Construction Walls, Afternoon Crowds, New Polynesian Merch etc. Magic Kingdom – 6/18/13

by josh on June 23, 2013

After spending some time running around the theme parks in Part 1, we’ll take a look at some odds and ends.

Construction continues at the Grand Floridian DVC site.

It’s my understanding that you can look around some model rooms at Saratoga Springs.  I will try to get over there one of these days.  Until then, check out some pictures here if you haven’t seen inside.

I’m sure staff is looking forward to the day construction ceases.

It’s summertime baby, which means it isn’t going to be less than 75 degrees until October with daily thunderstorms.

This is probably the most run-into thing on Disney property.  The railing behind the planter, I mean.  Last time I was here, a dad looking at his phone ran into it with the stroller he was pushing, launching his daughter head first into steel.  Now she will just get a head full of plant.  One optimization too many I guess.

On Tuesday, Tomorrowland Terrace was still serving breakfast, but it’s expected that they’ll stop beginning Sunday now THAT THE EVIL KNOWN AS $TARBUXXX HAS OPENED ON MAIN STREET RUINING WALT’S LEGACY AND BRINGING COMMUNISM TO A SACRED INSTALLATION.

Never play a theme park shooting game with Lisa.  Or don’t bet her money.  She beat me on Buzz by something like 750,000 points, smiling at me the entire time.  At Universal, she destroyed me on Men in Black by like 300,000 points.  And I was planning to give her pointers!!! How embarrassing.  I mean I let her win.  And please no wookie jokes or I’ll get in big trouble and have to put the website into maintenance mode until July 1st.


Tomorrowland Arcade is one of the odder uses of space in Magic Kingdom, in my opinion.

You’d think this would make a good FASTPASS+ central or something.  Or a lemonade foam stand.  Or something.

It is an excellent opportunity to plug in those phones though.  Also, rarely busy and well air-conditioned.

The Tremaines have moved back here to the castle wall to the right of Pinocchio Village Haus on a semi-permanent basis.

I’ll be trying out to play Anastasia again this fall.  One of these days maybe.


This is factually inaccurate.

Is it’s a small world “racist?”  Can you imagine if they actually built the Western River Expedition?

Straight out of the camera.

Lightroom’d out with the terrace on the lower left clone stamped out and the people on the walkway removed.  Photography is a scam.

The line for guest services spilled out the door and into the street around 12:30pm.  I guess it was an extra magical day.

It’s exactly 12:30pm as we take a look at afternoon crowds.  At the risk of going out of business, I would tell you that it really doesn’t matter which theme park you visit over the busy summer.  Visiting the recommended Parks will result in lower crowds, increased FASTPASS availability, etc. but all the Parks are going to be slammed in the afternoon every day in the summer.  And crowds will be low for the first two hours every day if you arrive 45 minutes before the Parks open.  There is no secret day at Magic Kingdom where Big Thunder Mountain is going to be a 10 minute wait at 3pm.  Unless there’s a hurricane or something.  You saw how much success we had in the early morning, but there isn’t a lot we’re going to be able to do once noon hits.

Princess FASTPASS return times are 3.5 hours out.

The crowds we saw about a week ago were already out of control, but July is worse.  This is the line for Stitch. Outside of the summer and a major holiday, Stitch is a walk-on all day. Not so much in June – August, when you’d be waiting 20 minutes just for the pleasure of walking inside.

The line outside is about half as long as it was at 10:30am, but the wait is nearly three times as long due to the number of people returning with FASTPASSes.

Yeah…the FASTPASS return line starts around here somewhere.  You can bet five or more FASTPASS users will be admitted for each standby rider.  Thus, the 85 minute wait is born even with relatively few people in the standby line.

A 45 minute wait for Orbiter.  Remember it took us seven minutes between when I got in line and was back down here first thing in the morning.

Better than the 180 minute wait we saw on the 13th at least.

Tomorrowland at 1:10pm.

45+ minutes of 90+ degree heat and exhaust.

Mad Tea Party, which took a total of 7 minutes in the morning, now has a 25 minute posted wait.

80 for Dumbo.

Kids and parents enjoying Casey Jr. and enraging WDWMAGIC I’m sure.

