Disneyland 3-Day Itinerary with Genie+ 2024

One of the most common ticket types that guests buy for Disneyland is a 3-day park hopper ticket which gives you access to both Disneyland and California Adventure for three days. The value of this ticket increases when you add Disney Genie+ to skip the lines for popular rides. Since this is the most popular ticket type, we've put together a 3-day itinerary guide for Disneyland.

Our 3-day Disneyland itinerary focusing on tackling the most popular rides in Disneyland and California Adventure plus how to mix in the best entertainment, nighttime spectaculars, and other essential Disneyland experiences.

We visit Disneyland weekly and are consistently adjusting our Disneyland touring plans to maximize their efficiency so you can make the most out of your trip. I always rope drop both parks when I visit with my family and have learned through experience which rides have the longest waits and how to best manage your time in the mornings.

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Disneyland 3-Day Itinerary- Before You ArriveSpace Mountain at Disneyland

Before I jump into the essential Disneyland 3-day itinerary, there are some steps you should take to prepare for your day at Disney before you arrive!

1. Download the Disneyland AppScreenshot of Disneyland app

The first thing you need to do is to download the Disneyland app and become familiar with it. This app gives guests the most accurate wait times for rides plus this is how you will use Genie+ (more on this below) to skip the lines. You can also link your park tickets to it, make dining reservations and mobile order food!

Take a look at the layout of each park on the app so you have a rough idea of where you are going once you enter!

2. Learn How to Use Genie+Disney castle with Genie+ Logo

Genie+ is an option that Disney offers for guests to skip long lines for popular attractions. The most popular rides in the park have two separate lines: a standby line and a Lightning Lane line. The Lightning Lane lines are far shorter since only guests with Genie+ or disabilities have access to them. The Lightning Lane wait times rarely exceed 15-20 minutes and at times, are walk on! The standby lines any guest can join and these lines can easily exceed an hour or more.

Guests with Disabilities- To read more about how to navigate Disneyland with disabilities, read our guide to Disneyland's disability service.

If guests want to access the Lightning Lanes, then they need to purchase Genie+ which starts at $30 per person, per day. If you only have one day to spend at Disneyland then this service is absolutely worth it so you can see MORE in your day and spend less time in line. After purchasing the service, you use the Disneyland app to pick which rides you want to use Genie+ as you go through your day. There are limitations to this service- you can only book a new ride reservation once you've used your previous one or after two hours have passed. So this is why some planning is still required to make sure you see everything in one day!

We have a thorough guide to Disney Genie+ based on multiple days in the parks of testing out the service that is a MUST READ as you get ready for your Disneyland trip.

Individual Lightning Line Rides! There are two rides at Disneyland and California Adventure that are not included in the general Genie+ price and have to be purchased separately if guests want to experience them. These two rides are also two of the best rides in the entire theme park so you may want to consider splurging on purchases for these rides. These attractions also offer a regular standby queue if you do not want to pay the extra cost and are willing to wait! Right now, these two Individual Lightning Lane attractions are Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland and Radiator Springs Racers at California Adventure. I will incorporate them into our strategy below with the assumption that you will NOT be purchasing access to them but if you decide it's worth it, it might make your day easier! Access to these Lightning Lanes for these two rides averages about $15-20 per person.

Genie+ Reservations WILL Run Out for Popular Rides!

The most popular Genie+ attractions will run out of available reservation times which is why my itinerary tries to prioritize those before the other options. Here are the top three rides ranked in order of popularity for Genie+ reservations in both parks:

Disneyland

  1. Indiana Jones Adventure
  2. Space Mountain
  3. Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway

California Adventure

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy- Mission: BREAKOUT!
  2. WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure
  3. Toy Story Midway Mania!

You'll see how in my itinerary below, I recommend using Genie+ on these rides first so you don't risk them running out.

3. Plan to Rope DropAdventureland on Disneyland

Rope drop is the term for when guests arrive at the theme park before opening and line up around the park to wait for the official opening music and this is when the ropes blocking guests from entering the full park are then dropped. If you are one of the first groups positioned at these ropes before the park opens then you can essentially walk right on to an attraction. To arrive in time for Disneyland rope drop or California Adventure rope drop, guests should be lined up at the front gates at least 45 minutes to one hour before official park opening.

Disneyland cast members will start scanning tickets about 30 minutes prior to park opening and let guests in the park so they can line up near the ropes blocking off each land before they start their day.

