What is a rope drop anyway?
Magic Kingdom opens at 9:00am. For us literal thinkers, we may think of being able to pass through the gate with our ticket at 9:00. Rope drop kind of means a head start on that 9:00 gate start.
In reality though, it doesn’t mean that at all. What can actually happen is this. After parking in Timbuktu, arrival at the Magic Kingdom security checkpoint can happen even earlier than 8:00. After getting through the security checkpoint, we swiped our Magic Bands (our electronic ticket to everything) and made it to main street where we could view Cinderella’s Castle by 8:10. Shops and even some restaurants on Main Street USA open at least an hour prior to official park opening time.
The next misconception us literal thinkers might have would be that there is a stopping point in front of the castle that would open up at 9:00am. In other words, I thought visitors would be stuck on Main Street USA until park opening. Again, not the case.
We were able to make our way to the entrance to Adventureland. Just under the signage, there is a rope blocking off the walkway. THAT is where the rope drop happens. The same thing occurs at each entrance to the lands beyond the castle.
Are you wondering why in the world we would get up early enough to be on Main Street USA by 8:10? I bet a lot of my fellow autism parents understand. A lot of days 8:10 feels like midday.
Also, it was hotter than hades down in magic land. One day, by the time we got back to our car the temperature read 100º. By arriving at the park so early, we were able to accomplish several things including it being much cooler for a while.
Especially since it was mid-September and not as crowded as peak season, the next huge benefit to that early arrival was that we were able to ride The Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Thunder Mountain Railroad all before 10:00am.
Following that, Jess and I rode Haunted Mansion then utilized the Disability Access Service to put our name on the waiting list for Peter Pan’s Flight. While we were waiting on Dad to finish nerding out at The Hall of Presidents, Jess and I even indulged in the ice cream sandwich I had been promising her. It was still before 10:30am.
How Early is Too Early – For Lunch
That was kind of poor timing on the ice cream sandwich. Since Campbell is literally always hungry, he was ready to eat lunch when he met back up with us. Thus, we had a 10:45am lunch time right after Jess and I ate that ice-cream sandwich.
After ‘lunch’ we did Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. When we got to the front of the line, the cast member asked Jess if she wanted to stay in her chair. This has never been presented to Jess as an option. She so emphatically shouted “Yes!” that it startled both Campbell and me. We made our way through the ride and when we came to the end, they asked Jess if she wanted to stay in and ride it again. Jess had a total blast.
We also squeezed in a ride on Peter Pan’s Flight, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the “Pool”. Finally, the heat was in full swing and the crowd was building. That meant time for us to fly. We had accomplished way more than we thought we could’ve in a such a short amount of time.
We were on the monorail, for some crazy reason (like keeping J happy) headed to Epcot by 12:20pm.
The ‘Frince’ Movie
This is the reason why. Seeing Impressions de France is always on Jessica’s agenda. Jess talks about the movie all year long. I’m not sure why. We have a CD with the music from the movie and she enjoys listening to it. The movie in the France Pavilion at Epcot is shown on a huge 180º screen.
Wait, now that I think about it more, the movie has a section where some hunting dogs are barking… lol. That must be the key.
The American Adventure
This is always on my agenda. Listening to the harmonies of the A cappella group Voices of Liberty always breaks me out in goosebumps all over. Following their performance, The American Adventure show combines audio-animatronics, film and music to bring America’s history to life. It is just as good every single time I see it. I think I’ll never tire of it.
Rain Clouds Looming
Florida afternoon rain showers are just a thing that can’t be avoided. While we are making our way to the bus to get back to our resort, we saw clouds brewing. Thankfully, we were almost to the bus pavilion when the raindrops started falling. We were under cover by the time the heavy rainfall started. When the bus arrived, we loaded up in the pouring rain. Jess thought it was fun and she had the giggles.
But it also made her worry. We had evening plans at Hollywood Studios for an outdoor show. Having to cancel 2 evenings in a row would seriously be the pits. Jess just had to make it to that show.
The rain did clear out, we headed on over to see Fantasmic and arrived at the outdoor theater by 7:00pm. Last time we went to this show, Jess was having anxiety and was stressed. However, this time, we had her noise cancelling headphones as a back-up plan. Jess had a good time.
About our Seats
I wanted to share something about the seating for this show. The amphitheater has a seating capacity of 7,900. The whole top row of the huge amphitheater is for wheelchair seating. Most of that seating is organized so that wheelchairs are side by side down a long row, then just below that are several rows of seating for friends or family members.
As the cast member was leading us to seating and we walked past that seating arrangement, my anxiety kicked in. This type of seating arrangement had happened to us one other time in this same amphitheater. That time, I spent the whole show facing backward talking to Jess, explaining to her what was happening on the stage, and making sure she was okay. I vowed to never let that happen again.
The cast member who was seating us took us past an empty section on that top row that had short benches with spots for parking wheelchairs on either side of the benches. That particular section was roped off when we walked right past it. So, when that nice young man showed us the way to the wrong seats, the ones where Jess would be surrounded by strangers, I calmly announced that arrangement wasn’t acceptable.
Expectations and Exceptions
My expectations were that the three of us would enjoy Fantasmic together, side by side like other families. I explained that Jess was blind and autistic and that she needed to be seated right beside us. I pointed to the more appropriate seats in the empty section of that row. The cast member immediately began problem solving, then agreed seat us there. He explained that it was kind of a VIP section but that we could sit there anyway. (Not sure why he didn’t see that obviously, my Jess is always a VIP.)
My point is simply that I requested an exception to the rule on the seating and they quickly and nicely accommodated my wishes.
I think Disney tries to plan and make accommodations and have systems in place. Sometimes, though, there are exceptions to exceptions that are just hard to pre-plan for. It seems in this case, it seems maybe Disney has not thought through there being children and special needs adults in wheelchairs that need to be with their families, not just near them.
An Early Night
We were out of Hollywood Studios by 9:00pm. An easy drive back to our resort and then we did some pre-packing for the next morning. We had one more park day left then off we go, back to see my baby on our way home.