4 Things to Do BEFORE Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom

You can actually enter Magic Kingdom one hour before rope drop, but what can you do? Here' four fun things!

Hands down, rope drop at Magic Kingdom is one of my favorite times to be in the park. Why? Crowds are much smaller than in afternoon, the heat is generally more agreeable, and there’s so much potential. Potential to hop on and off attractions and walk without being shoulder to shoulder. But did you know that you can actually enter the park before rope drop? Yep! Last year the folks at Disney World began a whole new dynamic for touring the park. So what exactly goes on? Here’s four things to do BEFORE rope drop at Magic Kingdom.

Did you know you can be at Magic Kingdom one hour before it opens? Here's what you can do while you're there, too!

If it’s your first time visiting Walt Disney World, you may not be familiar with the term “rope drop”. In a nutshell, it’s the time of day at each theme park when it officially opens. There’s generally a quick ceremony or announcement to begin the day. It’s also literally the time when the large ropes are let down to allow guests inside.

Up until last year, rope drop at Magic Kingdom was the perfect way to start each park day. The “Welcome Show” was outside the MK tunnels and took place at the train station stop. Disney characters would welcome us all into the park and a “First Family” would be chosen.

A quick pop of fireworks and, Bam!, ropes were down and we shimmied shoulder to shoulder to get in the park. These days, castmembers begin letting guests into the park about an hour before it officially opens for guests.

While it was, indeed, magical, it had its limits. First of all, if you weren’t there early, we had to wait to scan your magicband until after the park opened compliments of a lack of space near the turnstiles. Secondly, we had to fight the crowds heading to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride.

Having written that, it was still fun and filled with magical memories. So, here’s what you can do if you’re early birds like we are and want to arrive before rope drop.

Just in case you need to get your bearings, here’s the link to the full Magic Kingdom map.

Did you know you can actually visit Magic Kingdom every more before it officially opens each morning? Here are four fun things to do before rope drop at Magic Kingdom! #Disney #familytravel #WDW #DisneyTips #DisneyHacks

What Areas of Magic Kingdom Are Open Before Rope Drop?

After you scan your Magicbands and enter the park, there’s three areas that you can hang out it: Town Square, Main Street U.S.A., and The Hub in front of Cinderella Castle.

1. Grab Some Breakfast at Starbucks

My husband is one of those people that is never hungry in the resort room. Get him on a bus and, by the time we hit Magic Kingdom, he’s starving. I’ve tried to get him to eat in the room or in the on-property restaurants. He’s not having it.

So, to keep his hunger in check, we like to visit Starbucks when we arrive – and before guests begin to flood the park. We’re able to grab a snack (think giant cinnamon rolls!), or some coffee or tea.

You can now shop one hour before Magic Kingdom opens. Yes!

2. Shop at the Main Street U.S.A. Stores

If you want to get your shopping out of the way as soon as you arrive, hit The Emporium on the left side of Main Street as you’re walking in. We tend to do quite a bit of shopping at this time as, again, crowds are very pleasant.

If you’re staying on-property you can ask to have your packages sent to your room. If not, you can ask to pick them up at the end of your day at Main Street Chamber of Commerce.

Not all of the stores along Main Street are open before rope drop but there are plenty of chances to spend some Disney dough.

Take crowdless photos in front of Cinderella Castle before rope drop.

3. Take Photos in Front of Cinderella Castle Without a Large Crowd

Remember the days of yore when you had to have a breakfast advanced dining reservation to score a good photo in front of the Castle? Hit Magic Kingdom as soon as it opens and you’ll have your chance for lovely solo photos.

During our visit last October, we did see Photopass photographers arrive before the park officially opened so, if you want to get Main Street photos out of the way, keep an eye out for them.

Hang out near Cinderella Castle or around the hub of Magic Kingdom before rope drop.

4. Let the Kids Play in the Grassy Areas Near the Hub Fountains

The past couple of years we’ve seen a huge update to the Hub, aka, the area in front of Cinderella Castle. There’s pretty miniature statues to check out, a couple of fountains to get some cool mist from, and some grassy, fenced-in areas. It’s here you can let the kiddos play before “Let the Magic Begin Welcome Show” starts at the Cinderella Castle stage.

Need More Disney tips in Your Life?

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29 Thoughts to “4 Things to Do BEFORE Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom”

  1. Lesli

    Love this. Taking the boys for the first time in jut 2 short weeks. How do we find out the time of “rope drop” for a park, and how much time before that should we plan to be there?? To make sure we’re close enough to see the fun!

    1. Karyn Locke

      Yay! I know you’ll have a fun visit!

      Hop on the official WDW website or undercovertourist.com for park times – including rope drop. When it comes to rope drop, it’s different for every park, but for Magic Kingdom, I’d say as long as you hit the park 30 minutes before rope drop you’ll have plenty of time to walk to the castle to see the opening show and take photos.

      Have fun – and please let me know if you have any questions!

    2. Anonymous

      We went in December! We got there at 7:30. There was no line up to go through security, it was fast. We were allowed onto Mainstreet at 8! We went straight to the rope of the land we wanted to visit first. We got Starbucks and pics in front of the castle! Rope drop was st 9!

