DW Dads Best of 2013: The Importance of Rope Drop

Happy Holidays!

As we wind down 2013, we are taking a look back at some of our most popular articles from the past several months. Over the next couple of weeks, we will re-share these tips and tricks, so our newest fans can check them out, or so those of you who have been with us from the beginning can check them out again!

Today’s article is from September 10, 2013 and it discusses the value of getting to the parks at opening time.  Enjoy!

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.

First people (actually, only people) in line at Hollywood Studios!
First people (actually, only people) in line at Hollywood Studios!

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…

Magic Kingdom Welcome Show
Magic Kingdom Welcome Show

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.

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Disney’s Hidden Gems: Pinocchio Village Haus

Most of us are familiar with the most popular “headliner” rides at Disney’s theme parks; after all they are probably the main reason for visiting the parks. In this series, however, I focus on some of the lesser known things to do inside the parks.

 

pinocchio_village_hausThere is a quaint counter-service restaurant in Disney World that is tucked away in the corner of Fantasyland called Pinocchio Village Haus.  Although it is a fairly popular counter-service restaurant, there are a few things that classify this eatery as a “Hidden Gem” to DWDads.   The first thing you will notice about this restaurant is the décor. With carved wooden chairs and exposed beams, this dining hall gives you the feel that you are at home in a quaint European Alpine village.  Colorful stained glass windows surround the dining room and hand-painted frescos from Disney’s animated classic “Pinocchio” adorn the hallways and side dining rooms.

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Photo courtesy of Disney.com

The menu is simple with items including salads, personal flatbread pizzas, chicken nuggets and meatball and Italian sandwiches but it is easy to find something for everyone in your party.  All of the meals on the menu are 1 counter service credit on the Disney Dining Plan but the items are moderately priced for those paying out of pocket.

The real treats of this restaurant though, lie in some of the select seating options your party could enjoy.  Up on the second floor at the top of the stairs on the right hand side, there are about 5-6 tables that overlook the boarding area of it’s a small world.  IMG_1746

As your family enjoys their meal, you can watch and wave to other Disney families enjoying one of the original Disney rides designed by Walt himself.  The cast members will occasionally hand out signs to young guests to hold up to the window with messages (like “Do the Chicken Dance”) for the other guests in the ride queue.  If the weather is nice there is also seating on the balcony outside overlooking Fantasyland.  Since all of the seating is self-serve, you may have to wait or get lucky or go during off hours to get these seats.DSC_0180

blue-fairy-wish-book-pinocchio-village-haus-11Another feature of this restaurant that you don’t want to miss is making your wish to The Blue Fairy in the Book of Wishes.  Look for the soft blue glow of The Blue Fairy window (pictured right) which is just to the left as you enter the main dining room on the first floor, and beneath the window you will find the Book of Wishes (see below).   Here in this book, guests write down their wishes hoping The Blue Fairy will grant their wish.   Given the power of the Blue Fairy and the magic of Disney, guests are bound to have their dreams come true.

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Enchanted Tales with Belle

Background

Although the attraction has been open to visitors for almost a year now, Enchanted Tales with Belle (ETwB) continues to draw large crowds daily in New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.  Due to the nature of the experience and its popularity, wait times for this attraction start building early in the morning and are consistently 30-40 minutes or more throughout the day, even on less crowded days.  If you do not select this attraction in the newly implemented Fast Pass + program, DWDads suggests making ETwB your first stop after rope drop to avoid the impending large crowds later in the day.

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Photo courtesy of Disney.com

 What to Expect

If you have not already watched a walkthrough on YouTube, we do NOT recommend doing so.  We recommend experiencing the magic of this attraction LIVE,  but if you feel like you MUST, then Be Our Guest. (See what we did there?) 

You approach Belle’s cottage, through Fantasyland Forest and you can see it is a tiny little home. The majority of the ride queue is outdoors,  wind your way closer take notice of the beautiful details of Belle’s cottage,   Only about 30-40 people are admitted at a time, the line tends to move in spurts.  Once your party makes its way into the entrance of Belle’s cottage, you are immediately transformed into Belle‘s world.   You feel like you are in her family home from the movie.  Although my boys loved the checkerboard and mugs in the center of the room, make sure you take the time to pick out some of the details that the imagineers used to immerse you into Belle’s childhood home.

IMG_0557After you move your way through the living room area – you’ll enter Maurice’s workshop at the back of the cottage. Every inch of the room is covered with inventions and gadgets that Maurice has been working on in his shop.  Then magically a door appears before you and you are whisked away into the parlor where you are greeted with an amazing piece of animatronics Madame Wardrobe.

