The website reviewed the very first Early Morning Magic at Magic Kingdom back in April of last year in this post, which has garnered quite a bit of interest given the 150+ comments. My experience was far more positive than I was expecting given the seemingly-high price tag and the seemingly-short duration of the event.
But since it had been a while since I experienced the event and I was looking for an excuse to get up early to watch the sunrise with the love of my life from the balcony of our room at the Contemporary, I thought it would be prudent to return.
As a reminder, this is what Early Morning Magic entails:
Early Morning Magic basically grants the user unlimited rides on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh with no appreciable waits from as early as you can arrive at the ride of your choice through 9am. It also includes a breakfast buffet at Pinocchio Village Haus. The cost is $69 per adult and $59 per child between the ages of three and nine, before tax.
No matter what anybody tries to tell you, Disney buses begin transporting guests from the resorts to the theme parks before 6:30am, which means there’s plenty of opportunity to hop on a bus and arrive at Magic Kingdom well before the 7:45am start time.
And with the Resort Monorail currently beginning service no later than 7am, there’s plenty of opportunity to ride over on the monorail either from the Transportation and Ticket Center/parking lot or one of the resorts connected by the highway in the sky. If you’re taking Uber or Lyft from off-site or to avoid Disney transportation, then I recommend setting the Contemporary Resort as your destination. Disney will let the driver drop you off without any trouble and you can walk the ten minutes over to Magic Kingdom rather than needing to wait for Disney to pick you up…at some point.
These pictures are from October 31st, which is the reason why we’ll see some pumpkins around Main Street.
As I went through the pictures, I realized that I would look sort of silly now that Christmas is in full swing. And with the 8am opens on Mickey’s Christmas Party dates, Early Morning Magic is on hiatus until Tuesday January 9th, when the opportunity returns to most Sunday and Tuesday mornings through May 1st, 2018. Disney should extend the offering through May and into the summer at a future date. You can find Disney’s official word and check on availability at this link.
With Disney now letting all guests onto Main Street at 7:45am as part of the usual opening procedure, the way Early Morning Magic operates is slightly different than what we saw last year. You’ll walk over to the far end of the entrance where a cast member will either scan your MagicBand/ticket to check for your Early Morning Magic participation or look your name up on their iPad.
After confirming your status, you’ll proceed through the tapstile on the far left, where a second cast member will put on your baby blue Early Morning Magic wristband.
This is 7:49am, so we are a couple of minutes later than is ideal. You’d want to be at the entrance no later than 7:40am to take full advantage of the time.
Otherwise, the walk up Main Street remains a pleasant one. 90% of the people there before 8am will be heading to a tour, breakfast, or Early Morning Magic when it’s offered.
As I’ve said for years, the “empty” Main Street pictures are largely a myth, but there are plenty of nooks and crannies to take pictures with nobody in the background.
Instead of heading through the Castle like we did last time, Early Morning Magic participants go through the same entry as those with breakfast reservations at Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table. That’s on the Liberty Square side.
But there is no wait or line or anything. Just flash your wristband like a boss.
The walk towards Fantasyland is a pleasant one this early:
While it’s not advertised, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel is typically operating during Early Morning Magic, here with just two people riding. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend any time here as the ride will be a walk-on until at least 10:30am, but dad might need a break from the excitement.
We arrived at the entrance at 7:45am, were inside Magic Kingdom at 7:49am, and arrived at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 7:59am after a leisurely stroll.
And we were on our first ride through the Mine three minutes later at 8:02am.
During Early Morning Magic, participants utilize the shorter FastPass+ return line.
Disney removes a rope at the ride’s exit so Early Morning Magic guests can quickly get back in the Mine Train line without having to exit and reenter the full queue.
We were on our second ride three minutes later.
And three minutes after the second ride ended…
We were on our third trip.
The first three rides took less than 20 minutes total.
The queue for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at 8:21am captures the “feel” of Early Morning Magic.
There’s nobody else in line:
We were done with our first ride six minutes later and got back in line:
And we found ourselves back out in front of Mine Train at 8:34am, which meant two rides took a total of about 12 minutes.
After taking some buffet pictures, we found ourselves back at Mine Train at 8:41am.
And on-ride one minute later.
Another good example of Early Morning Magic and something you’ll never see during regular Park hours – a runaway Mine Train vehicle swinging by with only the first and last rows occupied.
Nobody else waiting to board at 8:48am:
And one last trip up at 8:54am after another zero-minute wait and some random pictures from previous rides:
At 8:58am, we arrived back out front, with six rides on Mine Train and two rides on Winnie the Pooh under our belts.
If we had arrived at the main entrance at least five minutes earlier, like you probably want to, we would have been able to add another ride somewhere.
