7 Things to Know About Early Entry into Disney World Theme Parks
Walt Disney World is not only home to theme parks, water parks and Disney Springs. Walt Disney World also has incredible resorts. These resorts fall into four categories: value, moderate, deluxe and deluxe villas. For the difference between the categories click here. Guests who choose to stay at Disney World resorts have the magic from the parks seep into their accommodations. The incredible service that is offered at the parks is found at these resorts. The designs of the resorts are as extensive as the designs found at the parks. There are also advantages to staying at one of Disney’s resorts. One major perk is early entry into the parks. Guests staying at Disney World resorts gain entry into the park a half hour before the general public. But to take full advantage of this offering you want to know a few things:
- Not All Parks Have the Same Early Entry Procedures
During our last Disney World vacation we took advantage of early entry for each of our three park days. We visited Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot during our trip. We also visited Animal Kingdom but it was for an exclusive Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic event and therefore we were only there in the evening. Each of our early entry experiences were different. At Disney’s Magic Kingdom, we arrived at 7:30 for the 8:30 early entry. We lined up at the ticket entry and were given access to Main Street U.S.A. at 7:45. At 8:15 we entered into the rope drop line for early entry at the entrance to Fantasyland. Only at 8:30am did the ropes drop. At Epcot, we were at the gates at 7:45 for a 8am early entry. The gates were already opened and there was no rope. We walked right in and had access to the France pavilion and walked right on the Ratatouille attraction. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we arrived at 7:30am for a 8am early entry. We were let right in and again there was no rope drop. We headed straight for Galaxy’s Edge and were on Rise of the Resistance by 7:45am. Each park seems to run to the beat of its own drum. Hollywood Studios and Epcot were much more relaxed with their early entry and Magic Kingdom was much more strict.
2. You Can Get into the Park Before Your Early Entry Time
Early Entry Time for Disney World Resort guests is a half hour before the park opens to the general public. But in each of the mornings we used early entry we entered the park before the official early entry time. Even at the strict Magic Kingdom park, all guests we given access to Main Street U.S.A. an hour and forty five minutes before the park opened. So do yourself a favour and show up at least fifteen minutes before early entry begins.
3. Transportation is Provided at Least an Hour Before Early Entry
There are several methods of transportation on Walt Disney World property: boats, skyliner, monorail, buses. Now I can’t speak to the Disney Neighborhood Resorts, I can only speak to guests staying at Disney World resorts. The transportation provided to guests staying at Disney World resorts begin running at least an hour before early entry. The Skyliner starts running every morning at 7am. We grabbed a bus for the Magic Kingdom at 7:17am when early entry began at 8:30am. When taking advantage of early entry, you want to leave from your resort an hour before. Unless your using a pathway, in which case you’ll only need to leave 45 minutes before.
4. Cast Members Scan Proof
Guests gaining access to early entry are scanned by cast members. One member of the party has their MagicBand scanned, their key to the world or their mobile device to confirm they are staying at one of the participating resorts. What I thought was interesting is they only scanned one member of the party. So, we could have brought people in with us that weren’t staying at a Disney World resort. The cast members scanned my husband’s band and then asked how many guests were accompanying him. They could have glanced at their device to confirm the amount of guests staying in his accommodations with him but they didn’t seem to. This is another reason to get to early entry early, if you get there right at the allocated time you’ll spend your time waiting to be scanned in instead of getting on the attractions.
5. You Should Do It
Early Entry is worth the early morning wake up. For our Magic Kingdom day, we were able to get on the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train before the park even opened. If we hadn’t done early entry, we would have had to pay for an additional Lightning Lane pass for each of us or wait in a 75 minute-120 minute line. No thank you. On our Hollywood Studios day, we did both Galaxy’s Edge attractions before the park officially opened. And more importantly, we seemed to be ahead of the crowd all day. By being one step ahead of other guests, we seemed to be ahead of the masses.
6. Early Entry Times Differ
Park Hours for each park are different and they differ throughout the year. Be sure to check the actual hours the night before your park day to confirm the time. As I write this post, the hours for the parks are as follows:
Magic Kingdom. Early Entry 8:30am-9:00am.
Epcot. Early Entry 8:00am-8:30am.
Hollywood Studios. Early Entry 8:00am-8:30am.
Animal Kingdom. Early Entry 7:30am-8:00am.
7. Disney World Neighborhood Hotels are Also Included
The hotels having access to Early Entry are no longer just Disney World Resorts. A few neighbouring resorts are included as well: B Resort & Spa, DoubleTree Suites, Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace, Hilton Orland Buena Vista, Holiday Inn Orlando, Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista, Wyndham Lake Buena Vista, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando Lake Buena Vista. This adds many more guests to the mix. Guests staying at these neighbouring resorts need to be aware of their transportation. Unless you’re driving your own vehicle, you are not going to have the consistent transportation services that are offered at Disney World Resort Hotels. For full details on what your hotel offers contact the resort directly.
I never even consider not doing early entry. Early entry gets you ahead of the crowds. Allows you more freedom and flexibility to your day. Doing these early mornings is another reason why we don’t visit parks each day of our vacation. There are some mornings on our Disney World vacations that we just need to get up when we wake up and not wake up to an alarm. For more tips on creating a fantastic Disney World vacation, check out these previous posts:
5 Mistakes We Made on our Disney World Vacation
How to Choose Your Disney World Hotel
What is a Disney World Resort?