Tips for Opening California Adventure

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Have you ever arrived for California Adventure rope drop? It’s the name for opening Disneyland Resort at either Disneyland Park or California Adventure Park.

Rope Drop California Adventure
Rope Drop California Adventure

If you’ve never been to Disneyland Resort for the official opening keep reading here for all the magical details about opening California Adventure.

This article is all about opening California Adventure Park and what regulars call “rope drop”. Plus, you’ll get lots of tips for planning your perfect Disneyland Resort vacation.

What is Disneyland Rope Drop? Rope Drop is the official opening ceremony of Disneyland Resort parks. Guests who arrive early are admitted to a certain point in the parks that are roped off. When the announcement comes over the speaker welcoming you to Disneyland Resort, the rope drops and you’re admitted into various themed lands.

Opening California Adventure

Opening California Adventure
California Adventure gate

I always tell people that sleeping in is against the rules at Disneyland Resort. Why? You’ll get so much done during California Adventure rope drop when everyone else is sleeping in! Plus, local Annual Passholders tend to show up later in the day, making wait times longer and the parks more crowded.

Sometimes opening California Adventure means waking up at 5:30 am even when staying at a nearby hotel, and while you’re busy thinking I’m crazy, just hang in there with me as I walk you through my top opening Disneyland Resort tips, along with a sample of one of our family days at California Adventure.

Arrive at California Adventure Rope Drop Early

Getting up early is essential to make the most of your time and money, especially if you’re only visiting for one day. I recommend doing Disneyland Resort over 3 or 4 days, with a break day in-between (sleeping in is totally allowed on break day!). If you’re a guest of a Disneyland Resort hotel, you get access to Extra Magic Hour which is prime ride time at California Adventure.

The more days you go, the cheaper you per-day admission cost gets. I get Disneyland discount tickets from our partner, Get Away Today before heading over to Disneyland Resort. Your 3+ day ticket will be cheaper than buying through Disney itself, and includes a Magic Morning admission.

Plus, enjoy an extra $10 off when booking a hotel stay of two nights or more along with your discount Disneyland tickets! Use promo code Happiest10 at checkout.Disneyland Package savings

How early do I need to arrive? When opening Disneyland Resort, the key is to arrive at the parks gates about 40-60 minutes before the park opens. Do not be parking your car 45 minutes before opening, do not be going through security, be at the gates. Add extra time to park and/or walk over, take the tram and go through security. This is especially important during peak summer months, holidays and events.

Summer hours means arriving even earlier! In the summer Disneyland Resort opens at 8:00 am or 7:00 am on days with early admission. One year we did a quick two day visit, that meant one day at Disneyland and one day at California Adventure. It also meant waking up at 5:30 am so we could get ready, eat breakfast, walk to Disneyland and go through security. We have been the first people in front of our gate many times. If you’re an early riser or coming from a later time zone, this is the perfect chance to opening Disneyland Resort and see Disneyland and California Adventure in a way you’ve never seen it before! If you are using Magic Morning, you’ll need to arrive even earlier.

Non-peak hours means you can sleep in a teeny bit. If you simply can’t resist seeing a part of Disney Magic you’ve never seen, getting up early is a must. If you’re traveling during off-season, when the parks open at 10 am, then you get a little more time to sleep in but not much. When the parks open later, more people are there for rope drop, so I advise being at the gates 60 minutes before.


California Adventure Rope Drop FASTPASS Prep

When starting your day at California Adventure, be prepared for the type of FASTPASS system you will use during your Disneyland Resort vacation:

  • The new Disney MaxPass which allows you to reserve a FASTPASS on your mobile device.
  • Free FASTPASS which requires walking to each kiosk for a return time.

For those choosing Disney MaxPass, make certain you have a credit card linked to your Disneyland app account before entering the park on your first day. Since this is a paid upgrade, you don’t want any delay in snagging your first FASTPASS via Disney MaxPass.

Since Disney MaxPass works via mobile device, you’ll be using lots of cell phone battery which is why I never go to Disneyland Resort without this compact portable charger.

Once the rope drops and the park is officially open, secure your FASTPASS for either Radiator Springs Racers or Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Since opening, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! has run out of FASTPASS options earlier than Radiator Springs Racers. Choose wisely according to your group preferences.

After securing your FASTPASS, head to a nearby attraction to ride something without a FASTPASS option while you wait. I suggest Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters or Monsters Inc., Mike & Sulley to the Rescue.

Disneyland Summer of Heroes

If you’re looking to stay on budget and want to go the traditional FASTPASS route, make your way toward your desired destination before the park officially opens. I suggest lining up toward Carthay Circle Restaurant for either Radiator Springs Racers (Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS kiosk is located just passed Carthay Circle on your left) or lining up near the entrance to Hollywood Land for Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

Be sure you have everyone’s ticket in hand to secure your FASTPASS at the kiosk. The FASTPASS will be loaded directly to your ticket and only prints a reminder slip as pictured below.

FASTPASS Reminder receipt 

*Note: If your entire party has not entered the park, you cannot claim a FASTPASS for them while they sleep at the hotel. Every ticket needs to be scanned in at the park entrance to activate FASTPASS via kiosk or Disney MaxPass.

Get your Disneyland discount tickets from our partner, Get Away Today before heading over to Disneyland Resort.

Plus, enjoy an extra $10 off when booking a hotel stay of two nights or more along with your discount Disneyland tickets! Use promo code Happiest10 at checkout.

Buy Discount Tickets Now!

California Adventure Rope Drop Tips

I’m usually the designated FASTPASS runner and upon opening I secured Radiator Springs Racers and World of Color FASTPASS while my family entered the park through a near empty Hollywood Land to visit with Sulley and other Pixar characters.

We met up in a bug’s land and rode almost every ride with practically no other guests— and let’s not forget, this was in the middle of July.

By the time California Adventure had been open only an hour, we had:

  • World of Color FASTPASS
  • Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS
  • Met some characters in Hollywood Land
  • Rode almost every ride in a bug’s land (this land is now gone forever) and
  • Headed over to Cars Land use our Radiator Racers FASTPASS
If you’re using Disney MaxPass, be sure to select a new FASTPASS via mobile app as soon as your current FASTPASS is scanned at the FASTPASS entrance point.

California Adventure Plans

Need more advice on how to spend your day at Disney California Adventure? We have ready-to-print touring plans, including our popular Pixar Favorites and custom Disneyland Resort touring plans to make your trip extra magical and super simple.

There’s so many reasons to arrive at California Adventure rope drop—you’ll get onto tons of rides well before the majority of guests even discover them. Get to the parks early and you can do all of this in the early morning hours, too!

Listen to the audio version of this article here:

Want to read about opening Disneyland? We’ve got the magical 411.

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