The first Early Morning Magic – Fantasyland event happened on the morning of April 26th and your trusty(?), albeit excessively-and-needlessly-negative, website was in attendance.
Disney lays out the details of the event more straightforwardly than usual on their website: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/early-morning-magic/ which is also the link to book it online.
And then the details are further established:
The event is scheduled on most Tuesdays and Saturdays moving forward. To be precise:
- April 26 and 30
- May 3, 7, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, and 31
- June 4, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, and 28
- With more dates potentially added
For your $69/adult and $59/child (ages 3-9), in addition to your regular theme park admission, you basically get:
- Access to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh from as soon as you can reach the attraction of your choice after being let into the Park at 7:45am and continuing through 8:45am. More on what happens between 8:45am and 9am with Be Our Guest breakfast diners and guests entering from the main entrance later.
- All-you-care-to-enjoy breakfast at Pinocchio Village Haus served from 8:30am to 10am. Or as I like to call it, The Vegetable Frittata Challenge.
With the early start, getting to Magic Kingdom no later than the 7:30am check-in time may be a challenge in its own right, particularly on Tuesdays when the monorails will likely be down for maintenance. If you’re parking at the Transportation and Ticket Center, that likely leaves the ferry and potentially buses as your mode of transportation across or around the water. If you’re attending this event and parking in Magic Kingdom parking, I suggest arriving at the toll booths closer to 6:30am than 6:45am. That gives you plenty of time to park and figure out transportation. The Resort Monorail ordinarily begins operating at 7am, but it is not currently operating until much later in the day on Tuesdays.
No matter what anyone tells you, buses begin running before 6:30am and will transport you from your Walt Disney World Resort to Magic Kingdom’s gates. I saw several arriving and departing, almost all empty, as I walked over from the Contemporary. Ideally, you’d want to be at the stop on the 6:30am side of 6:45am again. That gives you 20 minutes for the bus to arrive and depart and 20 minutes to drive over.
Lyft, which is similar to Uber, was running a promotion for 50% off rides, so I elected to be dropped off at the Contemporary Resort early in the morning, where you can then control your destiny by walking the 10ish minutes over to Magic Kingdom’s entrance. Those that don’t want to deal with concerns over when the bus will arrive or whether the monorail will be operating may elect to take a taxi/Uber/Lyft/slingshot to the Contemporary.
I arrived at bag check at 7:14am, which is one minute before the bag checkers start peering through whatever nightmares that I am sure are in most bloggers’ backpacks.
It is not essential that you arrive this early, but if you’re relying on Disney transportation for an event that basically costs $1/minute, being conservative only means you’re less likely to miss time. I arrived plenty early to see how things progressed throughout the morning.
Reservations and tours, including Early Morning Magic event guests, head left after bag check. Just about anybody here before 7:30am is going to fit that description.
Assuming your event tickets are attached to your ticket or MagicBand, a cast member will scan it and your reservation will show up on their screen. If not, they can look you up by name. After confirming your status, you will receive a wristband from the next cast member to help identify yourself throughout the morning at the rides and breakfast.
It was five minutes between when I arrived at bag check and when I arrived here with my wristband waiting to scan my Annual Pass.
You’ll then wait with a large group of people that are here this early for a variety of things, including guests with pre-opening breakfast reservations at Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Crystal Palace, in addition to early Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservations and a variety of tours.
Just before 7:45am, we were let through the tunnel and into Magic Kingdom.
With a couple hundred people heading in for the Early Morning event, in addition to the hundreds headed to one of the restaurants, it’s not a particularly good opportunity to get those “empty Main Street” pictures – at least initially.
If you give the initial wave about ten minutes to hit the various PhotoPass photographers on the way towards Cinderella Castle, things begin to ease as relatively few people enter the Park from 8am-8:30am. You’ll also have success taking pictures in nooks and crannies throughout Main Street. An empty Main Street might be out, but Center Street is viable as are many of the facades.
There wasn’t much direction offered as we meandered in, but everyone seemed to figure out where to go.
You’ll shave a minute off your walk heading towards Mine Train if you take the route to the right of Cinderella Castle towards Mad Tea Party.
But since we’re not battling thousands of others at regular rope drop, you might instead elect to head through the Castle for a bit of atmosphere.
Perhaps taking a moment to appreciate the mosaics.
