Disney, Theme Parks

The Secret to Early Entry at Walt Disney World

Want to load up on the most important meal of the day AND get a head start on enjoying the most popular Disney attractions before the crowds hit? You gain early entry into the parks by booking a dining reservation for early character meals. Some restaurants in Disney World even allow you to book reservation times for before the park opens. This is the best Secret to Early Entry at Walt Disney World, and here’s how to do it!

Where You Can Score Early Entry

All the parks are doing it. You can get early entry to any of the parks just by scheduling your breakfast reservation at the right place and time. The most popular place to do this is, of course, Magic Kingdom, but early entry to Epcot can be leveraged to gain quick access to Frozen Ever After, and Animal Kingdom has it’s advantages too, with access to Pandora. Not to be outdone, Hollywood Studios has a character dining experience of its own. This one features Disney Junior characters. With so many rides and not a lot for small children, this breakfast makes a more balanced day for the whole family.

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Magic Kingdom: Magic Kingdom has two types of character meals. You can enjoy a multiple course feast at Cinderella’s Royal Table, where princesses will greet you as you dine. Also, you can enjoy a breakfast buffet at Crystal Palace and meet Pooh and his friends from the 100 Acre Wood. My personal favorite pre-park-opening breakfast to do isn’t a character, but still gets you into the park early – Be Our Guest restaurant!

Epcot: Epcot has two early entry dining opportunities as well. Farmer Mickey and his friends will meet with you as you dig in on a family style breakfast in the rotating restaurant Garden Grill over at the Land Pavilion in Future World. Akershus is a princess experience, similar to Cinderella’s Royal Table, but they feature more Scandinavian style cuisine and a buffet format. One of my favorite memories from our recent trip was here…

Hollywood Studios: There is only one early entry restaurant available here, and I haven’t tried it myself. Hollywood and Vine is a character buffet that features Disney Junior characters. The food is meh from what I’ve heard, but kids love it for the characters and it gives you a chance to hit up some of the thrills early in the day.

Animal Kingdom: The character experience at Tusker House is headlined by Donald in safari gear, and it’s a must-do every time I visit. You’ll also find Goofy bouncing from table to table. The buffet features traditional breakfast foods for the general audience, plus some African options for a little cultural flare. The juice is AMAZING, too!

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How to Book

Book your reservations as early as possible – as early as 180 days, if you can. Make sure at that time, you have a very solid idea on paper of what parks you plan to visit and when. Securing these meals will be the next step in solidifying the path of your itinerary. By taking this step, you open up opportunities by having access to big attractions during the parks opening hours. You can then structure your day to benefit you as the park becomes busier.

What to Do Then

There will be a specific gate for early entry that you will need to go to. I’ve learned this is often to your LEFT as you face the gates. They will let you in as early as 7:30 so you can be at the restaurant by 8:00. I don’t recommend relying on the bus to get you there at the earliest. Depending on where you are staying it may be best to use Uber or Lyft, just to ensure you don’t arrive late. Save yourself some time by having them take you to the contemporary rather than the Ticket and Transportation Center, if Magic Kingdom is your destination. From there it is just a short walk, rather than waiting for a ferry or monorail.

What’s your favorite Walt Disney World breakfast?

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