I thought I recalled reading in Unofficial Guide that if I don’t have Early entry/Magic Hour etc. to either DL/DCA then all touring plans should be scrapped and I should just look at current wait times on the Lines app? Is this true? What would you recommend? Thanks!
The advice you are referring to is about the Dumbo-or-Die in a day plan which is one day of Disneyland catered for parents taking young children that just want one packed full day of Disneyland catered to their children. If you are using that plan & don’t have an early entry you will be one hour behind both the Disneyland onsite hotel guests as well as all guests who have 3 day (or more) tickets that they purchased in advance. Because the plan is just one day at Disneyland, starting an hour behind this huge crowd will be problematic.
However, not every day is an early entry/magic morning at Disneyland so just use the plan on non-early entry/magic morning days. Usually Magic Morning/Early Entry for Disneyland are Tues, Thur, Sat (can change up on really busy crowded weeks so double check the official schedule on Disney’s calendar).
If you do not have early entry then the best strategy is to start with the park that doesn’t have early entry. It’s always our strategy & it has made for some awesome mornings in the park. My favorites are Sunday mornings at Disneyland.
Thanks! So if I am going on a Fri Sat (have no choice) would you recommend DL on Fri and then DCA on Sat, and not spending extra on the park hopper ticket?
I definitely recommend starting in DL on Friday & starting on DCA Saturday.
As for the park hopper, it depends on two things:
How familiar are you with the parks and getting around? If it’s your first time & you don’t know the layout of the parks very well, then I would lean to one park per day. (It is fairly easy to learn though so don’t be completely put off if it’s your first time).
How late are you & your group going to want to be in the parks? Because DL stays open 1-2 hours later than DCA you can close out DCA then hop to DL and still enjoy a few more things, maybe even a late parade showing.
For me personally, I love the flexibility of a park hopper and they are close so it’s fairly easy. If you’re not sure, you can always start in DL first on Fri and if you feel you want more time to come back Sat night (or throughout the day), then add the park hopper on at the ticket hubs before the park is closed or early the next morning.