Busy Season (AKA Spring Break) has started at the parks and while higher crowd levels are to be expected, we actually enjoy the fact that the parks open at 8:00 AM for the next few weeks! We’ll explain why. When the parks open at 9:00 or 10:00 AM during “slow season”, more people can wake up and make it during those later hours vs. 8:00 AM opening (especially now that it’s darker in the mornings). The first couple hours after the parks open at 8:00 AM are kind of a dream! We can bounce from one ride to the next with very minimal wait times. We’ve counted on numerous occasions and it’s usually anywhere between 8-10 rides we can get done within an hour and a half right after the park opens (majority of the rides we go on during that time are in Fantasyland).
We highly recommend arriving early if you want to experience the parks right at opening, especially if you’re just planning a one-day trip! Parking opens one hour before official opening time on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and 90 minutes prior to opening on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If you would like to be at the front gate before they allow guests in (gates open 15-30 min before official opening time for guests to wander Main Street in Disneyland & Buena Vista Street in California Adventure), then definitely arrive to the Mickey and Friends parking structure when it opens.
Reagan walking through an empty Frontierland last Spring during busy season – EMPTY. So worth arriving early for these empty walkways!
Another example of early arrival – empty Disneyland!
Something to consider when choosing a morning to go during this busy Spring Break season is Magic Morning. Magic Morning allows guests with a 3+ day ticket into the park one hour before official opening on certain days.
You can expect more people already in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland (only lands they have access to) on Magic Morning days, which are on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The earlier the park opens on those days, the better it is for guests without the early access benefit because Magic Morning guests have to arrive before 7:00 AM to get the full hour in (that’s early) – the point is, not as many people can wake up super early to make it to the park gates at 6:30 AM! On 10:00 AM opening days, Magic Morning is usually much busier because later opening is easier to get to.
All that said, we prefer Disneyland mornings with no Magic Morning on Monday, Wednesday or Friday with Wednesday being our favorite day.
Extra Magic Hour is for Disney Hotel Guests and allows early access one-hour prior to official opening at California Adventure on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and at Disneyland on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On the California Adventure early access days, you can expect more people on Paradise Pier, in Cars Land and early entry guests will also have access to Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout when it opens on May 27.
We prefer California Adventure mornings on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday with Tuesday or Thursday being our favorites.
For more of our tips on how to manage Busy Season, click here.
Other fun things to expect this Spring Break:
Soundsational Parade is returning to Disneyland starting Friday, March 24th! This is Disneyland’s daytime parade filled with lots of classic characters – it’s awesome! This parade doesn’t typically require reserving a spot too far in advance, which is great if you have young kids. We’ve always been able to scope out a location 20-30 minutes before start time. That said, we do recommend checking out the parade route about 45 minutes before show time just in case there are lots of guests already sitting down. If that’s the case, we recommend grabbing a spot sooner rather than later. For more information on parade viewing locations, click here.
The Main Street Electrical Parade will have TWO showings every night of the week now! There was just one Main Street Electrical Parade on Monday-Thursday during slow season and two on Friday-Sunday, so they’ve added one more show time to Monday-Thursday. That means there will be THREE parades scheduled with the return of Soundsational! Check the Disneyland App for showtimes or grab an entertainment schedule pamphlet when you enter the parks.
“Remember…Dreams Come True” fireworks spectacular happens every Friday-Sunday at 9:25 PM (weather permitting). This is a definite must-see!
***For tips on getting a spot for the Main Street Electrical parade or fireworks, click here.
Belle’s Provincial Town:
- Village Haus Restaurant has transform into a “Red Rose Taverne”, a French Taverne offering a new quick-service menu (includes a special version of “the Grey Stuff”), & new signature beverages! The restaurant is also decorated with NEW murals with favorite scenes from Beauty and the Beast! Keep in mind, the line for this restaurant can get pretty long. We recommend arriving about 20-30 minutes before it opens at 11:00 AM if you want to be toward the front of the line. We don’t know an end date yet for this special overlay, but will update everyone as soon as we hear.
Mrs. Potts Rice Krispy Treat, “Grey Stuff” (white chocolate mousse and red velvet cake hiding in the center on a short bread cookie), and Poutine Flatbread topped with slow cooked beef, pomme frites, roasted garlic aioli, cheese curds, gravy and herb oil.
- Royal Reception – The shop located next to the Village Haus Restaurant has new merchandise inspired by the live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast!”
- Maurice’s Treats – One of our favorite snack stops in Fantasy Faire (west side of the castle) still offers their classic (and delicious) cheddar garlic bagel twist, but they’ve added a couple of new items to the menu – a strawberry rose twist and “grey stuff” twist! Along with the twists, you can pick a sauce – marinara, strawberry or “grey stuff!” Maurice’s Treats also has a new beverage on the menu called a “Red Rose Lemonade Freeze” – very refreshing! Below is the souvenir stein you can purchase with your beverage of choice (Gaston is on the back side).
- Everyday at 11:00 AM, Belle and the Beast make an appearance with the Disneyland Band during their performance in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle! They make their entrance during “Be Our Guest!” It’s so cute and fun, especially if your little ones love Beauty and the Beast! This will happen as long as all of the other new Beauty and the Beast fun is happening in Fantasyland.
- Character meet & greets – Be on the lookout for Belle and the Beast in Fantasyland! They like to wander through their “provincial town” and stop for photos! They’ve also been seen joining in on a ride around the kingdom on King Arthur Carrousel! Lastly, Gaston shows off his muscles (insert eye roll HA!) while he wanders around Fantasyland. Download the Disneyland App to check character appearance times & locations!
California Adventure Food and Wine Festival until April 16 – click here for all the details!
St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 – the parks typically don’t do anything super extravagant, but you will see some special treats at The Candy Palace on Main Street, Pooh Corner in Critter Country, Trolley Treats on Buena Vista Street in California Adventure and Marceline’s Confectionery in Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney is offering a few special menu items and some fun entertainment! See below for the details.
Downtown Disney Food Offerings:
- Sprinkles Cupcakes – Irish Chocolate Cupcakes made with Bailey’s Irish Cream or Green Velvet Cupcakes available until March 31.
- Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen – “Pot o’ Gold” creation made with Jameson Irish Whiskey and some “special lucky charms” – sounds intriguing!
- Marceline’s Confectionery – Specialty Caramel Apple with mouse ears under a leprechaun hat wearing green shorts with Mickey’s buttons available until March 18.
- Jamba Juice – Buy one get one smoothie until Sunday March 19. Options are an Apple ‘N Greens, Greens ‘N Ginger, Amazing Greens or Matcha Green Tea Blast.
- ESPN Zone – Any pale beer can be made into a glorious green beverage! Also, the menu features new grass-fed burgers.
Downtown Disney Entertainment:
- Sligo Rags (amazing band that plays at the Paradise Garden Bandstand in California Adventure – one of our favorites)!
Chocolate and sprinkle covered Rice Krispy Treat from last St. Patrick’s Day! Yum.
Egg-stravaganza – More details about this fun Easter Egg Hunt around both parks and Downtown Disney coming soon! It typically runs for about a month before Easter.
Easter treats – Chocolate Easter eggs filled with chocolate or peanut butter (made in-house – see photo below) have already hit the shelves in The Candy Palace on Main Street, Pooh Corner in Critter Country, Trolley Treats on Buena Vista Street in California Adventure and Marceline’s Confectionery in Downtown Disney. Be on the lookout for more treats coming to those locations soon!