Disneyland Morning Touring Strategy: Guide to Maximize Your Mornings

Mornings are the best times at Disneyland to see popular attractions because lines are shorter and the California sun isn’t quite so hot. Before planning an efficient morning strategy for Disneyland there are a few key features of the Disneyland Resort that you must become familiar with.

As always, we at Mickey Visit recommend planning your day in advance to avoid feeling overwhelmed (especially for Disneyland first timers!) at the parks.

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Disneyland App To Jumpstart Your MorningMorning strategy for Disneyland: Cast member holding plate of food

Disneyland has an app that you can download for either Android or iPhone that will give you the most accurate wait times for rides. This app is a must have for anyone visiting Disneyland. You can link your park tickets to it, make dining reservations, use the mobile food ordering feature, link your PhotoPass tickets, and book FastPasses with MaxPass!

Pro tip: download this app PRIOR to your trip and become familiar with it. This way when you show up to the gates you are already a pro at using the app. Take a look at the layout of each park on the app so you have a rough idea of where you are going once you enter!

Disneyland Morning Strategy FastPass

We have written an ultimate guide to using FastPass at the Disneyland Resort. This is definitely a must read for first time guests. Check out our guide here. FastPasses give you a return window to come ride the attraction later to help avoid guests waiting for hours in the standby line. Be sure to be familiar with FastPass because they are essential for having a smooth start at either park! Some FastPasses go quicker than others due to the popularity of the ride so that is why it is so important to grab them in the morning. Fastpasses are essential to this morning strategy for Disneyland guide!

Pro tip: check out the list of attractions that offer FastPass and see which ones are your group’s top must sees. Make those your priority in the morning!

Disneyland MaxPass StrategyImage of cellphone with maxpass option: Morning Strategy at Disneyland

Last summer, Disney released a mobile version of the FastPass system called MaxPass. MaxPass, unlike FastPass, isn’t a free feature and costs $20 per person per day. Depending on the size of your group, this feasibly may not be an option. But it is a great feature that makes touring the parks a breeze.

MaxPass allows you to book FastPasses from your mobile device so it saves you a walk across the park. This not only helps you grab FastPasses efficiently but it also helps save energy! MaxPass also comes with unlimited PhotoPass downloads for the day which is a great additional feature. If you only have one day in the parks, MaxPass is highly recommended for your group.

Doing Disneyland Rope Drop RightSleeping Castle is still beautiful during summer at Disneyland.

Thirty minutes before park opening, cast members will begin letting guests into the parks. This helps control the flow of crowds and it can be a huge advantage for morning park visitors! There will be ropes (guarded by cast members) that block off access points of the lands until the official park opening time. Being one of the first groups positioned at those ropes can be a huge advantage for your morning strategy for Disneyland! You can also begin booking MaxPass once you enter the gates so this is also a great plus for groups that plan on purchasing MaxPass. To be there at Rope Drop plan to arrive at least one hour prior to the park opening.

Pro tip: Grab breakfast to go and eat while you're waiting to be let in through the turnstiles. This will help keep adults happy and kids occupied during that early morning wait time. We always recommend either eating here or at your Disneyland hotel.

How to Handle Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

The main two attractions in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge are Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run and Rise of the Resistance. Neither of these rides offer FastPass yet but eventually in the future they will.

Currently, the only way to access Rise of the Resistance is to secure a Boarding Group via the Disneyland app right at park opening. Without having a boarding group, you will not be able to ride since there is no standby line. These are the steps you will have to take to secure a Boarding Group for the ride:

  1. Download the Disneyland app and make sure everyone's tickets are already scanned into your app so that way once you enter you can seamlessly sign up for a boarding group.
  2. Arrive at least an hour prior to park opening to have the best chance for accessing a boarding pass in the virtual queue as there are not guarantees.
  3. Once you're scanned into the park, immediately access the Disneyland App and look for the link on the home page labeled “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Access by Boarding Group”and request a boarding group.
  4. You will be given a boarding group number, the larger the number, the later in the day you will ride.
  5. Enable push notifications for the Disneyland app on your phone and when it's time to enter the queue for Rise of the Resistance you will receive a notification instantly. You will then have two hours to access your boarding time.

