Are there certain parks better in the morning and some better in the evening? If you were to spend 7 consecutive hours at the park, would you rather go for the first part of the day or the last?
Last part, because I love the lights/atmosphere after dark. I try to be in an attraction line at “closing” and/or seated at a bar deep in any park. Then a slow walk out.
Rope drop, is getting there an hour, or more, early then waiting amongst a large clump of people, only to go to a popular attraction with that clump.
Closing, is one last attraction followed by some refreshing food and beverages, perhaps some shopping, some flash photography, and a relaxing stroll, well behind the exit clump.
In order of preference…
In general I like the parks better in the evening. I like my sleep and wish I could sleep in. But in practice I end up doing rope drop or early morning more often than late night. I think it’s because I have kids, but also I get serious morning FOMO.
Lately, evening has been great since people are finishing up at the parks earlier and leaving. But that hasn’t always been the case.
Interesting. My thought is why wait an hour early to avoid waiting once you get in? Is it really worth it?
I’m another drop in the “close it down” bucket.
Once the sun sets and those lights come on, DH and I lose 20 years off our age and end up running from one side of the park to the other jumping in the shortest lines and living our best Disney lives. It’s like a date night every night, with the cutest DS chaperone possible.
I used to wonder that too, but it’s a much better use of park time if you can get a headliner in first thing. I found it easier to wait for park opening with littles because they were so excited for the park to open. Seemed easier than them getting antsy in an attraction line.
Crowds are rarely lower than at rope drop, IME. However, I’m the person who will get at the gates / security at least an hour before official park hours.
I know opening procedures are in a “flux” right now, but typically you’ll still get into the parks a bit before official park opening.
You’ll get at least two E-Ticket attractions done within the first hour or a handful of other popular rides.
For a seven hour day, I’d break it down like this:
(Example: 7am arrivial for 8am RD)
Rope Drop through first three hours of opening is for rides / “Big” attractions. (8am -11am)
The next two hours are midday shows / sit down attractions / lunch (11am - 1pm — peak crowds and heat)
Last two hours for rides / shopping (1pm - 3pm)
Then you have the rest of the day / evening to relax and not trying to “stay awake / outlast” until the end of the day.
For which parks are better in the morning -
AK - It’s a “must do” in the morning. It gets so incredibly hot there. This is also when the animals are active. I only like AK in the evening if it’s a DAH event or something really late
DHS - Gotta get that RotR BG! (Or at least two chances at it)
EP - They aren’t really open until 11am??
MK - This is a great park for either RD or close. You get enough benefits for either coming early or staying late that it’s more of a personal decision
This is a tough one, because there are definite positives/negatives to each.
Rope Dropping does give you great opportunity to get ahead of the busy crowds that arrive later, knocking several rides out of the park. It isn’t necessarily best to try to hit the most popular headliner at rope drop, unless you are at the front of the pack, though. Instead, it is better to hit all the NOT QUITE headliner rides while the rest of the RD crowds hit the headliner. You can often get a bunch of rides in that are walk-ons this way. This ultimately saves a lot of time, even if you have to wait in the long headliner line later.
The downside is that crowds build, and by mid-afternoon, in the heat of the day, it is easy to get worn out, not waiting to stay later.
But, going in to the parks later and staying late does give you that nighttime experience (depending on the time of year) that can’t be beat. Lines are generally pretty short as the night goes on, and seeing the parks at night is so cool! If feels more relaxed when you do leave, and the heat of the day is subsiding.
On the other hand, showing up to the parks just as the crowds are at their worst (afternoon) can start the day out poorly. Everything has a long wait, and you can quickly become dissatisfied with those waits, setting you up to be in a bad mood early! Of course, if you press through, you are rewarded later…but still, it is hard to show up and hit your first line of the day with a 45 minute wait, etc.
Well, AK doesn’t seem to be open much in the evening, so that’s a morning park for certain. Tho Thanksgiving week 2017 we did the Safari at just about sunset. That was one of the best safaris we’d been on. The next 3 years we were at AK there was no evening safari.
During those visits tho our group did FoP before official park opening.
Another park that just seems to be morning is HS. Possibly because we don’t really like the food offerings much, or many of the attractions. HS does have our group’s all time fav ride: Tower of Terror. Our best memory came in 2018, 4th of July week when HS was opening 2 hours early due to the opening of Toy Story Land. We were at the CBR bus stop before the sun was and walked into HS at about 6:10. As we neared Sunset Blvd we could see a horde of folks heading to Toy Story. Counting ourselves, there were 7 guests total on Sunset. How many times do you want to experience the elevator drop?
We did like Docking Bay 7 last December.
Our extended family love closing Epcot every evening. We have opened Epcot on occasion but usually it’s our late park.
Our favorite morning park is MK, especially Adventureland. Tho we’ve got some excellent evening memories. If you don’t go to MK later in the day occasionally you’ll never get a chance to see the Flag Retreat.
One of the biggest deciders to the main question is time of year. From April thru September we’re very likely to rope drop until 11:30 am when we’ll bail for a few hours to bask in air conditioning. Then we’ll head to our evening park for 5 or 6 hours of touring.
My original plans for WDW were to do a day of parks then leave when tired, planning a rest meal in AC. Then I ended up with park hoppers, and plans changed. I’m liking the siesta plans much better. Particularly since I can avoid the quandary of rope drop or park close.
Tough Call. you can get A LOT done in the morning rope drop. But I love the parks after sunset. I agree with others. The ambiance is great after sunset.
Depending on the time of year you go, here in Florida, when the sun goes down, the temperature drops a little, but the humidity shoots up after dark, in the summer. So it doesn’t feel any cooler at all.
I looooove rope drop energy. It is so much fun to chat with neighbors, talk to the CMs at the rope, and hear those opening announcements - particularly MK. I tear up every time at the MK announcement. I also find the organized crowd control (particular DHS) fascinating. That shoulder to shoulder line of CMs walking people to TSL is impressive.
For me, if you want to ride, it’s worth it. You feel a step ahead all day.
-Then you get to sleep in
-You get daytime park hours
-You get nighttime park hours
We have done both with FP. When we arrived later in the park, we booked our FPs in the afternoon and filled in with shows that did not have long waits. Then we got extra FPs. Mornings we would rope drop and we would have FPs late morning/early afternoon and then get extra FPs. Both ways had their pluses and minuses.
Our next trip we have park hoppers. So without FP, we are rope dropping, resting, going into the parks in the evening. At the beginning of the trip, the rest might be lunch and seeing Christmas decor in the deluxe resorts. At the end, it may be to head back to the resorts and nap.