In this post, we cover everything you need to know about Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning at Disneyland. This includes what these offerings are, who can access them, what rides are available, and our strategies for getting the most out of them.
If you’ve already read our Extra Magic Hour at Disney California Adventure post, much of this post will be redundant, so feel free to use the contents below to jump to the section you’re interested in.
Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning Introduction
Let’s start with the basics of these two ways to get bonus time in the Disneyland parks—what they are, when they happen, and who can use them. We won’t be dealing with specific parks or park strategy in this section.
Every day, either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure is open an hour early for Extra Magic Hour for Disney hotel guests. Guests must show their key to enter the park early, and only certain rides are operational during this time. Roughly speaking, the park that is open early alternates daily, but back-to-backs do happen.
The current (March 2019) schedule is:
Disneyland — Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
Disney California Adventure — Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
(As you can see, Disney California Adventure gets Sunday and Monday.) Disney hotel guests get access to Extra Magic Hour every day of their stay, including arrival and departure days. Because you must show a room key, you will need to check in before using Extra Magic Hour.
Magic Morning at Disneyland Resort
In short, Magic Morning allows some Disneyland ticket holders—regardless of where they’re staying—to access Extra Magic Hour at Disneyland Park with the Disney hotel guests. Magic Morning is a offered to all individuals who:
purchase a Disneyland ticket of 3+ days online; or
who purchase an applicable Southern California CityPASS.
Disney uses confusing (and conflicting) language to describe exactly who gets Magic Morning. Sometimes they say your 3+ day ticket much be “purchased in advance” and other times they say it cannot be “purchase at the ticket booth.” The safest option is simply to purchase online, in advance.
Better yet, purchase from a discount Disneyland ticket broker, and they should tell you at the time of purchase whether your ticket comes with Magic Morning.
As we said above, Magic Morning is held at the same time on the same days as Extra Magic Hour at Disneyland Park. There is no Magic Morning at Disney California Adventure any day. Every morning I visited that park for Extra Magic Hour, disappointed guests were told there was no Magic Morning at Disney California Adventure.
What if I don’t have Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning?
If you don’t have Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning, you’ll want to start your day at the park that does not have Extra Magic Hour that morning. There’s no sense starting your day in a park with Extra Magic Hour if you don’t have it, as the waits and FASTPASS availability will be worse.
Basic Ideas of Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning
Several other guides we’ve read about Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning miss out on some fairly fundamental concepts, so we want to take a second to explain the basic of our strategies.
First, you’re here for two rope drops (when the rides open)—early and regular. You need a strategy for what you’re going to do during the bonus hour and what you’re going to do when the rest of the park opens. You get two chances to walk right up to a ride when it opens (“rope drop”)—when part of the park opens for you and when the entire park opens for everyone. Use these opportunities wisely!
Whether you follow our suggested steps or someone else’s, you should always take advantage of the public opening time to get on a popular ride that is just opening.
Second, still arrive early. We still recommend you arrive at least 15 minutes early for your bonus hour. Personally, we always arrive 30 minutes early. I’ve seen different rope drop protocols followed. Either guests will be let into the park early and corralled within the park until the bonus hour starts (common during the week), or guests will be kept outside the turnstiles until the bonus hour starts (common on weekends).
Third, long rides and long loads are awful. Most of the rides operating during the bonus hour at Disneyland are short and quick to board. The big exception is Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. While we avoid it because of this, there’s really no good time to ride Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, so stuffing it into the morning hour isn’t absolutely awful.
Fourth, don’t zigzag around the park. Because the bonus hour at Disneyland is confined to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, you can’t really walk too much, but you still want to avoid jumping between the two lands if you don’t have to. It’s usually better to quickly ride something nearby than to run back and forth trying to cover things in some contrived priority.
Fifth, be careful with FASTPASS rides. We cover this a bit more later, but keep in mind that if you can get a FASTPASS for a ride, it might not make sense to waste your bonus time on it. If you do, you’ll wind up in the afternoon looking at a bunch of 30 minute waits for rides without FASTPASS and a bunch of FASTPASS availability for rides you’ve already visited.
FASTPASS and MaxPass at Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning
Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning are really enhanced by having MaxPass. If you haven’t yet, we recommend reading our Disneyland and Disney California Adventure FASTPASS and MaxPass guide.
We generally assume you have MaxPass at least one day of your trip, and if you’re visiting for Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning we really think you should get MaxPass for this day of the trip. Here are a few notes about MaxPass and FASTPASS during the bonus hour.
