Stress-Free AK Rope-drop Strategy

Cherrymadison33

Earning My Ears
Joined
Nov 19, 2019
My DH and I will be going to AK for the first time in January. We will have two toddlers and an 8 year old with us.

So I know the conventional wisdom is that we are supposed to go straight to FOP at rope drop to join the rest of the herd. But because it will be our first time, and we have toddlers, we really don't want a stressful day either standing in long lines or running back and forth between "lands" trying to ride all the big rides. This is what nearly every itinerary on the net focuses on.

We couldn't snag an FOP fastpass (of course), so we are opting to just ignore the ride altogether and pretend it doesn't exist. We do have FP+ for Kilimanjaro, Navi River, and Expedition Everest. But it seems fairly easy to get FP+ for just about any ride but FOP anyway.

What would be a good strategy to rope drop the park if we are not focused on FOP? We are early morning people anyway, so rope dropping to a nearly empty park would be easy and really enjoyable for us.

Specifically, it would be nice to just enjoy each land of the park and soak it all in without running back and forth between lands. I'm thinking the best route is to go straight to Dinoland (where it should be pretty empty, and it seems best to start with what is said to be the weakest part of the park), ride Dinosaur and the other little rides, then head to Asia to Expedition Everest for the first FP and explore the other rides, then Africa to do Kilimanjaro for 2nd FP and Rafiki's Planet, then end at Na'vi River Journey for 3rd FP and explore the rest of Pandora.

The only ride that seems time dependent is Kilimanjaro. I keep reading that the animals are out early, in which case we should head there first and explore Africa before moving onto the first FP (and therefore forego it as a FP and rope drop it instead). But since we are going in January, when its cool all day, does it matter the time of day the animals are out? Is it too cool in Orlando for many of them to be out in the mornings/evenings?
 

elaine amj

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 26, 2012
With your toddlers and 8yr old, I would do DinoLand a little later in the day to let the kids play in the amazing playground and run around.
 
  • mickeymom22

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 28, 2012
    I would wait on Dinoland when you need a little time for the kiddos to run around. The Boneyard is a great place for them to run around. My kids loved it when they were younger. My hubby and I loved the area where they dig for bones because we could sit and relax a bit while they went excavating!

    You didn't say if you and hubby and possibly the 8 year old would want to ride Expedition Everest, but you could head there first and do a rider swap. It is one of my favorite rides at WDW!

    Have a great trip!
     

    Mango7100

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 13, 2019
    Yes, do Dinoland later because the boneyard playground is one of our 6 year olds favorite things to do (and it doesn’t open at park opening). I actually would RD safari and also keep your fast pass for later in the day (we have done this a few times)—going two different times gives you better chance of prime animal viewing.
     

    lorenae

    I'm going to Disney World!
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2015
    Even if you skip FOP, Pandora is really cool. It’s small, and won’t take long to tour it, and at rope drop Na’vi River will be a walk-on, so that’s worth doing before moving on. There are things to do in Africa that are great for kids- the KS, and the Gorilla Falls, the trek, etc.

    Not much going on in DinoLand until later, and even it’s pretty slow in the winter. Today I was in there around 10 AM, and it was pretty quiet. You could definitely tour it later when the kids need time to play.
     

    rhill55

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Aug 17, 2019
    I would do the safari first, as you will most likely see a lot animals, should be fun for the kids. I’d then work my way around toward Everest and then Dinoland. Everest should still be a reasonable wait, even after being on the safari. This is usually my strategy for AK. Most of the time no one in my party wants to go on FOP
     
  • czmom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 26, 2011
    You could try for the same day FP drops. I found them reliable. At AK they are at 11.01, 1.01, 3.01, 5.01. Good luck.
    tell me more about this!! They release FP for all rides at these times? And at all parks?
     

    Welsh_Dragon

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 23, 2019
    tell me more about this!! They release FP for all rides at these times? And at all parks?
    Hi, there is no guarantee but there seems to be a pattern of dropping same day FPs, so....

    AK - 11.01, 1.01, 3.01, 5.01

    HS - 9.31, 12.01, 2.31

    EP - 11.31, 1.31, 3.31

    MK - no specific drop time
     

    Mickey's Best Girl

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 28, 2008
    If you rope drop AK and skip the Pandora rush you will find the rest of the park virtually empty for about and hour give or take.

