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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

All Things "Rope Drop" at Walt Disney World

I was visiting with a person the other day about all things Disney and they accused me, teasingly of course, of making up the phrase “rope drop” and then, almost the same day, a faithful reader asked about the timing needed to make it to “rope drop.” Due to the serendipity of those two events, this post is dedicated to all things “rope drop.”

Let me begin with the fact that Disney does all things like. . . well, Disney, and even the opening of parks each morning involves ceremony, fun, and entertainment. Yet, each park opening is a bit different.

Rope drop at Magic Kingdom. Well, the term is a bit inaccurate, because at the Magic Kingdom no rope is actually dropped to open the park, unless you count the barriers blocking off the two tunnels that go under the train tracks and open into Town Square. Guests go through the turn styles and gather around the area in front of the train station. The opening of Magic Kingdom each day is brought in with song, dance, a train, a countdown, and confetti. Each morning, the Main Street Singers turn the Main Street Train Station into their own performing venue and sing songs welcoming everyone to the Magic Kingdom. There is typically a host, too. . . the Mayor, or any of a handful of Main Street U.S.A. inhabitants. Are you catching the magic yet?

The Good Mornin’ song chugs to a crescendo just as the train pulls into the station carrying your favorite Disney characters and a very lucky family of the day.  All exit the train and join the platform for the countdown and confetti throw that officially open the park.  All guests then proceed through the two tunnels and into the Magic Kingdom.

There is a rope drop at EPCOT.  First, the turn styles open about 15 minutes or so before the official opening time.  Guests make their way past Spaceship Earth and into the area between Innoventions and the Fountain of Nations.  There, guests will find that the area is roped off and you can go no further.  Then, about 5 minutes before the park opens, Mickey and the gang appear to wave and countdown the park opening with a family that has been chosen as the family of the day.  It was US one time!  The family either zooms off in a test track car or walks to test track while other Cast Members lead the crowds into both sides of Future World.  The rope literally drops when it is time to open EPCOT.

Our Friends Dale and Holly at Hollywood Studios Rope Drop

At Hollywood Studios, there is also a rope drop.  The turn styles open about 15 minutes or so before the official opening time.  Guest make their way down Hollywood Boulevard.  About 5 minutes before park opening, a crew of Streetmosphere Characters appear to put on a short skit about making a movie, etc.  They are your official welcoming party to Hollywood Studios.  You can also see various Cast Members from different portions of the park in their uniforms.  The park opens at the official time with a countdown and rope drop.  The cast members then lead the crowds to the various portions of the park in an orderly fashion.

Animal Kingdom has an opening ceremony, too.  Again, the turn styles open about 15 minutes before park opening time and guests gather at the ropes set up just before the Oasis.  Soon, Mickey and friends appear in their own safari vehicle and go through a checklist of sorts for what you might need during your visit to Animal Kingdom.  They countdown the park opening and guests then make their way through the Oasis and into Animal Kingdom.  The same ceremony used to be done further into the park with the rope being just after the bridge to Discovery Island and after the Oasis.  Part of the opening show was even Mickey coming down the Tree of Life on a rope ladder of sorts.  But when we cwere there in March, the show and rope had been moved closer to the Oasis.
If you are a Walt Disney World Resort guest, then one of your perks for staying on property is Extra Magic Hours. Just know that any of the above rope drop ceremonies can and have changed during the AM Extra Magic Hours. Sometimes they do the whole show and sometimes they don’t. I haven’t found a science to predicting that for the AM Extra Magic Hours.

Now, about that timing thing to make it to the park on time. For us, if we know a park opens at 9:00 am, we are out the door of our resort and heading to the bus stop at 8:00 am. If a park opens at 8:00 for AM Extra Magic Hours, we are out the door at 7:00. It may take a few minutes for a bus to arrive that is going to the park we are headed to—click here to read more about bus stops. Then, factor in the ride to the park. From our favorite on-site property, Port Orleans Riverside—click here to read more—a bus ride is usually never more than 15 minutes. It can then usually take 3-5 minutes to walk from the bus unloading zone to the gates, a couple of minutes to get through security—bag checking, and then we line up at a turn style and wait for it to open. Note: The turn styles that are directly opposite the entrance will have the longest lines. Look for ones either to the right or left. Also, look for two turn styles side by side. There is usually only one line, but it will move very fast once the turn styles open because guests will go in both sides!

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