The Opening Shows at Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom

Many of us are well aware that if you are disciplined enough to get to the Magic Kingdom before the park opens; you can see an opening ceremony.  Even better, if you arrive (extremely) early, you have a shot at being chosen for the family who is a part of this very exciting ceremony!  Impatient views are greeted by a host or hostess who will begin the ceremony fun.  The Walt Disney World Railroad transports many of your favorite characters to the show.   The chosen family is presented and the Magic Kingdom theme park is deemed officially opened for the day.  I have been able to experience this show several times and always vow that one day I will get up early enough to be the chosen family.  (Somehow I doubt it though.  It seems a bit hard on you and your family to get up early enough to possibly be chosen in hopes that other nutty Disney fans had not beaten you to the punch!)

Hollywood Studios

Along the streets of Hollywood Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, early mornings are greeted with a rope drop.  To entertain the guests as they await the official opening of the park, you will find a show presented by a producer and his nervous assistant.  The two entertainers open the park by saying, “lights, camera, action!”  The cast members who have been holding a rope and their position of keeping guests at bay walk briskly towards the Sorcerer’s Hat.  Many guests (including myself on many occasions) have found the walking cast members to be slow as I race to Toy Story Midway Mania with all the other overzealous fans.

Animal Kingdom

One year it happened.  I arrived at the Animal Kingdom early.  This is the one and only time I have ever been there before the park opened.  As we walked in the park, I was amazed at the huge gathering of guests there in the park!  As I crossed the bridge towards the Tree of Life, the crowd came to a stop.  I was amazed that a show ensued to include music and Mickey Mouse!  I was dazzled that the Mouse made an appearance and from the base of the Tree of Life!


This is my favorite park.  I have absolutely never seen a preshow at this park.  Have you seen one?  If so, please detail!

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Following the original post of this article, a reader emailed to say that if you find a cast member referred to as “Santa”.  She is a lady from the Philippines and typically can be found behind the security gates.  Only 4 people are allowed to be in the ceremony.  To be chosen, you will need to be there 90 minutes before the park opens.  Note: I have not checked these facts personally. 


Natalie Henley

I help people Meet the Magic more often through Strategies for Paying for Disney and helping people make the most of their Disney vacation.  I live in Tennessee with my husband and son. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

5 comments for “The Opening Shows at Walt Disney World

  1. Jud
    July 16, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I have seen rope drop at each park.
    At AK, I first saw it where you did, up at Discovery Island (Tree of Life) but more recently they held it just inside the gate. Then after the show, walked the crowd up each side behind a rope which continued all the way to the Safari on one side, and Everest on the other. Being in a hurry for an appointment for Wild Africa Trek, I found this extremely trying!
    At Ecpot, the rope was held up behind the Big Ball, in front of the Fountain, and a Test Trak car came out with the Family of the Day, then the Characters came out and greeted people up and down the length of the rope, then the countdown, rope removed, and the mad rush to Soaring. I suppose a couple of people headed to Test Track…

  2. July 16, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Great Post I have only scene the opening show at Disney Studios. I don’t think we have them at Disneyland Resorts.

  3. November 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I will be putting these tips on my list as well, I had no idea there were even opening ceremonies.
    Thanks for sharing

    • November 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm

      Thank you so much for your regular comments, Diane! They are much appreciated!

  4. April 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    The opening shows at Disney World are definitely worth the early hour! I always feel very special when I witness the park opening…it’s a great start to a Disney day!

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