Magic Kingdom New Rope Drop Strategy and Expanded Breakfast Options Review

We’ll head over to Magic Kingdom to check out the new rope drop procedure and Welcome Show, in addition to briefly checking out some new breakfast items, which include Mickey Waffles, a Doughnut Sundae, and a Hash Brown Hot Dog.

If you’re not in the mood to read a long post, the new rope drop procedure should not have a substantial impact on your morning touring strategy, whether you plan on eating a pre-opening breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant with plans to hurry over for a ride on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train before those from the main entrance arrive or if you’re planning on arriving by 8:20am with plans to head to the priority attraction of your choice. And if you prefer to arrive closer to 9am, you’ll benefit from being able to walk up Main Street at your leisure rather than potentially being stuck outside the tapstiles because there’s no more room in front of the Train Station.

Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/840am.jpg

Up until January 9th, the Welcome Show took place in front of the “Mickey Floral” just inside the entrance tapstiles with a view of the Train Station above. The show ordinarily began 20 minutes before Park open and lasted about seven minutes. You can get a pretty good idea about the sea of humanity that would be present daily and how packed in it “feels.” This was the scene nearly 365 days a year.

At its conclusion, guests were walked slowly up Main Street and into the various Lands.

Even more frustrating for a lot of people was being stuck outside of the tapstiles with no real view of the opening show. With a regular 9am open prior to January 9th of this year, you’d have to reasonably arrive no later than 8:30am to be guaranteed a spot inside. And from there, you’d have to decide if sacrificing a decent view of the show was worth a benefit to touring. Anybody standing off to the far sides and closer to the two entrances would have a major advantage getting to Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, etc. but no real view of what Mickey and the Gang were up to as they arrived via steam train.

 

This is the scene at 8:10am before the extra bag check stations open. This early, we experienced no real delays and it was under five minutes between the time I was standing here and the time I was past security, through the entrance tapstiles, and standing in front of the Mickey Floral.

Later in the morning, with the bulk of people arriving between 9:30am and 10:30am, you’ll see these other bag checks staffed, including the separate screening area for guests walking from the Contemporary directly in front of where I’m standing.

Here’s the same area on the same day at 11:15am.

Now, you can expect everyone to head through the metal detectors prior to scanning their ticket.

Over the last ten days, Disney has been letting everyone enter the Park between 7:45am and 7:55am.  They don’t make any differentiation between regular guests and those with tours or pre-opening dining reservations.

Those things are figured out inside the Park rather than outside, currently to the left of Cinderella Castle.

Those eating breakfast at Be Our Guest before the Park opens will still enjoy their advantage in arriving at Mine Train earlier than guests from the main entrance so long as they are outside the restaurant by 8:40am with plans to head over first thing. You’d also have an advantage at Peter Pan’s Flight if you prefer. And if anything, the advantage is slightly better as main entrance guests will arrive at Mine Train closer to 9:02am than the previous 8:52am when the Welcome Show began at the front of the Park. Guests able to rush through their early morning meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table also enjoy the same benefit, but the website maintains that it’s a lot of money to spend on a meal only to find yourself looking at your watch and hurrying through the experience. Those eating at Crystal Palace will have no advantage and will wait with everyone else until the Welcome Show begins at 8:55am.

The majority of Main Street is open at 7:50am, including Guest Relations at City Hall and ECV/stroller rental.

The PhotoPass desk inside Town Square Theater is operating, but the Meet and Greet doors are closed until Park opening.

The Chapeau is open.

The Confectionery is open just in case you’re not sure if the Doughnut Sundae contains enough sugar to get your day going right.

Crystal Arts should be open while the Cinema store is not.

The Emporium is open.

Perhaps most importantly, Main Street Bakery Starbucks is operating. This is the scene just after 8:15am and it looks like about ten people are in line, three are ordering, and four or five are waiting for their drinks.

Plaza Ice Cream Parlor serves “Breakfast Selections” through 11am.

This marks the first time in recent memory where Mickey Waffles are available from an easily accessible quick service outlet.

There was no wait to order at 8:17am.

Why we’re here.

A variety of grab and go items are also available, including muffins, milk, and beverages.

While our sundae did not exactly resemble the picture with the levitating doughnut and Mickey ear cookies from the picture, it was everything that you would imagine an 8am sundae could and should be.

