Magic Kingdom Early Entry Strategy (2024)

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Early Entry is an amazing Disney World perk and we’ve spent many mornings figuring out the best way to use Early Entry at Magic Kingdom. With 16 rides to choose from and 30 minutes to play with, we have put together our 5 preferred early entry strategies that always work great for us (one of them being Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, of course!)

For those of you planning your own trip, we’ve included our best Magic Kingdom Early Entry strategies and our tips for making the most of your extra 30 minutes in the park!

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Magic Kingdom

Table of Contents

Magic Kingdom Early Entry Strategies

We have 5 Early Entry Strategies that we personally love to use at Magic Kingdom. If it is your first visit or you want to remind yourself how everything works (timings, getting there, where to go for Early Entry, and more) then start with the detailed overview of Early Entry at Magic Kingdom below.

If you know the ins and outs of Early Entry at Magic Kingdom you can skip the new few sections and go directly to our 5 Early Entry Strategies

How Does Early Entry and Rope Drop Work at Magic Kingdom

Guests staying at a Disney World Resort or other eligible hotels are granted access to the parks 30 minutes prior to the regular park opening time – this is known as Early Entry.

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Early Entry at Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Early Entry Strategies tip: For now, you can only access Early Entry at whichever park you have reserved that day. From January 9 2024, park reservations are no longer required so you can use Early Entry in any of the 4 parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot) as you please.

The benefit of Early Entry is that it gives onsite guests a head start to Magic Kingdom by granting them access to the park before its official opening time. This means lower crowds, shorter wait times, cooler temperatures, and the chance to experience the parks at one of their quietest times.

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We love to stay at The Contemporary to enjoy Early Entry at Magic Kingdom

What time is Early Entry at Magic Kingdom?

Magic Kingdom typically opens at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m.:

  • Early Entry is 30 minutes prior to opening: Early Entry is at 7.30 a.m. for an 8 a.m. opening or at 8.30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. opening. We refer to this opening time as the Early Entry rope drop – this means you are waiting at Fantasyland or Tomorrowland Bridge ready for Cast Members to let guests through.
  • Regular rope drop for non-Disney resort guests is at park opening, so typically 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. Again, for regular rope drop this means you are there waiting for Cast Members to drop the rope and allow all guests access to the Magic Kingdom lands.

Having early access to the parks is an awesome experience and we really strive to make the most of our Early Entry.

Magic Kingdom Early Entry strategies tip: there isn’t always an actual rope dropped at rope drop! Rope drop just refers to the concept of being at the parks ready to enter at the time they open – this can be at either for Early Entry or regular opening. It so happens there usually is a rope at the crowd for the Fantasyland rope drop but in Hollywood Studios, for example, the rope drop is actually just the process of scanning in at the entrance booth.

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Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom

Where to Go for Early Entry in Magic Kingdom

In Magic Kingdom, all guests can scan into the park from the moment the ticket booths open – this includes guests without access to Early Entry. During this time, everyone can walk down Main Street to the front of Cinderella’s Castle.

Early Entry guests are directed to the right at East Plaza Gardens which are just past the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor – there are Cast Members holding signs to direct the crowds so it’s easy to find on the day!

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There are signs to direct Early Entry guests

More Cast Members will be waiting to scan in Early Entry guests after they funnel off to the right – Magic Bands/Ticket Cards are scanned to confirm Early Entry eligibility.

Early Entry Magic Kingdom tip: you may need to show your hotel reservation in the Walt Disney World app if it doesn’t scan automatically with your ticket or Magic Band – we found this during a recent stay in the Swan (a non-Disney hotel eligible for Early Entry) and on our last morning in the Contemporary.

After scanning in for Early Entry you will walk to the Fantasyland Bridge (if you are going to any Fantasyland rides) or the Tomorrowland Bridge (for any Tomorrowland rides) – more on this below!

What rides are open during Early Entry at Magic Kingdom?

Typically, there are 15 rides and 1 3D show available at Magic Kingdom in the early entry period. These attractions are located across Fantasyland and Tomorrowland and access to the other Magic Kingdom lands (Adventureland and Frontierland) remains closed until the regular rope drop/ the regular park opening time.

