New Hollywood Studios Rope Drop Procedure – What You Can Expect to See and Do

by josh on January 11, 2012

Hollywood Studios has been testing a new “rope drop procedure.”  For the uninitiated, the term “rope drop” basically refers to the opening of the theme park.  If you are “arriving for rope drop,” you are planning to arrive at the turnstiles (where you insert your theme park ticket) in time to be among the first people admitted into the Park.

In days of old, Disney would begin operating the Studios’ turnstiles prior to the official opening time and allow guests to make their way up Hollywood Boulevard toward Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat.  Once guests arrived at the end of Hollywood Boulevard, cast members held ropes to stop them from continuing further toward Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours, etc.  Once Disney was ready to open the Park, usually right at the official opening time, the cast members would “drop” the rope and allow guests to push their way toward the attraction of their choice.  Because people tended to get a little more riled up at the Studios than the other theme parks, cast members usually walked guests slowly to Toy Story Midway Mania, while holding onto the rope to keep guests in front of them.  Unfortunately, “Rope Walk” doesn’t quite have the same ring as “Rope Drop.”  Actually, it does, but I wasn’t consulted when the phrase was popularized.

In 2012, “rope drop” is a somewhat antiquated phrase.  There have been no internal ropes at Epcot since September and no internal ropes at Animal Kingdom since December.  Usually, Magic Kingdom doesn’t have internal ropes other than those that keep people in front of the Train Station to watch the opening ceremony.  Once Mickey’s train arrives and the streamers shoot into the air, guests are let into the Magic Kingdom to head where they please.  Occasionally, cast members with ropes will be standing at the entrances to the various lands, but that depends on timing and where you’re headed.

Hollywood Studios seems poised to join Animal Kingdom and Epcot in its lack of an opening ceremony.  Instead, the turnstiles are used to help stagger the flow of guests as they enter the Park.  Disney begins operating the turnstiles 30 minutes prior to the Studios’ official opening (usually 8:30am with a 9am official open).  Once you’re through, you’re welcome to head to any operating attraction.  This includes Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  Most people are still headed to Toy Story, but instead of jostling shoulder to shoulder with 1,000 people, you’re meandering over with just a few dozen along paths that all-of-a-sudden seem much wider.

First, we’ll briefly take a look at the old rope drop procedure.  Then we’ll take a look at the new one and see what can be accomplished in the first hour and a half of operation.

So you arrive at 8:45am, just to find out that you’re late and this far back from the front of the pack.

We are a lot of rows back as we’re held here on Hollywood Boulevard until 9am.

These gentlemen appearing high above us have one task – to remind us to walk to Toy Story Midway Mania.  Amusingly, their line was, “Running won’t get you to Toy Story Mania any faster.”  Of course, this is patently false.  Running would get you to Toy Story much faster.

Right at 9am, the ropes are “dropped” and people are unleashed into the Studios.  Some people are headed down Sunset Boulevard toward Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror.

And a few to Star Tours in the opposite direction.

But most are headed to Toy Story Midway Mania.  This picture is of the FASTPASS line backed up all the way to One Man’s Dream.  There’s a lot of confusion as to which line is for FASTPASSes and which is for the actual standby line.  There’s a cast member in white shorts and a red shirt at the end of the line trying to explain that this is the FASTPASS line.

The pictures above are from May 19th, which was a Thursday with 9am – 7pm hours and no Fantasmic.  Not even particularly busy.  I pulled a FASTPASS at 9:12am with a return time of 10:55am.

The actual wait was 34 minutes if you had gotten in line at 9:15am.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to capture the frantic nature of the “Toy Story Dash” in pictures.  It’s similar to those videos you may have seen on Black Friday at Wal-Mart when a few hundred people are trying to push by each other on their way to a $75 Blu-ray player.  Luckily, Disney does do bag checks and charges admission, so your chances of getting pepper sprayed are substantially lower.  Should you wish to ride Toy Story Mania with a relatively short standby wait, you would have to join the masses pushing toward it in the morning.

Alternatively, you could head in a different direction and then over to collect FASTPASSes later in the morning, after the initial rush had cleared.  FASTPASSes collected at 10:30am had a median return time of 5:15pm – 6:15pm in 2011.  On this particular day, the return time was 4:15pm to 5:15pm at 10:33am.

