You will hear people fairly often say that it is important to arrive at a Walt Disney World theme park at or before “rope drop” to get the most out of your day. I use that term myself a lot. But what exactly is rope drop? And why does it make a difference?
“Rope drop” is the term that is used to describe when the park opens for the day. Cast Members will have a rope that blocks the entrance to a park or part of the park, and then they remove the rope when the park is supposed to open. Then guests can make their way to a favorite ride before a line forms.
Before rope drop you will be allowed to go through security and also scan your ticket. That will save you time once the park has officially opened.
If you’re visiting the Magic Kingdom, you’ll be allowed on Main Street., U.S.A. an hour before the park opens. You can look through the shops, get coffee and a treat at Main Street Bakery, and take a few pictures of Cinderella Castle. There is a welcome show called Let the Magic Begin that takes place on the stage in front of the castle five minutes before rope drop. When that is over, the rest of the park will open.
The main benefit to arriving at a park before rope drop is that you will be able to then see the park with the lowest crowd level of the day. There are two different strategies that you might want to follow. The most common is to get in line immediately for a popular ride that you do not have FastPass+ for. The line will only get longer as the day goes on. The second strategy is to ride as many things as possible during the first couple of hours of the day. This is a great idea if you aren’t into thrill rides, because those are some of the most popular rides.
If I’m spending a full day at one of the parks I will usually not make my FastPass+ reservation for until the park has been open for an hour. I feel like it’s wasted if there wouldn’t be much of a line. The exception for that would be Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, because that will have a line no matter what time of day you arrive.
Speaking of Avatar Flight of Passage, this ride has kind of rewritten the rules when it comes to rope drop. If you do not have FastPass+ for it and it’s a must do, you will want to arrive at the park at least an hour before rope drop. Some people arrive even earlier. The ride is that popular. Something similar might happen at Disney’s Hollywood Studios when Toy Story Land opens on June 30, I’ll keep you posted.