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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is open during Early Entry

The rides, and their minimum height requirements, open during Early Entry in Magic Kingdom are:

Fantasyland Early Entry Rides

  • “it’s a small world”
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic (3D Show)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (38″/97cm)
  • The Barnstormer (35″/89cm)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid
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Peter Pan’s Flight

Tomorrowland Early Entry Rides

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Space Mountain (44″/112cm)
  • Tomorrowland Speedway (32″/81cm)
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

What’s not open in Magic Kingdom during Early Entry?

Some popular rides are not open during Early Entry. Frontierland (Big Thunder Mountain), Adventureland (Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Magic Carpets of Aladdin), and Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square are closed during Early Entry.

Shows (with the exception of Mickey’s PhilharMagic) and character meet and greets typically start at, or in the hour after, park opening.

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Jungle Cruise does not open during Early Entry

Does Tron open during Early Entry?

No. Tron opens at park opening and you can only ride if you are successful in securing a place in its Virtual Queue or if you purchase an Individual Lightning Lane. The Individual Lightening Lane for Tron is usually $20. Tron is not included in Genie+.

Magic Kingdom Early Entry Strategies tip: the standby line for Tron (Magic Kingdom), Guardians of the Galaxy (Epcot) and, occassionally, Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana (Epcot) are only accessible by securing a spot in the Virtual Queue. This means you need to reserve a spot in the standby line in advance rather than just turning up and joining the standby line like most rides. This is done through the Walt Disney World App and guests can join the Virtual Queues at 7am and 1pm for Tron (guests must be in the same park as the attraction to reserve a slot at 1pm).

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Tron is only available via an Individual Lightning Lane or by Virtual Queue

The early morning standby line at Tron is only accessible via the 7am Virtual Queue. Tron technically opens for boarding at the regular park opening time but if you have an early boarding group (it starts at Group 1) you may find yourself getting a callback from around 7.45am. You have 1 hour to scan into Tron and Cast Members adhere to this rule.

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Flying high on Tron

Magic Kingdom Early Entry tip: if you do get a callback during Early Entry then it’s worth making your way over just before the park opens. The Tron line can get really long as it’s effectively a standby line that you have to register to join! We’ve waited up to one hour in the Virtual Queue line but if you get there early you are going to be one of the first to ride – the wait time gradually builds as more and more Virtual Groups are admitted to the line.

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Group 9 and an 8.45am Early Entry call back for Tron!

Early Entry at Magic Kingdom

Here’s some info you need to know prior to choosing your early entry strategy:

Double Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom

In Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios the entire park is open to guests during Early Entry. Early Entry at Magic Kingdom is unique in that only Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are open until the regular park opening time. This means you can take advantage of low wait times at both Early Entry and regular Rope Drop if you move to Adventureland or Frontierland at park opening – a double rope drop!

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Big Thunder Mountain opens at regular rope drop

Individual Lightning Lanes

Magic Kingdom’s most popular ride, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, is accessible via a standby line (a regular walk-up line) or by purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane (the Disney equivalent of pay-per-ride to skip the line) – the Individual Lightning Lane for Seven Dwarfs runs between $10 and $12 depending on the day.

As above, Tron is only accessible via a Virtual Queue to join the standby line or by purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane – the Individual Lightning Lane for Tron runs at $20.

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Tron

Genie+

If you purchase Genie+ then you will likely want to customize your Early Entry strategy – we’ve included our recommendations on combining Genie+ with our Magic Kingdom Early Entry strategies.

Magic Kingdom Early Entry Strategy: if you are going to splash out on Genie+ on one park then we would highly recommend Magic Kingdom. The lines build up quickly after rope drop and Genie+ means you can enjoy some of the most popular rides without having to worry about wait times.

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Lining up our Magic Kingdom Genie+ selections

If you’re not familiar with Genie+, it is a ticket add-on that costs around $25 to $35 per day depending on crowd levels. A single park Magic Kingdom Genie+ costs the same as an all-park Genie+ so, if you have a park hopper ticket you can opt for an all-park Genie+ for the same price.

