Whether you’re going for just one day or for an entire week, the early morning hours in the Disneyland parks are often what can make or break your experience. You absolutely want to get on your favorite ride, but if the attraction has a 90 minute wait, it ruin the whole flow of the day. So let’s explore how you can beat the crowds by implementing the best rope drop strategy for Disneyland!
Before The Parks
Often times, getting through security and to the park itself is one of the most difficult parts of rope drop and can add a lot of stress to your day if you’re not properly prepared. The security lines are usually the longest first thing in the morning (between 7 AM and 9 AM), and as such, I have found that getting to the parks right when security opens is the best way to avoid the busiest part of rope drop.
On a standard day, security begins letting people through the first checkpoint at around 7 AM, so if you’re looking to get a great start to your rope drop strategy I would recommend arriving to the park no earlier than 6:30 AM on the day of your trip. One tip that we learned on our last visit is to park in the Toy Story parking lot and take the free shuttle to the park. You’ll want to do this because you’ll go through security in that parking lot rather than in the big checkpoint within the parks themselves.
Ultimately, this saves you a lot of time, and I’ve found this puts you ahead of the crowds first thing in the morning! It is worth noting, however, that on property parking lots open at 7 AM.
Once you are through security, you’ll have the opportunity to line up for the park that you have chosen to visit that day. Park gates open at 7:30 AM each day and it’s at that point that guests are allowed to enter the park and line up at the ropes for each land. The park is officially open at 8 AM on most days, and this is when the cast members will drop the ropes to let guests into separate lands, thus the term “rope drop“.
The Best Rope Drop Strategy for Disneyland
Rope drop at Disneyland is a much larger commitment than Disney’s California Adventure purely due to the difference in size of the two parks. There are countless different strategies for all types of different scenarios, and the rope drop strategy that works best for you and your family will vary even from trip to trip.
With that said, if you most covet Rise of the Resistance or It’s a Small World, here are my rope drop strategies for these great attractions.
Rise of the Resistance Rope Drop
Rise of the Resistance is without a doubt the most popular attraction in the entirety of the Disneyland Park. It is very rare to see wait times under an hour, even first thing in the morning which is why rope dropping this attraction is such a huge deal for families! In fact, the stress of trying to rope drop this attraction has led to people running through the Disney parks in attempt to be the first person in line for this attraction!
There are two different paths that you can take to reach this attraction. Typically, cast members will route you through Frontierland and all the way through Galaxy’s Edge to get to the attraction queue, however this is also where The large majority of people will end up going which can slow things down quite a bit.
Any time that I have rope dropped Rise of the Resistance, I have gone through Adventureland and saved quite a bit of time. There is one drawback to this plan, and that’s the direction that the ride queue faces once there’s a large amount of people waiting for the attraction.
Unfortunately, if you come through Adventureland you will find that you have to pass the attraction to reach the end of the line unless you are one of the very first people into the park. I am maneuver around the parks in a wheelchair that tops out at about 4 Miles an hour, which means that I can get to the attraction pretty quickly, but this route may not work if you have a large party or members who can’t go full speed to get to the attraction.
It’s a Small World Rope Drop
While wait times for this attraction are never too horribly long, this is one of my favorites to rope drop while everyone else is doing the bigger attractions! This particular ride is an absolute classic which of course makes it one of the more popular attractions, but it’s never usually too crowded first thing in the morning during rope drop.
The biggest reason that this is one of the best strategies for rope drop is that it’s in close proximity to many of the other popular attractions, so you can knock several of them out in a very short amount of time.
The most direct route for this attraction is to cut through Fantasyland from Main Street, although my personal favorite way to do rope drop for this attraction is to actually get on the Disneyland railroad near Tomorrowland and circle around the park until you get closer to the attraction itself.
While this does take more time of course, I have found that this saves a lot of walking so that you are more prepared for the rest of the day. I have never experienced a long wait for the Railroad first thing in the morning, and this is just a fun way to add to your rope drop experience!
Peter Pan’s Flight Rope Drop
This is another Disneyland attraction with a wait time that has the capability to increase exponentially the later in the day you attend! If you have children in your party, this is absolutely a ride that I would recommend adding to the top of your rope drop priority list!
Peter Pan’s Flight is a calm, gentle ride that kiddos are sure to enjoy especially with all of the decorations and lights! Although rope dropping this attraction will not completely negate the wait times (as they are usually still somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes first thing in the morning), you will find it worth it to rope drop this ride because it does still save you quite a bit of time!
Speaking from experience here, in the late mornings to early afternoons, the wait time for this attraction can skyrocket upwards of 45+ minutes and stay that long nearly all day!
