get done early.
You can go the "Star Wars" route and 1) purchase an individual Lighting Lane for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (don't worry — there's a free way to access this ride with a shorter line at the end of the day below if you don't want to pay, but this is a way to knock it out early if you have time to spare and save yourself the walk later), 2) use Single Rider or Genie+ to ride Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run or 3) use Genie+ to ride Star Tours. One or more of those "Star Wars" thrills should keep you busy until it's time for a small meal and a hop.
If you want to hit some classic Disneyland attractions that offer a little break from the big thrills before you go hard and fast again, then ride Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean or Jungle Cruise after Splash Mountain on your way back to Main Street, U.S.A.
7. Meal on the go – Grab a corn dog at Little Red Wagon. Mobile order this yummy treat 30 minutes early before you hop.
8. Park hop to Disney California Adventure at 1 p.m.
9. Soarin' – This is a good ride to make a Genie+ reservation for before you hop.
10. Grizzly River Rapids – This ride may get you soaked, so either buy a poncho or accept the risk. This ride offers Single Rider and Genie+.
11. Incredicoaster – This large roller coaster has a launch, three big hills, a loop, smaller bumps and a great story. Edna is supposed to babysit Jack-Jack and he disappears. Join the members of the Parr family as they use their super skills to find Jack-Jack. It's not on the plan, but if you want a Jack-Jack Cookie Num Num after you exit, then go for it! This ride has both Single Rider and Genie+, but the standby line moves faster than you'd think.
12. Toy Story Midway Mania! – Get your adrenaline pumping in a different way by competing against others in your vehicle in this video game/ride.
13. Dinner at Pacific Wharf – There are several quick-service restaurants here. We recommend the Quesabirria tacos at Cocina Cucamonga, Clam chowder (or mac and cheese) in a bread bowl at Pacific Wharf Café or the yummiest classic deli sandwich on fresh sourdough (it's our new favorite!). You can also get Asian food at Lucky Fortune Cookery. All three of these restaurants offer Mobile Order.
14. Avengers Campus – Catch some nighttime shows, meet Avengers and ride Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout! This is one of our favorite thrill rides. It's an option on Genie+ and one you want to book in advance as soon as you can.
15. Hop back to Disneyland
16. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – This ride closes much earlier than the park closes (usually by 9 p.m. when the park closes at midnight but sometimes as early as 8 p.m.) so be sure to check its hours in the Disneyland app. As long as you hop in line before the ride's posted closing time, you are good to ride. We have a whole post on the best ways to ride Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland. It is located all the way at the back of Disneyland park, so give yourself plenty of time to get there, especially since crowds gathering for nighttime parades or fireworks can slow you down.
If you rode Rise of the Resistance earlier in the day, you can save yourself the walk at the end of your day and instead go ride Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. It's a thrilling race through the desert. This ride has a Single Rider line. Instead, you can purchase an individual Lightning Lane for it, but those may be sold out by the end of the night. Plan ahead and reserve earlier if you want to do that.
Tools to Streamline Your Thrilling Day
You may have noticed that most rides on this 1-Day Disneyland touring plan for thrill-seekers offer Genie+. What does that mean? Disneyland retired the old FASTPASS and MaxPass systems and replaced them with Genie+. For an additional flat fee per person, you can skip the standby line and access the shorter Lightning Lane to access up to 19 rides at Disneyland Resort. You'll make ride selections in the Disneyland app. You also get all your PhotoPass photos included for the day. You can purchase tickets preloaded with Genie+ through Undercover Tourist or purchase Genie+ in the Disneyland app once you have entered a park that day.
Genie+ is an especially good value if you like thrill rides and are park hopping. It helps you avoid long lines, maximize time and accomplish more in your day. To really get the most of your day and shave wait time off almost every ride in this touring plan, we highly recommend Genie+. On a very busy day, you may have to skip a few rides with long wait times if you do not opt to use Genie+.
If you do use Genie+, you can select your next ride on the itinerary as soon as you redeem the current one at the Lightning Lane entrance. Plan ahead and select your next ride in the park you are hopping to while you are still in your first park. Even if you book before 1 p,.m., it will automatically give you the first available window in your second park after 1 p.m.
Individual Lightning Lane
Three popular rides with Lightning Lanes are not included in Genie+. If you want to skip those lines, you can opt to buy individual Lightning Lane. You may buy up to two of those rides each day. You can learn more about this in our Disneyland Genie+ FAQ. These rides are:
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland
- WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure at Disney California Adventure, which also has Single Rider
- Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure, which also has Single Rider
If you do not mind splitting up from the rest of your party, one way to get on a ride faster than the standby line is Single Rider. You do not get priority seating. The cast member will seat you in the next empty seat. We've noted the rides with Single Rider in our touring plan above.
You don't want to waste time in food lines. Mobile order your food 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to eat it so you can pick it up quickly.
Our 1-Day Disneyland tour guide for thrill-seekers sets you up nicely to hit all the mountains and other thrill rides at the Disneyland Resort. If you are looking for a multi-day ticket, purchase through Undercover Tourist to save money (because to us frogs, there is no bigger thrill than saving money on travel)! We sell park hoppers both with and without Genie+.