When you start to plan your Disney World vacation you may hear many new terms, such as rope drop. So what exactly is rope drop and how does it affect your Disney trip? Now that they’ve brought back the Fast Pass in the form of Genie+ and the Lightning Lane, doing rope drop makes sense to save money.
What is Rope Drop?
Rope Drop is a Disney term for being at the gates of the Disney Park you are visiting as they open for the day.
The time that is listed as the park opening is actually the time the rides start operating, so rope drop occurs before the official opening time.
If you are early to the park and arrive for rope drop you will be able to enter the park before the official listed opening time and head straight to the attraction you want to ride first and be there for when it starts running for the day!
What Time Should You Arrive for Rope Drop?
Typically Disney will start to let you into the parks around 15 to 30 minutes before the official opening time. Be sure to get there earlier than this if you want to be some of the first people in line for the most popular rides!
These are the current opening times as listed by Disney:
- Magic Kingdom – 9am
- EPCOT – 11am
- Hollywood Studios – 9am
- Animal Kingdom – 8am
To take advantage of rope drop aim to get to the park 45 minutes to an hour before the opening time.
Rope drop can be very popular. To make the best out of it aim to get to the parks as early as you can. For example, if Magic Kingdom opens at 9am but rope drop happens at 8:30am try to get to the gates of Magic Kingdom before this time. When it comes to rope drop the early bird catches the worm!
You can check the opening time for the Disney World Parks for the dates of your trip at the Disney World website – https://www.disneyworld.disney.go.com/calendars/month/
Disney World release upcoming park hours around 11 to 12 weeks in advance.
What Time Do The Parking Lots Open For Rope Drop?
The parking lots open around 1 hour before the parks open. At the present time, with reduced capacity in the parks, the parking lots may not open until 45 minutes before the park opens. As the parks increase capacity over the coming months we should see the parking lots start to open earlier once again.
If you arrive slightly before the parking lot opens you will be able to wait at the pay booths until they open for the day. Just be warned if you arrive very early they may turn you away as they don’t want the queue for the parking lot to cause any traffic disruption. At the moment aim to arrive 45 minutes to an hour before the park opens if arriving by car.
Unlike the other Disney World Parks, Magic Kingdom’s parking lot is not directly in front of the park. Instead you need to take either a monorail, boat or bus to get to the entrance from the parking lot. If you want to rope drop Magic Kingdom be sure to add extra time to accommodate this.
Parking costs $25 a day. If you are staying at a Disney Resort you get free park parking! Everyone gets free parking at the Disney Water Parks and Disney Springs.
Top Tip! Disney parking lots are huge! Take a photo or make a note of the area you are parked in. It will often have a Disney-related name and a row number. If you have a hire car take a photo of the car and registration plate so you can easily find it at the end of the day!
What Time Does Disney Transportation Start For Rope Drop?
If you are staying at a Disney World Resort you can make use of their complimentary transportation to make your way to the parks for rope drop.
Disney buses currently start running 45 minutes to one hour before the parks open. Try to get the earliest bus possible to get there in time for rope drop. This may mean arriving at the bus stop 20 to 30 minutes before the first bus. This will help you get onto the first bus of the day so you can get to rope drop in good time.
The Disney buses run every 15 to 20 minutes and they can fill up quickly. This may mean you may need to wait for the next bus so always factor this into your plans.
If you park at the Transportation and Ticket Center, the main parking lot for Magic Kingdom, you will have the option of riding the monorail. The Magic Kingdom Express Monorail and EPCOT Monorail start operating 1 hour before park opening.
The Resort Monorail, which stops at the Polynesian Village Resort, Grand Floridian Resort and Contemporary Resort as well as Magic Kingdom, starts between 6:30 am and 7am. You may end up riding the Resort Monorail if you are heading to Magic Kingdom for rope drop as this is the monorail line that starts the earliest.
Some Disney Resorts have Disney Boats that can take you to the parks. The Grand Floridian Resort, Polynesian Village Resort, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness all have boats that go to Magic Kingdom. The BoardWalk Resorts, such as Yacht Club Resort, Beach Club Resort and BoardWalk Inn have boats that go between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Aim to get to the Resort Boats 45 minutes to an hour before park opening for rope drop.