Barnstormer with a 35 minute posted wait.  The actual wait would depend on the number of FASTPASS returners – that’s an awfully long standby line.

Mine Train construction continues as the walkway between Circus and Enchanted Forest remains open permanently.

Just south of an hour at The Many Adventures.

In addition to the umbrellas we saw last time, a water cart is also available should those waiting get thirsty in the heat.  Lines seem to be shorter here in the summer – people aren’t willing to wait outside in the blazing sun.  There are also more cast members inside helping people along with the order process.

Umbrellas straight out of the camera.

Lightroom’d out.

A tapestry throw available in Bonjour Gifts in New Fantasyland.


In addition, more art is available around the store.

It’ll be interesting to see how the area meshes together when the Mine Train opens. It’s three distinct properties within just a few steps of each other.

The bane of my existence.

Lines out the door at Pinocchio Village Haus. I think the overall experience at Be Our Guest would be more pleasant even with the ten minutes spent waiting outside. Once you’re inside BOG, it’s nicely air-conditioned and you can sit down at a relatively comfortable table while you wait for your food to be delivered. It’s actually less hectic than Pecos Bill or Pinocchio would be this time of day.

It doesn’t necessarily “feel” that much more crowded than September or another less busy time.  As I’ve mentioned before, you’ve got a similar number of people exiting the attractions and walking around whether there are 35,000 people in the Park or 75,000.  The difference is those 40,000 people in line in front of you.

If you know anything about Disney wait times, you’d know 45 minutes for it’s a small world is about as long as it gets. In September we might even see more people walking around, but the wait will be 5 minutes. Or at least it would be without FASTPASS+.

Pan is always going to be 40+ minutes at 1pm. 85 is pretty rough. Remember from Part 1 that we grabbed FASTPASSes for it before lunch and the total wait/ride time would be 10 – 15 minutes.

The line for Haunted Mansion starts down there somewhere.

It makes that 15 – 20 minute wait at 11am that much more attractive.

Liberty Square Riverboat leaves on the hour and half hour and is one of the rare attractions you can walk right up to and enjoy, even when it would take you six hours in line to ride the Mountains.

It’s also a relaxing way to spend 20 minutes away from the helter skelter that is a summer afternoon at Magic Kingdom.

And some great views.

In addition to being able to grab your Disney sweets at the Confectionery and Big Top Souvenirs, the Frontier Trading Post also offers a selection and there’s usually nobody inside.

Larger:  Rice Krispie Turkey Leg.

Larger if you want to play count the smiles:

The River Boat has a spiel that goes along with it that is hard to hear unless you’re standing next to one of the speakers.

You’ll otherwise travel behind Big Thunder Mountain, which is a view you can’t really enjoy from any other vantage point.

Proof of Polynesian DVC?

And an animatronic Native American scene.

And a long line for Mansion.

Columbia Harbour House has also received an electronic menu that looked to be the same as before.  Here’s each screen in a more readable size:

Big Thunder Mountain was down, but the queue had not yet been cleared.

I’m not sure what this is.  The line for the railroad with Splash at a 90 minute wait, which is below average for this time of day during the summer.

Pirate’s Adventure continues operating on a permanent basis.  The free map that’s included is a great souvenir even if you don’t plan to play the scavenger hunt.

20 minutes for Pirates looked to be about 20 minutes less than the actual wait would end up being.

50 minutes versus the 70 you’d see on a non-recommended Monday or Thursday.

Even so, there’s literally nobody waiting for Enchanted Tiki Room.

And you could walk right on Swiss Family Treehouse!

Roofs are going up on the new parking structures.

These Cinderella Castle sand castle modes are pretty adorable.

And somehow five bucks. You can’t even get a generic Disney World keychain for five bucks.

Shovels and pails also available.

If you happen to own a winery, you might want to start naming your wine something that Disney can tie in to one of their resorts or other properties.  Once Upon a Vine wine for Once Upon a Time.

Dolls creep me out.

The resorts have a different Buy More….Buy More promotion.

A new menu at the excellent Kona Cafe Sushi bar.

And dessert.

