It seems this question keeps popping up on Facebook a lot lately: Can I do a Half Day at Epcot?? I get it. Disney World tickets are expensive and guests are trying to squeeze the most out of shorter trip. And so people want to be able to fit Epcot into a half day and then head either to Disney Springs for Dinner or Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic. Personally, I find Epcot to be an amazing full day of exciting attractions and incredible dining choices (especially if you are visiting during a festival!). I usually plan a full day at Epcot, but maybe you only have 3 days or you have small kids that you know you need to go take a break mid-day. So to answer the question of can you do Epcot in a half day? Yes....but its going to be pretty tough to see it all. My advice: break it down into an Morning trip around Future World (mostly) or a PM trip around the World Showcase. Need a touring plan? Take a look:
Morning in Future World
If you are a thrill seeking family and you want to get the most rides or attractions out of Epcot that you can, I suggest hitting Epcot right at rope drop. (What's Rope Drop, you say? Find out here!) Being at Epcot waiting in front of Spaceship Earth for Rope Drop will allow you to head immediately to one of the top tier attractions without the need for a Fast Pass. Epcot has a tiered fastpass system that only allows you to prebook a fastpass for 1 top tier attraction per day. So at Rope Drop head immediately to Test Track or Soarin'. Those are going to be your longest lines you will want to avoid.
Another option here for families who have a Frozen obsessed kid (or adult...no judgment) is to go right to Frozen, ride that and then swing into the line for the meet and greet with Elsa and Anna. From there I would then head back into Future World since the World Showcase does not open til later in the day.
After you've hit that first ride with little to no wait time, I recommend trying to get one more big ride. The line will have grown a bit, but most Epcot queues are indoors so at least you're not roasting in the sun! Soarin' is a good choice for this one because it lands you near The Land and Nemo if they are next on your to do list.
Now hopefully its around 10:30 - 11:00am and you can now use those fast passes! After that, I would head for lunch and stroll around the World Showcase until time for you to head to your next park or back to your amazing vacation rental (Adventureland Villa or The Turquoise Palms...just throwing those out there!).
Afternoon at The World Showcase
What about if you want to eat dinner at Epcot or enjoy any of the food booths during a festival? Well then I would say Epcot is a perfect half day park for the afternoon/evening. If you can book a fastpass at an attraction around the time you plan to arrive at Epcot, get that done first. Then head towards the World Showcase. From there you are free to walk, taste, sip and enjoy the different countries at your own pace without worrying about Fastpass times. Attractions in the World Showcase are fairly limited at the time being. Frozen in Norway is incredibly popular and you can anticipate a long line for that if you don't have a fastpass. In Mexico the Three Caballeros ride is a family favorite. Sometimes I am shocked by the length of the line, but a lot of times its fairly empty. And soon there will be a new Ratatoille ride in the France pavallion...Don't know the opening date for this yet, but once it opens expect to be fighting the crowds for those fast passes.
Once you have soaked up the World Showcase, check the times for the Fireworks show. Right now that is still Illuminations, but it was just recently announced that it will be changing soon! I usually try to head back towards the bridge that leads to Future World and watch the fireworks from there. You can beat a lot of people to the parking lot!
So, do I think Epcot can be a "Half Day" Park? Yes. But you have to make a choice as to what kind of day you want it to be: Mornings for riding rides and the thrilling attractions or evenings for exploring the pavilions. Which Epcot do you prefer?? If you'd like a bit more help on touring plans or just have a quick question, message me! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at @glam_disney_vacay. I'm always happy to help!
Let's say you have picked your Fastpasses for Magic Kingdom (If you haven't then check out our previous blog post here!), and you got every ride you wanted at the perfect times! Yay you! You can stop reading here and check out our other blog posts! You should also go buy a lottery ticket because you got skills or major luck going for you. Now...if you are like every other Disney planning traveler I know, you maybe got 2 of your top rides or maybe you didn't get any of your top Fastpass choices. Its ok! In this post I'm going to walk you through how to still ride all the top attractions utilizing the worst kept, but under appreciated, secret in Disney planning - ROPE DROP!
