Hollywood Studios Early Entry and Rope Drop Strategy

Rope Drop crowds in Hollywood Studios.
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The crowds are moving quickly to the most popular attractions during Rope Drop in Hollywood Studios.

(Photo by Bayley Clark for magicalguides.com)

Hollywood Studios is a Walt Disney World Park full of exciting attractions. Some of the most popular rides in the whole of Disney World can be found here! The downside is Hollywood Studios is one of the smallest Disney Parks so can get quite busy.

If you are not a morning person like me, it can be hard to want to wake up early on vacation. The first time my husband finally convinced me to get up on vacation, we rope dropped Hollywood Studios.

I was skeptical that missing a couple of hours of precious sleep would be worth it. I also liked to take my time and slowly sip my coffee to come to life in the morning, especially on vacation.

We entered the park early and rode Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, Slinky Dog, Rise of the Resistance, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway before 11am. This gave us plenty of time to sip some coffee and seek out characters mid-day.

Hollywood Studios has quite a few newer attractions and thrill rides that typically have long lines. This was the perfect park for a first time rope dropper to explore. I am officially convinced that rope drop is the only way to do Disney.

So how can you maximize your day? The insider trick is to make sure you rope drop Hollywood Studios!

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. Seems simple enough right? But did you know the Disney Parks opening time is before the listed time?

Many people believe that when Disney states Hollywood Studios opens at 9am that this would mean that is the time the gates open. But this is wrong! 9am is the time the rides start operating. The park actually opens up to 30 minutes before this time.

The term rope drop comes from when people that had been let into the parks before the official opening time would be held in the hub until the other areas of the park were opened. Cast members would be holding a rope to keep guests out of the areas that were not yet open.

When the clock struck the hour the cast members would drop the rope. The dropping of the rope doesn’t happen so often anymore but the term rope drop has forever become part of the Disney lexicon!

Hollywood Sudios Rope Drop
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Hollywood Studios early in the morning as we get on Slinky Dog Dash

(Photo by Bayley Clark / magicalguides.com)

Knowing about rope drop is one of the key advantages any guest to Disney World can have! Now you are on the inside of this handy information let’s learn the ins and outs of rope drop and the best strategies for you to maximize your time at Hollywood Studios!

What Time Should You Arrive for Rope Drop?

If the Disney World website tells you Hollywood Studios opens at 9 am this means rope drop can start any time after around 8:30 am. To try to be some of the first people in the park, and closest to the gates when they open, it is a good idea to get there around one hour before the park officially opens. When it comes to rope drop the early bird catches the worm!

Usually, Hollywood Studios will open at either 8 am or 9 am depending on the time of the year. The times do fluctuate throughout the year so be sure to check before your trip to get the correct time for you.

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/

Remember that although the gates will open around 8:30 am in the morning people will start queuing before this! Get there with plenty of time just to be close to the front of the queue.

Does Disney Still Do Rope Drop? 

Rope drop no waiting for Toy Story Mania inside of hollywood Studios.
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Toy Story Mania is walk on when you Rope Drop Hollywood Studios. (Photo by Bayley Clark/magicalguides.com)

If you’re wondering if there is a physical rope like they used to hold up, they don’t do that anymore. They do scan your pass and magic bands to let you in for early entry, and then you will still go through the normal turnstile entry after that.

When the gates to Hollywood Studios open you will be able to either head straight to the attraction you want to ride first or will be held on Hollywood Boulevard, the main street that runs between the entrance and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, full of shops and the Trolley Car Café, until the park officially opens. If this is the case it is the perfect time to take photos with fewer people in the parks!

You can also browse the shops for any souvenirs you would like, get a morning wake-up coffee, or get into the Disney spirit by grabbing items like your Mickey ears!

If you are held in the hub a great strategy is to make your way to the closest area you can to the attraction you want to head to first. That way you will be ahead of the crowd when the rest of the park opens and you can walk straight to your first attraction.

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!

Early Park Entry (and tricks to get more ride time)

In 2021 Disney launched a new feature for its resort guests. Anyone staying in a Disney World Resort would be able to enter every Disney World Park 30 minutes early. This replaced the old Extra Magic Hours system, where resort guests could get into the parks one hour early or stay two hours extra on select days.

Early Park Entry happens every day, in every park, so resort guests can enter early to any park they wish.

So how does early park entry affect rope drop? This new system effectively is rope drop, just with an official time the gates will open instead of any time after 8.30 am.

Early Park Entry basically means that day guests to Disney World, AKA people not staying in a Disney World Resort, cannot rope drop anymore. So staying at a Disney Resort now offers this big benefit to its guests!

