With the weekend upon us, Spring Break season officially sets in at Walt Disney World Resort. Based on wait times, crowds, and resort availability, the next few weeks will definitely bring an abundance of people to “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” With that said, let’s take a look at one long-treasured way to start a day at Disney Parks: rope-dropping.
Rope drop details
Traditionally, to rope drop a Disney park means to arrive at the theme park when cast members drop the rope to open the theme park for the day. Yes, in some locations, a rope is still ceremoniously dropped to mark this special occasion. During the 50th anniversary celebration, Disney resort guests and those staying at select other resorts enter parks far before the official rope drop. Due to this, the benefits to rope dropping for non-Disney resort guests diminished slightly, but there are still benefits for everyone, especially those with access to Early Theme Park Entry.
Early entry rope dropping
For guests staying onsite as well as at select resorts with early access, Early Entry attractions open half an hour prior to the posted park opening time. For those hoping to use this perk, plan to arrive well before that 30 minutes prior mark to really take advantage of this option.
Parking lots at Disney theme parks tend to open an hour prior to park opening time (and sometimes even an hour before that early time). For those taking Walt Disney World transportation, the buses, boats and Skyliner tend to start running 45 minutes prior to park opening for resort guests. Lines for these options, especially the buses, will gather prior to that. In fact, we waited over an hour for a bus last week from Old Key West to Magic Kingdom at the beginning of that window. Key takeaway here: Make sure to budget plenty of time to wait for transportation into that early entry rope drop plan (and bring extra coffee).
To avoid huge waits at the security areas, most theme parks allow approved guests to scan into the parks at least 15 minutes before the early entry time. Due to this, queues begin to form at popular attractions (ie Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog Dash, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Flight of Passage, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure) well before early park opening even begins. In fact, one morning last week, the early entry opening time wait for Tower of Terror was 70 minutes due to the queue that accumulated in those extra, extra early minutes.
If you plan on rope dropping with early entry, the key word here is definitely early. Have the attraction that you hope to ride selected in your mind well before you head out for the day and make sure to set realistic goals. On a busy park day, early entry guests may be able to rope drop one big ticket attraction prior to park opening and then head to a second choice before the day guest crowds enter the park.
For those using Genie+ and Lightning Lane, make sure to think about this choice when scheduling selections for the day as well. Some select their first Genie+ return time near near the rope drop attraction to lessen the amount of walking in the plan. Others choose to purchase an individual Lightning Lane return for the park’s big ticket attraction. This frees up rope drop time to do a less popular attraction(s) during rope drop.
As always with Genie+ on busy days, try to have two or three attractions as goals for your Genie+ day. Often times, popular attractions run out of Genie+ selection times for the day by 1 pm, so factoring that into the day’s plans is important. (For more on Genie+, including stacking and the importance of refreshing, check out this stellar tutorial.)
As with all things crowded Disney, having a rough plan definitely helps to make the day run smoothly; however, the best laid plans often go awry. planning for that certainly makes for a more magical day that allows time to sit and play at a green space at EPCOT or to mobile order and enjoy the latest dessert at Sleepy Hollow in Magic Kingdom.
To Answer the Headline Question
So, back to the original question, should a group rope drop or not this Spring Break? It really depends on if the group contains a bunch of morning people or not. If it does, then by all means, yes, it is worth it to rope drop in whatever way possible. Just be prepared that each step will be a bit more crowded than in the past, especially if you are staying off-site. If the group requires a bit more time in the morning or enjoys late nights instead, then maybe go into the parks just after official rope drop with a Genie+ or Lightning Lane return time instead.
My best advice: Know everyone’s one must do for the day and develop a plan around those attractions, snacks, and entertainment options. Then, rope drop, eat, drink, and play throughout a magical Disney day!
(PS Don’t forget to make park reservations!)