Skip to Content

Magic Kingdom Early Entry & Rope Drop (tips & strategy)

Magic Kingdom Early Entry & Rope Drop (tips & strategy)

Having a successful Early Entry and Rope Drop strategy for Magic Kingdom can make or break your morning in the park. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about how it works (including maps and visuals, so you’ll know exactly where to go), plus give you tips and strategies on which attractions we recommend you plan to ride.

What is Early Entry at Magic Kingdom?

When Walt Disney World did away with Extra Magic Hours, they replaced them with a new onsite perk called Early Entry (or Early Theme Park Entry). Early Entry at Magic Kingdom lets eligible onsite guests enter the park and start riding attractions 30 minutes before the official opening time.

Note: Sometimes during the busy holiday season, Disney has even been known to extend it to 1 hour. Make sure you check the My Disney Experience App to confirm the times on your trip.

Unlike the old Extra Magic Hours perk (which was only at 1-2 parks per day), Early Entry happens every day, at every park, including at Magic Kingdom.

Because of the sheer number of extremely popular attractions, we highly recommend you plan to use Early Entry at Magic Kingdom if you are eligible.

This is especially true if you do not intend to purchase Genie+, but even guests who do plan on buying it will find they’ll have a much more relaxing day touring Magic Kingdom if they start off with Early Entry.

Who can attend Early Entry at Magic Kingdom?

Only onsite guests at Walt Disney World Resorts and select offsite resorts are eligible for Early Entry at Magic Kingdom. That includes:

What happens if you aren’t eligible?

Guests who are not staying at one of the resorts listed above will be let into the park; however, you will have to stay on Main Street, U.S.A. until the official park opening.

During that time, you’ll be able to take pictures with PhotoPass photographers and grab some coffee or a bite to eat at Main Street Bakery, which is the Magic Kingdom Starbucks location.

What is Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom?

Rope drop is the name given to when they start letting people either into the park or into the lines. “I’m rope dropping Seven Dwarfs Mine Train” simply means you are planning to be at the front of the pack of people when they start letting guests onto Seven Dwarfs Mine train.

The name comes from the literal rope that used to be dropped to signal the opening of the park, although in practice today, it’s more of a metaphorical term.

Because of Early Entry, there are kind of 2 rope drops now in the park. There is the one that happens during Early Entry, and then there is another one for offsite guests.

Rope dropping Magic Kingdom is a popular strategy because it allows guests to get a head start on their day, often with significantly shorter wait times for popular attractions. Even for those who aren’t eligible for Early Entry, being at the park for rope drop at official park opening can provide a significant advantage in terms of avoiding long lines, especially for the most popular rides and attractions.

What is open during Early Entry?

At Magic Kingdom during Early Entry, the majority of attractions in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are open. All other lands and attractions, including Adventureland, Frontierland, and Liberty Square, open at the official park opening time.

Note: Attractions labeled with an * are our recommended choices for Early Theme Park Entry



How does Early Entry work at Magic Kingdom?

Roughly 1 hour before Early Entry begins, Disney buses, the monorail, and boats will start letting people off at Magic Kingdom. If your bus arrives too early, they will line up until they get the all clear before parking to let everyone out.

You’ll go through security and then be directed to the tapstiles. Typically, they’ll have guests fill in at the tapstiles farthest to the left (when facing the train station) before they open up the tapstiles on the right.

Roughly 45 minutes or so before Early Entry begins, they will let everyone (both onsite and offsite guests) scan into the park.

At that time, guests will head down Main Street, U.S.A. There are PhotoPass photographers out and the Main Street Bakery (which is a Starbucks) is open – but, if your goal is to rope drop an attraction, we don’t recommend onsite guests stop for those.

Once you get to the Hub area of Main Street, you’ll have 2 pathways on your right: one leads to Fantasyland and the other one leads to Tomorrowland. Depending on which attraction you plan to ride first, you’ll want to walk to that bridge where Cast Members will be stationed to scan your ticket or MagicBand to determine your eligibility for Early Entry. Only 1 guest per party will be scanned, so it goes quickly.

After you have scanned for Early Entry, you’ll line up at the next holding area. Although other parks have done a good job creating an orderly system for guests waiting to rope drop during Early Entry, the system at Magic Kingdom remains chaotic, and it can be kind of stressful.

Our best tip to avoid the worst headaches is to be as close to the front of the crowd as possible. Sorry for sounding like a broken record, but for Early Entry the old saying of “if you aren’t early, you’re late” really rings true.

We snapped a few pics on a recent morning rope dropping during Early Entry to show you what we mean. Here is what the crowd looked like when we took our place. There was nobody behind us, and just 1 row of people in front of us.

early entry crowd

This is what the crowd behind us looked like just a few minutes before Early Entry began:

early entry

Can you imagine pushing a stroller or trying to hold on to your little ones while being in the middle of that big crowd? No thank you.

Best attractions to ride during Early Entry at Magic Kingdom

When it comes to what are your best options for attractions to ride at Magic Kingdom if you plan to rope drop during Early Entry, we recommend you start with either Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, or Space Mountain.

Let’s go over the pros and cons of each:

Strategy 1: Rope Drop Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  • Most popular attraction during Early Entry at Magic Kingdom
  • Has a 38″ height requirement
  • Wait times here are often 70 minutes or longer
  • Not eligible with Genie+, but you can purchase an Individual Lightning Lane here

Seven Dwarfs is the most popular attraction during Early Entry at Magic Kingdom. The vast majority of people lining up in the morning are there for Seven Dwarfs, and even though people are told over and over not to run, when the Cast Members drop the rope, people don’t listen.

If you want to ride Seven Dwarfs with the shortest lines possible without having to pay for an Individual Lightning Lane, Early Entry is the way to do it.

