The Importance of Arriving Early


One of the best tips I can give someone is to arrive right at park opening for Disneyland or California Adventure.  If you arrive at 8:00 am, you can do more attractions in the first two hours than you could an entire day.  This is so helpful because after you’ve been in the park for a couple of hours, the rest of the day is a breeze and you don’t have to feel rushed to “do it all”.

A couple of years ago I went with a large group to Disneyland during Christmas time.  Arranging for everyone and their kids to be ready for park opening was impossible.  Since DD and I are early risers, we were ready to go at a quarter to 8.  At the time she was 16 months ago and like most kids that age, they do not have patience to wait around while others are getting ready for the day.  So I told the group that we’d head to the park and would meet everyone inside when they were ready.

DD and I arrived right at 8:00 after walking from our hotel.  And immediately we went to Fantasyland and did Peter Pan’s Flight, King Arthur’s Carousel, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Casey Jr., and the Mad Tea Party.  And it was only 8:30 am.  When you arrive at park opening, you literally walk onto the rides as there are little to no wait times.

Following Fantasyland, we went to explore Tarzan’s Treehouse, the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  The time was 9:20 am.  I had done 10 attractions in 80 minutes.  Not bad.

Once the rest of our group arrived, I didn’t have to worry about “what do we do next?” since I had done the majority of the attractions suited for DD.  I didn’t feel rushed to grab Fast Passes or hurry to catch a show following a ride.  I took my time and it allowed for DD to explore her surroundings at her own pace. 

Another advantage of arriving early is catching the early lunch times.  Since we skipped a formal breakfast (she ate fruit and cereal in her stroller) we ate at the French Market at 11:30 am and had no wait or the inconvenience of scouting for a table.  Once we wrapped up our lunch, the crowds started to gather after 12:00 pm and I was so glad I wasn’t part of it. 

If you’re traveling with little ones and staying at a nearby hotel, nap time breaks are almost a “must”.  And since I had done most of the attractions, breaking for a nap didn’t interfere with us coming back to the park in a mad dash for completing our attraction wish list.

What time do you normally arrive at the parks?  Do you notice a considerable difference arriving at opening vs later in the morning?  Post your comments!

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About P.T.

Once I took my daughter to Disneyland for the first time at 14 months, I couldn't get enough. I literally saw the magic in her eyes and one of my "things" as a mom is to never let the magic slip away. Being an Annual Passholder and living 400 miles away from Disneyland is almost painful. Now that she's 2, she's a seasoned guest and has not run out of new adventures. Raising a Disney Kid is designed to provide helpful tips, planning info, reviews, and park updates for other parents visiting the Disneyland Resort.
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