If you have never seen Disneyland empty, or nearly empty, then arriving at the park at opening is a must do! As an adult who loves Disneyland, but really isn’t a fan of getting up early and arriving at the gates to the park just as the park opens to the public, this was an eye opener for me. You can get amazing pictures, and it is relatively quiet.
An empty park is a photographer’s dream. The closest you can get to that at Disneyland is by entering the park for the Magic Morning Hour (for those with a 3+ day park hopper pass), Extra Magic Morning (guests staying on resort), or getting in line at the gates a good half hour before it opens to the general public.
Although there was a line at the gate waiting for the park to open, we were amazed at how quiet the park is first thing in the morning. Many of the families either head directly to breakfast or the few rides that are open that early. That leaves a lot of open space not filled with people and perfect for photos!
We headed away from where the families were going, mostly towards Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, and found ourselves in New Orleans Square, Adventureland, and Frontierland.
New Orleans Square
We love hanging out in New Orleans Square, but never so much as we did this day. The steps were not crowded and we were able to make our way around without concern of stepping on, or over, a child or stroller.
Disneyland is truly a scenic place when it isn’t filled to capacity. The steps were just beckoning us to walk up and sit in the courtyard in the French Quarter.
There was no long line at the Haunted Mansion. In fact, I’d say the ghosts were still at rest and hadn’t woken to greet the crowds, yet.
Frontierland, where you can see snippets of what early America may have been like.
The calm of the water, as no boats were moving, and lack of crowds made this area peaceful for us and the ducks. Mark Twain’s Riverboat made for a picturesque photo as it sat still on the water.
Even pirates weren’t stirring, yet, at Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.
A typically happening place, the Golden Horseshoe Saloon was quiet, as the doors were not yet open to appeal to the hungry park goers.
Our last stop, before heading back to Main Street, USA, was Adventureland where exotic experiences typically await. On this day the birds of the Enchanted Tiki Room were still sound asleep.
Tarzan’s Treehouse was waiting to be climbed by eager youngsters and adults who are still limber enough to swing on the rope bridges and zip down slides.
Adventureland’s shopping area, the Adventureland Bazaar, was open and waiting for the first throngs of the day.
Even Aladdin’s Oasis (soon to be turned into The Tropical Hideway) was peaceful and beckoning those few who had meandered that way to come sit and enjoy the peacefulness of the morning.
From here we headed back to Main Street in search of food where we found a few more nearly picture perfect shots.
Main Street, USA
The horses were waking and ready to pull happy families around on the new trolley tracks in the horse-drawn streetcars.
Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse were eager to welcome guests to the park.
Finally, our last shot, we could see the Disneyland Railroad was still revving up its steam engine for the day at the Main Street, USA stop.
As we wandered the park during this early morning hour, we were truly captivated, or maybe enchanted is a better word, with the calm and peace before the storm. Neither of us had really paid attention to how scenic Disneyland is in its layout and landscape.
Waking up early may not be the easiest thing to do for some adults, especially when sleeping in is a treat on a day off, but it was well worth it. The pictures we were able to get were incredible, and the photos here don’t do the park justice. We used our phone camera, but we can only imagine the incredible photos one could take with a quality DSLR.
If you love photography, and get the chance to enter the park when it opens or during the Magic Hour, take advantage of it. The pictures you will get will make it all worthwhile!