Disneyland Newbie - Help Please :-)

Same story as plenty of others - WDW veteran and DL newbie so I’m a little confused. I know my family and I will get maxpass for all of our days, but I want to make sure I’m understanding it correctly.

For example, if I enter the park at 9am and choose a FP for Big Thunder at 9:40 then I can ride at 9:40 and as soon as I scan in I am eligible for another, correct?

What if at 10am I get a FP for Big Thunder at 12:00? Am I eligible to get/hold a second FP at 11:30 and is it possible for that FP to be even earlier than the 12:00 Big Thunder?

The way I understand it all is that essentially you can make 1 FP every 90 minutes unless you currently hold zero FPs (in this case you could make one immediately).

Also, which of the rides that offer FPs are the most coveted? Meaning which ride’s FPs are depleted the fastest each day? By 2pm should I anticipate seeing FP returns times of 7pm or is it still likely to grab one within the next hour or so? I’m so familiar with WDW FP system that I understand which rides I will definitely be able to get a “same day” FP for, but I have no clue in DL in terms of how quickly they start running out.

In regards to shows/parades, what are the must see things? I know World of Color is on our list, but is there a parade (day or night)? Are there any other nighttime spectaculars?

Lastly, which rides that do not include FP should be hit first? My husband, daughter and I will want to ride everything (with the exception of skipping a few spinner type attractions that are the same as WDW). My 7 year old is tall enough for everything and enjoys thrill rides as well as the “kiddie” or dark rides. We will be able to RD at least 2 (maybe 3) mornings.

Sorry for all the questions and thanks for the help!



oooo - I don’t think so, but let’s see what others say.

When are you going?

No FP for Peter Pan. We sucked it up and waited in a 40 minute line at around 3PM one day that moved faster. It gets long minutes after rope drop.

Paint the Night is a lot of fun and unique.
Fantasmic is better in DLR IMO. You sit closer and it has a POTC element that we enjoyed.

We loved Main Street projections. Stand in the road (it’s allowed) during fireworks inside Main Street (not the hub).

Start trying for fireworks from the first night on. They cancel often because of winds.

We used MaxPass three of our four days. I loved it. As we rope dropped a ride, I’d grab FPP for something else. For example, as we walked to RSR (it’s a must) I also grabbed FP for GOTG for immediately after.


Thank you! We would be going in summer of 2020 (so well after SWGE opening). We are either going to do 3 or 4 park days with one of those not being a rope drop day (arrival day).

We don’t mind treating ourselves to a few “extras” (like dessert parties, dining packages for preferred seating, or after hours / early morning events). Are these types of things offered in DL and if so which ones are worth the extra money?

We did not need any extras to see “everything” in our four park days. That said you may want to look into th Famtasmic or World of Color packages to insure doing both with good seats and not a lot of time queuing.

So to preface, a lot of what you’re asking about is highly likely to change with the addition of Galaxy’s Edge & it has been rumored for months (on the west coast since MaxPass was first offered) that the addition of the Star Wars lands will inevitably change FP and MaxPass as we know it, but most importantly, that the price of MaxPass will be pushed as high as the market will bear once Galaxy’s Edge is added to it (maybe a tiered solution with/without Galaxy’s Edge will exist, but that is all TBD).

But if you still want to learn about how it works today, here’s what I know :slight_smile:

There’s a whole bunch of logic that goes into determining when you’re next eligible to get a MaxPass that I’ll happily go into below, but the only information you need to know to make the most of MaxPass is:

  • When you book a MaxPass the confirmation screen will tell you “This party is next eligible to select a FastPass at” (or something like that) and give you a time.
  • Make note of that time & set an alarm on your phone so it doesn’t go by unnoticed. (You can also check Important Details/Information on the FastPass in your app to see this again if you don’t immediately remember to capture it from the confirmation screen)
  • Once this time comes up you can select your next FP regardless of if you’ve scanned or not scanned into any FPs you have already obtained.

If you go by the above, you’ll do fabulously and don’t need to know any of the logic in order to maximize your FP usage and you’ll find you it you can have 2-3, even 4 FPs stacked up & ready to go. And be sure to note that even if you leave the park for a break at the hotel/pool (or anywhere else really) you can continue to book FPs for your return in the evening, just keep watching those times it tells you when you can next get a FP.

If you were curious to the more of the ins & outs of the logic…

read on by clicking the arrow at the start of this line.