And you probably won’t spend seven or eight minutes taking egg pictures, which would have been enough time to ride something else again.
That would bring our total up to ten rides during the hour.
Early Morning Magic also utilizes the FastPass+ line at Peter Pan’s Flight, and since we were interested in experiencing the interactive standby queue, we waited until closer to regular Park open for Peter Pan’s Flight. But that only sort of worked as we were hurried through only to find the usual backup before load.
At least the pictures came out.
We arrived at 9:01am, which was just before anyone from the main entrance got there, and were back out front at 9:08am, for a total experience time of seven minutes. As we learned from my last rope drop touring strategy post on a Mickey’s Party day, doing Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight back to back from the main entrance takes about 40 minutes for just one ride on each. During Early Morning Magic, you could ride each four times during that same 40 minutes.
Breakfast is served at Pinocchio Village Haus for Early Morning Magic guests through 10am. And typically, it makes sense to eat towards the end of that time frame. Wait times only build as the day goes on and once the Park opens along with all of the other attractions, you’ll probably want to visit nearby priorities- Princess Fairytale Hall makes a lot of sense in particular.
On the other hand, breakfast can be a quick endeavor as the food is all out and ready to go. So if you’re planning on heading to Tomorrowland, Frontierland, or another Land, then you may want to sneak in and eat before walking all the way over to something like Buzz Lightyear or Big Thunder Mountain as you’ll obviously need to double back to Fantasyland to eat. The wait at virtually any attraction outside of Fantasyland won’t be appreciably higher at 9:40am compared to 9:20am. Since Erin and I had plans to visit Haunted Mansion and then head off to Frontierland, we decided to hit the buffet at 9:10am.
There aren’t a lot of scenarios where I think it makes sense to eat breakfast during the 8am-9am time frame. Every five minutes you spend at Pinocchio Village Haus eating before 9am is one ride missed on what you’re paying a lot of money to experience.
Here’s the spread:
It’s a very similar spread to the original with just a couple of exceptions. French Toast has replaced waffles, probably because some number of people were expecting to see Mickey on them. The orange juice and apple juice are served out of large canisters rather than the bottles we originally saw. The Vegetable Fritatta also has a lot less “stuff” baked in. As before, you can request any of the fountain beverages that Village Haus serves such as Diet Coke or Powerade. The hot beverage options provided are hot chocolate, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea. If you’re looking for something else, you might try asking one of the very friendly cast members surveying the area. They’re among the nicest people you’ll ever see inside the Parks.
The food was as good as what’s served at a character breakfast buffet and there’s enough variety to satisfy most needs.
SO IS IT STILL WORTH IT?
I remain firmly unmad about the proposition.
There’s no doubt that it’s an expensive hour at $69/adult and $59/child, but you’re able to do nine to ten rides on several of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions during that time. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train sees wait times that exceed an hour by 9:30am virtually every day with peak waits that typically reach 100 or more minutes. You’ll be riding with empty seats during Early Morning Magic.
One thing that isn’t possible to capture in photos is how stress-free Early Morning Magic is. Everyone is having a good time and it’s difficult even for me to land any elbows without charging after some kid in the distance. Cast members in particular are cheerful and happy to welcome you to the Mine Train – something that you won’t experience at noon as the thousand person of the day with a Mad Tea Party FastPass+ tries to sneak into the FastPass line.
Breakfast is worth between $20 and $25 compared to other Magic Kingdom options. Be Our Guest breakfast is up to $25 for objectively lower quality food and much less variety. You could rationalize that the hour-long ride portion of the event then costs $45. Since each ride takes about six minutes, each ride costs around $4.50 as you can easily do nine or ten rides during Early Morning Magic, saving an average of 45 minutes each time through Winnie the Pooh, 60 minutes each time through Peter Pan’s Flight, and an hour-and-a-half each time through the Mine.
Based on those conservative estimations, I was able to skip 11.5 hours of waiting in line during Early Morning Magic. And that’s with two fewer rides than you’d be able to do if you only arrive on time and don’t spend ten minutes taking egg pictures.
Erin would add that during cooler months, you’ll want to check the weather report and consider bringing a jacket, gloves, etc. if the temperature at 7am is expected to be on the low side. We visited on an unseasonably cool morning when it was around 52 degrees at 8am. She was also impressed by the quality of the food, noting that it was better than a lot of other Disney breakfast buffets. I agree with both points.
Early Morning Magic remains a splurge for most people and there are certainly a lot of ways to put $70 per person to work. But as far as easy, stress-free experiences that achieve something that you can’t get with any other package, tour, or anything else, Early Morning Magic is hard to beat. And it sets you up for a great day.
I’ll cover what else we were able to accomplish after breakfast next.