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    Disney World Rope Drop

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"Rope drop" is Disney terminology for the time when a theme park, or part of a theme park, opens for the day. Historically, when a Walt Disney World theme park is closed, Disney often used ropes stretched across the entrance to prevent guests from coming in; thus, when the park is opened the rope is "dropped."

Being at a park for its opening (a.k.a. rope drop) is a critical step in many of our Touring Plans, and being aware of the way rope drop works gives you an edge.

Today, an actual rope is sometimes, but not always, part of this process. And when the park (or part of the park) is opened, the rope may not be physically dropped. Rather, the rope is often slowly pulled aside a few moments before people are allowed to pass, with guests being asked to remain where they are until an appointed time. Or, in the case where there is a new or particularly popular attraction, cast members will prevent guests from running to that attraction by continuing to hold the rope as a barrier while slowly walking with it to the attraction.

How Being at the Park for Rope Drop Helps You

When Disney states that a theme park opens at 9:00 a.m., that's the time when the rides and other attractions begin operating; however, you will almost certainly be able to enter some portion of the park prior to that stated opening time.

With a posted open time of 9:00 a.m., you will likely be able to scan your entry ticket at the gate as early as 8:00 or 8:10 a.m. In this situation at Magic Kingdom, for example, you will be allowed onto Main Street and the hub around the castle, with the entrances to the various lands (Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, etc.) blocked by ropes.

You should position yourself at the rope closest to the attraction you want to experience first. You will then be positioned ahead of the many, many hundreds of guests who don't show up early for "rope drop."

People waiting behind Magic Kingdom rope

Magic Kingdom rope about 8 minutes prior to guests being let in.

Rope Drop in the Covid Era

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the moving of physical ropes was common. Use of an actual rope is less likely now.

With the aim of keeping guests socially distant whenever possible (making the previously normal closely packed crowd at the rope problematic), Disney now employs tools to prevent large numbers of guests from entering the park prior to the time attractions are operational. For example, Disney might intentionally slow down transportation heading to the theme parks to reduce the early flow of guests to the parks. This might happen by stopping cars at the parking lot entrance gates or by delaying the start time of Disney's free transportation options (monorail, buses, Skyliner, boats, etc.) Effectively, they're making it more difficult for you to get to the park in time for rope drop.

This tight control on transportation to the parks means that if you want to be at a theme park prior to opening, your best option is to find a way to walk there. For Magic Kingdom, you can walk to the park from Contemporary/Bay Lake Towers, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian hotels. For Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios, you can walk to the park from Yacht Club, Beach Club and Villas, Boardwalk and Villas, Swan, and Dolphin. (Animal Kingdom is not accessible on foot.)

If you are not staying at one of the above hotels, but want to be at the park for rope drop, a strategy that often works is to take a taxi/Uber/Lyft from your hotel to one of the nearby hotels listed above, and then walk to the theme park.

Information for Disney Resort Hotel Guests

In January 2021, Disney announced that at some point during the year it will begin allowing all Disney resort hotel guests to enter all four theme parks up to one half hour earlier than the posted opening time. Stay tuned for more information on how this impacts rope drop procedures.

Other Tips

Note that if you are at the head of the pack at park opening and are heading toward a popular ride, you will not be able to move faster than the cast members who are leading the hordes to the first ride of the day.

While you are waiting for the park to open or to enter a land prior to its opening, consider talking to the cast members staffing the rope. They are apt to be friendly, and it is a great way to pass the time.

Park-specific rope drop hints are linked below: