Welcome to our Disneyland Galaxy’s Edge Opening Trip Report! The purpose of our trip reports is to give an update on how our strategies are working at the parks. This post covers a day at Disney California Adventure without Extra Magic Hour.
About This Trip Report
This trip report covers our June 2019 visit to Disneyland Resort. This visit was for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which we visited on day 2 and day 5.
This trip report is intended to supplement our existing Disneyland content (which is almost all linked to at the bottom of this post) with a focus on visits occurring in Summer 2019. Here is what this report will look like in full (links will go up as posts go up):
Day 4 — Disney California Adventure Day Without Extra Magic Hour (this post)
If you’re looking for a strategy for visiting Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge, we have that as well. We additionally have a more general Guide to Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land).
The remainder of the Disneyland Park content should be somewhat valuable at least into holiday season, as Disneyland has not seen the expect crowd bump from Galaxy’s Edge opening.
The Disney California Adventure content should also remain helpful until the holiday season, with the next significant change at the park occurring on September 17 with the start of Oogie Boogie Bash.
This post supplements our permanent content on Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. If you’re looking for more on planning your day at Disney California Adventure, here are some recommended posts:
Our Day at Disney California Adventure
Because of how Extra Magic Hour is scheduled, many guests visiting Disneyland Resort are going to have a day at Disney California Adventure after hotel guests have already entered for Extra Magic Hour.
Unlike Disneyland, Disney California Adventure does not have Magic Morning—only Disney hotel guests get the extra time. The downside of this for most guests is obvious, but the up side is that there aren’t too many Disney hotel guests getting up extra early for Disney California Adventure.
We arrived just after 8AM. The park had opened at 7AM for Extra Magic Hour, and we weren’t too concerned about the additional rope drop crowds, so we just leisurely left our hotel just before 8AM.
We grabbed a 9:35AM Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS via MaxPass—it was the only ride issuing FASTPASS for after 9AM.
Disney California Adventure is such an easy park that it’s a challenge to come up with any “best” strategy. We started with Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree because it was right there and had a short wait, we were on at 8:13AM.
Just like Disneyland has Alice in Wonderland—a seemingly simple dark ride that “shouldn’t” get the crazy long waits it does—Disney California Adventure has Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters—a trackless “dancing cars” ride that gets strangely high waits.
We recommend prioritizing Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, but it wasn’t operational much of the morning, so we didn’t manage to visit it.
Unfortunately when a ride is down early you can’t really plan to get a short wait, because it might reopen at any time and you won’t know until you check the app.
It was a quiet day with a bit of a chilly mist. We headed to Pixar Pier with the intention of just knocking out some short waits.
Incredicoaster was a walk-on at 8:24AM. My feelings about Incredicoaster are "never waste morning time on it because it always has FASTPASS available but really if the park isn’t busy fine just ride it anyways because you’re not going to be any worse for it.”
If it wasn’t for its location, I’d always push Pix Pal-A-Round until later. It’s a long ride, something you want to avoid early in the day. But it’s also one of the most remote rides in the park, so I don’t want to have to come back (until later when I’m using nearby FASTPASS).
This is changing, though, as Jessie’s Critter Carousel has opened and Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind will open. Something like starting with Incredicoaster, then the Paradise Gardens Park rides, then another lap to visit Jessie, Inside Out, and finally Pal-A-Round might be a good strategy.
Anyways, we rode Pixar Pal-A-Round with no wait at 8:30AM. The World of Color platform was raised.
We had no trouble rounding out the area, walking onto Silly Symphony Swings at 8:45AM, Jumpin’ Jellyfish at 8:53AM, Goofy’s Sky School at 9AM, Golden Zephyr at 9:06AM, and The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure at 9:12AM.
For Jumpin’ Jellyfish, we always try and grab a seat looking toward the rest of the park (the view is better from higher up, but I didn’t snap that picture):
Guardians of the Galaxy was posting a 5-minute wait, but when we finally managed to get over there at 9:24AM it had jumped to 25 minutes. We walked onto Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue instead at 9:26AM.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout dropped back down to 5 minutes, and we actually just took a few minutes to enjoy the queue.
