For those who have been to Walt Disney World, or have heard of it, Disneyland Resort (Disneyland and Disney California Adventure) seems on the small side. I often hear Walt Disney World vets say you can do it all in one day at Disneyland. NOT TRUE! But how long does one really need to enjoy all (or at least most) of Disneyland?
This answer is going to vary depending on when you go, who is in your party, and what interests you. To start, we have gone to Disneyland Resort for 5 days before and not done EVERYTHING. But of course, some things we did several times. So how long should you plan?
Adults Only/No Kid Rides- If you are going with only adults, or older teens, etc who are not interested in doing the majority of kids rides, will mostly be hitting up thrill rides, a few shows, eating, and meeting only the fab 5 (Mickey and Friends) characters you will probably need less time than others. For a quick trip, you could probably pack everything on your must-do list in to 2 days (one for each park). It will require knowledge of the fastpass system,walking quickly, and planning around crowds, but it could be done. It will allow you a little shopping time, eating, and maybe catching some characters, but you will have to really focus to get in all of the rides and shows you want, especially if it is crowded in the parks and you don't get there at rope drop and you plan on leaving before closing.
Family with small children, no teens- This is tricky, in one way, you need time to hit up all the little kid rides that do not have fastpasses, the shows, and still fit in naps, shopping, characters (if your kids are open to them), and finding lots of magical moments. The key with small children is to find what works for your family. I will say you will most likely want 3 days for a family with small children. 2 for Disneyland (a lot more kid friendly rides here) and 1 for DCA. In DCA be sure to catch the shows that are there for kids. Disney Junior, Muppets 3D, and It's Tough to Be a Bug, for starters. Many families find it helpful to return to their hotel for naptime. We are lucky and The Goof will nap in his stroller.
Want to Do It All- Maybe you are the family that wants to get it all in. Perhaps you have both teens and smaller kids (check out this post on how to make it a magical trip for both your teen/tween and toddler). Or maybe you just are on a mission to not miss a single show, ride, and to eat at several places, get autographs with every character, and do some shopping at the same time. Well, you my friend, will need AT LEAST a 5 day park ticket. Our family has gone for 5 days, and not done everything. Granted, we have favorites we do over and over, but we still try to only do them a few times so we can get more stuff in. I would highly recommend at least 2 full days in each park, and one extra day to shop or fit in some extras. You will find that there is still stuff you miss. To make this less stressful, I would suggest taking a day off in the middle to rest. Even with 5 days, if you REALLY want to fit it all in, you will need to spend most day, every day at the park.
So how many days do we normally go? It varies. Depending on when we are going (estimated crowds, hours, etc), who is going with us, and how long of a trip we can take. In the end, any Disney time is better than none.
How many days do you normally spend in the parks during your Disneyland vacation?