Last Updated on March 30, 2020
Magic Kingdom Opening Procedures is not as simple as entering the parks and deciding on which attraction to ride first. Back in the day, the Magic Kingdom used to open their gates the same as any other park; simply let in the guests when it was time.
Then Mickey and friends would invite guests from the Main St train station. This caused a lot of congestion around security and the main gates. Recently, the Magic Kingdom has started to allow guests into the park before anything was officially open, in order to relieve the pressure at the main gates and give everyone time to find their place for Rope Drop at the Land entrances.
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The Magic Kingdom is at its least crowded in the first hour or two of the day.
Before we start on the nitty-gritty of it all. Here is a quick break down of what you can expect from a typical morning at the Magic Kingdom;
- Magic Kingdom lets guests through the turnstiles and onto Main Street U.S.A. around 60 minutes before park opening.
- After passing into the park, most tend to gather in the hub. (There will be a rope manned by cast members who will prevent you from getting into any of the lands.)
- The Magic Kingdom Welcome Show starts at official park opening on the stage in front of Cinderella Castle.
- After the show, Cast Members will remove the rope (hence the name “rope drop”) allowing you to walk briskly–but not run–to whatever attraction you desire.
- After rope drop, instant waits for popular attractions (such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain) will form.
Arriving 30 to 45 minutes ahead of park opening may seem a bit extreme until you remember that there are some things you have to do before they let you into the parks and getting from the parking lot or your Disney transportation stop to the front gates will take some time. You’ll also have to pass through the security checkpoint and admission turnstiles before entering the park.
What time can you enter the Magic Kingdom?
The park opens between 7:45 – 8:00 AM for everyone.
There is a separate line for pre-opening breakfast reservations, and they are generally the only ones allowed in before 8 am, but it has been known to happen that the general public has been welcomed as early as 7:50 am. This has sadly meant that the Early breakfast reservations have lost its appeal. The main draw to booking an early breakfast reservation was taking pictures of your family on a nearly deserted Main Street.
How does Extra Magic Hours (EMH) Affect Magic Kingdom Opening Procedures?
When the parks open at 8 am for Onsite guests to ride Fantasyland/Tomorrowland, how are the Cast Members supposed to keep everyone else out? Guests staying onsite will have to scan their magic bands to be able to get to the rides as those hours are reserved for Disney Resort Guests only.
Don’t forget to click the link for more details on Extra Magic Hours – When to Use and When to Avoid,
What if I have a pre-park opening Advanced Dining Reservations?
- Be Our Guest
- Crystal Palace
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Plaza Restaurant
You do have to scan your magic band to be able to get to your dining reservations. They actually have several “checkpoints” to make sure no one sneaks into an area they aren’t supposed to be.
Technically, you can only go and wait nearby the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train ride until the official park opening time if you have reservations at Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table. While you won’t be in the queue before the Lands open, you will be the first to queue and that is a big deal.
Where can you eat if you don’t have an Advanced Dining Reservation?
The Main Street Bakery (Starbucks), Casey’s Corner or The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor are the only dining locations available on Main Street that will be open before the lands are available to walk through.
Are the shops open before the Magic Kingdom opening?
When the park opens at 7:45 AM, you can shop in the Emporium. Since the crowds are at their lowest, this early in the morning, this is a great time to do some shopping if you aren’t interested in 7DMT
If you’re staying on-property you can ask to have your packages sent to your room. If not, you can ask to pick them up at the end of your day at the Main Street Chamber of Commerce.
The following will be opened before the official park opening time:
- City Hall for Guest Relations
- The Emporium and all the stores that connect
- The Confectionery
- The Bakery (Starbucks)
- Casey’s Corner
- The Crystal Arts Shop
- The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor
- The PhotoPass shop inside Main Street Theater
- There will be PhotoPass photographers to take your picture with the castle in the background
- The Crystal Palace
- Be Our Guest
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
What about the Family of the Day?
Disney employees pick a special family to help open the Magic Kingdom every day. There are rumours that Families are picked from the crowd before they even enter Main St, and the more Disney-decorated they are (matching shirts, for example), the better your chances.
On a side note, Cast Members will not choose a family from the Restaurant pre-park opening queue. How can a family be on stage for 8 am and be at their breakfast reservation at the same time?
Is PhotoPass available?
There are many photo pass photographers wandering the grounds, especially before the parks open. This is a great time to have your family’s photo taken with minimal crowds behind you.
Magic Kingdom Welcome Show
Promptly at the opening, a new welcome show will officially open the park for the day on the Castle Forecourt Stage. A Royal Herald will appear to deliver a proclamation and welcome a few familiar characters to the stage, officially opening the park so “the magic can begin!”
Magic Kingdom Rope Drop Strategy
There are a few things to do BEFORE rope drop at the Magic Kingdom.
What Is “Rope Drop”?
Rope drop refers to the actual, as opposed to scheduled, opening time of the park.
Magic Kingdom Morning Strategy & Rope Drop Tips
You will want to secure advance FastPass+ reservations for 3 of the top 8 rides. You’ll also want to have your first one scheduled for around 11 am. This post assumes you’re not restricted by any of the height requirements at Walt Disney World.
Getting a FastPass is really hard for any of these 8 attractions and getting to the park well before it opens and being in the first wave of riders is your best tactic for riding these attractions with minimal lines.
The top rides are as follows:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Space Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Splash Mountain
- Jungle Cruise
- Haunted Mansion
- Pirates of the Caribbean
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