As the website’s relevance continues to decline, it’s probably time that I start doing what every other Disney blog does. Which is to say, copy/paste articles from Disney Parks Blog, source stories from Disney’s cast member portal without discussing context, and posting photos from Disney’s media hub while pretending I shot them myself. Okay, we’re not quite that desperate. But here’s some old news.
Disney Food Blog is your best source for 2013 Food and Wine Festival information. Here is the portal linking to their information. There’s a blue box near the bottom with links to the booth menus, special events, etc.
There’s a thread in the forum discussing what events various people are considering this year along with links to “reviews” of the events I took part in last year. Holler @ me if you want to join me for the First Bites Reception or Dessert Party. Or whatever else for that matter. I spent about 35 days at the Festival last year, but will probably spend much less time this year.
My unpopular opinion is that the Food and Wine Festival is the most over-hyped event of the year at Disney World. We’re talking about a lot of non-authentic, overpriced food samples prepared by 19 year olds with no cooking experience, boring beer choices, and wines that are cheap and widely available. Looking up wine pricing, most are available at Total Wine for less than $12/bottle. And you’re not going to convince me that a beer I can buy by the 12-pack at any grocery store around the country for $12.99 is worth $10 for a 20 ounce on draft. Most of you will have far better, far more authentic ethnic restaurants within a few miles and you’d be much better off supporting local businesses and economies than spending $150 on lunch around World Showcase.
Disney launched a new mobile application this week, titled “My Disney Experience.” It’s currently only available on iPhone (here), but will roll out for Android et al later this year. The application will now give you posted wait times and FASTPASS return times from outside the theme parks, something Mobile Magic didn’t do unless you got clever with the GPS. Assuming the app is less clunktastic than Mobile Magic, My Disney Experience looks to shut down virtually all of the current “wait times apps” overnight.
Speaking of mobile, Disney now offers free WiFI Internet service at Magic Kingdom, with plans to roll it out to the other theme parks and Downtown Disney by the end of the year. This goes hand in hand with the new mobile app and the rollout of whatever next generation is next year. Early speed tests aren’t going to be accurate as few people are aware of the service, but we’ll keep a close eye on it as it ramps up this fall.
Disney’s Passholder website is alluding to previews of “New Fantasyland” sometime in November, though no specifics are available.
Pirates of the Caribbean will be closed for one day on October 9th.
The heavy handed DISboards.com moderation staff closed the “Who has the best crowd calendar?” thread. Not sure if it was the Highlander pic or the Ursula gif. The website will be taking up a collection with the hopes that we can raise enough money to have it reopened. easyWDW.com narrowly “won.” With a whopping two decimal places, I think we can agree this is the most accurate poll about crowd calendars ever created.
I’m going to need the 99 names of those dissenters. Also, you’re all in a cult now. I can start you out as a Level 2 Wizard for $4,999.00. Talk about monetizing your Disney blog. We can start discussing Warlock status at the 50k level.
Speaking of February 2013, I updated the crowd calendar image and added the rest of the daily analysis for the 15th – 28th. We should see an update to September 2012′s operating schedule and the initial release of March 2013′s on August 17th or 20th.
As a reminder, we just picked up Space Mountain FASTPASSes and are walking back to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to use our 10:25am – 11:25am FASTPASSes gathered earlier in the morning. In the summer, I think it would have been wiser to collect FASTPASSes for Jungle Cruise instead and headed off to Haunted Mansion. When the crowd level is an 8+, you’re looking at 20 to 40 minute waits at Haunted Mansion from 12pm – 7pm. Since it isn’t possible to FASTPASS it (at the moment), we’ll want to avoid that timeframe. As it stands, we’ll be able to ride Big Thunder a second time, hit Pirates with a short wait, and grab lunch at Diamond Horseshoe. It’s just a trek from Space Mountain all the way to Frontierland.
Walking by Peter Pan’s Flight at 11:09am, FASTPASS is just over an hour out to 12:20pm with the standby wait at 45 minutes. With FASTPASS at Dumbo, FASTPASS return times at Peter Pan haven’t been as far out as they used to be. Space Mountain is slightly further out and Splash Mountain is also at 12:20pm right now.
That’s still a 10 minute posted wait at Haunted Mansion. With our Big Thunder FASTPASSes, we don’t have time to ride it if we want to ride Big Thunder again with this set of FASTPASSes.
Quite a few more people in this area of Frontierland at 11:11am. In about an hour, we’ll see what peak crowds look like.
Some additional ambiance here in Frontierland. Unfortunately, they’re about as popular as the Test Track All-Stars.
Arriving back at Big Thunder at 11:15am, the standby wait is up to 40 minutes with the standby line creeping out here toward the entrance.
55 minute wait over at Splash Mountain with a threatening tour group flag overhead. Remember that it took me a total of 17 minutes to walk the queue, ride, and walk back out to the front of Splash Mountain earlier in the morning. At Big Thunder, it took 12 minutes. At Peter Pan, 7 minutes. Add up the three currentwait times along with the ride durations and you’re looking at a total wait/ride time of around 2 hours 40 minutes, which is longer than we’ve been in the Park this morning thus far.
