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How to Conquer Rope Drop at Walt Disney World

Rope Drop is probably a term you will only ever hear at Walt Disney World. The term is used to describe the opening of one of the theme parks for the day. While ropes are no longer a pre-requisite, there was a time when ropes were put up to prevent guests from entering the parks before they opened. Ropes are still used throughout the parks to prevent guests from getting into certain areas before official opening. Those rope are not necessarily dropped, rather they are moved out of the way. But the name has stuck! Conquering Rope Drop can mean all the difference in the world when it comes to riding the rides you want with little to no wait. Doing it right can be tricky, however. In this post, we will show you how to conquer rope drop at any of the four Disney World theme parks.

Rope Drop Begins Before Park Opening

So let’s say the park opens at 9. You’re probably thinking “ok, I’ll get there around 9 then. That should be good.” While that might seem logical, the rope drop process begins much earlier than the official opening time itself. There could be hundreds if not a thousand (or more!) people in front of you if you arrive at the exact time of park opening.

Guests begin lining up almost an hour before the park opens. For the most part, they are held at the turnstiles until a few minutes before the official time hits. The Magic Kingdom probably lets you into the actual park the earliest out of any of the theme parks. “Let the Magic Begin” is a welcome show done only at Magic Kingdom. It begins five minutes before the park opens and its ending signifies that the park has officially opened for the day. Because of this guests are allowed to scan their tickets and enter 15 sometimes 20 minutes before.

With each passing minute, more people will begin to arrive. More buses will show up. More ferries and more monorails will arrive with lots of guests from the Ticketing and Transportation Center. The later you get there the greater the number of people who will be in the park before you. So start things off right. Plan to arrive 30-45 minutes before the park opens. If you are staying at a Disney hotel, you are told that buses will begin to depart around 45 minutes before the park opens. This is typically correct but they can come later and they can come earlier. Forty-five minutes is a good baseline. But plan to arrive at your resort bus stop about an hour before the park opens.

*WDW Opinion Pro Tip! Be sure to check bus arrival times via the My Disney Experience app. Currently, you can only access this when you have a resort reservation linked to your account.*

Know Where You Want to Go Before You Arrive

You’ve gotten to the park 30-45 minutes prior to opening. Great! Now, where are you going to go? This is where you begin to prioritize your day. What is your number one must do attraction? Whatever it is head that way. Most of the parks are pretty straightforward. Stick to the right or stick to the left depending on where you want to go. Magic Kingdom is a little different. The Castle is closed in the morning so you will have to go out to one of the land entrances. Fantasyland is up on your right (even though it looks like you’re going straight into Tomorrowland). When in doubt ask a Cast Member!

Knowing where you want to go means you will be able to make a beeline for the attraction’s location once you enter the park. Also, start thinking about where you want to go after your first ride. If you arrive early you’ll be able to knock out the first attraction fairly quickly. As the stragglers continue to enter the park and go for their first ride you’ll be able to head to your second. And then third and so on.

Pair Fastpass+ With Rope Drop

You might think it is counterintuitive to use Fastpass+ at the beginning of the day. “Conor, didn’t you just say Rope Drop is great because of low wait times? Why would I want to use a Fastpass+ then?” It’s true. While wait times are generally low at the beginning of the day, with each passing minute they will only rise. There are some waves in the morning but for the most part wait times will increase throughout the day. Peak busy time is 12-1 p.m.

If you are able to knock out the biggest rides before then, you’ll have the majority of the afternoon to take it easy. Maybe recharge back at the hotel and then head back for nighttime festivities. Scheduling your Fastpass+ reservations in the morning will also give you a greater likelihood of being able to get a fourth Fastpass+ once your first three are used. Combining Fastpass+ with Rope Drop allows you to conquer the big attractions with the lowest wait times possible.

A trip to Disney World is what you make it. If you want to get up later that’s totally fine! Just know the later in the day you arrive at the parks the greater the length of the lines. Rope Drop is a great way to beat the slow risers to the parks and ride some of the most popular attractions with little wait. Plus the parks are always beautiful in the mornings!


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