FEBRUARY CROWDS? Anchors Aweigh! Rapunzel Rapunzel, LeFou’s Redux, FASTPASS Sitrep, – Magic Kingdom 2/13/13

by josh on February 14, 2013

After reading about how crazy crowded(!!!!!!!) Disney World has been over the last couple of weeks, I figured I would set out to Magic Kingdom to see what all of the hullabaloo was about.  I’ll admit that sometimes I wonder if I’m at the right Disney World.  Am I accidentally visiting a Chinese knockoff?  Is there is a glitch in the Matrix?  Is the camera blind in its left eye?  I don’t have the answers to these questions.

Looks doable, but the crowd outside the turnstiles often isn’t a good gauge of how crowded it is inside. It’s 4:26pm, which isn’t a popular time of day to be arriving.  Magic Kingdom is today’s most recommended Park.  The website’s usual advice is to hit the Park hard in the first two hours of operation, take it easy for a couple of hours, take a break from 1pm to 5pm or so, and then return in the evening.  So this is around the time you might be heading back.

It’s “True Love Week” for Limited Time Magic.  This is about the extent of the decorations.  The princesses not named Belle are meeting alongside their princes and there is some extra Minnie Mouse stuff for purchase.  And Minnie is meeting with Mickey, which is uncommon now that she’s moved out to Storybook Circus.

This is why the princes don’t ordinarily meet with the princesses.  That’s a 100 minute wait for Rapunzel Flynn/Aurora Phillip/Cinderella Guy compared to a five minute wait for Mickey/Minnie.  FASTPASSes are gone.  Why the longer waits?  It’s mostly due to an increase in interaction time.  Not only do you have the guest interacting with the princess, but you’ve got the prince/princess chatting each other up too.

Nothing says “I love you” like the gift of planters.  Remember that gentlemen.  “Live! with Kelly and Michael” is taping here next week and the stage is covered up.

Heading up Main Street around 4:40pm.  Wait times:


Looks manageable, but it could still “feel” crowded!  Let’s investigate.

I didn’t look real hard, but I didn’t notice any other True Love Week decorations.

Deeming this photo “artsy” because it isn’t straight, I forwarded it to Mother for approval.  She asked if it was tilted because I was drunk, but deemed it artsy nonetheless.  Thanks mom.  Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports7/drunkcastlepic.jpg.

This one was less successful, probably because it isn’t tilted.  Or zoomed in close enough.  But that flower is supposed to be in focus with everything else blurrier.

Construction continues on the veranda where Ariel used to meet.

And part of the seating section for Aloha Isle.

The joys of FASTPASS with the return line spilling out the door.  Jungle Cruise is a difficult queue to gauge because there are so many internal switchbacks.  And they often don’t open them fast enough.  So the standby line can spill outside with a straight shot to the boat and a ten minute wait or it can spill out the door with the queue completely full and a 100 minute wait.

My attempt to order a Pina Colada Slush from Sunshine Tree Terrace was thwarted by a broken machine.  The $27 annual maintenance budget was probably eaten up by the Citrus Swirl.  Maybe next year.

71.4% of the internal queue at Pirates of the Caribbean is behind walls for one reason or another – blame Obama, the upcoming Adventureland interactive game, queue modifications, or whatever else.  They still operate both sides of the loading bay, so waits are the same regardless.  Just don’t be too put off by a line that’s visible from here.

With the Pirate Tutorial stage still behind refurb walls, Adventureland doesn’t seem too crowded.  The show still takes place across from the stage.

The waste of space that is Golden Oak Outpost was open, probably practicing ringing up bottled beverages for President’s Week.

On the plus side, it’s one of the easiest ways to pick up said beverage or satiate an unhealthy addiction to Disney chicken nuggets.

Splash Mountain’s facelift continues:



It should reopen as good as new next month.

Seems legit.

A fairly nominal 30 minute wait for Big Thunder.

As I’ve mentioned before, the area out here in front of Big Thunder is one that almost always “feels” crowded, regardless of how many people are actually in the Park.  But this looks pretty light.  That’s a lot of concrete.

After another brief refurbishment, Naval Officer Duffy is back at the helm of the Riverboat.

Enjoy the concrete.  When we visit next Monday, you’re not going to be able to see much.

Rapunzel’s Tower from across the River. We’ll take a closer look shortly.

Personally, I think it’s just a placeholder until Disney purchases the rights to Lord of the Rings and re-themes Fantasyland to Middle Earth.  You heard it here first.

Feels crowded?