The best strategy for experiencing Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is to follow one of the strategies listed below for the other rides in the park and then enter the land around lunchtime. Most mornings many guests line up at Rope Drop for the land and we've seen the highest wait times for Millenium Falcon: Smuggler's Run at this time. Enjoy the other lower wait attractions inside the park first and then head to the land in the afternoon. Or when your Boarding Group for Rise of the Resistance is called!

The Best Morning Strategy for Disneyland: Older Kids/AdultsOutside of Jungle Cruise attraction sign

  • Enter the park and prepare to grab you Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group with the Disneyland app. Right when the clock hits 8AM, click on ‘Join a Boarding Group' so you will be able to ride. This doesn't interfere with your ability to grab FastPasses so after that continue on to our second step.
  • Grab Space Mountain FastPass with MaxPass when you enter the park
  • Ride Peter Pan. (This ride is one of the most popular attractions in Fantasyland. The downside of that is the ride is slow loading and the lines for this ride move slowly as a result. If you are present at Rope Drop, line up facing Sleeping Beauty’s castle. The entrance to Peter Pan will be on the right once you walk through the castle. Walk as quickly (no running, Disney rules!) as you can to snag a place in line. If you are not present at Rope Drop, save this ride for the evening rather than spend precious morning hours waiting in this line.)
  • Ride Star Tours- The Adventures Continue
  • Ride Space Mountain with FastPass
  • Grab Indiana Jones Adventure FastPass or if you plan on park hopping to Disney California Adventure get a MaxPass reservation for Radiator Springs Racers! as they run out quickly.
  • Ride Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Grab a snack from the many food carts on the way to Adventureland when you pass through the park hub
  • Ride Haunted Mansion
  • Ride Indiana Jones Adventure with FastPass
  • Grab Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FastPass with MaxPass
  • Ride Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Ride Jungle Cruise
  • Grab a snack from the Tropical Imports Stand right across from the Jungle Cruise
  • Walk around towards Big Thunder Mountain to the right side of the Tropical Imports Stand building to access the restrooms on the way
  • Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with FastPass
  • Grab Splash Mountain FastPass with MaxPass
  • Break for lunch and ride Splash Mountain with FastPass after lunch
  • Head for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge after lunch to enjoy Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run

This morning strategy for Disneyland will take you through some of the most popular rides for older kids and adults before lunchtime. Spend the afternoons doing the attractions with lower wait times and keep grabbing those FastPasses along the way! The bonus of this morning strategy for Disneyland is it tries to take into account minimal walking back and forth across the park to conserve energy for the entire day. The key to this energy saver is with using MaxPass there is no need to run to each FastPass distribution point. However, this plan can easily be used with regular FastPass for your group.

Why don't I recommend running to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge first? Because literally, that is what every other park guest has been doing making the wait times for the Millennium Falcon ride and the other experiences highest in the morning. While most of the guests are over in Star Wars land in the morning, enjoy the low wait times for the other rides in the park and save the new land for the afternoon when things slow down.

Pro tip: Assign one person to keep track of everyone's FastPasses and park tickets so they can run and grab FastPasses during snack breaks/restroom breaks/etc. Again, the perk of adding MaxPass is that you won't have to criss cross the park to keep up with this plan.

The Best Morning Strategy for Disneyland: Younger Kids and the Young at Heart

Starting your day in Fantasyland if perfect for families that are focusing on their young children or young children at heart. By starting with Peter Pan and then working through all of the other attractions in that area you will have ridden about 10 classic Disneyland attractions within the first two hours.