Depending on overall crowds, wait times tend to decrease briefly around 9:30am from 30 – 40 minutes to 20 – 30 minutes.  At that point, most of the people that were present for rope drop have moved on to Sunset Boulevard and relatively few people arrive between 9:20am- 9:45am.

Now we’ll fast forward to the morning of January 10, 2012 to check out the “new rope drop procedure.”

Here we are arriving bright and early at 8:20am.  Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park.  The operating hours are 9am – 7pm and Fantasmic isn’t scheduled, just as it won’t be for the rest of the month.  At rope drop, I like to line up in the far right “regular” line, even if it appears to be a little longer initially.

The arrow on the bottom illustrates the turnstile I’m talking about.  To the right are three additional turnstiles that are marked “guest and cast member entrance.”  I’ve enlarged the signs at the top of the picture.  The guest/cast member entrance has several uses throughout the day.  Well before Park opening, you may see on duty cast members entering the Studios through them.  Throughout the rest of the day, it’s used by cast members to use their “main gate pass” or other ticket type.   As the sign insinuates, regular guests are also welcome to use these turnstiles, but many don’t.

These three turnstiles may or may not be operating when you arrive and there may or may not be a cast member manning them like there will be at the other “regular turnstiles.”  Should you arrive early enough that none of the guest/cast member entrances are staffed by cast members, you can expect that one or two will arrive just before or just after the rest of the turnstiles open.  Once a cast member arrives and the additional turnstile(s), you can either switch lines easily or stay in the same line and let half of the people in front of you head over.  Either way, you’ll most likely find a line that’s half as long as any of the others to the left.  By getting in a “regular line initially,” you’re hedging your bets in case a cast member doesn’t arrive at the guest/cast member entrance.  Should you get in line at an unmanned turnstile initially, you run the risk of no one showing up and then you’ll have to go to the back of one of the other lines.

On this particular day, one cast member arrived to operate one of the guest/cast member turnstiles just after the “regular turnstiles” were turned on at 8:30am.  As I was headed through, another cast member arrived to begin operating the two guest/cast member entrances furthest to the right.  I switched lines and had four people in front of me instead of 12 or 15.

I was through the turnstiles at 8:33am and headed up Hollywood Boulevard toward Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat.  There were no internal ropes as you can see above.  Because only one person can go through the turnstiles at a time, they act as a buffer that staggers crowds out over the course of several minutes.  You can see how much space the people ahead of us have around them.

This cast member was signaling people interested in signing up for Jedi Training to head down to Sounds Dangerous where sign ups take place.  If you would like to guarantee that your child will be able to participate, have at least one adult and the child(ren) that would like to participate head down there first thing.

Headed over to Toy Story Midway Mania.  You can see the stream of people headed in the same direction ahead of us.

We have several cast members “guarding” the walkway that would take you over to the stairs down to Toy Story Midway Mania.  Like with the Land Pavilion over at Epcot, the big fear is that someone would fall down the stairs and seriously injure themselves.  Should that have happened, you would probably have a decent lawsuit.  You might recognize the circled cast member in the red shirt – he’s the same one from May.

Those are the stairs to the left as we head up to Pixar Place.

Remember when the FASTPASS line was backed up all the way to One Man’s Dream?  This time, you could walk right up to the FASTPASS machines with no line whatsoever.

You can see in the lower right hand corner that this FASTPASS was collected at 8:39am with a return time of 9:30am.  The first FASTPASSes collected would have a return time even earlier.  I wasn’t in much of a hurry as I take a picture every 15 steps, but I could have arrived three or four minutes earlier.  The great thing here is that you’ll be able to head over to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror next and conveniently collect a FASTPASS at 9:30am for one of those rides.  Or you could head back to Toy Story and collect another set of FASTPASSes with a decent return time.  In our example above, I pulled a FASTPASS at 9:12am with a return time of 10:55am.  By the time I was eligible to collect another FASTPASS at 10:55am, Toy Story’s FASTPASS return time would have been after 6pm.

Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours should all be operating when the turnstiles are opened.  Toy Story is running at full capacity already.

I almost “walked on” Toy Story Mania.  This is where the line was backed up to, which is just before the stairs down to the loading area.

Back out front at 8:56am for a total wait/ride time of 15 minutes.  I could have ridden again with a similar wait/ride time.  Probably a couple of minutes longer.

This is the “rush” at 9am.  As you can see, there’s no backup for the FASTPASS machines and no mass of people like there would have been if the hordes were kept on Hollywood Boulevard until 9am.

The Sorcerer’s Hat Meet and Greets begin at 9am.  The characters and locations may change.  Today, Piglet appeared to the right of the stairs down to Toy Story.  There are two or three kids in line.  Of the normal Winnie the Pooh characters (Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet), Piglet is the one that’s hardest to find.  He doesn’t appear at Animal Kingdom or Epcot, whereas you can find Pooh/Tigger at Epcot and Eeyore/Pooh/Tigger at Animal Kingdom.

Minnie began meeting guests in her pink dress as well with only a few people waiting.  If your group is split among people (kids) that want to meet the characters and others that want to head to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster/Tower of Terror, consider splitting up at this point.  It’s a great time to ride the thrill rides and meet many of the popular characters with short waits.  We’ll take a look at the other characters and their lines a little later.  In the back to the far left, you can sort of see Donald and Daisy meeting people on the other side of the Hat.  These characters appear off and on until 11:30am most days.  After that, they’re gone.

More people streaming in just after 9am.

Headed down Sunset Boulevard to Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  Very lonely.

The Fairfax Fare breakfast menu while we’re here:

One of few locations in the Studios that offers breakfast items.  Another handy location is the “Hey Howdy Hey Takeaway” across from Toy Story Mania’s FASTPASS machines.  We’ll take a look over there as well in a bit.

You could walk right into the preshow at Tower of Terror.  Most people will want to head to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster first because lines get longer quicker and FASTPASSes aren’t as widely available.

I walked right into the preshow area at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster just as it was ending.   No wait outside.

Just chillin’ bro.  Sad he doesn’t get to go to the show I bet.

You’ll still run into a bit of a wait after the preshow.  Disney was running just enough vehicles to clear out this area before the next group arrived from the preshow.

I was back out front at 9:20am.  So since the Studios opened at 8:30am, I’ve collected FASTPASSes for Toy Story with a return time of 9:30am, gotten pictures with Piglet and Minnie Mouse, and ridden Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  Had I been kept at the Hat until 9am, I would have been lucky to have FASTPASSes for Toy Story and be off the ride.

At Tower of Terror, I walked right up to the door to the preshow.

But like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, there is still a decent wait inside the boiler room after the preshow concludes.  Even with FASTPASS, the total wait/ride time at both attractions is around 20 minutes.  The FASTPASSes gets you into the preshow quickly, but it doesn’t do anything for you here.  The same is true in the standby line at both thrill rides.  Budget at least 20 minutes at each.

The “Express Elevator” is also known as the “chicken exit.”  It’s hilarious because it’s also an elevator.  Talk about traumatizing.  Going down?  Should you wish to walk through the queue and wait with your group, you can head down to the gift shop on this elevator rather than one of those pesky haunted ones.

I spent a few minutes photographing the Tower of Terror merchandise, which I’ll add to a separate post.  By 9:50am, the posted wait was 20 minutes.  That should be pretty close to the total wait time, including the boiler room wait after the preshow.

Sunset Boulevard just before 10am.  A little busier, but nothing approaching even remotely “busy.”  Interestingly, I had struck up a conversation with the family in line behind me at Tower of Terror.  They asked if I had ever been in July and if it was busier then.  I said, “Yes.”  The woman remarked that she thought this was busy.  After waiting zero minutes for the Tower of Terror preshow and maybe ten minutes after.  Tourists…I told them they ought to head over to Toy Story Mania next as they were with a five year old girl.

Nominal waits for 10am.  Tower of Terror is a bit over exaggerated.

Incoming crowds on Hollywood Boulevard at 10am.

Another 30 minutes until it’s time to meet Handy Manny and Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

That’s him on the far left with his queue in case you haven’t seem him before.  This is in the Animation Courtyard.

