What is it like waiting for the park to open?

We are brand-spanking new to the whole Disney experience and during our trip we will be shooting for RD every morning, most of which are EMH early mornings. It seems like we should plan on arriving to each park no later than 30 minutes prior to opening to get the most out of the extra hour. I am wondering what we can expect for those early morning waits.

Is there a coffee shop/breakfast pastry shop near the entrance so we could grab breakfast while we wait (wondering this for MK, AK and Epcot)? If not do you think it would be smart to bring breakfast pastries for us and the kiddos or are we better off eating in the room first? My kids usually are not hungry for the first hour after waking up so it would be nice to eat waiting for RD, and kill 2 birds with one stone so to speak :smile:

Also, how long does is typically take to get into the park once the rope drops? Are we talking an hour of security or approximately how long to actually get into the park once it is “open”? Do you think arriving 30 minutes early is a pretty good game plan?

Thanks in advance this board has been so helpful!!


It’s hot, sunny, so better have sunblock on, packed like sardines.

No coffee shop or pastries that you can buy to munch. With all that they are scraping for money that sounds like a smart thing. You can buy some cold drinks and there are some vending machines near where the resort buses come in. It is a good idea to bring your own.

You want to be past security with about 20-30 minutes to spare, especially for those unscheduled early mornings.

If you are taking the Disney buses it’s about a 5 minute walk to the security check point, anywhere from 2-15 minutes for security. And figure again 2-15 minutes to get past the tapstiles if they are open.

Once the rope drops you are in the park, how long depends on where you are in the crowd. Figure 5-10 minutes before you get to your first ride.

Now keep in mind if you are not using the resort buses for the Magic Kingdom you will have to park, catch a tram to the TTC (Ticket Transportation Center) then board the ferry or monorail to get to the park. After you arrive at this point you will be at the security check point.

Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios are right next to their parking lots, so you may be able to walk to the security check points or take a tram.

If you drive DO take a picture of where you car is those lots are HUGE and many and all look alike.

It is my advice that you leave your hotel about 1.5 hours before park opening. Other liner thoughts??


Thank you! That does not sound pleasant!

I am thinking our best bet is to order some breakfast shakes and iced coffee drinks for our room from garden grocers so we can have a little breakfast on the way to the park in the morning, and then stop later on for real food when we get hungry again!

I should have mentioned we are staying at the Poly and using monorail and Disney transportation. Hopefully if we get on a bus or monorail around 7am to arrive by 8am EMH we will be okay?

Well I would rather tell you the truth of what it is like to wait. You will not have to leave so early to get from the Poly to the MK. Maybe 1 hour from room, for either boat or monorail.

I am one who likes to arrive early and place myself as best as possible for the rope drop. Others might cut it closer. But you never know when they open early. I usually use Disney Transport and stay at All Stars Music and try to leave 1.5 hours before opening. The longer you wait the longer the crowd to board the transportation to get to the parks.

Garden Grocer is awesome, and having some food from them is a great idea.

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SAS, look up epcot secret bag check here on T.P. and go to Mr. Itty’s H.S. and epcot bag check, might save you some time . We have only used the H.S. one ,last September (2015). Saved us from approximately 200 or so people wait at 0830 for a 0900 R.D… you have to pinky swear you won’t tell anyone this info!

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We haven’t had a bad experience at Magic Kingdom rope drop - we actually passed up a pre-rope drop in-park dining reservation on our last trip because we liked the emotion/excitement of rope drop. We stayed at Bay Lake Tower which is a 10 minute walk to MK. The kids usually have cereal in the room then we leave our room an hour before the park opens, grab coffee/bagel at the resort, and casually head over to MK. Since you are staying at the Poly, it would be about the same - just be aware of monorail hours as that might effect whether you take the mono or ferry.
You go through the turnstiles/security rather quickly. Both times we have had a double stroller, backpack, and tote bag and made it through security in less than 5 minutes. Granted, our last two trips have been during relatively low crowds (maybe crowd levels of 4-5) so it could take longer for you to pass through during peak times.
After security/turnstiles, everyone gathers in front of MK and waits for the welcome show. It’s sort of a free for all but we have weaved through the crowds without issue and got to a good spot for pics and for the kids to view the welcome show. From there, they open the gates and the crowd passes through. I expected it to be more chaotic but was pleasantly surprised how we flowed into the park.

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Does anyone have recommendations on when to leave POFQ if we are using the bus system and want to position ourselves for RD?

No personal info from pofq to m.k. Unofficial Guide shows by car allow 37-47 min.& disney system (bus) 25-43 min. Door to door commuting time.

When we were at POFQ the first week in December, we were at the bus stop about an hour before scheduled opening. I don’t know if you’d need more time in busier times of year or not. That got us to MK and Epcot in very good time, Epcot was an EMH and we were there before security was set up. At MK RD we wanted to see the Welcome Show, so we had a great spot for that, but then it was a struggle to get through the tunnels. Our experience in December was that travel time from POFQ to all the parks was much less than the projected time in the UG.


Thank you for your posts, very useful information. Please could you tell me whether you would need to have cleared park security 20-30 mins prior to opening every morning regardless of whether the parks open at 7,8, or 9am? and how long for 8am ADR please? Am I right in assuming an 8am EMH will have a smaller crowd than a 9am RD please?

Happy to hear this! We are there the first week of May should be 5-6 crowd levels. Was really hoping an hour would be enough!

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Yes thank you!!!

We had the same crowd levels in December…so you should be fine with an hour…

We love getting Joffrey’s outside of Animal Kingdom!

Jumping in because we are staying at ASMu for the first time and also attempting RD for 4 days. I’ve only done it for MK years ago and not on site.
We are going 2nd week of May & all parks open at 9am. Do you think we should still leave at 7:30 for all of them?

It is what I do. Maybe I am one of those who leave too early, but I would rather get out and be there, then be upset that I am late.

The lines for the bus get larger as you get closer to opening. I wil be there May 5 - 10th. And I expect to leave the room at about 7:30, I may adjust the time after I have done a day or two. This will probably also include a stop to refill my mug before boarding a bus.

Thanks for the insight, its much appreciated! I was planning on leaving 7:45 ish anyway, so 15 minutes won’t hurt. Maybe I’ll see you on the bus stop on the 10th:)

Oh how I wish MK had coffee at rope drop. Totally missed opportunity!

Yeah really. One for each side. They would sell a lot.

Maybe I missed it but when are you going? That is the key to understanding rope drop. If you’re going during a peak time, it will be long and crowded. But if you are visiting during a lower crowd period, rope drop is cake. We always go in October or Jan/February. Crowds are low and we generally arrive less than half an hour before rope drop and make it through security and the turnstiles in minutes. The streets are so empty when we get in, that I can’t help taking pics of how empty the place is! I’ve not waited longer than 15 minutes :smile: