The Magic Kingdom has a welcome show that takes place in front of the castle. It has completely changed the opening procedures and it will drastically alter your touring strategy.
The Magic Kingdom begins allowing Guests through to Main Street sometime between 7:45 AM and 8:00 AM. It was exactly 7:49 AM this morning. I was standing in the security line as they began allowing people in. They did hold them at the turnstile until they let them in.
Early Breakfast Reservations
If you have a breakfast reservation around 8-8:10 AM, they might let you in at 7:45 AM. But then they might not. There was a separate check in area near the hub for those with breakfast reservations. It looks like being able to enter the park before it opens is going to be a thing of the past.
What Is Open
When you enter the parks, the 2 souvenir stands near each gate are both open. City Hall was open for Guest assistance. The entire Emporium was open for shopping and browsing. Casey’s Corner is serving breakfast as well as Plaza Restaurant. The Main Street Bakery and Confectionery are also open.
Photopass photographers are on hand for pictures in front of the castle. There were at least 5 different ones stationed down Main Street.
There are multiple ropes stationed around the hub.
The rope to the right over the Fantasyland bridge is your best route for Seven Dwarfs.
The rope to the right over the Tomorrowland bridge is your best route for Space Mountain.
The ropes in front of the castle blocking the two paths up the side of the castle are your best bets for Peter Pan’s Flight and the other attractions in Fantasyland (excluding Seven Dwarfs).
The rope over Liberty Square bridge is your best bet for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain.
The rope over the Adventureland bridge is your best bet for Pirates of the Caribbean. It could also be a route to Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain.
The Welcome Show
The welcome show takes place on the castle stage at approximately 8:55 AM. Sir Sterling, one of the Royal Majesty Makers, announces the upcoming opening of the Magic Kingdom and welcomes characters to the stage. Mickey, Aladdin, Jasmine, Anastasia, Drizella, Merida, Belle, Elena, Snow White, Mary Poppins, Alice, Pluto, Chip, Dale and Minnie Mouse all come out to help open the park. The Fairy Godmother appears in the window of the castle to help dust the park with magic.
At the end of this show, the audience helps open the park and the characters wave you off as the ropes are dropped. However, the ropes to the paths that go through the castle are not dropped until the characters have safely gone backstage. So if you choose those ropes, be prepared for a slight wait.
Getting to the Magic Kingdom by 7:45 – 8:00 AM to be one of the first ones down Main Street is not an easy thing to do especially when you have kids. Getting in front of the crowds is going to prove to be that much more difficult. If you want to ride Seven Dwarfs, you need to get to the park no later than 8:15 AM to be lined up at the rope. Since there is a now separate rope for Seven Dwarfs, if your strategy is to hit a different attraction you won’t find as long of a wait at its rope.
However, seeing the Welcome Show is not possible from the Seven Dwarfs rope unless you are at the back of the pack. So keep that in mind. It is either Welcome Show or Seven Dwarfs.
I suggest seeing the Welcome Show one morning of your trip and worrying about being closer to the ropes for the rest of the trip. If you take one of the 2 paths that go through the castle, you can watch the welcome show as well as rush into Fantasyland. However you won’t really be in the front as both paths converge to go through the center of the castle.