Read more: The Best Way To Get To Universal Studios From Disney World

Disney Resort guests can enter Hollywood Studios half an hour early and just like the old rope drop sometimes the park will open just before that time to let guests in so they can be at the rides when they start operating for the day. The best strategy is to arrive at Hollywood Studios around 45 minutes to one hour before Early Park Entry starts.

Day guests will only be allowed to enter the Hollywood Studios at the official opening time. They can of course arrive early to start queueing to be some of the first day guests into the park for a slight head start and to have already walked from transportation and gotten through security before the gates open.

What is the best rope drop strategy for Hollywood Studios? (tips and tricks for early entry)

Mickey & Minnies Runaway Railway
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You should pick your target ride when you rope drop, although a new ride, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is not our first pick for Rope Drop rides (photo by Bayley Clark/magicalguides.com)

We suggest you target each land that you have a desire to do. For example, if you target Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, then you will want to do Rise of the Resistance first, followed by Smuggler’s Run.

Don’t try to do Rise of the Resistance, and then do Rock’n’Roller coaster as they are on the opposite sides of the park from each other.

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge
  • Star Wars: Millennium Falcon – Smuggler’s Run in Galaxy’s Edge
  • Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Hollywood Boulevard
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Sunset Boulevard
  • Rock’n’Roller Coaster

Lots of people use rope drop to be the first people to get onto a ride. When visiting Hollywood Studios most people will head to Galaxy’s Edge for Rise of the Resistance or Toy Story Land for Slinky Dog Dash first as these lands have the most popular attractions in the park.

If you want to escape the crowds then turn right onto Sunset Boulevard and go straight to Rock’N’Roller coaster and Tower of Terror. As many people go to Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land this area of the park can be quieter first thing in the morning and these rides are usually walk-ons!

If you are a thrill seeker this is a great idea as you can ride both these rides multiple times when they are quiet!

Read Also: How Fast Is Rock ‘n’ Roller In Disney World?

If you want to head to Toy Story Land or Galaxy’s Edge be sure to head straight there or stand as close to the routes to these lands if you are held in the hub, so you can be one of the first people in the queue. This is a great way to experience the most popular rides with shorter queue times!

Just be prepared that there still will be a queue, it just should be a shorter queue time than later in the day.

Rise of the Resistance

Rope Drop Rise of the Resistance - storm troopers standing at attention.
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Low queue times for Rise of the Resistance are the best part about Rope Drop.

(Photo by Bayley Clark/magicalguides.com)

When Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened in Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios in 2019 it quickly became one of the most popular attractions in Walt Disney World. This fully immersive, state-of-the-art attraction is a must-visit ride for most people visiting Hollywood Studios! So how can rope drop benefit you?

With the launch of Disney Genie and Individual Lightning Lanes the boarding pass is no longer required. This completely changed the game as a standby queue is now in place. This means Rise Of The Resistance is now a rope drop attraction!

Read Also: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Worth The Hype?

Knowing how to get there will give you a head start over people new to Hollywood Studios. Galaxy’s Edge is in the back left-hand side of Hollywood Studios. To get to Galaxy’s Edge walk straight down Hollywood Boulevard.

You will see Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway directly in front of you so head towards that. Once you get there turn left down Commissary Lane. You will pass by the restaurant ABC Commissary.

Follow the path around to Grand Avenue, where you will see Baseline Tap House on your right and The Muppet Fountain on your left. Walk straight forward to the entrance of Galaxy’s Edge. Once in Galaxy’s Edge Rise of the Resistance is the first attraction you will come to.

If you have the My Disney Experience app on your phone you can access a map there which is also super handy!

If you would prefer to skip the queue you can purchase a Lightning Lane Pass from 7 am if you are a Disney World Resort Guest or once the park officially opens for day guests. This is another benefit to resort, guests, as not only can you get into the parks earlier than everyone else with Extra Park Hours and can head straight for Rise of the Resistance but you also can be the first people to purchase Lightning Lane Passes before they sell out!

So should you buy a Lightning Lane Pass or rope drop Rise of the Resistance? When purchasing a Lightning Lane pass you can select a timeslot to fit in with your plans and guarantee a way to ride this attraction with a shorter queue.

This has been super popular but does cost money, and often the Lightning Lane Passes for this attraction do sell out. The price can fluctuate throughout the year but since launch, the price has been $15 per person and somedays as high as $35.

Rope drop is a way to ride this attraction with a shorter queue time (if you use these tips and get there early!) as you are one of the first people in the queue that day. It also will help you avoid paying to ride!

