Trying to understand rope drop philosophy

I’ve had 3 week long trips to WDW but still haven’t had a true rope drop experience b/c we were always traveling with a friend who did not want to get there earlier than 9 or 10. So, I am very curious about what it would be like, b/c my family are early morning people and I’m thinking of doing a trip with just us. One thing I’ve never understood is, if your goal is to not stand in a line for an hour or more, why is it better to get to the turnstyles and wait there for an hour or more? Doesn’t this just transfer your waiting from a line to a different kind of line? I say this assuming that most people at rope drop are trying for one big headliner ride. I do realize that getting there that early means you can probably do multiple rides with low waits…this is probably the point, I just don’t know if I can convince my family that if we get there 1.5 hrs early and stand around that that is a good thing vs. getting more sleep and then waiting later.

The idea with getting there for rope drop is that you are not spending your time in line during park hours. You are getting on more rides during that golden time or having a shorter wait for the impacted rides. (Or like us, ride the same favorite ride over and over again until there is a line.)


I think waiting before the park opens is worse than waiting when it’s open because I’m losing sleep. But that’s me. I will only wake up early for RotR because if I don’t get a BG I won’t ride at all.


Yes this is the point. Take AK for example. We arrived just before 7 for an 8am opening. We were off FOP just before 8 and the people arriving at that time were at the back of a 2 hour line. While they were waiting, we rode basically everything else in the park and left to go to breakfast at Boma at 10am.

I think FOP is the only thing that routinely opens early (not sure if the current HS situation, our trip ended just before SWGE opened) but the principle is the same. You only really need to be very early to MK if you are rope dropping 7DMT, but then Main St opens at 8am for a 9am opening anyway so it’s a bit different.


Yes, but it’s not paid park time. You stand in line for 2hrs before the park opens so that you don’t stand in line for 2hrs (or more, in many cases) while the park is open and you can enjoy other attractions.


When we Rd on our last trip, we weren’t going for any of the headliners so we aimed to arrive about 30 minutes before open. You have to queue for security and then taps so by the time we did that, we weren’t waiting in the Rd crowd for that long. You really can get a lot done in that first hour of park time. Strolling up to the entrance at 9:15 doesn’t seem that different but it really is!

As @OBNurseNH states, pre-open waiting is not using up park time you’ve paid for.
As @missoverexcited states, by knocking out a headliner and then going on to the rest of the park while others are trapped in a line offers much shorter waits elsewhere.

We don’t have APs and buy X-days passes. By looking at the park hours I calculate how much those passes cost me per hour. I don’t like waiting for anything and only had to for FEA on our last trip (grrr I messed up :rage:).

LOL @Jeff_AZ - I just had this conversation last night with our friend Jeff. It costs me so much to travel that I actually dislike sleeping too much. Carpe diem!! I want action! excitement! adventure! No time for sleep.


We don’t RD the super headliners that require you to get there so early. If you RD medium scale attractions you can show up 20-30 minutes early and knock out a ton. Even if you stroll in at 9, as long as is not a headliner you’ll be in great shape.

Getting to MK early is good though because they open up Main St an hour early so you can stroll down with it being less crowded.


I am a RD person for sure and it does make a huge difference. The latest I arrive on a park day is about 30 prior to opening. This past trip, for July 3, I planned to do open to close at MK - close was like 2AM. For that day I arrived right at opening and it was a massive difference. Wait for security, wait for taps, crowded Main Street, and rides already lined up.

Another option for MK is to get an early BOG if the park opens at 9. Then you can spend your 8-9 time eating breakfast and possibly get on 7D just before opening.

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We plan to RD by getting there just before RD, not getting there way early. But don’t RD the headliners. RD all the things people aren’t doing while everyone races to the headline. Waits are much lower. Then get in line for the headliner when the wait time drops. Even if it doesn’t, you end up with minimal wait times for everything else without sacrificing sleep or having to arrive ahead of everyone else and having to race people to the main ride.


I only technically rope drop MK because I LOVE the atmosphere. Like @ryan1 I find non-headliner wait times to be our first stops, keeping our FPPs for about 10am or so. I try to RD Epcot but find I’m always arriving 8:40 am and taps are already opened. I don’t both RD HS or AK simply due to family preference of MK & EP.

Try it! You might like it.

This is what we do as well. Usually get there 15-20 minutes before and head for non-headliners. Then we aim for Fast Passes with the headliners. We can get a ton done in the first hour or so with this strategy and it works out well for us. But we’re there fairly frequently (every 3-4 months) so if we don’t hit something one trip, it’s not as if we won’t be back for it soon.

We pretty much will arrive about 45 minutes before published opening time.

Detest arriving after the park is open.

Our goals aren’t necessarily headliners. Perhaps mostly fav rides with least waiting.

There’s a certain time at which we’re done and out of the park - usually 11 to 11:30 at MK. Don’t like crowded walk ways either.

As we’re on our 5th decade at WDW our priorities are probably vastly different. :relaxed:

TP posted a video recently on Youtube where they showed the impact of arriving at different times and the wait for 7DMT. Maybe that can help illustrate the impact of being there early for RD.

I am a fan of RD. Not so much everyone else in my family. I find when I’m at Disney I just can’t sleep late. The parks are calling my name. Meanwhile at home I can never wake up early. This trip I used a split RD strategy at least once where I took DS1 while H stayed with DS2, allowing him more sleep. It worked well so maybe consider strategic early arrival for just some party members.


I should mention, we no longer do rope drop. I have a tween who doesn’t like to get up early and I like the slow, quiet mornings now, so we just use fast passes and sometimes close out parks to get on some of the popular rides.


My version of rope drop is not waiting an hour before park opening, but getting to the park when they start letting you tap in. I like getting on a few rides before the crowds start to increase. I’m a fan of going for 5-6 hours in the morning, taking a 3-4 hour afternoon break, then returning in the evening. If I have a FP for a headliner, I’ll do other rides first. I stay off-site. I start booking FP in a few days for my next trip :grin:


Thanks to everyone for the advice. I really, really (!) wanted to rope drop at least a few times but couldn’t convince my friend to do it. I have to get up very early in my regular life and usually can’t sleep in anyway. I like the idea of going very early, taking a long mid day break, then going back at night.


When I first stumbled on the book “Unofficial Guide to WDW” 7 years ago I drunk the kool aide and it was amazing. We walked on to everything.

I wonder what it will be like when we visit 7 years later in February. It looks like rope drop is a well known strategy now. But it also looks like people head for the biggest headliner. We are going to avoid the biggest headliner and hope for a repeat of 7 years ago.

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The strategy is well known; however, in my opinion, people still struggle to get themselves and their families out of the rooms in time to make it. They underestimate transportation, cafeteria breakfast time, cramming everyone into one bathroom, etc. It’s still well worth it to get up early, even if it’s just a couple non headliners. I’ve even rope dropped People Mover because the little person wanted to. :slight_smile:


This is very true.

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