What is "Rope Drop"??
So what is "Rope Drop"?? Rope drop is the time at which the Cast Members drop their ropes that block off the attractions and officially begin allowing guests into the line queues. Most of the time this is right on the hour the park opens to the public.
Tip 1: Plan Which Day to Rope Drop
To best utilize Rope Drop and to make sure its worth getting you and your family to the parks early, its best to preplan what day you are going to Rope Drop. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that if you are staying at Adventureland Villa or The Turquoise Palms, you could be lining up to get into a park where on-property guests have already been allowed in for the previous hour or so. You can still get some quality rides in, but it won't be the best use of your time. So take a look on the Disney website for Park Hours and make sure you are not going to be competing with those EMH guests.
Tip 2: Get There 1 Hour Earlier
Above, I mentioned that Rope Drop is the opening hour of the park. This is true, BUT, the act of being at Rope Drop begins earlier than that moment...To Rope Drop a park and best use the low crowd times, you want to make sure you are in a decent spot nearest to the rope as possible. This can mean arriving up to 1 hour before the rope actually drops! The great thing about some of the parks, such as Magic Kingdom, they allow you to enter the park well in advance of this. You can get through bag check, the turnstiles, head up Main Street, get your Starbucks, and THEN find your spot to wait.
Tip 3: Know Where You're Going!
The third tip I have is to make sure you have a plan in place. What ride didn't you get a Fastpass for or do you just have a favorite ride that you need to do to start your day OR are you attempting to get all the attractions done in one day? You really can choose whichever ride/attraction appeals to you and your family. I would recommend not using this time for the rides with short wait times. For example, I wouldn't get to the parks this early to head to the Tea Cups or to Aladdin's Magic Carpets. These are rides that you can easily wait for later in the day OR even better, grab additional fast passes for after you have used your first three. So definitely pick an attraction that your family wants to ride, but know that this strategy yields the best results when aimed at the higher wait time rides.
Tip 4: Know The Route To Get There!
Whatever that first ride you have chosen is, make sure you are at the optimal spot to most efficiently get to attraction's queue. For example, if you couldn't get FP for Seven Drawfs Mine Train, but you just have to ride it, head to the rope that is to the right of the Castle that leads guests between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. From there you will quickly be able to get around the Castle, through the Tea Cups, and land in the queue for Mine Train. (One more quick Mine Train tip here...you may see a HUGE line when this happens. It will look like its going to be an hour wait from rope drop. Most likely this is not the case and that the interior queue areas have just not been fully opened yet. Usually, rope dropping Mine Train means I am on and off within 25 minutes. So don't get thrown off by that line!)
Tip 5: What's Next?
Again, to best utilize Rope Drop, have a set plan of where you want to head next after that first ride. My suggestion is to try and hit all the top priority attractions that are right near you. For example, If you headed first to Thunder Mountain, don't try to go to Space Mountain next! Hit up Splash Mountain or Jungle Cruise, two rides that aren't too far away. You've beat the crowds, don't then waste those precious few hours in the low crowd morning walking around. Have a plan and stick to it. Leave the afternoon for impromptu choices!
Tip 6: Fastpass Times Begin at 10:30-11am
This is one of my biggest tips for hitting a park and getting as much done in a day as you can. If you rope drop a park, you can easily ride 3-4 top attractions before 10:30 am. Between 10:30 and 11am, is when the parks begin to get a little more crowded as more and more guests arrive for the day. This is when I like to schedule my FP. If you have them starting around 11, that means you have gotten in several major rides before then AND you now don't have to wait around in long queues for your next 3 attractions. By the time early afternoon hits and everyone is cranky and hot, you will have gotten in 6 -8 MAJOR attractions. You can relax. You can grab a Mickey Bar, find a shaded spot, and plan the rest of your day! Trust me when I say this is game changing.
