How NOT to Rope Drop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

How not to rope drop DHS featured

Even we at the Unofficial Guide occasionally experience a theme park fail, but our early-morning loss is your gain, thanks to these updated tips on how NOT to experience rope drop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Rope drop crowds at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park entrance
Avoid the early morning madness with our Unofficial tips for how NOT to rope drop Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Photos/videos by Seth Kubersky)

It was only 8 months ago that we last assembled our 2020 Unofficial Guide to Rope Drop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but as any Orlando visitor knows, park operations are always in flux—even more so in this post-pandemic era. Therefore, we set out to retrace our earlier steps, only to discover that being the early bird at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a lot harder than it used to be.

Here are three major mistakes we made during our recent rope drop at Hollywood Studios that you can hopefully avoid on your next visit.

#1: Don’t depend on driving to the Disney’s Hollywood Studios parking lot.

I thought I’d get the jump on the crowd by arriving at the parking booth toll plaza more than an hour before the park’s scheduled 9 a.m. opening, and I was indeed rewarded by being only a handful of cars from the front of the queue.

Unfortunately, the toll booths weren’t opened until 8:10 a.m., and a slow-rolling security blockade kept the first vehicles from actually parking until 8:20 a.m. By that time, guests had been streaming in from the Skyliner and hotel buses for more than half an hour, giving Disney’s on-site resort guests a huge advantage over anyone driving in from off property.

The bottom line is that, until Disney decides to put drivers on equal footing, you must stay at a Disney hotel (or have someone drop you off at the Boardwalk Inn and walk to the park) in order to have any hope of being at the front of the rope drop crowd at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

#2 Don’t wait in line for a ride that isn’t running.

Thanks to the slow roll into the parking lot, the line for Slinky Dog Dash—my intended first destination—was already posted at 90 minutes by the time I entered the park.

So I diverted to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror instead, which turned out to be one of my few lucky breaks of the day.

After walking nonstop through the lobby and heading straight for the boiler room boarding platform, I was dropping in on the Fifth Dimension in under 5 minutes, and then quickly off for a limo ride with Aerosmith.

Unfortunately, that’s where I hit some quicksand because, although the posted wait for Rock ‘n Roller Coaster was only 10 minutes, I stood still nearly that long before realizing that the ride was not running due to technical difficulties.

I jumped out of the queue and headed to my next stop, but every minute is precious during the first hour of park operations. Make sure you confirm with a cast member that an attraction is operational before spending valuable time standing in line.

#3 Don’t stand in the slower queue if you can help it.

By this time, all the E-Ticket attractions in Disney’s Hollywood Studios were advertising hour waits or longer, so I quickly walked on to Alien Spinning Saucers before entering Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge to join the Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run queue.

The estimated 60-minute line looked daunting but moved steadily through backstage parking lots and product placements for the still-shuttered popcorn stand.

That is, it moved steadily right until I reached the preshow area. At this point the queue splits in half, and I was sent to the left side, where the simulator bays were experiencing technical troubles, causing them to run at 50% capacity. As a result, I stood mostly still for nearly 15 minutes, while watching guests on the other side stride swiftly onto the ride.

What I should have done was spoken to a cast member and requested to transfer to the other line as soon as I realized the issue, but I waited way too long to speak up. As a result, what should have been a 45-minute wait ended up taking well over an hour.

#4 Don’t rope drop Disney’s Hollywood Studios at all.

While it runs counter to all of the Unofficial Guide’s planning philosophies, at this time you might be better off not bothering with rope drop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios altogether. Unless you are lucky enough to get a low-numbered boarding pass to Rise of the Resistance during the daily 7 a.m. distribution, consider rolling into the park in late morning or early afternoon instead. Just make sure you’re inside the gates before 1 p.m. if you want to try for the afternoon Rise of the Resistance drop.

Our advice from our earlier Unofficial Guide to afternoon touring at Disney’s Hollywood Studios still stands; you can see more and wait less if you backload your major rides into the last hours of the operating day.

As a case in point, I waited nearly an hour to ride Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway during the morning, which is typical if you aren’t among the first wave in when the attraction opens. However, when I returned and rode Runaway Railway again after 5 p.m. that evening, my wait was well under 20 minutes, even though the preshow film (which has been disabled since the pandemic) was reactivated that afternoon!

To end this day of epic rope drop fails on a positive note, even with all these mistakes, we still managed to squeeze in almost every moving attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before 2 p.m.! By the end of the day, we checked off every ride in the park—including Rise of the Resistance—except Rock ‘n Roller Coaster and Slinky Dog Dash. Despite not achieving everything we’d hoped to during the early morning, I’d still call that a pretty great Disney day.

Have you tried to rope drop Disney’s Hollywood Studios recently? Let us know how it went in the comments below!

For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.


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