Congratulations! You followed our advice, woke up at the crack of dawn on your vacation, got ready quickly, navigated some form of transportation to one of the Walt Disney World theme parks, made it through security and the turnstiles, and are now poised at the front of the crowd of people ready for Rope Drop!
But after all that hurry up, now you just have to… wait. It could be around 30-60 minutes depending on your determination to beat the rush and what time Disney decides to drop the proverbial rope that particular day. So, what are you supposed to do with all that time?
Instead of feeling like you are just waiting around, you can actually be very productive during this time. If you do the following things while waiting for Rope Drop, it will allow you to sleep in as long as possible, be at the front of the pack so you stay ahead of the crowds, and still have time to do everything you need to get ready for your fun-filled day at the parks.
1) Pick up a celebration button.
If you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, graduation, family reunion, first visit, or pretty much anything else, you can collect a free celebration button. These adorable buttons are available at Guest Relations, located at the front of each park, or at most retail locations, so try popping in one of the shops along your way to ask for one. Then you can wear your button with pride throughout the rest of the day and Cast Members will wish you well!
2) Take some photos.
This is likely the emptiest the park will be during your visit, so take advantage of the uncrowded views of Cinderella Castle, the Tree of Life, etc. and snap a few group photos or selfies now. Disney PhotoPass photographers will also be ready and in position at this time to take some pictures for you. My advice is to take a few quick photos, but not spend so much time that you let a lot of the crowd coming through the gates get ahead of you. It is a fine line!
3) Apply sunscreen.
Sure, you could spend time doing this at your hotel, but why bother when you know you’re going to be waiting for a while once you arrive at the parks? It is extremely important to keep applying sunscreen throughout the day, so you should plan to bring a bottle with you anyway. Once you secure your spot along the rope, start passing it around for everyone to slather up. It is best not to use the spray sunscreen if you are applying in a crowded area, as a courtesy to those around you.
4) Eat breakfast.
Pack some easy, transportable breakfast items from home, or pick some up from a grocery store when you arrive. Have everyone pick out a few things to bring with them to the parks each morning. Then, once you are through the turnstiles, fuel up while you wait. This saves so much time compared to cooking breakfast or dining at your hotel. Good items to consider include Pop Tarts, dry cereal, granola bars, mini muffins or donuts, or whole fruits like bananas or apples. Make sure to drink some water too!
5) Review your Touring Plan.
Just in case you aren’t crazy like me, and you don’t have your entire plan memorized, this is a good time to pull out your Lines app or printed plan and review it. It is super helpful to at least know your first few steps for the day, so you don’t have to keep constantly checking, especially during the morning rush. Then every time you pause for a break throughout the day, check your plan again so you know what is coming up.
6) Review the park map.
If you are not very familiar with the layout of the park or attractions, take a few minutes to review the park map and figure out how to get from place to place. There may be multiple routes you can take! You can pick up a paper map (which make fun souvenirs) at the front of the park or use the My Disney Experience app to start exploring. Show kids the map as well and point out different things you will see throughout the day.
7) Use the bathroom.
Now is a good time for one last pit stop before the touring begins. It is ideal if you don’t have to stop during the first few steps of your plan to use the bathroom, so you can get from one attraction to the next faster and stay ahead of the crowds. Have one member of your party hold your place at the front of the rope while you take turns visiting the facilities. Check your map or ask a Cast Member to find the closest location.
8) Play a game.
If you’ve done all this and are still waiting… I applaud your commitment to getting up early! You are a Touring Plans rock star! To help pass the remaining time, try playing a game. Something my family likes to do is go around the group and name a Disney character for every letter of the alphabet. You could also go around listing things to bring to Disney World from A to Z. Other fun and easy games you can play include I Spy, 20 Questions, or Heads Up! (via an app on your smart phone).
Not everything listed may be practical for you based on your group’s needs, but hopefully you can do at least a few of these things to help you make the most of your time waiting for Rope Drop, and get your magical day at Walt Disney World started off on the right foot!
What do you do while you wait for Rope Drop? Let us know in the comments.