We grabbed our second FASTPASS, a 10:25AM slot for Toy Story Midway Mania! at 9:44AM. (Reminder: MaxPass is a paid FASTPASS enhancement that allows you to book FASTPASS times from your phone.)
From Guardians we made our way to Radiator Springs Racers to use our first FASTPASS. The FASTPASS wait wound up being 19 minutes, a bit strange given that standby was only at 45 minutes.
At 10:49AM we had breakfast at Flo’s V8, which is our go-to at Disney California Adventure.
We used our Toy Story Midway Mania! FASTPASS right at 11:25AM. It’s shocking how many problems this ride seems to have compared to its Florida counterpart. Here’s a glitching screen:
As we were heading to watch Frozen at the Hyperion, we had actually needed to wait a bit before grabbing our next FASTPASS to avoid a conflict. We grabbed at 12:55PM Soarin’ Over California at 11:44AM.
Frozen at the Hyperion is a one-hour show. Somewhat surprisingly, this didn’t feel too long, and it was paced very well. Given that Disney California Adventure is usually an easy park to cover, I think this is a good use of an hour. On a crowded day, I’d probably be more cautious about taking the time for it, though.
After Frozen, we went and rode Soarin’ Over California at 1:15PM. Lots of people think it is unquestionably better than Soarin’ Around The World. We think it wins on some counts (less CGI) and loses on other (poor transitions).
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters has reopened and had a longer wait than Guardians of the Galaxy, once again validating our opinion of it.
This mostly wrapped up our day at Disney California Adventure, actually. We hadn’t ridden Jessie’s Critter Carousel (which we haven’t seen with any substantial wait) or Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters (which we simply weren’t going to wait for).
Grizzly River Run was another one we missed, but it had short waits and wide open FASTPASS availability. It was also a chilly day.
We also passed on the new Mickey’s Philharmagic show. We watched it a different time and agree it’s okay but not as good quality as the Magic Kingdom version.
Given what we’d accomplished by 1:30PM, I don’t think there’s any real question that we were in a fine position if we wanted cover all the highlights of the park.
After a break to visit Disneyland, we came back. I really wanted to catch the lighting of Radiator Springs, which happens right around sunset. In the future, I’d like to try and catch it from farther down the road, but here’s the video from near the end.
We also visited Animation Academy. Unfortunately, we had looked at an old schedule on our phone and wound up drawing Olaf (Minnie Mouse in Steamboat Willie would have been the alternative!). Here’s an embarrassing screenshot from my instagram story:
June 24 and Disney California Adventure
As we’ve noted a few times in this trip report, crowd levels at Disneyland are expected to increase dramatically on June 24, when Galaxy’s Edge opens to the general public.
Depending on how the “boarding pass” system for Galaxy’s Edge works out, we’re expecting the early morning demand to be focused on Disneyland Park. As the day goes on, the crowds will disperse more evenly across the two parks (with Disneyland always maintaining the edge).
What this means is that rope drop at California Adventure will be more crucial than ever. In particular, covering Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, and some quick FASTPASS attractions like Incredicoaster, Goofy’s Sky School, and Guardians of the Galaxy should make for an optimal day.
All Your Other Disneyland Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disneyland planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way.
When it comes to hotels, we’ve got reviews of all three Disney hotels: Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. As for tickets, check out where to find discount Disneyland tickets.
Know what to ride with our: Disneyland Rides Guide and Disney California Adventure Rides Guide. And just as important, know how to get on the best rides without the wait with our Disneyland and Disney California Adventure FASTPASS and MaxPass Strategy! For the complete guides to a day at the park, we have a One Day Disneyland Itinerary and a One Day Disney California Adventure Itinerary.
We always recommend arriving at the parks early. If you can get access to Extra Magic Hour at Disney California Adventure or Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning at Disneyland, you’ll have the most time in the parks. Even without those bonus hours, you’ll need to know Rope Drop Strategy at Disneyland and Rope Drop Strategy at Disney California Adventure.
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.