More Disneyland Newbie Questions

As my son and I will be in Disneyland in just under a month, I am looking to finalize some planning and had some questions.

  1. Whenever I put in Peter Pan it has a 31 minute wait at it’s shortest. Will it be a 30 minute wait even if we are there right at opening? Also, there is one EMH/MM while we are there will it be better to wait and rope drop Peter Pan during that? Will it make a difference?

  2. In regards to Rope Drop, we are staying at Paradise Pier. What time should we shoot to leave the hotel for the walk over and get through security in time for park open? Do they ever let people in before the opening time for EMH? We have a 7am EMH for DCA if we leave the hotel by 6:30 will that give us enough time and not put us behind the pack?

  3. Lastly, on the day I had planned to go to Disneyland in the morning, there is EMH at DCA. Is it worth it to go over there for an hour or would it put us behind to then walk over to Disneyland at 9 when that park opens?

Thank you for everyone’s input!!!

  1. Peter Pan is crazy like that. There is always a mad dash there at Rope Drop, and the line never dies down. I haven’t really found any “work around” to make it any different, so I just plan it at a point in the day where I know my family will be OK with waiting. EMH is usually best spent hitting the big ticket rides that you know will be 45+ once the park gets going.

  2. I haven’t stayed at PP, but we always arrive to the gates at least 30 min prior to open, even for EMH. From what I know of where PP is you may want to leave around 6 so you can give yourself enough time. Starbucks in Downtown Disney opens at 5 if you want to grab some caffeine to get your morning started :slight_smile:

  3. I’ve never bothered doing EMH in the park I’m not going to spend at least the morning in, but I know some who have done it. The problem comes when trying to enter the other park when it opens–the lines are usually quite long as everyone else tries to get into that park. I’d wait an hour or so after DL opens and then head over, lines usually let up a bit by then.

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I have a very different strategy than @swallgren. For our EE/EMH we hit all the fantasy rides that are open (except PP), then Matterhorn, Buzz and Space, we then double back and get on the rides in FL that open at park opening. I do this because the headliners are not my priority during EE. I save my EE time for rides that don’t offer FPs. Last summer at a 7 am EE with a CL 8, we we able to do all of FL, all of TL, IJ and BTMRR, then eat Breakfast at Jolly Holiday and hit PotC and HM before 10:30 am.

As for PP it is not usually recommended that you use EE time unless you are among the very first to arrive. @lolabear_la often recommends it at the end of the day.

I have stayed at PP and I would give yourself at least a 20 minutes to walk and get through security. Security is rarely that busy on the DLh side. If getting coffee at Starbucks on your way in, helpful hint, use the app and order before you leave your hotel room and it should be ready when you get there.


EDITED: I had some typos & thought of one more reason why the approach I endorse so heavily is my favorite & clarified a few things my initial typing didn’t quite convey. But any questions, ask away!

You’ve got some great answers already and I don’t have more to add on the walk to Paradise Pier or doing EMH before hopping (we’ve done it once & it worked out just fine but don’t know if that’s the norm of how it works or if it just happened to work out for us that day as lines CAN get really backed up right at park opening)…

BUT as for Peter Pan, I do have a few, or maybe a little more than a few, words to say.

As @carthy15 mentioned, my favorite recommendation absolutely is to do it at the end of your day for a lot of reasons, but I do also know that bc this is the best strategy I’ve found, Peter Pan is one ride that my family rarely does bc by the end of the day we are rarely up to being in a 20-40 min. queue, so if that’s a consideration, get a new family- JUST KIDDING! (I keep mine even after all the times we have just been too tired to make it through a 30 min. wait for it after a long day at the parks AND Peter Pan is in my Top 3 rides so my guess is that you probably love your family enough as well to keep them in spite of their flaws :wink: :wink: :wink: ).

But honestly, if Peter Pan is one you really want to do (and it is a great one, just a pain in the butt to wait for), here are the options you have, each with their own virtues & vices.

The (mad) dash to Peter Pan at the start of EMH.

What you need to know/do to help you be successful for this approach:

  1. Plan to attend a 7am EMH
  2. Plan to show up at the turnstils by 6am- 6:10am at the very latest
  3. Your touring group/family needs to be very agile AND have good stamina
  4. The thrill of a competition sounds like a fun way to get your day started with the rush of adrenaline that it will bring.

