Have You Tried…Being the Early Bird?

This article originally appeared in Issue 4 (June 2011) of WDWNT: The Magazine.

Have you ever tried getting up early. I am talking about is getting up early, very early. Not just extra magic hours, but being one of the first people to see daylight in Walt Disney World. I know what you are thinking, you are tired enough after a long day of park hopping, and the thought of being up before anything is even open seems incredibly silly, and perhaps downright torturous. But your reward is experiencing the property in a unique way, as if you are on your own private vacation. Before the busses are running, before the kids are shouting, there is a serene quality to the resort that disappears once the turnstiles begin turning.

One of the things I love to do in the morning is go for a run. If you are vacationing in Florida in the summertime, this is an activity that you definitely want to restrict to the before 8 AM hours. Even if you are not the running type, an early morning walk can be just as enjoyable. Almost all of the resorts have enough ground to give you a decent jogging path. Some personal favorites of mine are the pathways of Fort Wilderness, and the path from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom. There is something almost creepy about seeing the entrance to the Magic Kingdom with nearly no activity (although the ever present background music has usually already started to play) beyond a small group of cast members cleaning up the pathways before the early morning onslaught. I get a friendly smile and wave, even as I jump the rope in place to prevent people from taking the (dead end) path toward the Grand Floridian (try that during peak hours.)

Many guests clamor to get in to a character breakfast in the parks, but most resorts begin serving an hour or two before park opening time. This gives you a great opportunity to enjoy a meal before the rush. Then you are all powered up and ready to go by the time most people are desperately reaching for their morning coffee. Heading back to Fort Wilderness, Trail’s End offers one of the best breakfasts on property. It’s reasonably priced, and you can almost always get a table. When you finish, it’s a quick boat ride to the Magic Kingdom entrance.

People who vacation at Walt Disney World are usually not the “lounge in a beach chair reading a book” types. Who wants to spend some very precious (and expensive) park time reading. But before the parks open is a lovely time to grab a chair on shores of the lake, or around the pool, and pick up a book (or Kindle or iPad for the tech savvy among you) and take an hour to have a relaxing read. For those of you deluxe resort fans, make a coffee and head out to your balcony. It’s a wonderfully quiet time to sit outside and relax without breaking into a sweat.

Resort pools can become quite crowded at midday, but most of them are actually open 24 hours a day. If you want to take a nice relaxing dip, or do some laps in a uncluttered pool, early morning is a great time to do it, and have a nice refreshing wake up. Do keep in mind that lifeguards are not on duty during off hours, so it is swim at your own risk (water slides will be closed during these times.)

Yes, you are on vacation. Yes, you have to wake up early all the time. But Walt Disney World is vast, and there are so many things to experience that you will appreciate any extra time you can get. Why not get an earlier start than everyone else. There is always that mid afternoon nap. Let everyone else fight the crowds and the heat. For an hour as the sun is just beginning to come up, you had the World to yourself.

Have You Tried…Being the Early Bird? was last updated December 22nd, 2013 by Michael Truskowski