Genie+ allows guests to reserve a timed slot to ride a Genie+ ride. Guests can reserve Genie+ ride access at various points through the course of the day – the first ride selection is made at 7am, the second at 2 hours after regular park opening time or when you tap in for your 7am selection if this is earlier. Subsequent rides can then be reserved every 2 hours or after you have tapped in for your existing Genie+ selections.

When your ride time slot opens up you can access the ride through the lightning lane (an express line which is separate from the regular walk-up standby lines and provides expedited access to the ride).

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Magic Kingdom Genie+

Tron and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are Individual Lightening Lane rides and are therefore excluded from Genie+. Other ride exclusions include Astro Orbiter, the Carousel of Progress and the People Mover in Tomorrowland, the Carousel in Fantasyland, and the Walt Disney World Railroad Railroad. Some shows, experiences, and meet and greets are also excluded.

Pre-Early Entry at Magic Kingdom: Remember 7am!

7am is an important time in Walt Disney World and the reason we’re glued to our phones from 6.58am! The reason? The first Genie+ selection opens at 7am and the Virtual Queue for Tron opens at 7am. Individual Lightning Lane purchases also open at 7am for Disney Resort guests.

For Magic Kingdom, this means:

  • the Tron Virtual Queue opens at 7am
  • Tron and Seven Dwarfs Individual Lightning Lanes opens at 7am
  • first Genie+ selection opens (remember, you can purchase Genie + from midnight but can only make your first selection at 7am)
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7am is an important time at Walt Disney World!

Delayed Ride Openings

Delayed ride openings do happen so make sure to always have a Plan B in mind – that way, you can instantly switch strategies rather than wasting time debating what to do next.

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It can happen!

Early Entry Strategies for Magic Kingdom

Guests have access to both Fantasyland and Tomorrowland during Early Entry so you will start your morning in one of these two lands.

We’ve outlined our tried and tested (these have been tested personally by us many times!) 5 best Early Entry Strategies for Magic Kingdom – there are 3 for Fantasyland and 2 favorites for Tomorrowland:

Fantasyland Early Entry Strategies

Home to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight, two of Magic Kingdom’s most popular rides, the majority of Early Entry guests make a beeline for Fantasyland.

The Fantasyland Early Entry starts at the Fantasyland Bridge in front of Cinderella’s Castle. The crowd is then directed past the Cheshire Cafe towards the Mad Tea Party. From there, everyone filters off towards their first ride.

1 | Early Entry Strategy: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Prioritise for Early Entry: families/ you don’t want to wait in a long line/ you don’t want to purchase an Individual Lightening Lane/ if you have Genie+ (this means you can reserve a return time for other popular rides and don’t need to include them in your Early Entry plans)/ your party are over 38″/97cm

Strategy with Genie+: this strategy is good with or without Genie+ as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is not included in Genie+

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (SDMT) is a family-friendly rollercoaster (the minimum height is 38″ so younger kids can enjoy it as well) where riders race through the diamond mine and watch the Seven Dwarfs at work.

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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

A kids’ favorite, Seven Dwarfs has an average wait time of over an hour and the only option to skip the line is a paid Individual Lightning Lane – this means that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the most popular early entry rope drop ride in Magic Kingdom!

If you want to rope-drop Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during Early Entry then you need to be prepared! Firstly, you will need to be among the first to arrive at Magic Kingdom as the line tends to build up extremely quickly (we recommend around 60 minutes before Early Entry starts).

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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is always popular

How to get to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for Early Entry

Step 1: Once you have entered Magic Kingdom walk down towards Cinderella’s Castle and follow the Cast Member signs directing Early Entry guests to the right just past the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor.

Step 2: After being scanned in for Early Entry (Cast Members check Magic Bands/Ticket Cards to confirm Early Entry eligibility) wait at the Fantasyland Bridge – this is the first path to the right as you face the Castle. The line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (and the other Fantasyland rides) starts at the Fantasyland Bridge

Step 3: As Early Entry time approaches, you will be directed towards the Chesire Cafe. In our experience, Magic Kingdom tends to stick with the published times and only starts scanning in early on extremely busy days but even then it’s only by a few minutes.