Tip 7: Don't Overtire Yourself
My final tip is that unless you are a super early morning family and just love to go hard core ALL THE TIME, don't try to rope drop every day of your trip. While Rope Dropping can mean really optimizing your time in the parks, if overused, it can be exhausting and leading to complete Disney fatigue. No need for that! Disney World is for fun and vacation...don't overwork yourself by trying to use this every day. (This is a tip I would do well to follow myself some trips....)
Well thats it! Those are our top Tips for how to Rope Drop a park at Walt Disney World. I hope you found them helpful and let me know if you tried them out! We'd love to hear from you in the comments. And if you like reading our tips and tricks for Disney World, check out our blog post on our best tips for Relaxing at Disney World here!
There are two distinct types of Disney travelers: The Type A travelers has every meal and fastpass planned out at least 180 days ahead of arrival and the Type B well doesn't. Either they are more of the go with the flow kind of traveler or just haven't realized how much you can fit into your Disney day with a bit of fore planning. Whether you are an A or B, if you are heading to the Magic Kingdom at any time in the near future, understanding what the best Fastpasses are to maximize your enjoyment and minimize your queue time is just smart Disneying! So with that, I wanted to share what my top 5 fastness selections are for the Magic Kingdom, and why!
#1 - Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train gets the top spot just purely because its the newest coaster in the Magic Kingdom and the wait times for this ride are usually always over 60 minutes. On the Mine Train you travel on a mine cart through the Seven Dwarfs Gem Mine and out into the open air before coming to a halt along side the dwarfs cottage. The Mine Train is a fun "beginner" coaster since its extremely smooth and has a lower height requirement than the other coasters in the MK.
A quick reason why not to choose the Mine Train as a fastpass is that this is a ride that has an excellent interactive queue. There are several little "games" along the way to entertain the kids and provide a break from the wait time. If you do want to see the full queue, then I would head to this ride right at rope drop. Be at the rope to the right of Cinderella's Castle and be ready to make the quick walk along side the tea cups into the line. If you are there early enough you can be in line maybe 25 minutes. Definitely worth getting up for rope drop!
#2 - Peter Pan
The Peter Pan ride for me is a conundrum. While it has great nostalgia and I love the story and characters, WHY is the ride queue so long??? Logically, I know that its because it has a low capacity seating and high demand from guests. So it is what it is...So I highly highly recommend nabbing a Fastpass for this ride because a typical wait time for Peter Pan is easily between 55-70 minutes. Now, the queue for this ride has greatly improved with the renovations that occurred a few years ago and its certainly entertaining. However, I am convinced that the 90 second ride is just not worth the 60+ minute wait. Get the Fastpass.
#3 - Space Mountain
Really Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain could all be in the same spot on this list just depending on your taste in coaster. Im a Space Mountain girl, so its always one for me to grab. I also tend to FP Space Mountain, because I like to rope drop Thunder Mountain and quickly ride Splash Mountain right after. If you are early enough you can get both of those rides in quickly and still have a ton fo early hours to ride other things. But ,on the other hand, Thunder Mountain has an outdoor queue so on a hot summer day, it might be the right choice to use the Fast Pass on. If you do Fastpass either of the Mountains, I would think about scheduling them for 11 - 3 pm when the crowds will be at their height. Save those FP for when the stand by line will be the WORST.
#4 - Thunder Mountain
#5 - Haunted Mansion
Haunted Mansion is a bit like Peter Pan for me. In some ways I don't understand the demand to ride this, BUT its a cult favorite and everyone in my family loves it too. The reason I choose to FP this ride is simply because of the outdoor queue. By the time we are ready to ride this, its hot and someone in our family is cranky. Having this fastpass is usually such a blessing! Ive even have my baby fall asleep on this slow moving dark ride...perfect spot for a nap!
What do you use your Fastpasses for??
If you'd like a bit more help choosing fast passes or just have a quick questions, message me! You can reach me at email@example.com or on Instagram at @glam_disney_vacay. I'm always happy to help!
Tara is a Disney-obsessed Mom of two active boys!