Strategy 2: Rope Drop Peter Pan’s Flight

  • No height requirement, so it is a great option for families with little ones
  • Wait times here are often 50 minutes or longer
  • Can be used with Genie+

If you arrive late and the crowd looks overwhelming, you may want to consider skipping Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during Early Entry, and instead head to Peter Pan’s Flight. It is a solid attraction that also has extremely long lines for most of the day.

Strategy 3: Rope Drop Space Mountain

  • Has a 44″ height requirement
  • Wait times here are often 45 minutes or longer
  • Can be used with Genie+

We highly recommend 2 days at Magic Kingdom, and if your schedule allows it that means you’ll have 2 days for Early Entry. One day should definitely be for Fantasyland, but on the other day, we recommend heading to Space Mountain and then spending some time touring Tomorrowland before the crowds there build.

What time do you need to leave your resort to make it to Magic Kingdom Early Entry on time?

Where you are staying and how you plan to arrive will determine what time you need to leave your resort in order to get to Magic Kingdom in time to be at the front of the pack for Early Entry.

Here’s what we recommend:


While we used to recommend arriving at the bus stop 60 to 75 minutes before Early Entry begins, after testing the timing out many times, we now recommend 90 minutes. That 90-minute window is especially important if you:

  • want to be on the first bus (which we recommend), or
  • if you are staying at a large resort like Art of Animation, Pop Century, or the All-Stars, or
  • if you are staying at a resort with multiple internal stops, like Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs.

Expect the first bus of the day to arrive between 1 hour to 75 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry starts. The goal is to be on the first bus of the day, and the lines for the buses will get very long, very fast. Arriving 90 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry will get you to the front of the pack, and likely on that first bus.


Plan to get to your monorail stop about 60-75 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry. For reference, the Resort Monorail Loop goes:

  • Transportation and Ticket Center
  • Polynesian Resort
  • Grand Floridian Resort
  • Magic Kingdom
  • Contemporary Resort


When traveling by car, plan to arrive at the parking lot entrance about 70 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry. If the parking lot booths are not open at that time, you should be able to just wait for them to officially open up. But, don’t show up too early because they may not let you wait for the booths to open and instead will force you to turn around and come back closer to opening.


If traveling by boat, 60-75 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry is probably good.


Walking? You’ll have it the easiest!

Guests that walk are typically allowed to line up at the tapstiles around 60 minutes before the park opens for Early Theme Park Entry. If you want to be at the front of the pack of the walkers, plan to arrive ahead of that. (If you arrive before they begin allowing people to line up at the tapstiles, you’ll be held back by security.)

What happens if you arrive late for Early Entry at Magic Kingdom?

If you arrive late for Early Entry at Magic Kingdom, you’ll have a couple of options.

First, if there are still 20 minutes or more of Early Entry left, you can check out some of the less popular attractions in Tomorrowland or Fantasyland like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh or Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

But, if you have only 5–10 minutes of Early Entry left when you arrive, we recommend you instead position yourself to be ready to rope drop either Frontierland for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad OR Adventureland for Jungle Cruise and then Pirates of the Caribbean.

Personal Experience with Early Entry at Magic Kingdom

We like to test out touring whenever possible, both with and without using Genie+.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of how a recent day at Magic Kingdom looked. One of us toured with Genie+, and the other without:

Magic Kingdom with Genie+
Magic Kingdom without genie plus screenshot

We have an entire write-up on how our days went, where we go in-depth about exactly how we put our entire touring plan for that day together.

Read about them here:

Magic Kingdom Early Entry and Rope Drop FAQs

Do you see the opening show at Magic Kingdom during Early Entry?

The opening show at Magic Kingdom used to be this adorable song and dance that happened on the upper level of the train station at the front of the park. Not only was their singing, but tons of characters would ride up on the train and they’d have a chosen “Family of the Day” who would get to stand up there with all the characters. It was one of the best ways to start the day.

old magic kingdom train station opening show

But, that show is no more and in its place is a show that is just a couple of minutes long on the Cinderella Castle stage. We do not recommend leaving Early Entry to see it, as, in our opinion, it isn’t worth it.

Can I use Genie+ during Early Entry?

Genie+ is not available during Early Entry. The first return time of the day begins at official park opening.

Is TRON Lightcycle / Run open during Early Entry?

TRON Lightcycle / Run is not open during Early Entry. Currently, the only way to ride TRON is via either a virtual queue or by purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane.

Can I meet characters during Early Entry?

Unfortunately, characters aren’t available during Early Entry. This includes attractions like Princess Fairytale Hall and Enchanted Tales with Belle.


Tuesday 3rd of October 2023

Hi! I’ve rope dropped MK 2xs this year. I’m not great at it so tried people mover along with Space and Buz. People mover did not open during these early hours. It only opened at park opening. I saw it on your list as an early opener. Have I just had bad luck? Headed back in Dec with my whole family so trying to get it all worked out. Thanks for all your info always. Y’all are great!!

Shannon Albert

Tuesday 3rd of October 2023

Disney still lists it as being part of Early Theme Park Entry so I'm going to guess you had a bit of bad luck. Hope you have a great December trip!

Confused from Arizona

Wednesday 6th of September 2023

Thanks for all your thoughts and detailed considerations for how to get the most our of Early Entry and Rope Drop. But I am confused. Your recommendations include getting on a bus or monorail so that you arrive at a park 60-90 minutes in advance of Early Entry. But I read on the WDW website that buses don't start until 45 minutes before Early Entry and monorail 30 before. Am I missing something?

Shannon Albert

Monday 11th of September 2023

Disney's website is incorrect about when transportation begins.