Cinderlla Castle Early Access

Winter 2024 Trip Report Day 2 – Magic Kingdom Early Access Rope Drop

The second day of the trip was planned to be a heavy touring day that started early and ended late. There was a cast member aI ppreciation party at the Magic Kingdom so that park was closing at 4:30 – but it was also opening at 8:00 meaning that early access started at 7:30. To end the day EPCOT was having the extended evening hours for guests of Deluxe resorts from 9pm-11pm. The plan was to be at the Magic Kingdom by 7 and Epcot until 11. Long day indeed.

We were pretty tired after a busy first half day at Disney, but got up easily when the alarm went off at 5:45. We planned to take a Minnie Van to the Magic Kingdom to reduce bus risk and increase efficiency. Minnie Vans are NOT cheap – ours this morning ended up being $40 – but they are the only ride share option that can drop off at the gates. Others have to drop you off at the TTC and then you’re dependent on the monorail or boat. We don’t use Minnie Vans often, but will not hesitate to do if it fits how we want to tour.

Looking at the Lyft app (Minnie Vans are ordered through Lyft) it looked like it was going to take around 30 minutes for a Minnie Van to pick us up. There just aren’t a ton running at 6:15 in the morning. I waited a few minues and then put the order in. To my surprise the app said a driver would be outside in 5 mintues! My lovely wife was still getting ready so I reached out to the driver to let him know we’d need more time. Our driver was gracious and told us it was no problem. This is another perk of Minnie Vans – the drivers are cast members and in our experience the absolute nicest people you could hope to meet. Our driver for this trip, Gary, was no exception.

We enjoyed great conversation with Gary on the trip over. We even told him something he didn’t know about Disney – that the Saratoga Springs resort is inspired by a real town in upstate NY with the oldest Horse Track in North America. In no time we were dropped off as close to the Magic Kingdom gates as you can get and headed right over to the line of folks waiting to get into the park for early entry.

Early Access Front Gates Line
Early Access Front Gates Line

We got in line right around 7 AM and I was a little surprised by how many people were there already. After settling into line I realized there really weren’t that many people there. We were let into the park around 7:15. One of these days I’m going to get to the Magic Kingdom early to just sit and enjoy the peacefulness of Main Street in the morning. It’s truly a feeling that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

Cinderlla Castle Early Access

Our original plan was to bypass both Space Mountain and Seven Dwarves Mine Train and head to Peter Pan first. However, once we got the second holding area near Cheshire Cafe I realized that there were not that many people ahead of us.

MK Early Access Line
MK Early Access Line

We changed our plans and decided we’d do Seven Dwarves first thing. I had already purchased an ILL but it’s a ride worth doing a couple times if you’re able. They released the kraken, I mean rabid crowd right at 7:30. We were not the most enthusiastic rope droppers and just kind of went with the flow. The line for Seven Dwarves snakes from the entrace back towards the carousel along the edge of the queue. That means that the the most direct path is from about center of the above queue, along the left side of the carousel and into the line. We ended up a bit further back than we could have been, but again, we’re not going to run over children for the sake of saving 2 minutes. Or at least I’m not going to admit to it.

Seven Dwarves Early Access Line
Seven Dwarves Early Access Line

The line was quickly moving… at first. After about 5 minutes in line I realized it was quiet, a little too quiet. That’s because the ride had stopped running. A refresh of the app confirmed the ride was temporarily down. This is becoming a pattern for us with rope dropping/early access days. Last year we went to Peter Pan only to find it was down, so we rope dropped Small World. Not exactly the pinnacle of efficient touring. Thankfully, this proved to only a slight disruption of about 10 minutes but it still meant we would only get one ride in before regular park opening. That was a little disappointing.

Haunted Mansion in the Morning
Haunted Mansion in the Morning

We were out of Seven Dwarves right around 8am, which meant that the park was officially open. Fantasyland was already bustling and we weren’t interested in waiting 45 minutes for Peter Pan right now. We decided to head over to Haunted Mansion next. The picture above was taken at 8:08AM to give you an idea of timing. The ride a little bit of a line, but it moved quickly and we were into the stretching room in about 10 minutes. This remains my favorite ride in all of Disney World and Disneyland. I doubt that will ever change.

Big Thunder Mountain was up next. On the way over I grabbed a pic of the construction progress on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Disney just announced that it should open this Summer, which seems believable based on how much progress they’re making. I hope this is an indication of things to come with Disney construction progress. They used the pandemic to excuse some poor execution on these projects recently while other parks like Universal haven’t missed a beat.

Tiana's Bayou Adventure Construction
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Construction

I didn’t mention it yet, but this was a pretty chilly morning with temperatures in the high 40’s. I think this worked in our favor for Big Thunder as not many people were interested in an outdoor roller coaster in these temps! The wait said 10 minutes but it was pretty much just the time it took you to walk through the queue. We were in the front of the train for this ride which is objectively the worst seat on this coaster if you want thrills. The track often doesn’t release the train until you’re part way down declines. It was still a great ride but the back is definitely best on this one (and Slinky Dog!)

