Rope drop at Disneyland and California Adventure: Best strategies for 2023
Going to Disneyland and California Adventure? You need to know about this number 1 tip for your Disneyland visit – Rope Drop! The rope drop strategy alone will make your Disneyland Resort trip super successful!
Read on to find out what rope drop is, how to rope drop at Disneyland and California Adventure Park, the best rope drop strategies, and is rope drop worth it.
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Table of Contents
What is rope drop?
The term “Rope drop” at Disney parks means that the theme park is officially open for rides and attractions.
Every morning both Disneyland and California Adventure start allowing guests inside 30 minutes before the park opening time. You can finish bag check, security, ticket scanning, and park entry before the park officially opens and be inside the park.
There are several rope drop areas within each park (more on this later), and guests are allowed to wander up to the rope drop area.
At park opening time (which is currently 8 AM), the cast members literally “drop the rope” that is tied at several entry points and allow people in.
And now, you will see people running in all directions to be early in line for their favorite rides. What a sight and what a thrill it is to join in this fun!
I have been to Disneyland and California Adventure several times with my family, and we are always there at rope drop!
No matter how many days we spend at Disneyland, we try to finish bag checks and ticketing and reach inside the park before rope drop time.
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Is rope drop worth it at Disneyland and California Adventure?
Rope drop is so worth it at both Disneyland and California Adventure. The number one strategy to make the most of your Disneyland trip is to utilize the first two hours of park opening to the maximum.
This is when the crowd levels are lowest as compared to the rest of the day. Two hours from 8 to 10 AM are equivalent to 4-5 hours mid-day in terms of the number of rides you can do because of shorter wait times. Take advantage of it!
Rope drop time has the lowest wait times for all rides, and you can literally walk through the lines. Most rides can have wait times of 5 minutes or less!
Entering inside the theme parks at 7:30 AM and being at the rope drop locations before the rope drop happens means you are much ahead in the game than those who are still lined up at the park entrance for ticket scanning or, even worse, lined up at security.
Since the reopening after the pandemic, the crowd levels at Disneyland or California Adventure have gone up considerably. The theme parks are also very crowded during school breaks and Halloween and Christmas celebrations at Disneyland.
Being there for Rope Drop means you have to get up an hour earlier, but it is totally worth it.
How to rope drop at Disneyland and California Adventure?
You can rope drop by being at any of the rope drop locations at either Disneyland or California Adventure before the rope drop happens, which is around 8 AM these days. This means you will have to be at the bag check and security an hour before the park opening time, 7 AM.
Once the rope drops, you then rush to your favorite attractions. The wait time is around 5 to 10 minutes at most rides at the rope drop time. You can literally walk through the line mazes and finish a lot of rides in the first hour.
Which rides to rope drop at each park are listed in more detail below.
Can anyone rope drop?
Yes, the rope drop is free, and anyone who has a park ticket and park entrance reservation can be there for the rope drop. All you have to do is be at the ticket entrance 30-45 minutes before the park opening time.
How early can you do the rope drop at Disneyland and California Adventure?
Nowadays, the rope drop happens at 8 AM in both Disneyland and California Adventure.
So if you have completed bag check, security, and ticket scanning and are inside the park at the rope drop location before 8 AM, then you have about 30 minutes of ride time advantage over others who are at bag check at 8 AM.
The Bag check lines get really long as there is only one common bag check location for both parks, so plan to arrive an hour early at bag check i.e., at 7 AM!
Earlier, they used to rope drop a little earlier, but now the guests staying at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels get exclusive access to the parks from 7:30 to 8 AM, and then at 8 AM, the rope drop happens for everyone else.
Rope drop strategy at Disneyland
Disneyland Park is huge, and there are nine themed lands here. Below is a list of the most popular Disneyland rides in each of the themed lands.
Getting familiar with the lands and the popular rides in each land will help you strategize your early morning hours in the park.
Popular rides at Disneyland
Adventureland popular rides – Indiana Jones Adventure, Jungle cruise
New Orleans Square popular rides – Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean
Frontierland popular rides – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Mark Twain Riverboat
Critter Country popular rides – Splash Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winne the Pooh
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge popular rides – Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Mickey’s Toontown popular rides – Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (new!), Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, Chip ‘N’ Dale’s GADGETcoaster.
