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Only 5 Hours in Disneyland - First time - What would you do?

PSM

Member
Original Poster
#1
I have been going to Disney World since I was a baby but have never been to California. Of course, I've always wanted to visit Disneyland, it just hasn't been in the cards yet.

But now I am going on an unexpected work trip to Anaheim in January and MAY be able to book my return flight so I can get about five hours at Disneyland before heading to the airport. There's no way to extend the trip to get an extra day, so I either have to admit defeat or accept a short visit, likely rope drop to about 3pm.

So, my question is: what would you do with that very limited time? Are there one or two must-see things that are unique to Disneyland that you could do without getting a Fast Pass?

Someday, I'll take a real trip and experience all of the rides that aren't in Disney World but I'd be happy this time to just be able to walk around the park and get a feel for it. I imagine I could get one or two attractions in aside from walking the whole park, though.
 

DisneyShe

Well-Known Member
#2
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I spent 4-5 hours there in 2002. I took tons of photos of the fire station, apartment. Matterhorn and Splash were down. We did Pirates, so much better, HM, Big Thunder, Indy, Dinosaur on acid, Star Tours, Buzz, and the Parade. I feel like I am leaving something out. I would have loved to have spent more time there, but thankful for what I got. Just do what you can. It feels so crazy, how quick you can walk around compared to MK. They pack so many more attractions in though, it seems like. Have fun!
 

orlando678-

Well-Known Member
#3
I'd definitely do the rides which aren't present in DW. Of those rides, I'd say Matterhorn and Indy are musts. Besides, Haunted Mansion features the hatbox ghost and space mountain is way better than the one in DW. Others might be Snow White, Mr.Toad, Alice in Wonderland, Roger Rabbit and Pinocchio but these are minor rides so it really depends on how you want to spend your time.
 

The Pho

Well-Known Member
#4
I did basically the same thing the first time I went. Only had a few hours and decided to prioritize the different things. So Indiana Jones and Matterhorn were my top 2 (and definitely my favorites in the park). Then if you are willing to go to the other park, Radiator Springs Racers is spectacular and well worth it (I'd say top 3 for the resort to me). Then Haunted Mansion Holiday (no idea when that changes back), then Mr Toad and Roger Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland, then Snow White and Pinocchio. I personally found Space and Thunder to both be big disappointments in Land compared to World, so I would skip those if pressed for time. I also regret not doing Pirates since it's apparently much longer and I did not know that when I was there (I will be rectifying that next week on my second trip to Land ever).
 

SteamboatJoe

Well-Known Member
#5
Definitely focus on the attractions that aren't at WDW. Pirates is probably the only duplicate that is different enough to make it worth riding on a limited schedule but the wait time and length of the ride will make it tough to fit in, especially if you want to do Indiana Jones and/or Matterhorn (buy MaxPass and reserve a time, it'll be worth the $10 if you use it right - but I don't think you can use it for Pirates). Speaking of Matterhorn, I actually thought it was a bit of a let down. I liked being around the Matterhorn more than I liked being on it. Apparently it was better before they changed cars several years back. I really liked BTMRR at DL but WDW definitely has the better Splash Mountain in my book. Their Space Mountain right now is better because it's gotten some TLC that WDW's hasn't but it's not a big enough difference to warrant the wait on a short schedule.

Concentrating your efforts in Fantasyland may be your best bet. You get a lot of the non-Peter Pan dark rides done in a relatively short period of time, especially if you are doing rope drop. Don't dismiss Storybook Canal Land Boats or Casey Jr. as kiddie rides. I thought they were some of the most charming experiences in the entire park and they have some great views of Fantasyland. Might as well also do the short Sleeping Beauty walk through attraction in the castle while your there. Take some pictures of Small World's exterior but I don't think you need to spend time riding it. While your back in that portion of the park, see if the wait for Roger Rabbit's Car Toon spin isn't too long (or use Max Pass).

You probably won't have enough time to ride the Columbia but, if you can, walk by Rivers of America to see it sailing. It's quite the sight, especially if you haven't seen that type of ship in person before. I probably wouldn't waste your time riding the subs. They load slowly and the experience isn't that great; definitely not 20,000 Leagues.

If you're into characters, they do a lot of meet greets in Town Square in the morning, including the fav 5. I felt the characters were more accessible and visible there, especially first thing in the morning. More like what MK used to be like.

Get a (fresh) churro.
 
#6
As already stated, Matterhorn and Indy for sure. If it was me, I’d also do Pirates and Haunted Mansion. Those four would satisfy me and I’d spend the rest of the time walking around and enjoying the park, possibly jumping on Space or Big Thunder if the wait times were low. I suppose if you wanted to rush and push your luck, it might be worth it to park hop to California Adventure and ride Radiator Springs Racers and the Tower of Terror turned Guardians of the Galaxy. At the very least, hopping over to California Adventure to take in Cars Land might be worth it. It is impressive! I guess it all depends on what you want to get out of your time and when you plan to go back for an extended visit. Have fun!
 

thomas998

Well-Known Member
#7
First thing to do is check their refurb schedule. DL tends to close a lot of stuff for maintenance in the off season, most likely you won't be able to do Haunted Mansion, Small World or Jungle Cruise because the all get closed in part of Januar to remove the overlays. I think Astro Orbiter is also being refurbed... but don't be surprised if the add some refurbs at the last minute. So it will depend on when they get completed and when in January you will be there... But other rides may also be closed so before you get your heart set on something do a check.

If possible I would say, Indy, Pirates, Toad, Alice and Wonderland, Finding Nemo.. Wouldn't bother with Matterhorn it really isn't that great of a ride. If you want to experience riding in the front of the monorail you still can at DL.
 