It was ten minutes between when the first person entered Magic Kingdom and I arrived in Fantasyland. You might want to take advantage of the sword-in-the-stone photo op in front of the Carrousel.
You never really know what to expect from the first day of the various events that Disney concocts, no doubt evilly in some laboratory helmed by Ursula somewhere in Shanghai. Disney mentions “limited” in regards to the number of tickets sold on three separate occasions on its website description. But that number could be anywhere from one to ten thousand. Disney probably appreciates the ability to be vague and adjust the number of tickets based on what it sees, but adding something like “no more than 500 hundred tickets will be sold for any given morning” might be a powerful enough incentive to move tickets. But this particular morning “sold out” regardless.
If you’re tired of reading, I’ll tell you now that this picture sums up the morning well. There are only two people riding in this entire Mine Train vehicle and I’m the only person waiting for the next one.
I got in line for my first Mine Train ride at 7:56am.
And I finished my fifth ride at 8:20am.
I probably don’t have to tell you that that is a preposterous number.
By 9:45am on this same morning, the posted wait was 80 minutes. If you wanted to ride five consecutive times in standby at any point from 9:30am – 9:30pm, you’d wait about seven and a half hours versus the three minutes or less that I waited during the event.
While everyone had to disembark after each ride, we were able to use the FastPass+ queue with this rope removed, which meant we could basically walk 25 steps out of the unloading area and then immediately walk back through the queue and immediately load again.
This was taken on my first ride at 7:59am.
And I was in the exact same place on my second ride just four minutes later at 8:03am.
If all you wanted to do was ride Mine Train during your hour, you could easily ride more than ten times.
I moseyed over to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh for a change of pace.
There’s always a moment for a flower picture.
Two rides there took 12 minutes because I had to walk ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP and ALL THE WAY BACK THROUGH THE QUEUE each time.
Does anybody have $1,000 I can borrow for a sec?
If you are dining at Be Our Guest Restaurant before regular Park opening on an Early Morning Magic day with hopes of riding Mine Train before those that arrive from the main entrance as described in this post, I have good and bad news. The bad news is that in the picture above, it’s 8:35am and some Be Our Guest diners are being told to head back to the restaurant. The good news is that they would be released at 8:45am to ride Mine Train, which still gives them an opportunity to ride Mine Train once before guests arrive from the main entrance.
From the main entrance, the Welcome Show begins 20 minutes prior to open and lasts about six minutes. Then it takes the first guests about seven minutes to arrive at Mine Train. So that puts the first guest from the main entrance at Mine Train at 8:40am + 6 minutes + 7 minutes = 8:53am. Whether the potential for one ride on Mine Train, in addition to the easier entry, food, and air-conditioning is worth the cost of the breakfast is up to you. We’ll see if this changes moving forward.
Here at the same time, one family is waiting for Princess Fairytale Hall.
Here at 8:43am, we have further proof of just how crowded Fantasyland “feels” during Early Morning Magic. I see four cast members and zero guests.
Literally me writing this post.
So between when we were allowed to enter the Park just before 7:45am and 8:50am when I got in line for Anna/Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall, I was able to ride:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train five times
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh two times
- Peter Pan’s Flight one time
- Take pictures of the buffet food at Village Haus and do weird blogger things
- Harass people on Twitter
The family at the table next to me at breakfast had ridden Seven Dwarfs Mine Train six times and Peter Pan’s Flight five times over a similar amount of time. If your average wait at Mine Train is 75 minutes and your average wait at Peter Pan’s Flight is 60 minutes, that family saved 12.5 hours in line by riding that many times in an hour. And that doesn’t include the duration of 11 rides, which would add another 45 minutes or so.
Disney seems to be selling this more as a dining event than anything with the all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet set up at Pinocchio Village Haus. Here’s what’s offered:
The quality of the food was pretty good with enough variety that most people should leave satisfied. It’s certainly easier to get your fill here than Be Our Guest, particularly if we’re talking about some of those measly kids’ portions on the french toast. You can go healthy with the fruit, yogurt, and vegetable frittata or indulge a bit with a plate of bacon and cheese. With the entirety of Village Haus open for seating and two identical sides to the buffet, there was plenty of food and plenty of room to spread out.
