Does EPCOT Have Rope Drop? Tips and Tricks for Early Entry [2022]

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Do you remember the movie “Far and Away?”

Tom Cruise plays an Irish immigrant scrapper thrust by fate into the arms of the fiercely independent daughter of aristocrats played by Nicole Kidman. 

They find themselves on the frontier. And there, they race to claim “free land” offered by a U.S. government that is encouraging settlement in the heartland and “tame” the west. 

A starting line of wild and desperate farmers and hustlers and prospectors are lined up, champing at the bit to win the race to claim the land that will change their lives. 

Then, the appointed time arrives. Chaos is unleashed as hundreds, maybe thousands, of miserable, wretched and despairing people recklessly dash off into the plains, hoping for a piece of the American dream. 

That’s almost precisely how they used to open the Disney World theme parks. 

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Magic Kingdom Entrance
Guests stand in line to enter Disney’s Magic Kingdom (photo by Morgan Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

What is a rope drop?

There was a time, dear reader, a time before virtual queues or lightning lanes or cell phones and magic apps, that a theme park rope drop was a literal thing. 

Picture an early morning in the Florida heat. And a pair of Magic Kingdom cast members are walking ahead of a wild and possibly wretched crowd.

The cast members have strung a rope between them, that piece of twine, with an ego. The twine is the only thing standing between the hustlers, prospectors, tourists and the rapturous joy that comes with being the first to a Disney ride.

At any rate, there’s a euphoria that comes with beating the crowd to Space Mountain or Peter Pan and avoiding the agony of a desperately long queue. 

At the appropriate time, the cast members turn loose and the rope dropping signals that the chaotic hour has arrived. Guests shoot off in seemingly dozens of directions with dozens of variant itineraries in mind. 

Some power walk, mindful, even in the delirium, of a certain decorum. 

We live in a society after all. And breaking an ankle running to be the first on Jungle Cruise isn’t a story that tells well in polite society. 

Others throw off the shackles, running towards euphoria and ignoring both propriety and the admonishments of Disney cast members. 

Oh, dear reader, it’s true. Disney parks rope drop used to be a wild, reckless place. 

Disney's Cinderella Castle
A view of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Have I rope dropped? Oh, you know I have 

Once, my family rope dropped at the Magic Kingdom for the chance to meet Rapunzel. We’d accomplished all our goals that trip, save one.

Meeting and greeting the then-newest Disney Princess in her special area between the edge of Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Cinderella’s Castle.

My wife Leslie scurried ahead, flirting with the boundaries of decorum while I huffed and puffed from behind, carrying Sofia on my shoulders.  

Was our rope drop successful?

It was. We were in the second group to meet the princess. Then, we were free to enjoy the rest of our day.

We also rope dropped at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, literally the week before Toy Story Land opened. At that time, there were two reasons to rope drop: Toy Story Mania and to sign up for a spot at the Jedi Academy, which had limited spots over the course of the day. 

My son JP was five. There was an actual rope. People were running. I felt like OJ in those ancient airport commercials before his troubled bouts with the law.

Lightning Lane at Kilimanjaro Safaris
Paying more for Lightning Lane may be worth it for some (photo by Morgan Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Was that rope drop successful?

Yes and no. He got to do the Star Wars Jedi Academy but it rained, canceling it halfway through. We had no trouble signing up for another time later. 

I’m not sure the rope drop strategy was necessary.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we booked a character breakfast prior to the park opening at the Tusker House, finished our meal and had our own little rope drop with a handful of others and went straight to the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction where there was little to no wait. 

Was that rope drop successful? Yes, immensely. 

Does Disney still do rope drop? 

Yes. Both in theory and in practice. However, the last time I was there, we didn’t stay on park so we didn’t have access to the early park entry.

So we rope dropped after the parks had been open a half hour. Nobody used an actual rope. 

But, in reality, with the advent of Genie+ and the Lightning Lanes – sounds like a band – there are multiple rope drops every morning and the rules are very different depending on whether or not you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Does EPCOT have a rope drop? 

Yes. We’ll go over the different types of rope drops (virtual and literal) in a second.

But it’s important to remember EPCOT has a pair of entrances and what you want to do will significantly affect where you want to rope drop. 

