This fall on a Monday, what’s the likely scenario for what time of morning can I arrive at parking, what time can I go through security, what time can I be on Main Street, and where will the “ropes” be? (Central Plaza area, or …?)
On a quick scan of the hours that have been published (up to Oct 31) Mondays will have a 7:30 early entry start with 8am regular rope drop. That was the same schedule they’d had for the summer and so I know what time is the earliest you can get to security/Main St. etc. based on our multiple trips this spring/summer but I’m not sure what time you can expect to be there with the parking situation added on top. I would plan to arrive wherever you want to park by 7am maybe a few minutes before. But I would try to verify with anyone else with firsthand knowledge of parking as we haven’t parked for RD in several years.
Our experience of late has been:
- Arrive to security just past the pedestrian entrance on Harbor (opens ~7 sometimes shortly after). My understanding is that they don’t open the Harbor security tents until the first bus is ready to start running from Toy Story lot (where they do security for anyone parking there), so Harbor security tents don’t usually open up until 7, maybe a few minutes later.
- Queue for security - if we arrive before 7:30 the security lines are quick and easy. Anytime after 7:30 they are more crowded and are that way until close to park opening. If Disney isn’t staffed for a busy crowd (i.e. Mon-Thur) then it stays that way for a good 30 minutes after opening and can take a good 10-20 min to get through. If it’s a busier day (i.e. a weekend) they will be more than amply staffed and the lines will move efficiently taking <10 min & by the time it hits park opening the lines will be all gone.
- Queue for turnstiles. If you’re able to get through security before 7:20 the gates will all be closed and no CMs will be stationed at turnstiles but lines will be forming at each gate which has two turnstiles each. Lately the lines form in the center of the two turnstiles and if two CM’s show up the line can then split evenly between the two and if only one CM is at the gate the line’s the line. They used to staff the CM’s to the turnstile early enough that by the time lines were forming you could see if there were one or two at each gate, but lately they don’t send them a minute before they have to usually around 7:25. The closer you arrive to 7:30, the more lines are forming.
- Scan in at turnstile. As soon as the CM’s are in place they open the gates & can start scanning the first couple of groups queued up. They’ll let them through the turnstile strictly at 7:30. Once they start letting in guests, the turnstile lines do move and depending on if Disney is staffed for crowds the lines will either speed through efficiently with no lines left by park opening OR stay long/grow longer through the first half-hour or so (maybe longer) after parking opening.
So ultimately you’ll want to be positioned to arrive at security by 7-7:15am to be in great position to enter Main St. shortly at or after 7:30am (so again echoing that arriving where you want to park by 7 or a few minutes before sounds like a good idea, but again I don’t have much first-hand knowledge of parking, especially lately).
If you’re not too far behind that 7:15 mark you should still get you in the parks before parking opening but will be behind more crowds. Anything after 7:30 you will risk being in a line still when the park officially first opens at 8am.
ETA: I totally forgot to answer your question on where the ropes will be so coming back in with that info.
The ropes will be all around the the central hub with one each for Adventureland & Tomorrowland specifically & then several that divide the circular hub in the middle that you can position to go towards Frontierland or several different angles of entering Fantasyland. For guests who have early entry there will be CM’s on the walkway outside Plaza Inn checking for room key’s for hotel guests (or any other verified way to get early entry like the recently Disney+ day where they gave Disney+ subscribers an early entry perk) and those going down that pathway will be able to get to other side of the ropes and roam Tomorrowland and Fantasyland (the only open areas during early entry).
I think I’ve been to Disneyland only twice since California Adventure and parking garages started being built, and I think both times parked in Mickey & Friends. Is there a better place to park for Disneyland rope drop? (we’ll be driving down I-5 from downtown LA)
My very green understanding is that if you’re coming from the south, use Toy Story Lot & if coming from the North use the parking structures (Mickey & Friends & the newly built expansion next to it the Pixar Pals structure) for easier access. So coming from LA, I believe that will mean coming from the North so Mickey & friends.
We haven’t parked in Mickey & friends since they’ve added the Pixar Pals structure but they are very close & I believe they direct traffic all through one entry point for both parking structures & will just direct traffic to one or other depending on capacity and/or how quickly they need to get spillover traffic off of the surrounding Anaheim roads and/or the 1-5 offramp.
If by chance you are coming from the south and need info on Toy Story lot just let me know & I’ll be happy to elaborate on what/where it is and how it works to get into the park from that direction.
I used to visit DLR monthly from 2013 - 2018 always driving south down I-5. Mickey and Friends was the most convenient parking place. I tried the Toy Story Lot; it took longer to get there and more time to get to the park. You can walk between M&F to Downtown Disney. I think there may be a new pedestrian walkway that goes over the roadway where you used to use a crosswalk.