A Walt Disney World Vacation is many things. Relaxing isn’t always one of them, but rewarding definitely is! To see the best of the best without spending most of your vacation in line requires adhering to the proverb of the early bird. Yes, I’m talking about rope dropping the Disney Parks. Of all the time-saving strategies and line hacks out there, nothing is as effective as rope dropping a Disney Park.
So you’ve decided to commit to rope dropping the parks at Walt Disney World. But what now? When should you arrive at the park? What rides should you ride first? Are there actually ropes that drop? Do you need FastPass+? I’m here to answer all of those questions and more in this Disney World Survival Guide for Rope Dropping the Magic Kingdom.
What is Rope Drop?
Rope drop is the term for when a park opens for the day. The name comes from ropes blocking the entrances to different lands and areas of the park until it officially opens.
Why Should You Rope Drop?
Let’s accept it. There really isn’t an off-season anymore. The parks can be just as crowded in February as they are in June or July. While FastPass+ reservations help in allowing guests to skip the lines, they can only reserve three different FastPass+ reservations in advance.
So why rope drop? Those who experience the park within the first hour of operation don’t need a FastPass+ to experience attractions with little to no waits or minimal crowds. It’s the best way to maximize your time and the magic!
Know How and When to Make Your Entrance
Park hours can vary, especially over holidays and during the most crowded times of year. When planning your rope drop morning at Magic Kingdom, be sure to check the operating hours the day before you visit. Something else to check is whether or not Magic Kingdom is offering morning Extra Magic Hours. This will have a huge impact on your plans as the park will open an hour earlier to guests staying at a Disney World Resort.
Guests arriving at the Magic Kingdom before park opening are allowed to enter to shop, take photos, and even get a coffee. However, the entrances to the park’s various lands are roped off until the Welcome Show at Cinderella Castle concludes and the park officially opens. Guests often position themselves at the ropes in order to be one of the first to experience the popular attraction of their choice for the day.
Plan How to Get There
Since time is of the essence on a rope drop morning, your choice of transportation can make or break your plans. Walt Disney World offers various forms of transportation. Although, some are quicker than others or simply may prove the better choice depending on your location.
Note: Monorails and boats are scheduled to begin operation 45 minutes before a park opens. Buses typically beginning running an hour or more before park opening. The Magic Kingdom is not accessible by Skyliner.
Those planning to drive to the Magic Kingdom should know the parking lot is not attached to the park. Instead, Magic Kingdom guests park in expansive parking lots and then can take a tram or walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) and through bag check. They then must board a Monorail, bus, or ferry boat to the park entrance. The process from parking to park entry can take up to half an hour or more, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Since buses are scheduled to arrive every 20 minutes, missing a Magic Kingdom bus on your rope drop morning means a possible 20 minute wait until the next bus. Something else to consider is how many bus stops are at your resort. Multiple stops on the way to the park adds to your travel time and can result in a full bus which can’t accept more passengers.
Two monorails whisk guests from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom. The Express Monorail to the Magic Kingdom travels a non-stop loop between the TTC and the park. However, the Resort Monorail makes stops at the Polynesian Village Resort, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary Resort, and then back to the TTC.
Guests staying at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, the Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, and the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground can take a boat to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. However, this is only if weather permits, and the boat’s don’t begin transporting guests until thirty minutes before the park opens.
The Contemporary Resort offers a short walking path to the Magic Kingdom; and a walking path from the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa to the Magic Kingdom is currently being constructed.
Guests requesting a Lyft or Uber to the Magic Kingdom will be not be dropped off at the park entrance but the TTC. They will then need to take a Monorail, bus, or ferry boat to the park’s entrance. Fortunately, there’s another option! Guests can instead Uber or Lyft to the Contemporary Resort and then take the walking path to the park entrance.
Now Disney’s Minnie Van service, which is accessed through the Lyft app, drops off guests by the park’s bus loop. This is only steps away from the park’s entrance. Prices vary depending on pick-up location and destination, but expect to pay more than an Uber or a Lyft for that Disney touch and extra convenience.
Note: Minnie Van service operates from 6:30 AM to 12:30 AM daily. Hours of operation are subject to change; guests cannot currently make reservations in advance.
Have a Plan of Attack
There are five roped-off entry points to the park’s various lands. The entry point you choose to line up at to rope drop should be based on which attraction you plan to ride first. Here are the following attractions you may want to rope drop during your day and their respective entry points to help you develop your plan of attack.
#1: Adventureland Bridge – Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
#2: Liberty Square Bridge – Peter Pan’s Flight and Haunted Mansion
#3 and #4: Cinderella Castle – Fantasyland Attractions
#5: Pathway to the Right of the Castle – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
#6: Bridge to Tomorrowland – Space Mountain
What’s the Best Plan for a Rope Drop Morning?
Have FastPass+ reservations in advance for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight. While most attractions are a walk-on within the the park’s first hour, at times Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight can top an hour wait within minutes of the park’s opening.
Waiting for one of these headliner attractions means you might miss out walking-on several attractions and taking in the experience of a nearly empty park. So if you have FastPasses for these two attractions, still go for the rope drop and experience as many Magic Kingdom rides as you can; but if you can’t get FastPasses, a rope drop morning is still your best bet for checking them off your to-do list.
Need a strategy for touring the parks during your Magic Kingdom day? Check out the variety of Magic Kingdom Touring Plans or tailor your own customized Touring Plan here!
What NOT to Do on a Rope Drop Morning
Do NOT book FastPass+ reservations for the first hour of park operation. They’re not needed for most attractions during this part of the day. Save them for later when the crowds arrive.
Do NOT use the first hour and half of the day to catch Mickey’s Philharmagic, Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, Mad Tea Party, or any other attractions known for reasonable waits even during the busiest parts of the day. Dedicate your first hour in the park to headliners who fill up the queues.
Do NOT try to buy your park tickets or buy/renew your annual pass on a day you plan to rope drop. It will take longer than you expect.
Do NOT book a character breakfast for the morning you plan to rope drop. If it’s an absolute must-do for you and your family, consider booking a late breakfast or brunch for the time after you’ve experienced a few attractions. Another option is booking an early morning breakfast before the park opens.
However, this option can be problematic. For instance, table-service meals, and especially character meals, often last more than an hour and could cut in to park opening. Secondly, rushing through a meal isn’t the best way to get your money’s worth.
Know Where to Refuel
You got up at the crack of dawn. You’re walking more miles in a day than you probably would in a week. You need to know where and when to fuel and refuel during your rope drop morning. Here a couple of handy suggestions…
Main Street Bakery (Starbucks)
If you arrive early enough to take advantage of that hour before the park officially opens, consider the Main Street Bakery on Main Street, U.S.A. If you’re with your family or a group, split up. Send half to the rope you plan to drop and the other half to get coffee. However, be aware coffee is not allowed on attractions and must be disposed of before you board. Also, I should emphasize that you should NOT stop for coffee unless you have time to do so. Coffee will be there later; a 1o-minute wait for Space Mountain won’t be.
Joffrey’s Coffee Kiosks
After crossing a few headliner attractions of your to-do list, Joffrey’s Revive Coffee Kiosk in Tomorrowland serves pastries, donuts, and coffee or tea. It’s the perfect spot for something on the go without the lines of the Main Street Bakery.
Certain food stands throughout the park, such as Frontierland’s Westward Ho and Fantasyland’s Cheshire Cafe, offer coffee and breakfast items without having to take time out at quick service or a table service restaurant.
Did I answer all of your questions about rope dropping the Magic Kingdom? Which attraction do you head to first? Do you have any strategies to share?