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Set That Alarm: Reasons to Arrive Early to Disney Parks

We all love sleeping in, but a Walt Disney World vacation might not be the time. Even though it is a vacation, there are some enormous benefits to getting to the Disney parks early in the morning.

Try to set that alarm a few mornings during your Walt Disney World vacation to take advantage of that early morning in the Disney parks. Let’s dive into why you’ll want to go early.

EPCOT Monorail, Spaceship Earth
Credit: V Mills

Early Entry 

A big reason to set that alarm when at Disney is so you can take advantage of early entry. Those guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can enter any of the four main Disney parks thirty minutes before the posted opening.

You will be ahead of the crowd by getting to the Disney park of your choice for early entry. This will give you a massive advantage as you tour the park throughout the day.

Disney Bus Transportation

Faster Transportation

If you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you will want to get up early for more accessible transportation to the theme park. We love that Walt Disney World offers guests staying at their resorts transportation to and from the parks, but it can sometimes be stressful.

By setting your alarm and getting to the bus or skyliner an hour before early entry, you will have a much faster trip to the parks. Not only will you not have to wait in long lines, but by being there early, you will be through security and into the park before crowds start to form.

The closer you get to the front of the line, the better off you will be.

If you are driving or staying at a non-Disney resort, you will want to plan for even more time for transportation. Remember that you will have to get into the lot and walk or take a tram, ferry, or monorail to get to the front gates. This can be a process, so you will want to plan. The earlier you can get there, the less of a crowd you will be battling.


Watch the Park Wake Up

When you are at the parks early, you can experience the magic of the park waking up. There is something so magical about seeing the sunrise over the parks. As the park opens, you will be welcomed by cast members who are excited to start a new day.

Everything is fresh, clean, and full of anticipation, which is so much fun to be a small piece of. This is also a fantastic time to get incredible pictures. Not only will you get photos with fewer people in them, but you will also be able to capture beautiful pictures of the park in a unique calmness.

Mother daughter photo at Animal Kingdom
Credit: Disney

Time to Breathe

For us, it can be stressful leading up to getting to the park. We stress about the transportation, security, and overall entrance process. Although Disney does a fantastic job helping guests, it can still feel overwhelming.

By getting to the gates early, this process is less rushed. The process is much less stressful, with much shorter lines at security and the touch points.

Once we are officially in the parks, it is nice to have some time to breathe before rushing off to the day’s first ride. We like being able to take a few pictures and revisit our plan before the park opens.

When we arrive when the park is already open and rides are going, we feel rushed and flustered. Being there early is excellent, more relaxing, and less overwhelming. It’s worth setting the alarm.

Avatar Flight of Passage, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Credit: V Mills

Shorter Lines for Big Rides

One of the most significant benefits of setting that alarm clock is that you can experience top rides at Walt Disney World with lower waits. You will find much lower crowds and shorter lines by getting to the parks early, especially for early entry.

By being there early in the morning, you will find popular rides such as Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Avatar: Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance with much shorter waits. By riding these top attractions early in the morning, you can avoid having to purchase Individual Lightning Lanes for some or have the opportunity to ride multiple times a day.

Even if you don’t require these top rides, there is something enjoyable about being able to ride your favorite attractions a few times in the morning. While most guests try knocking out Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, take a few loops on the PeopleMover. Enjoy watching the crowds flow into the park as you have a nice relaxing ride through Tomorrowland.

Getting to the park early will set you up for success for the rest of the day. Not only will you be head of the crowd that morning, but you will also be head throughout the afternoon. This can give you time to take a break and return for a swim or nap. Since you put the effort in during the morning, you can relax some when the parks get extremely busy in the afternoon.

Walt Disney World in the Rain
Credit: How To Disney

Avoid the Rain and Heat

Our final reason for hitting the parks early in the morning is weather-related. By getting to the parks early, you have a better chance of avoiding the rain and heat of the day. As we mentioned, you can take off since you got up early and took advantage of lower wait times. Head out during the middle of the afternoon when rain storms and the heat start to cause some difficulty in the parks.

Enjoy a meal, nap, explore your Disney resort, or swim at the pool. Because you will have accomplished so much already, you can slow down during those hot afternoon hours.

It isn’t always fun to set the alarm during a Walt Disney World vacation, but it is worth it. There are many reasons to get to Disney parks early. We hope you will consider having at least one early morning during your Walt Disney World vacation.







Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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