Fantasyland popular rides –
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- It’s a small world
- Peter Pan’s flight
- Alice in Wonderland
- Dumbo the flying elephant
- Mad Tea Party
- King Arthur Carrousel
- Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
- Pinocchio’s Daring journey
- Storybook Land Canal Boats
- Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-through
Tomorrowland popular rides –
- Space Mountain
- Star Wars: The adventure continues
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
- Astro Orbitor
Disneyland Rope Drop Map
Disneyland rope drop locations
- At the entrance to Adventureland – The fastest way to Indiana Jones Adventure
- At the entrance to Tomorrowland on the right side of Partner’s statue – The fastest way to get to Space Mountain and Matterhorn Bobsleds
- At the left side of Partner’s statue for Fantasyland and Frontierland – The fastest way to get to Peter Pan and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Rope drop at Disneyland with Genie Plus
Genie Plus at Disneyland is a paid add-on service to your existing park ticket at $25 per person per day, and I think it’s totally worth it at Disneyland.
If you have Genie Plus, then at rope drop, you should target Fantasyland first as except for ‘It’s a Small World’ and Matterhorn, none of the rides in Fantasyland have Genie Plus Lightning Lane access. The lowest wait times at Fantasyland rides will be in the first hour of the morning, making rope drop totally worth it.
At rope drop time, we recommend going straight to Peter Pan, and you can probably finish it in 15-20 minutes total, including the actual ride time. Then Alice in Wonderland, Mad Tea Party, Dumbo the flying elephant (if you have younger kids), and any other Fantasyland rides you wish.
If you are at the front of the rope drop, you can finish all of Fantasyland rides in the first hour. Keep It’s a Small World and Matterhorn Bobsleds for Genie Plus Lightning Lane.
After the first hour, you can book Matterhorn Bobsleds and then rides in Tomorrowland, like Space Mountain and Star Tours, using Genie Plus.
Next, head over to Adventureland, Frontierland, and New Orleans for the other popular rides like Indiana Jones Adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Jungle Cruise.
All of these rides offer Genie plus Lightning lanes, and you can book them through the Disneyland app.
Rope drop at Disneyland without Genie Plus
If you do not plan to buy Genie Plus, then your rope drop strategy should be slightly different than those that have Genie Plus.
If you do not have Genie Plus, then you should first target the most popular rides in New Orleans Square, Adventureland, and Frontierland. These lands are closer to each other, and you can knock out a lot of the most popular rides with minimal walking.
Head first to Indiana Jones Adventure, then Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain.
Each of these rides will have standby wait times of 60 minutes or more later in the day, whereas the wait times will be much shorter during the first 90 minutes of park opening. This makes being at Disneyland at rope drop so worth it!
After this, you can head to Tomorrowland and then Fantasyland. Most of the families with younger kids go back to their hotels in the afternoon, so doing Fantasyland rides in the afternoon between 2 to 4 is a great idea.
Which rides not to rope drop at Disneyland
Most people seem to rope drop Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride, and the wait times for this ride are the longest in the morning. I think finishing up 10+ Fantasyland rides is a better idea than the one Star Wars ride in the first hour of park opening. And Star Wars land looks the coolest at night with all the lights.
My tip would be to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance during the first showing of Fantasmic at 9 PM, which means entering the standby line around 8:30 PM as by then half of the people in the park will be at New Orleans square to watch Fantasmic show. You will finish the ride by the 9:30 fireworks, and you can still watch the 10:15 Fantasmic show!
Rope drop strategy at California Adventure
Disney California Adventure Park has seven themed lands and many incredible rides and attractions. California Adventure food and restaurant options are popular and offer a variety of cuisines.
Below is a list of the most popular California Adventure rides in each of the themed lands. Getting familiar with the lands and the popular rides in each land will help you strategize your early morning hours in California Adventure.
