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Which Rides Should You Pick for Early Theme Park Entry

January 12, 2022

You earn many benefits when you use Disney Vacation Club points for a Disney hotel stay.

Arguably the best of them is Early Theme Park Entry. This amenity entitles you to park admission 30 minutes before other guests. 

You should take full advantage of this perk. Otherwise, you’ll spend too much time standing in line during your park day.

So, which rides should you pick for Early Theme Park Entry? Read on to find out…

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Your instinct here is to rush to Pandora – The World of Avatar. That’s definitely a valid strategy.

After all, the two longest waits at the park on most days are Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey.

Thus far in January, Avatar Flight of Passage has averaged a wait of an hour and 45 minutes, while Na’vi River Journey has hovered around an hour. 

So, you can save a lot of time if you’re among the first in line for either attraction. 

In fact, when things break right, you can ride both before the parks have officially opened. 

Pandora – The World of Avatar (Photo: Disney Tourist Blog)

Unfortunately, other park guests realize this. So, almost everyone speed-walks to Pandora. Some even break the rules and run when cast members aren’t looking.

Those of you who want to take a different approach could ride DINOSAUR first and probably still swing by Expedition Everest before the lines grow long.

On average, DINOSAUR requires a 35-minute wait, while the roller coaster is closer to 40 minutes. 

Is that better bang for your buck? Only you can decide. I generally just follow the herd to Pandora. 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Again, you’ll find an obvious answer here. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has utilized a standby queue for only about three months now. 

Guests perceive this attraction as the ultimate in theme park design. So, its average wait time is roughly two hours and 15 minutes.

Yes, you can buy Lightning Lane instead. However, if you don’t want to spend that money, you can and should speed-walk to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

You just follow the pack on this one, as it’s the consensus choice. 

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Photo: Disney Tourist Blog)

Since I’m not a big Star Wars fan, I take a different approach. Depending on my mood, I either prioritize Slinky Dog Dash or Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

Both these attractions come with hour-long waits on average. So, I save time by knocking out either one in the morning. 

Old school DVC fans could also take the timeless approach. 

We all loved that double feature of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in the days before Star Wars Land. 

Both rides still require 50-minute waits on most days. However, you should be able to do both before the park opens, thanks to Early Theme Park Entry.


I often refer to the Big Three at EPCOT, which includes Soarin’, Test Track, and Frozen Ever After.

Alas, I may change that moniker to the Big Four now, as Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure just switched to a standby line queue.

The average wait here held around two hours during its first few days of standby lines. So, this one’s a must if you don’t want to pay for Lightning Lane.

That’s good news for DVC guests at Disney’s Beach Club Villas or Disney’s BoardWalk Villas. The France pavilion is the easiest place to reach in the World Showcase.

Test Track (Photo: Disney Tourist Blog)

Also, before you ask, YES! Disney lists Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure as available for Early Theme Park Entry!

Conversely, EPCOT used to do that obnoxious thing where it would require guests to walk around the World Showcase circle to reach the Norway pavilion. That always bugged me.

Speaking of which, Frozen Ever After has come with a 75-minute wait thus far in January. Meanwhile, Test Track has averaged about 60 minutes.

Either of those is a viable backup plan if you don’t want to fight the crowds at Ratatouille. 

Conversely, at just 35 minutes on average, Soarin’ doesn’t really justify the opportunity cost. 

I guess we have a new Big Three, as Soarin’ no longer makes the cut.

Magic Kingdom

Here’s the most intriguing discussion among the parks. Due to the sheer volume of Magic Kingdom attractions, you can do a LOT with early admission.

You could feasibly ride three or four attractions during the first hour the park is technically open. I can assure you this is currently possible.

However, your natural instinct will involve Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I’m right there with you, too. 

During my last four (!) park visits, I did this first at Rope Drop. The reason why borders on self-explanatory. This coaster has an average wait of 85 minutes.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Photo: Disney Tourist Blog)

Only four other attractions are anywhere near that level of crowding. Those rides are Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, and Splash Mountain.

Well, Splash Mountain just closed for annual maintenance, and I wouldn’t recommend it at 8 in the morning anyway. 

As for the other three, look, we all have personal preferences at Magic Kingdom. DVC fans share an emotional connection to this park.

So, if any of those rides – or anything else – feels right to you, that’s your best bet! 

Personally, we ride Haunted Mansion so much that I feel like I should pay rent there. 

If you feel the same, you can ride it at least once, if not twice, during Early Theme Park Entry. And that’s really the point here.

Do whatever makes you happiest! As long as you’re taking full advantage of this amenity, you can do no wrong!

Start planning your 2022 Disney vacation TODAY! Book your next Disney vacation visit by browsing our current DVC Confirmed Reservation Specials, or use our DVC availability tool to see if the dates for your vacation are available. From there, you can start the booking process and one of our team members will reach out to assist!

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