The fourth day of our epic Disney Global Tour was spent at the Magic Kingdom. Since it also happened to be a day that they were offering Early Morning Magic, we decided to take advantage of that option. Because we were taking advantage of all of the options! Who needs sleep? Right?
In doing some fact-checking for this post, I learned that some big changes are coming to Early Morning Magic starting in December 2018. I also learned that Disney started offering a similar event in Hollywood Studios in September 2018. More on all of that below.
What Is It?
Early Morning Magic is a paid addition to your park ticket that allows you to enter the park at 7:45am, a full hour and fifteen minutes before the regular opening time. It costs $69 for adults and $59 for kids, and unlike the Disney After Hours event, you must have a regular park ticket as well.
There are three rides that open early for Early Morning Magic: The Many Adventures of Winne the Pooh, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Peter Pan’s Flight. Those who know a bit about the Magic Kingdom will recognize that these rides, especially the latter two, are extremely popular and often have very long wait times. You can ride these rides as many times as you want during the event.
A buffet breakfast at Pinocchio Village Haus is also included. That’s available until 10:00am, a full hour after the park opens for everyone else.
Becky and Jason met us at Wilderness Lodge around 7:00am to get in line. Getting up early enough was painful. We’d been at Hollywood Studios late the night before for Fantasmic. At least we didn’t have to worry about eating breakfast before we left in the morning.
We took the bus from the hotel, since the ferry doesn’t run quite that early. Luckily, Wilderness Lodge is quite close to the Magic Kingdom. I think the bus takes around five minutes.
We took some low-crowd photos and joined the already sizable special event line. The cast members at the gate started letting people in at about 7:46.
After we were in the gates, it took several minutes to walk all the way back to Fantasyland. It was close to 8:00 before we were on our first ride. Due to the aforementioned popularity of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight, most people ran for one of those first. We decided to go for Winnie the Pooh.
The queue for Winnie the Pooh has a fun interactive play area for kids, which was nice to see. I’m sure many a parent has thanked their lucky stars for that. I think we were the first people of the day on the ride. They even offered for us to stay in our cars and ride again, since nobody was waiting in line. We declined. It’s a cute ride, but not something that I feel the need to ride more than once on any given day.
We headed for Seven Dwarfs next and had to wait for around 10 minutes. That’s way, way better than the typical wait for that ride. We’d ridden this one at night during the Disney After Hours event, but it’s quite a different experience during the day. It offers a great view of the castle, so I’d highly recommend riding it at different times of day if you have the opportunity.
We finished out the trio with Peter Pan, which was a walk-on at that point. One of the best things about Peter Pan’s Flight in Orlando is the queue. It’s long and winding with interactive elements and the glitter of Tinker Bell’s pixie dust here and there. Unfortunately, only the FastPass entrance is available for Early Morning Magic. The regular queue doesn’t open up until 9:00am.
After riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train one more time, we headed to the restaurant for breakfast at about 8:30. I was expecting the breakfast to be typical quick service food – soggy bacon, rubbery eggs, etc. To my surprise, it was actually several steps above that. It was a really nice spread. The bacon was even crispy! I can’t guarantee that this is a comprehensive list, but here’s an idea of what they had:
- Scrambled eggs
- Vegetable frittata
- Breakfast potatoes
- French toast
- Pork and chicken sausages
- Meat and cheese platter
- Sliced fruit
- Tea selection
- Orange juice
- Apple juice
- Ice water
We were finished with breakfast right about 9:00, so we decided to run back over to Peter Pan’s flight so that we could see the regular queue before the wait time got really long. We were just in time, apparently. I was a few steps ahead of the group, but AJ, Jason, and Becky said they saw a terrifying stampede of people coming around the corner headed for Peter Pan’s Flight right behind us.
We stuck around and did a few other rides in Fantasyland after that. Right before 10:00, AJ and I took one last trip to Pinocchio Village Haus. I needed to prop myself up with a little more caffeine, and we both grabbed another pastry (or three). Healthy choices!
Is It Worth It?
Since we had already done Disney After Hours, we didn’t feel that it was worth it for us. All three of those rides are open at the nighttime event. In the future, we definitely wouldn’t do both, and we’d always choose After Hours over Early Morning Magic if we could. As it happened, we had already purchased the non-refundable Early Morning Magic ticket before they opened up the Disney After Hours date we attended.
That said, I think Early Morning Magic would be great for families with children. I don’t think staying up until midnight or 1:00am for After Hours would be a good time for most kids. With the morning event, they’d probably be awake anyway. A chance to skip the lines for those popular rides would open up time for so many other things later in the day. While other people make a beeline for Peter Pan at park opening, they can enjoy shorter lines at Enchanted Tales with Belle, Mad Tea Party, or Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
If for some reason Disney After Hours wasn’t on offer, and sometimes it’s not, we’d still consider doing Early Morning Magic again. Even at $69 plus a regular park ticket, it’s not a terrible value, given the quality of the breakfast. I’d estimate that a breakfast like that would cost around $30 per person elsewhere in Disney World.
Notes About the Changes
Starting in December 2018, the cost for Early Morning Magic will be $69 for kids and $79 for adults. The breakfast will be moved to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. In addition to the three rides I’ve mentioned in this post, there will be a few more attractions open:
- Princess Fairytale Hall
- ”it’s a small world”
- Mad Tea Party
- Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
To me, the big draw here is the Princess Fairytale Hall. For those princess fans in your life, shortening that wait time would be a big deal. Other than that, I think Seven Dwarfs and Peter Pan are still the ones to focus on.
The time for the event remains the same, even though the number of attractions increases, so you’ll still have to use your time wisely. For example, I wouldn’t waste time on Under the Sea when I could walk onto that ride during normal park hours.
Hollywood Studios apparently started offering its own Early Morning Magic in September 2018, about a month after we were there. All three rides in Toy Story Land are open, and a combination buffet/table service breakfast is served. The price is the same as the new Magic Kingdom price will be – $69 for kids and $79 for adults, in addition to your regular park ticket.
On the one hand, getting to ride Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Mania several times sounds awesome. On the other hand, Hollywood Studios really is a half-day park, as I talked about here. I don’t think this would be worth the extra money. Once the new Star Wars land opens in 2019, it’ll be a different story.
1. Know Your Way to Fantasyland
It takes a while to get from the entrance all the way back to Fantasyland, especially if you have little ones. Make sure you look at a map the night before to find the best route back there. When in doubt, you can always follow the crowd, but I’m a big believer in being prepared.
2. Ride First, Eat Later
The value of this event is in getting on the rides before the park opens to the masses. Don’t eat until after you’ve had your fill of the rides. Remember, the breakfast is open until 10:00am. You have a full hour after park opening to eat. Have a light snack before you leave the hotel if you think you or members of your family will be starving.
3. Start with Winnie the Pooh
We discovered that the key to getting the most out of these special events at Disney is to avoid doing what everyone else is doing. Almost everyone will head to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first. If you start with something else, you’ll avoid the initial line-up of people and have more time for rides overall.
After looking at the new line-up of rides for December 2018 and after, I’d probably skip Winnie the Pooh altogether and start with my personal favorite, “it’s a small world.” But that’s just me.
4. Ride Peter Pan at Park Opening
We recommend doing what we did and hopping on Peter Pan again right when the park opens, before the scary wall of people rounds the corner. It really would be a shame to miss out on seeing that queue.
Have you gone to Early Morning Magic at the Magic Kingdom? What did you think?