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You Snooze, You LOSE! – Don’t Sleep In at Walt Disney World

One of the biggest mistakes made by Disney novices is sleeping in at Disney. Yes, I know you’re on vacation. Yes, I know you have to wake up early every single day of your regular working life. But seriously, your Disney vacation is NOT the time to trade in the alarm clock. Here’s our list of fabulous things you’ll surely miss if you keep hitting the snooze button!

6. LESS CROWDED TRANSPORTATION

Most people know that Disney provides free transportation between their official resorts, the theme parks, and Downtown Disney. Since nearly everyone staying at a Disney Resort Hotel relies on Disney’s transportation systems, they can get quite crowded and busy. Disney transportation tends to get particularly bogged down within 30 minutes of each park opening time (so, if Epcot opens at 9am, the bus queue for Epcot will be the longest at most hotels between 8:30 and 9:00). The lines can get so long that you may have to wait for 2 or 3 buses before there is space for your party. We always try to arrive at the gate of any park 30 minutes PRIOR to the opening time. In some cases, that may mean being at a bus stop 1 HOUR prior to a park’s official opening time (or more at peak crowd times like Christmas and the Fourth of July). I realize it may seem excessive, but it should ensure that you get on a bus without being packed in like sardines, or missing a bus altogether.

5. SHORTER LINES AT SECURITY CHECKPOINTS

Each Disney Park has a security checkpoint all guests must pass through prior to entry. Security guards will inspect any bags or coolers a person may be carrying to look for items that are not permitted in the parks (such as glass containers, alcoholic beverages, and weapons). Because each bag must be screened individually, long lines can sometimes build up at these checkpoints during busy times of the day. Waiting for your security screening is a waste of precious touring minutes.

4. WELCOME SHOW AT THE MAGIC KINGDOM

“Rope Drop” is Disney-speak for park opening time. At the Magic Kingdom each morning, a quick welcome show is held in front of Cinderella’s Castle (Castle Forecourt Stage). A Royal Herald proclaims “the magic can begin!” and is then joined by various characters on stage, include Mickey and Minnie. The benefit to this new show is the opportunity to enter the park early and grab less-crowded photos in front of the Castle, stroll Main Street, or line up at the rope drop for the various portions of Magic Kingdom. While we miss the old Welcome Show at the Train Station for nostalgia’s sake, this new show does have it’s benefits (including safety and comfort!) It’s a great way to start your Magic Kingdom experience and begin to feel the magic that is Walt Disney World!

3. MORE TEMPERATE WEATHER

Florida is hot. And when I say hot, I mean sauna like, melt the flesh off your face kind of hot. In the summer months, temperatures can reach 110 degrees with 90% humidity. People from farther North of the equator don’t always appreciate just how uncomfortable that kind of weather can feel until they are in the thick of it. Obviously the coolest times of the day are going to be early morning or evening after the sun has set. I recommend park touring during both of those times, particularly in the summer months. If you arrive early and spend the morning experiencing attractions, you can eat an early lunch around 11 (beating the crowds) and head back to your hotel for some pool and relaxation time. Then you can head back to the parks in the late afternoon.

Bonus Tip!

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2. OPPORTUNITIES FOR FABULOUS PHOTOS

As a general rule, Disney parks become crowded within 3 hours of park opening time (depending on your season of travel and the weather). Once the parks are full of people, it can become difficult to capture really nice shots of “icon” photos (like in front of Cinderella Castle) without having to jockey for position with thousands of other anxious visitors. If you arrive at the main gates of any park in time for park opening, you’ll have the opportunity to wander around in relative calm for a few minutes and grab a few photos where it may look like you’re the only ones in the park! (But don’t spend too much time taking photos! Check out tip number 1!)

1. LOW CROWD PARK TOURING

Early arrival at any Disney Theme Park (this means prior to official opening time) is the most important tip given by most Disney insiders. Even during the MOST crowded times of the year (Spring Break, Christmas, New Year’s) the LEAST crowded time of the day will be the first hour that the parks open. This will enable your party to experience at least one or two “headliner” rides or character meet and greets without the need for a Fastpass or a long wait in line. During less crowded time of the year, early park arrival may enable guests to ride up to 5 or 6 highly demanded rides with minimal wait times. You may be able to experience your favorite attractions more than once by combining early arrival time with Fastpasses later in the day.

Do you know of any other reasons to arrive at the parks early in the morning? Leave us a comment below!

BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!

About Jessica Brosnan

Jessica is a mother of one and an elementary school teacher in New Jersey. She enjoys musical theater and loves to cook. Jessica is a Disney Vacation Club member and is perpetually planning her next Disney vacation.