There are no FASTPASS windows during the bonus hour. Check out the above photo. If the park opens to the public at 9AM and you arrive at 8AM for Extra Magic Hour, the first FASTPASS times you’ll be able to book for are 9AM or later. There is no FASTPASS window for 8AM to 9AM.
MaxPass lets you book more rides than FASTPASS during the bonus hour. MaxPass will show you times for all the FASTPASS rides as soon as you’re in the park. You can only get regular FASTPASS tickets for the rides that are actually in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, though, because you can’t access the kiosks on the other side of the park during the bonus hour.
Sometimes you can use MaxPass before you set foot in the park. This is a fun trick I learned at my first Extra Magic Hour. Eager to be among the first in the park, I arrived at the gates 45 minutes before the bonus hour started, which put me near the front of the line at the gate.
At about 5 minutes before the turnstiles open, they started scanning tickets without letting people through the turnstiles. Only the first five to ten people in each line will get scanned in early, but as soon as they’re scanned in, they can book MaxPass.
You can usually make two FASTPASS bookings during the bonus hour. You’ll grab the first one right when you enter the park for the window at the first hour of the park’s public hours. Then you’ll grab the second right at the time when the park opens to the public (because it is when your first FASTPASS starts)—usually the times will be about 60 minutes into the day for all major rides.
Disneyland Strategy For Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning
Now, let’s talk about all things Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning that are specific to Disneyland, including what rides are available and how you should ride them. You can read more about these rides in our complete guide to the rides of Disneyland.
What rides are open for Disneyland’s Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning?
Subject to any ongoing construction (and any other reason Disney decides to change things), the following rides operate during Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning at Disneyland:
Alice in Wonderland
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
King Arthur Carrousel
Mad Tea Party
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Peter Pan’s Flight
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
Snow White’s Scary Adventures
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
Star Tours — The Adventures Continue
Keep in mind that these lists may change. Best we can tell, Disney does not maintain a public list. Significant departures from this list are very unlikely, but the best way to check for your trip is to use the Disneyland app.
Clicking into individual attractions shows you the operational hours. You’ll need to check on your date or another day with Extra Magic Hour to see if it is operating during the bonus hour.
What should I ride during Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning at Disneyland?
At Disneyland, there are two approaches to Extra Magic Hour. The first is for people who want to ride as many different rides in a single day, and it’s the approach we favor.
If you’re in this group, you’ll want to avoid all rides with FASTPASS during Extra Magic Hour. This same itinerary would also be good for families with small children, as it mainly focuses on Fantasyland to start the day. (Also, if you’re traveling with little ones, you’ll want to check the height requirements for every ride at Disneyland.)
If you’re looking to ride as many rides as possible, you’re going to:
prioritize FASTPASS for Space Mountain and Matterhorn
rope drop Peter Pan’s Flight and target Alice in Wonderland and Dumbo during the bonus hour
ride any other short waits that you can
rope drop Indiana Jones Adventure or Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run when the rest of the park opens
You could plan to FASTPASS Indiana Jones Adventure, but the FASTPASS queue actually merges quite early on that ride, so you’ll get on faster at rope drop.
This is also a great time to visit Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run as long as you’re in position to actually be among the first people there. If you fall more than about 10 minutes behind, you’ll be looking at waits much longer than you’ll find the rest of the day.
The other big thing that we get weird looks for is for prioritizing Alice in Wonderland and Dumbo. We can’t explain why, but Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo, and Alice in Wonderland keep long waits throughout the day. Just writing this post I decided to check where they’re at at 12:15PM on a Friday, and:
They’re the three longest waits of the “minor” Fantasyland rides at 40 minutes, 45 minutes, and 35 minutes! Even Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, the only other non-FASTPASS ride worth prioritizing is only at 40 minutes. Now keep in mind that you can ride two or three of these three in the time it will take you to ride Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage during the bonus hour.
Here’s an example of how you might proceed through Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning at Disneyland. Times assume an 8AM regular open and 7AM EMH (you can adjust for your particular day).