      1. Karyn Locke

        It’s a really easy (and calm!) way to begin your Magic Kingdom day!

  2. Amanda

    I love all of your Disney posts! They’re very helpful and informational. We are visiting next week and the day we’re planning to go to magic kingdom has magic hours from 8am-9am. We are not staying on a Disney property but made breakfast reservations at 8:20am inside the park in hopes to get in the same time as resort guests. You think arriving at 7:30am will give us enough time to park and get on the monorail to see the ripe drop before breakfast?

    1. Karyn Locke

      How exciting – and thank you! I’ve always gone by the rule that you should allow at least 90 minutes to get where you need to be, especially if you’ll be using WDW transportation. These days, the Monorail can be hit or miss as to if it’s up and running in the morning so you may have to rely on the large boats to take you across the Lagoon.

      Tips for getting inside the park faster: you’ll be asked to go through the security queue at Ticket and Transportation Center, so look for the shortest line (often it’s to the far left) and have your bags opened and ready to be checked. Once you hit the Magic Kingdom turnstiles, look for the Advanced Dining Breakfast Reservation line and jump into it.

      Hope this helps! K

      1. Diane Jones

        We will be heading to MK the Tuesday after Labor Day. We have 8:30 reservations at Be Our Guest, and want to get pics in front of the castle before we go eat. What is the best way to get in, and where is the advanced dining breakfast reservation line?


        1. Way to score a great ADR! There’s only one way to get in – you need to head straight to Magic Kingdom. Once you’ve scanned your MagicBand or ticket card, the Advanced Dining Reservation is usually on the left side of the entrance. You’ll either hear a Castmember directing guests to the ADR line and/or see a sign marking the line. Make sure you arrive early to queue up, as you’ll be let in a few minutes before your reservation – that’s the time to take family photos. Have fun!

  3. Anonymous

    Thank you for this! We are headed there in a few weeks as first timers and we only have 2 days so we want to get in as much time as we can.

    1. Karyn Locke

      It’s my pleasure. Yes, you’ll definitely want to get to Magic Kingdom before Rope Drop and hang out for an hour, then. Enjoy your trip!

  4. Julia

    We go to Disney annually for the past 7 years and are just now hearing of “rope drop”. LOL. I h ave a couple of questions because I am totally confused. In Magic Kingdom, Is “Rope Drop” at each “land”, or is it at the front entrance? Is the show on stage have a “Rope Drop” or is it just at the entrance? Does Animal Kingdom have a “Rope Drop”?

    1. Erin Maynard

      Rope drop for MK used to be at the main entrance. As of 2017, the adorable show on the train tracks was discontinued and people are able to enter MK one hour prior to its official opening. You can wander up and down Main St., and position yourself at any of the ropes leading to the “lands” — which don’t open until the stated opening time. So technically there is a “rope drop” at the entrance to each land, but it literally is just CMs removing a rope — nothing exciting like it used to be. If you want something vaguely reminiscent of the old MK “rope drop,” head to the forecastle stage to watch the welcome show.

      As for AK, they have a similar “rope drop” procedure as MK. Guests can enter the park an hour beforehand, and wander through the Oasis area. Then, like at MK, position yourself at the “rope” nearest the “land” you want to enter.

  5. Anonymous

    Hi. Do you know if we can rent a stroller in the hour before the rope drop? I think that would save us some time for sure!

  6. CeCe Campbell

    So am I correct that “Rope Drop” corresponds to the actual published opening time – on a day when there are no Extra Magic Hours?

    Also from earlier comment of someone else – is there a separate rope for each land (like for Fantasy Land?)

    1. You are indeed correct. 🙂

      Apart from Extra Magic Hours (onsite resort guests get in an hour early for Fantasyland & Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom on select mornings), the entire theme park, and all of its lands, open at the same time.

  7. Beth

    Hello, I’m just curious about this whole new rope drop process and I wanted to make sure I understand because we are going in the end of June. So now they no longer have rope drop with the train in front of MK right? They now have the gates open and you can go in before the actual open. So lets say the park opens at 8am but you can now go in before then at like 7am and shop and take pictures, and then they do the show in front of the castle at 8am, is that correct? Also do they still pick a family of the day or did they do away with that as well?

    1. Hi Beth – thank you for stopping by the site! you’re correct, there’s is no good Morning Show with the train ride at rope drop. The new show in front of the castle replaced it last year. Generally, the gates to Magic Kingdom open about an hour before actual rope drop (as long as there are no Extra Magic Hours)and you’re able to shop, get a bite to eat, and take photos along Main Street U.S.A. and in front of Cinderella Castle. Around five minutes before park opening there’s a show at the stage in front of the Castle, so there’s no more Family of the Day. Hope this helps you plan!

  8. Vanessa

    Do you know if the silhouette cart is open on Main Street during the hour before rope drop? Thank you!

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  13. Katie

    We go in October. Is all of this still the same? This is our first time and we want to make the best of our time there.

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