Cast Members usually hold a rope across the path at the Chesire Cafe while they share the instructions for Early Entry.

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Early Entry crowds waiting at the Chesire Cafe

Step 4: When the rope drops stay to the left of Mad Tea Party and follow Cast Members towards the entrance of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – SDMT is on the right of the path and the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh are to the left as you walk towards the entrance.

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The Early Entry line en route to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

As the line moves forward make sure not to walk ahead of the end crowd. The line follows the fence of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and filters back from the entrance – Cast Members will send back anyone trying the enter the line closer to the front than where they should be as the line is forming.

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The line follows the fence along Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Step 5: Seven Dwarf Mine Train opens and the crowd starts to move forward again as everyone enters the actual ride line. The ride is fun with some interactive parts to entertain kids and it does tend to move quite quickly during Early Entry.

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The entrance to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Stroller parking at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

If you have a stroller then you will need to be super organized or you can add a significant wait to your Seven Dwarfs ride time. There is stroller parking right by the ride.

If you can, have one of your party walk ahead and park the stroller and join up with them again as the line moves forward. You need to make this quick as Cast Members will send you to the back of the crowd if your party has already entered the ride line.

Magic Kingdom Early Entry Strategies tip: We tend to put our youngest in a carrier just ahead of rope drop as it can be all sorts of chaos at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!

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Having fun in the Seven Dwarfs Rope Drop line

Is it Worth Rope Dropping Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Early Entry?

There are so many mixed opinions on this! With 3 young kids, we always dedicate one Early Entry morning to riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but whether it is worth it really does depend:

Why We Ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during Early Entry

These are the reasons we ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during Early Entry and think it is worth it:

Standby line doesn’t work for us later in the day: We have 3 young kids (only 2 require tickets as they are 3 and over) who are still too young to stand in line for over an hour so we miss out if we wait to ride later in the day. They don’t mind waiting so much during Early Entry as it is split out into different activities which keep things exciting for them e.g. getting to the park, security, tapping in, hanging out by the Castle and then going over to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train line.

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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Individual Lightning Lane (plus Genie+) is expensive: The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Individual Lightning Lane usually runs somewhere between $40 to $48 for all of us – we like to use Genie+ on our Magic Kingdom days so, having already spent $$ on that ($80 to $156 for 4 Magic Kingdom/Park Hopper Genie+ in recent months) we prefer not to pay extra for Individual Lightning Lanes.

Extended Hours are too late for younger kids: Even if we have Extended Hours (outside of the party weeks, Magic Kingdom regularly extends its opening hours one night a week for Deluxe/Villa Resort guests), it’s too late for our two younger kids to go back into the park.

We have more than one Early Entry at Magic Kingdom: we usually do at least 2 Magic Kingdom days when we visit so we can take advantage of multiple Early Entry strategies. If you only have one day at Magic Kingdom then we would probably purchase an Individual Lightning Lane so we could ride multiple rides during Early Entry and maximize our day in the park.

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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Alternatives to Early Entry Rope Drop at SDMT

There are other ways to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train outside of Early Entry:

  • Wait in the standby line
  • Purchase an Individual Lightning Lane ($10 to $12 per person)
  • join the ride line just before the park closes. Ride lines remain open right until the park closes and often the wait times can be shorter than advertised.
  • If you have access, ride during the Magic Kingdom Extended Hours – this is accessible to Deluxe/Villa Resort guests the lines tend to be relatively short as the hours are a bit late for most younger kids (we find this with our young kids anyway)

2 | Early Entry Strategy: Peter Pan’s Flight

Prioritise for Early Entry: Peter Pan fans / families with younger kids (the ride has no height requirement) / if you have Genie+ and you want to save a Genie+ Selection for other rides later in the day/avoid a long line after park opening

Strategy with Genie+: Peter Pan’s flight is one of our recommended 7am selections for Genie+. Instead, use the 7am selection for Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, a meet and greet (Cinderella in Fairytale Hall, Ariel in her Grotto or Mickey Mouse in Town Square Theatre are our first picks) or Enchanted Tales with Belle

A Walt Disney World classic, Peter Pan’s Flight is extremely popular and requires its own Early Entry Strategy at Magic Kingdom! Riders board a pirate galleon for a wonderful flight over London, Never Never Land and Pirate’s Cove.

