Let's talk about rope-dropping

Inspired by @OBNurseNH and @Randall1028’s blissful early-morning shots of the parks l’m wondering whether I should rethink my strategy for my summer trip.

The appeal to me of RDing is: quieter park, cooler weather, shorter lines. But I don’t think I’m interested in getting into large scrums and rushing towards A-list rides. I have very little enthusiasm for RDing SDD, FOP or 7DMT, for example. But I could be persuaded otherwise.

Indeed, I wonder whether some parks are worth RDing at all. MK — obviously: I suspect I would head towards Frontierland and aim to do BTMRR, SM then POC and JC. But the other three? I will have four FPP per day (Disney is kindly giving me an anytime FPP each day of my trip) and I get 60+ days, so I’m not worried about getting at least one ride on the A-list attractions.

At the same time, I enjoy the parks at night and I want to do the night-time shows, so I’m going to have to think about sleep and tiredness. If I RD then I’m going to have to factor in returning to the resort for a nap.

I have the deluxe DDP and I learned at Christmas that you really need to spread out your meals or you’ll explode from overeating. My current plan involves late breakfasts (10.30am) and late-ish dinners (7pm). Only snacks during the day: no lunch. I guess RDing won’t require me to change that. Get some rides in, then have breakfast. Then maybe head back to the resort?

Some specific questions:

  1. My EP day is EMH, so an 8am open. Is this a good day to RD? Or should I switch EP to a regular day? (I have breakfast at GG at 10.20am.) What time should I aim to catch the bus? What time should I aim to arrive at EP?

  2. MY AK day is also EMH, so 8am open. Is this a good day to RD? Or should I switch AK to a regular day? Should I try to RD FOP? Or use an FPP and RD NRJ? Or both? (I have breakfast at Boma at 10.30am.) What time should I aim to catch the bus? What time should I aim to arrive at AK?

  3. My main MK day is a regular 9am open. Is the rush to 7DMT nightmarish? Is my Frontierland idea genius? I have CP breakfast at 10.30am. What time should I aim to catch the bus? What time should I aim to arrive at MK?

  4. For my first HS day I’m having a 10.30am breakfast at TAF, so I think timing would be tight — it’s a regular 9am start. Could I do SDD and TSMM between open and 10am, then head off to the Boardwalk? How nightmarish is TSL RDing? What time should I aim to catch the bus? What time should I aim to arrive at HS? (For my second HS day, I’m arriving after lunch, so RD isn’t an option.)

On the principle that it’s good to try new things, I am actually open to experimenting with RDing.

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I can only speak to the BTMRR plan. We had FPP for 7DMT and Peter Pan, so we went to our favorite ride first, BTMRR, after a breakfast at the Plaza and seeing the opening show. There were very few people (maybe 150?) headed that way, and many peeled off and went on other things first (foolishly). We rode BTMRR 2x with no wait (because it’s out favorite) and then did JC, Splash, HM, and headed to IASW (my daughter’s 2nd favorite ride) etc. etc. We went on a very low crowd day, but I think even on a high crowd day, people mostly head to 7DMT/PP or Space first during RD.


Will respond later. Joining in now so the page keeps me in the loop


I love the parks at rope drop. They are peaceful & the anticipation is a lot of fun. I usually bring along some breakfast to enjoy while I wait.

When I went solo last summer I was able to accomplish LOADS. You’re able to maneuver the crowds very easily.

When our family travels (last fall- 4 adults, DD4 & DD2) we are rope droppers too. Because of the kids’ ages we are typically not headed for the big headliners. We are able to walk at our own pace & still enjoy an emptier park and short waits at a variety of rides. It’s still immensely helpful even without hitting the biggest rides.

I love doing RD, late breakfast, hit a few more rides, afternoon at the hotel to swim and nap, then dinner & evening activity. But my kids are up by 6am on vacation every day!


Oh & the busses are less crowded! I aim to be at the bus stop ~75 minutes prior to park open. This makes the bus less busy & puts you toward the front of the guests arriving at the park.

RD is only helpful if you can be there before it starts. So really think about that & if you’ll be able to do that on your specific days.


I am a RD convert. In fact, I saw @OBNurseNH at AK RD headed for FOP. I have been first in line for RnR and BTMRR. RD at park with EMH is great, much less crowds. Just be sure to note which rides are open for EMH.


We also love RDing but we’re generally early risers anyways. I love the relative quietness of mornings in the park.

We’ve RDed Frontierland/Adventureland a couple of times and I think it’s a good plan. We were able to do BTMRR, Splash, and POC with pretty minimal waits. Also, it’s so quiet and calm in that part of the park early morning.

We’ve never RDed FOP, but we arrived at AK around 8:30 (on a regular 9:00 open) to avoid the madness, and easily RDed a couple of character M&G before basically walking onto EE at around 9:25.

I’ve never RDed TSL, but have read here that it can be a bit crazy!

I will say that even as early risers, we struggle a bit with arriving for EMH. We get it done, but we’re sort of blurry-eyed at the start. It’s usually so worth it though!

We usually aim to be at the bus stop by 7:45 for a regular 9:00 opening.