Popular rides at Disney California Adventure
Cars Land popular rides –
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
- Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
Avengers Campus popular rides –
- Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
- Web Slingers: A Spider-Man adventure
- Ancient Sanctum
Pixar Pier popular rides –
- Toy Story Midway Mania!
- Pixar Pal-A-Round – Swinging
- Jessie’s Critter Carousel
- Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
Paradise Gardens Park popular rides –
- Goofy’s Sky School
- The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
- Golden Zephyr
- Silly Symphony Swings
- Jumpin’ Jellyfish
Grizzly Peak popular rides –
- Grizzly River Run
- Soarin’ Around the World
Hollywood Land popular rides –
- Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
California Adventure rope drop map
California Adventure rope drop locations
- At the entrance to Hollywood Land – The fastest way to get to Avengers Campus rides like Web Slingers Spiderman and Guardians of the Galaxy ride
- On Buena Vista Street before the entrance to Cars Land – The fastest way to get to Radiator Springs Racers
- Near Aerial’s ride – The fastest way to get to Pixar Pier rides like Toy Story Mania and Incredicoaster
Rope drop at California Adventure with Genie Plus
If you have the Genie Plus service, then at rope drop, I recommend going to Radiator Springs Racers first.
Radiator Springs Racers is not included in the Genie Plus service, and you will have to pay extra to ride the Lightning Lane for this ride, even if you have Genie Plus.
Web Slingers Spiderman’s Adventure is the newest ride and is super cool and is now included in Genie Plus.
Guardians of the Galaxy ride is included in Genie plus, so you can book the Lightning Lane through the app while you are waiting in line for the Web Slingers Spiderman ride.
Most thrill rides on Pixar Pier, like Incredicoaster, Toy Story, and Grizzly Peak rides like Soaring and Grizzly River Run, are also included in Genie Plus.
After finishing the rides on the Avengers campus, go to Pixar Pier and use Genie Plus to book Lightning Lanes for Toy Story, Incredicoaster, and Goofy Sky School.
While you are waiting for your Genie Plus redeem windows, you can ride the amusement park-type rides in Paradise Gardens, like Silly Swings, Golden Zephyr, etc.
After Pixar Pier, you can book the Genie plus Lightning Lane rides for Soaring Around the World and Grizzly River Run.
Rope drop at California Adventure without Genie Plus
If you do not have Genie Plus, then your strategy should be slightly different. As you will not have lightning lane access to all the thrill rides at Pixar Pier and Grizzly Peak, at rope drop, I recommend going straight to the Toy Story ride, and then Incredicoaster.
This should follow Soaring Around the World and Grizzly River Run in Grizzly Peak land. That way, you will have four popular rides done in the first 60 to 90 minutes.
After this, go to Web Slingers Spiderman and then Guardians of the Galaxy. By mid-morning, the initial rope drop crowds will be done at Avengers Land, and the wait time should not be bad.
Which rides not to rope drop at California Adventure
Most people seem to rope-drop Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land, but that is not a good strategy for those who do not have Genie Plus. The wait times are around 60 to 120 minutes in the morning, and there are better times later in the day to do this ride.
You can use the precious morning 2 hours for a lot of other rides, especially if you don’t have Genie Plus for the other thrill rides.
I recommend doing the popular Radiator Springs Racers ride later in the evening when the first World of Color show is going on at 9 PM.
So enter the Standby or single rider queues around 8:30 when most people start waiting for the World of Color show at Pixar Pier. Also, the ride is awesome at night time with the light and sound effects.
You can still watch the World of Color at the 10:15 show after the rides at Cars Land.
Is rope drop worth it with toddlers?
Rope drop is 100% worth it for families with toddlers! Toddlers are up early, and even if not, it is so easy to put them in the stroller sleeping while you go through bag check, ticketing, and rope drop! We have done this!
At Disneyland, the Fantasyland rides are the most popular with families with young children, and the wait times are minimum during rope drop time in the first hour of the morning.
Then later, you can relax, eat breakfast or brunch, line up for character photo ops, and spend less time waiting for rides.
For families with toddlers, I would recommend taking advantage of the early hours in the morning and finishing the kid-friendly rides.
