About the new Magic Kingdom opening procedure

The start of 2017 brought about a bunch of announcements at Disney World, including a new Magic Kingdom opening procedure. Prior to the change, guests gathered eagerly in front of the WDW Railroad Train Station to await the arrival of the Mayor, the Family of the Day, the Main Street dancers and a train full of characters.

There were some flaws with this opening, however. The space available for guests to watch was small, and if you didn't get there early there was a chance you wouldn't even make it through the turnstiles before park opening.

The new procedure, while perhaps lacking some of the nostalgia of the previous show, addresses the space issue by opening up Main Street to all guests an hour before the official park opening. This gives guests tons of room to spread out, shop and even eat breakfast in the park before the official "rope drop."

Here's how it works...

What time can you enter the Magic Kingdom?

With the new Magic Kingdom opening procedure, guests are usually allowed in at 8 a.m. (sometimes even 10-15 minutes earlier) when the scheduled park opening time is 9 a.m.

What about Extra Magic Hours (EMHs)?

During Extra Magic Hours all guests are still allowed onto Main Street; however, there are Cast Members posted at the entrances to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland with handheld scanners to check tickets and MagicBands. Only onsite resort guests are allowed into those areas until the park officially opens to all guests.

What if I have a pre-park opening Advanced Dining Reservation or tour scheduled? Are the coveted "empty park" photographs you used to be able to snap a thing of the past?

One of the biggest former perks of pre-park opening breakfasts was the opportunity to take photographs in a nearly empty park. However, the new opening procedure greatly eliminates that chance.

Guests with pre-park opening reservations between 8 and 8:45 a.m. have been allowed in to the Magic Kingdom a few minutes before everyone else, often as early as 7:40 a.m.

If you would like to dine in the park before it opens to increase your chances, these are your options:

Be Our Guest

  • Pros: This reservation puts you in a prime location to access the Fantasyland attractions before the crowds arrive from the Hub, and since this a Quick Service location it is also the least expensive out of the 3 pre-park opening reservation options. Guests finishing breakfast before the park opens have often been allowed to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train as well.
  • Cons: There are no characters at breakfast here, so if you are looking for that experience you'll need to make reservations at one of the other two options.
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Crystal Palace

  • Pros: Crystal Palace has consistently high food quality and is closest to Adventureland if that is where you plan to head after you dine.
  • Cons: Since it is a character meal, you can expect to spend at least an hour there (maybe more) in order to meet all the characters, increasing the likelihood that you won't be finished dining by the time the parks open.
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Cinderella's Royal Table

  • Pros: Cinderella's Royal Table puts you in the castle, which is a convenient central location to most areas of the park, especially for Fantasyland.
  • Cons: This is the most expensive of all the pre-park opening meals and shouldn't be booked in order to provide an advantage to get ahead of the crowds since it will likely take you over an hour to complete your meal and visit with all the royalty.

Where can you eat if you don't have an Advanced Dining Reservation?

No reservation? No problem! You have a couple of Main Street dining options before Magic Kingdom opening, including the Main Street Bakery which serves up Starbucks coffee and light breakfast options. Looking for something slightly more sugary? Head over to the Plaza Ice Cream parlor where you can snag some Mickey Waffles or a doughnut sundae. Casey's Corner also has been known to serve breakfast but their availability appears to be seasonal.

Get more info on each of these Quick Service breakfast options:

Are the shops open before the Magic Kingdom opening?

Yes, the shops along Main Street are open while you wait for the park to fully open.

What about the Family of the Day?

Family of the Day was something that existed with the old Magic Kingdom opening procedure, but sadly doesn't take place anymore.

Is PhotoPass available?

Yep! Photographers are out on Main Street and in the Hub area in front of the castle. It's a good time to snag some pictures before you start touring the park and visiting attractions.

What is the new opening show like and where should I stand for the best view?

The new Let the Magic Begin show includes lots of characters and takes place on the stage in front of the castle just before park opening.

Check out this video if you'd like to see before you get there.

Which way do I head after it is over?

There are a few different paths to exit The Hub after the show. The paths to Fantasyland are the most popular at park opening.

The path closest to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (#4 on the map below) builds up first and will have the most people.

There are a few other ways to get to Fantasyland that won't be as busy (1, 2, and 3 on the map) and those will be better options if you aren't headed to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

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That should cover most of the questions we've been getting. Have anything else you'd like to ask? Feel free to post in the comments.

