The great thing about this question is it is easy to answer. Who is going or when they are going, how many people or where they are staying, the answer is the same: Get there early. When I say early, I mean at “rope drop” – the time when the Cast Members literally drop the rope and let you into the park.
Why, why, why do you want me to get up early on my vacation? I want to relax on vacation and take it easy. I understand how you feel. To my wife’s chagrin, I love to sleep in as much as anyone, perhaps more. There is one thing, however, I don’t like more than an early wake-up call while on vacation (even if it’s Mickey making the call) – waiting in lines. Simply put, an early arrival helps you avoid long lines and get the best value for your time and money while on vacation. Believe it, this strategy will actually help you relax and give you more time to take it easy.
|Arriving at the Magic Kingdom early gives you a chance to see the wonderful opening ceremonies of the park|
Let’s face it, most people on vacation want to take it easy, get a little extra sleep, take their time in the morning, watch Stacey on the TV a time or two more before meandering down to the bus stop and deciding which park to go to that day. That means many arrive after 10:30 AM – simply watch the entrance gates to the park and you can see the steady stream of visitors pick up around 10:30 and remain steady through lunch. With the general opening time of 9 AM for the parks, that leaves the early birds ninety minutes of low crowds, small lines and relative peace in the parks.
Ninety minutes isn’t that much you say? Let’s take a look at what you can do in that time frame at the Magic Kingdom. Not long ago, on an August morning, my son and I arrived for opening at the Magic Kingdom (“rope drop”) and proceeded to complete the following attractions in the first ninety minutes of our visit: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Mad Tea Party, Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s a Small World and The Haunted Mansion. We then grabbed a fast pas sto return after lunch for Splash Mountain before taking a break and deciding where to eat an early lunch. If you arrive at say, 11 AM, I would estimate that you will not get those attractions in before dinner, much less lunch and will spend most of that time in line.
|A view of a pretty empty Tomorrowland in the morning|
Looking at another park such as Epcot – if you want to ride Soarin’ the time to do it is at opening, before the hour plus wait time builds by lunch time. Yes, you can get a fast pass if you arrive before they are all handed out to ride it later, but why not ride it now and grab a fast pass for later? The same idea applies to another major headliner, Toy Story Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I can think of a few more fun things to do with a sixty minute or longer wait than enjoy this well designed cue.
With a good portion of your touring done early, you are now free to meander, shop, take in the little known or over looked attractions or head back to your resort for a swim and/or a nap while everyone else sweats it out (literally in some cases) waiting in line to do what you already have. When the masses decide enough is enough and start leaving the park about dinner time, you can now return and finish our your touring, relaxed and refreshed form your break.
For most, a Disney vacation is a once in a while, if not a once in a lifetime trip. It is expensive and can be stressful. How to pay, when to go, what to do, where to eat, what resort…why add to that stress with the worry of how to fit in all those great things in your relatively short time visiting. Take some of that stress away and maximize the value of your stay, the value of your time by getting there early .
Yes, you trade off a little sleep and deserved vacation laziness, but you gain so much more in relaxation, time and stress free touring. I’ll take that trade any day. How about you, what is your time worth?