It’s time to plan a family vacation, and you’ve started to narrow it down to a few options, including the Happiest Place on Earth! You know that your family will love traveling to the Disneyland® Resort in California, but where on earth do you start? How do you know you’ll fit it all in — especially in just a few days?\
Let’s get started with our three-day Disneyland itinerary and travel guide.
If you’re planning a weekend trip or a short getaway to Disneyland® Resort, we’re here to help you make the most of your Disney vacation! As avid Disney lovers and frequent visitors to the Disneyland® Park and Disney’s California Adventure® Park, we wanted to share some insider information and tips you plan a three-day Dsneyland® Resort itinerary that’s perfect for a long weekend with your family.
Day 1: Get to Know Disneyland® Park and Explore Some Lands
We think it goes without saying that every Disneyland itinerary should start with Disneyland® Park. It’s where the magic begins!
One of our favorite details of the park is the plaque above the entrance tunnel, which reads: “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” Entering Disneyland® means leaving the real world behind. And just like that, you’re encompassed by the music of Main Street U.S.A., smelling fresh churros, and wondering what to do first.
Main Street USA
Main Street USA is a themed area of its own. You can see Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in the distance, but take the time to experience classic Disney and all of the history and fun around you before you get there.
Walt Disney’s apartment (yes, his real apartment) is still on Main Street U.S.A. You know that Walt is always there in spirit because of the candle lit in the window.
Grab a snack and enjoy the shops as you make your way towards the castle! Among the shops, bakeries, ice cream shops, and restaurants you’ll find tidbits on the history of Disneyland® Resort.
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
Now for one of the most iconic parts of the whole Disney experience — the castle! It’s really something you have to experience to truly understand how amazing it is.
Take advantage of one of the many Photopass cast members near the castle. They’re ready to take your family’s photos for you and you can easily access the images later! They’ll even take pictures on your cell phone or personal camera! Consider purchasing tickets with a Magic Morning addition so you can get your picture taken during this time while there are fewer people around!
Now that you’ve hit Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, you can continue exploring the various lands! To make the most of your days, we suggest hitting one land at a time. You don’t want to waste time running from one land to another and back.
Tomorrowland offers an opportunity for you to meet characters, enjoy classic attractions like Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and enjoy our favorite cream cheese filled cinnamon pretzels! (It’s the only place in the park you can get them.)
If you’re looking for something more than a pretzel, there are a couple of restaurant options in Tomorrowland or on your way to your next land! Tomorrowland Skyline Grill, Galactic Grill, and Alien Pizza Planet are a few great options!
Next, you’ll want to hit Mickey’s Toontown. We suggest heading there sooner rather than later. Many times Mickey’s Toontown closes earlier than the rest of the park, but you definitely don’t want to miss out on visiting Mickey and his friends in their homes! If you’re lucky, you’ll catch Goofy or Pluto running around!
After you leave Toontown, you’ll fall right into the famous, It’s a Small World attraction. It’s a must! We promise you’ll find other tunes to get stuck in your head after you leave.
For those who need a little mid-day break, Fantasyland is a great place to head next. You won’t find any thrill rides here, but there are plenty of slower rides like Peter Pan’s Flight and Snow White’s Scary Adventure to give your feet a rest while still enjoying some classic Disneyland® Park attractions. You’ll have another view of the castle too!
If you have little ones with you, they will love being transformed into princesses and knights at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
End with a show
Another must, especially on your first day, is to watch Disneyland® Park’s firework show. It’s truly a magical end to the day, especially when you’re returning Anaheim Majestic Garden Hote, where you can sleep in a castle of your own. If you want, you can even catch a glimpse of the fireworks here at our hotel!
Day 2: Explore The Rest of the Lands at Disneyland® Park
After a busy and exciting first day at Disneyland® Park, it’s time to discover the rest of the park!
After you’ve grabbed your Starbucks coffee, we suggest heading straight for Adventureland! Fan favorites like the Jungle Cruise and Indiana Jones™ Adventure are best to hit early in the morning before the crowds grow.
Pro tip: When you come in contact with your first cast member in the Indiana Jones™ Adventure queue, make sure you ask about the Dumbo parking lot sign! They might show you a piece of Disneyland® history up in the rafters, but you need a flashlight to see it!
On a hot day, make sure you grab a pineapple Dole® whip – the most refreshing drink in our opinion!
After the excitement of Adventureland’s attractions and sugar rush from the Dole® whip, everyone will be full of energy. Tarzan’s Treehouse™ is the perfect place to let it all out before lunch!
New Orleans Square
Head on over to New Orleans Square for lunch. You’re bound to find something for everyone here! With a variety of dining options and food carts, it’s a really nice hub for grabbing food.
There are several other must-see attractions near New Orleans Square, including Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion! The wait times can be pretty high for these two, so keep an eye on your app for a good time to hop in line.
Critter Country & The Rivers of America
Critter Country and the Rivers of America are right around the corner. One of the Disneyland® Resort’s only ‘water’ rides, Splash Mountain, lives in Critter Country.
No need for a bathing suit on Splash Mountain, but you’re likely to get a little wet! Be prepared for some silly photos as the ride snaps them on your final drop.