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Peter Pan’s Flight

How to get to Peter Pan’s Flight for Early Entry

To get to Peter Pan’s Flight you will follow the same route as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Early Entry crowd across the Fantasyland Bridge but they will drop off first at the entrance to SDMT.

After the crowd drops off at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, continue walking past its entrance, through the huge Castle Walls on the left, and past the Carousel (also on the left). Keep walking on the path directly ahead and you will arrive at the entrance to Peter Pan’s Flight on the left-hand side just around the corner from Philarmagic.

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The Peter Pan Early Entry Crowd at Magic Kingdom

Early Entry Magic Kingdom Tip: we enjoy Peter Pan’s Flight but, due to the long wait times, we only ever ride it during Early Entry or with a Genie+ return time. One bonus of Early Entry is that guests walk through the regular line and this means you get to experience the interactive walk through part of the Darling family home.

3 | Early Entry Strategy: Fantasyland Mix

Prioritise for Early Entry: families with younger kids and babies who don’t meet height requirements

Strategy with Genie+: we still use this strategy on days we have Genie+ as it allows us to tick off lower-demand Genie+ rides and save our Genie+ selections for other attractions our kids love Peter Pan’s Flight, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean meet and greets (Cinderella and Elena and Rapunzel and Tiana in Fairytale Hall, Ariel in her Grotto or Mickey Mouse in Town Square Theatre are our first picks), Enchanted Tales with Belle

With a 6, 4 and 1-year-old, the Fantasyland Mix has been one of our go-to Early Entry strategies over the last couple of years! Early Entry is a fantastic opportunity to ride all your Fantasyland favorites.

Early Entry Magic Kingdom tip: this can be combined with Early Entry Strategy 3 if you are close to the top of the Peter Pan line and manage to ride it quite quickly. You should always ride Peter Pan first if you opt to do it this way as the line for Peter Pan builds quickly and remains close to 60 minutes for the most part during the day.

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En route to Dumbo and Barnstormer during Early Entry

We usually just pick and choose our favorite rides and take it from there – my two youngest adore Dumbo so it features in every one of our Magic Kingdom Early Entry days! We also like to tick off Barnstormer as it’s another favorite and is close to Dumbo – both these are in the Storybook Circus area of the park. If we have Genie+, we also make sure to ride Prince Charming’s Royal Carousel as it only has a standby line.

Rides we avoid during Early Entry: we tend to skip “it’s a small world” as it is a longer ride and we don’t consider it a good use of our Early Entry Time. We also avoid shows during Early Entry so Mickey’s Philharmagic is one we save for later.

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“it’s a small world”

How to get to the Fantasyland Rides for Early Entry

As all Fantasyland rides follow the same initial route, you will walk over the Fantasyland Bridge with the SDMT crowd. Everyone is funnelled past the Chesire Cafe on the left and the crowd then splits at the Mad Tea Party – stop here if you want to ride the Mad Tea Party or the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh on the left. If you are aiming for Barnstormer, Dumbo or The Little Mermaid you can go to the right of the Mad Tea Party, otherwise stick with the SDMT crowd to the left for the Carousel and “it’s a small world”.

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Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Early Entry Strategies for Tomorrowland

Early Entry is much more relaxed at Tomorrowland and crowd numbers are much lower than at Fantasyland where the majority of the early-entry guests start the day!

The Early Entry entrance for Tomorrowland is located at the Tomorrowland Bridge.

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The Tomorrowland Bridge

4 | Early Entry Strategy: Space Mountain

Prioritise for Early Entry: thrill ride fans / if you have a Genie+ and you want to save a Genie+ Selection for other rides later in the day / your party are over 44″/112cm

Strategy with Genie+: Space Mountain is typically one of our afternoon Genie+ options as it’s often available until after 4pm. It’s still a great ride option during Early Entry if you are in the mood for a rollercoaster as it’s the only thrill ride operating at that time.

