Disneyland California Adventure Tips and Tricks

I’m here to pass knowledge on so you can plan smart and have a carefree day at Disney! I’ll also have a Shanghai Disney Tips and Tricks post soon because that was a crazy, crazy trip!

Keep reading so you can save yourself from missing out on the rides you want to go on and find the best food in the park!

Universal Disney Knowledge

ARRIVE EARLY. If the park opens at 8:00 AM, get there at 7:30 AM. In Shanghai Disney’s case, arrive at 6:00 AM because the lines are insane. At Disney Anaheim, I’d say 7:30 for an 8:00 AM park opening is reasonable.

CHOOSE WISELY. Pick the ride you most want to go on first in the fast pass list. If you don’t have an exact ride you want to go on and it’s your first time, the one with the longest wait will probably be worth it! You get to pick a new fast pass every hour and a half-ish or when you finish one of your other rides, so plan carefully and pick accordingly!

BUY TICKETS ONLINE. The easiest way to buy Disneyland tickets is through the Disneyland website – you can probably save like $10-15 elsewhere by buying gift cards or whatnot, but I usually just buy on the Disney site and save myself the trouble of counterfeit tickets, etc. This is especially true for Disneyland Shanghai – be careful!

DOWNLOAD THE APP. The Disneyland app is the easiest way to check wait times and get around Disney – it also really helps for Fast Pass parties to have everyone’s ticket on one phone so you can quickly get onto rides and redeem photos!

BRING A PHONE CHARGER. Especially to that one person who’s working the fast pass stuff in the mobile app, it’ll run out fast when you’re spending the whole day using the app!

Fast Pass & Mobile App

Disney Mobile Fast Pass is called “MaxPass” and it’s definitely worth the $15 per ticket you fork over for it because it also comes with ALL the Nikon photo ops you get in the park & ride photos too. You must enter CA Adventure or Disneyland to activate or purchase MaxPass!

When you’ve entered the park you’ll build a “party” where one person will scan everyone’s tickets into a single mobile phone – after you’ve built that “party” you may use your phone to select an attraction to pull the Fast Pass for! Because you’ve made the party already your tickets are all together – it makes it really easy to get Fast Passes for everyone.

You can have multiple Fast Passes in the app at the same time but you only are able to “pull” a fast pass every 1-1.5 hours or when you’ve used your current pass, whichever one comes faster. It’ll say in-app when you can make your next fast pass selection – pay close attention to that time so you can make another selection quickly at the time. You can also cancel a Fast Pass and choose a new one after cancellation anytime for your party.

A note for photos, just make sure to scan or write down the code at the end of the ride, then load it right into your Disneyland app account while you’re waiting in line for other rides. All your photos are synced up – which was the probably the best thing for me, such great memories and I didn’t have to worry about anything, it was all automatic!

Also, take a screenshot of the QR code that the photo-op people have to scan to get your account hooked with the photo – it’s a lot faster than loading up the Disneyland app and map each time you want a photo taken.

Fast Pass Rides

There are ten FastPass/MaxPass rides available in-app and on-site:

Disneyland FastPass

  • Space Mountain
  • Matterhorn
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Splash Mountain
  • Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin
  • It’s a Small World
  • Star Tours
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

CA Adventure Fast Pass

  • World of Color (distributed to the right of Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in CA Adventure – not on MaxPass)
  • Incredicoaster
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
  • Toy Story Midway Mania

Single-Rider Rides

There are FIVE total rides with single rider lines:

  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Space Mountain
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Splash Mountain

Your group will be broken up but you’ll get on the rides much faster with single-rider tickets! For the rides above, just ask the attendant for the single-rider ticket – sometimes they won’t have them, depending on how busy it gets, but most of the time they’ll give you a ticket and you can jump into the single-rider line.

Always ask the attendant about the wait time for single-rider before you jump into the line. For instance, Matterhorn is a three-person seat ride so single-rider USUALLY moves faster for that ride but Smugglers Run, because it’s so new and has so many seats, tends to actually move SLOWER for single-rides! So you’re almost better off waiting in the regular line for that one, especially since it doesn’t have Fast Pass!