Then in the afternoon, you can go back to your hotel for naptime. Return in the evening refreshed for some more rides and to watch the night shows – Fantasmic and Fireworks.
Where to stay for Rope drop at Disneyland?
Over the years and after numerous visits to Disneyland, we have realized that the best way to ensure you can make it at rope drop time is to stay in hotels near Disneyland within walking distance. This is of utmost importance!
Staying within walking distance saves you 30 minutes to an hour’s worth of time in the morning by not wasting time on parking and then taking the tram from the parking lots to the gate.
Disneyland Resort Hotels
Of course, staying at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels – Disneyland Hotel, Grand Californian Hotel, and Paradise Pier are the best places to stay for Disneyland as they are all within walking distance from the theme parks and provide a great Disney experience to your entire vacation.
Plus, Disneyland Resort guests get to enter the rides area 30 minutes earlier before park opening times!
➡ Check rates and availability for Disneyland Resort hotels
Apart from the Disneyland Resort hotels, we have also stayed at several hotels on S Harbor Blvd within 5-10 minutes walking of the park entrance gates and below are our favorites:
Fairfield by Marriott Anaheim Resort
Fairfield by Marriott Anaheim Resort is the best brand-name hotel, just a 5-minute walk from the main park gate! We stayed here most recently and loved it!
The pool was great in the afternoons for the kids to splash around. The Panera Restaurant on the property was great for ordering to-go breakfast and dinner conveniently.
➡ Check rates and availability at Fairfield by Marriott Anaheim Resort – one of the best brand-name resorts 5 minutes from the park entrance!
Best Western Plus Park Place Inn
Best Western Plus Park Place Inn is as close as you can get to the Disneyland entrance. You cross the street from the hotel and are literally at the park entrance!
Plus, the hotel has a nice free hot breakfast every morning! We stayed here once and loved how close it was to Disneyland.
➡ Check rates and availability at Best Western Plus Park Place Inn – across the street and closest to the park entrance
Frequently asked questions about rope drop
Does Disneyland have rope drop?
Yes, Disneyland has rope drop, and so does California Adventure Park.
How early can you do the rope drop at Disneyland?
Nowadays, they are not “Dropping the rope” i.e. allowing guests to ride the attractions before park opening time. But they do start letting guests inside the park 30 minutes before park opening time up to the rope drop location.
This is different for guests staying in the Disney Land resort hotels. They are allowed to ride the attractions 30 minutes before the park opens.
What time do you need to be at Disneyland for rope drop?
You need to be at the bag check an hour before the park opening time. So if the park opens at 8 AM, you need to be at the bag check line at 7 AM, so that you can be at the gate by 7:30 AM. That way, you will be at the rope drop location inside the park before the rope drop happens. Rope drop happens at park opening time which is 8 AM.
Can anyone rope drop at Disney?
Yes, rope drop is free, and anyone who has a Disneyland or California Adventure ticket and a park entrance reservation can rope drop.
In Conclusion: Rope Drop Disneyland and California Adventure
As you can see from this post, rope drop is totally worth it at both Disneyland and California Adventure. The first 2 hours right after park opening are the best, and being there at rope drop time puts you at an advantage.
Plan to reach the bag check area at the park entrance an hour before the official park opening time. That way, you will ensure being there at rope drop for Disneyland or California Adventure.
Stay in one of the hotels which are within walking distance of Disneyland to quickly reach the park in the morning for rope drop time like at:
I am hoping after reading this article, you have got an idea and several strategies on how to rope drop at Disneyland and California Adventure.
➡ Going to Los Angeles? Check out these top excursions in LA to add to your Disneyland trip:
- Full-Day Iconic Sights of LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Beaches and More – Highly rated tour to cover top LA sights and not worry about parking!
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood – Guided small group tour
- The Official Hollywood Sign Walking Tour in Los Angeles – 2.5-hour walking tour to see the iconic Hollywood Sign up close!
- Hollywood Sightseeing and Celebrity Homes Tour by Open Air Bus – See Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Sign, celebrity homes, and more.
Going to Disneyland and California Adventure? Check out my other posts!