Early Entry for Disneyland Resort Guests! Guests staying at Disneyland Resort hotels are allowed to access select attractions 30 minutes prior to park opening giving those guests an advantage for some popular attractions. Read more about early entry and our advice on what you should prioritize during that 30 minutes if you have it in our Disneyland Early Entry guide!

4. Pick Your DayPirates of the Caribbean attraction

What day should you visit Disneyland? If you have some flexibility in your choice, pick a weekend when park hours are longer and fireworks are guaranteed to make the most of your time. Disneyland's operating hours on weekends average an opening time of 8AM with a closing time as late as 11PM or midnight. Fireworks are only shown on weekends (Friday through Sunday) during Spring and Fall so this is also a good way to guarantee you will see the fireworks. Weekends are also less busy since most local annual passholders (called Magic Key holders) are blocked out from visiting so contrary to popular belief, you may even experience lower crowds on a weekend too.

Read more about the best days of the week to visit Disneyland in our guide!

5. What Shows to See?Disneyland fireworks in front of castle

Aside from the top attractions that I will cover in our Disneyland 3-day itinerary, there are also plenty of entertainment options at Disneyland to enjoy.

There are three different entertainment options offered year-round at Disneyland: stage shows, parades, and fireworks. The time of year you visit will impact your entertainment options greatly. If you are visiting during the Disneyland Halloween season, the fireworks at Disneyland will be Halloween themed while the ticketed Halloween party, Oogie Boogie Bash, will feature an exclusive parade. During Disneyland Christmas, there is a seasonal Christmas parade (my favorite Disneyland parade!) and a holiday fireworks show. If you are visiting any other time of year, then you may want to check our Disneyland parade and Disneyland fireworks guide to see which show you can expect!

Cruise the Disneyland website entertainment schedule for your park day and see what is offered and if you'd like to add that to your day. Or if you want to focus all on rides, that is just fine too!

Now that we've covered all the basics, let's dig into my Disneyland 3-day itinerary!

Disneyland 3-Day Itinerary- Day OneDisneyland & California Adventure 1-Day Itinerary

In my Disneyland 3-day itinerary I recommend that you start your first day at Disneyland. I am primarily going to focus on how you should spend your morning and then suggest my best tips on how to fill your afternoons and evenings with additional attractions and park entertainment.

This itinerary can be used for either 1 park per day tickets or with park hoppers. You can adjust these plans as needed to fit your ticket type. What is most important is how you spend your time in the morning which should always be spent focusing on the most popular attractions.

Read more about all the available Disneyland ticket types. 

disneyland rope drop

Arrive at Disneyland early enough to rope drop (at least 45 minutes prior to park opening) and line up facing Adventureland.

  • Rope drop Indiana Jones Adventure– standby line.
  • Grab Genie+ reservation for Space Mountain right when the park opens which would give you a return time of 8:30 a.m through 9:30 a.m.
  • Ride Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Ride Haunted Mansion– standby line.
  • Ride Jungle Cruise-standby line.
    • Keep an eye on your Space Mountain return time, if you're running out of time skip Jungle Cruise and do that later after dinner!
  • Ride Big Thunder Mountain– standby line.
  • Ride Space Mountain with your Genie+ reservation– Lightning Lane.

By this point, it should be around 10 a.m., and you have finished most of the best rides in the park! The key to accomplishing that is to move through these plans swiftly to take advantage of the lowest wait times in the morning which is the first two hours of park opening. You can move more leisurely through our itinerary after lunch, the morning is more fast-paced!

  • Grab Genie+ reservation for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway.
  • Ride Star Tours– standby line.
  • Ride it's a small world– standby line.
  • If your return time for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is still not ready, look at the Disneyland app and see what rides have lower wait times near your location. Look at the wait time for Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, if the wait is less than 20 minutes, go ahead and ride it! You can also cruise around Toontown while you wait, there is plenty to see in this highly-themed area!
  • Ride Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway with your Genie+ reservation- Lightning Lane.
  • Grab Genie+ reservation for Matterhorn Bobsleds.

This would be a good time to break for lunch. Pick one of our top favorite dining locations from our best Disneyland restaurants list to enjoy lunch! Some of these require reservations so if you decide to pick one of these options do not forget to reserve your spot! You should aim to be eating lunch around 1130-noon.