Where to Go First

RUN TO GET TICKETS FOR WORLD OF COLOR WHEN YOU GET IN. If you want to see this and you have a park hopper for California Adventure and Disneyland – walk safely to the Pixar Pier and grab a physical ticket for this, it’s right next to Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. They do not have Mobile app tickets for this show.

Okay now that you’ve done this… I’d recommend staying in CA Adventure because Disneyland gets so packed but if you’re really into Disney, go ahead and head back to Disneyland and start getting on those rides!

A Small Preview of My Normal Itinerary

At the beginning of the day, I get the Fast Pass for Space Mountain first – then we run over to Guardians and try to get on before the lines get long. After we’ve gone through Guardians we’ll go to the Incredicoaster & Midway Mania – and finally Radiator Springs Racers. So that’s where I’ll usually go first! Midway through this I’ll usually be able to make another Fast Pass selection, at which time I’ll choose Indiana Jones or sometimes Radiator Springs Racers if the wait time is really short on Fast Pass – by the time we’re done waiting through the four rides at CA Adventure, it’ll be around noon – the wait times will vary without a Fast Pass but I don’t think I’ve waited more than 30 minutes .

We’ll head over to Disneyland and get onto Space Mountain, Indiana Jones – and then run over to Matterhorn for the single rider option! The rest of the day varies but those are my favorites to hit first!

Where to Eat

Dole Whip

ORDER FOOD ON THE APP. I was kind of hesitant to do this but it works pretty much like fast pass – you give them a window of when you want to arrive when ordering in-app. When you’ve arrived at the location you just tap a button on the app saying that you’ve arrived and BAM! Dole whip is in front of you. People are lining up but you’re smarter – because you downloaded the app!

I pretty much stick to three things (dole whip, turkey leg, churro) when I go to Disney, I’ve tried the kebabs and fried chicken sandwich that people rave about by Carsland – they were just okay to me. Same with the new things at Galaxy’s Edge, just alright – fun to try but not something I’d get again.

The stuff below is what I like to get. They’re tried and true and pretty much available everywhere in the park, California Adventure or Disneyland side.

    • I mean, it’s dole whip! Such creamy pineapple goodness.
    • There’s a stand that has this + corn that is so GOOD. This is definitely an entree that can be shared between two people and it’s only $11!
    • I’m not sure why but a Disneyland churro just always hits the spot after a long day – or a mid-day energy boost!
    • They’re Mickey Mouse shaped – they don’t taste amazing but they’re pretty darn cute so they deserve a little mention.
    • The mint julep is so refreshing and it’s right nearby the beignets – we had the watermelon julep special last time around and it was so good!
Green Plant Milk from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

YOU CAN bring in food and water of your own as well – I would definitely recommend bringing in a hydroflask and staying hydrated throughout the day. Sometimes I’ll bring in snacks to keep me going through the day too!

Downtown Disney 

Salt and Straw has a limited edition flavor that is ONLY available year-round at the downtown Disney location – it’s the pots of gold and rainbows flavor and it tastes like cereal milk and lucky charms! The marshmallow goodness is definitely not to be missed if you’re downtown!

The only other thing I’ve gone to Downtown is Splitsville, the bowling alley. The food at Splitsville is expensive and so is the bowling – but it was a pretty fun time! I wouldn’t recommend it when you have Disney right next to you but we were just visiting Downtown and looking for something to do!


Congratulations on making it to the end. I’d never been a big Disney person until October of last year when my friend blew my mind. I got ears, I got turkey legs, I got fast passes galore! She’s from the area, so she knows all the right tricks to make it through Disney as smoothly as possible, I didn’t have to worry about anything during that trip.

I’ll update this soon with more, on the next Disneyland trip – but for now, this is all I have and all I remember. I also need to take more Disney photos, the days and rides go by so fast I rarely take many pictures!

Thanks for reading!



2 responses to “Disneyland California Adventure Tips and Tricks”

  1. This is AMAZING! Gonna have to try your recs next time I go to disney! Love thr MaxPass bc you dont have to waste time walking to get a physical fast pass 👌

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