Disney World/Cruise Trip Report Part 1: This is Why You Rope Drop

Disney World/Cruise Trip Report Part 1: This is Why You Rope Drop

Disney World/Cruise Trip Report Part 1: This is Why You Rope Drop

Well, it sure has been a while since I’ve done one of these! Too long it would seem.  Of course it’s hard to do a Disney trip report when you’re not going to Disney! Recently my family and several friends went down to Orlando for a day at Magic Kingdom that was then followed up with a cruise aboard the Disney Dream for Halloween at the High Seas.

In this first part, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the main reason to rope drop (be at the park before it opens), especially if you’ve only got 1 day to spend at the park.  Going in October is now one of the busiest times of the year due to many schools going to 1 or 2 week fall break schedules, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, and temperatures (typically) being on the decline in Florida this time of year.  We are going to break down what we were able to accomplish on this Sunday at the Magic Kingdom (maybe the busiest day I’ve ever been to the park), and you’ll be able to see how much we were able to accomplish early in the morning versus the afternoon and evening.

I once heard someone say the best time to arrive at the Parks at Disney is around 2 or 3 in the afternoon because that’s when everyone is taking naps…no…that’s definitely the WORST time to come.  No one is eating, the Parade is getting ready to start, making it difficult to navigate, it’s the peak of the heat of the day, and just…no.  Now, I’ve heard MORE people say in the past that they don’t want to get up early on vacation, but if you’re going to get your money’s worth out of a park ticket that can cost as much as $137.39 per adult for a single day, you better buck up buttercup! The people that don’t rope drop just aren’t going to get the value out of their ticket.  This day added a bit of a potentially different challenge as Disney was offering their Early Morning Magic.  This is a different experience than Disney’s normal Extra Magic Hours which is a free benefit where certain parks open earlier or stay open later offered to those staying on Walt Disney World property.  With Early Morning Magic, you pay an additional $69 per adult and $59 per child in addition to your normal park ticket.  This gives you access to certain attractions before other park guests (currently Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan’s Flight) and a breakfast provided at Pinocchio Village Haus.  The event goes from 7:45am-10:00am giving you the ability to ride most of these rides that throughout the day will have sizable waits, and doesn’t cost much more than many character meals, so it may be worth it for you to try this out if you have the chance.  The ride offerings will be expanding in a month or so, and the breakfast will move from Pinocchio Village Haus to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland.

With all that said…We did NOT do the Early Morning Magic on this visit, opting to do a traditional rope drop.  The Magic Kingdom opened at 9:00 that morning.  They begin to let guests in to Main Street at around 8:00, but guests are held in the Main Street area and hub in front of Cinderella Castle until official park open with the “Let the Magic Begin” welcome show which replaced the Citizens of Main Street/Train Station open show a few years back.  The new show certainly pleases guests with the parade of characters and some pyrotechnics, but lacks the heart and fun of the old one.  It’s fine for what it is, and was necessary to deal with crowding problems caused by the old show.  Now, onto the day!

We had FastPass+ reservations for Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain (Magic Carpet’s with Aladdin for a smaller member of the party), and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

I had taken notes in my phone on the time we got in line, how long it took to ride, etc for each attraction, but they seem to have disappeared, so we’ll have to go without those today.

(I didn’t take nearly as many pics this year as last, so some of these are from a previous trip)

We arrived at Magic Kingdom at 7:45AM, they let us in starting at 8:00.  My brother rented a double stroller for his 2 sons (3 & 6 years old) that Amelia (8 years old) would try to hitch hike on as often as she could, then we head down Main Street to do some shopping in the Emporium.  Most stores on Main Street aren’t open until the rest of the park opens at 9, but you can go to the Main Street Bakery (Starbucks) if you should need some caffeine to start your day.  We made our way to the Castle by around 8:25 and lined up near the entrance to Liberty Square.  From there we were able to see people that had paid for the Early Morning Magic enjoying the park while I stare longingly like a dog waiting on permission to take a treat.  The welcome show started at 8:50, and ropes dropped at 9, and we were off!

I was worried about the Early Morning Magic crowd causing complications with my rope drop strategies, but luckily that was minimal.  We ended up at Peter Pan’s Flight for our first ride at approximately 9:05 (after stroller parking and walking).  We walked the length of the queue without stopping, rode the ride, and were back out in front heading to pick up the stroller at around 9:10.  This is a ride that would later in the day see wait times of over an hour.