He’s not particularly chatty, but I’m jealous of that hair cut.

Inside the Animation Building, The Incredibles characters won’t begin appearing until 11:30am.

But Sorcerer Mickey begins appearing right at 10am on the lower floor.  He just arrived on scene.

To a full line right at 10am.  This is easily a 30 minute wait.

Of the theme park Mickey Meet and Greets, I like the Sorcerer outfit the best.  Cool hat.  You’ll find the easiest/shortest wait over at Magic Kingdom for the Town Square Meet and Greet.  And Magician Mickey is good too.

Winnie the Pooh meets alone nearby from 10:30am – 6pm.  Waits are usually in the 10 to 15 minute range.  WHY THEY DON’T ADD RABBIT OR CHRISTOPHER ROBIN IS BEYOND ME.

Back outside near the Sorcerer’s Hat, we have far more people waiting in line for the characters.  This is to the right of The Great Movie Ride near the stairs down to Toy Story.

For Tigger and Eeyore.  The easiest location to meet the two of them is over at the Character Landing at Animal Kingdom, where they often meet guests with Winnie the Pooh.  The easiest location for Pooh/Tigger used to be the Toy Soldier shop in the United Kingdom Pavilion, but as we’ll see at Epcot, these two characters have moved out in the open on the walkway to/from the International Gateway.

And a longer line for Minnie.

The Citizens of Hollywood were out introducing themselves.  They perform skits around Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards throughout the day.

Cool balancing trick bro, but I think I’ll take…

Serveur Amusant over at Epcot.  The Citizens of Hollywood are a lot of fun though.  The adults would likely get a kick out of them while the kids are off meeting characters.  I would probably shy towards heading to a popular attraction this early in the morning and saving a Citizens performance for later in the afternoon.  Lines aren’t getting any shorter at this point.

Goofy and Pluto were meeting guests across from Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat.  That’s Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner on Echo Lake and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular behind them.

Looks like they captured one.

Chip and Dale usually meet to their right.  That’s American Idol in the background.  Preciousssssss.

Donald and Daisy meeting to the left of the Citizens of Hollywood Show.  The Great Movie Ride and Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat are behind them.  Long line.  You won’t ordinarily see these two together, but Daisy is easier to meet just inside the entrance to Epcot.  Donald would have shorter lines for most of the day over at Camp Minnie-Mickey in Animal Kingdom.

They could use a new stylist.

No rush to get to The Great Movie Ride.  With the size of its ride vehicles, waits will be 10 to 15 minutes max for most of the day.

By 10:15am, the wait time at Toy Story has ballooned to 50 minutes, which really isn’t even “that bad” all things considered

With FASTPASS return times all the way out to 3:10pm.

Grab a gut bomb from Hey Howdy Hey if you feel like you’re moving too fast.

No wait at Backlot Tour, but I would put this one off for at least another hour as well unless you don’t have business elsewhere.  No big rush, but it can see 15-25 minute wait times after noon due to a capacity cut (fewer trams running).

Just a few people waiting to pose next to Mater and Lightning McQueen.

It’s about 10:20am, which means Phineas and Ferb have been greeting guests for about 50 minutes.  This is the shortest I’ve seen the line in a long time.

But here comes the crowd exiting from Muppet Vision 3D right across the street.

And the line after the Muppets’ crowd.  It’s only about 15 people longer here and most of them actually came from around the corner rather than from Muppet Vision.

Star Tours with a 10 minute wait just after 10:30am.  You basically walk right on.

The last spot for Jedi Training was taken at 10:36am.  That’s later than usual – you want to be over here by 9:45am at the latest if at all possible, but it never hurts to check.

Even if you see this sign proclaiming all classes are full, it’s best to ask if you see a cast member with a clipboard.

The wait times according to the wait times’ board at 10:45am.  Relatively short, but it’s a good illustration of how much we were able to get done by arriving so early.  If we arrived now, we would have FASTPASSes for Toy Story with a return time of 6pm.  20+ people in line for each of the Sorcerer’s Hat Meet and Greets.  30+ minute standby waits at Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  A 30 minute wait for Sorcerer Mickey.  And the list goes on.