If you are a massive Star Wars fan why not do both? You have the option to purchase a Lightning Lane Pass for later in the day (as you will definitely want to ride this again!). But rope dropping Rise Of The Resistance means you are one of the first people of the day to experience it!

What Transportation Should You Use For Rope Drop?

Walking to Hollywood Studios for Rope Drop
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Walking to Hollywood Studios For Rope Drop from the EPCOT resorts. (Photo by Bayley Clark/magicalguides.com)

If you are staying at a Disney World Resort you can use their complimentary transportation to make your way to Hollywood Studios for rope drop.

Disney transportation is the cheapest way to get to the park but not always the quickest or most reliable. Typically Disney transportation only starts one hour before the parks open which won’t give you much time to get there in advance of rope drop.

The most reliable modes of transportation to ensure you get to Hollywood Studios in time for rope drop are driving, getting a taxi or walking from a Boardwalk Resort. The walk takes around 20 minutes as is the perfect option for people staying at the Beach Club Resort, Boardwalk Inn, Swan (or Reserve) and Dolphin, or Yacht Club Resort.

If you are using Disney Transportation, be sure to get to your stop super early so you can be one of the first people to journey that day.

Disney buses start running around one hour before Hollywood Studios opens. Try to get the earliest bus possible to get to the park in time for rope drop. 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. To avoid this aim to arrive at the bus stop 20 to 30 minutes before the first bus of the day.

Skyliner Station
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The Skyliner station at Hollywood Studios can help you rope drop Hollywood Studios if you stay on property. (photo by Bayley Clark / magicalguides.com)

The newest mode of transportation is the cable car system known as the Disney Skyliner. You are able to take the Skyliner from four Disney Resorts to Hollywood Studios. The resorts that have Skyliner stations are:

Caribbean Beach Resort is a great Skyliner Resort as you can go directly from here to Hollywood Studios. For all other resorts, you need to change lines at Caribbean Beach Resort. Be sure to factor this time requirement into your journey.

The Skyliner typically starts operating 1 hour before the parks open. As it 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 potential large queue 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 to get to Hollywood Studios in time for rope drop. Instead, you can use the Disney buses that every resort offers to save a little bit of time.

Early Park Entry is the official opening time for Disney Resort guests so transportation and car parks will be available from one hour before this time. For example, if Hollywood Studios opens for day guests at 9am but Early Park Entry starts at 8.30am you can aim to arrive by foot, car or taxi at Hollywood Studios from 7.30am. Disney transportation will start from around 7.30am.

Read Also: Is Animal Kingdom better than Hollywood Studios?

What Time Do the Parking Lots Open for Rope Drop?

The Hollywood Studios parking lot opens around one hour before the parks open. 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. Aim to arrive an hour before Hollywood Studios opens if arriving by car.

At the moment the parking lot trams for not running, although they will return to Hollywood Studios in 2022. If you arrive early in the morning so you can attend rope drop you should have a parking spot closer to the park which is fantastic news as it is a shorter walk! Be sure to give extra time to factor in the walk from the parking lot to the park.

Taxi, Uber or Lyft

For people not wanting to rely on Disney transportation to get to Hollywood Studios for rope drop you can also hire a taxi, Uber or Lyft from your hotel to the park. The parks may not always allow these car services to drop guests off super early so aim to get to the park around 1 hour before the opening time to be sure to be let in.

Why You Should Rope Drop Hollywood Studios!

  • You can take advantage of being some of the first people in the park by heading to attractions that draw the biggest crowds and be one of the first people in the queue. This means shorter waiting times!
  • You get some of the best parking spots! As you are arriving early you will get the spaces closest to the entrance.
  • You can skip all the queuing! At park opening big queues can form. Whether it be a queue at the parking booths, a queue to catch a bus to Hollywood Studios from your Disney Resort, a queue to get through security or a queue to enter the park. 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 be able to ride some attractions multiple times because they have such short queues! For example, Rock n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror often have short wait times during rope drop as many people head to Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land. Take advantage of this and 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 enjoying everything on offer with far fewer people and wait times. Enjoy the extra time that people who don’t rope drop don’t know about!

Now you know everything there is to know about rope drop at Hollywood Studios, what time to arrive, what attractions to head to and how to make the most out of your extra time in the park! So set your alarm clock and get ready to rope drop Hollywood Studios!

I hope this Hollywood Studios Rope Drop strategy guide is helpful on your next Disney vacation. Do you have a favorite ride you like to hit up first? Is there anything else we should cover on early theme park entry? Let us know in the comments below and as always have a magical day!

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