January 11, 2013

DCA Early Birds

DCA Disney California Adventure Entrance Gate Line Early
Passholders and resort hotel guests wait patiently (sort of) about fifteen minutes before the DCA gates open for Extra Magic Hour -- an hour before the general public is allowed in.

You can bet about 95% of these folks are heading straight for Radiator Springs Racers or the RSR Fastpass machines.

I'm a park early bird, and always arrive at the gates well before opening to secure a spot in line for the rest of my group. I often wonder, while hiking through Downtown Disney at dawn, if I might be a bit too early--doomed to appear awkward standing alone at the gate. In all my years of visiting Disneyland Resort, however, I've never been the first to arrive. There's always somebody--usually many somebodies--ahead of me. We all stand waiting, chatting and watching the sun creep above the horizon as the crowd quickly grows bigger and louder.

That anticipation of waiting for the gates to open has actually become one of my favorite vacation traditions. I wouldn't dream of missing it!


  1. I'm still in the process of planning my first DL trip (though it probably won't be for another year or two). Do you have to be at a Disneyland hotel to get the extra magic hour, or do the "good neighbor" hotels get that too?

    1. Hi, Becky! Basically, the way it stands at the moment (and these policies can change at any time) only guests of one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels get the Extra Magic Hour, which alternates between Disneyland Park one day and DCA the next. That's why we usually get a room at the Paradise Pier Hotel, the least expensive of the Disney-owned options. Occasionally (in effect at the moment) Annual Passholders can also enter DCA for Extra Magic Hour.

      But, currently, if you get certain vacation packages for a stay at a Good Neighbor hotel, you still qualify for a Magic Morning, which is Disneyland Park only.

      The great news about that is that (barring any changes) Magic Morning at Disneyland is awesome. This allows you to tour all of Fantasyland (and DL's Fantasyland is charming beyond belief) without big crowds.

      But all's not lost if you can't get to Cars Land via Extra Magic Hour. The Single Rider Line is our choice for Radiator Springs Racers 95% of the time, and the wait is usually quite reasonable. And, if you're visiting at a time when the park's open late, Cars Land is twice as awesome after dark, with amazing lighting and cooler temperatures.

      Keep checking with travel agencies or the Disney website for any updates or changes to the policy.

      Hope this helps -- You're going to love DL! :)

  2. I love getting to the parks first thing in the morning. I imagine I may be first in line when I get to Disneyland in August. I'll be too excited to sleep! :)


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