Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom
The busier Disney gets, the more people flock to rope drop as a strategy. A long time ago this might have been the absolute best tactic to avoid wait times, crowds, and unnecessary headaches. Nowadays, it’s a bit more complicated. And this is especially true for Magic Kingdom. Here are 14 tips to nail Magic Kingdom rope drop at Disney World.
I’ll talk a bit about Magic Kingdom, define what “rope drop” is, and then give you my best tips as a former Disney Cast Member.
Magic Kingdom Overview
First, let’s take a look at Disney World’s most popular park: Magic Kingdom.
In fact, a lot of people think that Disney World IS the Magic Kingdom. I meet a lot of families who don’t know that there are three other parks (and tons of other locations) that take up the entirety that is Disney World.
Going forward, I may sometimes refer to Magic Kingdom as MK – some new lingo for you!
MK is located towards the north of Disney World if you’re looking directly on their map. It’s a fan favourite and the one park in Disney that is consistently busier than the others.
It has more than 30 rides and attractions, more than 20 dining options, and that ever so beautiful Cinderella’s Castle.
The park itself is separated into several sections or “lands”: Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. Each land has its own theme and attractions built for that corresponding theme.
It’s also home to several parades and shows, including the Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular. The best firework show you’ll ever see – I promise.
In fact, watching those fireworks is one of my biggest recommendations as a former Disney World Cast Member.
Nailing Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom
Now let’s dive in on how to nail rope drop at Magic Kingdom.
What is rope drop?
In case you don’t know, “rope drop” is a Disney term used for when guests arrive at Magic Kingdom before the park opens. The guests proceed to wait in front of a “rope” for the park to open (the rope drop).
For most of the parks, there are two stages of rope drop. The one that happens at the park entrance before the park opens, and the ones that happen in front of the lines exactly when the park is supposed to open.
In Magic Kingdom’s case, there are 6 (not including the extra one at Frontierland).
Creating Your Rope Drop Strategy
Let’s break it down: initial “rope drop” at the entrance to Magic Kingdom happens 1 hour before the park actually opens. Guests are able to walk down Mainstreet, enter a few shops, and enjoy the welcome show. The welcome show comes on in front of the castle approximately 5 minutes before the park opens.
Following this, there are 6 rope drops INSIDE the park for every land. These ones drop when the park ACTUALLY opens (typically 9:00AM, depending on the Magic Kingdom hours that day).
In the image above. you can see an overview of the rope drop areas within the park (marked with a yellow Mickey Mouse star).
For a really long time, this was HUGE. When you got to rope drop, you got shorter wait times and fewer crowds. All you had to do was show up.
And for a lot of parks, this still applies.
I’m not saying that you won’t cut the crowds in the morning, but you won’t see the same difference that you used to. This is because it’s not as much of a secret anymore and a lot of people use this tactic.
It seems like EVERYBODY does rope drop at MK.
That being said, there are a few rope drop tips that can help you really make the most of doing rope drop at Magic Kingdom.
How to Nail Rope Drop at Disney World
1. Plan Ahead
This may seem simple, but a lot of guests don’t take this into account for rope drop.
They think that because they’ve booked their Fastpasses and are going to the park early they can just show up and BOOM – no crowds, a great day.
You need a rope drop game plan. And in this case, a magic kingdom rope drop strategy.
First, how are you getting there? If you’re taking the bus from your resort, expect that you may not get on the first bus that comes by. These guys fill up.
If you’re coming in your own car, remember that you have to park, go to the Transportation and Ticket Center, and then get on a boat or the monorail to get to MK. This can add an extra 30 to 40 minutes to your transportation time.
The same thing applies for Uber or Lyft.
Pro Tip: A Minnie Van will take you directly to the front of Magic Kingdom. You can order these through the Lyft app, but this does not apply to regular Lyft drivers/cars.
You also need to consider what you want to do while you’re there.
Alright, you’re going to the park early. But WHY? Is there a ride you really want to get on? Do you want to take pictures in front of the castle with low crowds? Or, maybe, you just want to be able to walk around with fewer crowds?
You need to think about why you’re doing this and what EXACTLY you want to get out of it, which brings me to my next tip.
2. Pick your first ride
The biggest advantage you have in the morning is shorter wait times.