Space Mountain is a thrilling indoor roller coaster that blasts guests into outer space. The combination of riding in the dark, the futuristic music and the twisting track make for an awesome ride. If you want to start the day with an adrenaline rush then Space Mountain is the perfect Early Entry rope drop choice!

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Space Mountain

How to get to Space Mountain for Early Entry

Space Mountain is located at the back of Tomorrowland – after crossing the Tomorrowland Bridge, the quickest route is to walk to the left of Astro Orbiter and the iconic white dome of Space Mountain is directly ahead.

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Crowds waiting on the Tomorrowland Bridge at Early Entry

5 | Early Entry Strategy: Tomorrowland Mix

Prioritise for Early Entry: families with younger kids and babies who don’t meet height requirements

Strategy with Genie+: we still use this strategy on days we have Genie+ as it allows us to save our Genie+ selections for other attractions it’s almost impossible to get through everything in Magic Kingdom in one day! Use your Genie+ for another attraction like Peter Pan’s Flight, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean or meet and greets (Cinderella and Elena and Rapunzel and Tiana in Fairytale Hall, Ariel in her Grotto or Mickey Mouse in Town Square Theatre are our first picks).

Our Tomorrowland Mix is another great option if you have younger kids or are a fan of gentler rides. Again, it’s a more relaxed option than Fantasyland for Early Entry.

We love to start the day with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and then move on to Astro Orbiter and the Tomorrowland Speedway. It’s usually pretty easy to cover Buzz and Astro Orbiter during Early Entry but Tomorrowland Speedway is a longer ride so we save it to last.

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Astro Orbiter

Rides we avoid during Early Entry: we tend to skip Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress and the PeopleMover as waits tend to be short throughout the day.

How to get to Tomorrowland for Early Entry

Cross the Tomorrowland Bridge and continue past the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor – turn right for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. You can’t miss Astro Orbiter – it towers over Tomorrowland directly in front of the entrance and the Speedway is to its left.

What to Ride Next?

One of the great and unique things about Magic Kingdom is that you have the option of a double rope drop, first at Early Entry and then at regular park opening: this means you can take advantage of low wait times during Early Entry and at regular rope drop.

If you follow the Early Entry Strategy above, some options for your next rides are:

If you have time left during Early Entry

Continue to take advantage of low waits on nearby rides. For example, if you have time after Space Mountain try for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin or Astro Orbiter. If you still have time after Peter Pan, then check out Dumbo, Barnstormer or the Carousel if they have low wait times. We rarely have more than a few minutes of Early Entry time left after Seven Dwarfs Mine Train so we tend to go ahead with our second rope drop plan.

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Barnstormer

After Early Entry

As the end of early entry/ regular park opening time approaches we do one of the following: walk over to Liberty Square in preparation to rope drop Big Thunder Mountain Railroad / Jungle Cruise / Pirates of the Caribbean, stay in Fantasyland and continue to take advantage of the lower crowds or stay in Tomorrowland and tick off all its rides before we move on. Sometimes, if we’re really lucky, we have a low-boarding Group for Tron and get called to ride it!

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Pirates of the Caribbean

Our decision is influenced by whether we have Genie+ or not:

With Genie+: we typically reserve Jungle Cruise or Peter Pan (if we don’t plan to ride during Early Entry) as our first Genie+ picks in Magic Kingdom as these tend to run out of return times the earliest.

While we’re waiting for our return time we tend to stay in whatever land we started in.

For Fantasyland – we ride whatever has low wait times, we make sure to ride the Carousel (it isn’t available on Genie+) and we try and meet at least one Princess duo (Cinderella and Elena or Rapunzel and Tiana) in Princess Fairytale Hall.

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Meeting Cinderella at Princess Fairytale Hall

For Tomorrowland, we try to cover all the rides if the wait times are low.

Otherwise, we might pop over to Liberty Square (Early Entry guests can join up with the regular rope drop crowds when the passageway at Liberty Square opens at park opening. We like to try for Big Thunder Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean.