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Here with the help of a wonderful Cast Member Madame Wardrobe explains that we are to surprise Belle by re-telling the story of how Belle and Beast met.  Props are then given out to guests who volunteer to play parts in the telling of the story.  After roles are all given out Lumiere then calls everyone to gather in Beast’s library.  Lumiere is one of the most impressive displays of animatronics around.  Seeing this character come to life is reason enough to visit the attraction.

4142048003241420480035Once in the library those with roles gather in the front around Lumiere, while the rest of the audience sits on comfortable benches around the room.  Lumiere calls Belle (live person) into the room and together they direct a small show with each of the guest volunteers playing a special part in the show. A photopass photographer captures all of the great moments of the show, and every guest that plays a role in the show, is given a chance to meet Belle and take a quick photo.  Belle is then rushed out to meet Beast at a ball, but every member that played a part is given a bookmark as a memento of the occasion.

These bookmarks, along with the photopass photos, make this attraction a memorable one.

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Disney World News and Rumors Round-Up

Here are some recent news items and rumors from around Disney World concerning new attractions or experiences coming to the parks.  We’ll keep you updated if any of these rumors come to fruition.

Magic Kingdom

News: Princess Fairytale Hall to open this fall.
Taking over the spot once occupied by Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Princess Fairytale Hall will be the official meet-and-greet area of the princesses in New Fantasyland.

News: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to open in 2014
A new major attraction is being built right in the middle of Fantasyland.  The Mine Train is a roller coaster/dark ride mash-up that promises innovative new ride vehicles that sway with the movement of the train.

Photo by Disney

Concept art for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Photo copyrighted by Disney.

Epcot

Rumor: Imagination Pavilion Renovation
There is a rumor going around that the Imagination Pavilion, currently home to a less-than-stellar Journey into Imagination with Figment and Captain EO, will be closing for a year-long overhaul.  Rumors further suggest that the pavilion’s main resident, Figment, may be replaced by Phineas and Ferb.  However, at the D23 Expo, Bob Iger seemed to hint that Figment isn’t going away anytime soon.

Hollywood Studios

Rumor: Star Wars Land
This is the strongest rumor currently make its way around Disney fansites.  The rumor suggests that Hollywood Studios, the park most in need of an overhaul, would become home to a new land themed after Disney’s newest acquistion, Star Wars.  This land may be located in one of a couple of spots located near the current Star Tours attraction and it may include rides, shows or dining. Imagineering teased future Star Wars projects in its pavilion at the D23 Expo.

Rumor: Cars Land
This was once the strongest rumor concerning Hollywood Studios, but it has begun to fade a bit.  This one suggests that it is finally time for the Backlot Tour and Lights, Motors, Action to leave the park and make way for a major import from the West Coast: Cars Land.  This rumor caught a little more steam when some Disney officials who oversaw the creation of Cars Land in Disney’s California Adventure were relocated to the Orlando park.  Again, this rumor isn’t as strong as it once was.

Animal Kingdom

News: Festival of the Lion King moving to a new theater in 2014
A new theater is being built for the fan-favorite Festival of the Lion King. The theater will be located in the Africa section of the park, a fitting spot for the show.  Once the move is complete, Camp Minnie-Mickey, the land that currently houses the show, will have no active attractions. This will evidently lead way to…

News/Rumor: AVATAR land
It was announced several years ago that Disney was working with James Cameron to develop attractions based on his hit film Avatar.  There hasn’t been much of anything revealed since then.  At the D23 Expo, Imagineers had a section of their pavilion devoted to their findings from a group research trip to the planet of Pandora.  With Camp Minnie-Mickey essentially closing, the stage is set for construction to begin soon; however, there is no timetable for this new land.

Downtown Disney

News: Disney Springs
Downtown Disney is receiving a complete overhaul and is being re-themed as Disney Springs. Many stores and restaurants will remain, but new areas are being built and new parking garages are being constructed to make way for more new retail space.  The story of the new area concerns a town (Disney Springs) popping up and developing in an area where natural springs were once found.  Water should feature prominently in the new design.  While Disney Springs will open in phases, it is not expected to be complete until 2016.

Disney Springs concept art. These areas are called Town Center and the Landing. Photo copyrighted by Disney.

Disney Springs concept art. These areas are called Town Center and the Landing. Photo copyrighted by Disney.

Resorts

News: Villas at the Grand Floridian opening in October
Disney’s newest Disney Vacation Club offering is opening in October of this year.  Based on future occupancy, it is already a very popular choice.

Rumor: Polynesian to get a DVC addition
The Polynesian is the next resort to have DVC villas added onto it, according to rumors.  These additions may include bungalows that sit on the water.  If true, this project will take several years to complete.