Will Disneyland not let me overplan like WDW?

Our family has visited WDW 3 times in the last 3 years, we would like to mix things up and go to Disneyland this year. It seems like the overplanning that goes into WDW (which I absolutely love by the way, its part of the fun) is not at Disneyland…no magicbands, ADRs arent made as far out, FP+ is different, memorymaker, dining plans, ect…

Would someone be nice enough to guide me through these topics and how they are dealt with in DL vs. WDW…or even direct me to a recent post that is already on this topic?

Thank you!

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As of right now, the FPs are on-site only. And you can only have one at a time from each park. They are the classic ticket machines.

DLR has a PhotoPass (MemoryMaker) and you can purchase for the day or for the week. You can purchase from the app on your phone.

There are no dining plans, but you can make reservations for food, character meals and tours.

Do you have specific questions?

At WDW you could spend a week at the parks and still have things on your list you never got to, I have read that you really do not feel that way at DL, that you do not “need” as many days in the parks, do you feel this is true…would 4 days with hoppers be overkill? We have 2 girls ages 5 and 7 who do a good job in the parks (do not need big breaks, no naps, easy going).

We usually do 3 day park hoppers with our kids when we go; one day mostly dedicated to each park, one day back and forth to get the stuff we thought we “missed”. Although we rarely see everything, it’s easy to get to all our favorites, sometimes even twice in that 3 days. We’re also open-close kind of people, no real breaks except for meals and shows.

Having said that, 4 days might give you the ability to set a more relaxed pace and take in more stuff. Depends on when you go as well–we tend to hit Sept or Feb, so if you go during peak, 4 days will probably be about right.

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As was mentioned, you can generally do the parks in 3 days, 4 will give you a relaxed pace. You are probably asking the wrong person if 4 days is overkill. We have annual passes. :smile:

The 4 days lets you have time to take advantage of shows, rides, everything. When it gets closer, DLR releases their times for parades, shows, everything, so you can plan your day better, if you want.


WDW regular here… Just got back from a DL/DCA trip last week… My wife was out there for a work trip Mon-Thur, so my son (8) and I cam out Wed and did DL Park on Thursday during the day without her. She met us at Downtown Disney where we had a bite to eat, then hit the after hours premier of the Main Street Electrical Parade (even though we’ve seen it many times at WDW, we did it for short ride lines, etc). And we did Friday and Saturday as a family.

Planning… I was stressed that I couldn’t pre-plan DL and was afraid we’d miss something because of it. Nope. In the 3 days we hit the parks, we did everything on our list. Some rides more than once (California Screamin’ 3 times, Hyperspace Mountain 3 times, Star Tours 2 times, Matterhorn 5 times, Pirates 2 times). On day 3, we were trying to kill time waiting for our World of Color desert party reservation. That being said, we did have some rain and threatening weather which might have kept the crowds lower.

We made dinner reservations at BlueBayou, Story Tellers, and the World of Color desert party about a month before we traveled.

We purchased eTickets before arriving. We took the printed eTicket to the turnstiles, they issued us the “cardboard” DL park ticket, we wrote our first name on it, and they took our picture. That was the park ticket for the rest of the trip.

Without magic bands, you need to take your park ticket card in/out of your pocket for park entry and fastpasses.

Fastpass at DL/DCA is like the pre-MagicBand fast passes at WDW (once in the park, visit ride kiosk with your park ticket, insert it, get the park ticket and paper FP with return time back). And its one at a time. To be honest I think we only did one or two fastpasses. (Soarin’ because the wait was 60 minutes, and Radiator Springs Racers so we could ride something else and not wait in RSR’s 30 min line).

Memory Maker is purchased in the Disneyland app (the Disneyland version of WDW’s My Disney Experience app) You can use your same Disney account (same user id and password for WDW’s My Disney Experience). They sell single day ($39) and one week plans ($79). I found fewer Photopass photographers, and fewer ride photos (no ride videos) at DL/DCA compared to WDW . I had to LOOK for them at DL/DCA, but I seem to trip over them every time I turn around at WDW. For rides we only saw them on Hyperspace Mountain, Splash Mountain, California Screamin’ and Radiator Springs Racers. I still found the One Week Memory Maker at DL/DCA worth it. To use Memory Maker with ride photos, when you get off the ride, you see your picture on screen and it has a code number, you need to type that into the Disneyland app to link your photo (i.e. no tapping band/card against terminal to link it to your account). Photo pass photographers can scan a bar code from the DL App on your phone’s screen, or a physical PhotoPass card that they’ll give you (again, think pre-magic band at WDW).

Because of my wife’s work trip, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn a few minutes away, so we didn’t look at Dining plan, but I don’t think they have them anyway.

Even though it was our first time, over all we found 3 days pretty comfortable to get all the parks done. THe only thing we missed were the DL fireworks. [They didn’t have them Thursday night (due to the MSEP after hours event), Saturday we did WoC @ DCA. Friday we had hopped to DCA to get some of those rides checked off the list and never made it back to DL in time.] To play it safe, if crowds are higher, maybe plan on 4 days, unless you’ll go back again soon.


I’m in agreement with what everyone has posted. You will want at least 3 days to really enjoy both parks without feeling rushed. Definitely download the DL app. It helped me learn the layout of the park, find restaurants, see wait times, find characters, and link Photo Pass. I did purchase the Photopass, which was well worth it. I was also a little weary because I felt like I couldn’t plan out every second of the day like I do for DW, but it ended up okay. I still made a touring plan for each day and made ADR. There are not any dining plans to purchase. If you stay at one of the DL resorts, you have the option of purchasing meal vouchers for a character meal for a discounted price. We did not do this as it was much cheaper to stay at a hotel across the street and walk to the parks. We stayed at the Anabella Hotel, which had less than a mile walk. We did the character breakfast at Plaza Inn in DL and met a ton of characters, some of which I have never seen make appearances at DW. We also did the character breakfast at PCH Grill in the Paradise Pier hotel and ate dinner at Cafe Orleans. DL had a much more laid-back feel to it to me. We did so much in such a short time with very little wait in June.

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