Many touring plans require you to begin at “Rope Drop.” But what exactly is Rope Drop, and why should you care about it? I’m glad you asked.
Rope Drop refers to the park opening. It’s when the “rope drops” and you’re allowed to enter the park.
Through the years, Rope Drop has looked different at the parks. Currently, Magic Kingdom is the only park that has a ceremony/show welcoming you to the park. Mickey and friends arrive on the train to welcome you to the park, and even sing a song. A lucky family may be chosen to ride the train and help open the park along with the characters. This ceremony actually starts about 15 minutes before the posted opening time. At the other parks, it’s a rather unceremonial opening of the line by Cast Members and entry through the scanners.
Sometimes, the parks are opened anywhere from 15 - 30 minutes prior to the posted opening time, so it’s best to be at the park an hour before open if you’re driving and parking, and 30-45 minutes before the posted open if you’re using Disney transportation.
As much as you might hear about the “Toy Story Sprint” at Hollywood Studios and the “Frozen 5k” at Magic Kingdom, you won’t actually be allowed to take off running. At Magic Kingdom, it’s become more of a graduated opening, with Cast Members leading the way into the Town Square, the Hub, and then allowing guests into the various lands from that point. They sometimes lead the way in other parks as well, just to make sure everyone stays safe and orderly. Once you’re allowed into all the parts of the park, you’re free to go to your favorite attraction. Just keep in mind that the attractions aren’t necessarily open right at Rope Drop, so even if you’re first in line, you may have to wait a few minutes to get on an attraction.
So, why would you start at Rope Drop? Well, to put it simply, being among the first in the parks has certain advantages. You can head straight to a coveted attraction with little to no wait and save your FP+ selections for later in the day. You can hit several attractions before lines get long and start your fun before the day gets too warm. If you have little ones that take an afternoon nap, you can also get plenty of fun under your belt before naptime or the pre-nap crankiness sets in.
There are some who prefer not to be at the parks for Rope Drop. If it works for your family and how you like to tour, that’s perfectly fine! There are even some touring plans that cater to those who like to sleep late.
We typically choose to be at the parks for Rope Drop. Our kids are early risers, and we really don’t have to get up too much earlier than we normally would, even with the time change. (Remember Disney is on Eastern Time!) Our last trip, we were also planning for daily rest time/naptime, so we wanted to have plenty of fun before we took a break from the parks.
Getting up “early” on vacation might not be your idea of vacation, but we feel being among the first into the parks is worth it. It’s not like my kids are interested in sleeping late at Disney anyway!