You might notice an island nearby and wonder, “How do we get over there?!” Well, you can take a log raft! You’ll hop aboard with other guests in New Orleans Square across the way from the Haunted Mansion where you’ll be taken to Tom Sawyer Island where you can explore a secret island hideaway!
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
This is the newest and most out-of-this-world land at Disneyland® Park. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge a must for Star Wars fans and non-fans alike, simply because of how detailed and awesome it is!
Everyone has been raving about the attractions, especially Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. You can also get your lightsaber, try some Blue Milk, and so much more!
Frontierland is full of more fun stuff to see … and eat! We recommend either River Belle Terrace or Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante for dinner, but there are other options in the area as well! If you’re looking for a little bit of entertainment during dinner, The Golden Horseshoe has a stage with knee-clappin’ live music and the best chicken nuggets.
Big Thunder Mountain is a roller coaster train, and is so fun! If it’s later in the day and the shows and fireworks are about to start, it’s a really great time to get in line for this attraction (or really any attraction)! Riding Big Thunder Mountain during the fireworks show offers a really fun and unique experience.
Take A Break
Phew! There is so much to do, huh? One of the great things about the Disneyland® Resort is that it’s great for people watching and there are many places for you and your family to take a break, share your favorite memories so far, and re-energize for the rest of the day.
Families taking babies and toddlers to Disneyland oftentimes like to head back to their hotel for an afternoon nap. That’s one of the many reasons Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel is a great option! It’s less than a mile from the parks with a free shuttle service that will pick you up outside the gates and drop you back off when you’re ready for more fun!
Ok, now ready for the final day?
Day 3: Explore Disney’s California Adventure® Park
Disney’s California Adventure is a park in itself, and you could easily spend more than a day here, but we want to give you the inside tips on our favorite parts of Disney’s California Adventure.
Eight Lands to Explore
In Disney’s California Adventure® Park you’ll find eight lands:
- Buena Vista Street
- Hollywood Land
- a bug’s land
- Cars Land
- Paradise Pier
- Grizzly Park
- Pacific Wharf
- Condor Flats
“You’re telling me I have to fit eight lands into one day?!” Yes and no. Experienced visitors can get their favorites in one day, and you probably could too, but you’d be cheating yourself of truly taking in some of the best parts of the Disneyland® Resort.
Let’s talk about the things you absolutely can’t miss, and if your family is on a mission to see more, you’ll know you got the best parts under your belt!
World of Color
Before you do anything in the morning, you need to get a FastPass® for World of Color. A Fastpass isn’t required to watch World of Color, but just trust us when we say you want the FastPass view.
World of Color is a water and light show displaying scenes and characters from your favorite Pixar and Disney movies using only colored lights and over 1,200 fountains to create one of the most magical experiences at the Disneyland® Resort. It’s incredible and you want good seats.
World of Color starts when the sun goes down, so we’ll circle back at the end of the day.
After you get your FastPass®, we suggest checking out Cars Land. Cars Land has all of the adrenaline and high-speed action you could want.
Radiator Springs Racers is a popular racing ride where guests hop into cars that ‘race’ across the track against each other. Don’t worry – there’s no real racing involved! The lines here can be pretty long, so you can grab a FastPass® for this as well if you have a chance. It will save you some time!
As you make your way to Hollywood Land after Cars Land, you’ll find yourself wondering how the grass got so tall and why there’s a straw the size of a tree! “a bug’s land” will make kids and adults alike feel like they’ve shrunk to the size of a bug. It’s a fun walk as you make your way to Hollywood Land.
When you get to Hollywood Land, check out the Broadway-quality show, Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, discover the art and animation behind Disney at Disney Animation, or hop on Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
We suggest ending your day at Disney’s California Adventure at Pixar Pier. This works out perfectly with your World of Color tickets!
The Incredicoaster is a can’t-miss. If you’re looking for fun and games, Toy Story Midway Mania!® is the perfect attraction with a mix of fun and competition.
You’ll find pay-to-play boardwalk games, plenty of food, and the Pixar Pal-A-Round ferris wheel, which is the perfect attraction to take a break from walking while getting an amazing view of the park.
As the day winds down, it’s time to head to enjoy and end a great three-day getaway with World of Color! Your FastPass® tickets are zoned out by color, so scope out your section early in the evening to make it easy to maneuver to your spot where you’ll enjoy the magic and wonder of a water and light show!
Where To Stay Near Disneyland® Resort
Since you only have three days, it’s imperative that you maximize your time. That means finding a hotel that’s close to Disneyland so it’s super convenient! If you’re looking for a great hotel near Disneyland, we hope you’ll consider Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel!
As a Disneyland® Resort Good Neighbor Hotel, we’re super close to the park with a convenient free shuttle to take you back and forth! Plus, you can buy Disneyland tickets and get all your questions answered by the expert at our Disney desk!
In addition to this 3 day Disneyland itinerary, you might also find these other Disney travel guides and resources handy…
- How To Celebrate Your Birthday at Disneyland® Resort In Style
- The Grown Up’s Guide to Disneyland® Resort
- What To Bring On Your Disneyland Vacation
- Tips for Memorable Meet & Greets With Characters at Disneyland
- 20 Tips For Traveling to Disneyland with a Baby or Toddler
- 5 Magical Facts About Disneyland® Resort
Last Updated: 9/17/2020