First trip to Disneyland, no kids

My best friend and I had annual passes to WDW and I knew it like the back of my hand from 2012-2016. Life changed and the Disney obsession had to be set aside.
My nephew now lives in Cali and I will be visiting DLR April 2024. I have on-site hotel room and plan to be in DCA 1 day and Disneyland 1 day (with staying in park for the Star Wars Nite).
I’m reading the unofficial guide for Genie+ and for Lightning Lane usage. I know rope drop and will abide by that (like a good Liner). My personality tends to go FULL ON detail mode to know everything, but I don’t really want to overthink a plan for DLR.
Any advice on balancing planning 2 grown-up days in DLR for someone who, when she went to WDW, read the forum and lines chat everyday?
I’ll be on my own in DCA, but my nephew and his fiance (in their 30s) will join me in Disneyland for the full day.


I can’t give advice as I’m still planning my first DLR trip. However, my biggest suggestion is to go at whatever pace you think nephew & fiancé will want. Then go crazy solo at DCA or even hop back over to DL! Have fun!! Solo trips are THE BEST!!


I’m with @darkmite2. Do it your way at DCA.

But for DL, ask your nephew and his fiancé what they want to do. Do they want to spend the whole day with you or do they want some time alone? It’s best not to assume they want to go from rope drop to closing on an agenda. Tell them to tell you if you are going too quickly, not quickly enough, or if they want to stop to take pictures, snack, sit… If they don’t say anything, check in with them a couple of times.

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Honestly, with Disneyland, it’s so much more fun to plan less and be spontaneous, compared to WDW!

Look at/have the Genie+ drop times easily accessible, and get the drops for attractions you’re nearby. Enjoy the atmosphere and ambience, get some delicious food, and if you see a short line opportunity, go for it and take it! Disneyland visitors are avid app users and are very responsive to a low posted wait time in the app. If you see a low wait time but you’re across the park from that attraction, it’ll be too late by the time you get there. If you’re nearby, give it a go! And if the wait times are posted super high for awhile, don’t be afraid to check out the queue anyways - it may be much shorter than posted.

Other than that, just go with the flow, see how much you can accomplish on your solo day, and have a great trip!
(I can also answer more specific questions as a DLR local - let me know if you have any!)


Especially since the DL queues are generally much more visable than those at WDW.


Yay, welcome to the laid back west!

All the details will help you be the most informed on the ground, so don’t let that slow you down on ideas. But definitely, definitely with DLR flexibility & going with the flow are key, and also huge bonuses of the laid back atmosphere.

Plan out your RD strategy for each day to maximize that first 2 hours. After that make only loose plans and leave everything flexible & open to on the ground decisions.

To help make the most though, have a priority of your must do’s, like to do’s and if there’s time to do’s. You can throw them into a Touring Plan if you’d like something like a checklist to give you one place to see them all & be able to check them off (sometimes I just use a note on my phone to make the list, add the To Do button to each line that I can fill to check it off).

Include shows as a part of your list, obviously the big ones like Fireworks, World of Color & either of the parades if you like parades. But also plan loosely for smaller things like the Carsland neon lights to the Sha-Boom song (at dusk everyday), riding the full loop on the train, riding a Main St. vehicle, etc.

Have a similar such priority list for QS food/snacks. There’s SO many good eat treats in DLR. I like to pick one definite breakfast plan each day since you’ll be tied to that park that morning & planning for something keeps the flow of my RD plan afloat. But then the rest of the meals & snacks, I go to whatever on my list is close to where the flexible parts of the day take me.

My nephew will thank you for this advice :slight_smile:


Thanks for the reminders. I do think they will stay with me the whole day. They know how well I could tour WDW, so they are relying on me to make sure the Disneyland day gets them the biggest bang for their buck. (or my buck - since it’s my treat!) Ha!

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Thanks rootoad. I will probably read through the dining portion of the unofficial guide tonight. I love finding the best snacks, but I also don’t want to miss a special sit-down meal opportunity.
Regarding Galaxy’s Edge: the build a light saber or build a droid experiences. Is this something that a ‘regular’ Star Wars adult fan would enjoy? (I know this is really a subjective question) We are not completely over-the-moon obsessed with Star Wars, but love it enough we are going to Star Wars night. None of us ‘need’ a light saber or a droid, but I don’t want to miss a really cool experience.

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Thank you. I’m glad you emphasized the snack list. I probably could have gotten sidetracked with learning all the ins/outs of the park and forgotten that I need to make a snack list - and not just eat the first Mickey bar I see :slight_smile:

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We built 2 droids as a family the first time in GE. We had then a family of 5 with 3 kids under 8 and it was just easier to manage the logistics and cost. With the droids they don’t limit who can help participate or watch and they are a fraction of the cost. With the light sabers you get more of a show but limited to one participant with 1 guest accompanying at a much higher cost.

For us to get our whole family in we needed to build 3 light sabers. Eventually I’d like to go see the experience, but maybe when some of the kids are adults and paying for their own light saber. :rofl:

ETA: We totally and absolutely loved building the droids & got some fun pics of them in GE. And then in 2021 or 2022 we built another 2 (well I should say my 2 DS’s built their own each as an evening out souvenir when DD’s did BBB).

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Building a lightsaber is very much a fun experience. My DH built one while I watched & it was as much fun for me as for him. Building a droid is also fun but not as much a show as the lightsabers.

I concur the lightsaber experience is neat. The droid less so to me. But my kids liked it.

If you want the most special west coast sit down dining experience for ambience I’d choose Blue Bayou (inside Pirates). I’d go to lunch so you can get monte cristo.

For snacks make sure you get the Mickey beignets at Mint Julep (a great quick breakfast option) and a dole whip of course. I prefer the actual restaurant at the exit of Tiki Birds than the stand as they have other flavors too and bao buns.

Make sure to focus on Disneyland only rides for yourself and if you need a list @Jeff_AZ has a link to when we talked about it in a previous post.

For DCA food I love the bread bowls with stuff in them at the now Aunt Cass Cafe. I also liked the Pym Test Kitchen salad and sandwich combo. They have good coffee too! I got a pecan brew. Delicious.

And seriously if you like thrill rides do not miss my three favorite west coast rides all in DCA. Radiator Springs Racers (better after dark), Incredicoaster (also better after dark but they close this I believe for World of Color so tricky to squeeze it just right. And Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout. Avoid the death wheel unless you have a strong stomach or do the stationary aka this is actually called the Pixar Pal Around. This park has a lot of live music and participates in food festivals and has alcohol everywhere so it’s much more adult that Disneyland where you can only get alcohol at table service.

Also I highly recommend world of color as the top nighttime experience. This is one where I also highly recommend the dessert party and request a high top table when you check in. You will have a stunning comfortable view. Do not do the fireworks dining package in Disneyland as it’s from Tomorrowland and you miss all the projections/effects and it eats up a lot of time. I had to stand in a line for an hour to get my quick service food and then carry it myself to the second story of the former Monsanto House. Also don’t recommend parade dining. The routes are so long, it’s easy to get a spot especially if there is one in DCA.

In Disneyland the top unique rides are Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean. I also really love all the unique fantasyland dark rides most especially Toad and Alice in Wonderland.