Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Test New Park Opening Procedure

Beginning Sunday, January 15, 2012, and running through Friday, January 20, 2012, Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort will be testing out a new opening procedure. Disney internally refers to this process as “rope drop without a rope.” Here are the finer points of the changes:

  • Turnstiles open at 8:30 a.m.  Operational attractions at that time:  Toy Story Mania!, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
  • All other attractions open at 8:45 a.m. If you arrive at one of these attractions before then, you will need to wait in an exterior queue until the attraction opens.
  • Signups for Jedi Training Academy begin at 8:30 a.m. at the ABC Sound Studio (former home of Sounds Dangerous).
  • FASTPASS distribution is available at all attractions beginning at 8:30 a.m.

The most basic take-away is that the park is ostensibly now open at 8:30 a.m. on days listing a 9:00 a.m. opening. Arrive early and leave your home or hotel earlier if you’re following an early morning park touring plan.

R. A. Pedersen

R. A. Pedersen is the author of The Epcot Explorers Encyclopedia and runs the Epcyclopedia.com blog. He has been a research contributor to the TouringPlans.com Blog since 2006 and functions as sort of an all-around news desk and project-tracker.

18 thoughts on “Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Test New Park Opening Procedure

  • January 15, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Will this be done during Extra Magic Hours as well?

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  • January 15, 2012 at 9:08 am

    So is the idea that they are going to still advertise it as 9:00am but anyone who “happens” to show up early like I do anyway would be able to go in early and start riding? Basically, they are hoping to deceive most of the public to think that it still isn’t open till 9:00am but let us crazy early risers get in and out of the way? If that works I’ll be thrilled, but it doesn’t sound like something that would work for long.

    Please do update everyone if they extend this process.

    • January 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      It used to be a common strategy in the past to show up half an hour before the published park opening time; in fact, old editions of The Unofficial Guide always recommended showing up that early.

      We were at Epcot on Dec. 10, arriving about 5 minutes before published opening time, only to find that the park was already open — and that the standby time on Soarin’ was 20 minutes! We didn’t end up waiting that long, though. But now we know — time to return to the old strategy of arriving at the park well in advance of published opening time.

  • January 15, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Great idea. It will avoid the MAD rush, as people are slowed down by the entrance turnstiles/scanning process. This just may work at all the Parks. Strange part if the “deception” of opening the rides at 8:45 (vs 9am). Whatever…works for me! An extra 15 mins in the am which is my favorite time!

  • January 15, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    They actually did this during Christmas week, we arrived at 7:30 for an 8am opening. We were immediately let in and were surprised when there was no rope near the hat. My husband went to Toy Story and got fastpasses while my girls and I went to ride Tower of Terror. There was almost no one in the park. It was so nice. We rode TOT twice, and RnRR all before the 8am park opening.

  • January 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    We saw this as well at the end of October last year. It was our last day in the parks and we were running a little later than I like to be. Got to the turnstiles at 8:45am and to our surprise no big long line or rope drop inside. We still got to ride a few things before the 9am official opening. Hope they continue with this opening procedure! Great for early birds like my family!

  • January 15, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Do you think this will likely continue later into January? We’ll be there on January 29, and if it will be open early, we may try to get there at 8:30 to do Toy Story Mania before the crowds pick up.

  • January 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    They did this last week when we were there. Got to ride Toy Story Mania twice before the park actually “opened” then walked right on to Star Tours. It was great.

  • January 15, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I like this but they should start distributing fast passes at 9:00 am so that TSMM commandos have to choose to ride or wait for a fast pass. This will allow non-commandos a better chance at a fast pass.

    • January 15, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      If they open the fastpass machine half an hour later than the ride, then people will just line up at the FP machine waiting for it to open, instead of lining up for Rope Drop. So the people arriving at 9am will arrive to a long line of people at the FP machine.

  • January 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Hmmm. We’re going to be there on the 20th but were planning to start the day with Animal Kingdom and hopping over to HS after morning since US is open til 7pm and AK only til 5:00. BUT….now, I wonder…. lol (The thought of riding ToT and R&R early are awfully tempting! I guess it would be crazy to go there, hop to AK and then go back to US. ????

  • January 16, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Yeah, that’s a pretty common practice in the industry. I always show up at least a half-hour before published park open when going to Universal’s parks, because they usually open attractions early.

    Never understood the guests who don’t come to the parks until later in the day. I once went with some friends who thought nothing of getting into a park after lunch… without any kind of long drive or anything like that beforehand. I always try for a full operating day at a park, but I guess I’m hardcore?

  • January 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    In my opinion, the people who arrived early before will arrive early again. The difference as I read it is that you are letting 20 people in every 5 seconds instead of “herding” them down the street. I think this may be safer. Cast members need to step up and stop runners though.

  • January 22, 2012 at 9:37 am

    At DCA you can ride Soarin and The Little Mermaid before the rest of the park is open. We were able to ride Mermaid once, and then join the throng of people waiting to get to Toy Story.

  • February 16, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Has this practice continued? If so, will the touring plans web app start taking it into account? I’m trying to plan a 4 parks in one day plan and any “extra” time I can gain would be a big help.

  • June 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    has the park still been opening early?

  • March 21, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I will be visiting WDW the first week in April 2013. Can someone tell me if this opening procedure is still in place? Will the turnstiles open around 8:30am?

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