Overall, I think we’re in business if this new procedure sticks.  The walk over to Toy Story in the morning is much less stressful than before.  And really, who can complain about getting into the Studios at 8:30am rather than 9am?

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike January 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Was at Hollywood Studios on Sunday (most recommended day), and man the colored flags… there were as far as the eye could see! I heard Spanish, and Portuguese all day long, and man those people are enthusiastic, had a wave going at Fantasmic for 15 minutes before the show started back and forth… *sigh*

That said, glad I didn’t go to the second show as was advised, maybe everyone knew it was the last chance because that line was backed up way way far.

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kate14 January 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Awesome walkthru Josh! I’ve been wondering when they were going to get around to this non-rope drop process at DHS. Do you think (or already know) that they will follow the same procedure on days when they have early EMH (ie open turnstiles 30 min early)?

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Monica January 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm

We were there on 12/19 with a traditional rope drop, then again 12/24 with no rope drop. We were confused at first. We kept walking toward the hat wondering when we would get stopped, but we never did. Walked straight to on to Toy Story. Then decided to pick up a FP after we rode. I don’t remember what return time we got, but I think it was before noon. It worked great for us.

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Mossy1 January 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Thanks for the rope update Josh!! I am all for this change!! Hope it is here to stay.

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Dawn January 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Wow! thats quite a difference…how do you think it will fare during peak travel, say Spring Break , Easter week?…we’ll be there ( I know, pesky school)..do you think that we will still have similar wait times at Tower and Rock’nRoller? .. Im thinking I like the idea of getting a 2nd Toy Story FP when I get off (or shortly thereafter).
BTW…Excellent englargement of the turnstile sign, and excellent placement as well..you deserve an “atta boy!”….Atta BOY! LOL

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Peaches January 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Josh,
That was a really helpful post, I did not realize that there is no longer a roap drop for DHS . I was pretty good at getting through the crowd with the old RD in place, without injury to myself or others, this looks like a literal walk in the park in comparison.

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Jenny January 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm

We were at DHS for non-rope drop 3 times (12/29, 1/2, 1/5). It was wonderful- even with the hordes of people streaming in as the parks were so busy.

We did encounter internal ropes at Mk and AK. Just FYI.

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Pfalcioni January 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I am so crossing my fingers that they keep this schedule. It makes so much sense to avoid those crazy crowds and the potential for injury if someone fell and others accidentally stepped on them.
Well, that, and I wanna ride TSMM more than twice in a day.

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Terri in So Cal January 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Thanks for the updates Josh. We have yet to ride TSMM at WDW since we never make DHS at opening. With the changes to the rope drop we might just try it next trip. Unlike at DCA at least TSMM has FP at WDW. They don’t at DCA and the “rope drop” to get their is crazy! Everyone is heading there. They also got rid of the Single Rider line which my daughter and I used all the time. Normal wait is 45 min. or longer. Rarely less, frequently more.

And thanks for the menu pix. I updated Fairfax Fare and Hey Howdy’s breakfast menus. Looks like Danish and Cinnamon Rolls have gone up. Wonder what’s next?

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Terri in So Cal January 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Oops, it’s there, not their.

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rebecca January 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Josh…Wonderful report. I feel very prepared and ready for HS. Thanks bunches!!

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nobie47 January 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm

This is basically what they did during SWW last year and it was wonderful…. looking forward to this much less stressful ‘RD’ :)

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Megan January 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Crap. Do you think this means our 8 am ADR at Hollywood and Vine is actually going to screw up our day? (Next Tuesday, 1/17).

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Rosario January 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm

My hero! This is incredibly helpful, thank you.

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Betty January 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Thank you for the report! I love this new plan! It seems much more fair. In early June of last year, we arrived over an hour before rope drop. We were the first people at the turnstile and bellied up to the rope. But at rope drop, tall people and marathon speed walkers were stepping all over us. I took off as fast as I could, and my kids went a little slower. As hard as I tried to keep up with the rope, people continued to push their way in front of me. I am only 5″ 1″. When I finally made it to the Fast Pass machine, the cast members were yelling out that “all machines were open. So I jumped over to another line – one with a broken machine. I frantically said something, and some very kind person let me back over to my original line. My heart was pounding and I was about to cry. Then, I had to find my kids at the entrance. It felt so unfair to be trampled after arriving so early. I do wonder that as word of the new procedure gets out, will I have to arrive at 6:30 am to be first at the turnstiles?

