Rope Drop: A term referring to the time at which a Disney theme park opens.
Making It To Rope Drop With Young Kids: The seemingly unreachable goal attempted by many enthusiastic parents visiting Disney World.
See also: crying children, stressed-out parents, the impossible dream
If you are planning a Disney World vacation you’ve probably already heard the all important tip…”If you do nothing else, you must make it to Rope Drop!” Frequent visitors to Disney World will tell you that those first two hours of the day in the parks are absolutely critical to maximizing your vacation fun. If you are anything like most of us parents after you heard this, you thought to yourself…”How the heck am I supposed to get my entire family up, ready, fed, out the door, and to the park so early in the morning? This is never going to happen!” Well, stress not, fellow parent! Follow these simple tips for an easier morning and an awesome viewing spot up front at the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show.
Now, I’m going to assume since you are a reader of TouringPlans that you are not opposed to planning. I sure hope so, because making rope drop with young kiddos in tow takes a fair amount of effort in advance. But believe me, when you walk right on Peter Pan with no wait, you’ll be so glad you did the work!
Preparing For Rope Drop Before You Leave Home
Believe it or not, making rope drop starts before you even leave home. Some good advanced prep work and packing is the key first step. Now grab yourself some Ziploc bags and let’s get busy!
To speed up the process of getting the kids dressed each morning of the vacation, pre-pack their outfits in Ziploc bags. Fill each bag with a complete outfit, including shirt, shorts, underwear, socks, and accessories. Each morning you will be able to just open up a bag and help them get dressed. This will save time wasted arguing about what to wear or searching for that missing sock. Make one “Outfit Kit” for each of your children for every day of your vacation.
If your children are still in diapers, take time at home to pre-package daily diaper supplies. First, take a gallon-size Ziploc bag and fill it with enough diapers for a day in the parks. Next, take a quart-size bag and fill it with baby wipes. Finally, take one more gallon-size bag and place inside disposable changing pads, the quart-size bag of baby wipes you just filled, hand sanitizer, diaper cream, and anything else you might need for a day’s worth of diaper changes. You’ve now made one “Diaper Kit”. Repeat the process making enough kits for every day of your vacation.
Another way to save time each morning is by having breakfast in your room. Shop at home for non-perishable food items that are easy to pack like mini cereal boxes, granola bars, or baby food. Once you have your groceries, fill one Ziploc bag for each morning of your vacation with your breakfast supplies. Don’t forget napkins, paper bowls, plastic spoons, cups, bottles, bibs, and anything else you might need for the meal. You’ve now made your “Breakfast Kits”.
Will you be bringing snacks for the kids into the parks with you each day? If so, pre-shop at home for your non-perishable treats like goldfish crackers, granola bars, raisins, 100 Calorie Packs, Go Go Squeeze, and toddler snacks. Once you have your supplies, fill a Ziploc bag of snacks for each day of your vacation. Now your “Snack Kits” are ready to go.
What about lunch, dinner, or feeding your baby? If you will be feeding your children in the parks, fill a Ziploc bag for each day of your vacation with all of the supplies you’ll need. Be sure to remember disposable placemats, bibs, wipes, kid size utensils, bottles or Sippy cups, and anything else you might need for your meals in the parks. Even if you only have enough bottles or cups for one day, go ahead and make a bag with the rest of the supplies for every day of your vacation. Once you have washed your children’s dishes each night, it will be easy to just add them to the pre-made bag. And now you have your “Meal Kits”.
The last kit to make is the emergency kit. You will only need to make one of these and hopefully, you’ll never need it! In another large Ziploc bag, place a complete outfit for each child, single doses of medications, a quart size bag filled with baby wipes, a trash bag, band-aids, and first aid cream.
All of your pre-planning is now complete. For a week long vacation, you should have:
- 7 Days of Outfit Kits (1 per child for each day)
- 7 Days of Diaper Kits (2 bags each – one of diapers and one of supplies for each child per day)
- 7 Days of Breakfast Kits
- 7 Days of Snack Kits
- 7 Days of Meal Kits
- 1 Emergency Kit
Now find yourself a big suitcase and pack it all up. Remember, a lot of what went into your “kits” are disposable items. Once you use these items during your trip, you’ll have plenty of space in this suitcase to bring home some fabulous new souvenirs.
