We are early birds, so we encourage people to try and get to the parks when we do to enjoy an empty walkways (as seen in this photo), short wait times & less stress!
Our tips for getting in the gates early:
We arrive to the Mickey & Friends parking structure anywhere from 60-90 minutes to park opening time. The parking structure opens 60 minutes prior to official park opening time on Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday and 90 minutes before park opening on Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday. Once you exit the parking structure, you can either go through the security checkpoint at the base of the structure, then take the tram in, OR bypass that checkpoint and walk to the Downtown Disney security checkpoint located between ESPN Zone & Rainforest Cafe. We have done both & find that early in the morning, taking the tram in is fine as there is no wait. As the morning wears on, lines get longer, so walking to Downtown Disney is faster, in our opinion.
The gates to the park actually open about 15-30 minutes prior to scheduled park opening for guests to wander Main Street in Disneyland or Buena Vista Street in California Adventure. We like to take the early entry time to check out the shops & grab a coffee! It’s also fun to be in the park at this time because characters like Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Chip ‘n Dale are usually out on Main Street with shorter lines.
Keep in mind, there will be more people in the mornings at Disneyland on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday & more people at California Adventure on Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday due to Magic Morning/Extra Magic Hour. See below for details about this extra hour in the parks.
- EXTRA MAGIC HOUR is for Disney Hotel guests is early entry to BOTH parks. California Adventure’s Extra Magic Hour is on Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday. Disneyland’s is on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday.
- MAGIC MORNING is for guests with a 3+ day ticket & allows ONE day of early entry to Disneyland only on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.
All that said, we highly recommend arriving early to get the most out of your Disneyland or California Adventure visit! Trust us, it’s worth the 1-2 hours of sleep loss for an empty park!