by Disney Magic Diva
If you’ve followed this website for very long, you know one of the most important tips the Divas and Devos have offered is to get to the park early. Our family has often been able to partake in more attractions during the first two or three hours than we can the entire rest of the day. Magic Kingdom is so much more magical when you can actually move without bumping into someone, and not feel like you’re spending your entire vacation standing in line. For more reasons why you should try to arrive early, you can read Disney Diva’s article here.
Disney fans often refer to park opening as “rope drop”. But what exactly does that mean? If you’re planning your first trip to Magic Kingdom, it’s a confusing term. Is there really a “rope?” The answer is YES! (More on that later.) Even if you can’t get to the park early every day, rope drop is an event all Disney fans should experience at least once. You won’t regret it (even if you are a little sleepy!)
If you are staying at a Disney resort, buses to the parks generally begin about an hour before park opening. Check with your resort for exact times, and be on one of those first buses! If you’re not at a Disney resort, plan your travel time so you arrive about an hour before park opening. This will allow time to park, catch the tram to the Transportation and Ticket Center, then the ferry or monorail to the park. Even if you’re not a morning person, who could be grumpy when you’re on your way to the Magic Kingdom?
TIP: Like many people, we often keep snacks/breakfast items in our room. Instead of eating in the room, though, just bring your breakfast with you and eat once you arrive at Magic Kingdom. Pouches of muffins, snack size boxes of cereal, granola bars, fruit…all can go in your daypack for you to enjoy while waiting for rope drop. It will also help pass the time once you arrive!
Another advantage of being early is getting through bag check without delay. When we recently visited, we were the third family though the bag check line. We saw the groundskeepers still finishing up their overnight work, and a nearly empty plaza in front of the train station! A great time to grab some photos without a crowd!
Your first stop will be at the turnstiles where you scan your Magic Band for entrance to the park. This area will be roped off until 15-30 minutes before park opening, depending on the crowd level. If you arrive really early, you may beat the cast members, but they will eventually arrive. It’s always fun to chat with them too! They can be very helpful with any questions you might have, or just give you some insight into the park. And you never know…a cast member may just choose you to be the First Family and invite you to open the park! My daughter had this awesome experience once with her family, and you can read about Soarin’ Diva’s lucky day here.
After they open the turnstiles, you’ll be allowed to enter the plaza. Now you need to make a choice. If you want to see the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show – which I highly recommend! – you’ll want to get a spot front and center of the train station. If you need to make your way into the park right away to say, get in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or to meet Anna and Elsa, you’ll want to make your way to the front of one of the two tunnels that run under the railway and into the park. You’ll be stopped once again by ropes and cast members, and won’t have a very good view – if any- of the Welcome Show, but you’ll be in a great spot to get into the park quickly.
About ten minutes prior to opening, the Welcome Show will begin. The Mayor of Main Street comes out on the walkway of the Train Station, and greets everyone. There’s a very entertaining song and dance routine, then the train pulls into the station with Mickey and all the gang! So many characters in one place is a sight to see! They will introduce the First Family and encourage everyone to help countdown to open the park. Fireworks light the sky, and Magic Kingdom is officially open!
At this point, the cast members who are tending the ropes across the tunnels will begin walking into Town Square. They keep the rope taut, and no one is allowed to get in front of the rope. It’s very organized chaos, and using the ropes helps keep everyone safe.
It is remarkable how such a huge crowd will respect that thin rope. I can’t ever look at the rope without remembering the time we were at Hollywood Studios for rope drop during Star Wars Weekend. The Stormtroopers were out doing a little pre-opening skit, and kept making fun of how all these “rebels” were being held back by a “teeny-tiny rope”. My son and I still joke about that whenever we see a rope keeping a crowd in line.
You will likely walk behind the rope carried by cast members and traversed the width of Main Street all the way to the hub, and possibly further. As you get to the entrances to the various lands, the cast members tend to finally drop the rope, and politely – but firmly and repeatedly – remind everyone to walk. And while most guests heed those warnings, you won’t believe how FAST they walk! So be sure to wear comfy shoes, hold onto your loved ones, and GO!
***Disclaimer – We at Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos hope you enjoy reading our articles, and encourage you to share any you feel may be of interest to someone else. We do ask, however, if you choose to share the photographs attached to our articles, you give credit to the photographer. Thank you for your cooperation and sharing our love of Disney!