However, know that every park in Disney World has the ONE ride that everyone is running to.
For Magic Kingdom, it’s the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
This ride is the absolute hardest Fastpass to snag in Magic Kingdom. The three mountains (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain) are really popular, but it’s not hard to get a Fastpass for those guys. Even if you’re only booking 30 days in advance.
Unless you’re staying on property and booking 60 days in advance, there’s a good chance you won’t pick up that Fastpass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
The wait time for this ride during the day is always AT LEAST an hour and hits more than 2 hours during the afternoon, then stays its course.
As such, this is likely the ride you’ll want to run to at MK rope drop.
There are two ways to get there (two rope drop options). I’ve drawn two potential routes for you below.
Depending on what time you arrive at Magic Kingdom you may not be able to take the route by the castle so be careful of this. They block this off during shows.
If you get there early enough you’ll end up waiting in front of the ropes with other guests who have the same idea as you. Try to pick the smaller group.
No matter which route you take, you’ll want to keep right at all times. This includes bag checks, scanning in the park, and walking up Mainstreet. This helps streamline your process.
Of course, if bag checks are super long on the right then don’t do this. But hopefully it’s not an issue if you’re there early enough.
3. Magic Kingdom is distracting
The second you get in this park its full of wonder and magic.
It sounds cheesy but Disney pumps that stuff out like its crack.
One of the biggest issues I have when I do Magic Kingdom rope drop is getting distracted for my main goal.
It’s SO easy to get pulled away the second you walk in. You walk up Mainstreet and see all the theming and food. Wow, the food. I can smell it!
Then, as you work your way through it you see a light at the end. What is that? It’s beautiful… I want to go closer.
That, my friend, is Cinderella’s castle.
She’s beautiful, she’s seductive, she will break your heart when you realize that ride you wanted to go on already has a 60-minute wait.
If you want to take the time to look around the second you get into Magic Kingdom, which I do recommend for first-time visitors, then just know that you aren’t really taking advantage of the low crowds.
If you want to take castle pictures, do it during the morning show that happens between 8 and 9 AM.
If you want to browse the lands before getting on rides, I would honestly just skip rope drop altogether.
4. Book your Fastpasses 1-2 hours after the park opens
If you’re doing rope drop, there’s a good chance you’re heading straight to a ride you don’t have a Fastpass for.
This means that you don’t want to book your Fastpasses too early, or else they’ll interfere with rope drop.
For example, if you are planning to go to Seven Dwarfs at 9:00am, but have a Fastpass for Splash Mountain at 9:30am, there’s a good chance you won’t make your Fastpass.
You don’t want to be stressing that early in the morning.
Remember that even if you do get on and off Seven Dwarfs quickly, you’ll want to enjoy the lower crowds while they last. Maybe you can get on another ride or snap some good pictures.
Don’t ruin that with quick Fastpasses. If you schedule them 1-2 hours after open that’s still early enough to finish your first 3 and book more later that night.
5. Rope drop isn’t as useful on days with extra magic hours
Extra magic hours are when resort guests are provided access to a park outside of the park’s regular hours. This can be before the park opens, or after the park closes.
If MK has extra hours in the morning on the same day that you want to do rope drop, you’ll run into some issues.
However, if you’re staying on-property then great, you’ll get access at the same time as everyone else. But this also means that you’ll be waking up earlier than usual! In some cases, 2 hours before the park normally opens.
That’s really early!
Consider whether or not you actually want to wake up that early.
If you’re staying off-property, this creates even more issues because YOUR rope drop will be AFTER all the resort guests had access to the park.
So, it’s not really a true rope drop in the sense that you won’t get all the benefits.
I would skip rope drop on days with extra magic hours unless you are able and intend to get to extra magic hours right away.
6. Pick a land or area to start with
Because of the way MK does rope drop (an initial drop at park entrance, and one for each land) you’ll want to pick your initial land.
This should go into your Fastpass strategy, as well.
Essentially, you’ll want all of the rides that you don’t have a Fastpass for to be in the same place. That way, you can knock them all out at once.
Let’s take a look at the right side of MK (Tomorrowland and Fantasyland).
The main rides of interest here are Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
If you’re planning correctly and far in advance, you shouldn’t have ANY trouble getting a Space Mountain Fastpass. I would grab this Fastpass, and NOT do it at rope drop because there aren’t many other need-to-do rides surrounding it.
