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What Is Rope Drop and 3 Helpful Morning Strategies

I would say that just about every Disney blog and theme park uses the expression rope drop, but what does it mean? The simplest answer is that rope drop represents the opening of the theme park. It’s become an expression used to symbolize the opening hours or being the first in line for a theme park. Many would also argue that it also symbolizes getting to the parks early enough that the big crowds have not yet arrived, which is generally true. With a few exception (the unveiling of a new attraction being one of them), getting to the parks early or even being first in line, will get you onto busy rides without much wait.

The history of the expression rope drop is very simple. In both California and Florida, specifically at the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, in order to keep the crowds at bay during the opening, the cast members would use a rope to coral the large crowds along. Often you would go through the gates of the park and be left in a certain area before being allowed into the rest of the park. More often than not, the area where you’re allowed to wait before the park opens offers you opportunities to shop or even get some food. In other words, the park only opens areas where you can spend money.

Rope drop also allows them to process the tickets of many guests before unleashing them into the park. The time you might encounter the rope is after you’ve already bought and scanned any kind of ticket as well as any security screenings.

In many cases the rope doesn’t simply drop either. Often the rope is used to guide guests to a larger more spread-out area of the park. In a place like the Magic Kingdom, it would lead guests to the hub where they can then split up and go to the various lands around the park. In some cases, certain lands might have a second rope, if it’s opening a little later than the rest of the park.

So why use a rope? The two reasons are that it can be easily moved, in the cases where they want the front of the line to move to another part of the park. The second reason is that when the “rope is dropped”, it allows all of the guests at the front to move at the same time. It’s like having a really wide line of people. It’s probably the most low-tech system Disney has for crowd control, but it seems to work very well since they’ve been using it for decades.

Can’t you just jump over the rope? The simple answer there is yes, you could just jump over the ropes. The problem is you’ll run into many Disney employees that will be wondering why you’re in an area all by yourself before they gave the order to drop the rope. You might only get a dirty look, but you might also get kicked out of the park. While the rope seem flimsy, it’s important to obey it.

It’s also important to note is that getting to the park for rope drop doesn’t actually mean you’re totally the first. There are a few exceptions that can actually get you into the park before rope drop. Many of the VIP tours let you into the park and past the rope before rope drop. They may not let you just wander around as you’ll be asked to go to the meeting point for your tour. There are also some occasions (fewer since Covid) where certain guests staying on property will be given access to parks before rope drop. What this means is that you might be at the front of the rope, and you’ll beeline it to your most important attraction, only to see that there’s already a 30-minute wait. Be thankful though, because once the rest of the rope droppers get there that line will go from 30 to 60 very quickly.

  • Plan you days at the park, find out which parks open earliest and if any offer early entry (for you or others).
  • Get to rope drop between 30 to 60 minutes before the park opens. You have to go through the ticket gates and security before getting to the rope drop area, and I assure you that you’re not the only one with the same idea.
  • If you sleep in and don’t make rope drop, don’t despair, the parks often have lighter crowds in the evenings as well, and you’ll have plenty of oportunity to stay up late since you just had a great night sleep with no alarm.

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