Are you curious whether getting up early for Disney rope drop is worth it? We are here to share all of the ins-and-outs of Disney World rope drop and provide you with strategies on how to make the most of your early mornings at Disney!
There are some perks to setting that alarm and grabbing some coffee to get into the parks before they open. Visitors to Disney World have the option to do rope drop at Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom. However, just because the option is there, it does not mean you are obligated to do Disney rope drop at every park and every morning. Do not stress yourself out! With proper planning, you can develop your own schedule for rope drop.
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How To Do Disney Rope Drop And Beat The Crowds
What Is Rope Drop At Disney?
If you are not familiar with Disney World rope drop, it may sound like a fancy event. However, Disney rope drop is just the term for when Cast Members start allowing guests into various lands. Rope drop does not mean the time when guests are first allowed into the parks. Technically, the parks open in two phases. The first is when they start allowing people through the turnstiles. The other is when they start letting people line up for attractions.
Cast Members will hold a “rope” across the path in a certain part of the park to allow guests inside, but you cannot start racing toward an attraction just yet. For example, if you arrive for Magic Kingdom rope drop, you will be allowed in the park on Main Street. However, you cannot go into the various lands or get in line for attractions right away.
When it is time to officially open, you will typically see cast members walk in front of the crowd. They will hold the “rope” stretched out in order to keep guests from running to the various lands.
Ironically, the rope is not really dropped. The barrier used to keep guests behind a certain point is basically just pulled to the side to start allowing guests inside when it is time.
Does Disney Rope Drop Really Make A Difference?
Yes, doing Disney rope drop can really make a difference. The closer you are to the front of the pack, the better chance you have of getting to your first attraction with little to no line. You will see a time difference in lines within the first hour of park opening, which can be huge. In most cases, the shortest lines you will encounter on the most popular attractions will be at park opening.
For example, Touring Plans did a study of Space Mountain stand-by times on a day when the crowds were at a moderate seven, but not peak level ten. When the park opened at 9:00 AM, the wait time was only 16 minutes. By 10:00 AM, the wait time jumped to 41 minutes. By mid-day, the wait was up to 70 minutes and 3:00 PM had the longest wait times of 86 minutes.
Using Touring Plans’ example, you can see that rope drop can make a huge difference in the time you are waiting in line for your first attraction of the day.
How Early Can You Arrive For Disney World Rope Drop?
In most cases, arriving 45 minutes to an hour before park opening will work to get you in on the rope drop action. If you want to rope drop Magic Kingdom, you will definitely want to go as early as possible. Just note that any of the tips we mention here will likely not apply when it comes to Christmas Day or any other extremely crowded day.
Remember that you have to factor in transportation to the parks themselves as well. If you are headed to the Magic Kingdom, you need to allow at least 20 minutes just to get into the park from the Transportation and Ticket Center. Security lines and bag checks will also add to your wait times.
Magic Kingdom Rope Drop Strategy
Currently, Magic Kingdom is the only park that has a rope drop ceremony before the park officially opens. This is one main reason to consider setting aside a morning for Magic Kingdom rope drop. The welcome performance starts about five minutes before the park officially opens.
You will find multiple rope drop areas here, leading to five different areas. These include one at Tomorrowland, one between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, one through the castle, one to Adventureland (which also serves Frontierland), and Liberty Square (which also works for Frontierland and part of Fantasyland).
If you are not a Disney World Resort guest, you need to pay attention to what areas are open for Extra Magic Hours. You may want head for Frontierland on a day where resort guests are in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Some of the most popular rides that people arrive early for include:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Space Mountain
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Splash Mountain
- Haunted Mansion
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Jungle Cruise
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Tomorrowland Speedway
Not only are these some of the most popular rides, but they may also be hard to get a same-day FastPass+ for. They typically have the longest standby lines too. Choose your rides wisely. You want to go for the shortest attractions. The longer the ride is, the longer the wait time will be for your next attraction.
For example, you might have a FastPass+ for Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Then you could go for the Tomorrowland rope drop to get on Space Mountain first.
Another option to consider is booking an early morning breakfast reservation at Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Royal Table. Having a reservation an hour before the park opening can help ensure you are there in time for rope drop.
Epcot Rope Drop Strategy
Epcot rope drop is great for people who want to beat the crowds on popular rides like Frozen Ever After, Test Track, and Soarin’. However, remember that Epcot has two different opening times you need to be aware of. The park usually opens at 9 AM, but the World Showcase has its own opening time, which is usually at 11 AM.
It is understandable that some guests get confused with Epcot rope drop times. Frozen Ever After is in the Norway Pavilion of the World Showcase. The times guide shows that the ride opens when Epcot first opens. Guests can walk into the Norway Pavilion and Frozen Ever After does open at 9 AM. Do not make the mistake of thinking you will ride something else first and then show up before the 11 AM World Showcase rope drop for Frozen. The walk to the Norway Pavilion is longer so allow some extra time. Otherwise, rope drop at World Showcase tends to be a lot quieter than the first one of the day.