Animaniac93-98

Well-Known Member
#8
Indiana Jones (with single rider)
Pirates of the Caribbean
Sleeping Beauty Castle (inside)
Geat Moments with Mr. Lincoln
Show at Golden Horseshoe (while you get something to eat)

If you can squeeze anything else in maybe Splash with the single rider line or some other ride with a wait of 15 or less.
 

THE 1HAPPY HAUNT

Well-Known Member
#9
GO ON THESE RIDES(NOT NECESSARILY IN THIS ORDER) INDIANA JONES ADVENTURE, ORIGINAL HAUNTED MANSION, SPACE MOUNTAIN, ORIGINAL PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, MR. TOAD'S WILD RIDE, BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN, RODGER RABBIT CARTOON SPIN, MATTERHORN, ORIGINAL SPLASH MOUNTAIN( MUCH FASTER AND MORE THRILLING EXPERIENCE COMPARED TO DISNEY WORLD), DISNEYLAND RAILROAD AND IF YOU HAVE THE TIME TO FIT IT IN, JUNGLE CRUISE OR IT'S A SMALL WORLD. DEF HIT UP THE RIDES NOT AT DISNEY WORLD, THEN HIT UP THE ORIGINAL VERSIONS OF CLASSIC RIDES.
 

scud

Proud Member Since 2016
#10
GO ON THESE RIDES(NOT NECESSARILY IN THIS ORDER) INDIANA JONES ADVENTURE, ORIGINAL HAUNTED MANSION, SPACE MOUNTAIN, ORIGINAL PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, MR. TOAD'S WILD RIDE, BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN, RODGER RABBIT CARTOON SPIN, MATTERHORN, ORIGINAL SPLASH MOUNTAIN( MUCH FASTER AND MORE THRILLING EXPERIENCE COMPARED TO DISNEY WORLD), DISNEYLAND RAILROAD AND IF YOU HAVE THE TIME TO FIT IT IN, JUNGLE CRUISE OR IT'S A SMALL WORLD. DEF HIT UP THE RIDES NOT AT DISNEY WORLD, THEN HIT UP THE ORIGINAL VERSIONS OF CLASSIC RIDES.
Why are you yelling?
 

scud

Proud Member Since 2016
#12
I would focus your efforts on Disneyland Park. Although it is similar to Magic Kingdom, you will notice many differences. I suggest you spend time exploring the entire park and just soaking it all in, and only do a few unique attractions that interest you. It's Walt's park, and you can feel his presence throughout. Make sure to check out his lamp on Main Street above the fire station. If you feel like going to California Adventure, it's right across from Disneyland, and you don't need to go through security more than once. If you choose to go to DCA, focus on Buena Vista Street, Cars Land, and Grizzly Peak. Those are the nicest areas of the park. Otherwise, I would wait to see the rest of the park until you can return, because they aren't as good as the three I mentioned. Hope you have a nice visit. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me because I just got back from Disneyland, so it's fresh in my head.
 

pjkdog

Well-Known Member
#13
I say small world as well, and Pirates for sure.. I think it's really different. Also ride the train if you can the Dino scene is a real treat that we don't have in WDW
Matterhorn is really notthat great, honestly it's a rough ride.
I gotta say Cali Adventure with Cars land is tempting for a real different experience, I find that land to be maybe the best in any Disney park
 
#14
I'll second the recommendation of purchasing Maxpass, as it shaves 30 mins off of the time until you can get a new FP and you'll be able to grab another one while waiting to get on a ride.

You can knock out Matterhorn, Space Mountain, and Indy easily by using single rider. Pirates will be a walk on for a while just after rope drop. If you're park hopping (which is very easy at DLR) I would grab a FP for Cars while knocking out stuff at DL.
 

trojanjustin

Well-Known Member
#17
I have been going to Disney World since I was a baby but have never been to California. Of course, I've always wanted to visit Disneyland, it just hasn't been in the cards yet.

But now I am going on an unexpected work trip to Anaheim in January and MAY be able to book my return flight so I can get about five hours at Disneyland before heading to the airport. There's no way to extend the trip to get an extra day, so I either have to admit defeat or accept a short visit, likely rope drop to about 3pm.

So, my question is: what would you do with that very limited time? Are there one or two must-see things that are unique to Disneyland that you could do without getting a Fast Pass?

Someday, I'll take a real trip and experience all of the rides that aren't in Disney World but I'd be happy this time to just be able to walk around the park and get a feel for it. I imagine I could get one or two attractions in aside from walking the whole park, though.
Get MaxPass as it will save you time, both by shaving 30 minutes/ride off and being able to book via the app. Ride Indy, Matterhorn, eat a corndog on Main Street (they are infinitely better than the Florida ones and often make SoCal "must eat" lists), ride Pirates (much better than the Florida version) and anything else you'd like to experience.

Depending on budget/how much you want to experience, you might be able to hit rope drop til about 1pm in DL and then park hop to DCA for a quick look around, ride on Guardians, Incredicoaster and head out via the Grand Californian exit (unless you drove).
 
#19
Definitely better than an airport wait, even if you only ride a few rides. Personally, I walked right down Main Street and through the Snow Whites castle, just to get the feel of Walt's park, then in no particular order:
Pirates
Mr Toad's Wild Ride
Space Mt. - Had the new speakers in the car's - which were awesome.
Matterhorn
Haunted Mansion - In Halloween overlay
Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room - Get a Dole Whip while you wait for the show.
It was the 50th anniversary year, so their was a lot to look at.
 
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