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Leave a Reply

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Lisa Eason

We always head to Space Mountain at rope drop. Where should we stand to watch the new morning show? Which path should we take to get there quickest?

Caitlin

Hi! You mentioned in your article, that you can sometimes hop on 7 Dwarfs Mine Train after breakfast at BoG (8:05 reservation). Is that the only ride open or are they all open? Will the princesses be available at Fairytale Hall? Thanks!

Usually only SDMT is available early. Other attractions will open when the park does.

Maren Shaw

Is #1 also the way to go for 8am ADR at BOG. Don’t want to get lost lol

You should see a Cast Member in the hub area in front of the castle holding a sign directing you where to go.

Christa

So, what time would you advice people to arrive on a non-EMH day? My family always used to arrive at MK no later than 30 minutes to park opening so that we could be toward the front to get a good spot for rope drop. With this “extra hour,” early, I feel like we would have to arrive earlier to stake out a spot on Main Street for the new rope drop. I wouldn’t want to wander around killing time by shopping, eating, etc. and then get stuck behind a ton of people when they opened the rides. We always go during the busy season (stuck with school teacher schedule), so we’re always trying to beat out the crowds.

I would just keep the same arrival time. Instead of lining up at the front of Magic Kingdom, you’ll just go in and line up at one of the bridges to wherever you’re headed.

Rayna Vanderbosch

I keep on coming back to this post and re-reading it because I am blown away and just need to keep making sure it’s true. We went in 2015 and I remember that I had to plan on skipping Main Street and heading straight for Fantasyland at rope drop and going back to it later. I love Main Street, it’s so iconic. I am SO SO excited to be able to tour Main Street with a little leisure first thing in the morning without worrying on missing out on anything- especially as we are taking my mother in law for her first ever Disney trip and I think she will enjoy it this way much better.

As much as I miss the old welcome show at the train station, this new welcome process is much more laid back. I think you’ll enjoy it (and hopefully your MIL will too).

Rochelle Thompson

We were there On Feb. 24 of this year and Magic Kingdom had EMH and they did not let us in the park until 7:55. I was wondering what everyone else’s experience has been since Feb. I would like to know because when we go again next Feb, we wouldn’t have to be there as early. I really appreciate all the info I get from Prep School.

Amy

I have never been to SEE, but we are going for the first time this year! I’m glad I came upon your post, great info. I will say I know I’ve never seen the original show so I can’t really give a valid opinion lol… But I watched both online and I love the new one so much more!

Jessica Cates

We have a breakfast reservation at Be Our Guest Reservation at 8:35 am – will we miss the opening show? What time should we try to enter the park?

You can try to enter the park when they allow you in around 8 a.m. to maybe get seated earlier than your reservation time.

Amy

Which path is the best to get to Peter Pan when the show ends??

Either 1 or 2 will be your best bet.

Amy

Thanks! Those were the ones I assumed… wasn’t sure if either was better than the other??

Kris

If they are letting people on main street at 8AM an hour before the park
is officially open do they block off the walkways to stop people from going
directly to the more popular rides to avoid longer waits later? Such as
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Peter Pan, etc etc I know the rides
won’t be open yet but they can go and wait.

Everybody is stopped in front of the castle. That’s what the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 are showing on the graphic – places that people line up to get out of the hub area once the park opens.

Deirdre Homan

Great information. Disney have just announced 8AM opening in MK for 12 days around Easter and also Extra Magic Hours at 7AM each morning and we plan to use this on two days. I assume the Welcome Show won’t start until 7:55AM so we may need to skip it.
From what you describe it appears all guests will be allowed to enter Main Street for EMH, regardless of whether or not they are staying at a Disney resort. Does anyone know if they actually check Magic Bands for everyone going through to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland? That seems like it would really slow things down.

Kelly Prinzel

Do they do they opening train show anymore?

No, that’s why we had to write this article – because the whole opening procedure changed, including the welcome show. Sad to see it go. 🙁

Noelle

We have reservations at 8:25 for Crystal Palace. Will we be able to get in before others will be allowed, to get some pictures quickly in front of the castle? I know they let people in before their reservation, but how far in advance? Are they aware by scanning your Band when your reservation is?

Sarah

Sorry for the double post, I thought the 1st one didn’t go through.

Sarah

If we have a reservation at 8:05 for Crystal Palace and we can get into the park at 7:40, is there any chance we will be seated early? We’d like to be done in time to see Let the Magic Begin and I’m worried about feeling rushed.

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