It may not be obvious how unbearably hot it is in Florida in July, but I can assure you that it would be brutal standing here uncovered in the sun with a thousand of your new best sauna buddies. Once you enter the station area, you’ve got weak air-conditioning, more people, a low roof keeping heat in, and the five year old behind you that’s certain if they just kick you enough times they’ll be that much closer to riding.
It’s a pretty chill ride here up front. Request the back for a much wilder experience.
You’ll also be able to see the whole mine train careen from side to side, though you can sort of tell here.
Still no on-ride geysers. You’d think that a company with the brains of the Walt Disney World Company would be able to get their collective heads around water spurts.
The water pressure on the geysers near the exits was turned way down.
There was no way I would have been able to get this close a few days prior (to July 24th).
Much higher before.
I was back out front at precisely 11:30am, where FASTPASSes for Big Thunder are still just 40 minutes out and the standby wait remains 40 minutes. That’s a total wait/ride time of about 15 minutes with FASTPASS.
With the heat and lower capacity, Splash is up to 70 minutes with FASTPASSes a little more than an hour out.
Virtually nothing is reliable at Pirates of the Caribbean these days, including this wait time sign that doesn’t display a wait time.
The cast member assured us that the wait would be five or ten minutes. It turned out to be about five or ten people long as this was as far as I got before I encountered anyone.
I managed to get a few decent pictures with a $100 lens attached to a $3500 camera.
You can sort of tell what’s going on.
I could use one.
On the other hand, rum.
In case you’re into counting how many hats this guy has.
Forget that boring carbon copy Little Mermaid ride coming to Fantasyland, I want to see a next generation Pirates of the Caribbean dark ride. It’s a timeless theme that could be oh so cool. Coming to Shanghai.
Yup, getting busier as it nears noon. Full size in case you want to zoom in on the importance of an early arrival: http://i.minus.com/iMKCcTlahNzmN.jpg. That’s our lunch destination Diamond Horseshoe in the distance.
Lunch is again at Diamond Horseshoe, which is no stranger to the website. We last visited about half way down this post, where we discovered that they had finally added lettuce, bacon, tomato, and a cranberry mayonnaise to their previously dry and boring sandwiches.
A menu reminder. This time we’ll rock the #7 Mixed Green Salad. As usual, we have absolutely no idea what’s going to be in it.
This makes it look pretty small, but the container is the standard size. Unlike comparing salads at your usual fast food places like Burger King, McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, etc. Disney salads just don’t differ much between establishments. They’re all served in the same containers with the same kinds of ingredients. In this instance, we get to choose between the same carved turkey or pork that’s served inside the sandwiches. Pork is pictured above.
Looks like we’ve got pork, lettuce, red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and carrots.
Unlike most salads, it was not served with a salad dressing mixed in or on the side, which means your options are Ken’s brand at the condiments bar. The only options on the lower level were the fatty Ranch and Caesar, which basically means you’d be better off getting something fried after mixing in two of the small-ish packets. Checking upstairs, I found a low fat balsamic vinaigrette, which I opted for because I’m watching my boyish figure. They also had crouton packets upstairs, so you may want to head up for a wider variety of choices.
As far as the salad, it was “just okay.” The pork was extremely dry and mostly tasteless. It ended up being a decent portion of meat because the cast member kept pushing the salad toward the carver to add more on top. I think the standard portion is probably a bit smaller and on par with the five or so chicken strips you’d receive on most Disney salads. With the standard Ken’s salad dressing, this isn’t anything that couldn’t be put together at home for less than a dollar. I’d opt for just about any other Magic Kingdom salad over this one, but it’s certainly not terrible. Just don’t expect to be wowed.
Forever alone. A long table runs all along the railing here on the second floor. The restaurant is dark and nicely air-conditioned.
And the usual tables on the lower floor. This self-playing piano starts up now and again.
Despite having only two registers out front, there’s rarely a wait. The fact that it’s horrendously over staffed helps too. With only two small doorways, it isn’t the most inviting building and the abbreviated menu turns off a lot of people that are looking for Disney burgers and chicken nuggets. Personally, this wouldn’t be a top three choice at Magic Kingdom, even with the arrival of bacon on the sandwiches. Columbia Harhour House is much better.
Frontierland crowds circa 12:11pm.
As previously mentioned, wait times at several attractions that are more or less “anytime attractions” when crowds are lower are going to see 20+ minute waits in the summer. Here at Haunted Mansion, you’re looking at 25 minutes. Add in the preshow, the wait to board your doombuggy, and the ride itself, it could easily take 45 minutes.
A similar situation here at it’s a small world.
A very boring 55 minute+ wait at Peter Pan’s Flight.
Swinging back by Dumbo/Winnie the Pooh FASTPASS outside Mickey’s PhilharMagic, you can again see why we prioritized Pooh in the morning over Dumbo. FASTPASS return times are just beginning to take off a bit. Dumbo FASTPASS return has virtually always been 40 minutes in the future with posted wait times that peak in the 30 to 40 minute range, if that. Even with 25+ minute waits at virtually every attraction with a posted wait time, Dumbo continues to sit at 15.
