My family and I love going to Orlando’s Walt Disney World. We know a lot of tips and tricks about when to ride rides for the shortest lines, but recently I’ve been hearing more and more about something called Rope Drop.
So I decided to investigate exactly what is rope drop at Disney World.
Rope Drop at Walt Disney World is when you can actually start riding rides, often earlier than the official park opening time. The parks let guests into the park up to 1 hour prior to opening but ropes stop you from going past the front. But when the ropes drop, you can proceed to the ride of your choice.
But there’s a lot more to know than just showing up early, so let’s get into all the details!
What happens at rope drop at Magic Kingdom?
Before you get ready for rope drop when visiting the Magic Kindom at Walt Disney World, make sure to allow time to get there and for security screenings.
Security screenings vary depending on whether you’re coming in by bus, monorail, or boat, but do allow time for bag checks, metal detectors, etc. If you haven’t been to WDW recently, the procedures are probably different than you remember.
The turnstiles at Magic Kingdom open about 1 hour prior to the park opening.
Remember too, that this is unrelated to Extra Magic Hours and Early Morning Magic which are also ways you can get into Disney World and ride rides before the official opening time.
After you go through the turnstiles, you just wait in the Main Street USA area as no rides are actually open yet, although some of the shops like the Main Street Bakery will be open.
At the hub, there will literally be ropes preventing you from going into any of the park lands.
Before rope drop happens, they have a welcome show (currently called Let the Magic Begin) which happens in front of Cinderella’s Castle.
The welcome show is 5 minutes long. When the show is done, a cast member will lower the rope, which is exactly what rope drop refers to.
Then, and only then, can you begin to ride the rides. But since you’ll be among the first to arrive (still expect a crowd), you can get to your favorite rides when the lines will be the shortest they’re likely to be all day.
Does the Magic Kingdom still do rope drop?
Yes is the short answer.
Rope drop happens daily following the Let the Magic Begin welcome show, at, or shortly before the official park opening time.
Each section of the park (known as lands), will be roped off and guarded by a Disney cast member.
Then after the show finishes, the cast member will drop the rope and you can proceed into the land of your choice. Here are the lands in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World:
- Liberty Square
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How early can you get the rope drop at the Magic Kingdom?
Typically rope drop happens immediately following the welcome show at Cinderella’s castle. Usually, this is right at the official park opening time, but can be up to 15 minutes early on busier days.
But if you have already done security, gone through the turnstiles, and made your way up Main Street, you’ll be way ahead of people who are just arriving at the official park opening time.
As I mentioned above, first you go through a security screening.
So if you have backpacks, expect a search. They also use metal detectors too. Security screen procedures do vary a little depending on what your arrival method is.
Then you go through the turnstiles. The turnstiles are typically opened about 1 hour prior to the official park opening time (often 9 am, but hours do vary throughout the year, so always check before you go). But on busier days, they may open even earlier.
Once you’re through the turnstiles, grab a Starbucks or pastry from the bakery on Main Street while you wait.
Then be prepared to watch the welcome show which lasts 5 minutes. Then, and only then, will they drop the ropes and let you into the park.
The crowds can still be large, so if you absolutely want to be first in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, I would plan to be at the security checkpoint at least 1 1/2 hours prior to the official park opening time, or maybe even earlier.
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What is the best ride to ride first after rope drop at Magic Kingdom?
EVERYONE will be heading towards the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride.
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a roller coaster ride that opened in 2014 in the Fantasyland section of WDW. Fantasyland was significantly renovated from 2010 to 2014, and this ride appeared and the original Snow White ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, went away.
While it might be tempting to get in line for this ride along with everyone else after rope drop happens, it’s probably a better strategy to ride another of the popular rides first like Peter Pan’s Flight. After all, even if you’re in the middle of the crowd waiting for the rope drop, you might still experience a 30-minute wait for the Mine Train.
So hit Peter Pan when no one else is riding it, then head to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train after most of the initial rope drop crowd has already ridden it.
Or beat the crowds altogether and just head into Adventureland or Liberty Square and ride the Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, or the Jungle Cruise with virtually no wait at all.
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What can I rope drop at Animal Kingdom?
Animal Kingdom often opens at 9 am (but again, make sure and check because hours do vary and change).
They open the turnstiles at Animal Kingdom anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes before the official park opening. The range is based on how busy the day is likely to be, but 60 minutes is more common than 30.