The $5.99 Doughnut Sundae – Glazed Doughnut with Cinnamon-Apple Topping. One Scoop of Hand-made Ice Cream, Whipped Cream, Chocolate-Chips, Peanut Butter Chips, Hot Fudge Topping, Milk Chocolate Mickey Ears(?), and a Cherry. I’m not sure you could differentiate the doughnut from a Krispy Kreme – it was appropriately soft and chewy with a nice, slightly crispy sugar glaze. The chocolate ice cream tasted like ice cream as did the other ingredients. But the Cinnamon-Apple Topping resembled pie filling and made the ice cream dessert “feel” a little breakfast-y. I mean, if it weren’t for the doughnut, ice cream, toppings, cherry, etc. this could just as easily be a Cinnamon-Apple Nutri-Grain Bar and nobody is going to question whether that’s breakfast. We are probably in “Let’s order one of these so we can post a Facebook picture of us holding it up in front of Cinderella Castle and brag that we are eating ice cream at Disney World at 8am on a Tuesday” territory. And that’s okay. The sundae is easily shareable and a large portion for the six bucks.

Across the way, Casey’s Corner serves some of the same grab-and-go items, in addition to upping the ante with Croissant Doughnuts, Corn Dog Nuggets, and the mysterious “Hash Brown Dog.”

Me eating a foot long hot dog at 8am.

The spread. The Corn Dog Nuggets are the same as what’s served throughout the day while the three small croissant doughnuts are exclusive to the breakfast hour and have a sweet apple twang to them that might be unexpected.

It turns out that the “Hash Brown Dog” is actually the return of the dog that was available for exactly one day on the 45th anniversary of Magic Kingdom back in October. I know that because it’s literally what it says. The hot dog is available as a foot long for $12.29 with a side of fries or $10.29 as a regular size (pictured on the tray above) with fries. Subtract two dollars from either combo price for the “hot dog only” price.

The cast member asked whether I wanted the “regular or foot-long” – a question that I just smiled at. She knew.

The full range of the toppings bar is available, including grilled onions, jalapenos, relish, and sauerkraut.

One bonus of the 8am hot dog is that Casey’s Corner does not yet smell like Casey’s Corner. There was no wait to order and I had my food in about five minutes.

The $12.29 Hash Brown Dog/45th Anniversary Celebration Foot-Long Hot Dog Topped with Hash Browns, Shredded Cheddar, Bacon, Fried Onion Straws, and a Chipotle Ranch Drizzle was actually pretty good. The Hash Browns had a nice potato-y crunch to them and the chewy bacon added the appropriate amount of salty meatiness to it, in addition to the crispy onion straws underneath the mildly spicy chipotle ranch drizzle. It all came together pretty well with the crunchy toppings contrasting nicely with the softness of the roll and the snap of the mildly spicy chicken/beef hot dog. It’s an incredible amount of food for 8:15am and would best be shared – this would easily power two people through a morning at Magic Kingdom for about six bucks each. And while it might seem somewhat absurd to start the day with this, it could be rationalized that this isn’t so far off of a breakfast sausage with cheesy hash browns, bacon, and a roll. On the downside, the bun they use on the foot-long is too thick and bread-y and despite its girth, it still splits on the bottom within the first couple of bites. Grab at least one fork and knife.

Otherwise, yes Tom and I met in the middle “Lady and the Tramp style.” Yes there is a video. But no, you’ll have to be a platinum level Patreon subscriber to see it. Unless you don’t want to see it, in which case you have to be a platinum level Patreon subscriber to access the website without seeing it pop up first. On every single visit.

After spending about 40 minutes “enjoying” breakfast, we meandered over to the Castle Forecourt Stage at 8:52am for the 8:55am Welcome Show.

As with the previous rope drop procedure, you want to keep right of the Castle for what remains the highest priority rope drop attraction in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

If your intent is heading straight to Mine Train from the main entrance first thing, you want to be inside the Park no later than 8:15am and should proceed immediately to the front of this area where the red line is. That probably means being at your resort bus stop by 7:15am, which gives you 20 minutes for the bus to arrive and depart, 20 minutes to drive and drop you off, ten minutes to walk to the entrance, and ten minutes of leeway.

Other attractions are far lower priorities. Two hundred people might be headed to Tomorrowland and far fewer than that headed to Adventureland/Frontierland on the opposite side.

For Peter Pan’s Flight or other Fantasyland attractions, I recommend getting as close as you can to either of the two ramps heading through Cinderella Castle.

This area is far less congested than the Mine Train walkway and we had no trouble making our way up close to the front just two minutes before the Welcome Show started.

The Welcome Show is currently slated to begin at 8:55am daily with a 9am regular open and 7:55am with a regular 8am open. This is the view near the ramp up through Cinderella Castle on the right side and it’s pretty good if not for the shoulders child. Those waiting much further forward for Mine Train will have no view at all.

