Opening the parks used to be easy. You’d show up and separate your family into groups, with some people running towards the FastPass machines for the most popular rides and the others grabbing a table at a breakfast restaurant or saving spots in line for a different ride. Once you agreed on your missions, you’d separate and run through the parks, hoping to get a coveted Toy Story Mania FastPass before they all sell out, which tended to happen as early as 10 minutes after park opening.
Now that Disney uses their new FastPass+ system, you have to schedule your passes weeks in advance (try our FastPass+ calculator), forcing you to give more thought to your morning instead of scheming up an itinerary on the way to the park. As a former cast member, I know that it is easiest to get things done in the morning at Disney, when the lines are the shortest and there are typically less people in the park. That is why I created a fool-proof guide to opening every Walt Disney World park, so that you can get the right FastPasses for your family despite having to plan your morning weeks in advance.
There are three components to having a picture perfect park opening. You need to know when the opening show starts (if there is one), figure out which FastPasses to schedule at what time of day, and figure out where to eat breakfast that will both fuel you through your morning and put you as close to your first FastPass as possible. Read on to learn my tricks on how to get the most out of your mornings at Disney, so that you can fit in everything your family wants to see in one day with ease, no matter what time of year you visit.
You cannot miss the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show, which happens 20 minutes before the park opens at the Walt Disney World Railroad Station. Here Mickey, the Mayor of Main Street, and all of their friends welcome guests into the park with a special countdown.
FastPass+: While you may want to snag passes for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Space Mountain early in the morning, you best bet will be to head straight to Fantasyland first and schedule those other two attraction FastPasses for later in the day. The reason is that most guests will go either left into Adventureland or right into Tomorrowland first thing in the morning, so all of the wait times in Fantasyland and Liberty Square will be short. Your FastPasses will be better spent later in the day when the lines are long everywhere.
Breakfast: Sleepy Hollow (quick service) is an underrated breakfast spot where you can get grab-and-go sweet treats like funnel cake and waffle sandwiches. Be Our Guest (quick service) has a heartier fixed-price breakfast menu for anyone looking to eat a good meal but not spend too much time eating. The Main Street Bakery Starbucks is on Main Street U.S.A. on the way into the park.
Epcot main entrance
Opening Show: There is no opening show.
FastPass+: Test Track and Soarin' are notorious for high wait times, so make sure to schedule your passes as early in the morning as possible to avoid long waits. This also allows you to free up your FastPasses sooner, giving you a chance to pick up more passes for these rides later in the day. You also won’t be able to get into World Showcase until 11am, so that means everyone will be stuck in Future World, thereby making all of the lines long from the start of the day.
Breakfast: The Garden Grill (full service) or Sunshine Seasons (quick service) are great options for anyone with an early Soarin FastPass because they are located in the same building and offer great farm-to-table breakfast dishes. Fountain View Starbucks is across from the Fountain of Nations.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Echo Lake at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Opening Show: No official opening show.
Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, or Tower or Terror should all get top billing during your FastPass selection, depending on who you are traveling with.
Toy Story Mania’s wait time is never usually shorter than 40-60 minutes, with some lines even being 2 hours long, so if you are traveling with small kids you’ll want to grab those passes for whenever you can get them. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror are two rides that also have long lines, but they tend to fluctuate throughout the day. The perk of using your morning passes for these rides is that you can pick up passes later in the day to ensure you ride multiple times before leaving the park.
Breakfast: Eat before you visit, because there are really no great breakfast options in the park. The Trolley Car Cafe Starbucks is located on Hollywood Blvd.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom entrance
Opening Show: There is no opening show, but they did used to have one. It was adorable and will be greatly missed.
FastPass+: Kilimanjaro Safaris or Expedition Everest are the only rides where you really even need a FastPass. Every other ride on property usually has low wait times, pick up your passes for these rides whenever you can get them. For the best experience, ride Kilimanjaro Safaris early in the morning so that you can see the animals during their most active time, and save Everest until mid-morning.
Breakfast: Tusker House (full service with characters) is located right next to Kilimanjaro Safaris, which is a prime location for anyone with an early morning FastPass. Creature Comforts Starbucks is on the walkway to Africa.