And price increases for dinner.  Disney raised the price of the Dining Plan by about $2 per day for adults and $1 per day for kids.  The adult cost is now an astounding $58.65 per day for adults and $19.85 for kids ages 3-9.  Quick service is $39.65 for adults and $15.75 for kids.  I am not a Dining Plan proponent in most situations.  You would really have to be certain that you’re ordering the most expensive items on the menus and able to consume all the food/drink, including desserts and fountain beverages.  You can save a considerable amount of money by simply ordering a (free) cup of water with your meals over the $3 fountain beverages and skipping the mostly pre-packaged desserts.  On the other hand, if you get the $5 cupcakes as desserts and the $14 quick service entrees, you can come out ahead.  I would also stipulate the Dining Plan is much less convenient than simply ordering what you want and paying for meals with a credit or gift card.

‘Ohana breakfast is up to $26.62 for adults and $14.90 for kids.

Dinner is $42.59 for adults and $20.23 for kids.  Eating here as an adult would mean you’d need to spend about $17 on your quick service meal and snack to come out ahead on the Dining Plan.  That’s possible, but in that scenario you’re saving around $6 if you got a $5 snack and $18 quick service meal.

The menu for the Luau has changed a bit.  Frontera wine is also advertised, which is another indication of how cheap Disney is these days.  Frontera is among the worst wines you could buy and would run you about $8 for a 1.5 liter bottle.

Wine is actually one of the only reasonably priced items in Disney gift shops.  A bottle of the Vine would run you $13.49 here, which is only a markup of $1 – $3 over what you’d pay at a store.  A six-pack of Bud Light, conversely, runs $15, or about $9 more than you’d pay at the grocery store.  I feel like there’s some bias here.

Captain Cook’s menu looked to be the same.  I really like their Pork Nachos and Stir-Fried Noodles.

It looked like a cold version of the noodles was available in the Grab and Go cooler.

Joffrey’s roll out continues as it’s available here at Cook’s.  Fill up your refillable mug with some drinkable coffee for the first time in years.

Back on April 28th, Disney started rolling out Simply Heinz with “all natural ingredients.”

The Deluxe resort should all be receiving another round of resort-specific merchandise. I have no idea why the Contemporary is the only one left out.  Here’s some of it:

This is in addition to the previous wave of stuff.

This may be my favorite shirt of all time.

So that’s what’s going on these days.  Afternoon wait times are going to be serious at all four major theme parks every day until the last week in August when things begin to relent a bit.  That isn’t helped by the shorter operating hours and removal of the Friday evening Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom.  It was only two years ago when Magic Kingdom had eight Extra Magic Hours weekly.  One on Tuesday, one on Thursday, three on Sunday, and three on Friday.  They’re down to a total of three per week this year.  One on Thursday and two on Sunday.

Take a look at the July 2011 operating schedule:

And compare it to July 2013:

Over the course of the month, Magic Kingdom is open 454 hours in 2013.  It was open for 502 hours in 2011 or about 1.5 hours longer per day.  The problem is that there aren’t enough “normal” hours to handle the crowds.  Parents with young kids typically aren’t in the theme parks after 10pm.  And they don’t like getting up for an 8am opening either.  So the Parks were open with very few guests in attendance before 9:30am and after 11pm.  Of course, that was amazing for those of us able to stay up until 3am, but the labor/energy/etc. costs were immense to operate attractions with nobody around.  I can recall riding Tomorrowland Speedway when there was “literally” only one other car on the road at 1:30am on a Friday in August 2011.  That’s one of my favorite memories, but it comes at a substantial cost to the company.

Disney has elected to pocket most of the money saved rather than investing it in new entertainment and attractions.  Realistically, Epcot “needs” two or three more major attractions to balance crowds out.  The average peak wait time for Test Track and Soarin’ in June is an even 120 minutes with waits as high as 180 minutes.  And wait times are over 60 minutes by 10am daily.  That’s four hours in line for your average family to experience two 5-minute rides.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why a lot of people have sworn off Disney World forever.

Hopefully we’ll hear something to get excited about sooner rather than later.  49 days to D23.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellen June 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Josh, you say above that “Afternoon wait times are going to be serious at all four major theme parks every day until the last week in August when things begin to relent a bit.” But, you do have crowds relenting a bit during the third week of August (mostly 5s and 6s) and that’s when we are going (kids are back in school 8/26 so we opted for 8/14-8/23). Have you changed your thoughts on that and will the crowds be as bad then as they are now?


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