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En route to the Liberty Square rope drop

Without Genie+: if you don’t have Genie+ then you should aim to ride Jungle Cruise next. Walk over to Liberty Square for the regular rope drop (only Early Entry guests can access Liberty Square at this time) and go straight to ride Jungle Cruise followed by Big Thunder Moutain. You will need to walk briskly to Jungle Cruise as you will be joining up with the rope drop crowd en route.

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Jungle Cruise

What time do I need to arrive for Early Entry at Magic Kingdom?

If you are planning to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train then we recommend arriving at the park one hour before the listed Early Entry entry time. This means you will be at the front of the line, among the first to tap into the park, and will be close to the front of the line for the Fantasyland Bridge.

For all other rides, we’d recommend arriving at Magic Kingdom 30 minutes in advance of Early Entry opening.

Even if you arrive slightly later than the Early Entry opening time you can still take advantage of lower crowds before rope drop at the official park opening.

Allow Time to Travel to Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is unique in that only guests traveling by bus or Minnie Van, walking or taking the Monorail directly from their resort arrive directly at the entrance to Magic Kingdom.

Guests who arrive by car (driving/parking, drop-offs, Uber, Lyft) arrive at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) which is separated from Magic Kingdom by the Seven Seas Lagoon – you must take a ferry or Monorail across to Magic Kingdom from the TTC.

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Magic Kingdom

After setting off for the park via your chosen means of transport (see below for the Early Entry transport options) you will need to allow time for:

Security: everyone entering Magic Kingdom must go through a security check and the location of the checkpoint depends on how you travel to the park

  • Resort Guests traveling from the hotel to Magic Kingdom by monorail: If you are staying at the Contemporary, the Grand Floridian, or the Polynesian you can travel to the park by the Resort Monorail. The security checkpoint is prior to boarding the monorail
  • Resort Guests walking from the hotel to Magic Magic Kingdom: if you are staying at the Contemporary or the Grand Floridian (or the Polynesian if you don’t mind a 25-minute walk but it is currently closed due to construction) you can walk to Magic Kingdom. If you are walking from one of these resorts, there is a checkpoint on the walking path.
  • Resort Guests traveling from the hotel to Magic Kingdom by water taxi: If you are staying at the Contemporary, the Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge or the Polynesian you can travel to the park by water taxi. The security checkpoint is prior to boarding the boat.
  • Guests parking or being dropped off at the Transportation and Ticket Center: for guests parking at the TTC there is a security checkpoint at the entrance to the TTC. This is before you take the Monorail or Ferry over to Magic Kingdom.
  • Guests taking the bus to Magic Kingdom: there is a checkpoint located between the bus drop-off and the entrance to Magic Kingdom.
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Buses transport guests to Magic Kingdom from the Resort Hotels

We generally find security relatively quick – guests walk through a metal detector with their backpacks and a bag search is typically only required if the metal detector alarm sounds.

Guests with strollers are directed to a separate line where the stroller is checked and then the same process applies. The stroller line can take an extra 10/15 minutes depending on how many strollers are passing through.

Park entrance: after you pass through security you will then proceed to the Magic Kingdom entrance. In our experience, the first guests are usually scanned up to 45 minutes before the 8.30am Early Entry opening or 30 minutes early on a 7.30am Early Entry day. You can tap in with your Disney ticket card, a Magic Band or a ticket saved to your cell phone wallet and then verify your fingerprint.

Early Entry: once you are scanned in you will then walk down Main Street and follow the signs pointing to the right for Early Entry. Cast Members will then scan your Magic Band or Ticket Card to confirm eligibility for Early Entry. Your Resort stay should be linked to the My Disney Experience App – if the Cast Member can’t see you will be asked to show your reservation/room key to confirm Early Entry eligibility.

How to get to Magic Kingdom for Early Entry?

Depending on where you are staying there are a few options for getting to Magic Kingdom in advance of Early Entry:

Magic Kingdom Early Entry Strategy tip: only buses/walking/Resort water taxi or Monorail leaves guests directly to the entrance of Magic Kingdom. If you are driving or being dropped off you will arrive at the Transportation and Ticket Center and take the ferry or monorail across to Magic Kigndom.

