Why You Should IGNORE Disney World’s Park Hours

When preparing for a trip to Disney World, park hours are a critical component in making sure you know exactly how to plan out your day!

Magic Kingdom

However, we’re going to pose an argument today that you should completely IGNORE those park hours!

Well, we don’t recommend you completely ignore the park hours. But we are suggesting that you take those park hours with a grain of salt!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

As it turns out, you can actually get a lot done before the parks open! If you wait until the posted park opening time to show up, you could be missing out on a golden opportunity to get a massive head start to your day. We’ve tested this theory a couple of times recently where we arrived to park an hour prior to the posted park opening time.

EPCOT Entrance

In each instance, we managed to be inside the park at least 30 minutes prior to the park opening! Not only can you walk around and take in the sights and sounds of the park, but the rides are operating prior to opening as well!

Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

When we visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios early in the morning, we were inside the park by 8:30AM on a day it was scheduled to open at 9AM! By 10:30AM, we had ridden Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (both with wait times under 15 minutes), watched Muppet Vision 3D, and we had managed to order breakfast at Ronto Roasters!

Rock n’ Roller Coaster

This experience wasn’t a fluke — it worked over at EPCOT, too! We arrived to park at EPCOT at 10AM, one hour prior to opening. That day, we were able to ride Soarin’ Around the World AND Spaceship Earth before the official park opening time at 11AM!


Not every ride would have allowed us to fit so much in first thing in the morning, however. Test Track was already at a 50 minute wait a half hour prior to park opening, and had we waited to ride Tower of Terror the day we visited Hollywood Studios, we would have been dealing with a 70 minute wait time!

Test Track

Now, we should point out that in these examples, we were able to drive ourselves to the theme parks in the morning. If you’re staying on Disney World property and need bus transportation, keep in mind that the buses begin running 45 minutes prior to park opening. If you want to be among the first guests in the park each morning, you may want to consider getting an Uber or a Lyft to the parks instead.

Mickey Mouse Bus

Be sure to keep a close watch on those wait times and be flexible with your morning plans! You may be surprised at just how much you can fit into a single morning if you show up bright and early before the park’s opening time!

Click here to read more about how much we were able to accomplish in Hollywood Studios when we arrived prior to park opening!

Do you prefer to rope drop a park or close it out at the end of the night? Let us know in the comments!


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2 Replies to “Why You Should IGNORE Disney World’s Park Hours”

  1. I suspect that some of this is due to the current situation between CV-19 and lower crowds. I’d be surprised if when things get back to “normal” and crowds increase that they are still “flexible” with rope drop times. They are just trying to avoid having large crowds gathering at the entrances.

  2. I hesitate to give this secret away, but the park buses start running from resorts about an hour and 15 minutes before park time, dropping resort guests at the park before cars are allowed through the toll booths for the lots. We personally witnessed this both at MK and AK last week, arriving at both parks from Pop Century before cars were allowed to enter the parking lots. The Skyliner works the same way from Pop for Studios as we flew directly over the toll booth and the cars being held there. So if you are one of the first at the bus or Skyliner you will have a definite and distinct advantage over anyone driving themselves.