If that all those sound like your cup of tea, then you may be in the group that enjoy this approach to Peter Pan & you can skim over the following list of cons as they may not matter that much to you.

Cons & Considerations:

  1. You really do need to be at the front of a turnstile line because the EMH procedure as of late has been to hold everyone at the tunstiles until 7am hits. If you’re not first (maybe 2nd would be ok) then you’re going to want to re-consider.
  2. You really do need agility AND stamina both. The distance from the turnstile to the queue is lengthy so you need to be able to dash with purpose down that entire stretch AND you’ll need to be familiar with where to navigate as any pauses associated with keeping your group rounded up, encouraging them to keep rushing or checking your path will put people in front of you.
  3. For as many minutes as you will “save” by only waiting the queue for 2-15 min. vs. the regular 30-40 min. you will also have spent at least 50-60 min. waiting at the turnstiles to prep plus whatever time you actually wait in the queue ending up with a 52-75 min range of “waiting” for Peter Pan. While the majority of this wait will not be during valuable park time where you could be enjoying other things, it’s still considerably more time than by just sticking out the queue wait during park hours (on an average day, there are some extremes were Peter Pan just seems to get to and stay at 50-60 min but they are not very frequent).
  4. The dash really can get quite aggressive, so you’re putting the tone of your first ride/start of your park day in the hands of the other guests around you, taking a gamble that it may take a sour turn, for an un-magical moment (isn’t always that aggressive & can be overcome even if you encounter it, but it’s really not my favorite at all.

Summary on the dash: This quote that I read on the Lines App chat feature from someone who recently returned from a trip to DLR ultimately sums up why I just don’t recommend

We did the PP dash the first morning, and although it was “successful”, with just a 3 min wait… I hated how aggressive it was. We were more mellow for RD the following days, and that made our mornings less stressful and more fun.

The afternoon parade lull in the queue

What you need to know/do to help you be successful for this approach:

  1. Plan on a day when there are 2 showtimes for the daytime parade in DL (Soundsational right now)
  2. Plan to miss the earlier scheduled one (usually at 3:30pm) and/or have a plan to see it another time/day.
  3. Head to Fantasyland as you start to see the parade route along Main Street/hub getting filled in fewer spots available (usually 30-45 min. before-hand)
  4. Being in the direct sunlight of the outdoor portion of the queue won’t melt you into a puddle of human being in the middle of Fantasyland (even in a 20-25 min wait you’ll be in the outdoor portion for ~10 min).

If those all sound more reasonable to you than the morning dash and you know your family isn’t willing to wait in a similar length of line later at night, then this is your next best option but still has a few doozies below.

Cons & Considerations:

  1. The “lull” may not really affect the line all that much or it may be so crowded that the line is coming down from an abnormally high wait for Peter Pan of 50-60 min down to what is more usually the high end of a wait for Peter Pan of 40-45 min wait. We’ve had much better luck witnessing this lull-due-to-the-parade at Alice in Wonderland (have jumped in line 2 different times as the parade was starting waiting just 8 and 12 min.) than with Peter Pan (is still usually solidly 25-30 min wait). Truth be told though, we’re also way more likely to be in the crowd watching the parade or gone for a midday break than being caught in a 25 min line (for anything) at that time of day.
  2. Depending on your energy levels, what time you got started & how hot/crowded it is, 3pm may be just as hard a time for your group as the end of night, or even harder than the end of the night if you like to take a midday break & come back refreshed for a fun evening at the parks.
  3. The sunny California sun is likely to be out & can be felt in full force at the Peter Pan outdoor portion of the queue so if it is longer than 15 min. you will be guaranteed to spend a portion of your time in it which may not be the best option for your group that may already be cranky AND having them meet up with you is made nearly impossible due to the narrow 1950’s design of the switchbacks (which reminds me another reason the queue in Peter Pan is a pain in the butt is there are so many oblivious people who don’t take care that the switchbacks in the queue are so very close together so you get a lot of people & their stuff in your space - backpacks, elbows, arms, feet, small children, you name it).

The Wherever In Your Touring Plan it Best Fits and Wait Through the 30-40 min Wait Anyway

There isn’t really much to consider when doing this approach as pretty much anytime all day you’ll get a similar wait time, even later in the day when crowds die down in the parks in general, the line for Peter Pan doesn’t really get below 20-25 min, but it CAN get down to 20-25 min. which is a little bit better than 30-40 min.