Bus: buses start running around 45 to 60 minutes prior to Early Entry. We recommend arriving at the bus stop prior to this (up to 30 minutes) so you are towards the front of the line. If you are planning for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train we tend to stick to a 2-hour target – we aim to be on a bus to Magic Kingdom 2 hours prior to Early Entry opening time.

Resort Monorail: if you are staying at the Contemporary (20 minutes on Monorail), the Grand Floridian (3/4 minutes on Monorail), or the Polynesian (10 minutes on Monorail) you can travel to the park by the Resort Monorail.

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The Walt Disney World Monorail

Driving/Drop off at TTC: the parking lot at Magic Kingdom opens around 90 minutes prior to Early Entry. Remember, you still need to take the ferry or Monorail across to Magic Kindom – it typically takes us around 30 minutes from parking to arriving at Magic Kingdom on a straightforward day but it can take longer. The Monorail tends to be quicker but the ferry is a good option if you catch one ready to depart.

Magic Kingdom Early Entry tip: it can take longer than 30 minutes to get from your car to Magic Kindom – we’ve had days where the Monorail hasn’t been running and the line is backed up for the ferry, days where we just missed a Monorail and days when we had further to walk from the parking lot.

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Arriving at Magic Kingdom by ferry

Water Taxi: water taxis operate between the Contemporary, the Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, and the Polynesian and Magic Kingdom. You should check at your Resort for the operating hours.

Walk: if you are staying at the Contemporary (10-minute walk), the Grand Floridian (15-minute walk), or the Polynesian (25-minute walk, currently closed for construction) you can opt to walk to the park.

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Walking to Magic Kingdom

Minnie Van: Minnie Vans (a ride service for Resort Guests) can drop off at the entrance to Magic Kingdom so you only need to allow for travel time from your resort.

Uber/Lyft: regular Uber or Lyft rides drop guests at the TTC. You then need to allow around 30 minutes for the Monorail or Ferry over to Magic Kingdom.

Is Early Entry Worth It at Magic Kingdom?

We often get asked if Early Entry is Worth it at Disney parks. Personally, we rarely miss an early entry opportunity and we love the quieter mornings in the parks. Here are some thoughts on Early Entry:

  • crowds are lower: crowds are generally lower during Early Entry and in the couple of hours following. However, don’t expect to have the park to yourself – there are over 35,000 resort rooms at Disney, all of which benefit from Early Entry.
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Having fun at Magic Kingdom
  • save on Individual Lightning Lanes (IlL): park tickets, Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes can really add up so we like to focus on covering the ILL rides at rope drop to save the extra expense/likely long lines. We have 3 kids under 6 so often purchase Genie+ to save on waiting in line and might save $50 by not needing an ILL for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and still be able to ride it without a long line.
  • ‘Why bother getting up early and having to wait in line for an hour before the park opens? Why not just stay in bed and wait in line for the rides when you have to?’: we were asked this before and I thought it was a fantastic and accurate question! For us, we’re up way before Early Entry anyway (special shout out to our 1-year-old!) and we love being able to use that time to our advantage – it also means we can bail out of the park before the temperatures peak or we can take an extended afternoon break and enjoy the resort facilities because we’ve done most of what we wanted early in the morning.
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There is lots of wonderful experiences including the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Magic Kingdom

So here’s when we think Early Entry is/isn’t worth it at Hollywood Studios:

Worth it:

  • you have 1 or 2 days to cover Magic Kingdom
  • you want to do a mix of rides, shows, dining and meet and greets and need the extra time in the park
  • you are up early anyway
  • you want to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train without a long wait or having to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane
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Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid

Consider if it is worth it:

Magic Kingdom is by far our busiest park and we like to do everything so we always use our Early Entry time if we are eligible. You might consider skipping Early Entry if:

  • you have a ride list and most are on Genie+: you can stay in bed or hang by the pool and try to stack rides for later if you have Genie+ and a set of rides you want to cover
  • you don’t mind purchasing an ILL or waiting in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • you aren’t planning on covering everything in Magic Kingdom (shows, meet and greets, snacks and rides)
  • you have more than 2 days in Magic Kingdom

For more on Early Entry at Walt Disney World

Check out our guides to:

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Animal Kingdom

For more on Magic Kingdom

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