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Selena January 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Do you think it will get crazier as word spreads that this is the new procedure? I guess the only way it would get crazier is more people lined up at the turnstiles earlier,

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josh January 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Mike – Enthusiastic is definitely one word to use. The lines for the second Fantasmic can seem long, especially because people aren’t seated as early as they are for the first show, but the Theater does seat 7,000 people. It usually swallows everyone that’s waiting pretty easily.

kate14 – Hopefully someone will report back on how morning Extra Magic Hour works. I don’t stay on site very often.

Monica – Yes, this does seem to be a better plan than what they were doing before. It boggles the mind why it took so long.

Mossy1 – It looks like it is. I could see them move the opening to 8:45am like Epcot, but going back to the holding pen/dispersion doesn’t make a lot of logistical sense.

Dawn – Around the very busy holidays like Easter and Christmas, the Studios may open at 8am. “Rope drop crowds” would be larger with a much higher overall crowd level, but even then, the great majority of people still end up sleeping in. You would most likely see waits that are slightly longer, but nothing extraordinary. Tack on 5ish minutes to the major attractions early in the morning.

Peaches – Yes, a walk in the park. I’ll try to remember to use that in the future and pawn it off like I came up with it. Or I’ll legitimately forget the part where I didn’t come up with it.

Jenny – Yes, if Disney is expecting a lot more people than usual, they may end up opening the turnstiles earlier. If they’re not ready to actually have people inside the Park, they may hold them for a period of time with ropes. That’s more common over the busier weeks like Christmas.

Pfalcioni – Fingers crossed here too. I’ll ratchet up the “negative press” if they do decide to regress.

Terri in So Cal – Yeah, the menu would go back to the rest of the August updates. I hadn’t put up a breakfast picture of Fairfax Fare since then.

rebecca – Say hi to Minnie for me!

nobie47 – Yes, those “unannounced” 8am openings were nice.

Megan – It might in the sense that additional people will be in the Park by the time you finish breakfast. On the forum, people were discussing having one person leave breakfast to get FASTPASSes for Toy Story and then return to finish up breakfast. That may or may not sound extreme.

Rosario – You are too kind. Thanks.

Betty – At 6’2″, I am going to miss trampling over people.

Selena – I don’t think so. Most of the people present at 8:30am for an 8:45am open are willing to be there by 8:15am for an 8:30am open, but it shouldn’t cause too more people to show up. The fact remains that 95% of the people at Walt Disney World at any given time basically have no idea what they’re doing.

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Michelle January 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Interesting/disappointing that DCA doesn’t have Fast Pass for Toy Story Midway Mania, or the single rider line. We were in WDW in October and (thanks to all the helpful tips from Josh) were able to ride TSMM 5 times on our 2 trips to HS. Thinking about spending a few days at Disneyland over Spring Break, but don’t think I want to do the mad dash to the ride. Stressful! Really wishing there was an EASYWDW website for Disneyland. Josh, got any friends in CA? :-)

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Vicki January 12, 2012 at 4:23 am

Wow – amazing difference with the new procedure! And I can’t wait to experience it next week.

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Marty January 12, 2012 at 6:21 am

I guess the Tower of Terror really is haunted. You can see a blurry figure in a red shirt. Good going Josh, now you can start a ghost hunters site!

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Selena January 12, 2012 at 7:29 am

Where’s my exact percentage? 95%? Are you sure it isn’t 95.3%?

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Allen January 12, 2012 at 8:01 am

Josh,
Love the site, your sense of humor kills me! We (4 adults, 2 children) will be going to WDW the first 10 days of November and this will be our first time at HS. Just wanted to clarify one thing, should we allow at least 20 minutes (with Fastpass) for ToT and RnR any time of day or just in the morning when fewer vehicles are running? Just trying to figure out if the group should split up to ride these as we don’t want the kids to be stuck for 40+ minutes while we trade off. Thanks in advance!

