Ride This First at Disneyland

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Ride this first at Disneyland! There is so much to do and see at Disneyland that our readers are always asking us, “What ride should I go on first? Which ride has the longest line?”

Ride This First at Disneyland
Ride This First at Disneyland

Ride this first at Disneyland aims to help you plan your day at Disneyland Resort by giving suggestions in each land. This guide will help you pick favorites based upon your group and preferences so you can move on from there. Keep reading for all the details!

Ride this first at Disneyland Adventureland

Ride this first at Disneyland Critter Country

Ride this first at Disneyland Fantasyland

Ride this first at Disneyland Frontierland

Ride this first at Disneyland Mickey’s Toontown

Ride this first at Disneyland New Orleans Square

Ride this first at Disneyland Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Ride this first at Disneyland Tomorrowland

What to DO first at Disneyland

Ride this first at Disneyland Adventureland

Indiana Jone Mickey Mouse
Indiana Jone Mickey Mouse

This is where excitement and mystery collide for heart-pounding expeditions and journeys into the unknown. Adventureland is just that—full of intrigue and adventure. Plus, it’s soon to become a well traveled path to the new Star Wars land that has already broken ground at Disneyland park. Head here first for big thrills and fun family expeditions including Indiana Jones, Jungle Cruise and nearby attractions like Enchanted Tiki Room and Tarzan’s Treehouse.

Indiana Jones Adventure is our top pick for this land. This ride offers a FASTPASS so while wouldn’t worry about running straight to Adventureland when the park opens, Indiana Jones Adventure is the clear first-ride winner.

Bonus Tip: If you have a mixture of ages and heights in your group, read about the Rider Switch program here and see what to do with little ones while you wait. Plus, Indiana Jones has a Single Rider line which can get you on quick and without a FASTPASS.

Ride this first at Disneyland Critter CountryCritter Country

This is the back country of Disneyland (for now at least until Star Wars land makes its debut.) and is often empty in the early morning hours. Critter Country is all about making a splash in Disneyland’s backwoods and meeting old friends like Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. It’s the home of Splash Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (a great ride for toddlers), souvenir shop Pooh’s Corner (watch them make Tigger Tails and then grab one to snack on), The Hungry Bear Restaurant and Harbour Galley.

Splash Mountain is our top pick for this land. While I don’t recommend stopping here for your first ride of the day, making your way to this remote area before noon is a good plan. You can usually walk right on to Splash Mountain early in the morning. Splash Mountain is also a great ride to use a FASTPASS on, pick up one by noon on hot days and you’ll be able to ride in the mid-afternoon heat. When temps hit 100+ in Anaheim, even picking up a FASTPASS around 5:00pm will help cool you down when your return time is around 9:00pm or later.

Later on, stop by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh after you visit your “laughing place” which rarely has a wait time of over 15 minutes. I love riding Winnie the Pooh because it has the classic elements of the dark rides in Fantasyland without the long waits.  And you can often meet your favorite, silly old bear after you ride.

Ride this first at Disneyland Fantasyland

Kids at Disneyland
Kids at Disneyland

This is the storybook, magical heart of Disneyland and is often packed with guests at all hours of the day. FASTPASSES  are limited in Fantasyland to Matterhorn Bobsleds and “it’s a small world”, so this is a great place to begin your journey and beat most of the Disneyland crowds. By mid-day, almost every ride in Fantasyland is going to have long lines, so if any of the Fantasyland rides are on your must-ride list get to them first. It’s so hard to narrow it down in Fantasyland, but here’s my first-ride pick and a couple other suggestions.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant is our top pick for this land. Dumbo is a favorite ride for little ones and you can hop on it with lower waits in the early morning hours, giving your little crew some instant gratification upon park opening.

If you’ve got a taller and more daring crowd, Matterhorn Bobsleds is sure to be a winner. Another thing to keep in mind is Single Rider line option and the new FASTPASS option for Matterhorn Bobsleds. Plus, Mom and Dad can take little ones on other rides while trading turns doing rider switch on the Matterhorn.

Peter Pan’s Flight WAS my FORMER overall winner for what to ride first. The line is always long but I feel this attraction really brings to life the magic of everything Disneyland has to offer. Every age can ride Peter Pan’s Flight and the journey over Never Land is always magical. Why is this not the first must-do ride anymore? Everyone knows Peter Pan’s Flight is a long wait. Everyone rushes to this line first, so it can be 40 minutes long even when you’re arrived at rope drop.

The longer you wait for the ride, the less of an impact the magic seems to have. Peter Pan’s Flight is guaranteed to be a long line even the minute the park opens. It rarely drops below 40 minutes, so you may as well go enjoy other rides with shorter waits in the morning and take your chance at Peter Pan whenever you’d like but don’t make it a morning priority.

Remember, what to ride first is our opinion and applies to regular park hours. Some areas may not be open during Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hour and might not be available as a first ride. 

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Ride this first at Disneyland FrontierlandFrontierland

What to ride first in Frontierland! It’s the wild, wild west at Disneyland’s Frontierland! It’s the home of Tom Sawyer island, the iconic Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia. Walt Disney said it best, “Here we experience the story of our country’s past … the colorful drama of Frontier America in the exciting days of the covered wagon and the stage coach … the advent of the railroad … and the romantic riverboat. Frontierland is a tribute to the faith, courage and ingenuity of the pioneers who blazed the trails across America.”