The only time that the stated time isn’t necessarily the next time you select your next FP is if the return time starts in less than 30 minutes, then it will be whichever comes first out of you scanning into the ride or the 30 minutes has passed that it will officially tell you that you have to wait. Which means if at 10am you pull a FP that is good for 10:15am then you can scan in as early as 10:10am and then from the FP line, immediately on your phone scan your next FP for whatever return windows are currently available.

For a return time that’s farther than 30 minutes away but less than 90 minutes away you will only have to wait until the start of the return time (so for your example below):

For this situation you will NOT have to scan your Big Thunder FP in order to select your next FP, you will just simply at 9:40am grab the next FP and scan into Big Thunder at your convenience in the return window.

Then for anything that has a return time beyond 90 minutes, you will be eligible to grab your next FP in 90 min. There are no limitations to what time your subsequent FPs return windows can be, just that you cannot be in 2 virtual queues at once (i.e. holding 2 FPs with 2 different return times for the same ride by the person at once) so the answer to your below scenario

is: as long as you pick any other ride than Big Thunder, YES absolutely! (of course subject to availability of the times being distributed as once a return time has passed distribution isn’t available again unless someone who holds a FP, cancels it).

As for what is in most demand, Galaxy’s Edge will very much change the game. But today most days Radiator Springs Racers is the quickest to go (often times distribution for the day is done by 11am-12pm). It’s very rare that anything tops that. Although I have seen it happen, especially if they limit a ride like Soarin or Star Tours or Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission breakout to a fraction of their loading areas thereby decreasing the overall capacity & then by default the FP pool for that day.

Then after that it can really fluctuate dependent on what capacity Disney runs the rides & as well as crowd patterns (i.e. if DCA has an early entry & therefore FPs have been available to book for an hour earlier than in DL, they will move quicker than DL FPs). I always like to pull up the Disneyland app a week or so before our trip & start tracking days with similar operating hours/schedule as to when we’ll be going to get a sense of how it’s trending at the moment. Disneyland is very subject to change so I don’t like to spend more than 2-3 weeks in advance looking into this since it’s all so subject to change anyway.

As a rule the big headliners in DCA (Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, Toy Story Midway Mania, Soarin and of course Radiator Springs Racers) will distribute/run out before the big headliners in DL (Space, Indiana Jones, Matterhorn, Big Thunder, Splash) largely bc DL will stay open another 2-3 hours beyond DCA so has another few hours.

If Paint the Night is running when you go, absolute must-do. We also LOVE the daytime parade- Soundsational and it is a not-to-be-missed parade for us. World of Color is good for sure, and so is Fantasmic but Paint the Night is king (IMHO).

For Fantasmic, it is absolutely worth getting a dining package as they cram the FP section to the gills & you’ll have to show up an hour before the show to get a decent spot within the FP section.

World of Color is easy to see with the free FP and much more enjoyable to camp out as it is not so crowded, hard to get in like Fantastmic’s viewing area (along the Rivers of America).

As for fireworks, Disneyland has been changing up shows every year or two since we’ve gone so there’s not a consistent one but they have all been good, some of them better than others, but they’ve always been a staple of our Disneyland experience so I would try to see whichever one is showing by next summer (although rumor has it that Disney, with the city of Anaheim’s nudging, is moving away from offering a full-fledged fireworks show to simplify the problems that fireworks in a residential, highly-congested area, present). They have started a new Mickey’s Mix Magic show that is advertised as a projection/laser show dance party with ‘pyrotechnic elements on select nights’ I haven’t yet seen it, but have heard that the show minus the fireworks is still great and that the fireworks are the least spectacular part about it which make me sad as we’ve always enjoyed a good Disney fireworks show, so who knows what next year will bring.

And then finally, if you’re not sick of me yet, to your last question:

In DCA you should still hit up some of the headliners first in order to take off the pressure of getting FPs for everything that runs out so fast. Depending on what you’re most interested in I would hit either Toy Story, Soarin or Guardians first. We like starting at the Pixar Pier best as we can get Toy Story & Incredicoaster as well as the slow-loading no FP Pixar-Pal-Around that our kids really enjoy (the non-swinging side). Use MaxPass to help you get multiple rides of Toy Story/Incredicoaster if you so wish when you start out at the pier or select an early(ier) FP for Radiator Springs Racers to start your day.

In DL the following are slow-loading & have no FP & are best to hit early: Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo, Storybook Land Canal Boats, Finding Nemo Submarines, Autopia, Astro Orbiter. The Tomorrowland rides are also great to hit during fireworks as the lines seem pretty low at those times. All of them except Alice are good to hit in the last hour or so of the park as well, so you don’t have to rush to them all at the start if you will be burning the candle on both ends.