Falcon in Star Wars Galaxys Edge

After lunch, use the Genie+ reservation you booked before you sat down to eat! At this point the most crucial areas and attractions you have left include:

  • Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
  • Fantasyland
  • Toontown

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is a great area to spend the afternoon in because it's so spread out with plenty of see and do. This is my favorite area to head to in the afternoons when the crowds tend to be at their highest. You can build your own droid or splurge on creating your own specialized lightsaber! You should be able to snag a Genie+ reservation for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run for a relatively reasonable return time. As you wait for your time, enjoy the area- there's plenty to see.

Rise Star Wars Disneyland

Spend your evening focusing on rides that have lower wait times and then plan on watching the Disneyland fireworks.

Before the fireworks, focus on riding Rise of the Resistance before 9PM. This ride closes before the rest of the park does! But the wait times drastically lower around dinner time (anytime after 7PM) and this is a great chance to ride with a far lower wait time than in the morning.

Watching the Disneyland fireworks is essential for our Disneyland 3-Day Itinerary so once you finish Rise of the Resistance, focus on integrating this nighttime show into your evening. I recommend planning to watch the fireworks on the first day because fireworks are often canceled for high winds. This will allow you to plan to see them another day if they are canceled on your first time trying to view them.

The Disneyland fireworks usually start at 9:30PM and I suggest watching them in front of it's a small world so you spend minimal time waiting for a good spot. You can show up in this area by 9PM and still get a great view. This is a perfect way to end your first day at Disneyland.

Disneyland 3-Day Itinerary- Day TwoRadiator Springs Racers

For your second day at Disneyland, I recommend starting your morning at California Adventure to rope drop the popular attractions in this park.

  • Grab Disney Genie Plus for Toy Story Midway Mania
  • Rope drop Radiator Springs Racers
    • This will be the shortest line for the attraction all day if you execute well. If you are not at the very front of the group you should plan on utilizing the Disneyland single rider line for this attraction to cut down on the wait time.
  • Ride Toy Story Midway Mania with your Disney Genie Plus 
    • You should enjoy the attraction with little to no wait time
  • Grab Guardians of the Galaxy- Mission: BREAKOUT! Disney Genie Plus with aim of using about an hour after park opening
  • Ride Incredicoaster
  • Ride Guardians of the Galaxy- Mission: BREAKOUT! with Genie Plus.
  • Grab WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure Disney Genie Plus immediately after redeeming Guardians
  • Ride Monsters, INC. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
  • Ride Mater's Junkyard Jamboree
  • Ride Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters
  • Ride WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure with Disney Genie Plus
  • Grab Soarin' Disney Genie Plus
  • Ride Goofy's Sky School
  • Ride The Little Mermaid- Ariel's Undersea Adventure
  • Ride Soarin' with Disney Genis Plus
  • Grab Grizzly River Run Genie Plus Pass

This is about the time many families would take a break for lunch so this is a great time to grab a Genie+ return for an attraction that will have a later return time. I recommend Grizzly River Run since this is a water ride and enjoying it in the afternoon when the sun is highest will be the most enjoyable.

Pixar Pier view Disney California Adventure

Pick one of our top favorite dining locations from our best California Adventure restaurants list to enjoy lunch! Some of these require reservations so if you decide to pick one of these options do not forget to reserve your spot! You should aim to be eating lunch around noon.

After lunch, you can spend time exploring the park entertainment, characters, and lower wait attractions that you didn't ride in the morning. Here are some of the best areas you can explore during your afternoon in California Adventure:

  • Redwood Creek Trail
    • This is a great area for kids to run around and burn off restless energy while parents relax. The best part? There is only one entrance in and out of the Redwood Creek Trail so you can let kids run free without too much worry. There's plenty of areas to climb like a playground, a tire zipline, and a rope course to explore.
  • Animation Academy
    • Draw your very own character sketch under the guidance of a Disney animator.
  • Buena Vista Street
    • Buena Vista Street is the California Adventure version of Main Street and is filled with fun characters to interact with, shopping, and dining options.
  • Character Meet n Greets
    • There are a large variety of unique characters to find in California Adventure including:
      • Find Marvel heroes like Dr. Strange, Captain America, Spider-Man, and more in Avengers Campus.
      • Meet Lightning McQueen, Mater, and Cruz in Cars Land.
      • Along with classics like Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Donald, Daisy, etc. around Buena Vista street.

While you enjoy this afternoon entertainment, continue to keep booking your Genie+ reservations for the rides in the park you didn't cover in the morning. Since we plan our mornings to focus on the most popular rides, your afternoon Genie+ reservations will be easier to get and often have shorter durations between return times.

