A little over a month ago, I had a tip about skipping the FastPass line for Toy Story Mania! just after rope drop. I received quite a bit of feedback from that post, so I thought I'd share another non-conventional approach when it comes to rope drop at Epcot.
At rope drop there are two major attractions people gravitate toward: Soarin' and Test Track. I'll address how to approach each attraction in turn.
Probably the second most popular attraction in all of Walt Disney World (based on standby line times), Soarin' is located in the lower level of the Land pavilion in Future World West. At rope drop you can count on a hoard of people making their way to the Land pavilion. Cast members will direct guests to enter on the right side and walk along the right walkway to descend to the lower level and toward Soarin'. The vast majority of guests will line up at the FastPass machines and within minutes, there is a huge crowd of people all jockeying to get passes. The end result can often be a 15 minute wait just to get FastPasses.
The solution? Unless you happen to be toward the front of the line, skip the FastPass line. Go straight into the standby line. Odds are you will experience about the same wait or less by going standby. Still want a FastPass for Soarin'? No problem, just duck into the FastPass area as you come out the Soarin' exit (which takes you right past the FastPass machines anyway). By the time you come off the attraction, the huge crush to get FastPasses has dissipated and you can get a pass for later in the day.
The second of Epcot's two main feature attractions, Test Track presents a bit of a different scenario when it comes to rope drop. First, it's not as popular as Soarin', so the initial FastPass crush isn't quite as huge and, similarly, the initial standby line isn't usually as long. So what do you do at rope drop? Head for the FastPass machines (at first). If you can find a fairly short line, then go ahead and catch a FastPass. If, on the other hand, there's a long line to get passes, then skip the FastPass and go right into the standby line. Just like Soarin', you can always get FastPasses after your first round on Test Track. As you come out the exit, just hang a right and you'll be right at the FastPass area.
I hope this brief tip will convince you just how important it is to get the parks early each day. You can do so much more when you are part of rope drop.