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RebeccaMcK January 12, 2012 at 8:53 am

Michelle, I have heard that DCA wants to add FP to their Toy Story Mania but it just hasn’t happened yet. I wish they would go ahead and do it soon. That line is ALWAYS long.

Josh, that looks like it was a great day to be at DHS. I guess we were lucky in May 2010 to find Piglet with Pooh there AND Donald with Daisy for photos ops near the Sorcerer’s Hat while my sis ran off to get our TSM FPs (the only time we’ve made it to rope drop at DHS thus far). I love the new “no rope drop” entry procedure and I hope that is permanent and they’re not just doing it during “low crowd” months. What was the crowd level number for this time of year anyway? I can’t remember it from your calendar charts – sorry I didn’t just go look up January’s. Looks like weekdays are better for most theme parks rather than weekends, when there are marathons and foreign country tour groups present. And I’m with you – I wish they could put Rabbit or Christopher Robin (or even Owl if there’s a costume for him) with Pooh for a photo op. Those are the only three Winnie the Pooh characters I’m missing from character photos with my daughter. And I’ll probably never see ChrisRob or Owl. Rabbit is a possibility, since I know he was at Epcot some time last year.

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RebeccaMcK January 12, 2012 at 9:00 am

Michelle,
Had to add….I too wish there was a site like easyWDW to help with Disneyland planning, but so far all I can really recommend is TouringPlans (they have a “Disneyland division”)…for me that only helps with judging crowd levels ahead of time, and then on the Disneyland site itself I find out whether or not certain days have Magic Mornings (like EMH, and only at DLand and not DCA, for when you’re staying on property or at one of the included neighbor hotels). Feel free to go over to the forums and see if there are trip reports posted about Disneyland resort visits (I know I have two days from July in my October WDW trip report, plus one December day where we did both parks – we were selective about rides, didn’t do everything….but if you do at least three days there you’ll have a chance to do and see everything, I’m sure. Check local school districts to see when their spring breaks are, because DLR has more local visitors than WDW does from what I’ve heard). I’m from CA and lived there until moving to CO in 2004 but have been back a few times to the Disney parks in Anaheim….still haven’t been on their TSM ride though. If you go during Spring Break, have a great time. I plan to go either in the summer or some time during Fall Break (my kid gets a week off school in October) once Cars Land is open at DCA (it opens some time this summer). Sorry to detract from the comments’ topics here….just had to chime in with what I knew about DLR.

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Vikki January 12, 2012 at 9:36 am

I wanna go in January! Looks great and I love the new non-rope-drop procedure.

For Michelle, my experience with TSM in DCA is that the line is rarely short, but it doesn’t see the dramatic 120-minute type of max-out that WDW’s does. It’s sharing space just in Paradise Pier with Screamin’ and the new Ariel ride, plus the other DCA headliners of Soarin’ and Tower of Terror. All that combined means that a much smaller percentage of people are heading straight to TSM at rope drop. For more Disneyland-specific stuff, my best source has been the Disneyland section of the DISboards. Especially look for the “DLR for WDW vets” sticky by HydroGuy.

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C-J. January 12, 2012 at 10:30 am

In regards to TSM at DCA – when we were there in October the lines always seemed to average around anywhere from 45-60 minutes (never 90+ like you see at HS). We finally went on it by using the entrance from the Grand Californian (skips the construction walls) and then walking up to the ropes by the bridge (to the left of WOC) around 9:45 for a 10 am rope drop. We were on the ride with only about a 15 minute wait which wasn’t so bad.

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Tristan January 12, 2012 at 10:31 am

Great stuff! Does this mean a new touring plan?

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Anonymous January 12, 2012 at 10:51 am

@RebeccaMcK and Michelle TSM at DCA used to have FP, it was deemed unneccesary as the waits were not that long and it was removed. I would not expect it to come back unless overall attendance at DCA doubles.

@Josh have they recalibrated the FP machines to distribute earlier than 9:30am for return time? In the past that’s as early a return time as it gets (and some set at 945 before that) and they don’t staff the FP return line until then in most cases.