For purposes of this discussion, EPCOT has a front entrance near the bus drop off and parking lot. And there’s also a back entrance over in the World Showcase Pavilion between the United Kingdom and the France Pavilion.

Read Also: Mission SPACE at EPCOT: How it works, what you should know

Mission Space at EPCOT
Mission Space will soon be included in Lightning Lanes and Genie+ at EPCOT (photo by Morgan Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

The virtual rope drop

Disney Resort guests get a few bonuses when it comes to rope drop. Yes, they have the advantage of early theme park entry.

They also get 7 am access to the My Disney Experience App that allows them to book Lightning Lanes for both the Genie+ service and the individual Lightning Lanes. 

In EPCOT, as of this writing, the only individual Lightning Lane, which must be purchased separately from the Genie+ experience, is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

However, as of Aug. 7, 2022, both Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will be individual Lightning Lane selections. 

That means after August 7, the Genie+ Lightning Lane experiences will be: 

  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Journey into Imagination with Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission: SPACE – Green
  • Mission: SPACE – Orange
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Guests who are not staying in one of the Disney theme park hotels are not able to perform the virtual rope drop until they are eligible to be in the park. 

Right now, that would be 8:30 am. However, that time changes seasonally, so be sure to check the Disney app for details.  

What time is rope drop at EPCOT? 

Right now, for Disney resort guests, the park opens at 8 am. This, again, is subject to change. If you’re coming via Disney bus, you’ll want to get on the first one leaving the hotel. Usually, aim for an hour before to get the best spot you can at the main entrance at the front of the park. 

If you’re staying at one of the Yacht Club Resorts or Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, you can walk right over to the International Gateway entrance at the back of the park.

Also, you can take the Disney Skyliner gondola system from Caribbean Beach, the Riveria, Pop Century or Art of Animation to this entrance. 

Frozen Ever After at EPCOT
Frozen Ever After is a top-tier ride at EPCOT (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

I want to rope drop, which entrance should I use? 

This depends entirely on what you want to ride. EPCOT now has three top-tier rides in terms of both quality and demand: Frozen Ever After, Remy’s and the Guardians. 

Unfortunately, two of these popular rides are located in the World Showcase Pavilion and the other is a very long walk around World Showcase Lagoon.

The decision basically comes down to this: Do you have young kids? If so, your best bet is to rope drop at the back of the park which will bring you right out at Remy’s. Here you’ve got a decision to make. Remy’s is right there but Frozen isn’t that far. 

My suggestion? Buy the Lightning Lane for Guardians, then if the wait times are close, go to Remy’s first and prepare to wait for Frozen. 

However, if you have a Frozen-obsessed youngster, get to Anna and Elsa as quickly as you can and throw everything else to the wind. 

For example, my then 6-year-old who loves Frozen waited patiently for her dad’s EPCOT plan to capitalize on a predicted late afternoon dip in wait times. Everything was breaking right when the ride shut down and they kicked everyone out of line. 

We salvaged it a bit when Dad spotted Anna and Elsa out for a meet and greet, but the ride didn’t come back up until we were on the other side of the park, getting ready to leave. 

She missed out. 

Wait a minute. Your daughter didn’t get to ride Frozen Ever After and you are giving advice? Yes. Learn from my mistakes. If there is something that is a must-do on your list, don’t get cute. 

Read Also: How to rope drop at Magic Kingdom, your complete guide [2022]

Is Frozen worth it? 

Yes. If you’re a 6-year-old girl who loves Disney princesses and doesn’t mind that it’s essentially a reconstituted Norway tourism ride.

But in terms of ride experience itself, does Frozen rate with Remy’s or Guardians or any of the other most popular attractions in Walt Disney World like Rise of the Resistance or Flight of the Avatar?

No, it really doesn’t. 

Should I just buy the Genie+ and the Lightning Lanes and forget about all the worry and hassle?

If you can afford it? Yes.

I don’t enjoy giving in to the idea that a ticket that costs more than $100 doesn’t buy you the best experience the park offers, but if the choice is shelling out some more cash to avoid 100-minute waits for the best rides or rolling the dice at rope drop and hoping you get lucky, then the choice is easy. 

What do you think about the rope drop? Have you tried it?

Let us know in the comments.

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