Alice may get down to a 15-30 min at the end of the day, but usually doesn’t so we like to do it first. Peter Pan as mentioned already gets a crazy line 20 seconds into rope drop that doesn’t decrease substantially, ever. Although both Peter Pan & Alice can see reduced waits during a 3:30pm (or thereabouts) parade. We’ve been more successful with Alice have that reduced wait (we’ve seen as low as 10-15 min) than Peter Pan (still tends to stay at 25-30 min.). The best strategy I know for Peter Pan is either to run/speed walk at rope drop from the rope to be in the first 50-100 people in the queue for Peter Pan (can be fun if you like the competition of rope drop & are ok with some agreesiveness) or (the more calm option) get into line just before park close to avoid the time you spend in line be time you could spend doing other rides with less wait. You’ll still wait at least 20-40 min but when done with the ride you’ll have a quiet Disneyland to walk out of & Peter Pan as a final send-off of pixie dust for the day can be quite magical.

To close, no apology needed, ask away & happy planning!!!


This is incredible! I can’t thank you enough for this information. Exactly what I needed. I’m prepared for a lot of this to go out the window with SWGE, but I’m sure many of the basics will stay the same.

While we will want to experience as much as possible, we plan to prioritize our attention on attractions that aren’t in WDW or are different (since we visit annually) and of course SWGE (this will be our first time seeing it as we are skipping WDW in place of DL next year). With that said, I’m not going to be too worked up if I miss Peter Pan as my understanding is that it is very similar to the WDW version. I do understand we can’t miss Space, IASW, BTMR, or Pirates as these are typically labeled as “better” than the WDW version.

All of your information is so extremely helpful. I do have just a couple of follow up questions though if you don’t mind:

Where are the best viewing spots for the parade and how early to people typically “line up”? We aren’t ones that are going to sit and wait for the perfect spot for 2 hours, but as long as we can see from the second row of people we are happy.

Which restaurant would you recommend as having the best food for the Fantasmic dining package?

Am I understanding correctly that the World of Color FP is independent from the others? Meaning that if we grab a paper version of it then it doesn’t require waiting the specified time to book another? If so, how quickly do these typically run out on an average day?

Lastly, have you experienced the World of Color dessert party? I had a read a couple of good reviews, but wasn’t sure if the view was just as good as the FP view.

Thank you again!


Thank you for all of this; it is extremely helpful! I am confident with all my WDW touring and planning, but Disneyland has me stressing out. We went to DL back in 2014, but only had one day and two kids under 3. This May we are going with 5 day park hoppers and hope to do everything.

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Happy to answer!

On the Disneyland parade route, Main Street and the hub areas fill up first & fast but the area from Alice in Wonderland up to IASW has lots of retail space with a tiered area at the IASW mall area. Then Town Square can sometimes have walk-up spots (mostly in the sun) as late as 15-20 minutes before. We like the front row & shade so we always ensure at the latest that we are going to either Town Square or the IASW/Alice area that I mentioned 45 min before. If you are less picky about front row then 30 minutes should be plenty of time. If the parade is fairly new or limited then it becomes the 1-2 hr camp-out. In that case, if there is a 2nd parade time scheduled, it’s always better to see the later scheduled parade as you may be able to still get 2nd row seats with 45 min beforehand.

As for DCA’s parade route, it is much wider & can accomodate so many more people so it as not as competitive. We still enjoy front row so will still show up 45 min to an hour beforehand, especially on a busy day and only 1 parade is scheduled (they tend to NOT schedule 2 parades in DCA since the route is so accomodating). For DCA’s route note that the parade does not go down Buena Vista St (the equivalent of Main St.). One end of the routes starts at Hollywood Land near Guardians of the Galaxy & then at Carthay Circle goes up the center path (towards Carsland) and then back towards Paradise Gardens. I have seen several people line up at Buena Vista St to watch a parade & I always be sure to let them know to get closer to Carthay Circle bc it won’t turn down Buena Vista St so they won’t see it. For some reason Hollywood Land fills up the fastest (but the parade doesn’t always start on this end) so we like to watch anywhere else along the route.