Dumbo ride in the air

  • Enter the park and prepare to grab you Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group with the Disneyland app. Right when the clock hits 8AM, click on ‘Join a Boarding Group' so you will be able to ride. This doesn't interfere with your ability to grab FastPasses so after that continue on to our second step.
  • Grab Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin FastPass or Big Thunder Mountain with Maxpass when you first enter the parks
  • Ride Peter Pan. (This ride is one of the most popular attractions in Fantasyland. The downside of that is the ride is slow loading and the lines for this ride move slowly as a result. Parents of small children aren't able to as quickly park strollers and hop in line as folks without can. If this ride is a MUST for the little ones then might as well cross it off the list early. If not, come back in the evening and move to the next ride.)
  • Ride Alice in Wonderland
  • Ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Ride Snow White's Scary Adventure
  • Ride Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
  • Ride it's a small world
  • Ride Casey Jr. Circus Train
  • Ride Pinocchio's Daring Adventure
  • Ride Big Thunder Mountain or Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin using your MaxPass
  • Ride Storybook Land Canal Boats
  • Ride Sleeping Beauty's Carousel 
  • Ride the Mad Tea Party
  • Grab a snack from the many food carts between Storybook Land Canal Boots and it's a small world on the way to Toontown
  • Also access the restrooms on your left before you walk past it's a small world
  • Grab Splash Mountain FastPass with MaxPass
  • Meet Mickey at Mickey's House in ToonTown
  • Ride Gadget's Go Coaster
  • Break for lunch in ToonTown and ride Splash Mountain after lunch
  • Head for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge after lunch to enjoy Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run

This morning strategy for Disneyland will hit all the higher wait time youngster attractions before lunch which is especially great for little ones in the California sun. Spend the afternoons doing the attractions with lower wait times and keep grabbing those FastPasses along the way! The bonus of this morning strategy for Disneyland is it tries to take into account minimal walking back and forth across the park to conserve energy for the entire day.

The key to this energy saver is with using MaxPass there is no need to run to each FastPass distribution point. However, this plan can easily be used with regular FastPass for your group. If you opt not to get MaxPass, don't worry about getting a FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain or Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin–just get in line when you are ready for these two.

Why don't I recommend running to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge first? Because literally, that is what every other park guest has been doing making the wait times for the Millennium Falcon ride and the other experiences highest in the morning. While most of the guests are over in Star Wars land in the morning, enjoy the low wait times for the other rides in the park and save the new land for the afternoon when things slow down.

Pro tip: Assign one person to keep track of everyone's FastPasses and park tickets so they can run and grab FastPasses during snack breaks/restroom breaks/etc. And make sure that person is an adult! This will keep your morning strategy for Disneyland free of stress!

More Disneyland Planning Tips

There is always a lot of information to consider before planning an Disneyland vacation. Make sure to spend time planning your days in the theme parks and become familiar with everything Disneyland has to offer. Don’t forget to subscribe to our FREE Deals Newsletter to stay on top of the current planning tips, strategies, and deals.

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Disclosure: We have used all the products recommended on Mickey Visit. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products featured.

4 comments add yours

  1. Hi there. I was just wondering if you would change anything on here since MaxPass came out? We are going to be in Cali next month and will only have ONE DAY in DL, so I want to make the most of it! Thanks!

    • I would say if you only have one day, I would also recommend adding some time over at California Adventure Park in the afternoon. And make sure to grab a MaxPass for Radiator Springs Racers early enough in the day. As long as you’re there by Rope Drop you should be able to accomplish this list before heading over to California Adventure.

  2. Hi I have read heaps and heaps of how the MAXpass works but Im still a little confused sorry.
    If I book a ride for the afternoon, how is the wait time calculated for when you can book the next ride? Is it one ride every 30 mins or do you need to use the pass before booking again. I dont want to book an afternoon ride and then I cant book anything else!

    • Once you book your first MaxPass the app will show you when is the next time you can book. This can vary anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, it depends on how busy the parks are. You don’t have to use your first pass before booking another one. I usually set an alarm on my phone for when I can book my next one so I don’t forget!

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