Up to just 10 minutes at Mad Tea Party, which is why we didn’t bother riding earlier. You could hop in around the time you ride Barnstormer and Dumbo if you like. With its short duration, the whole process should only take five to ten minutes to complete, if that.
As previously mentioned, I don’t think the wait is going to go below 15 minutes at Dumbo with the playground area time inside the tent factored in.
With Casey Jr. being this unpopular in July, it’s hard to see more participation in the cooler months.
Over at Barnstormer, the posted wait is 20 minutes with no one in the extended queue. With its relatively low capacity, 15 to 20 minutes is about right for this 60 second ride.
Heading into Tomorrowland at 12:25pm, we’re going to see that those peak crowds have arrived.
Add in the extended queue at Tomorrowland Speedway and you’re looking at a brutal wait, emphasizing the need to be here before 10am.
Over at Space Mountain to use the FASTPASSes we collected earlier in the morning. The return time is out to 3:30pm – 4:30pm. For whatever reason, at Space Mountain the FASTPASS machines on the left are almost always much busier than the ones on the right. There’s a huge cluster of people on the left, but you could walk right up to the machines further down on the right. So look out for that if you come across something that looks like this.
This is why we walked all the way over here to get that FASTPASS earlier in the morning. While it was a few minutes out of the way, it certainly beats the 90 minute standby wait or the fact that FASTPASS return is now more than three hours in the future.
An agonizingly boring wait for Astro Orbiter out in the afternoon sun.
A full theater’s worth of people waiting for Carousel of Progress.
Quite the extended queue at Buzz. Because it’s the first Land on the right and so many people are familiar with the name “Tomorrowland” along with Space Mountain, Tomorrowland is at its most crowded from 11am – 3pm. It clears out after the 3pm Parade and wait times and crowds are much lower after 8pm. The posted wait for Buzz is 40 minutes.
The reality of afternoon summer crowds at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. An extended queue out the door.
People are filing easily through the extended queue at Stitch, but it’s only going to get more crowded.
Main Street and the incoming crowds at 12:35pm. Sorry, I lied about riding Space Mountain. I hate that thing. But it would take about 15 minutes with FASTPASS as we’ve seen in the past. Full size for effect: http://i.minus.com/iblu4QhhNxiU0W.jpg. That’s a lot of people. If you’re wondering why the advice on the crowd calendar’s daily analysis is to get out by 1pm, this is why.
At this point in the afternoon, you could do the following attractions with little wait (or in the case of shows, get into the next one without a problem):
Enchanted Tiki Room
Swiss Family Treehouse
Country Bear Jamboree
Tom Sawyer’s Island, possibly with a five to ten minute wait for the raft
Hall of Presidents
Liberty Square Riverboat
Prince Regal Carousel
Carousel of Progress
Almost Monsters Inc or Stitch, but there may be a wait in the 10 to 15 minute range
Otherwise, you’re looking at a minimum of 20 minute waits Park wide.
On our way out, the Town Square Theater Princesses and Mickey have long waits.
Inside, the Princess line may not look too long, but FASTPASS plays a huge role here and the overall capacity is teeny tiny. The line also continues a ways further inside.
It’s 12:45pm, so FASTPASS at Mickey is just 45 minutes out. It’s further out at the Princesses, but 2:20pm isn’t an unreasonable time to return. Keep two things in mind: Rapunzel is only guaranteed to meet until 4pm. After that, she switches out with Aurora or another Princess. Just like any other attraction, everyone that’s headed inside Town Square Theater will need their own FASTPASS, even if they don’t intend to take a picture with any of the characters.
Second, Mickey Mouse FASTPASSes still aren’t connected to the rest of the system, meaning you can pull as many as you want, whenever you want. For convenience, you may want to collect FASTPASSes for both Mickey and the Pricnesses if the return times are close. For example here, you could return around 2:15pm, use the Mickey FASTPASS, and then use the Princess FASTPASS after finishing up with Mickey.
Overall, our morning went very well.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Big Thunder Mountain x2
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Pirates of the Caribbean
Theoretically Space Mountain
That’s more or less all of the “major” attractions. For Buzz, we could either collect FASTPASSes now and hit Carousel of Progress and Stitch while we wait for our FASTPASS time or we could elect to visit after a long afternoon break when fewer people will be around.
Looking over the plan, next time I would probably FASTPASS Jungle Cruise instead of Big Thunder and ride Haunted Mansion in the standby line instead of Jungle Cruise. Fast forward to September and afternoon wait times at Mansion will be shorter, making it much easier to visit in the afternoon.
The nice thing about this plan is that it always works, regardless of crowds. You can see what kind of crowds and wait times we’re looking at in the afternoon, but it didn’t affect our morning timing whatsoever. Tallied up, I think I waited maybe 20 minutes in line total, including FASTPASS and standby lines. You’re not going to do much better than that.