“Let the Magic Begin” is under four minutes long and takes place on the Castle Stage with Mickey and a variety of princesses and other characters taking part. Objectively, it is probably a lesser show than the Train Station version, which featured Citizens of Main Street, the steam train arrival, choreographed dancing, classic music, and an excited family of the day presiding over the festivities. But one thing that none of these YouTube videos will ever capture is the raw energy and excitement of the experience of standing there in front of the Castle as Mickey Mouse himself welcomes you and your family to the Park. So while the 3.5 minute video may “feel” like a disappointment when watched at home, you’ll be smiling just as wide as you elbow everyone else out of the way on the walk to Mickey’s PhilharMagic just like the golden age of the Welcome Show. Which I guess was also in January 2k17.

Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/i_thought_this_was_a_low_crowd_time.jpg

The pictures of Magic Kingdom’s rope drop crowds always shock people as the mass of humanity appears unyielding in wide angle shots.

But it’s really not that bad as people are heading in 50 different directions once they’re dispersed in one the various Lands. And remember, I just casually meandered up here three minutes before show time. A lot of people are intent on seeing the Welcome Show front and center. If you want to do that, I recommend picking the day when you’re planning on visiting Adventureland/Frontierland/Liberty Square first or basically any attraction that isn’t Mine Train or Peter Pan’s Flight.

The Mine Train experience is a little less pleasant and slightly more high stakes, but if you arrive early enough, you’ll have an easy enough time getting over there too. This is about as close to that nonsense as we’re going to get this morning – watching them pile through off to the right.

Mickey and the Gang find their way to their various meet and greets within about two minutes of the Welcome Show concluding.

You might notice that those streaming in through Liberty Square appear to have a head start because of the delay in the pathway through the Castle opening, but they also have a lot further to go, and you should be able to beat them to Peter Pan’s Flight or Princess Fairytale Hall by heading through the Castle:

Here I am at Peter Pan’s Flight at 9:01am. I’ve easily beaten everyone coming in from anywhere other than through the Castle.

Through the interactive queue three minutes later.

Snapping museum-quality photos two minutes after that.

And standing out front at 9:16am for a total experience time of 15 minutes. The current posted wait is 40 minutes and is likely closer to 30 though you never know how many FastPass+ users are going to arrive. So if you are starting with Mine Train from the main entrance, Peter Pan’s Flight in standby is only moderately viable immediately after as your wait will be 20-35 minutes, which may be too long this early. It’s still better than the 75 minutes it will hit later, but you may want to plan FastPass+ later in the day if you have that luxury.

Once the initial rush passes, you see relatively few people arriving between 9:15am and 10am.

This is the 9:20am backup at Mine Train every morning as the line spills out of the queue and ends somewhere back in Storybook Circus. This is about the worst place you could be right now – if you’re going to wait an hour or more for Mine Train, it might as well be at 1pm when waits are long everywhere else. So if you are running late and arrive closer to 9am, you probably want to abort any plan to visit Mine Train first. You could accomplish three or four other priorities with short waits and then wait the same amount of time for Mine Train later in the day when it would take you three hours to do those same morning priorities.

End of line.

Even during what will probably end up being one of the 20 or 25 least crowded days of the year at Magic Kingdom, the actual wait for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is going to be 15 minutes before 9:20am.

With the interactive queue, it’s not the worst place to spend some time.

Did you get a Nikon for Christmas or something Josh?

The total experience time ended up being 20 minutes as we were back out front at 9:40am.

A 25-minute posted wait is going to be accurate and is why the 2-day plans typically recommend FastPass+ here this early.

Walking over to Haunted Mansion:






Haunted Mansion is posted at 15 minutes at 9:45am but should still be a walk-on – at least so far as the stretching room:





Back out front at 10:03am for a total experience time of 18 minutes, which is about the minimum amount of time it’s going to take.

Walking over to Frontierland with a quick stop at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments to see about a breakfast waffle sandwich (which isn’t available yet):








25 minutes at Splash at 10:20am.

This is right around the time that you want to think about moving on to some medium priority attractions like small world and Pirates of the Caribbean as well as considering to start using FastPass+ at the highest priority attractions. Looking at the crowd calendar recommendation for this particular day, Wednesday January 18th with evening Extra Magic Hours attached:

The 27-minute actual average wait versus the 25 minutes expected seems like a pretty solid prediction. Here’s the full chart:

Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/mk_wait_times_jan_18_17.jpg

Attendance is easier to predict than posted wait times as attraction downtime can heavily affect wait times as can capacity reductions and Disney’s predilection for posting purposefully inaccurate wait times at certain parts of the day. Here, evening Mickey Mouse meet and greet wait times stand out as seeing waits that are longer than they should be as Disney has probably cut capacity to about a third of what it could be. Big Thunder, Space Mountain, and other attractions that have two sides or can have a variable number of vehicles in service also see longer wait times later into the morning than would if they were running on all cylinders. But 27 minutes is about as short as the overall wait time is going to be this year and puts us in what should staunchly be “2” or “3” territory over the course of the year. With maximum FastPass+ distribution at the majority of attractions during the majority of the possible return windows, standby waits remain long with so much capacity given to FP+ priority.

