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One of the differences that sometimes confuses people between Walt Disney World® and Disneyland® Resort is the difference in early admission benefits. Most theme parks offer an early entrance to the theme park to a limited number of guests, as a perq for purchasing a particular product. But the specifics of the early admission programs vary substantially. Early admission benefits at Walt Disney World are almost solely a function of staying in a Walt Disney World resort hotel. And which Walt Disney World theme park offers early admission on which days is often rather fluid. Early admission policies at Disneyland are in many ways simpler and more straightforward than at Walt Disney World. The one complication is that there are two different early admission programs at Disneyland: Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning.

Extra Magic Hour

Extra Magic Hour is available exclusively to guests at the three Hotels of the Disneyland Resort. If you are staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the Disneyland Hotel, or Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, you can enter a theme park one-hour prior to that park’s scheduled opening time each morning. Disneyland has established a reliable pattern for which park will open early each day of the week (on rare occasions, when the Resort is VERY busy, both theme parks will open early). The pattern is:

Disneyland Theme Park: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
Disney California Adventure: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Only a select group of attractions are open during Extra Magic Hour in each park. In Disneyland Theme Park, 16 attractions found in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are usually open. (Fantasyland: Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, King Arthur Carrousel, Mad Tea Party, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, and Snow White’s Scary Adventures. Tomorrowland: Astro Orbitor, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Disneyland Monorail, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Space Mountain, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue). In California Adventure, only nine attractions are generally open for Extra Magic Hour. (California Screamin’, King Triton’s Carousel, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Radiator Springs Racers, Soarin’ Around the World, The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Toy Story Midway Mania). Note that FastPasses are NOT distributed during Extra Magic Hour EXCEPT that the World of Color FastPass machine in Disney California Adventure is usually open.

Access to Extra Magic Hours requires that you are a registered guests of a Hotel of the Disneyland Resort and have valid admission to the theme park for the day. You do NOT have to purchase a hotel & ticket package in order to utilize this benefit (though that is the easiest way).

Magic Morning

Magic Morning is probably best understood as a subset of Extra Magic Hours. It is available exclusively based on the purchase of certain theme park admission tickets that include 3-days or more of theme park admission. (Certain specially-discounted tickets may not include this benefit – shop carefully). Magic Morning provides ONE early admission (regardless of the ticket length) to Disneyland Theme Park, on Tuesday, Thursday, OR Saturday morning (the same days that Disneyland Theme Park offers Extra Magic Hours). Magic Morning is NOT available at Disney California Adventure.

Other than the limitation in terms of the number of times it can be used and where it can be used, the attractions available to guests using a Magic Morning admission are identical to those available to guests being admitted for Extra Magic Hour on that same day.

Bottom line: If you’re not a registered guest at a Hotel of the Disneyland Resort, at best you will only have one early admission available to you at Disneyland Theme Park only. If you are a registered guest of a Hotel of the Disneyland Resort, you will be able to enter one theme park or the other one-hour prior to the regular opening time each day for which you have valid theme park admission.

A Mouse Master travel professional can help make sure that you are prepared to take the best advantage of whatever special benefits are available to you, depending on the choices you make. Your Mouse Master can also assist you in weighing the value of various benefits against the associated cost. Call (888) 41-MOUSE to get a Mouse Master started on your vacation plan, or fill out a quote request form here.