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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tip Tuesday: Rope drop at the Magic Kingdom

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday! This week, I'll round out my series on what to do at rope drop at the parks. This week, we're heading to the Magic Kingdom!! First and foremost, you'll need to arrive at the Magic Kingdom turnstiles no later than 30 minutes before park opening. Every morning, Disney puts on a brief welcome show (see photo above) where a family of the day is chosen to help open the park. In order to get a good view of the welcome show, you'll want to be toward the middle of the main entrance plaza. However, if you're more interested in getting into the park, then make your way to either the left or right entrances and be ready to move (please don't run) when the ropes drop. Once you help Mickey count down from ten, the park will officially open and it's time for the big crush through the two tunnel entrances and down Main Street. So where do you go now? Well this depends on what you're interested in and who you're with. I'll try to boil your options down to three basic scenarios. Scenario 1: Time to Fly!!

The quintecential attraction for young children, riding Dumbo is a rite-of-passage. This also means that Dumbo is widly popular. The short flying elephant attraction can quickly generate queues of well over and hour by late morning. If you have young children who are dying to take their turn soaring into the skies on an elephant, you'll want to make your way straight to Dumbo once the park opens.

After your little one has soared through the sky on Dumbo, you'll want to head straight to another popular flying attraction -- Peter Pan's Flight. This is another attraction that is wildly popular and also quickly can generate a huge queue. Unless there is a short standby line, you should grab a FastPass and move on to other attractions, such as the carousel or it's a small world. When your FastPass window opens, you can return and enjoy a nighttime flight over London (I still love that scene!).

Scenario 2: The Thrill Seeker

There's something about racing along a roller coaster track feeling the wind race past. The Magic Kingdom has plenty of options for thrill seekers, most notably the Mountains of the Magic Kingdom (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain). For the thrill seeker, the first destination after rope drop is Space Mountain. If you can do so quickly, grab a FastPass and then head straight into the standby line for your first launch from StarPort 77. After you return to Earth, make your way to Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland.

While you're walking, take note of when you can get another FastPass. It will say so at the bottom of the FastPass ticket (see this previous post for more).

As you approach Big Thunder, glance to the left and see what the FastPass and standby lines are for Splash Mountain. Then glance ahead at the FastPass and standby lines for Big Thunder. Odds are, the standby lines will likely be fairly short (3o minutes or less). Here's where you have to do some thinking. Depending on when you can get another FastPass, enter the standby line that will take up the remaining amount of time until you can get another FastPass. For instance, if the current time is 8:30 a.m. and you can get another FastPass ticket at 9 a.m., you need to burn 30 minutes. See which line best matches how much time you have left to kill and go. Once you come off Splash Mountain or Big Thunder, grab a FastPass for the attraction that has the soonest FastPass time, even if it's for the attraction you just came off of.

Now head into the standby line for the other attraction (Splash or Big Thunder). Again, you shouldn't see a standby line longer than about 30 minutes or so. While you're waiting in the second standby line, again take a look at when you can pick up your third FastPass. When that window opens, grab a pass for whichever mountain you don't have one for yet. Now you'll have three FastPasses to use later in the day when the crowds are much higher.

Scenario 3: the no-FastPass Route

While many attractions at the Magic Kingdom have a FastPass option, just as many, if not more, do not. So while you may have the opportunity to bypass a long standby line with FastPasses for some attractions, there is no such option at many beloved attractions at the Magic Kingdom.

So the best way to get an early jump on those non-FastPass attractions is to head to them first. Chief among them, in my opinion, is the Haunted Mansion, especially since the new queue area opened a few weeks ago, making the Mansion particularly popular.

After rope drop, head straight down Main Street and veer to the left to enter Liberty Square. Make your way straight into the interactive queue for the Haunted Mansion, taking time to enjoy the different activities. After your return to the world of the living, head straight through Frontierland to the far entrance to Adventureland. It's time to greet some salty 'ol pirates at Pirates of the Caribbean, taking the right queue line (I think it's better).

Assuming you survive your journey and don't meet a pirate's end, you may want to cross over into Tomorrowland to pick up a FastPass for Space Mountain and then check out the queue for Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, the Tomorrowland Speedway or the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and enjoy the rest of your day!

Hopefully these tips will help you make the most of those precious few hours at park opening when the crowd levels are at their lowest.

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