When a group or solo traveler embarks on their Walt Disney World vacation, there are an increasing list of factors to consider. Where to dine, FastPasses to prioritize, and resort of choice are but major concerns. Once they are out of the way, many other questions arise. One of them is when to actually start one’s day. Do you sleep in and get relaxation out of your vacation? Or do you start as early as breakfast is available and parks are open? Starting one’s day early is a great way to take advantage of all Walt Disney World has to offer and get the most out of a vacation, and below are four reasons as to why.
See Resorts and Parks in a New Light
If one is up early, say 6 am, prior to sunrise much of the year in Florida, a new perspective on the beauty of the parks and resorts can emerge. Disney does provide livestreams and later video of sunrises over various parts of Walt Disney World; however, like most things, nothing beats seeing it for yourself.
Enjoying a quick snack and watching light fill resorts can be quite magical. This is especially true of resorts such as the Grand Floridian located on the Seven Seas Lagoon, or the Boardwalk Inn located on Crescent Lake. Arriving at parks on time for Rope Drop also provides the opportunity to see light begin to splash across many attractions, such as the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Being able to walk to the bus stop with minimal hustle and bustle and walk up Main Street or to the Tree of Life starts the day at a carefree pace.
Rope Drop Attractions
“Rope Drop,” is waiting at the park entrance for it to open, which has been anywhere from 7 am-9 am (or even 10 am for Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon). The only way to get to Rope Drop is to get up early. Depending on the park and time of year, you may be able to get into parks prior to the actual time and get to a certain point within them. For instance, a 9 am opening at Magic Kingdom might mean you can go as far back as Cinderella Castle sometime prior, such as 8:30 am or possibly earlier. In Animal Kingdom, one can go as far as the Tree of Life prior to branching out to other lands.
Being at a park at Rope Drop allows one to enjoy at least a few major attractions before queues begin to accumulate. Exactly how much benefit can be derived from Rope Drop varies widely depending on the park, preferences, and family type. In Magic Kingdom, guests of all ages — but especially families of all ages — could possibly enjoy Peter Pan’s Flight or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with little to no wait. Or a group could hustle to Frontierland and enjoy Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad several times each with a minimal wait. Each park of course has its own virtues in terms of which attractions provide the most value, and other factors such as what FastPasses you have should be taken into consideration. But at least being there, as a Walt Disney World park opens, provides flexibility for one to proceed as they see fit with ease.
Enjoy Parks at Relaxed Pace
After Rope Drop, depending on what FastPasses you may have selected, surely at least a large portion of the main attractions have now been completed. What one does next can of course vary widely. Do you keep enjoying attractions, browse merchandise locations such as the Emporium, or head back to your resort for a pool break? With an early start, there are many more choices at one’s disposal as you are provided with the luxury of time. Do you have the Park Hopper option on your ticket? Maybe head to another park!
While of course each family or traveler will make choices based on their own preferences, mid-day relaxation is one of the best ways to get the most out of their Walt Disney World vacation. Some relaxing retail therapy, pool time, or a leisurely lunch at Disney Springs can provide the perfect recharge, allowing you to then be able to truly enjoy the parks till closing.
A more relaxed afternoon after an action-packed morning is also a great way to enjoy all Walt Disney World has to offer, while also avoiding the notorious melt down. Think about what a wonderful day it truly is to ride a half dozen or more attractions in Magic Kingdom, take the boat or monorail to a resort for a nice lunch, head back to the pool, and then head out back again recharged, ready for a solid half day or more of activity.
Early Meals Make for Relaxed Meals
Many complaints of long waits for ADR’s (Advanced Dining Reservations) or holding a tray of food waiting for a table can be avoided by one tip: eat early. By starting a day at 6 am and having a little nibble or nothing for breakfast, tummies start to rumble early. Most quick service dining locations such as Flame Tree Barbecue or the Electric Umbrella open at 11 am. By eating early for lunch (such as 11 am or 11:30 am at the latest), lines to purchase food can be avoided and tables should be overly abundant. Not only can one obtain their meal and seating with ease, but with relatively empty seating areas, a meal can hopefully be enjoyed with some degree of quiet.
With an early lunch out of the way, a 5 pm dinner is probably in order. Grievances of waiting an exorbitant amount of time to be seated past one’s ADR and slow service can be avoided by eating at 5 pm or shortly thereafter. When dinner at a table service restaurant begins varies across Walt Disney World, with Ohana opening at 3:30 pm and Boma opening at 5 pm; however, 5-5:30 pm is a pretty safe bet in order to enjoy a more relaxing dinner.
Of course, the recipe I indicate above is not for everyone. Little or no breakfast, quick service for lunch, and table service for dinner is not a hard and fast rule and may not accommodate many needs or desires. But as a general guideline, early quiet meals provide a wonderful break as one goes about their day.
How a guest and their family enjoys Walt Disney World differs based on frequency of visits, age mix, prior planning, and personal preference. I personally start every day quite early while visiting, and find it is a great way to have attraction-heavy trips while also being able to take some time to relax. There is something magical about seeing the resorts and parks slowly come alive. For guests who have not done it before, it can provide a new perspective as well as a possible new appreciation. Once you do it, it can become a routine quite quickly. The first time setting that alarm for 6 am or similar can be painful. But after a day of enjoying many or all of the headliner attractions in a park, all while being able to enjoy the detail and immersion parks have to offer, it clearly validates itself as a worthwhile experience.