As a Disney travel agent, people always ask me, “when is the best time to go to Walt Disney World?”
Sure, crowds are lower at off-peak times than Christmas or Spring Break. But you can make the most of your Walt Disney World visit ANY time of year by remembering two simple words, “Rope Drop.”
What in the world is Rope Drop, you ask? Does Mickey hang on a vine in Tarzan fashion and swing across the park? No – that’s not it. Rope Drop refers to that time when the ropes stretching across the entry to sections of the park, are dropped, and officially open to park guests.
So, what time do you need to arrive at “RD” as it is affectionately referred to by Disney aficionados? To take full advantage of Rope Drop, you should try to arrive about 1 hour prior to park opening. This takes a little planning on your part, and depends on where you’re coming from. If you’re staying off-site, you’ll need to factor in driving time and traffic. If staying at a Disney resort, you’ll need to factor in travel time via bus, monorail or water taxi. If you’re driving to the Magic Kingdom, remember there is no parking at the Magic Kingdom; you must park at the Transportation Ticket Center and then take the monorail or ferry to the Magic Kingdom.
Once you are there, allow enough time to get through the bag check line, and the turnstiles. The Magic Kingdom generally lets guests through the turnstiles 15 minutes before park opening. Sometimes, if there are very large crowds, Disney will let people in even earlier.
Guests who arrive at the Magic Kingdom before park opening are treated to an official Welcome Show put on by their favorite Disney characters. You might even be lucky enough to be chosen as the “First Family,” and get to help open the park. The Magic Kingdom Welcome Show ends with a countdown. After the countdown, guests can enter the park on to Main Street (this usually occurs about 5 minutes prior to opening).
Another benefit of getting to the Magic Kingdom early, is walking down Main Street with hardly anyone else there. No crowds + Cinderella’s castle as the backdrop = an amazing photo-op!
You can often make it all the way down Main Street, take your castle photos, and be at the entrance to one of the lands at Magic Kingdom (or the main sections of the park at the other 3 Walt Disney World theme parks) when it opens. This means you will be among the first ones at the FastPass kiosks and in line for some of the more popular rides before everyone else (so you can bypass a 90 minute – 2 hour wait at Enchanted Tales with Belle or Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.
At Epcot, you can head straight to Soarin’ or Test Track, and FastPass the other – riding both of Epcot’s hottest rides before most people arrive at the parks.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can get a coveted FastPass for Toy Story Midway Mania before they run out (often before lunch time).
At Animal Kingdom, you can be among the first to see the animals on safari (who are often more active first thing in the morning).
Another strategy is to enjoy a pre-Rope Drop breakfast at one of the park’s character meal restaurants. Popular choices include: Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh & Friends or Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom. Princess dining at Akershus castle in Norway at Epcot; Tusker House for Donald’s Safari breakfast at Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood & Vine’s Disney Junior breakfast at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Get a reservation time as early as possible (by 8 AM) and you’ll be done, and already in the park when it opens. These pre-Rope Drop breakfast times are highly coveted, so make a reservation as soon as possible (180 days prior to the day you’d like to eat there).
Even if you’re not in the parks before or at opening time, get there as early as you can. Getting there before most of the crowds arrive mid-to-late morning, will allow you to have much shorter wait times for rides and attractions. Arriving early allows you to do as much in a few hours, as it would take a full day to see if you waited until later in the day to arrive.
So, head to the parks early, do as much as you can, and then head back to your Walt Disney World Resort hotel for a mid-day pool break, as the masses begin arriving in the parks.
Contact me for more information to learn about all the benefits you will enjoy on YOUR Walt Disney World Vacation!!
Want to plan a Disney vacation, but not sure where to start? Let Stephanie do the work, while you have the fun! As an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner with MickeyTravels LLC, Stephanie can help with all aspects of your vacation planning for ANY Disney destination – land or sea! Planning services and no-obligation quotes are always FREE!