Two Adults, One Day in Cali, Takin' It Easy, Please Help!

My husband and I are going to Disneyland in August for our anniversary. I’m not worried about seeing everything. I just want us to have a magical day. (I’m sure we’ll be back, as we love Disney vacations. This is our first time to California though.) My husband really wants to take me Universal Studios for a day. The other day we will spend in Disney. We are going to stay at the Anabella Hotel, I think.

How would you spend that day? Would you just go to Magic Kingdom? Would you park hop to DCA? What are the “must dos” and “must eats” and “other musts”? Any insider tips are greatly appreciated. I’m super excited! Thank you!


I guess, I would ask, what is it you want to do? Since you have done Disney in the past, what kinds of experiences are you looking for?

Also, You might want to consider the fact that traffic between DLR and Universal Studios is horrible. Depending on how your vacation is planned you might want to stay in multiple places.

Don’t know how many times you have been to WDW, but as a San Diego native that has had many annual passports to Dland, I like to make sure to do the things that are unique when we travel to WDW. If you like Fantasmic then it is a must see at DL. Submarine ride, Indiana Jones, Matterhorn (although pretty old and rough), Toads wild ride, Pinocchio, story book, and Snow White are unique rides to DL. Space mountain is side by side seating at DL and Splash is in line so I make sure to go on those. It’s a small world on the outside is amazingly better than WDW and Toon Town is completely unique (ride roger rabbit). At DCA, California screaming, cars land, and the night time show are worth doing/ very unique.

Having just got back from WDW and UOR, I don’t know if I would recommend going to Ca Universal Studios. It is a drive and it does not compare to Florida’s. I have not been since they installed Harry Potter but I found the park very limited and not worth the money. I would suggest looking at Knott’s berry farm as it is close, has some decent rides, and has a ton of history. We have had APs there and it is not a full day park for us. If you really like roller coaster and want to drive look into Magic Mountain.

Fast pass at space mountain will sell out early and Peter Pan is a long wait if you don’t hit it a RD. What I enjoy most at DL is the last hour or two at the end of the night. Splash, HM, BTMR, Pirates, and Indiana Jones have almost no line and are very close to each other (take the railroad at closing for a relaxing quiet ride around the park and back to the entrance). You may want to consider a two day park hopper?

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Thank you! That is really awesome advice. I didn’t realize Universal was so far away. I think I’d much rather stay at Disney than go anywhere else really. Universal FL may be its own thing for our next trip there.

How about the dining? I know there’s not a dining plan, but are any of the table service restaurants worth the splurge? Do any quick service spots stand out? Also, can you purchase alcohol in the park? I really appreciate the tips!

Thanks again!

Thank you for the tip about Universal. I really hadn’t considered it. We are really into novelty and trying things that are different from WDW. We like parades, dining experiences, rides, side shows, collecting those smushed pennies, fire works, and just walking around. I don’t really like to rush or panic. I’m new to paper fast passes. I’m okay with planning so the day will go smoothly and I’m flexible if something doesn’t go as planned. I know nothing about Disneyland, although I’m pretty familiar with Disney World but not an expert. Thanks again!

If you want to splurge on sit down then the Blue Bayou is the place. The monte cristo is famous (don’t eat a whole one), and the atmosphere of being inside the Pirates of the Caribbean queue is special. You will see boat loads of people drift by while you enjoy a nice patio dining experience under the stars. A quick service in Adventure land has skewers and pizza port in TL has pasta and of pizza. Alcohol is not served in DL. It is served in DCA and I forgot to mention the there is a Monster’s Inc. dark ride…I love dark rides. You can also take the monorail from TL to Downtown Disney for food and drink options.

Thank you so much!

Like has been said, it definitely depends on what you want to see. Food-wise, Blue Bayou is the best atmosphere, but I also really love most of the food at the Wharf in DCA. Plus the Ghiradelli Fountain is there :slight_smile: Don’t miss dusk in Cars Land (right around sunset)–it’s magical! I’m also a World of Color fan, and since there’s not Fantasmic right now, that’s your only option.

If I had to do one day, I’d spend the AM at DL and do Star Tours, Pirates, HM, Hyperspace Mountain, and Small World 'cause I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I love the Laughing Stock show as well at the Golden Horseshoe, and they have ICE CREAM NACHOS. Gotta get the Dole Whip, too. Then I’d head to DCA and do RSR (although FP might be out by then), Soarin, Toy Story Mania, Luigi’s Roadsters, and Silly Symphony Swings. Churros are a must at some point.

Have fun! Hope it’s as magical as you want it to be! :smiley:

If you like the movie, “Cars,” then I would STRONGLY recommend DCA and CarsLand particularly. The theming is the best of Disney/Pixar that I have ever experienced. Radiator Springs Racers is an amazing attraction that builds off the technology of TestTrack, levers the back-story of Cars and then plusses it with design and interaction.

If you have the time and schedule allows, plan to have supper and eat outside by the “filling station” at Flo’s V-8 Cafe right around scheduled “dusk.” It is a beautiful, fulfilling experience to be there when the neon turns on.

Life could be a dream, indeed.
Comparatively, “World of Color” is all wet. Especially from the front rows.

We spent 3 days in DLResort last August and this was one of the best experiences our family has ever had at Disney (15+ trips and 7 cruises)

You’ve got a great load of suggestions but I’m going to echo that you should definitely get the 2-day park hoppers over going to Universal Studios- Hollywood. If you had more time I would maybe say USH is worth it, but the drive is a bad/traffic congestion one plus if you love Disney, there’s SO much that’s unique to DL that you will absolutely not have time for in 1 day.

I love Fantasyland and dark rides so I would definitely start in Fantasyland, even if just me & the hubby. I’d probably make sure to ride all the rides my kids aren’t tall enough for (yet) that I love (Indiana Jones, California Screamin’). And I’d probably try to make it so I got a couple of rides in on each of those. Both of those have single rider so you can ride together with 1 FP and then any additional rides take advantage of the single rider line to save time. I’d also make sure to ride my husband’s two favorites that we always have to rider switch, Star Tours & Radiator Springs racers as many times we could. Carsland is an absolute must so whether or not do you do 1 or 2 days, DEFINITELY park hop.

I would snack my way through the day since DL and DCA both have so many good quick service/snacks and then get a big meal somewhere around 2-4ish where you can sit down and just relax to power through until park close. Blue Bayou is a great choice for this. Carthay Circle is also beautiful but not the same immersive theming as Blue Bayou at all. Being an adults only trip you may want to check out the Carthay Circle lounge for drinks/appetizers too. We also love the Cove Bar on the Pier for drinks & lobster nachos but you have to line up before they open to not wait forever. The line can get 2 hrs long and people will wait in it!

I’d also use the afternoon/midday to do the lolly-gagging things we don’t usually do with the kids (stop & watch some of the bands in the park while eating a churro, do Animation Academy a couple of times to draw a couple of different characters without having to worry if one of the kids will need to leave for an emergency bathroom break, sit down and people watch in the hub or wherever, etc).

Some of our favorite snacks throughout the parks are skewers at Bengal BBQ in Adventureland, Beignets & Mint Juleps at Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square, anything sweet from the Pooh Corner confectionery counter, Candy Palace on Main Street or Trolley Treats on Buena Vista street in DCA, churros from any cart, Corn Dogs from Stage Door Cafe in Frontierland OR Red Wagon on Main Street or Hot-Link Corn Dog from Corn Dog Castle in DCA. Plaza Inn fried chicken is also amazing and can be bought ala carte for 3.99/breast. SO much better than getting the meal for 17.99. The twists from Maurice’s Snack cart in Fantasy Faire are also a great snack. Turkey legs and corn on the cob from several different carts in both DL & DCA are huge and delicious as well. And of course, all the ice cream! Golden Horseshoe has the secret menu Ice cream nachos (huge and amazing), there’s Dole Whips of course at the Tiki Room and then our favorite ice cream is Ghiradelli’s on the Wharf at DCA. Also, bread bowls & bread pudding from the Pacific Wharf Cafe in DCA are both amazing. Annnd, if you just need a small, quick snack, the Bakery Tour hands out free samples of sourdough and right across the walkway Ghiradelli’s has chocolates they hand out. Those are a few of our favorites, but really there’s so much more that’s pretty good too. The only places I would avoid are the quick service in ToonTown and the pizza place in Tomorrowland. The Harbour Galley in Critter Country was also only so-so but not all bad. Everywhere else has decent food at worst. Everything I’ve mentioned above are all favorites we have to make tough decisions on when we are deciding what to eat.