Disclaimer: You’re going to see me mention Main Street USA a whole lot in this post, and for very good reason. Magic Kingdom is by far the most MAGICAL park, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I really LOVE all four Walt Disney World (WDW) parks, and “Disney magic” is very real in each and every one of them. However, Magic Kingdom takes the cake in the magic department, and it’s not just because “magic” is in it’s name. It is largely due to Main Street USA. The sights, sounds, and smells of Main Street USA will take you back to simpler times, through the magic of whimsical nostalgia. Somehow, it
allows causes us to reminisce on a timeless period of yesteryear that we never even experienced. One that may never have even existed in reality — at least in this idealized and perfected portrayal — but that we all hope and wish did. If you want to ensure a truly MAGICAL day…start your day off here. Never fear though, if you are not planning to go to Magic Kingdom that day, you are still bound to have a Magical Disney Day, and my last few tips are perfect for you too!
Schedule a wake up call
If you are staying on-site at a WDW resort, you can use the Wake-Up Call Button on your room phone to schedule a wake up call for the next morning. At your scheduled time, your phone will ring, and when you answer it you will be greeted in the most magical way…with a “good morning” from a Disney character! This is a completely free service, and it’s always exciting to see who you will receive your wake up call from. In the past, we have had wake up calls from Mickey and Stitch.
Tune into the WDW Today Channel
After your magical wake up call, reach for that TV remote and turn it on…the default channel at WDW resorts is the WDW Today Channel. Here, you will be able to see today’s weather, today’s park hours, and the times for parades and shows throughout the parks. But best of all, this is all set to a magical Disney soundtrack.
Pro Tip: Feel free to dance around the room from place to place as you get ready for the day while this plays in the background…this is sure to add a generous dose of magic to your day…before you even leave your room!
Make use of AM Extra Magic Hours
Morning Extra Magic Hours are the perfect way to start your magical day! Extra Magic Hours are a major perk of staying on-site at WDW resorts. Each day, one of the parks will open an hour early for resort guests. You can find out which parks will be offering Extra Magic Hours each day of your stay on your My Disney Experience App, and same-day Magic Hours are also listed on the WDW Today Channel. This extra hour is a great way to experience the parks with lower crowd levels, before the parks open to the general public.
Get to the parks for rope drop
When not making use of Extra Magic Hours, rope drop is the next best thing for experiencing the parks with lower crowds, and before the heat of the day really sets in. I am a huge proponent of making use of rope drop…it is such a magical time of day! Some of my best memories of my times at WDW have taken place when we attend rope drop…the energy and excitement of the (smaller) crowd of Disney-goers is contagious (and everyone is still in a pretty good mood after getting a good night’s sleep, and before getting too hot and sweaty and hungry and frustrated with lines and crowds). Yes, some days you’ll want to sleep in (it is vacation, after all!), but trust me…make your way to rope drop at least a few times during your visit to WDW!
Ride the Omnibus down Main Street USA
One of my favorite moments of visiting WDW is emerging from underneath the train station into Town Square and Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom. Be sure to take a beat and enjoy that magical moment. If you’re lucky, there may even be a Main Street vehicle waiting there in Town Square…you can hop aboard and ride down Main Street to Cinderella Castle in style! This is another completely free service, and many people just pass by and assume that the vehicles are not available for them…don’t be afraid of approaching these vehicles if they are parked and asking for a ride — that’s what they are for! Main Street vehicles include an Omnibus, a Horse-Drawn Street Car, a Jitney, and a Fire Engine. What a wonderfully magical way to take your first glimpse of Cinderella Castle in the morning!
