We drove to AK last week on Tues Feb 9 (CL 1) and again on Sat Feb 13 (CL 3). On Tuesday we arrived to the booths at 7:13 and had about 30 cars in front of us. They let us thru toll booths at 7:22, we parked and basically walked straight thru with no lines all the way to FoP. Started walking thru the queue at 7:36 and made it to the pre-film at 7:49. Got back in line a second time at 8:05 and waited 27 min for the second ride, which was higher than I was expecting based on the TP estimate of 17 min. The rest of the day at AK was pretty dead and we walked on EE and Safari, saw the 10:30 bird show and left after an early lunch.
Saturday we drove to the off-ramp to AK around 6:55 and the toll both plaza was still closed with a security vehicle with flashing lights parked at the cones. No cars were lined up, so we were afraid to stop and be the first one. Several other cars seemed to be in the same predicament. We all circled around, made U-turns and waited until they moved the cones at 7:00. We ended up being first in line at one of the booths which they opened around 7:15 (maybe a bit before). We were first car to park and really hustled. Again no lines to get in the park and we hit the queue for FoP at 7:25. This time we had to wait about 15 min to ride. Off the ride and got back in line at 7:50. Much longer line than on Tuesday. We waited 40 min for the second ride.
I would say that arriving by bus before RD will beat even the earliest of arrivals by car by several minutes. I don’t know what time temp check opened-we were still waiting/parking. Ride share has little advantage over driving yourself because they have to wait at the toll booths also. A woman in a ride share behind us got out of the car and asked the gate attendant if she could walk from there and was politely told to get back in the car. Also, buses from Swan/Dolphin have to wait with the cars. They don’t get to enter with the Disney buses.
Even a CL 3 was crazy when rope dropping FoP because literally everyone was going there. The wait time builds exponentially. I know the line sometimes has been shorter in the afternoon, but we didn’t want to stay in the park that long, so riding twice in a row in the am was better for us.