Pirates of the Caribbean, and its 15-minute wait at 10:30am, would be a good choice to ride right now.

Feels crowded.

10 minutes for Magic Carpets.

Probably too early for Swiss Family though you certainly wouldn’t be rushed through at this hour.

Tomorrowland at 10:50am.

30 at Buzz. 35 at Space. 20 at Orbiter. 20 at Speedway. Zero at PeopleMover or Carousel of Progress.

We’ll return for more of a “projects” update on what’s going on around Magic Kingdom and get back for a more well-rounded look at rope drop starting with Mine Train and continuing through lunch.

So what did we learn…

  • Morning touring should not be impacted much or at all with the change in Welcome Show location and timing. It does put you at your first attraction closer to 9:02am than 8:52am.
  • Everyone present will have the ability to enter Magic Kingdom about 75 minutes before regular Park open. Those with pre-opening breakfast reservations or tours head to the left once arriving at the Hub at the end of Main Street to check in.
  • Those with pre-opening breakfasts at Be Our Guest Restaurant and Cinderella’s Royal Table enjoy the same benefits as before with a regular 9am open. Be out in front of the restaurant and ready to head to Mine Train or Peter Pan’s Flight by 8:40am,.
  • Those heading to Mine Train first from the main entrance still want to arrive by 8:15am. If you want to load up on sundaes and hot dogs, plan to arrive closer to 7:50am so you have 20 minutes to enjoy your food. Head in the exact same direction as you would before to the right of Cinderella Castle. Bring Tums. And a spoon for me.
  • Those planning on heading to another attraction have much more of an ability to enjoy breakfast or shopping or what have you prior to opening.
  • Everything’s fine.

I probably have some crowd calendar stuff to attend to next.

Comments

  1. Ryan says

    Josh,

    Did you happen to see if the Fast pass kiosks were available on Main Street during the wait time for the opening show?

  2. Dawn says

    bring Tums, very important step!!
    If we arrive at 7:50 or so is it feasible to grab coffee and still be in the ‘front’ for Mine Train? AND…would 7DMT, MAWP,HM, BTMRR, Splash and then POC be possible? I see the wait goes from 30 / 35 at 11 and 11:30 but drops back to 20 at Noon..(at Pirates), wondering if we could do both Mtns, grab lunch at 11 and then hit Pirates at noon?

  3. projectx says

    Excellent write up!
    I’m very surprised it’s quicker to go through the castle. I would think the funneling of the mass humanity of people would cause a massive slowdown there.

    Your PP to Pooh timing is making me question my tour plan. Was leaving Pooh at 9:40 a product of you arriving for the welcome show just a few minutes before it starts? Or is this realistically the best you can hope for right now, regardless of where you “belly up” to the rope?

    • Malka says

      I’m surprised going through the castle is faster, too. I was planning to stay to the right for Pooh. Change of plans!

  4. Kirsten says

    Breakfast ice cream sundae? Hash brown breakfast dog? Is this your April Fool’s Day post? Do they come with a fastpast for a defibrillator? I’m not a health nut, but that’s nuts.

  5. Tim says

    When Magic Kingdom has a posted opening of 8:00AM what time do they start letting people onto Main Street USA? Will that first hour at 8:00AM be relatively quieter than the first hour of a 9:00AM opening?

  6. Cass says

    How does this work for AM EMH? Are there CMs at the entrance to each land scanning magic bands and letting people through who are staying on property?

      • Melissa brown says

        My experience last Thursday was that they roped the areas off after they let non-resort guests in, but the security to get past the ropes was equivalent to what they do at evening emh- they ask you what resort you are staying at and if you can answer they let you go. In our particular case we just said “We are resort guests” and they let us go. Not good at all.

  7. Ava says

    Thank you for this report! If you were heading to Tomorrowland (Space) first, would you need to wait by the rope when you arrive? Or would you be okay to watch the show from a more center spot and then move off towards Tomorrowland after it ends?

