• Magic Kingdom Early Entry & Rope Drop Guide
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  • Park Strategy

Magic Kingdom Early Entry & Rope Drop Guide

Luiz Alberto H.

Created: Jan 29, 2024

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

Magic Kingdom 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 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.

Early Entry & Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom

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

Usually, Magic Kingdom 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 Magic Kingdom will open on the day of your visit.

Keep one important thing in mind: getting to Magic Kingdom isn’t as easy as just getting to, say, Hollywood Studios. There isn’t a parking lot in Magic Kingdom, after all. Guests need to drive and park at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) and, from there, board the Monorail or a boat that will lead them to the theme park. If you decide to get an Uber, you will also be dropped at the TTC. The monorail is almost always faster than the boat, by the way.

Yes, getting to Magic Kingdom almost always takes longer than any other theme park, which means you need to take this into account.

Here is where things get interesting.

The gates for Magic Kingdom usually open one hour before the scheduled opening time. So, if the park “opens” at 9am, the gates will usually open at 8am, and all guests (Early Entry or not) are allowed inside Main Street USA. There they can take pictures and even have coffee at the local Starbucks. Will you face a big crowd only to get your hands on a delicious frappuccino? Oh yes.

Guests with Early Entry are also allowed access to the bridges that lead to two of the best areas in the park: Tomorrowland (home to Tron Lightcycle Run and Space Mountain) and Fantasyland (home to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight). If you have Early Entry, there will be Cast Members there scanning your Magic Band or tickets to make sure you have access to this perk.

Once the time has come and you have Early Entry, you will have access to two lands: Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. If you don’t have Early Entry, you can Rope Drop when the park officially opens, which usually happens 2-3 minutes before the official time. A lot of guests without Early Entry prefer to avoid Tomorrowland and Fantasyland early on, since these two areas will already be crowded.

On the other hand, maybe you just want to get a popular ride out of the way, or you have an early virtual Queue for Tron Lightcycle Run or you booked Genie+ for Space Mountain early, which means you want to head to Tomorrowland anyway.

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Early Entry

Your strategy for Early Entry will be different from the strategy for a regular Rope Drop. You do have, after all, a thirty minute advantage over most visitors and the chance to explore popular attractions in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland before anyone else.

The most popular ride in all Magic Kingdom is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Seven Dwarfs is not part of Disney Genie+ and regular lines can take up to two hours, so make this one your top priority! It’s located in Fantasyland, near a bunch of classic rides that don’t get too crowded. It’s also near Peter Pan’s Flight, a very popular ride with 70 minute queue times almost always.

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Our main strategy is to just go to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and, if you have Disney Genie+, book Peter Pan’s Flight as soon as the clock hits 7am. This gives you the chance to enter Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, then visit one of the nearby dark rides that don’t get too crowded then ride Peter Pan’s Flight, all of that in Fantasyland.

In short, your ride strategy should look like this:

  1. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (regular queue)
  2. Winnie The Pooh/Under the Sea: Journey of the Little mermaid (regular queue for one of those rides)
  3. Peter Pan’s Flight (Disney Genie+)
  4. Tron Lightcycle Run (Virtual Queue)

If you wish to start at Tomorrowland, you can try another strategy that looks like this:

  1. Space Mountain (regular queue)
  2. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (regular queue)
  3. Tron Lightcycle Run (Virtual Queue)
  4. Space Mountain (Disney Genie+)

Yes, this basically means you book Space Mountain as your first Disney Genie+ and ride it twice in the morning. It also means that you will be near Tron for when it’s time to ride it. That’s a lot of Tomorrowland in such a short time, but Space Mountain is great, so that might also be a good strategy. Just make sure to buy an individual Lightning Lane for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Now, there is even a third strategy you could follow, in case you are visiting Disney with your children and want to give them a very good time.

  1. Peter Pan’s Flight (regular queue)
  2. Winnie The Pooh/Under the Sea Journey of the Little mermaid/It’s a Small World (regular queue for two or even three of those rides)
  3. Jungle Cruise (Disney Genie+).

This strategy makes sure you visit and experience a lot of kid-friendly rides in a very short amount of time. It also eliminates two of the biggest Disney Genie+ rides in Magic Kingdom (Peter Pan’s Flight and Jungle Cruise) giving you more flexibility on what you might want to visit next.

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Rope Drop without Early Entry

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

As we said above, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland will already be packed with Early Entry guests, so these two areas will be more crowded than anywhere else in the park. This is especially true for Fantasyland, with the majority of Early Entry guests going for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and a lot of them trying to ride Peter Pan’s Flight. It’s usually not a good idea to head straight to Fantasyland if you don’t have Early Entry.

Remember one thing: as soon as the park opens, that’s also when you can buy your Lightning Lane. Do it for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Tron Lightcycle Run if you want.

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So, what should you do if you are Rope Dropping but you don’t have access to Early Entry? There are two options you could take. The first one is heading to Tomorrowland anyway and entering Space Mountain. You can ride this indoor roller coaster, then head to Tron Lightcycle Run (based on your Virtual Queue time slot) or Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, if waiting times are low.

I know, I know, we told you that Tomorrowland might be busier than usual with Early Entry guests, but it’s still worth it to go there for Space Mountain. In fact, Space Mountain shouldn’t be that crowded, since most guests will be in Fantasyland fighting for a spot in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight.

With that said, this is our preferred strategy for Rope Drop in Magic Kingdom without access to Early Entry:

  1. Space Mountain (regular queue)
  2. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (if queue times are around 20-30 min)
  3. Tron Lightcycle Run (virtual queue)
  4. Peter Pan’s Flight (Disney Genie+)

Again, make sure to buy an individual Lightning Lane for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, since this ride will be a 100 minute queue for the rest of the day.

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There is also a second strategy that is mostly aimed at kids, which brings you to Jungle Cruise. This is one of the most popular attractions in the park and can get quite crowded.

Jungle Cruise is located in Adventureland, so this area won’t be open to Early Entry guests when you get there. The main problem of coming to Jungle Cruise is if you also have a Virtual Queue time slot for Tron Lightcycle Run. This means you will have to walk to the other side of the park to ride. But, hey, more exercise and power to you!

Here is the second strategy you could use if you are visiting Magic Kingdom with your little ones and want to give them a good time.

  1. Jungle Cruise (regular queue)
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean (regular queue)
  3. Peter Pan’s Flight (Disney Genie+)

This strategy makes sure you spend a lot of time seeing everything in Adventureland before you move on to Fantasyland for Peter Pan’s Flight. After that, you can also check out dark rides there like Winnie the Pooh and Journey of the Little Mermaid.

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That’s it!

We hope you had fun learning a bit more about Rope Drop and Early Entry at Magic Kingdom. 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 Magic Kingdom 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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