You could go one of two ways with your breakfast timing. I was surprised how many people were here dining around 8:40am, when they were paying a premium for access to several attractions with some of the longest waits in the Park later in the day. If you’re paying 70 bucks a head to ride an attraction that’s going to have a 75 minute wait in 30 minutes, why are you eating 50 cents worth of powdered eggs and a croissant baked last month?
I returned just after 9:30am and there were all of 12 people dining in the whole place. It seems like it makes the most sense to hit the three rides hard until right around 8:50am, when it makes sense to visit a nearby priority attraction. If you’re happy riding the three rides just a couple of times each and would prefer to hurry to Tomorrowland or Frontierland or something next, then breakfast at 8:30am might make sense. But during those 15 minutes you could save at least four hours in line at Mine Train or Peter Pan’s Flight. By racing to Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain or something you are only saving a handful of minutes by arriving at 9am rather than 9:45am.
I opted to get in line for Anna/Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall. They will be switched out for two different princesses in June after they move to Epcot, but you’re still looking at the ability to meet four characters in a short amount of time if you’re in line at the same time. Right now the other two would be Cinderella and Rapunzel. You might be able to rationalize Early Morning Magic then as a characterless character meal as popping into four princesses basically encapsulates the experience at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Though Village Haus is not Cinderella Castle.
Fortunately I ran into Kenny from KennythePirate.com shortly before heading in, which I guess made it slightly less awkward when two grown men go into meet Elsa instead of just one at a time. We were through that meet and greet one minute after 9am.
A 30-minute wait for Winnie the Pooh at 9:45am. It took me 12 minutes to ride twice. It would take you about 75 minutes now.
So Is It Worth It?
The age old question. I have done a lot of these kinds of events over the years and personally, I rank them based on how mad I am after they’re over. And in this case, I wasn’t mad at all. Disney delivered exactly what they said they were going to deliver – access to the three Fantasyland attractions that will see the longest waits later in the day with virtually zero waits for a full hour.
There is virtually no other opportunity to ride Mine Train or Peter Pan’s Flight this many times in a row with waits this short – at least when it’s light out. On the entirety of an ordinary day, you could ride Mine Train three times with a short-ish wait without spending any more money on a breakfast. Once at rope drop assuming you arrive early and hurry in front of everyone else to the ride. Then once with FastPass+ assuming you can book it when your FP+ window opens. And then last thing at night. There’s a lot of hassle there and then you still haven’t taken care of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight, or another attraction like Fairytale Hall.
I had a great morning and if you do spring for the cost of the event, I’m pretty sure that you’ll have a great time too. Cast members were as friendly as I’ve seen them in years across the board. They are not stressed. You are not stressed. The family on Peter Pan’s Flight riding in the pirate ship four or five in front of you because nobody else boarded in between is not stressed. There is no stress and you can’t really say that about a lot of the upcharge events that Disney offers. At a Halloween Party, you are still trying to make characters and parades and fireworks and rides and trick or treating. At Party for the Senses you are trying to find where they have the bourbon and where the Scott Hunnel table is. At the Wishes Dessert Party, you are paying 50 bucks a head to arrive two hours before the show starts because the tables aren’t assigned anymore and otherwise you’re enjoying the show while staring at the roof of Tomorrowland Terrace. The only stressful part of Early Morning Magic is probably figuring out how you’re going to get here in time or how you’re going to explain to the cast members at Winnie the Pooh why you’re the only person on the entire ride.
So it depends on how you want to rationalize it. 70 bucks for an hour of rides and a fast food breakfast is a lot of money. With tax, that’s over $300 for a family of four on top of admission. But you can do 12+ hours worth of stuff in that time if you consider waits later in the day. On the other hand, you may well have no interest in the rides themselves, which makes it an easy pass. I find Mine Train extremely charming and it’s fun to photograph, so I was more than happy to ride a few times.
Breakfast does the job – it’s similar to Be Our Guest Restaurant in quality, though you get to eat as much as you want. But the atmosphere is arguably less enchanting. I’m not sure what value you should attribute to it, but a similar meal would cost you ~$20 elsewhere. (Be Our Guest is $24/adults while Crystal Palace with better food and characters is $30/adults.)
Now that we’re 2,500 words in, I can say that yes, I think a lot of people will find value here. It is a memorable event and something you will look back at fondly – walking through Magic Kingdom as the sun is rising, riding Mine Train eight times in a row, eating unlimited cheese at Pinocchio Village Haus. For $45 more than just breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant?
I’d consider it.