The newest mode of Disney transportation is the Skyliner. This cable car system takes resort guests to both Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. The Disney Resorts that have Skyliner stations are:
- · Caribbean Beach Resort
- · Riviera Resort
- · Pop Century Resort
- · Art of Animation Resort
The Skyliner typically starts operating 1 hour before the parks open. Opening hours for the Skyliner are only posted at the stations so unfortunately you cannot find out the operating hours ahead of your trip. As a rule of thumb you can assume it will start boarding guests 1 hour before the park officially opens. Once you are at your Disney Resort you will be able to find out the times for the dates you are there.
The Skyliner is super popular so draws big queues! Be sure to get to your Skyliner station around 20 to 30 minutes before the start of the day to try to be some of the first people in the queue.
Because of the large waiting time to ride the Skyliner, and the need to transfer to different lines depending on which resort you are staying in, it isn’t always the best option for transportation on a rope drop day. Instead use the Disney buses that every resort offers.
What Happens At Rope Drop?
When the gates to the Disney parks open you will be able to either head straight to the attraction you want to ride first or will be held in an area of the park until the park officially opens. For example, in Magic Kingdom you will be allowed to walk down Main Street and then held at the hub in front of Cinderella Castle. This is a great time to get your castle photos with not many people around!
Sometimes the rides will open early which means if you have attended rope drop you can get on rides before the park is even officially open!
Which Attractions Should You Head For First?
If you are wanting to try to beat the queue and be one of the first people to ride the most popular attractions in each park these are the rides you should head to!
- Test Track
- Frozen Ever After
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Wars: Millennium Falcon – Smuggler’s Run
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Rock n Roller Coaster
- Avatar: Flight of Passage
- Navi River Journey
- Expedition Everest
- Kilimanjaro Safari
What Are The Benefits of Rope Drop?
- You get some of the best parking spots! As you are arriving early you will get the spaces closest to the entrance, often within walking distance to the parks. This means you save time on waiting for the parking lot tram to take you from your car to the entrance. At the moment the parking trams are temporarily suspended, so you need to factor in the extra time to walk from your car to the park. Disney World parking lots are huge so the walk can be long! By attending rope drop you will get the closest spots with the shortest distance to the entrance which is a big bonus!
- Skip the queues. At park opening big queues can form. Whether it be a queue at the parking booths, a queue to catch a bus to the parks from your Disney Resort, a queue to get through security or a queue to enter the parks. All of this takes precious time out of your day. Rope drops allows you to have all of this done and already be inside the park before it is even officially open! You may even be able to ride a couple of rides before the park is open too!
- You can take advantage of being some of the first people in the park and can head to rides that draw the biggest queues to try and beat them!
- If you have a favorite ride you may be able to ride it multiple times as the queues will be so short! This is particularly true if you go away from the most popular rides. For example, if you are in Hollywood Studios head to Rock n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror instead of Slinky Dog Dash and Smuggler’s Run. Many people will head straight to Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land but if you go to Sunset Boulevard you should find very short queues for these two thrill rides, meaning you can ride them multiple times!
- You get extra time in the parks! Many people won’t arrive at the parks until their official opening time. By that point you have already been inside the parks for up to 30 minutes. Enjoy the extra time that people who don’t rope drop don’t know about!
- Take advantage of the quieter mornings. The Disney Parks get super busy from lunchtime onwards. You can get so much done in the first few hours of the parks being open, more than any other time of the day. By attending rope drop you will make the most of your park hours as you will have already arrived at the park, cleared security and be inside the park as soon as the rides open so don’t lose any time of your day.
Now you know everything there is to know about rope drop, what time to arrive and how to make the most out of your extra time in the park!
Planning to rope drop for a couple of days of your vacation will really help you get the most out of your visit to Disney World. Being able to get so much done, even before the parks are officially open, helps you to get the most magic out of your Disney World trip!