  8. Ashley says

    Excellent post! We had a BOG breakfast reservation at 8:30 this past Sunday. We left BOG as the Welcome Show was beginning at 8:55 and still were only one row of people back from the rope entrance to Peter Pan’s Flight with other breakfast reservation folks. We were able to walk right on to Peter Pan’s Flight and having that little bit of a head start from the Welcome Show people was nice. By the time we got off Peter Pan’s Flight, the line was already backed up to Mickey’s PhilharMagic.

      • Ashley says

        They’ll allow you to head back to your Be Our Guest before your reservation. Be Our Guest may make you wait until your exact reservation time to enter the restaurant, but you’ll be waiting there at the check-in desk, not outside Cinderella Castle.

  9. Donny says

    We’re going to Disney again in March of this year. Is the hot-dog only during a certain time of the day or can it be bought anytime?

  10. disneyjohn says

    Thanks for the great post. I cannot even imagine having a foot long so early in the morning. The doughnuts looked good.

    I wonder if they will go back to the historical park opening after the train line is refurbished. I loved the previous opening ceremony, but like a lot of other things at WDW it might be time to move on.

  11. Mitchell from Arkansas says

    I’m looking forward to an April Crowd Calendar, so I’m hoping your send off wasn’t just a tease.

  12. E Ticket says

    Do you think this change in Welcome Show and opening format is just temporary while they refurbish the Main St. train station?

  13. David says

    Seems sort of obvious in retrospect to have your guests waiting in an area where you can sell them food and drinks than to have them stuck outside where you can’t. Too bad they have to ditch the train entrance to do it. That was always a very Disney way to start the day.

  14. Helen says

    I have a 8am Crystal Palace ADR on our MK day just so we could get into MK early, is there any point eating there now if it’s not gonna get us ahead of the crowds?

    • Pam From Montana says

      Hunger? Character meal? If the only reason you got the reservation was early entry before the crowd you should cancel that is no longer a benefit for Crystal Palace from what the reports say…i

  15. Maria says

    We will be going in mid-March (a Sunday with a crowd level estimated around 7).

    How early do I have to get to Main Street and the hub arm in order to be near the front of the Space Mountain crowd?

    Also, with the new security, how long should we expect to wait to get through security and the tapstiles? Thanks.

  16. erika says

    Ha!!! Because you may have needed a waffle sandwich after your Casey’s light meal!!?! Thanks for hitting exactly what i was wondering about for our June trip…We have plenty of time keep the walk thru coming please!!! Drinks on us Memorial day!

  17. Disney Fanboy says

    Letting people in early and waiting at the castle?

    Another great move by Disney! This company does everything right!

    • dusty cheatham says

      as an aside that is a great hot dog . from a hot dog lover who would gladly comsume that while listening to mr jim play some rag time.

  18. Cathy says

    Wow, I’ve been going to DW for 43 years and never would have thought of this new opening, but now it seems like a no brainer. Wonder why they didn’t do this before now?

    • Gibbron says

      I agree, and from a security standpoint: less stacks of people waiting outside the security cordon.

      It also lessens the distance of the rope rush (from mainstreet to the castle), opens up the stores so that rope droppers can grab a bite to eat and not lose out on the reason that they are there in the first place, and it allows people to grab a stroller and still be a part of the first wave.

      I am happy.

  19. Rachelle says

    How is the EMH morning affected by this change? How do they separate out the people who are allowed onto attractions from those who have to wait, when everyone is already inside the park?

  20. Chicago Mama says

    So for a regular 9am opening, they let you onto Main Street around 7:50, and the welcome show starts at 8:50. Correct?

    Question: for EMH than start at 8am, what time will they let resort guests onto Main Street, AND is the welcome show at 7:50? Or still at 8:50?

    Thanks!

  21. Adam says

    Good read, thanks..question though. I saw you mentioned something about breakfast waffle from sleepy hollow (that wasn’t available)….is this something in addition to the fruit & nutella waffle or were they not offering the fruit & nutella waffle at that time (or on that day) for some reason?

  22. Gina says

    I am very excited about the new park opening procedure. We had a very non-magical morning due to major backups for security check combined with a ridiculously hot morning and overall bad timing for our arrival. It’s always been best to arrive early, but at least this gives some incentive rather than arriving early just to stand around and wait in the hot sun. That time is much better spent enjoying Main Street, hitting up Starbucks and forcing your kids to stand in front of the castle for pics!

    • Sam H says

      I was there on 22 January and the Welcome Show was still in front of Mickey floral. Not sure why Josh claimed that it was no longer there after the 9th.

  23. Bill says

    Does anyone know if the Firehouse is open before 9 AM so you can get your daily allotment of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards?

  24. Lisa says

    We have an early adr at bog, is it worth going straight to pooh as we have fastpass booked for mine train and PETER pan ?

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