The ribs at River Belle Terrace were amazing and there was a fun Maleficent dessert (the rest of the BBQ entree’s were only ok, but the sides & bread that they serve were tasty as well). The quality of the surf n turf at Blue Bayou is very high and their dessert option is a Sorcerer Mickey one plus is in the atmosphere of Blue Bayou. If I had to pick one, I would probably go with the Blue Bayou one. The food at Hungry Bear is decent, well prepared, but my least favorite of the 3 (but such a great price that it makes it a very good deal if you’re mostly after the viewing spot vs. the food).

Yes, WoC and F! both have a disconnected FPs as you have to visit a physical kiosk to obtain your “show ticket”. There’s no digital tie to your ticket/pass for the show so you do have to keep track of that paper. WoC recently returned from a lengthy refurb & I haven’t heard any issue with anyone getting a WoC FP anytime in the morning. But I don’t know exactly when the distribution has been ending. Prior to its refurb they would typically last into the mid-late afternoon. If there were 2 shows scheduled it was common to have FP distribution into the evening as well.

Lastly, yes once and it was divine. I’d probably still rather do a F! dining package as the value of the better seating at F! is better with the package than at Woc. However, WoC dessert party does give you an actual chair to sit in at a table where you eat your desserts/savory snacks & are served your drinks while you wait and the chair really feels very VIP so I enjoyed it. But there was nothing on the dessert plate that I have had to have again to make me want to book it again. Especially since with a free, disconnected FP I can get just as good a view (minus the chair & desserts but of course without the hit to my wallet that the dessert party is). It’s important to note too that even though I say the F! dining package is amazing, it is a seat on the ground which is not for everyone and as I get older I am already finding it harder to be seated on the ground for that length of time, so just make note if you’re in a similar situation.

Any other questions, please just keep asking away!

Thanks again! These answers are exactly what I was looking for. All the food looks so amazing in DL! I have some favorites in WDW of course, but overall it seems they just do the food better out there. My family and I are adventurous eaters and looking forward to trying new things. My final question is what are some of your favorite restaurants or snacks?

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Oh BOY this is quite the question. Ok, in no particular order here are some of the things we love to eat at Disneyland:

  • Matterhorn Macaroons (Jolly Holiday)
  • Churros
  • Popcorn
  • Any treats from the confectioneries but particulary English Toffee, Caramel apples, choc chip cookies- we take these home most trips- cake pops & any form of marshmallow wands (i.e. Tigger Tails, Chesire Cat Tails, have seen Olaf themed ones, & on & on).
  • Beignets & Mint Juleps (Mint Julep Bar)
  • Corn Dog (from ittle Red Wagon on Main St usually freshest here, or from Stage Door Cafe have the option to get fries on the side here only or my personal favorite the hot link corn dog found only at Corn Dog Castle in DCA).
  • Monte Cristo & Pomme Frites (Cafe Orleans- table service)
  • Raspberry Pinaepple Swirl & Sweet Lumpia (Tropical Hideaway)
  • Literally any meat (or the 1 veggie) skewer from Bengal BBQ- all are fantastic
  • Turkey leg (there is a BBQ turkey leg available at the stand next to the Fantasyland Theatre but we found we enjoyed the reg more than the BBQ version so not a must to try the BBQ one).
  • Carnation Cafe (Main Street Burger or Sourdough Bacon Melt both very shareable also love the appetizers of fried pickles & a bowl of Walt’s Chili)
  • Any of the twists (they offer both savory garlic cheese or sweet, either choc or strawberry- options) at the Maurice’s Treat Cart at the Fantasy Faire area
  • Plaza Inn Fried Chicken - the best fried chicken from anywhere (can get a la carte instead of the dinner- the price of one breast has been about $4 so it works out that 4 breasts are cheaper than one plate of dinner which has a breast and another piece or two of chicken as well as mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables- our family eats the 4 breasts between all of us & saves room for all the other snacking we like to do rather than fill up on mediocre mashed potatoes & veggies).
  • Pacific Wharf Cafe bread bowls with soup (or salad even) and an amazing bread bowl pudding (they do seasonal flavors and all have been fantastic)
  • Ghiradelli’s Ice cream (anything, they have amazing ice cream so it’s all fantastic)
  • The adorable snowman slushee treat (better than a Dole Whip IMHO)
  • Lobster Nachos from the Lamplight Lounge (they have a lot of other food there that looks good too, but we’ve never been to the newer lounge, the Lobster Nachos were our favorite at the old Cove Bar that the Lamplight Lounge expanded to & replaced)
  • Chile Cone Queso or Bacon Mac n Cheese cone at the Cozy Cones in Carsland

If you like buffets we love the Storyteller’s Buffet at the Grand Californian. They have delicious smoked salmon at the brunch/breakfast buffet as well as made to order omellette’s and lots of other standard breakfast fare but it all is so well done. Goofy’s Kitchen has a similar spread but more kid-friendly and has one of our favorite treats the “peanut butter & jelly pizza”.

