How many days for 1st visit in July?

Hi all! I’m looking to plan a trip. Looking at flights now. Will have at least a week in CA, but could potentially have more time. How much time would you plan for Disneyland and California Adventure? We have 3 young girls and will need to do rider switch a lot. We have done WDW and girls will ask to do bibbidi bibbidi boutique if that’s available and any character meals.

how long do you usually go to WDW for? We usually do DL, usually 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 days and always wish we had one more, never ready to go. as reference, we did 6 day tickets in Florida last year (and wished we had 1-2 more). there is a ton to do, it’s just all closer together. easy to take breaks with little ones in the afternoon. don’t skip the duplicate rides, most are better in California. especially Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, Pirates, and Small World.

When we go to WDW, I like 3 days MK, 2 days HS, 1 day EP, 1 day AK. We repeat a lot at HS and MK including jedi both days. The girls don’t really know star wars but we do all the star wars meets and rides at HS.

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I would say 3-5 days depending on your touring style. I agree with @nslappin don’t skip the duplicates and it is soooooooooo much easier to tour in DLR. I just went for my 1st trip to WDW and longed for the simplicity of DLR. The wonderful thing about going with a littles to DLR is there is tons for them to do at DLR if they are not fearful of dark rides. DLR has BBB and I definitely see kids walking around after doing it, however it is not as much as I observed in WDW. There are some great character meals, Plaza is great because they have tons of characters and some rare characters. I have never done that one (I have trouble giving up morning touring for it), but might have to do it for an upcoming trip. I love the brunch at Storytellers Cafe. There is a break down of each Character meal offering on here. Later I will try and find it and post it on here.

I have so much more I want to say, but I have to go to work. I will come back with more info when I am done, unless @lolabear_la finds this thread, then listen to EVERYTHING she has to say. She is a wealth of information!


I find 3 days to be perfect for Disneyland / California Adventure if you are dedicating all three days solely to Disney. It leaves you wanting more, but you are able to experience all the major attractions and almost all the smaller ones too, even with rider swap.

You can do almost everything in 2 days, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a first time unless you just don’t have time. And of course, more days is better if you want to spread it out a little and even leave Disneyland for other excursions. But even I would get burnt out with 4+ days of nothing but Disneyland.

I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time. I like to check out Downtown Disney and the hotels for several hours on arrival day and then spend 3 days in the parks.


My wife thought we were crazy for getting 5 day passes when we had a 4 year old and an 18 month old, but we ended up loving the extra time. The 18!month old slowed us down so it was nice not to have to worry about getting to do absolutely everything we wanted.

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Thanks Chutton. Five days might be good for us. I’m thinking they would like at least 2 days at each park. Even if they are 1 day parks, they would like repeating things.

We have 3 littles and for a first trip I would not do anything less than 4 days with littles!

You could do 3 days & get most everything in but may feel rushed the 3rd day and with 2 days & littles I would say you’ll end up skipping a lot & have no chance for repeats.

DCA is a great combination of HS and EP with a lot of it’s own flavor as well so you’ll probably want at least 2 days there if your girls like a lot of HS and EP. Plus it will allow you to repeat some of the absolutely wonderful attractions there.

DL is like MK with 2x the available attractions so if you like 3 days at MK you’ll definitely be able to fill in 2, if not 3 full days at DL. Especially with doing BBB one day. And speaking of BBB, I would get on booking that reservation as soon as you can confirm what days you’ll be in the parks. The reservations open up 60 days before and while I’ve been able to find availability the week-of, it’s been later in the day which I don’t prefer as I want as much time with DD in her made over hair & makeup & gown!

As for character meals, our favorite character meal is Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel but the characters are definitely what you go for & less so the food, although I’ve only had better & better experiences over the last few times of going so it seems they upped their game on the food. If you go to Goofy’s request to sit in the circular room as there is better light for photos & more room in here, plus the characters all parade through here during the napkin-waving parade. We also like to get as late a reservation as possible for “breakfast” (which goes until noon or 1pm somedays) as we find the character interaction more lax & wonderful!

Another fantastic character meal that is convenient & chalk-full of characters is Plaza Inn. It’s like character speed-dining though & if you’re not used to a quick pace of characters can get frustrating to figure out when to go & get food. But you can get anywhere form 8-14 characters depending on what time you go (go earlier for more characters if that’s your aim) and some of those are characters only seen at Plaza & are otherwise considered rare. The food is decent too & again has seen improvement over the last few times I’ve done it vs. a few years ago when it felt more cafeteria-ey.

Also, the food at Storytellers at the Grand Californian is the best quality of buffet food offered at DLR & for that reason alone is my husband’s favorite. We haven’t been to it since the characters changed from “Critter Friends” to “Mickey & Friends” but I’ve only heard great things about the new characters & the outfits from pictures I’ve seen (including from @Ms.BarbsWildRide’s experience there) are just adorable! Another fantastic thing about Storytellers is that it’s so close to the entrance between GCH and DCA that it hardly feels like leaving the parks. You will have to re-do security to get back into the parks after Storytellers but after the initial hour or so of DCA opening that entrance isn’t usually too backed up so usually security is pretty smooth-sailing there.

As for what to do & what to skip in DL vs. WDW… check out my response to the following: First Disney Trip with Young Children! - #16 by lolabear_la. If you want to just skip to where I get to the attractions specifically, start from Must-Do’s Unique to Disneyland Resort, but that whole thread is a good collection of responses from me & some other pro’s on bringing kids for the first time so a good one to read in its entirety.

Any other specific questions you have, ask away! We love to help!!