A few weeks ago, I claimed to offer you the most important packing tip you’ll ever hear. While that may be true, that tip will probably not have the kind of overall effect on your vacation like today’s tip will. Today’s tip, though, is not without its detractors.
Rope Drop is Disney-speak for the opening of a park (for most parks, that is 9:00 AM, but it may vary by day and park). It refers to the act of “dropping the rope” that holds back the morning crowd, something that only sort of happens anymore.
Getting to a Disney Park in time for Rope Drop can seriously increase the amount of time you spend riding and can eliminate some major standing-in-line time. The problem may be that you need to be willing to do something many people just refuse to do when they are on vacation: set your alarm.
Here is one example of what you would need to do to get to the park in time for Rope Drop. Of course, depending on where you are staying and how you are getting to the park, your experience may differ slightly.
1. Set your alarm for 6:30.
2. Shower and dress and be out of your room by 7:00.
3. Breakfast at the resort and out to the bus (or other mode of transportation) by 7:30.
4. Arrive to the park entrance by about 8:15.
This can be, admittedly, a lot of work. It can be particularly hard to pull off if you stayed out late the night before or if you have a big family all trying to get out the door by 7ish. If you can do it, however, you will be rewarded. Here are some of the advantages of Rope Drop:
1. Various Opening Shows
The Magic Kingdom has a Welcome Show that everyone should make an effort to see at least once. It takes place on top of the train station and starts about 15 minutes before park opening. I don’t want to spoil the details, but I will say it is a perfect way to start a Disney day. Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom also have small opening ceremonies, but none are worth getting out of bed for. They are not, however, the most important reason to make it to Rope Drop. That would be…
2. Low Crowds
You know how you are sitting there thinking, “OK, but I don’t want to wake up early on vacation.” Well, most people actually on vacation think that too. So, while they’re sleeping in, those of us who got up early are riding the most popular rides with a fraction of the crowd that will show up by lunchtime. Don’t get me wrong, the crowd isn’t non-existent, but it really is nothing compared to how crowded it may get later in the day. Our family has had no problem knocking out every ride in Fantasyland within the first hour in July. To put that into perspective: There is a high likelihood that later in the day, one of those rides (Peter Pan’s Flight) will have a wait of almost an hour by itself. This same thing can be said for all of the parks.
3. Get the FastPasses you want…for now
While the current FastPass system is still in place, Rope Drop is the only time to get some of the most popular passes. Toy Story Mania, in Hollywood Studios, can run out of FastPasses by late morning. Get there at Rope Drop, and you’ll be riding with Buzz and Woody by the time the sleepyheads are pulling into the parking lot. The same thing can be said for Radiator Springs Racers at California Adventure.
My suggestion is to try it once and see if it is worth it for your family. Don’t try to get to the park for Rope Drop everyday; there is a good chance you’ll be miserable after a few days of answering the alarm during your vacation. Then again, it may be a small price to pay to avoid the lines that’ll appear later in the day.