Some people (me included but have only been able to test it out once 3 yrs ago) have an idea that the 2nd half of an early EMH is a reasonable time to jump in line as the initial rush that maybe created a 40 min. wait to start has started to spread out to other attractions, no “new blood” from the regular park opening dash to Peter Pan has added to the queue, and the groups that arrived since the first 5 min. of EMH are now balking at the 40 min. Peter Pan line to do other things with shorter lines. You also get a front row seat to safely watch the Peter Pan dash at regular rope drop, which definitely still a mad dash & can be a fun people-watching experience. Also, the best part of this strategy is that the sun isn’t usually out in full force yet & even if it is, the Peter Pan line is in shade from the surrounding buildings still so it’s a good way to not melt.

Lastly for this approach, before you get in the line, definitely download the Parks Play Disney App and play the in queue game for Peter Pan’s queue. You’ll need at least a 25 min-30 min. wait to get to play all of it in detail anyhow & it’s a fun way to spend the time together and the end effect is really, really fun, so you don’t want to miss it! (it’s triggered by a lantern in the scavenger hunt but no more spoilers than that from me).

And all this brings to me to my favorite recommendation…

Peter Pan as your last attraction (even if you don’t stay until the bitter end of park operating hours)

Really the only con I have for it is that you may not get your family/group to all buy-in to a 30-40 min. wait after an already-tiring day, but if you can make plans to have a lengthy midday break or a late start with a planned long evening & get their buy-in.

After that, it’s really only good things to say about this approach. In no particular order, here’s the list of things that make this approach my favorite:

  1. As long as you get into line before the park closes, you’ll be able to ride it so if you’re staying until the bitter end, you’ll “waste” hardly any time of park opening hours waiting in line. And even if you do it as your last attraction before you head out, since you were going to head out anyway, there’s no waste of time on that front either. It’s similar to the reasoning of the start of the day approach (remember the one where you pre-wait for 50-60 min overall to get just a “2-15 min” wait in the actual queue resulting in a total 52-75 min overall wait) but as you can see it’s far less time because most likely the queue will be 30 minutes or if you’re lucky even less and there’s no pre-waiting and no aggressive masses to compete with and potentially mess it up.
  2. As the night wanes on & there are less families with children loading onto the ride and less DAS parties loading from the exit, the loading process gets slightly more efficient so it’s more likely that you’ll have less than a 30 min. wait. Also, I swear that there was extra pixie dust in the loading process the first time we did this approach getting into line right before park close because the line didn’t even feel like it took 20 min & went way faster than a normal Peter Pan queue moves (maybe the CMs picked it up a notch bc they had an end in sight for their day, who knows?) But all of that is much more likely at night.
  3. The end-effect in the Parks Play App game for Peter’s Pan queue is best seen at night (again, no more spoilers). This isn’t an end-all be-all for this approach, but it’s certainly another perk to it!
  4. Peter Pan as your last ride of the day, sending you off with some extra Pixie Dust is FAR FAR FAR more magical than the potential gamble of doing the dash at the front end of the day. Even better if you do stay until close & then you’re one of the last few stragglers in Fantasyland walking down a peaceful Main St to end your day at Disneyland.
  5. The other rides in Fantasyland will all have lower waits as well so spend your whole last hour of park time in Fantasyland doing whatever you didn’t do in the morning (the dark rides are more enjoyable to see at night anyway since your eyes don’t need to adjust to see the details properly) and even the lighting on the carousel & teacups is worth going into Fantasyland at night to catch a glimpse of. The miniatures on Storybook Land Canal Boats are also lit up so a great one to see at night. So in general the area will be nice & calm & beautiful (This is more likely if you are staying for the last hour of park opening but also some of the ambiance is possible even if the lines haven’t quite yet started shortening if it’s still 2-3 hours until park close).

So in my opinion, get your family’s buy-in on the end of the night approach (or really just get a new family). Ok, not really, still love your family even if they hold you back from the magical pixie dust of Peter Pan at the end of the night but try bribery first before you give up completely, I hear the churros at Disneyland are worth all $5.00 that you spend on one (maybe it’s still $4.75, I stopped counting at that point anyway) :wink: :wink: :wink:


I can’t like this enough. When I was there last year we did Peter Pan at the end of the day and while it took some convincing to stand in the line when already there all day (we’re of the no midday break crazy people tribe), the magical end to the day boosted everyone’s spirits. Top it off with walking down a relatively quiet Main St and it’s probably one of my favorite park memories.