On the way back we stopped to pour one out for the Country Bear Jamboree, which shut down the day before our arrival for a reimagining. We’re going to miss the OG very much and just hope they don’t bastardize this too much. I’m all for change, but some things are just perfect the way they are. Country Bear Jamboree is that for us.

Country Bear Sign

At this point we were starting to get hungry. So we mobile ordered nutella and fruit waffles from Sleepy Hollow. They were delicious and pretty filling, but very sweet. Not a bad option, but definitely do the mobile order. It’s quite popular.

We head over to Adventureland to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. This was effectively another walk on with only minimal resistance right before loading onto the boat.

This guy is a vibe

It was around 9:30 by the time we got off of Pirates. If you’re keeping track at home in the first 2 hours of operation we did:

  • Seven Dwarves Mine Train
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Breakfast at Sleepy Hollow
  • Pirates of Caribbean

If Seven Dwarves hadn’t experienced some downtime while we were in line we likely would have added another Fantasyland attraction like Winnie the Pooh. It felt like this was a pretty successful morning so far.

If you read the trip planning series you may recall that I altered my plans for this day after hours were released. This is because of the reduced hours at Magic Kingdom this day. Disney does the cast member event every year and every year that day is one of the lowest crowd days at Magic Kingdom for the entire year. This makes perfect sense if you think about it. If you don’t have the park hopper option who is going to sign up for a Magic Kingdom day that ends at 4:30 and has no fireworks? Not many people. This presents an incredible advantage for those that can hop to another park or otherwise don’t care about the early closing.

After Pirates we headed back through the hub over to Tomorrowland. Magic Kingdom veterans are probably thinking “you’re right next to Jungle Cruise, what are you doing?” Well, I have a confession, I’m not a big fan of Jungle Cruise! It just doesn’t do it for us. I appreciate the ride, the story, and the skippers, but we always find the schtick slighly awkward and walk away feeling meh. So we only do it once every few trips. We paused in the hub to admire of a few of gold character statues in the area, especially Donald!

Let the Light Shine on Donald!
Let the Light Shine on Donald!

Next up was the Tommorowland Trio – Space Mountain, Carousel of Progress, and Peoplemover. We’re not fans of Buzz Lightyear and I’m personally not a “go around in circles” ride guy, so Astro Orbiter is out. I’m not a snob or anything, I am just prone to motion sickness and would rather save my post ride feel bads for something a bit more substantial that those kind of rides.

Space Mountain was up first and turned out to be our only appreciable wait of the morning. It was posted at 20 minutes and that was accurate, if not a few minutes low. From there we popped over to Carousel of Progress and then hopped on Peoplemover.

Carousel of Progress
Carousel of Progress
Tron from the Peoplemover
See you real soon, Tron!

At this point it was time for our Individual Lightning Lane for Seven Dwarves. So we mosied back over to fantasyland and went off to work for the second time today. The waits in fantasyland were longer than we liked so we said goodbye to Snow White and slowly worked our way back over to Tomorrowland for our Tron ILL.


I was very excited for this ride. I had read a bit about how the ride vehicle didn’t accommodate all guests, but that it was very much dependent on your particular body shape. From what I read, those with large legs, particlarly the lower leg, can sometimes experience issues getting the safety restraing closed. There are ride vehicles in front of the entrance for anyone that wants to double check if they’re going to fit. I gave those an occular pat down and decided that I was going to have no problem. That was the correct assessment. I had no problems getting comfortable in the ride vehicle and closing the safety restraint.

As far as the ride itself, I’d give it an 8/10. The ride itself is incredible, especially the first part of the ride that goes outside (and even moreso at night!). The position the ride vehicle puts your body in definitely adds the thrill factor and makes the ride feel faster. The biggest complaint I read online was the that the ride was short, and that is why it isn’t a 10/10. It is a very short ride. If we had to wait 2 hours in the virtual queue line I probably would have been disappointed. I will go on this ride every change I get but I would never wait longer than 30-45 minutes for it. Basically, it’s the same issue that Seven Dwarves has, but Tron is much more of a legitimate thrill ride.

It was noon at this point and we were hungry for lunch. We agreed that we would prioritize new to us food locations for this trip, and so for lunch that meant Casey’s Corner. Yes, it’s true. We had never experienced Casey’s before. We mobile ordered a hot dog, regular size not the footlong, and corn dog nuggets with a side of delicious plastic cheese. I am not a corn dog guy, which is strange because I like hot dogs and like corn bread, but together they are less than the sum of the parts to me. That said, I can see why people rave about these. They’re good, and if you like corn dogs you’ll love them. The hot dog was a big surprise for me. It was delicious – plump, juicy and tender without a noticeable snap from the casing at all, which I actually prefer. We will be back to Casey’s, that’s for sure.

Well fed and satisifed from a productive morning we opted to head out of the park, shopping on the way out. We were at the bus stop for the Boardwalk by 1:20 and back to the hotel room by around 2pm. It was time for some rest and relaxation, aka a nap, before heading back Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT. Stay tuned for the rundown of how that went!

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