Which Rides Should You Rope Drop Right Now?
I recently wrote an article about Disney’s Animal Kingdom that led to an excellent question from a reader.
The person asked which ride at the park was the best for starting the day during the pandemic.
After all, Disney park guest behavior has changed mightily over the past calendar year. Has this impacted the opening strategy any?
Here are my thoughts on which ride you should Rope Drop…and do last!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Groupthink can get you in trouble at Animal Kingdom more than any other Walt Disney World park right now.
The moment that Animal Kingdom opens, guests speed-walk toward Pandora – The World of Avatar.
They know that Avatar Flight of Passage currently claims one of the longest wait-times at Walt Disney World. It’s generally at least an hour.
So, everyone tries to beat the rush by heading straight to Pandora, which defeats the purpose.
Within minutes of Rope Drop, Avatar Flight of Passage’s wait-time has reached 30 minutes.
If you’re not one of the first people through the gate, it’ll approach an hour by the time you get there! All you’ve done is hurried up to wait 60 minutes!
The better approach involves going to Kilimanjaro Safaris, which will have some different animals first thing in the morning.
If you don’t want to do that, head to DINOSAUR instead. It’s featured longer lines recently, but virtually nobody Rope Drops it.
Another bold strategy is to ride Expedition Everest. Presuming your stomach can handle it, you could feasibly ride it three straight times in a matter of minutes!
An hour before the park closes, circle back to Pandora. You can get in line for Na’Vi River Journey and ride it.
Then, in the minutes before the park closes, enter the waiting area for Avatar Flight of Passage.
The line should be shorter, and cast members will let you ride it even after the park closes!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
You can approach Hollywood Studios in several different ways. Also, your success/failure in scheduling a Boarding Group influences the choice.
Let’s say that you book a Boarding Group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. If your number is lower, you’ll want to go straight to that area.
You can either ride Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run or stop at Toy Story Land. The line for Slinky Dog Dash has been worse lately than before the pandemic.
Remember that Disney provides a one-hour window when your Boarding Group window opens.
Still, you don’t want to wait at Slinky Dog Dash – Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run the whole time, as these attractions average 50+ minute waits.
You could get stuck and miss your window. For this reason, I suggest the most straightforward approach.
Target Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway first thing in the morning! We’ve done this successfully a couple of times.
Even when we weren’t the first people in the park, we still waited 30 minutes or less both times.
Plus, the excellence of this attraction sets the tone for the rest of the park visit. You’ll be happy for the rest of the day!
I wouldn’t recommend Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, as they’re too aggressive for early in the morning.
You should save those for later in your park visit. However, Slinky Dog Dash is much calmer. That one’s okay if you want to do it at Rope Drop.
I would argue there’s no wrong answer here. At night, your final ride should be anything you haven’t done yet.
If you’ve checked every box, I still vote for Runaway Railway. It’s soooo good.
Honestly, not much has changed at EPCOT during the pandemic. Back when we had FastPasses, the top tier consisted of three different choices.
Without FastPasses, the situation remains the same. Your best Rope Drop options are Test Track, Frozen Ever After, and Soarin’.
I’ve had better luck with the lines at Soarin, which is why I wouldn’t suggest it. Soarin’ has averaged a 55-minute wait lately, but it fluctuates a lot.
Attentive guests will find windows when the line is much shorter. Similarly, Frozen Ever After averages 45-minutes but is sometimes barely half that.
Ergo, I strongly suggest that you Rope Drop Test Track instead. The wait-time here is rarely less than 50 minutes and averages an hour.
You can skip that with Rope Drop. However, please know that the line will swell here after only a few minutes, just like Avatar Flight of Passage. Don’t be late!
I’d still suggest Test Track at closing time, presuming that you don’t mind riding it twice. The outdoor section is thrilling in the dark of night.
Soarin’ and Test Track are both indoor rides, which makes them viable options on chillier nights.
I don’t think we’ll see many of those from now until the end of the pandemic, though.
Okay, if you’ve paid any attention to Walt Disney World’s reopening, you probably know the answers here.
Unlike the other three parks, Magic Kingdom doesn’t come with much wiggle room. You’ve really only got two choices.
Most guests walk straight to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Rope Drop, and I’ve been one of them.
In my experience, the early morning wait can be as little as 20 minutes or as much as 45 minutes.
Since the average wait-time throughout the day is 55 minutes, luck plays a factor here.
If you’re only saving ten minutes, you’re wasting Rope Drop. I say this as someone who has wasted Rope Drop.
The superior option right now will require a bit of walking. Once you enter Magic Kingdom, you should take the path to Frontierland.
You’re going to the back of the park where Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain reside.
Your goal is Splash Mountain, which currently requires the most prolonged wait at Walt Disney World. It averaged 70 minutes in April!
Thanks to Rope Drop, you should cut that in half. However, you’ve got a backup plan if the line swells too fast.
Magic Kingdom Plan B
If you reach Splash Mountain and see it’s too crowded, just do Big Thunder Mountain Railroad instead!
You can ride this roller coaster two or three times and then walk to Pirates of the Caribbean, which should still have a wait-time of 25 minutes or less.
Yes, you’ll feel irritated that you couldn’t ride Splash Mountain (yet), but you can do several rides within 90 minutes! That’s a satisfying feeling.
If you like Peter Pan’s Flight, the same approach works here, presuming that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train gets too crowded.
Otherwise, I strongly encourage you to ride Peter Pan’s Flight immediately after Mine Train. Its crowds gradually increase rather than expand quickly.
At night, you’ll want to pick the attraction you haven’t ridden yet, which is probably Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
I recommend this anyway. On several occasions, I’ve watched the fireworks from this area. It’s magical to watch the show from the other side of the castle!
Of course, you should ride the current version of Splash Mountain before the re-theming occurs.
So, if you haven’t done that one yet, it’s a no-brainer as the best way to end the day. Your clothes should drive off before you leave the park, too!
Feature Image Rights: Disney