World of Color california adventure

For your evening in California Adventure, you should plan on watching World of Color. This nighttime spectacular takes place in Paradise Bay in front of Mickey's Pal-A-Round and the Incredicoaster. Guests can watch the water dance along with perfectly timed pyrotechnics and momentous music as they enjoy memorable scenes from their favorite Disney and Pixar animated and live-action films.

Read more about dining packages for World of Color to see if you want to book a reserved viewing option for the show.

The World of Color is one of Disney’s most impressive extravaganzas that features around 22 minutes of color, magic and imagination. During the show you can expect to see classic Disney characters and songs such as The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Aladdin, and more. Recent Disney films such as UP!, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Tangled also make appearances in this colorful show. This is the perfect way to end the day.

Disneyland 3-Day Itinerary- Day ThreeDisneyland its a small world

Now for day three at Disneyland this is where I recommend visiting both parks in one day (if you have a park hopper) or picking your favorite park of the two to spend your day. By day three you should have ridden the most popular rides so now this day should be focusing on repeating favorite rides for your family and focusing on other experiences you may not have done in the first two days.

But rather than leave you to your own devices, this is how I would approach the third day of a Disneyland 3-day itinerary.

Disneyland Rope Drop- Fantasyland 

Since we focused on the other e-ticket attractions on day one, on the last day I would focus on rope dropping all the classic attractions in Fantasyland! I recommend this following this order for the Fantasyland rides which prioritize the most popular first.

  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Snow White's Enchanted Wish
  • Mr Toad's Wild Ride
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats
  • Pinocchio's Daring Journey
  • Mad Tea Party
  • King Arthur Carrousel
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train

Once you've finished with Fantasyland, you can take in some of the other hidden details in Disneyland like the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk through, Tom Sawyer's Island or enjoy riding the Mark Twain Riverboat or Sailing Ship Columbia. For your afternoon, I recommend you focus on attractions in California Adventure that may have been overlooked during your first day at this park.

Silly Swings at California Adventure

These are all rides that may have been overlooked on your first day at California Adventure and typically have reasonable wait times even in the afternoons.

  • Silly Symphony Swings
  • Goofy's Fly School
  • Jumpin' Jellyfish
  • Golden Zepher
  • Pixar's Pal-A-Round
  • Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
  • Jessie's Critter Carousel

These attractions are all situated around Pixar Pier which also incudes plenty of great snack options, shopping, and even midway carnival style games. This is our favorite area to spend the afternoons if we already have enjoyed the higher wait attractions in the park.

Fantasmic disneyland show

To end your three days at Disneyland, I advise coming back to spend your last evening in Disneyland finishing the trip off with a nighttime showing of Fantasmic!

This nighttime spectacular is shown nightly most of the year but may only be shown on weekends during slower seasons. You can expect a variety of Disney stories highlighted on boats that drift past on Rivers of America, a combination of water screens and special effects, and a storyline with Mickey Mouse as the star.

If you missed the fireworks or would like to see them again, you can also stay put in your spot to watch the Disneyland fireworks which will be shown after Fantasmic! ends. Read more about dining packages for Fantasmic! to see if you want to book a reserved viewing option for the show.

This 3-day itinerary for Disneyland is meant to just be a guide that you can tweak and move things around depending on the priorities for your group. My best advice is to follow the rope drop orders offered in this 3-day itinerary the most closely and then after that feel free to be as flexible in your plans and repeat any of your favorite rides!

Plan Your Disneyland Vacation!

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You can discover more about planning your trip to Disneyland from these links:

Can Disneyland be done in three days?

Three days is the perfect amount of time to spend at Disneyland especially if you purchase a park hopper ticket to see both parks.

How many days do you really need at Disneyland?

The best amount of time to spend at Disneyland is at least two days but at best three is the perfect number to see everything.

Does Disneyland have a three day pass?

Yes, you can get a three day ticket for Disneyland.

Disclosure: We have used all the products recommended on Mickey Visit. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products featured.

About Lindsay Brookshier

Lindsay is a college English instructor and has years of writing experience through various nonprofits, charities, newspapers, and online magazines. As the content director of Mickey Visit, she oversees article content and leads our fantastic team of writers to meet guest vacation needs. You can still find her writing weekly content to help make your Disney Parks trip fantastic here on Mickey Visit and Disney Dose- you can also view her recently featured posts on Disney Parks travel on Visit Anaheim, Nerd Wallet and SFGate. Lindsay comes from a dedicated Disney family and enjoys taking her son to the Disney parks as often as possible.

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