7:00AM / ASAP - Park Opens for Early Guests, Use MaxPass to grab FASTPASS for Space Mountain (8AM to 9AM slot)
Ride Peter Pan’s Flight
Ride Alice in Wonderland (as you walk past Dumbo, if you can walk right on it go onto it first)
Ride some combination of: Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
8:00AM - Regular Park Open
Use MaxPass to grab FASTPASS for Matterhorn
8:10AM - Ride Indiana Jones Adventure or Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Grab FASTPASS for Fantasmic! (across from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad)
8:25AM - Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
8:35AM - Ride Jungle Cruise
Time permitting (it’s a 15-minute ride), ride Pirates of the Caribbean
9:00AM - Use FASTPASS for Space Mountain
Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Use FASTPASS for Matterhorn
If you don’t have MaxPass, modify this by heading straight to Peter Pan’s Flight and then grabbing a FASTPASS for Matterhorn after you’ve ridden Peter Pan’s Flight. It will cost you the time of one short dark ride. Then you’ll hopefully be able to grab a Space Mountain FASTPASS right at park opening time. You’ll be a bit behind the rope drop crowds heading into Frontierland / Adventureland.
After visiting a few rides on the other side of the park, you’re in a good position to grab another FASTPASS (something nearby with a quick return time like Star Tours or Buzz Lightyear might be good) as well as to knock off rides like Astro Orbitor, Autopia, and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in Tomorrowland or Casey Jr., King Arthur Carrousel, and Storybook Canal Boats in Fantasyland.
The second strategy is for people who want to double up on the highlights. If you really want to ride one of the major rides multiple times, it’s fine to visit it during Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning. In this case, you’ll:
prioritize FASTPASS for Space Mountain and Matterhorn
rope drop one of Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo, or Alice in Wonderland
ride either (or both) of Space Mountain and Matterhorn
ride either (or both) of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Star Tours
rope drop Indiana Jones Adventure or Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run when the rest of the park opens
We’re not going to go through the detailed schedule. Basically you’re cutting a chunk of Fantasyland rides for some combination of the major rides in these lands.
If you don’t want to rope drop any of Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo, or Alice in Wonderland, that’s fine too, but now you’re really setting yourself up to have little to do in the afternoon besides stand in line for Fantasyland rides (or ride major rides a third time).
Disneyland Real Example of Extra Magic Hour / Magic Morning
Below is an actual morning itinerary from when we visited Disneyland with Extra Magic Hour on a somewhat busy Saturday (Touring Plans put it at a 6 out of 10) seeking to ride as many rides as possible. It doesn’t follow our strategy perfectly, which is sort of the point. Sometimes you improvise, and we note where we made mistakes.
7:04AM - Use MaxPass to grab FASTPASS for Indiana Jones Adventure (Space Mountain was not operational this day, or we would have grabbed that first and Indiana Jones Adventure later)
7:09AM - On Peter Pan’s Flight (40 minute posted wait, actual 4 minute wait)
7:26AM - On Alice in Wonderland (15 minute posted wait, actual 11 minute wait)
7:42AM - On Dumbo (10 minute posted wait, actual 12 minute wait)
7:48AM - Walk on Snow White’s Scary Adventures
7:53AM - Walk on Mad Tea Party
8:00AM - Park Opens to Public
8:02AM - Grab Fantasmic! FASTPASS
8:06AM - Walk on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
8:14AM - Walk on Jungle Cruise
8:24AM - Walk on Pirates of the Caribbean
8:34AM - Use MaxPass to grab FASTPASS for Matterhorn Bobsleds (9:10AM to 10:10AM)
8:49AM - Walk on Haunted Mansion
9:00AM - Walk on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
9:22AM - On Indiana Jones Adventure via FASTPASS (posted wait was 25 minutes, wait with FASTPASS was still 13 minutes)
9:41AM - On Matterhorn Bobsleds via FASTPASS (posted 35 minute wait)
9:50AM - Walk on Gadget’s Go Coaster (posted wait erroneously 30 minutes)
10:27AM - On Autopia (20 minute posted wait, actual 30 minute wait)
(Should have gone to Autopia before Gadget’s Go Coaster, this was a simple mistake)
10:58AM - Use MaxPass to grab FASTPASS for Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters (11:05AM to 12:05PM)
11:21AM - On Pinocchio’s Daring Journey (posted 5 minute wait, actual 7 minute wait)
11:29AM - Use MaxPass to grab FASTPASS for Star Tours (12:15PM to 1:15PM)
11:40AM - On Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters via FASTPASS (posted 30 minute wait)
12:11PM - On Storybook Land Canal Boats (posted 15 minute wait, actual 21 minute wait)
12:32PM - On Star Tours via FASTPASS (posted 35 minute wait)
All Your Other Disneyland Planning Questions Answered
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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.