Oops, I meant walk. Walk very fast. Yes, that’s what I meant to say. We don’t run at Disney parks, right?
If you’ve never attended a rope drop at Disney, it’s something you really ought to consider experiencing; and it is an experience.
What is rope drop? It’s exactly what it sounds like, it’s the time Disney drops the rope that keeps you from entering the park. Before the park officially opens, Disney lets guests start to enter through the front gate. Disneyland guests can wander through Main street as far as the Hub where there are ropes set to prevent them from going further. At parking opening, the ropes are dropped and guests are released into the attraction areas of the park.
Guests that come for rope drop get the perk of walking right on to a ride…provided you’re in the front of the line.
So you’ve woken up early to attend the rope drop (In my case, 5:30 AM to beat the traffic up to Anaheim from San Diego), now what? Where do you go first?
There are 3 main attractions at Disneyland that everyone “runs” for. You pick which one is right for you.
1. Indiana Jones
Located in Adventureland, to the left of Main Street when entering the Hub, Indiana Jones is the ride most people who wait on that side are looking to ride. It’s one of the more iconic Disneyland rides and since it doesn’t have a Walt Disney World counterpart, it tends to have long lines all day long.
I’ve only ever gone here once for a rope drop. In my opinion, Indiana Jones is one of the best rides to FastPass, so why bother going there first? There are two reasons for this.
The first is that this FastPass is near the top of the list for amount of people skipped. I’m sure you’ve been there, you FastPassed a ride, and then there was no line. You feel like you wasted a FastPass. California Screamin’ can be this way. I’ve never felt that way over Indiana Jones. When I FastPass Indy, I feel like the smartest person in the park when I walk in and bypass all those poor people who’ve been waiting in the hot sun for 30 minutes.
The second is that the queue line is much more interactive and exciting to look at over the other two rope drop rides we’re about to cover. So if there’s a line you have to wait in, Indy is the better one to do it with.
2. Peter Pan
Located in Fantasyland, straight ahead through the castle from the Hub, Peter Pan is the ride anyone with small children is probably heading toward. And let me tell you, the competition is fierce! We went to Peter Pan on our most recent rope drop frenzy and I felt like I was falling behind in the Running of the Bulls. You know, because I actually try to listen to the cast member when they tell people “no running.” But some of these crazy people are that hardcore about their Peter Pan I guess (sorry if you’re one of those crazy people).
We chose to ride Peter Pan first on this particular visit because we hadn’t ridden it at Disneyland. Ever. The line is always so long and there is no FastPass for Peter Pan at Disneyland like there is for just about every other Disney park with this ride. That means either wait in this really long, cramped line with nothing to look at or don’t ride it. We always opted not to ride it.
If you want to ride Peter Pan, rope drop is the way to go. Once we finally made it to the ride, all the people who ran past me were already in line. We found a spot for our stroller while people who were behind us continued to pour into the line in front of us because this line is just that crazy. We ended up waiting about 10 minutes for a ride that normally takes 50, so rope drop is the way to go.
Whether or not you actually care to ride it will determine if you go for it. If not, you may want to consider the third and final option.
3. Space Mountain
Located in Tomorrowland, to the right of Main Street as you enter the Hub, Space Mountain is my favorite ride to do for rope drop. Since Space Mountain might be the most popular ride for all those people sans kids or with older ones, Disney regulates the speed the line moves to get there by posting cast members that set the pace for the crowd and keep everyone from flooding into Tomorrowland.
The thing I love about Space Mountain at rope drop is that it’s literally a walk on. Usually with Indy, they haven’t quite opened the ride yet, so you stand outside for a bit, and with Peter Pan there’s so many people that get there ahead of you that there’s still a 10 minute wait, and that’s if you’re one of the faster ones. But with Space, you’re usually on the ride within 2-3 minutes, and that’s mostly just the time it takes you to walk through all the winding hallways.
If you ride Space Mountain right away, then you can go and FastPass something else, thus knocking out a popular e-ticket ride without having to waste a precious FastPass.
4. Just about any other ride
Since everyone is going to one of those three rides, you can pretty much pick any other ride in the park and go to it and you’ll walk on. Be mindful that you’re probably wasting your greatest opportunity to ride one of these three highly popular rides if you do that, but it’s up to you.
In any scenario, rope drop is one of the most profitable times of the day, especially when the park opens at 8 AM. I feel that the best time to be at Disneyland is between 8 AM and 10 AM. These two hours are golden. You’ll get more done in those two hours than maybe the rest of the day. How you start that day depends on your own personal taste.
The most important tip for rope drop is to be near the front…wherever the front is for you. I like to weave myself right up to the rope by Tomorrowland so that I’m in prime position to be at the front of the Space Mountain line.
Where do you go at rope drop?