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 ).
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:
- Plan to attend a 7am EMH
- Plan to show up at the turnstils by 6am- 6:10am at the very latest
- Your touring group/family needs to be very agile AND have good stamina
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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:
- Plan on a day when there are 2 showtimes for the daytime parade in DL (Soundsational right now)
- Plan to miss the earlier scheduled one (usually at 3:30pm) and/or have a plan to see it another time/day.
- 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)
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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)