In that case, let’s now move to the front of MK (Fantasyland and Liberty Square).
This is the option I would choose if you weren’t able to get a Seven Dwarfs Fastpass and are heading there first at rope drop.
After you get off Seven Dwarfs, head to Peter Pan’s Flight and then Haunted Mansion.
This is why it’s so important to:
7. Integrate your Disney Rope Drop Strategy with your Fastpass+ Strategy
Now, what if you DO have a Fastpass for Seven Dwarfs?
This will depend on what other two selections you picked. If you take my advice to add Space Mountain, then now it’s just a matter of deciding on your third.
Let’s take a look at the left of MK (Liberty Square, Adventureland, and Frontierland).
Personally, I would make my third Fastpass Peter Pans flight or Splash.
The reason for Peter Pan’s flight is mainly due to its proximity and the fact that it has an insane wait time during the day. The ride is great, but not my favourite.
If Peter Pan is a “must-do” for you, add it on.
Then I would rope drop Big Thunder, then Splash, then Jungle Cruise.
If Peter Pan is not a “must-do”, add on Splash.
Why Splash and not Big Thunder?
Splash is a long ride, and wait times may increase while you’re on it. So just put it as a Fastpass instead. Also, not everyone wants to get wet in the morning!
If I added on Splash as a Fastpass I would rope drop Big Thunder, Jungle Cruise, then Pirates of the Caribbean.
OR I would do Big Thunder, Jungle Cruise, then Haunted Mansion. But this one is pretty spread out, proximity-wise. This is in case you’d rather do Haunted Mansion over Pirates.
8. Adjust as you go
Let’s say you planned to hit Seven Dwarfs mine train, but you overslept, had some sleepy kiddos, or didn’t plan for transportation time according.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train’s wait time can increase to about 30 minutes only 10-15 minutes after the park opens. And it can increase to about an hour approximately 20-30 minutes after the park opens.
Similar situations apply to all the popular rides, though the increase may not be as severe.
If you happen to wake up late and get to the park a bit later then expect, don’t be afraid to adjust. Maybe you’ll head to one of the mountains instead, and that okay.
Pro Tip: I’ve had better luck jumping in line right before the park closes, in comparison to right after the park opens. If you get in line at 8:58PM and the park closes at 9:00PM, they WILL take you.
9. When are you going to eat?
I don’t know about you, but I love food and I can get hangry. This goes for my whole family.
If you arrive at the park at 8:00AM, start rope drop at 9:00AM, finish it at 10:30/11, and book your Fastpasses right after that span over 3 hours – when are you going to eat?
Tricky, isn’t it?
Here are a few tips.
- Consider eating at Magic Kingdom before the park opens. Then, hold off until after the Fastpasses are done.
- Pack Snacks.
- Mobile order while in line for quick-service locations close to your ride. Remember, Fastpass windows last an hour.
- Consider moving your Fasptasses to later in the day to get a table service reservation late morning. But remember, this hurts your chances of booking more later.
Especially given the heat in Florida, you want to make sure you remain healthy and hydrated.
10. Consider your resort carefully.
Is Magic Kingdom your favourite park? Are you going there multiple times? Is nailing rope drop at Magic Kingdom really important to you?
If it is, I would consider making sure you stay at a resort on the Monorail. You won’t have to wake up as early and can head back during the day for a nap or pool time.
This will be great if you’ve been up since 7:00AM and still want to catch those fireworks.
And they all lived happily ever after
Alright! These are my top 10 Tips to nail Disney world rope drog at the Magic Kingdom. A Disney rope drop is no joke, and if you’re going to do it – do it right!
If you can’t come up with a strategy on how to approach rope drop then I honestly just don’t think it’s worth the fuss, hassle, and early morning!
It doesn’t have to be super complicated, but you should have SOME sort of a rope drop plan to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.
MK has the more complicated rope drop, with the Magic Kingdom opening show and the several lands. But if you do it right, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.
If you ever need help with your Disney planning remember that I offer free planning services and am more then happy to answer any questions you have.
I’m just a mouse-click away.
I hope this was helpful to you. Let me know in the comments – is rope drop still working for you? Do you have any tips?
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see ya real soon!
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