Next up was The Many Adventures Winnie the Pooh.  I believe by this time Pooh was already up to a posted 25 minute wait (perhaps due to Early Morning Magic crowd?)  We decided that was fine because the kids would enjoy the interactive queue (which they did).  We ended up waiting around 16 minutes in line and were finished with the ride still under the posted wait time.  Things are moving well!

Next, our group split.  I took Amelia to ride Space Mountain (she is the only child in the group tall enough to get on), while my wife, Allyson, and brother, Ben, went to take the boys to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.  Space Mountain’s posted wait was 40 minutes, while Buzz Lightyear was 20.  After they finished riding Buzz Lightyear, the rest of the group went to Story Book Circus to ride Dumbo.  Our wait on Space Mountain was closer to 25 minutes, and we were then off to meet the group after they were finished with Dumbo.

By this time it’s around 10:15 and our first FastPass+ reservation for Jungle Cruise is approaching.  After the rest of the group is finished with Dumbo (and after Amelia and I picked up a refillable bucket of popcorn and a pumpkin spice churro) we make our way across the park to the Jungle Cruise.  If I remember correctly, the posted wait time for Jungle Cruise was near one hour.  We had to wait with FastPass+ for maybe 15 minutes.

It’s just before 11:00 now and the park is beginning to get crowded.  We decided to stay in Adventureland for Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.  It was 6 or so minutes until the next show.

From the Tiki Room, we headed to Mickey’s PhilharMagic with a posted wait of 15 minutes.  This wait was probably accurate.  This is always a fun one to experience with small children, seeing them try to grab the 3D effects and react to other elements of this show.

Next the Prince Charming Regal Carousel is right outside of Mickey’s PhilharMagic, so we head on over.  We were on the next cycle after getting in line.  This is an excellent carousel.  It’s huge (90 horses) and moves very fast.  It’s fun for the kids, and relaxing with a nice breeze to get a break from the heat for adults.

With wait times continuing to climb we had a bathroom/water/snack time break.  Luckily, we stopped near the Hall of Presidents just in time for The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History! It’s a cute little show featuring many of your favorite Muppets giving a very Muppet-y version of different American historical moments.  Ours was the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  The show is cute, funny, and definitely worth a look if you’re in the area.

It’s now time for our next FastPass+! With this one we separated again.  Ben, Xander, Amelia, and I went to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, while Allyson and Jett (the smallest in the party) headed to the Magic Carpets with Aladdin.  Big Thunder had been down earlier in the day so the FastPass+ line was a bit backed up, but we made it through to the ride in maybe 15 minutes (posted wait time was 55 minutes I believe).  We made sure to remove our hats and sunglasses since this is the wildest ride in the wilderness!  It was also the wettest ride because it started raining on us as  soon as we got on the ride!

If it ever starts to rain on you at Walt Disney World, you don’t head back to the resort.  You power on son!

We met Allyson and Jett at the play area outside of Splash Mountain before heading out into the rain to ride the Carousel of Progress. Now, one thing you’ll notice is that we do a LOT of hopping around the park.  If you were to try to keep your walking at a minimum and experience each attraction in each land before you move on, you won’t be doing much because of the wait times.  With Carousel of Progress, you know it’s going to be a next show available and you’re in situation.  If we stayed in Frontierland we would’ve had Splash Mountain (110 minute wait and not everyone in our party can ride) or Country Bear Jamboree to choose from.

We chose Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, we’re on with the next rotation of the theater, and off again in a little more than 20 minutes.  It’s a cute show filled with edutainment, and is a great attraction for fans of Walt, since he had a huge hand in the creation of this attraction.

From there it’s the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover.  You know it’s a busy day when the People Mover has a line.  We waited for about 15 minutes, but it’s always worth it.  A nice, relaxing ride around Tomorrowland and into Space Mountain.  So since we went across the park to Tomorrowland, we got 2 rides before lunch instead of just 1.

It’s a bit after 3 now, and it’s time to head to our late lunch/early dinner at The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen.  We’ll pick up here in the next entry.  So far, from 9:00 through 3(ish) we’ve experienced 10 (with Space Mountain) or 11 (for the younger group) attractions, and you could even say 11 or 12 if you count the Muppets show.  So with rope drop, we’re experiencing nearly 2 attractions per hour using 2 of our 3 FastPasses.  Keep in mind the crowd was HUGE this day.  If we would have started later we would have needed to reassess our FastPass+ reservations (Peter Pan’s Flight in particular would go from a walk on earlier to nearly an hour wait for the rest of the day), and would be waiting in much longer lines for the attractions we’ve already been on.  You’ll see the day goes much slower in the next post.

See Ya Real Soon!

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