What It's Like To Wait In Line For Disneyland Tickets For 8 Hours

Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland

Last week Disneyland tickets were finally available to purchase for the first time in over a year, and to say that there was "pent up demand" -- the phrase that The Walt Disney Company has been using to ensure investors stayed happy -- would be something of an understatement. The wait for both Disneyland tickets and reservations at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa was hours and hours long on Thursday and is only now really getting under control. As CinemaBlend's resident theme park junkee, I was in that line from the very early hours of Thursday, and spent more than eight hours in a virtual waiting room in order to buy tickets. It was an experience, to say the least.

How Getting Disneyland Tickets Worked When The Queue Opened

Technically, I jumped into the queue at 6:30 AM pacific time. Tickets were not set to go on sale until some time after 8:00 am, so this was the waiting room before the waiting room. Then, right around 8:00 AM pacific, the official wait actually started, and I was told my wait was "more than an hour." Needless to say, that description was more than a little vague as "more than an hour," covers a lot of ground. Did that mean it would be just over, or did "several hours" fall into that category?

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It's Disneyland, So Of Course There's A Line

As I would learn shortly, basically everybody's wait time at this point was "more than an hour." And for most of us, this is the way that things stayed for quite some time. However, searching Disneyland hashtags on Twitter did reveal that a few people here and there were getting tickets, so the system was moving forward, just at an incredibly slow pace. Some of that is by design of course, the whole reason this system was being used was to prevent the Disneyland website from being so overwhelmed that it crashed.

Unfortunately, part of the problem is also that, anecdotally, it seemed that the Disneyland ticket system didn't quite work on a first come, first served system. There were some reports of people who logged in later getting access to tickets first, which certainly frustrated people in the queue. The whole thing was a black box and after a time, we saw people getting worried that with things taking so long there would be no tickets left by the time it was their turn at the front of the line.

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And so I stayed there. We all stayed there. For hours. I would incessantly jump back to the tab to see if anything had changed, and for hours, nothing did. It was not my most productive day ever, that much is sure. The website said don't reload, yet I kept wanting to do that because nothing changed for so I truly believed the site was broken, and somewhere, my turn was happening without me. Should I open it on my phone too and try multiple browsers? Or would that just slow things down? The mind boggles.

Finally, about three hours after things had gotten started, something finally changed for me. In fact, things changed for everybody still waiting for tickets, but it wasn't good.

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A Wrong Turn On The Way To Disneyland

The thing that this entire system that was driving everybody nuts was specifically supposed to prevent, the system going haywire, apparently happened anyway. Reports came in that not only did the queue for tickets do it's best "confused GPS" impression, but other parts of the Disneyland website also stopped being available. I had been slightly concerned about this whole system before, but at this point I was starting to hyperventilate.

The questions in my mind were incessant and there was maybe even a little sweat. How long would go on? Should I reload the window now? Should I close it and try to get back in. Will I lose my spot in line if I do that? Have I already lost my spot in line and I won't get a new one unless I do it? What exactly is the right call here? In the end, I made the simple decision to do nothing. It had worked so far. The page itself still seemed to be live, the little animated Thunder Mountain Railroad at the top and that damn goat that had been haunting me for the last five hours were still there, so I continued to hang out.

The "recalculating" lasted for about an hour, and then it was replaced, once again, with the "more than an hour" wait. At this point, I actually had had an appointment coming up to get my second COVID-19 vaccination, something far more important than, but not not entirely unrelated to, Disneyland tickets. Luckily, the waiting room system had a way for me to transfer my waiting room link to my phone so I could continue to wait while keeping my spot in line. Again, would it have been better to just start fresh there? Who the hell even knows anymore?

Minutes later, I got my shot with my phone in my hand and spent the 15 minutes of observation time staring at that damn Thunder Mountain goat, wondering if perhaps dropping the dynamite wouldn't be the worst option. In the end, it ended up not mattering, as I made the slightly over an hour long round trip, and nothing had changed. I got back to my office in the same state I had left in with Disneyland declaring it would be "more than an hour."

And then, finally, at 3:00 p.m. PT, seven hours after the wait had begun, and eight and a half hours after I first landed on this webpage, something finally changed for the better.

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So, Did I Manage To Score Disneyland Tickets? How Long Did It Take?

If you've been reading this thinking at this point the website was going to stop messing with me, then I'm sorry to say that wasn't quite the case. The time would jump forward and backward every few seconds, though with a clear trend toward downward, and eventually, finally the number reached one minute. About eight hours after this insanity had started, I was in the system.

It turns out the wait wasn't really all it was cracked up to be. After I bought tickets for the number of days I wanted for my family and myself, I was able to make reservations for the dates that I wanted. Dates for about the next three months were available, and at the time I was making reservations, the only dates and locations I could not reserve were Disneyland Park itself on April 30 and May 1, the first two days the park will be reopened. (So, if that's been your hope, you may be up the creek.) Booking Disney California Adventure on those days was still an option, and with a park hopper ticket, I still could have made it into Disneyland those days if it was really important to me.

If nothing else, keeping people off the site may have made the actual purchase experience incredibly easy. It was a breeze with zero problems. After all the waiting, it was done. I had my tickets and my reservations and I will be going to Disneyland again. It still feels good just to say that.

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To be sure, as I write this, there are more days that have become full reservation wise. Yet, nearly all of them are still open for Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, and even the opening of Avengers Campus in June, still has plenty of availability. In fact, the very days in June that I booked are still very much available right now. So apparently I could have just saved myself all this stress.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.