Disney fans arriving for Epcot rope drop should plan to get through the turnstile around 15 to 30 minutes before the official opening time. Cast members will lead you to the rope area in the plaza between the Innoventions buildings. When it is about 10 minutes until the park opening time, cast members will start escorting you to your first attractions.
Hollywood Studios Rope Drop Strategy
Typically, guests can enter Hollywood Studios around 30 minutes or so before official opening times. Some shops and maybe the Starbucks Trolley Car will be open for early-morning guests. On the busiest days, cast members may start letting you in even earlier. In the past, rides like Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Mania were the attractions people wanted to get on first thing.
Now that Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge has come onto the scene, it has become a gamechanger for Hollywood Studio crowds. Rise of the Resistance, opened last December to a lot of confusion and some intense crowds. Disney is using a virtual queue system to handle these crowds. It seems the park is opening hours earlier to help get everyone into the queue. If you arrive closer to the official park opening time, you are likely to find out that all of the virtual passes are gone already.
Opening weekend for Rise of the Resistance brought a lot of frustration. Cast members told guests the park would not be opening early to accommodate those wanting to join the virtual queue. Instead, Hollywood Studios opened at 5:30 AM that day, allowing the hordes of guests in to start getting their virtual place in line. By the time the park officially opened, the virtual queue was completely full. Set several early morning alarms if you are planning to join the Rise of the Resistance virtual queue, otherwise, you are bound to be disappointed.
If that is not enough going on to keep you busy, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway also just opened. It is still too early to predict how this will affect the rope drop crowds. However, it is safe to assume that people will come super early for the Rise of the Resistance virtual queue and then stay for rope drop to get on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Animal Kingdom Rope Drop Strategy
On most days, cast members will start letting guests in around 30 to 60 minutes before Animal Kingdom opens. You are allowed to walk through the Oasis to get to Discovery Island. Here you will stand at one of the ropes that lead to various lands. If you are hoping to ride Pandora, look for the area with the most people.
To get on Flight of Passage first, you really want to arrive more like 60 minutes before park opening. Disney will start letting people on about 15 to 30 minutes before park opening. This means that if you are in the front of the crowd, you might finish the ride as the park is opening. Then, you can head to another attraction with little to no line as rope drop is occurring.
Should You Rope Drop at Disney Every Day?
The answer may surprise you — no! You should not try to do rope drop every day of your Disney World vacation. Are you planning on staying into the night with the special evening Extra Magic Hour? Most guests are likely to have some late nights and just be tired the next day. You are not going to get the most out of your Disney World vacation if you are exhausted and cranky.
Choose your Disney rope days wisely. Are you attending an event like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party the night before? Is your trip longer than five days? Not every morning requires hours of standing in line. Take a few mornings to sleep in and rest up. It can do wonders for your stamina on the other days where you plan to spend the entire time in the parks.
Useful Disney Rope Drop Tips
1 — When it comes to Star Wars and Rise of the Resistance, you may find that information and procedures change regularly. Your best bet is to join some of the Disney Facebook groups, including our own Disney Trippers. Sometimes the cast members are in the dark about what is going on, or they just are not able to share information. Ask guests who were just at the park to find out the latest information.
2 — If you are headed to Hollywood Studios for rope drop and you see that Slinky Dog Dash already has a long line due to Extra Magic Hours, plan to hit another attraction first. In most cases, the line for Slinky Dog Dash will stabilize later on, so you can spend your morning riding something else.
3 — With Animal Kingdom rope drop, pathways are narrow. This can make it difficult to pass people. Getting there early is better so you are in the front of the group.
4 — With Expedition Everest, you may find it faster to go through Dinoland U.S.A. rather than waiting for the cast members to walk you through Asia and Yak and Yeti.
5 — For general Disney rope drop tips, pay attention to what type of park ticket you have. Guests who do not have a hopper ticket will need to commit to staying in that one park. Or, you can consider upgrading your ticket, which allows you to park hop.
6 — You also need to watch for Extra Magic Hours spots. Don’t arrive shortly before park opening with plans to visit a park with Extra Magic Hours. You won’t find much benefit to rope drop. Arrive before Extra Magic Hours start. Better yet, schedule that park for a different day. If you cannot get away from visiting during Extra Magic Hours, try to rope drop in a different area of the park.
Rope drop is a really personal experience. There is no right or wrong order or park choice. You need to decide what works best for your schedule and your family. The main objective is to get to the park of your choice early enough to get to the front. Don’t be afraid to ask cast members for assistance and be sure to search posts and ask questions in the Disney Trippers Facebook group. We are always here to help. We want your Disney World vacation to be the best it can be!
Planning your Walt Disney World vacation? Discover Where To Eat At Disney World by reading our restaurant reviews and suggestions. Next, check out our Disney World Crowd Calendar to see the best time of year to go to Disney and our other Disney Trip Planning Tools including Every Official Map At Walt Disney World to use when planning your trip! Finally, find out What To Wear And Pack For Disney World so that you are perfectly prepared!
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