• EPCOT Early Entry & Rope Drop Guide

EPCOT Early Entry & Rope Drop Guide

Luiz Alberto H.

Created: Jan 29, 2024

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

EPCOT Early Entry & Rope Drop Guide

Hello and welcome to our special in-depth guide, where Famvia will give hot tips to those that will wake up at 5am just to meet Mickey Mouse and have fun!

Yeah, that wasn’t a typo, you will need to wake up pretty early if you want to be one of the first guests to experience everything Disney World has to offer without spending much (or any) time in lane.

It’s worth it, trust us, and a very fun experience to do with your friends and your family. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend almost twenty four hours inside the Happiest Place on Earth?

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What is Early Entry & Rope Drop?

Early Entry and Rope Drop are actually two different terms.

Early Entry is a perk given to every guest that stays in a Disney hotel or one of their partners. It lets you enter most theme parks 30 minutes earlier than everyone else. Disney hotel guests have access to Early Entry on the day of their check-in and also on the day of their check-out.

Rope Drop is more than just saying “it’s when the park opens”. It’s rare that Disney keeps every guest outside the main gates then gives the green light for everyone to come in at once. This would probably look like that scene from The Lion King with Simba and the stampede, phew!

In fact, most parks open one hour before the official time, even if rides are still closed and most areas are off limits. This is called a soft opening, mostly to spread out guests so the entrance doesn’t look too chaotic. For example, at Magic Kingdom guests can enter Main Street USA and have breakfast at the Starbucks there, even if lands like Tomorrowland and Fantasyland are still closed to the public.

In Epcot, however, there isn’t a “soft” opening with guests being let inside the park early on. There are, however, two entrances, with one leading to the World Showcase. We will talk about it soon.

In short, every guest has access to what we call a Rope Drop, but only Disney hotel guests can enjoy Early Entry.

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It’s important to know that you need to have everything ready for your Early Entry/Rope Drop strategy and not leave important details for the last minute.

Check park opening times through the official Disney website or the My Disney Experience App the night before your visit.

Get your backpack ready with everything you need already inside: snacks, an extra t-shirt if you want and everything else you might need. Again, do this a night before your visit.

Get that alarm clock ready and wake up early! If a park opens at 9am and you don’t have Early Entry, get there at 8am. If you do have Early Entry, this means that the park will officially open at 8:30am, and you need to be there around 7:30am if you want to be one of the first ones in line for the most popular rides. Yes, this means you will need to wake up pretty early. Take into consideration the time to take a shower, eat something and wake up your kids (yeah, this might be tough, but you can do it!).

Remember that Virtual Queues and Disney Genie+ open at 7am, and you will probably need to do this while you are already inside the park. Individual Lightning Lanes purchases are also available at 7am for Disney hotel guests.

Make sure you know how to get to Disney World during that specific day. Driving is probably the easier method. If you are taking a monorail or an Uber, for example, you are going to need more time to reach your destination, so take that into account.

Remember that Early Entry and Rope Drop is just a small part of your park strategy for that day. You will save a lot of time in one popular attraction, maybe save precious minutes on a second ride, and that’s about it. After that, it’s time to follow a traditional ride strategy or a Disney Genie+ strategy.

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Early Entry & Rope Drop at Epcot

As it happens with every theme park, opening hours for Epcot depends on the day of the week and the Season you are visiting.

Epcot usually opens its doors at 9am, which means that Early Entry is scheduled for 8:30am. As we said above, check the official website or the My Disney Experience app to see at what time Epcot will open on the day of your visit. Epcot doesn’t have a soft opening like Magic Kingdom, where guests are allowed inside Main Street USA and can have breakfast there, so just remember that you will be waiting outside the gates.

Getting to Epcot is much easier than getting to, say, Magic Kingdom. You can just drive there and park at the main parking lot, then walk a few minutes towards the entrance. Few people know this, but there are actually two main entrances to Epcot, which might impact the way you plan your strategy.

The first entrance is the classic one that most people are used to, when you go past the gates and you come face to face with the giant-white-ball known as Spaceship Earth. The second entrance brings you directly to the World Showcase and near popular attractions like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Frozen Ever After, which are two of the main targets of Early Entry and Rope Drop guests.

This second entrance, called the International Gateway, is accessible only by boat, the skyliner or by walking from select Disney Hotels like the Swan Reserve, Disney’s BoardWalk Resort, Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, the Walt Disney World Swan and the Walt Disney World Dolphin. Do you plan on staying in one of those? Then your day at Epcot just got way easier: walk to Epcot and enter Epcot through the World Showcase gate. 

