31 Tips for Your Disney World Trip – Day 4: Arrive Early
If you want to experience some extra Disney magic in the parks, plan to arrive early. Many guests don’t get going early enough to arrive in time for park opening (as it is a vacation after all). If you are an early riser, you’ll be happy to know there are some great reasons to get to the parks early. These reasons include: early dining reservations, the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show, Rope Drop and the Jedi Training Academy, just to name a few.
Early Dining Reservations
Early dining reservations for restaurants inside the parks begin at 8:00 a.m. You will need to book these 180 days out. All four parks have early morning dining offerings. The restaurants that offer early dining are:
Magic Kingdom: Cinderella’s Royal Table, Crystal Palace and Be Our Guest
EPCOT: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and Garden Grill
Hollywood Studios: Hollywood and Vine
Animal Kingdom: Tusker House
Besides enjoying a great character dining experience (except for Be Our Guest, of course) there are other advantages to early dining. One is the chance for great photo opps. If you have time for a photo or two before checking in for your dining reservation, PhotoPass photographers will be on hand. This is a great way to get photos without all the crowds getting in the way.
The other advantage is getting to the rides earlier. After breakfast, you can head straight to the most popular rides near the restaurant. This will enable you to beat the crowd. If you finish dining before rope-drop, though, you’ll have to wait for rope-drop with everyone else but you’ll still have a good start.
The Magic Kingdom Welcome Show
The Magic Kingdom Welcome Show is definitely worth the effort of getting out the door early. This show is the best way to start your day at the Magic Kingdom, not to mention the best way by far to start your first day ever visiting Disney World.
The show is performed on the train station platform at the entrance to the park. It begins promptly at 10 minutes before park opening. For days with early magic hours, it will begin 10 minutes before early magic hour begins and will not happen again that day for regular park opening.
“Hello everyone! Welcome to the most magical place on Earth!” This is the welcome greeting from the host, who is a “Main Street Citizen.” The greeting is followed by a song, “Good Morning” with singers and dancers in their dapper attire. A short time later, the “family of the day” is introduced. They will help open the park.
You’ll hear the train horn and see the steam from the engine which can only mean one thing: Mickey and his friends will soon be here. Usually, you’ll see Mickey, Pluto, Donald, Chip and Dale, some of the princess, and some nostalgic characters as well. All of the characters join in with the singing and dancing on the platform and build the excitement of the crowd. After another song, Mickey leads the crowd in a Countdown from 10 to open the park. After “one” he releases fireworks.
Try to get a spot in the middle area if you can, and be sure to be there as early as you can.
Disney generally allows guests to enter the parks 15-30 minutes before park opening. You can go to a certain point once you go through the turnstiles. You will notice a rope manned by cast members which will prevent you from passing through to ride areas. Head to the rope nearest the ride you are trying to get to quickly. At the official opening time, you will be able to proceed past the rope drop. Please note that in the Magic Kingdom, the cast members will start walking (with the rope stretched out) toward the popular attractions in that land. Guests are expected to follow; you are not allowed to pass the cast members.
Once you have made it past rope drop, you can quickly get in line for the most popular rides. This allows you to save your fast passes for busier times of the day. So, for example, should you get to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train quickly, you won’t need to use a fast pass to ride it.
Jedi Training Academy
Does your child want to become a Jedi? The Jedi Training Academy offers children (ages 4-12) the opportunity to enlist with the Jedi Order and become Jedis-in-training.
There are several 30-minute shows throughout the day. Each Jedi-in-training will receive a brown robe to wear and a light saber. During the show, they are trained in the ways of The Force and do battle against Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, and the Seventh Sister Inquisitor (from the Star Wars Rebels TV show). The Storm Troopers provide great comic relief; and, don’t worry, the good guys always win in the end.
To sign up your child, visit the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost shop early in the morning. Spots are first come, first served and once the shows are filled for the day that is it. Be sure to head there at Rope Drop for your child’s best chance to participate. If you make an early dining reservation at Hollywood and Vine for 8:00, you can make it to the Jedi Training Academy check in just before the park opens.
These are just a few great reasons to arrive at the parks early. You don’t have to do it every day, but I certainly recommend it for some of your days. Have you experienced any of these early morning activities? How did you like them?
Thank you for reading and have a magical day!
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