Also, Carthay Circle & Blue Bayou are beautiful restaurants & if time allows are worth a stop. Carthay Circle does get spotty reveiws on service (can be EXTREMELY slow and some people love the food, some are ‘meh’ on it- there is a Carthay Circle Lounge that is an option but I’m not certain if it’s kid friendly therefore we’ve never been). Blue Bayou food was good the one time I’ve had it & it tends to be very hyped but it’s still a beautiful restaurant with a unique atmosphere. Waterside tables are the best way to enjoy that whole experience so if you do Blue Bayou, go a little early to check into your reservation & ask for one, and say you’re willing to wait (from what I have heard it’s not ever as long as they say it will be). They are mostly trying to scare you away from wanting one so they have more available.


Does your family enjoy characters? One of the things we liked the best was how many more free-roaming characters there are at DLR. We had just exited a ride one morning when Tweedle Dee/Dum, Mad Hatter, Alice, and Queen of Hearts just were roaming around. They collected a group of guests and started singing and dancing with us. We actually ended up leaving before they were done, because WE wanted to move on.

(If you’d like you can FF to 3:20 to watch our DLR days. They are intermixed with other SoCal activities, but you get a real sense of character interaction, I think.)


I call @lolabear_la the Yoda of DL. She is a wealth of information and gives such great and thorough answers.


You are AMAZING! I’m trying hard to not take advantage of your kindness in responding to all my questions :wink:
Thank you very much for all those food ideas. Assuming they don’t change things up between now and then, I think we will do a Blue Bayou lunch (that monte cristo - yum!) for the F! dining package. My husband is a huge Ballast Point fan so he is requiring we do dinner there one night which looks great to me!. We also really want to do Lamplight as I think the menu there looks amazing (OMG those lobster nachos). I’m going to try to leave the rest open for Star Wars offerings and all these yummy snacks and QS! I had my eye on those corn dogs you mentioned - that all cheese one looks so good too! I also thought the Carnation Cafe looked like you could just feel Walt’s presence there and was very interested in this spot too so I was happy to see it on your list!

Now the real challenge will be trying to fit all this into a 4 day trip!

Again, thank you for your amazing responsiveness and all the help!


I truly enjoyed your entire video! That was so much fun to see. I may have shed a tear just thinking about how many amazing memories your family made on that trip.

My family does enjoy meeting characters and I’m so excited for the character interaction in DL. The character experience feels more like a checklist at WDW so this is another thing I’m really looking forward to while there. It just takes so much of the pressure off. I’m excited to just be surprised by who we see.

Thank you so much for sharing! My family does expect to spend some additional time in San Diego and LA while there as well so I loved seeing everything your family experienced.

With that said, does anyone have a beach recommendation on the trip from San Diego to Anaheim? We want to spend one day/night in San Diego, drive north and hit a beach for a day/night (Huntington or Laguna maybe?), then drive up to Disneyland for 4 nights there before heading to LA for two days. I’m just not sure which beach would be best.

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Isn’t that the truth?! She is truly amazing.

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I highly recommend Disneyland Daily.

Crescent Beach was where we encountered the wildest waves. It wasn’t for the faint of heart. But it was also less busy than Santa Monica Pier.
My DD has my phone right now. I’ll try to find the other beach links I used to plan our trip. We had planned to go to San Diego one day.

I will say early morning Fantasyland provided us the best character experiences. The Evil Queen and CAptain Hook.

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Buzz Lightyear is also much better. One of our favorites at DL, do it multiple times a day and per trip. Did it once at WDW and were so disappointed.


@BlizzardPartyof3, @carthy15 you guys are too kind!!

As for taking advantage… please do!!! I LOVE to share what I know especially when it comes to Disneyland & this forum allows me to do that, so please, please, please ask away!


As long as it is a fresh one, you’re good!

Main St in general at Disneyland gives me this feeling and yes, Carnation gives you a chance to sit down & take it in. Plus the food there is SUPER tasty & great portions for great prices so it’s hard to beat it in terms of value. Just make sure you aren’t at the tables at the back of the patio by the walkway to the bathroom as that definitely takes away the ambiance.


Laguna Beach is very pretty and so is the town…great food and quaint shops.

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