Take in Main Street USA before park opening, and watch the Trolley Show
If you are taking my advice on arriving in time for rope drop, go ahead and arrive to Magic Kingdom at least an hour before it officially opens! With the “new” Magic Kingdom opening procedure, you are allowed to enter the gates and experience Main Street USA PPO (pre-park opening) (and yes, the Main Street Vehicles will be running during this time!). Previously, the rope drop procedure at Magic Kingdom included a welcome show at the Train Station that could be viewed from the turnstiles. While I loved this routine, I am now a HUGE fan of the new procedure. Peruse the Main Street shops, grab coffee and a treat at Main Street Bakery (featuring Starbucks coffee), and take pictures to your heart’s content (depending on the time of year, you may be able to grab a few Kodak moments with a relatively empty Main Street). Another great treat of Main Street USA is the morning Trolley Show. This show takes place at scheduled times throughout the morning, and are listed in the park Times Guide and your My Disney Experience App, but it also will pop up at surprise times before official park opening. Last time we went to Magic Kingdom an hour before rope drop, our timing magically lined up perfectly…we walked through the gates right onto the Omnibus, were transported down to Cinderella Castle, started meandering back toward Main Street Bakery, caught the Trolley Show rolling in on our way, grabbed our coffee, took plenty of pictures, and then got a prime viewing spot for my next Magic-Making element.
Pro tip: Main Street confectionary is open during this PPO hour, and it’s never too early for one of these babies when you’re on vacation.
Watch the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show
The Let The Magic Begin Welcome Show at Magic Kingdom begins 5 minutes prior to official park opening. Make your way to the central Plaza in front of Cinderella Castle to catch the short show. You’ll be greeted and welcomed by trumpet fanfare, a cast of Disney characters (and yes, Mickey Mouse!), and sent off for a magical day with a burst of daytime firework flares!
Have breakfast in France
As you know, there’s much more to experience at WDW than just Magic Kingdom! Maybe you’re starting your day at Epcot? You may already know that there are two sections to Epcot: Future World (front of the park) and World Showcase (back of the park). Future World opens at normal park opening time, but most of World Showcase opens daily at 11AM. However, it’s a little known fact that Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie in France opens at the same time as the rest of the park. Since the rest of World Showcase is not yet open, crowds are very minimal, and it is such a pleasant time to take in some of the sights and atmosphere of France. Snap some pictures, grab breakfast at the Boulangerie, and eat at the lovely outdoor tables in the middle of the France pavilion, or along the water overlooking World Showcase Lagoon. Magically transport yourself to Paris for the morning!
Pro tip: You can enter Epcot at the International Gateway (the entrance at the back of the park) and you’ll only have a short walk across the bridge to reach France. This is especially useful if you are staying at an Epcot area resort (such as Boardwalk, Beach Club, or Yacht Club), and will become even more accessible once the new Disney Skyliner Transportation System is complete (connecting Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach Resort, and the upcoming Disney Riviera Resort — as well as Hollywood Studios — to the International Gateway station).
Take a dip in the hot tub before breakfast
One of my all-time favorite memories at WDW was venturing to the hot tub at Port Orleans French Quarter in the wee hours of the morning with my hubby. We are people who really value our time alone, especially after spending days in the midst of throngs of people in the parks. Honestly, we only went at that hour because every other time we checked the hot tub it was full of people. This was such a magical time…it was hazy morning and you could feel The World sort of waking up slowly. And it set the tone for preparing for a really magical day!
Have breakfast with the family, discuss plans and split up if needed. Meet up at a designated place/time later in the day!
This one’s for you, multi-generational families, reunions, and large groups! Having travelled to Disney as a solo couple, with another couple, and as a larger family of 8 (over 3 households), I have learned to accept that not everyone is going to want to do the same thing at the same time all the time! If you go into the vacation expecting this, I can assure you that this will avoid inevitable moments of disappointment, headaches, and difficulty coordinating. As someone who thrives on trying to make sure EVERYONE is having a good time at all times, it is truly a relief to be able to agree that we can get together for certain attractions and meals, and separate for others. Everyone tours Disney at a different pace, and some value things that others don’t (example: rope drop at a park vs. lounging around the resort). Schedule to have breakfast (or even just coffee!) as a family at the resort in the morning. Our favorite spots include Kona Cafe at the Polynesian Resort, Whispering Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge, or just grabbing an outdoor table at the resort food court or Quick Service offering.
Pro tip: Whether rain or shine…a magical day begins in your mind!
BONUS: Get rid of your schedule!
Even for just one day. Even just for a morning. Yes, You want to hit the headliners. Yes, sometimes this may be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. But, once you start thinking of touring Disney as less of a checklist of major attractions, and more of an immersive experience, your day will immediately and
automatically automagically become less stressful, and therefore, more magical! So, I encourage you, even if for only half a day, clear your schedule and your mind of any expectations, except the expectation to have a magical day!