Here at the Babes in Disneyland Blog I’m affectionately known as the Contributor who holds the record for the most on-property stays, a distinction for which I am quite proud. 🙂 There are several reasons that I prefer to stay at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels including: quick and easy access to the parks, excellent service, and the extra magical Disney theming throughout the lobby, grounds (pools), and rooms. All of the before mentioned reasons aside, my absolute favorite on-site perk is the opportunity to get into Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park (DCA) one hour before the general public.
What are Extra Magic Hours?
Extra Magic Hours allow Disneyland Resort hotel guests early access to select attractions, stores, characters, and restaurants. Each morning, for every day of their stay, resort hotel guests have access to either Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure Park one hour before regular park opening. There are also certain multi-day tickets (3 or more day park hoppers) and Southern California CityPASS that offer early admission (known as Magic Mornings), but the early admission can only be used one time and only at Disneyland.
Extra Magic Hours at Disneyland are available on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Early entry to Disneyland allows Guests access to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland with popular attractions such as Space Mountain, Star Tours, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Alice in Wonderland, having minimal if any wait at all. Additionally, some of the shops and restaurants along Main Street are open. Disney’s California Adventure Park Extra Magic Hour days are Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Early entry to DCA allows guests access to the entirety of the park, however, not all of the rides are open during the first hour. In my experience, popular attractions such as Radiator Springs Racers, Frozen Fun, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Soarin’ Over California are open and have minimal to no wait times. When last we visited, my son Evan and I rode California Screamin’ 3 times in a row without ever getting back in line (aka riding through)- it was awesome!!
Extra Magic Hour Advantages
Even though it is often challenging to get everyone up and out of the door super early in the morning, I feel as though the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages (i.e. losing an hour or two of sleep). In my opinion the biggest and best advantage of Extra Magic Hours is having an hour in the parks with lighter crowds and shorter lines. This becomes especially important during peak travel times. Rides that normally have an hour or more wait are usually no more than 15 minutes, and most often even less than that. During our last trip to DCA we were able to ride the following rides prior to official park opening: Radiator Springs Racers, California Screamin’ (3 times), King Triton’s Carousel, Toy Story Midway Mania (2 times), Mickey’s Fun Wheel, and Goofy’s Sky School. That’s a ton of ground covered and time saved, which allows us to spend more time visiting with characters, on other attractions, and entertainment such as parades and shows. One of my favorite things to do when there are fewer people in the parks is to take photos that I wouldn’t normally be able to take. Often, depending on the location and angle of the photo it appears as if we have the park all to ourselves. During the summer months I also really appreciate being able to take advantage of cooler temperatures during the early in the morning hours, and usually escape back to the hotel during the hottest part of the day for some downtime.
Extra Magic Hours Disadvantages
I think the most obvious here is that it can be a challenge to get up and out of the hotel room early in the morning- especially if you’ve had a busy day in the parks the day prior. I’ve also noticed that as more and more people learn about this awesome perk, Extra Magic Hours are becoming more and more crowded. While not as crowded as regular park hours, I have noticed an increase in attendance over the past 8-10 years. Lastly, availability of the characters, attractions, and shows is subject to availability, which means that if I’ve got a set itinerary I risk not being able to accomplish as much as I’d hoped.
All in all, I think that the Extra Magic Hour advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and take every opportunity to use one of the most coveted perks of staying on property each and every time I visit.
Extra Magic Hour Tips
Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks that have really helped to enhance our experience and help us to accomplish even more in a short amount of time.
1. Arrive 10-15 minutes early. Arriving early, especially during peak travel times allows you to be closer to the front of the line and get into the park as soon as the turnstiles open.
2. Enter Disney’s California Adventure Park through the main turnstiles (not through the hotel entrance). The hotel entrance has fewer turnstiles, and thus a longer wait, even during Extra Magic Hours.
3. Plan ahead. Have a general idea of which rides you would like to do first, keeping in mind that ride availability is subject to change. If the ride you had in mind is closed be prepared to substitute it with another ride and keep on going.
4. Bring a camera. There are lots of excellent opportunities for photos throughout both parks- make sure that you’ve got a camera handy to capture them all!
5. Do your homework. Checking websites such as the Babes in Disneyland Blog, Disney Parks Blog, and the Disneyland Resort Website prior to your trip will allow you to be prepared for any special events, attraction information, and other opportunities that could help to make your day all the more magical!
Have you had the opportunity to experience either Extra Magic Hours or Magic Mornings at either Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure Park? If so, we’d love to hear more about your experiences as well as any tips you’d like to share!