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.
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.
What Areas of Magic Kingdom Are Open Before Rope Drop?
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.
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.
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.
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.