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is our top pick for this land. If you can time it right, grab a FASTPASS for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to ride at dusk or at night. The thrills are that much better in the dark! It’s now even easier to do this with Disney MaxPass. On one sister trip to Disneyland, my sister and I rode it 4 times with MaxPass and we could have done it even more!

Ride this first at Disneyland Mickey’s ToontownRoger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin seats

Mickey’s Toontown is unique area in the back of the park that features the cartoon town where Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto and other Disney characters live and play. The great thing about Mickey’s Toontown, (besides its many photo ops) is it has different operating hours than the rest of the park. Since Mickey’s Toontown opens an hour later than all the other areas, this gives you a chance to ride other must-rides— then get to Mickey’s Toontown for first rides all over again!
Gadget’s Go Coaster is our top pick for this land. This is a perfect choice if your little ones want to try out a roller coaster before hitting the big time.  Gadget’s Go Coaster has one car that seats a little over a dozen people (depending on size), so the line moves slowly, which is one reason I recommend hitting this ride first in Mickey’s Toontown.
In Mickey’s Toontown you can also take a spin on Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin; secure a FASTPASS on your way into Toontown and check out the scenery or visit Mickey and Minnie while you wait for your FASTPASS return time.

Ride this first at Disneyland New Orleans Square

Pirates of the Caribbean
© The Happiest Blog on Earth.

New Orleans Square is one of my favorite locations inside of Disneyland. I love the ambiance in this area and especially love daydreaming about my visit to Club 33, the exclusive private dining area above it all. If you’re headed to New Orleans Square first, you have your choice of Pirates of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion.  Haunted Mansion’s line is usually minimal, except during the holidays when it gets a makeover by Jack Skellington.

Pirates of the Caribbean is our top pick for this land. This is a Disneyland classic and you must ride it at least once on every visit. It’s a smooth, cool adventure that my baby brother loved to nap on every time (Taking a baby to Disneyland? Tons of tips here.).  If you head here first thing in the morning you won’t wait long at all. Later in the day, the line often looks a lot longer than it is. Choose the right side of the line when they split into two under the bridge. It’s usually faster because the left side can wrap farther around the back.

Ride this first at Disneyland Star Wars: Galaxy’s EdgeGalaxy's Edge Disneyland model

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is set to open summer 2019 at Disneyland Park. Get all the details here.

Ride this first at Disneyland TomorrowlandDisney MaxPass Star Tours

In Tomorrowland you’ll find Nemo, as in the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. The line here is deceivingly long and is probably the most boring queue in the entire park (that’s one reason it made my what not to ride list). If your kids love Nemo, this ride is right up there on our first ride for the whole park suggestion. It’s not my favorite ride, and since my kids have experienced it a few times, we skip it and head over to . . .

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue is our top pick for this land. Yes, there is FASTPASS for this attraction. However, even the FASTPASS line can get backed up. There’s no single rider option here and FASTPASSES do run out earlier than nearby Space Mountain, so it’s definitely one to ride early in the day. Be warned—it might make you sick. 

Do this first at Disneyland Park

The reimagined battle experience "Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple". (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)
The reimagined battle experience “Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple”. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

We’ve covered the rides, but there’s other things you may want to do first at Disneyland Park.

If you have Princess loving Disney fans in your group, ride one of your must-rides first thing in the morning (read more about opening the Disneyland Resort here) and then head over to see the Princesses and Fairies at their various locations throughout the park. Check out our detailed articles on how to meet Disney Princesses and Tinker Bell at Disneyland.
If you arrive first thing in the morning, you will more than likely be able to walk right in to visit your favorite characters. Trust me, it is so much better than waiting an hour or more in these slow moving lines! Mickey and Minnie also get busy visiting with friends early in the day. Ride a few rides, then head over to Mickey’s Toontown (which usually opens an hour later than the rest of Disneyland) to say hello.
Now that Star Wars is making an even bigger appearance at the Disneyland Resort (more on Star Wars Landhere), Jedi Training Academy has been reimagined into an even better experience for young Padawans. If your kids want to participate in Jedi Training, you must sign up at the kiosk outside the Star Wars Launch Bay exit. Registration begins at park opening, with limited space during Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning Hour.  Participants must be present to sign up for a spot. Read all about this interactive experience here.
As of May 2015, Fantasmic! requires a FASTPASS for viewing. This FASTPASS is not connected to other attraction FASTFASSES and must be obtained in person, not via the app. If you would like to see this popular night show, be sure to pick up your FASTPASS earlier in the day. On nights when a second, later show is available, try getting a FASTPASS around lunch time instead.
We know it’s a tough choice to decide what to see and ride first, but we hope our guide has helped narrow down things a bit. When you’re visiting over multiple days, you can always pick a new first-ride each morning. What ride do you always go to first? What ride can you not live without riding at Disneyland? We’d love to know!

Disneyland expert who also loves the beach, flip flops and pink nail polish.

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