How Does Magic Kingdom Pick The Family of the Day?


Q: How does Magic Kingdom pick their family of the day? 

A: If you’re planning your first visit to the Walt Disney World you’ve probably seen Disney-regulars extolling the virtues of Magic Kingdom’s morning Rope Drop ceremony.  Held daily just before the Magic Kingdom opens it’s gates to the public, this delightful opening show is Disney’s way of saying “Good Morning” (literally).  There’s a steam train filled with much-loved Disney characters, a brilliant musical number that sets a joyful tone for the day (don’t want to give too much away and spoil the surprise), and the Mayor comes out to officially open the park and welcome you to the Magic Kingdom.

For my family, a trip to Walt Disney World just wouldn’t be complete without this opening ceremony, and like the Kiss Goodnight that closes the park each evening, I feel myself get emotional every time. It is definitely worth hopping on your resort buses an hour before park opening to make sure you arrive at the Magic Kingdom early enough to experience Rope Drop at least once during your time at Disney.

Rope Drop veterans will also tell you that every morning a Family of the Day is selected to join Mickey and friends to officially open the park. Hand-picked from the crowd of eager Disney visitors,  this family gets to arrive via steam train with Mickey and friends, disembark at the train station, wave to the crowds and get up close and personal with some of their favorite Disney characters.  Who knows what other fantastic experiences await them behind the scenes – it’s become the stuff of Disney lore.

But how exactly does Disney pick the Family of the Day? Though there is no clear answer, the internet is filled with posts from families who have held this coveted role.  Here are a few suggestions based on their experiences about ways that you may increase your chances of joining this elite group of Disney-loving families.

1) Arrive to the Magic Kingdom very early.  It’s no secret that the Family of the Day is usually hand-picked each morning from the families that arrive early.  After all, Disney needs time to bring you into the park, explain the opening ceremony, walk you through your role etc.  This cannot be done 10 minutes before the park opens. I recommend getting to the park at least an hour early.  You’ll find the entrance to the Magic Kingdom to be pretty empty at this point except for other families hoping to get picked!

2) Don’t have an early morning dining reservation.  It would be pretty difficult for you to be a part of Magic Kingdom’s Rope Drop ceremony if you are also meant to be having breakfast at Be Our Guest.  In the morning you’ll find a separate line for those entering the park early to have breakfast,  Cast Members, I think its pretty safe to say,will not be scouting from this line to pick participants.

3) Show your Disney enthusiasm Cast Members that select the participants for Rope Drop will be looking for enthusiastic, Disney-loving families that are already having a magical time, are celebrating a family milestone or are just generally happy to be there.  The opportunity is to make a family’s amazing day even more magical.  They won’t be seeking out the families that for whatever reason already look like they are having a terrible time and the parks haven’t even opened yet.

4. Be chatty with the Cast Members – Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with some of the Cast Members that are manning the early morning crowds.  If they have an opportunity to get to know you and your family they may just think you fit the Family of the Day bill and will choose you to be a part of the magic.

5. Dress with your  Disney-side in mind.  Though I don’t believe that by not having matching Walt Disney World t-shirts you are automatically disqualified, I do think it helps to dress the part.  This also ties in with Step 3.  If you’re enthusiastic, ready to go and are so excited to be there that you are all wearing your favorite Mickey Ears or Disney t-shirts then it can only work in your favor.  That being said, I’ve seen families get picked without a bit of Disney clothing between them so its certainly just a suggestion.

6. Be Yourself.  I’ve read more than my fair share of accounts and advice on being selected as Family of the Day that say things like “It helps to have beautiful children” or “You won’t get picked if you aren’t dressed nicely.”  This Disney lady thinks that’s a load of rubbish.  I don’t think it matters what you look like, how pretty your children are or what your background is.  Its a magical surprise bestowed on any family who is having the most amazing time of their life.  Don’t think for a minute that your family can’t or shouldn’t be selected.  But at the same time, don’t be presumptuous, try too hard or feel like you’re entitled to take part in this magical experience.  If you show up hell-bent on making sure your family is selected, its usually something I as a visitor can see right through I imagine the Cast Members are seeing the same thing.

The beautiful thing about a Disney vacation is that there is always a little bit of pixie dust just around the corner.   So if Family of the Day is on your bucket list, don those Mickey t-shirts, board your resort bus early, have your cameras at the ready and give it a shot!

Good luck! And don’t forget to check back in and share your Family of the Day experiences with us.

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