Last week while pumping gas at our local Quik Trip, I had a moment. The pavement was damp from an early morning shower, the sun was rising and casting long shadows between the gas pumps, and the audio speakers were playing a catchy toe-tapping tune. Customers were moving about in preparation of the full day ahead. Absurdly, I was reminded of all the emotions that stir within in me during a morning in the Walt Disney World parks.
I completely adore the ambiance of the Disney parks at rope drop. The air is fresh and full of anticipation. The concrete paths and park benches are sparkling and freshly washed, subtle smells of waffle cones and coffee are filtering out from the Main Street Bakery, and the sounds of stately big bands are drifting in the air. Families are well rested and eagerly planning their touring strategies. The majority of my favorite Disney memories have been made in the early morning hours.
Much has been documented about the benefits of arriving at the parks prior to opening time, or rope drop, so that your party can rush to ride the headliners without a wait. While that is true and a very excellent strategy for cutting wait times, I challenge you to pause and enjoy the wonder and anticipation that is the morning in a Disney park. Spend a moment engaging cast members who are cheerily lining walkways and greeting guests with large Mickey-gloved waves. Hop on a trolley or listen to the Dapper Dans perform their barbershop quartet ditties. Marvel at the vast variety of cultures and languages that are represented in the World. Pause for a complete group photo by one of Disney’s photopass photographers, or spend time practicing your own photography skills capturing the animals in their early morning routines in the Oasis at Animal Kingdom. It’s the subtle details of the experience that separate Disney World from other theme parks. Take time to notice the differences.
The epitome of Disney morning excitement is the Magic Kingdom Opening Show. Sure, you can cram yourself under the train track tunnel so that you are the very first guest admitted into the park, but you will miss the view and festivities that take place above at the train station. At approximately 10 minutes prior to the announced park opening time, the Mayor of Main Street appears on the train station platform to welcome all guests to a day of wonder and excitement. He is then joined with a cast of dancers and singers who perform a welcoming number in Hoop Dee Doo Review style immediately before a collection of adored characters arrive on the Disney World steam powered engine. Upon the train’s arrival, there is much celebration of the park’s opening with fireworks and confetti. As the guests are welcomed to begin streaming into the park, the characters exit the train station and walk along Main Street to the various lands to begin their meet and greet duties. I was a five year old again when Peter Pan and Wendy went skipping past me. Immediately after, I joined pace with Aladdin and Jasmine on the route to Adventureland and eavesdropped upon their conversation about the latest items for sale in Agrabah Bazaar.
Each family colors a trip to Walt Disney World with its own personality and touring style. Although in the past my family approached touring with a must-be-conquered mentality, recent lifestyle changes have compelled us to tour at a more leisurely pace. The adjustment has been such a wonderful addition to our Disney experience, I wonder what took us so long to slow down.