A Rope Drop Trial Run
Most of us know how long it takes us to get ready for the day, but what you may not know is how long it will take you to get your children ready including a quick breakfast and sunscreen. While you are still at home, do a couple of trial runs and see how long it actually takes. This will be important once you are in Disney World.
The Night Before Rope Drop
You’ve done your homework, now it’s time to put the plan into action! The work you do the night before will make the morning that much easier.
- Purchase any beverages you will need for the next morning from your hotel food court or gift shop and place them in your fridge.
- Wash any dishes, Sippy cups, or bottles that you will need for the next day.
- Pack up everything you will need for your day in the parks in your diaper bag or backpack. Grab a “Diaper Kit”, “Snack Kit”, “Meal Kit” (with the freshly cleaned dishes you just washed), and the “Emergency Kit” and place them in your bag. How easy was that? See your hard work is already paying off!
- Get out or let your kids choose an “Outfit Kit” so they are ready to go in the morning.
- Open up a “Breakfast Kit” and set the table.
- Set your alarm.
You may be wondering for what time to set your alarm. Now remember that trial run you did at home to determine how long it takes to get your kiddos ready from start to finish? Well, take that amount of time, plus how long it takes you to get ready, and add on an additional 75 minutes. Subtract that total time from park opening and you’ll have the time you will be setting your alarm. For example, it takes me 45 minutes to get my boys ready, it takes me 60 minutes (I know, I’m slow), and to that I add 75 minutes travel time, for a total of three hours. If the park opens at 9:00am, I’ll be setting my alarm for 6:00am. It is true that I could try to get ready for rope drop at the same time as my kids, but it is stressful and leaves us all feeling rushed. Yes, you’ll sacrifice a little bit of sleep, but it makes for a much more peaceful morning when you’re only concentrating on one thing at a time rather than juggling getting everyone ready at once. Now get some rest, you’ll need it!
The Morning of Rope Drop
All of your preparation is going to pay off. Now it’s time for the final push!
Let’s continue on with my example. At 6:00am, my alarm goes off. After silently fantasizing about throwing it out the window (I’m not a morning person), I get out of bed and spend the next hour quietly getting ready for the day while my boys get a little extra sleep. At 7:00am, it’s their turn to get up. We go through our routine of getting dressed, doing hair, eating a quick breakfast, brushing teeth, and putting on sunscreen and shoes. The morning goes smoothly, because I can focus on them. Everything for our day in the parks was packed up the night before, and I’m all ready to go. When our morning begins well and not rushed, we are all in better moods! At 7:45am, we leave our hotel room for the bus stop. We like to be waiting at the stop at least five minutes before 8:00am. The buses generally begin running one hour before park opening or at 8:00am in our example.
Here’s another tip: If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel that has more than one bus stop, check with Guest Services to see which stop is the first for pick-up. In the morning, walk to that stop even if it is not the closest to your room. First thing in the morning, it is not uncommon for Disney buses to fill to capacity at the first couple of stops in a resort and then skip the remaining stops and instead head straight for the theme park. There is the possibility you could watch several full buses drive right by you before one with a bit of space stops to pick you up. Following this tip, my kids and I climb aboard the first bus of the day, and we are off to Magic Kingdom.
With our plan, we normally arrive about 8:30am. A quick trip through security and the gates, and we are able to enjoy the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show before entering the park at the 9:00am opening time. Our plan has been a success and yours will be too!
Final Thoughts On Making Rope Drop
Are you exhausted just reading this? Thinking that this all sounds like a lot of work? Trust me, it isn’t nearly as complicated as it might appear at first glance. Besides, as a Disney World visitor, parent, and TouringPlans reader, you are obviously already an experienced pro when it comes to planning and scheduling. In the long run, a little bit of prep work will make your mornings smoother and allow you and your kids to get to rope drop so that you can make the most of your time in the parks!
If you are looking for more Disney World tips and tricks, please check out my new book “501 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Walt Disney World Vacation“; a trusty side-kick to guide book Super Hero – “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World“!