My two favorite places on Earth (that I’ve visited so far)? Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Disneyland. Yes, my friends, my two greatest loves in life, besides the love I have for my husband and my dog, are hockey and Disney theme parks. I’ve been blessed to go to Disneyland three times in the past two years – a one day solo trip, a few days long girls trip, and a 3 hour visit during a hockey trip. What happens when you only have a few hours to spend at the Happiest Place on Earth? Well, let me tell you!
I chose to spend my entire three hours at Disneyland, instead of Disney California Adventure. I do love DCA, but Disneyland is my favorite theme park EVER, so I’m always going to choose to spend the most time there over everything else. In my opinion, Disneyland puts together all the best things about the entire Walt Disney World resort in one convenient park. DCA is a great park, and you could honestly do most everything in 3 hours if you plan right, but I couldn’t pass up being able to see the castle, eat a corn dog on Main Street, and ride It’s a Small World.
If you only have a short window of time to spend at Disneyland, make a plan! (That always seems to be my tip with any kind of trip or theme park.) But seriously, even if your plan is “I’m going to walk around for three hours and just look at everything”, that’s a great plan! My plan consisted of spending time with my friend, Tasha, riding Space Mountain and Indiana Jones, eating a corn dog, (maybe) looking around Galaxy’s Edge, and picking up a pair of Minnie ears for my friend, Katie. And I easily accomplished all of that in my three hour visit!
If rides are a high priority on your list, make sure you take advantage of fast passes and single rider lines. Single rider lines are available for most of the larger, popular rides, specifically Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, and Matterhorn. We used the single rider line for Space Mountain and were still able to ride together! I used the single rider line for Indiana Jones, while Tasha took a break, and walked straight on to the ride. The only single rider line that’s tricky is for the ride in Galaxy’s Edge, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The main que for the ride is very immersive and there are several pre-shows before you board the ride. I believe the single rider line still lets you see the pre-shows, but the pre-show schedule does affect how quickly you can get through single rider. I would stick to single rider for the roller coasters, but still go through the main que for the others.
Disneyland has two fast pass systems: the traditional paper fast passes and MaxPass. MaxPass is an additional $10/day on your ticket, but you can do everything on the app! Honestly, it was my lifesaver during my solo trip and I would HIGHLY recommend it if you have a full day or multiple day trip to the parks. For the three hour visit, I would pass on MaxPass. It does help a lot, but it’s not worth it for that short of time.
Along with rides, you might make eating lots of snacks a priority. I would definitely vote for this! Sure, there’s theme park food at Disneyland, but there’s also a lot of themed restaurants and TONS of creative snacks to try! I always love visiting the bakery to see what they have each day. I was able to visit during Halloween, so there were themed desserts everywhere! (Take a look at The Bride churro that Tasha and I shared.) But my “classic, go-to, have to eat it every time I’m in Disneyland meal” is a corn dog! Yes, a simple corn dog. Disneyland corn dogs are the BEST corn dogs in the world, and you can fight me on that. I always suggest going to the red wagon on Main Street to grab a corn dog, but this time I went to Adventureland and enjoyed my corn dog with fries – still just as good!
If you’re lucky enough to visit Disneyland during the holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas, then add “looking at all the cute decorations” to your plan! Because Disneyland is smaller than the Walt Disney World parks, they’re able to be more detailed with their holiday decorations. I love Halloween and really enjoyed seeing all of the pumpkins everywhere! Don’t forget to check out Haunted Mansion Holiday, which is around for both Halloween and Christmas! You’ll love it, no matter if you’re a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas or not. If you’re lucky enough to be there during Christmas, make sure you jump on It’s a Small World Holiday! This is one of my big Disney bucket list items – to be able to see this ride! They create the most detailed overlay of the ride for the Christmas season – it’s gorgeous!
Setting aside holidays, I would just suggest that everyone make a point to visit Galaxy’s Edge. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the land – hello, 3 hour trip – but just walking through it was INCREDIBLE. The land was a lot larger than I thought it would be, extremely immersive, and just really spectacular. It seemed slightly out of place in Disneyland – I wasn’t a huge fan of the cast members being so immersed in their roles in the land – but it was amazing to see and I’m very glad I took the time to look around at everything. Next time, I will make a point to spend more time here!
And that was my 3 hour visit to Disneyland back in October! Super quick, but I got to check off all the items on my list and had an incredible time! See, it’s easy to have a quick trip – or super long, several day trip – to Disneyland! You just have to make a plan and set priorities. I would always encourage anyone who was in the Anaheim area, even if it was just for an afternoon, to make a stop at Disneyland. It’s absolutely perfect.
Special thanks to my friend, Tasha, for going with me! Tasha and I connected via Instagram, and this was our first time meeting in person! I’m very thankful for her and her friendship and it was so wonderful to be able to spend the day with her!
Have a magical day!