Extra Magic Hours Before Sunrise

On our last trip, our passes were blacked out the first day, and we enjoyed taking it easy and leisurely soaking up the atmosphere of the Epcot Resorts. Mama Darling had joked that she would go to the Magic Kingdom that night to see if her pass would work after midnight (the park was open until 1:00 am). Her case would be that it was technically January 2nd at midnight, and they should let her in.

I thought about it for a millisecond, but then came up with a more do-able plan for the next day. I noticed that MK had Extra Magic Hours at 7:00 am, and I thought why not? It would require getting up super early, but it might be kind of fun. I let the others know my plan and set my alarm for 5:50 am with the intent to be out the door by 6:15 am (I do not take long to get ready at all). To my surprise, the bus stop had lots of others with the same game plan as me. It was comforting to see them all in their rain gear (it was raining lightly) and in the pitch black. It really felt like the middle of the night when our bus arrived, because it was just so dark.

We arrived at the Magic Kingdom by 6:40 am, and there really were not many people there at all. The only other times I’ve been near or in the parks this early was for the Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon. Other than that, I’ve never had the opportunity. They let us in the gates at 6:45 am, and I was easily one of the first 50 people lined up. The “Welcome Show” started promptly at 6:50 am. and it was so cool seeing it in the dark. Even the Mayor wasn’t awake yet – a Dapper Dan had to do the opening!

 

Just as they let us in I got right up front and they actually did herd the group behind a rope. Rope drop is something that I thought was no more,  but I guess they still do it after all. As we slowly walked down Main Street (still in the pitch black), it was neat to see it all lit up along with the Castle and holiday lights. I figured I better tackle the Mine Train first if I wanted to ride it. I got in line and didn’t have to wait – it took about 10 minutes to get through the whole queue. Not bad! At this point the sun was starting to rise. It was really neat to see the Magic Kingdom “wake up”.
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Next up: Peter Pan. This queue also took about 10 minutes to get through, but after that I did not wait in any lines at all. It was crazy to think that literally two days ago the park was at capacity and Space Mountain had a 180 minute wait. After Peter Pan, I made my way over to the Barnstormer and I literally had it to myself (other than a couple people in the front).  I seriously felt like I was the only person in the Storybook Circus Section of Fantasyland. After the quick Barnstormer ride, I walked onto the Tea Cups and Winnie the Pooh and rode Thunder Mountain twice in a row. I zig-zagged my way back to Fantasyland, walked onto Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, and finished up my morning on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. Check out this video, I had a whole people mover to myself as well as front row!

 

I could have stayed and done more attractions, but I decided to head back to the resort to meet up with the others. Would I do this again? Absolutely. I conquered 9 attractions in under 2 hours and was back to the Dolphin by 9:30 am. I’d say I made the most of my pass that morning!

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Beyond Neverland-Finding a Quiet Spot at the Beach Club

 

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If you’ve read our previous Beyond Neverland posts, you will know that we enjoy going to Walt Disney World even when our passes are blacked out. We love to explore everything The World has to offer outside of the theme parks.  We call this leisurely exploration “Beyond Neverland.” A while back, Emily was deciding whether to book or not to book a trip New Year’s weekend, and it came as no surprise that she decided to book!  Arriving on January 1st meant that we would have a Beyond Neverland day, since our seasonal passes started up again on January 2nd.  As all of the Disney resorts were extremely expensive this weekend, she was able to get a more reasonable rate at the Dolphin Resort.

When we checked in on New Year’s Day our room wasn’t ready yet, so we ate lunch at the Dolphin’s quick service restaurant, Picabu, and set off to tour the all the resorts in the area. We were happy that the Christmas decorations were still up at the Boardwalk, and Yacht & Beach Club. We strolled around all the resorts, taking in all the festive touches.

We happened upon a really nice spot at the Beach Club called the Solarium. It is a lovely, quiet light-filled room where you can sit in a comfy chair and read a book or play games that are sometimes scheduled there. There is also a flat screen TV, which had a football game on at the time, although the volume was either low or off entirely. The architecture and decor reminded me of being at a Cape Cod beach house.

Walking down the hallway which led to the Solarium, we enjoyed viewing the paintings that lined the walls and found hidden Mickeys in each of them.

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It’s these type of activities that we really love to do, to slow down and explore the details and incredible theming that surrounds you. This experience definitely fit in with our philosophy-that there is always something new to experience at Walt Disney World, no matter how many times you go. And when you slow down, there is so much more to enjoy.