8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
First, send a runner to pick up fast passes for Radiator Springs. The passes often run out within an hour after the park opens. The fast passes are after Carthay Circle on the left. Your ride time may not be until 2 p.m., but the passes will tell you when you can collect other fast passes (usually after a couple hours). The same person should run over to Grizzly Rapids to pick up fast passes for World of Color (the passes for the show do not interfere with holding other passes). The passes give you an assigned viewing area, but you can watch the show without passes, just in front of the Ariel ride.
While the runner is grabbing passes, the rest of the group should make their way back to Toy Story Mania (it’s located back along the pier, to the left of the giant Mickey ferris wheel). The line will be long, but it’s shortest in the morning. The runner can easily join the group in line (people do it all the time).
When you can pick up another fast pass, I would send a runner to Goofy’s Sky School roller coaster to pick up passes for everyone. It’s to the right of the ferris wheel.
After Toy Story Mania, the older ones can do the single rider line (which is super short) for the Screamin’ California roller coaster while the rest of the group goes on the carousel right next to it (also a very short, fast moving line). Then you can swap with the adult that stayed behind on the carousel. If the youngers are bored on the carousel, you could go on the ferris wheel, but I would only go on it if the line says it’s less than a 30 minute wait.
If you’re waiting to do Goofy’s Sky School, you can do the ferris wheel, the swings, the jelly fish, and the Golden Zephyr. None of the rides are really worth a long wait, so you can see how long the lines are and decide if it’s worth you’re time. Goofy’s Sky School also has a single rider line. The olders can do this while the youngers go on Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, which is just after the Golden Zephyr. The younger ones can only go on the ferris wheel and Golden Zephyr, so I wouldn’t spend a lot of time on the pier rides (they’re typical carnival rides).
If you don’t pick up passes for Goofy, I would recommend sending someone to pick up fast passes for Grizzly Rapids so you can do that after the pier and Ariel. Grizzly also has single rider line.
After doing the rapids, I would head over to Cars Land. Hopefully by that time it should be close to the time when you could use your Radiator Springs fast passes, and you could go on Tow Mater’s Junk Yard ride (the height requirement is 32″). The younger people in the group can spend time in Bug’s Land.
When you go to use the fast passes on Radiator Springs, the youngers will need to be present to get the rider swap pass (they’re stricter on this ride because of the high demand for fast passes and long stand-by lines).
After you get the rider swap pass for Radiator Springs, the non-riding adult should go pick up fast passes for Tower of Terror and then hang out in Bugs Land (there’s also a theater for Bugs Land with a cute show behind the Tow Mater ride). Meet up in Bugs Land and then take turns going on Tower of Terror.
After Tower of Terror, I would go on Monsters Inc., located just pass the Tower of Terror (it’s kind of hidden, but just walk straight back, don’t turn onto Hollywood).
After Monsters Inc., I would send an adult to pick up fast passes for Soarin’ California while the other ones either do the Aladdin Show, Disney Jr. Live on Stage, or the Frozen Sing-a-Long.
You’ll need fast passes for the Frozen Sing Along. I think it’s fun if you have time, but not an essential. I do love the Aladdin Show and Disney Jr. Live on Stage. I would hang out in that area (Hollywood) and do shows because it’s a great location to watch the Pixar Parade that starts at 5 p.m. and it’s not too far from Soarin’ California. There’s also Turtle Talk, which is fun next to the Disney Jr. Studio. You only have to arrive like five minutes early for any of the shows (even though you’ll see people waiting in line way early), but they won’t let you in late, so you don’t be late.
Disney Jr. Live – 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 2:15, 3:15, 4:15
Aladdin – 12:40, 2:20, 4:45, 6:20
Frozen Sing Along – 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:45, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, 7:15, 8:00, 9:00
If it were me, after Monster’s Inc. I would do Disney Jr. Live at 4:15 (or earlier if you’re done earlier), watch the 5 p.m. parade, maybe grab some dinner, or do Soarin’ California if your passes are active. Then pick up fast passes for the 7:15 Frozen Sing-a-Long and then see the 6:20 Aladdin show. After Aladdin, you would watch the 7:15 Frozen Sing-a-Long and then head over to World of Color, but if you haven’t hit all the rides you want or used your rider swap passes, I would choose rides over shows.
We usually pack most of our food, but if I eat at California Adventure, the turkey legs are sold near Toy Story Mania and in Hollywood by the Frozen Sing-a-Long theater. They’re $10 and can be shared by at least two people (probably 3 kids). We also get the chowder bread bowls at Boudin, on the wharf behind Cars Land. If you go to the wharf, Ghirardelli hands out free chocolates 🙂
I would not waste an hour waiting to meet the Frozen characters if you can avoid it.
If you need to let your kids run loose and/or rest, the wilderness adventure area across from Grizzly Rapids is a good place to go. They have rock climbing, tire swings, ropes course, slides, etc.
California Adventure Summary
Radiator Springs Fast Passes
Pier – Toy Story Mania (all can ride), Screamin’ California (single rider line, must be 48″)
Grizzly Mountain Rapids (40″)
Cars Land – Tow Mater (no fast passes, line moves fast, 32″), Radiator Springs (use fast passes and rider swap, single rider line is also fast for ages 7 and older, 40″)
Bugs Land (kiddie rides)
Hollywood – Tower of Terror (use fast passes and rider swap, 40″), Aladdin, Disney Jr. Live
Soarin’ California (42″)
Guest Post by Nicole Goring
Nicole Goring is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys frequent trips with her two cute boys to the happiest place on earth. When she’s not at Disneyland, Nicole also enjoys discovering new restaurants, spending time at the beach and the gym, baking, and reading.