Thank you for your response. I never even thought about being put behind the line to get into the non-EMH park if we did take advantage of EMH.

That is kind of my plan. During EMH I wanted to hit all the Fantasyland rides in DL and basically camp out for the morning in Cars Land at DCA for that EMH. It is just me and my 40" 3 year old so some of the bigger rides we don’t have to worry about as he won’t reach the height limit and I have no one to child swap with. And that is so smart to use the EE/EMH for rides without FP. Thanks!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to type all of this out!! This is so much useful information. After all of this, it makes me think we should just skip Peter Pan overall? Is it any different from the one in WDW? I admit it is one of my favorite rides at WDW, but only with a FastPass :joy: But you have got me curious about the Play App and being sent off with some pixie dust does sound nice.

It will just be me and my 3 year old and we have to take mid day breaks for naps or no one will be happy. But since we are coming from the east coast getting up early may work in our favor as it will feel later. Granted we will have a stroller, but maybe I will ditch it somewhere early? That way I could just throw my little guy over my shoulder and carry him like a sack of potatoes as I heisman my way through the aggressive crowds? Ok maybe not haha but he really does love being carried like that.:rofl:

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You’re so welcome! What a special trip planned for you! And speaking as someone who has been there, done that: Yes, parents of 3 year olds (and probably the 3 year olds too) are in the non-negotiable midday break is essential camp. And having done the opposite timezone shift to get to WDW, I get that the staying later at night might be a super challenge (we were all about trying rope drop for WDW but when we realized how much earlier that felt for us once we were there, we had to adjust some expectations).

So…to do or not to Peter Pan? That is the question…

Like I said in my outline of the options, it is in my Top 3 Disney rides and it’s probably one we do only every 1 in 7 trips, maybe 1 in 5. Our most recent experience a couple of weeks ago with the Parks Play App game that we played and just a 20 min wait after 10pm on a Fri (CL was 5 or 6 I think) has me on a super-pumped, it’s awesome, I highly recommend wave, but I’ve definitely gone through slumps where I say, don’t bother! As for planning, I always plan for it to be at the end of day (whether or not we plan to stay until the bitter end of close) & if we make it, bonus but if not, it’ll be there next time!

Re-reading your initial response I see you’re prob early May-ish which is prob a good low(er) crowd time so you also have the option of a Wed or Fri 8am reg park open to do the dash. Since Wed & Fri are not EMH days for DL they typically start scanning guests thru the turnstiles 30 min. before opening & you can go all the way up to the ropes in the hub. Much less distance to “heisman” for you & you can park your stroller near the Baby Care Center area before proceeding to the rope. In that case, it may be a really fun dash for the 2 of you!! LOL. I just get too stressed having my 3 and thinking of keeping us all together and rushing. But just 2 of you, that’s way more doable (and potentially fun) for the dash.

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I told my dd8 about your end of day strategy. She was so pumped to try it on our last day. We hit the parks at rope drop that morning and went ALL day long. I think we walked over 13 miles that day. I thought there is no way my kids will make it to 11! DD 5 was passed out in the stroller from about 9-10:30 and on our way to PP I saw Alice was open! (It has been closed most of our trip due to rain, and it is DD5’s absolute favorite!) I woke her up to ride Alice, we timed Peter Pan wrong and had 5 more minutes afterwards to jump in line for Pinocchio (dd3’s favorite ride!) it was the most magical ending to our trip! I’m so glad I mentioned your thoughts to my daughter!


Aw I love hearing success stories of kids burning the midnight oil in Fantasyland!! They are among my most magical memories in DL. And I can’t take all the credit for the idea- I heard it from Liners on chat one of whom does it almost always as her last ride of the day & when I first read how she would walk out of an empty Disneyland with pixie dust sending her off, I couldn’t wait for the day when we would get to try it.

We do still often skip Peter Pan, but we’ve gotten many a ride on Snow White’s, Pinoochio’s, Dumbo or the Carousel this way, which have been just as fun (and much shorter lines too!)

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