“Would you and your family help Mickey open the Magic Kingdom®?” A Cast Member was holding up a scrap of paper for me to read, her finger over her lips as if to make sure I didn’t shriek with excitement and alert all of the guests waiting around us. I nodded quickly, speechless, and that was it. My family and I were ushered through the gates of the Magic Kingdom® into our own magical experience of a lifetime! We were chosen as the Family of the Day and would “star” in the opening show we had watched so many times!
What is the Magic Kingdom Family of the Day?
Have you ever seen the Opening Ceremony at Disney’s Magic Kingdom® Theme Park? If so, you know the excitement is palpable and the energy contagious. Even those exhausted guests not accustomed to early morning wake-ups seem to perk up a bit as they crowd in front of the Main Street Railroad Station, eager to start their magical day. As the only remaining opening show at the Walt Disney World® Theme Parks, it attracts huge crowds each morning. Each ceremony features a “Family of the Day,” who is introduced to the crowds and along with Mickey, welcomes all guests to the park. Being chosen for this honor was a dream come true for me and my family, a boatload of pixie dust!
Every Family of the Day is escorted by a Cast Member, and our fairy godmother was Barbara. Barbara pulled up in the historic Main Street Fire Truck, Engine No. 71, proclaiming that this sweet ride was all ours until the opening. By this time it was about 7:15 and this is where the real fun began. Along with our own personal PhotoPass® Photographer, Barbara took us for a magical spin down Main Street USA, stopping often to snap pictures in all of the best spots in the nearly empty park.
Meeting the Mayor of Main Street
Finally back at the Main Street Station at about 7:40, we met the Mayor of Main Street, U.S.A., the Honorable Christopher George Weaver, and the dancers who welcome guests each day. In the past, the Family of the Day would ride the train from Mickey’s Toontown with many of their favorite Walt Disney World Resort® characters. However, because we were chosen while the construction of New Fantasyland was underway, the process was a little different. After the train pulled into the station and Mickey Mouse and his friends disembarked, they announced “The Melcher Family” and we walked through the train to the platform, looking out on a sea of happy faces, all waving and cheering! It was as close to a rock-star moment as any of us will likely ever have!
Extra Pixie Dust
After the ceremony was over and we said goodbye to Mickey, Barbara drove us one final time down Main Street, now crowded with people, to Cinderella Castle where she presented us with 4 Fast Passes for any attraction and a certificate for a free 8×10 PhotoPass® picture to commemorate our magical moment. I think we all spent the rest of the day in a daze, because this was no “practically perfect day,” but rather one that was perfect in every way!
Maximize your chances to be selected
There is never any guarantee that you and your family will be chosen as Family of the Day, but here are some DIStracted tips to maximize your chances:
- Arrive EARLY! We were chosen on a morning with Early Magic Hours, so the park opened at 8:00 a.m. We arrived at about 6:40 a.m. In this case, the early birds got the pixie dust!
- If you have a car, consider driving and valet parking at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Although valet parking will set you back $20.00, it is just a quick walk from the Contemporary Resort to the Magic Kingdom. If you rely on bus or monorail schedules, you may not beat the crowds, reducing your chances to be chosen.
- Look and act like you LOVE Disney. Now that certainly isn’t hard to do. My family dressed in assorted Disney shirts (my husband draws the line at matching apparel!) and were just generally excited to be there. We took some great pictures outside the gates while few other guests were around.
- Chat with the cast members. Typically there are greeters stationed outside the Magic Kingdom®, directing guests who have early dining reservations. We shared Disney Parks stories with a few cast members while we were waiting, which really made the time fly by!
- Cute kids do not hurt. Now I know not everyone has children, and I have heard stories of couples (especially honeymooners) being chosen, but the majority of families seem to have some cute kids in their party.
- If you are chosen, be enthusiastic! I could tell that part of the fun for the cast members was giving us the one-of-a-kind experience and sharing their knowledge with us. When Barbara sang “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” all four of us belted it out at the top of our lungs! Like Rapunzel, don’t be afraid to cut loose and have the “best day EVER!”
- If you are traveling with others outside your family, make sure they videotape your big moment with the big cheese. If not, scour YouTube to see if any fellow Disneyphiles may have captured your opening. I was incredibly lucky to have found a video of our family posted by another guest, so we can re-live that magic over and over! Check out the link below! Our debut is at minute 4:23!