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Love RD! We did it easily with little kids they are just up. But that first hour is so much calmer! And we weren’t hitting the big rides… we RD buzz at MK followed by other stuff near there… you might like the quietness if you are not too tired,

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DS is an early riser, but I’m not. I’m a month away, and already trying to rearrange my sleeping schedule so I can get up for EMH RD :grin:

RD’d MK, HS and EP last week. We were EARLY - at the rope for all 3. We are early risers anyways, always up at 6:30 to get kids ready for school. So we set alarm for 6:15, at breakfast at resort at 6:30 (QS), and on the 7:15-ish bus every day. No EMM any day - we purposely RD’d other parks.
MK - did space mtn - super easy, way worth it, but wasn’t in the 7DMT rush (had a FP for later)
EP - did soaring - also super easy, loved the Jammitors
HS - did SDD - was nervous about this one as I’ve read the bad stories posted here… but also pretty darn easy… walked all the way back… a few people ran ahead along the last stretch, but we didn’t get run over… CM did a great job of enforcing the walk. I’d do it again.

Really enjoyed talking with CM at the rope while we waited at all 3 parks… also some of the other early arrivers. Nice way to pass some time

We did rope drop every day on our trip, but I have young children who get up early, so showing up somewhere at 8:30 is actually a pretty late morning for us. It is really nice to have the cooler weather and the smaller crowds, and there’s something really exciting about being through bag check and all ready when they let you go into the park. I can’t speak to what the rush to get to the big rides is like, although we did get out of BOG just as the rope drop crowd showed up for Mine Train and it was a mass of people. But I think if you zag when others zig you might really enjoy it.

You don’t have to commit, though - you could plan one or two and then see how they treat you?

During our December trip, we did RD every day. Some were more successful than others.

HS: we got there a bit later than I’d hoped. 8:35 or so, for a 9:00 opening. The walk from Boardwalk took longer than expected due to construction. So, we were middle of the pack, headed to SDD. It was awful for us, with elementary-age kids. If you’re planning to do SDD at RD, you really need to get there much earlier, and be at the front of the pack. However, if you’re going to TSMM or ASS, it might not be quite so bad.
We had a similar plan to what you’re talking about. 11:00 TAF reservation. We did SDD (long wait), thought about getting in line for TSMM, but didn’t, Star Tours, and Muppets. We still had some time to look around before catching the boat over to Boardwalk. So, I’d say your TSL to Boardwalk plan is a good one.

MK: I think your plan is great. We RD Space, and it was not bad. Everyone was going up to Fantasyland so we avoided a lot of the crowds. I bet going to BTMR is even better.

AK: If you can RD NRJ and get a FPP for FOP, that’s an ideal plan. You don’t need to get to the entrance until a few minutes before park opening. It’s hardly even RD! We walked right onto NRJ and avoided the mass of humanity trying to get to FOP. We did have to backtrack a bit, when we did this, since our FPO FP was later in the day. Not a huge deal, and you may be able to get something earlier, easier than the 4 of us.


This is something I struggle with every trip too… I want to do it all!! But I also need sleep!

I love the parks in the morning - everything seems so new and fresh and the early morning light just makes everything seem shinier and prettier. But I also love the nighttime shows and the parks at night, so the struggle is real.

When I rope drop, I never hit a headliner always choosing less popular attractions that I love like Pirates or the Haunted Mansion - so fun to go through the queues and rides with not many other people. So I think your plan of hitting Sometimes I don’t even rope drop a ride but just wander around the park enjoying the low crowds and taking in the ambience.

If my trip is long enough, sometimes I’ll try to split it up so I’m rope dropping a couple of days and then doing nighttime shows the other days. Or I just suck it up and drink more caffeine to keep me going!

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Great advice everyone — thanks!

I’m definitely going to try to RD MK and do my Frontierland plan. It fits very nicely into my schedule. I can get an early night the night before, and the plan for that day after MK is to go back to my resort, where I’m having dinner. So I can leave whenever I’m ready or feel tired. I think this will be a great use of an MK day.

Here’s a complication: I’ve just discovered my HS day has EMM (i.e. very early and paid-for). It’s tempting. I need to read some reviews!

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No spreadsheets this time?

I’m doing spreadsheets — of course! But I won’t be posting them publicly.

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I would arrive for RD but don’t RD the biggies you mentioned. Try to get FPP. This wY you can knock out a lot of other rides in the first 2 hours and take advantage of lower crowds for photos etc. And it’s cooler.

Right, let’s talk about HS.

I really like SDD. A lot. And TSMM. Even ASS. Also, I’d like to do some of the character meets.

I’ve booked EMM. I don’t like the look of rope-dropping it. EMM seems much less stressful. Also TSL is awful during the day when it’s very hot and sunny.

Turning to AK: I like the idea of RDing NRJ — I really like the ride and I don’t want to waste my FPP on it. I’ll RD NRJ, FPP FOP and then head off to brunch at Tusker House. (I mentioned a breakfast at Boma — that’s on my other AK day, which I probably won’t RD.)


Heh. We’ll see. :wink:

The question that comes up from the original post is: How or why is Disney giving you a 4th anytime FPP every day of your trip?