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Monica January 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I don’t remember TSM ever having FP at DCA. We had a single rider line for a short time, but never FP that I can recall.

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Ben January 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Good advice about dividing and conquering with younger kids at characters and older at ToT and RRC. In September my wife and 2 year old daughter went to get our TSMM fastpasses while 10 year old daughter and I went to RRC and ToT. While we were riding the other girls saw all of those characters that you showed (maybe not Chip and Dale) with minimal waits, if any. It’s a great time to get pics in the cooler part of the day. I also like the different costumes that Minnie, Donald, and Daisy are in.

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Anja January 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Great, this helps so much. We will be there the first week of February and I’m less stressed out about our DHS day after reading your report. Do you think it would work to arrive in the parking lot at 8:00am? Is that enough time to park, go through security (we will have a stroller and a backpack), and get to the turnstiles? I have four kids who want to do Jedi training, so that is our first destination. I’ll send my husband and the toddler to procure TSM fastpasses.

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Jenny January 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm

anonymous–All the early FPs we got over Christmas/New Years were for 40 minutes after we got them, so at 8:40 we got a 9:20 return time.

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Rhonda January 13, 2012 at 7:06 am

You mean to tell me my kids wont be trampled any more?? hmmm….. I’ll have to think about that one :-)
And shhhhhh……….. we want everyone else to still arrive at 9:00!!!

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RebeccaMcK January 13, 2012 at 7:39 am

@Michelle (and Anonymous) Whenever I’ve been at DCA, and now I have been there just 4 times since they got TSM, there were no FPs for it (no machines/capability), it was summer or Christmas season, and the queue was always over 90 minutes. Might have depended on the time of day, etc., but the queue was always too long for me to consider riding. It was some Disneyland blog site (might have been Screamscape or Disneylandnewstoday) where I saw news some time last year about how they hope to add FPs to TSM soon (as if they’ve never had them). It is over on Paradise Pier, close to the Mickey’s Fun Wheel (ferris wheel), carnival midway games and California Screamin’ (roller coaster). The coaster offers FPs but the ferris wheel doesn’t (and the line for swinging gondolas is usually longer than the line for non-swinging gondolas). The new Little Mermaid ride is over on the other side of the lagoon from Paradise Pier, closer to the park entrance (so people trying to decide between Mermaid and TSM can’t look at both lines while deciding, unless you’re looking at a lines app on your smartphone and those aren’t always reliable), and wait times for Mermaid now are generally short (even during Christmas season I only waited 5 minutes to board). Anyway, if you go to DCA just once or maybe for two days, head to TSM first upon park opening and get in line. The park opens later than Disneyland (like, 10 am instead of 8 or 9 am). It’s worth being there during one night to see World of Color (do a dining package for Ariel’s Grotto or a picnic package, for priority “standing” area for the show – or else get FPs over by Grizzly River Rapids early in the day), and then the other night entertainment (fireworks and Fantasmic) are over at Disneyland itself. Fantasmic is staged on TSI (which is now Pirates’ Lair) on the lagoon across from POTC ride.

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Hilary (MaddiesMom) January 13, 2012 at 8:49 am

Wow, I really like the new rope drop.

And FYI – Sorcerer Mickey is my favorite too. :)

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Janine January 15, 2012 at 10:01 am

Hey Josh, I got a TSM FP on May 19 too. But I got mine about 7 minutes earlier then you, return time was 9:45.

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Michelle January 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Thanks for all the great DLR info. Much appreciated!!

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Kristine January 16, 2012 at 10:59 am

That is my family in your picture on the way to Pixar Place! My daughter has the pink sweatshirt on and my mom is to her left. You can’t see me – I’m on the other side of DD. And DH and DS are already at the FP machines. I can’t believe we are in your walkabout picture – too funny!

If only I had turned around, but I was too focused. If you were a little closer you probably would’ve noticed your touring plan printed out with my notes on it. We had a very successful day – many thanks to you!

The new procedure certainly surprised me, but we rode TSM 2 times basically walking on and then used FPs later in the day. It was great!

I’m hoping to do a trip report. It’s on the list!

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Disney Guy August 27, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Thank you for this review. It was excellent. Much appreciated.

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