    We head to EE and ride that a few times with no line then work our way back through the park.
     

    Isabelle12345

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 9, 2019
    I love this idea of a stress free rope drop!
    I am actually aiming for the same thing in February with my 2 and 5 year-old and my parents... so here is my strategy...

    We are thinking of being there around RD but just getting pictures and a relaxed walk around the tree of life, then doing the Mickey and Minnie meet and greet with FP, go back to Africa for FoTLK then safari with FP, then go to Pandora to explore and do Na’vi with FP and lunch at Satuli
    After lunch I was hoping to go back to the resort for a break, come back around 4:30 for the last Nemo show (maybe?) and explore Asia, dinner at Flame tree BBQ, then go to Dinoland and the boneyard, and finish with Rivers of light (hopefully getting a day-of FP)
    But I am not sure we will do the resort break that day as there is a LOT crammed in... the other option would be to skip the Nemo show and head straight to Dinoland when we get back from our break...
    I guess we’ll see how it goes!

    ETA: I see that sometimes the first show of FOTLK isn’t until 11:00 instead of 10:00 so that might change our plans... so it will need to be readjusted if that’s the case!
     
  • Cherrymadison33

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 19, 2019
    Hi, there is no guarantee but there seems to be a pattern of dropping same day FPs, so....

    AK - 11.01, 1.01, 3.01, 5.01

    HS - 9.31, 12.01, 2.31

    EP - 11.31, 1.31, 3.31

    MK - no specific drop time
    Thanks for this! I will definitely keep this in mind!

    I love this idea of a stress free rope drop!
    I am actually aiming for the same thing in February with my 2 and 5 year-old and my parents... so here is my strategy...

    We are thinking of being there around RD but just getting pictures and a relaxed walk around the tree of life, then doing the Mickey and Minnie meet and greet with FP, go back to Africa for FoTLK then safari with FP, then go to Pandora to explore and do Na’vi with FP and lunch at Satuli
    After lunch I was hoping to go back to the resort for a break, come back around 4:30 for the last Nemo show (maybe?) and explore Asia, dinner at Flame tree BBQ, then go to Dinoland and the boneyard, and finish with Rivers of light (hopefully getting a day-of FP)
    But I am not sure we will do the resort break that day as there is a LOT crammed in... the other option would be to skip the Nemo show and head straight to Dinoland when we get back from our break...
    I guess we’ll see how it goes!

    ETA: I see that sometimes the first show of FOTLK isn’t until 11:00 instead of 10:00 so that might change our plans... so it will need to be readjusted if that’s the case!
    We had the same thought of getting there at RD to get pictures of everything. I'd also love a midday break, and it seems like it should be doable, but I imagine it might not work out that way. Hopefully we can find a spot to just sit and do nothing for about an hour and that will take the place of a break. With the Disney buses we don't want to waste too much time going back to the hotel, but we will play it by ear.

    AK sounds so beautiful and serene--it should certainly be stress-free. Can't wait!

    (And now on to planning MK...)
     

    gharter

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 3, 2004
    RD at AK,if you don't want to do FoP is easy.
    Every other line is very short for the first hour plus. This includes Navi.
    Many options. Even though you have some good FPs,
    I would head to Dinosaur 1st. Then up to EE and ride several times. Then head to safari . On your way out of Safari you can do Gorilla Falls walking.
    This does have more walking but you are crossing the park once and riding many of the bigger rides right away.
    You can go back and use your FP later when they come up.
     

    bryanb

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 10, 2013
    Thanks for this! I will definitely keep this in mind!
    Also, since you're only looking for two Fastpasses, you'll very likely have luck picking up (almost) any FP+ attraction you want if you're willing to be patient. Keep in mind that with tens of thousands of visitors, people are changing their plans in MDE every second of the day.

    You could literally be looking at a 120 minute wait, and hitting the reload button for five minutes until something pops up. Someone will cancel their FPs at the last minute... and in you go. The bigger your party, the harder it is to use this "refresh" method, but with two, you can enjoy so many FPs all day.
     

    texasgingerbread

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 31, 2015
    You could try for the same day FP drops. I found them reliable. At AK they are at 11.01, 1.01, 3.01, 5.01. Good luck.
    Hi do you mind explaining this to me? Does this mean same day FP are released at these times? If so does this apply to other parks and if so do you have those times? TIA! Answered. Thank you.
     



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