As you enter, you’re mostly going to be contained at Discovery Island with people specifically waiting in 4 specific places based on where they want to go:
- Asia – Held at the bridge
- DinoLand U.S.A. – Held at the bridge
- Pandora Held on the land in front of the bridge
- Africa – Held between Pizzafari & Starbucks before the bridge
Everyone will be wanting to rope drop Pandora, specifically Flights of Passage and Na’Vi River Journey.
If you have FastPasses for those later in the day though, you might consider letting the crowds have those and moving on to other rides such as:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Expedition Everest
Rope Drop at Animal Kingdom can vary a great deal more than at the Magic Kingdom. So expect a range of times anywhere from 15 minutes to up to 45 minutes prior to the official opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
When it happens a Disney cast member will escort the crowds to ride entrances.
Pandora – The World of Avatar is going to be the most popular area, with many guests all wanting to ride Avatar Flight of Passage. So the cast members may escort those guests earlier than others, up to 30 minutes prior to the official park opening time.
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Can you rope drop at Hollywood Studios?
Yes, is the short answer!
Like all the other parks at Walt Disney World in Orlando, park opening times vary, but often is at 9 am. But check before you go.
Like Animal Kingdom, the turnstiles at Disney’s Hollywood Studios open anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes before the official park opening. The range is based on how busy the day is likely to be, but 60 minutes is more common than 30.
As you enter the park, you’ll be held on Hollywood Boulevard near the Trolley Car Café where you can grab a Starbucks.
Rope drop typically happens around 15 to 30 minutes before the official park opening time.
When rope drop happens at Hollywood Studios everyone will head to the most popular rides:
- Toy Story Land – all of it, especially Slinky Dog Dash
- Rock n’ Roll Rollercoaster starring Aerosmith
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Do be aware that when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens later this year, some of what’s in this post will change, but I update all my Disney posts frequently, so when you come back to them, they will feature the most current info I have.
For some reason that makes no sense to me, Hollywood Studios is the least popular of the 4 parks at Walt Disney World. That will change, of course, with the Star Wars rides and attractions coming, and Toy Story Land, which opened in 2018 has changed that too.
But there’s a LOT of stuff to do at Hollywood Studios (click to see my comprehensive guide), even before Galaxy’s Edge opens, so if you’re not sure, take a moment and check out all the options in one of my most popular articles.
Can you rope drop Slinky Dog?
Yes is the short answer.
In fact, heading right to the Slinky Dog Dash is the best strategy to avoid the 1-2 hour lines that will be there the rest of the day. If, however, you can get a FastPass for Slinky Dog Dash, then I would consider heading to Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple.
If you don’t sign up early for the Jedi training, you might not get to do it at all.
Slinky Dog Dash is a rollercoaster in the new Toy Story Land which is part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It opened in the summer of 2018.
Slinky Dog Dash has quickly become one of the most popular rides in the park, but all of Toy Story Land is popular and that will only increase with the release of Toy Story 4 in the summer of 2019.
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Can you rope drop at Epcot?
Yes, is the short answer here too!
Unless you get FastPasses, you might not even get on popular rides such as Soarin’ Around the World, Frozen Ever After, or Test Track.
Epcot often opens at 9 am, but as I’ve mentioned, hours do vary depending on week and month, so always double check for your trip. Unlike the other parks at WDW, Epcot’s turnstiles don’t open quite as early, so expect to get through between 15-30 minutes prior to the official park opening time.
After getting in, you and a hundred other guests will mill about in front of the Spaceship Earth building (the one that looks like a giant golf ball).
About 10 minutes prior to opening time, Disney cast members will escort guests to the rides.
If you are wanting to head straight to Soarin’ Around the World, you’ll want to be towards the right but for Frozen Ever After or Test Track, be more on the left side of things.
Do be aware that the World Showcase (the area which features restaurants and attractions styled after different countries from around the world) doesn’t usually open before 11 am, so there will be a different rope drop exclusively for that area.
Did I cover all your questions about what is rope drop at Disney World?
In this post, we took a deep dive into Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and specifically into one of the insider tips known as rope drop.
We explored exactly what it is, when it happens, if it happens at all of the Disney parks at WDW and how to best take advantage of it for your next visit.
That way you can save a lot of time avoiding the lines on your favorite rides!
What’s your best tip for Walt Disney World?
Make sure to check out all my personal Disney recommendations (click to read now on this site) on saving money on hotel, rental cars, airfare, park tickets, and even saving money on costumes and toys!
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