This is a Fantasyland attraction, so you’ll want to line up at the edge of Fantasyland quite a bit before the park is officially open if possible! Once the rope has been dropped by cast members, you’ll head straight towards the entrance for the ride, which is near the exit for castle walk-through! It is quite a long trek through the park, so I would recommend getting to the Fantasyland line up area as soon as park gates open at 7:30 AM to give you and your family ample time to reach your destination!
Big Thunder Mountain Rope Drop
Big Thunder Mountain is one of my favorite attractions to rope drop because the wait times are so much better early in the morning. On top of that, I enjoy it because it sets you up for success in getting on several of the other popular attractions immediately after!
This attraction is fairly popular amongst teens and young adults, making it perfect for younger party members who want to start out the day with an exhilarating ride! It has extremely close proximity to several rides including both Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain (soon to be Tiana’s Bayou Adventure) and you’ll be saving a significant amount of time by riding this attraction earlier in the day!
Typically wait times for this attraction will rise in the late morning and be steady all day, resting between 45 minutes and an hour! By rope dropping this attraction, you’ll be saving a huge amount of time and opening up lots of other options to do during your day!
Big Thunder Mountain is located in Frontierland, so in order to properly rope drop this attraction you’ll want to line up as close to the entrance of Frontierland as you and your party can safely get! I would recommend lining up to the rope no later than 7:45 AM, as this will give you plenty of time to plot your route before the rope officially drops!
California Adventure is, at least in my opinion, the easiest of the two parks to successfully rope drop. There are multiple ways that you can spend this time, however the best strategy for this particular park will depend on what specifically you and your family would like to experience.
Radiator Springs Racers Rope Drop
The most popular strategy for rope dropping DCA is to go straight towards RSR, more commonly known as Radiator Springs Racers. This ride is over a decade old, however it’s still one of the most popular rides in the entire resort, with wait times rapidly rising to over an hour during the day. By rope dropping this ride, you will mitigate a large portion of the wait times that can be seen later in the day, and that’s why a lot of people love this strategy!
In order to successfully rope drop RSR, you will want to head down Buena Vista, past the waterfall and the entrance to Avengers Campus. Keep walking until you see the sign for Cars Land. Once you see the sign, you’ll want to take a left and head straight down the street towards the back portion of this land.
Once you get to the statue in front of the town hall, you’ll want to follow the path around the corner to the right and you’ll see the entrance for the ride! It will seem like the crowd of people is absolutely massive and that there’s no way you’re saving any time by rope dropping this ride, however you’ll find the wait times for this ride to be far shorter this early in the morning.
Webslingers Rope Drop
This attraction is one of the easier ones to rope drop in DCA given its close proximity to the entrance of the parks in comparison with other attractions. Webslingers is located in the heart of Avengers Campus and is another one of those rides with wait times that can easily reach over an hour later on in the day.
This ride is a high-speed rescue mission with none other than Spider-Man himself, and is a blast for any marvel fan to participate in! At the time of this article, Webslingers is the newest ride in the park, opening for the first time just about a year and a half ago.
There are two different routes you can take to access this ride once the rope drops, but my personal suggestion is to cut through Hollywood Boulevard as it takes you straight into the back entrance of campus. Alternatively, you can walk down Buena Vista as if you were headed towards RSR, however the turn for campus is just a little bit before the turn that I would recommend for RSR.
Once you reach the border of campus, you’ll be able to walk straight through to the attraction with no other turns to get caught up in. While the latter route is more direct, you will find more traffic going this way which is why I personally prefer to cut through Hollywood. Either way, this is one of my favorite attractions to rope drop and I would recommend it to just about anyone looking for a fun Spider-Man themed early morning ride!
Why is Rope Dropping at Disneyland Important?
Just like with any vacation, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a successful rope dropping experience. The best plan for you and your family will depend on your goals, party size and what attractions you would like to experience on your trip!
On a personal note, the best advice I can give is to prioritize your must do attractions for rope drop, because this helps ensure that you will get to them on your trip without missing out on anything that’s important to you and your family!
Rope drop can be a huge asset when it comes to getting the most out of your trip, but it’s best to plan it out well in advance so that you know exactly what time you need to be in the parks and exactly where you need to be to make sure you can get to your desired attractions.
The Disneyland app has a map on it that is extremely helpful for rope drop, and one of my favorite things to do is screenshot the map from my phone and draw our route out before we even get to the park in the morning. Rope drop can be confusing with the different people and directions going around, so this is one way that I have found to eliminate confusion and stay on track when it comes down to crunch time!
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