Everyone has their own unique strategy for how they like to tackle all four of the Disney World theme parks during their vacations!
And while many folks swear by rope dropping — the correct way to rope drop remains shrouded in mystery for many (you may not even know what a rope drop IS!).
While you might think rope dropping is some sort of sacred art form passed down from generation to generation due to the way people talk about it, we’re going to make it really simple for you guys! First things first…
What is Rope Dropping?
The term “rope drop” can mean different things for different people, but in general, it means getting into a Disney park right at its opening time. More specifically, rope dropping for many is all about being physically INSIDE a Disney World theme park, beyond the turnstiles, before its scheduled opening.
That way, you’ll be poised and ready to strike, err, we mean briskly walk to your attraction of choice as soon as Cast Members inform you it’s time to GO! GO! GO!
What ISN’T Rope Dropping?
We’ve heard the term “rope dropping” used a lot by folks describing getting to the parks sometime in the morning hours. While you can beat a lot of the crowds by arriving at a Disney World theme park shortly after it opens, you still have to allow time for travel and/or parking, as well as time for passing through the security checkpoints and the ticket gates which can take time.
Rope dropping in its purest form takes all of these factors into account!
But What About the Rise of the Resistance Elephant in the Room?
So we need to make one distinction in what is and isn’t traditional rope dropping. If you’ve seen any of the madness at Hollywood Studios after the opening of Rise of the Resistance these past few months, you’ve likely heard allll about boarding groups, virtual queues, and guests showing up at the parks HOURS before the sun comes up! This, friends, is not rope dropping. It’s another beast entirely.
Rope dropping puts you in a prime spot to rush to those rides you want to go on most right when the park opens. With the virtual queue system for Rise, however, guests can begin to get a spot in a boarding group once inside the park at its scheduled opening time. So it’s rope dropping in the sense that you’re in the park before it’s actually open, but you’re jumping on your phone and getting a boarding group to ride later in the day. And those boarding groups go FAST!
Still, to ensure they’re in the park right at open to get one of the precious few boarding group spots, many guests are queueing up hours before the park opens to ensure they’re inside once the park opens. Just be warned that if you’re planning on rope dropping in Hollywood Studios, many MANY others will be too. So if you’re planning on jumping in line for Slinky Dog Dash right at rope drop, you may find yourself still waiting in an hour+ line. But, you can snag a prized Rise of the Resistance boarding group! So, pros and cons!
You’ve received the full “Hollywood Studios is a little crazy right now” disclaimer, now, back to the basics of rope drop! 😉
But Why Is It Called Rope Drop?
Believe it or not, the term “rope drop” comes from an actual rope that Cast Members used to control the flow of guests entering the park and goes back to the earlier days of Disneyland. Guests would be allowed into the park and allowed on Main Street, U.S.A. but Cast Members with a rope would block off entry into each land. When the park officially opened, a spiel would come on the loudspeaker announcing the park was open for the day, and the Cast Members would “drop the rope” and slowly allow guests to walk (no running!) into the rest of the park.
To this day, sometimes you may still see a real-live “rope drop” depending on which park you visit! Each park handles their “rope drop” procedure a bit differently, but you can rest assured that many guests each day will show up to be a part of it!
Why Rope Drop?
Rope dropping is a great way to get ahead of the crowds and ride several popular attractions with little to no wait. It’s also a helpful way to ride popular attractions you were unable to secure a FastPass for such as Animal Kingdom’s Flight of Passage, Hollywood Studio’s Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run or Slinky Dog Dash, and Magic Kingdom’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Plus, rides aside, it can be really nice to feel like you have the park all to yourself first thing in the morning with practically no crowds!
Which tier 1 Hollywood Studios Fast Pass should you choose — Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run or Slinky Dog Dash? Find out HERE!
Which Disney World Theme Parks Can I Rope Drop?
All of them, baby! ALL OF ‘EMMMM!!!
How Early Should I Get to the Parks to Rope Drop “the Right Way”?
About an hour before the park’s scheduled opening time. That should give you enough time to get through security and be at the front-lines of the battle for rope drop supremacy. 😉
What Are the Pros and Cons of Rope Dropping?
Rope dropping isn’t for everyone, folks. Sure, all the cool kids are doing it, but it might not be the best plan for you and your fam! It means rising and shining earlier than what is natural and normal for many guests who are trying to have a somewhat relaxing vacay (you know, as relaxing as walking 15 miles a day can be!). Here’s how to decide if your next Disney World trip holds a rope drop or two in its future — or NOT!
Pros to Rope Dropping:
- Experience the parks and rides before the crowds descend and the madness begins!
- Ride several popular attractions back-to-back with minimal wait times.
- Get on those highly-coveted FastPass rides (like the ones we mentioned earlier!) that you didn’t score a reservation for!
Cons to Rope Dropping:
- Rope dropping can sometimes mean not staying until park closing the night before — you don’t want to burn the candle at both ends or you might lose some of your zest for being at Disney World and THAT would be a shame!
- Getting to the park before rope dropping is HARD on the body and the mind! You’re probably already exhausted from your exciting trip so far. But with rope drop, you’re going to be pushing yourself — skipping those much-needed couple hours of extra sleep, and maybe even breakfast or your cup of coffee.
Any Additional Pro Tips for Rope Dropping?
YES! Since you’ll be able to accomplish a lot of your Disney World must-dos in the first few hours of the parks being open, we’ve adopted a get-in, get-out strategy! As each park begins to hit critical mass for the day making it difficult to roam about freely, we tend to head back to our resort for a quick nap (also because we’re starting to feel a little tired by this point!).
Or if we’re feeling particularly active, park-hop over to another resort for a while. Then we return to the park in the afternoon/evening when the crowds have begun to filter out for the day. It’s also a good time to enjoy a nice table-service meal, or take in some Disney Springs fun depending on how the mood strikes you!
We also can’t overstate this next bit of advice enough — rope dropping will put you at a major advantage and give you a leg up on the crowds at Disney World as long as you don’t squander it! Even though you’re sleepy, try to resist the urge to wait in a long line for coffee at Starbucks! Pack a piece of fruit or energy bar to snack on instead of stopping for breakfast. Leave less popular attractions until later in the day — only ride the essentials, people!
That means even if you’re really hankering for an early morning Country Bear Jamboree or are dying to spend some time in the Enchanted Tiki Room, you can get to those things done later when the park is getting stuffed with people but those attractions still have an often short wait. Time is of the essence! 🙂
We hope this clears up some of the mystery and confusion about rope dropping! Now go forth and rope drop like a pro! For even more DFB tips and tricks to mastering Disney World, make sure you’ve signed up for our newsletter!
Do you have any questions about rope dropping that we didn’t answer? Ask them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you!