I love early mornings and late nights at Walt Disney World. Pre-park opening breakfasts, Extra Magic Hours, and post-closing watching the Kiss Goodnight are all among my favorite times in Magic Kingdom. This much is probably obvious if you read our posts last year from before sunrise in Magic Kingdom or during the halcyon days of Extra, Extra Magic Hours.
We try to visit Walt Disney World for these early morning hours whenever possible, as there’s truly something special about them. We’d likewise again behoove you to get up for sunrise during your WDW vacation at least once–even if you can’t go to a park, at least stroll around your resort.
While I absolutely love the serene atmosphere in Magic Kingdom during early mornings and late nights, a big part of the appeal for me is photography. Whether it be colorful sunrise clouds, the warm glow of golden hour, or the sun-kissed park dabbled with morning light. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last decade chasing sunrise scenes of the parks, but still have a few white whales…
On a recent morning, we arrived to Magic Kingdom around 7:15 am for a pre-park opening (or “PPO” as it’s known amongst WDW fans) Advance Dining Reservation (…or “ADR” as it’s known amongst WDW fans 😉 ). Our first bit of good luck was that it was a gorgeous morning. A vibrant blue sky and wispy clouds–a far cry from the foggy and overcast mornings that have defined our recent boarding pass dashes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
We were allowed into the turnstiles (there are separate ones for guests with PPO ADRs), and directed to the right tunnel under the train station shortly thereafter. As we arrived super early, we were among the first guests congregating in this spot. At 7:45 am, a Cast Member allowed us and a small crowd of maybe ~100 other guests to enter Magic Kingdom for our ADRs.
Having one photo in mind, I made a beeline for Town Square and the Sharing the Magic statue. I’ve tried for this shot more times that I can count, but it’s never worked out. It requires perfect luck. Being faster than the other guests racing up Main Street, PhotoPass not already occupying the spot, no Cast Members immediately in front of the statue, and so on. It’s a wide shot that basically requires a perfect confluence of circumstances…
I only had a fraction of a second to frame and capture this photo before a horde of speed-walking guests appeared in the right corner of the frame. It’s a tougher shot than it probably looks, with symmetry and the angle being key. I’m probably overly excited about this, and most of you don’t actually care. However, after losing some of my fire for photography, it’s stuff like this that helps revitalize my passion. Anyway, just thought I’d share that anecdote.
I didn’t hesitate after crossing that off the list, racing back up Main Street and all around the Central Plaza to capture photos before the influx of guests. I managed a handful of other empty Magic Kingdom photos, but am pretty happy with what I was able to capture in those fleeting minutes.
As we stress in our Pre-Park Opening Breakfast Strategy for Walt Disney World, the window here can be very narrow. This is especially true in Magic Kingdom, where day guests are allowed to enter shortly after PPO breakfast guests. However, it’s still a great opportunity for photos, and there are always PhotoPass Cast Members out to take empty park portraits.
Those are arguably the best vacation memories you’ll capture, and our view has always been that the photos alone are almost worth the price of the PPO ADR. Your mileage may vary on that, but even all these years later, some of my favorite photos and most vivid memories from our honeymoon are pre-park opening shots before breakfast at Crystal Palace.
Moving on to the actual purpose of our pre-park opening breakfast at Magic Kingdom–our ADR at Plaza Restaurant.
Even after taking photos around Main Street, we were among the first guests seated at Plaza Restaurant. We’ve long praised this dining option as being a “Counter Service+” restaurant, meaning that it’s a table service experience at near counter service prices.
Unfortunately, that’s no longer true for lunch or dinner.
Our last dinner at Plaza was a few months ago…and literally right before I got ready to post another review, they updated the menu and removed everything we ordered. Cool. (For what it’s worth, the food was good but the overall experience was not–we’re in no rush to return for lunch or dinner.)
Fortunately, the breakfast at Plaza Restaurant is superb. A bit overpriced, but still within the general realm of reasonable–especially if you factor in the pre-park opening value.
Above is a look at the breakfast menu at Plaza Restaurant. We opted to order the two most interesting entrees…
I ordered the Steak and Eggs: 10-oz Strip Steak with Two Scrambled Eggs served with Breakfast Potatoes and Buttermilk Biscuit.
This was solid–good but not great. I’ve had exceptional luck with steak for breakfast at Walt Disney World recently, but this did not continue that trend.
The cut was clearly lower quality, and while it was properly-prepared, it was only fine. It was also on the small side–the online menu claims it’s 10 ounces, but the paper menu in the restaurant omits this detail (I assume its size has been reduced; there’s no way this was 10 ounces.)
In any case, the whole package of the Steak and Eggs entree was pretty good. The eggs, potatoes, and biscuit rounded out the plate nicely and made this a hearty and sufficiently filling way to start the day.
Sarah ordered the Lobster-Fried Green Tomato Eggs Benedict: Crispy-fried Green Tomatoes topped with Poached Eggs, Lobster, and Hollandaise Sauce.
Everything about this was flawless. The eggs were poached to perfection, the lobster was delicate, and the fried green tomatoes provided just the right texture and tanginess to the dish. The portion of lobster wasn’t quite as abundant as we would’ve liked, but it wasn’t meager, either. We’d absolutely order this again.
While we enjoyed our meal and savored every bite, breakfast at Plaza Restaurant was incredibly efficient. This first seating was also incredibly peaceful, with morning sun flittering in the windows and the seating area, which is often overcrowded for lunch and dinner, being mostly empty.
We had a chance to appreciate the Art Nouveau details and flourishes of Plaza Restaurant’s seating area, and savored the small town atmosphere. A breakfast like this is unquestionably the best way to experience Plaza Restaurant.
We managed to get out the door by 8:40 am (we weren’t rushed–we could’ve lingered), which would’ve still given us to pretty decent spot for rope dropping Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Instead, we simply watched the Welcome Show and wandered around taking more photos before rope dropping the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. (Priorities.)
It should be stressed that neither Crystal Palace nor Plaza Restaurant offer a rope drop advantage when it comes to pre-park opening breakfast. If you’re considering this for strategic purposes, you need to do Be Our Guest Restaurant or Cinderella’s Royal Table. Those are also better from a photo perspective, as they offer you the run of Fantasyland, too.
Plaza Restaurant is also not a particularly good option if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. Our entrees were not cheap, but they were not that pricey. The best Disney Dining Plan bang for buck (by far) is going to be the breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant, which only costs one counter service credit. (With that said, we’re not huge fans of Be Our Guest Restaurant’s breakfast.)
Ultimately, the audience for it might be fairly narrow, but we absolutely loved our experience with Plaza Restaurant. Being among the first guests to step foot onto Main Street is something special, and this is the cheapest way to get that if you’re paying out of pocket. Viewed in isolation, the meal was pretty good and although it wasn’t inexpensive, it also wasn’t a rip-off. All in all, it was the perfect pre-park opening breakfast at Magic Kingdom–and one we will likely do again sooner rather than later!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Have you dined at Plaza Restaurant recently? What did you think of the food? What about pre-park opening breakfast in Magic Kingdom? Do you think it’s worth doing at least once? Where’d you dine? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!