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Oh, here is a fun detail: the pictures in this guide were all taken during an Early Entry day, so you can get a good idea of how crowded it can get right outside the gates.

With that said, let’s get down to business! Which rides are the most popular in Epcot?

The answer is simple. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is the most popular ride. We are not considering Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, since this roller coaster uses the Virtual Queue system. Frozen Ever After is also pretty popular, but has lower queue times than Remy. Both of these rides are based on popular IPs and are awesome for entire families, which explain the long waiting times. The third most popular ride is Test Track, an awesome ride from 1999 which still manages to get high queue times.

So, if you have Early Entry access and you are entering Epcot through the World Showcase, your strategy should look like this:

  1. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (regular queue)
  2. Frozen Ever After (regular queue)
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (Virtual Queue)
  4. Test Track (Disney Genie+)

There is also a pretty big chance you won’t be able to get to Epcot through the International Gateway. That is fine. Enter through the main gates and completely ignore Spaceship Earth. In this case, your strategy would look like this:

  1. Test Track (regular queue)
  2. Test Track/Soarin’
  3. Journey of Water Inspired By Moana (regular queue)
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (Virtual Queue)
  5. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (Disney Genie+)

The ride strategy above is great for those that enjoy thrill rides, and lets you experience the area around Test Track for a while before you move on to the World Showcase later. You can also ride Test Track twice, since this is a ride that the entire family loves and it’s one of the best ones in the entire park. In fact, you can even ride it three times, since you can book a Disney Genie+ for it later on as well. Hot tip: Test Track has one of the fastest Single Rider queues in Disney World, so you can always try that one if you don’t mind your party getting split up.

There is also a third strategy, in what we call a Kid-Friendly Early Entry guide to give the young ones a good time. Your strategy should look like this:

  1. Frozen Ever After (regular queue)
  2. Frozen Ever After/Journey of Water Inspired By Moana (regular queue)
  3. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (Disney Genie+)

This strategy makes sure you visit a lot of Kid-Friendly rides and save a Disney Genie+ you’d use on Frozen Ever After. In fact, you can ride Frozen twice in quick succession. You can always try your luck and face the regular queue for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure early on, even before Frozen Ever After. You should definitely do this if you don’t plan on buying Disney Genie+, by the way.

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Rope Drop without Early Entry

Did you arrive early in Epcot but you are not staying at a Disney Hotel? It’s fine, you can still save a lot of time on most rides.

One thing we would definitely not recommend is going straight to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Without Early Entry, this means that this ride in the World Showcase will be already packed with guests. It’s not a good idea to walk for minutes all the way to the France pavilion only to stay stuck in a lane for one hour.

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Your strategy won’t be that much different from Early Entry guests in this case.

  1. Test Track (regular queue)
  2. Test Track/Journey of Water Inspired by Moana/Mission: Space (regular queue)
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (Virtual Queue)
  4. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (Disney Genie+)

Remy should almost always be your top priority for your first Disney Genie+ in the day. After that, you can also book Disney Genie+ for Frozen Ever After or Test Track. As you have probably noticed, we also changed Soarin’ for Mission: Space in the strategy above. Soarin’ is a popular ride and there is a chance queue times are already pretty long if you are not an Early Entry guest.

What if the kids in your group are your top priority for a Rope Drop without Early Entry? Well, you could try to follow this itinerary:

  1. Frozen Ever After (regular queue)
  2. Frozen Ever After/Journey of Water Inspired by Moana (regular queue)
  3. Living with the Land (regular queue)
  4. The Seas with Nemo & Friends (regular queue)
  5. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (Disney Genie+)

This strategy makes sure you knock out a bunch of unpopular dark rides like Living with the Land and The Seas with Nemo & Friends early on. It also lets you ride Frozen Ever After twice, if your kids are big fans of Elsa and love to Let it Go (c’mon, they probably do).

Keep in mind that this strategy also takes into consideration that you will get a Disney Genie+ for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. If you don’t plan on getting Disney Genie+, you should make Remy your top priority for the park and head there before Frozen Ever After.

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That’s it!

We hope you had fun learning a bit more about Rope Drop and Early Entry at Epcot. Remember, these strategies will save you some time but, after riding two or three rides, it’s back to a traditional guide to optimize your time.

One important thing to point out is that you don’t need to get too attached to an itinerary that you must follow all the time. Visit the rides you want to visit and have fun. Try to not stress out if a ride has queue times bigger than usual and enjoy the moment. If you got to Epcot early, there is a very, very good chance that you will go to the best rides (even more than once) even if you don’t min-max your strategy.

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