Adventureland opens at 10 a.m. If you’ve never shown up early, you may not realize they open the parking lot and ticket booths a bit earlier. This allows folks to purchase tickets so they are ready to enter when the park opens.
The park then begins letting folks in to wait in the area in front of the train station. The two train tunnels in to the park have garage doors that remain closed until the park opens. At 10 a.m., the tunnel doors open and guests make a mad dash down Main Street to the rides.
If you have never seen this, here is what it looked like the day The Monster opened in 2016:
Some Disney parks do something similar, but they go a bit further and allow guests to hang out on their Main Street before the rest of the park opens At Disneyland in California, for example, they often open an hour early so guests can shop and/or get breakfast on Main Street. Disney’s Main Street is one long path with the only access to the rest of the park at the end where the “hub” is in front of the castle. (This would basically be where the bridge is at the end of Adventureland’s Main Street.)
Disney will have a rope across the end of Main Street and hold guests there until official opening. A few minutes before that time, an announcement and music plays, welcoming guests to the park. The rope is dropped* and the dash to attractions begins.
Thus, the term rope drop.
*Actually, pulled to the side, but maybe it was just dropped in early years before lawyers and careless visitors took over the world. I guess “rope being pulled to one side” doesn’t have the same ring to it…
Sometime this season, Adventureland started opening their Main Street early on certain weekend mornings. A few shops would be open as well as the arcade, giving visitors a much nicer place to wait than in front of garage doors.
While the Iowa Cafe does not open until 11 a.m., a food cart is brought out with with snacks and drinks (including some breakfasty items you normally won’t find in the park).
Here is how it looked on Saturday, July 1, 2017.
Upon arrival around 9:30, they were parking folks in the back corner Lot 2:
On busy days, they seem to load the far away lots first so don’t expect to always get a closer spot if you show up early 😉
The ticket booth line can normally be quite packed on a busy day, but this morning there were no lines there at all.
Once inside the park, they had a yellow plastic chain blocking off access to the left walkway near the Giant Sky Wheel.
In the middle of Main Street there was a food cart set up. It offered bottled drinks drinks (including milk, chocolate milk, and Sunny D) and some food items (such as breakfast cereal). It also had various sundries for sale such as sun screen.
At the end of Main Street was another chain.
The Main Street Arcade was open to give folks something to do while they waited. Normally, the G-Force ride would also be operating, but it was down for repairs this morning.
Since the arcade also has access to the Bavaria/Alpine Village side, they had the garage doors closed. This was the first time I’d ever seen these closed, since they are always open during normal park hours.
To entertain crowds, world record holder (and juggler) Brad Weston made an early appearance on his stilts. Normally he appears between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., but on these early entry days, he sometimes comes out sooner.
As it got closer to 10 a.m., the crowd levels increased. I didn’t go back to check on the Giant Sky Wheel side, but the end of Main Street crowds filled up a good portion of the end of the street.
At 10 a.m., the chains were removed and folks rushed to the rides.
This is a great thing for the park. It was a much more pleasant experience waiting Main Street with the carousel music playing and some treats available. It is unfortunate that there is no real breakfast, but perhaps in the future the park can cultivate an “early opening” crowd and offer something. It certainly seems like a great way to make guests happy, and make an extra buck from a captive audience.
In the meantime, you can always get coffee and donuts over in River City…
As far as I know, the park has not made any announcement about these early openings on their website or Facebook page, but somehow folks seem to know about it. Be sure to check it out if you get a chance.