Talk about ruining refurbishment wall pictures with live entertainment!

And would somebody please cut down these trees already! They’re blocking my view of Cinderella Castle!

Not much of a crowd at Haunted Mansion – it’s 5:08pm and Magic Kingdom is open until 10pm with two Electrical Parades and Wishes.

Not sure if it’s obvious, but it’s a straight shot to the graveyard or a five-ish minute wait.  10 minutes posted.

I wasn’t going to order dinner at Columbia Harbour House, but there was no one in line, so I purchased the only thing I haven’t eaten here – the Anchors Aweigh Sandwich.  You can take a look at the menu and catch up on my “reviews” of all the other items here.

Mother is about to have a heart attack as the Anchors Aweigh is a Tuna Sandwich with Lettuce and Tomato.  Historically, I don’t like tuna.  Just the smell gives me a headache and I’m not usually finicky about such things.  But now that I’m 750 pounds, I’ve tried to increase my consumption of lean proteins – tuna being one of them.

The sandwich was surprisingly enjoyable.  It had very little fishy taste and was light on the mayo.  The lettuce and tomato were fresh and provided a nice crisp crunch.  The bread was perfectly toasted.  I’ve honestly never had a tuna sandwich before in my life, so the experts may have to weigh in (GET IT? WEIGH IN?  ANCHORS AWEIGH?  Nevermind.)  But I was happy with it.  I didn’t think it was particularly filling, but I’m also used to Disney gut bombs.

I wasn’t entirely prepared to order when I walked up to the podium and forgot that I wanted the sandwich without a side, so I ended up with $1/ounce apples.  As the label reads, they were crispy, juicy, and surprisingly flavorful for a bag full of old apple slices.

There wasn’t anyone else on the upper floor.  Columbia Harbour House remains my favorite Magic Kingdom quick service even with Be Our Guest coming online.  It’s a much more relaxing, much more convenient option with unique, fresh food.  I’m not saying that you should skip Be Our Guest necessarily, but check out Columbia Harbour House if you haven’t.

URINE progress:

I left the walkway uncropped to give you an idea about how large the area is in front of it.  Lanterns now hang from posts that are bare in this picture.  Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports7/urine1.jpg.

The Internet says it opens February 25th.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports7/urine2.jpg.

Passing by it’s a small world, I noticed the five minute wait and decided to get in line.  Next week, peak standby waits will be 30 to 50 minutes, compared to the ten minutes today.

An easy walk-on, as it usually is.

This website has not discussed FASTPASS+ much.  I take more of a “wait and see” approach to this sort of thing.  I don’t think there’s much use in fear mongering or gossiping about what FASTPASS+ and NextGen aren’t.  Said tactics might bring in a few extra one-time visitors to the site or give us a platform for argument, but the entire discussion would only serve to confuse and infuriate.  I’m confident that as educated theme park visitors, we’ll be able to use the new system to our benefit, much like the current FASTPASS system.  While things will be a little different in the future, that doesn’t automatically mean they’ll be worse.

One piece of the puzzle that does give me pause is the addition of the FASTPASS system to attractions that have historically “not needed it,” like it’s a small world.  Without FASTPASS, everyone in line is treated equally on a “first come, first served” basis.  Once FASTPASS+ is deployed, there will be those in line with FASTPASS+ reservations that take precedence over those of us who don’t, much like how the current FASTPASS system works at attractions like Big Thunder Mountain and Peter Pan’s Flight.  So even though we’re knowledgeable theme park visitors who have reserved the most sought after FASTPASS+ reservations, there are going to be times when we have to get in line at attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s a small world, Haunted Mansion, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor etc. and be at the mercy of the FASTPASS+ system.

Will people who selected FASTPASS+ reservations at it’s a small world or Haunted Mansion be using the system to their utmost advantage?  Probably not.  But when you’re waiting in the standby line while family after family arrives after you and boards before you, it’s going to “feel” a lot more frustrating.

One of the inherent problems with FASTPASS is that it isn’t a capacity increasing device.  Take Toy Story Mania for example.  Let’s be generous and say it has an hourly capacity of 1,000 riders.  Over an average twelve hour day, that means there can be 12,000 total rides on Toy Story.  Average Studios’ attendance is around 28,000 a day.  That means less than half of the people that enter the Studios have an opportunity to ride Toy Story Mania.  How many of those 12,000 rides are going to be reserved for FASTPASS+ reservations?  With FASTPASS distribution being as high as 70% of the hourly capacity, you can get an idea about how difficult it is going to be to reserve a ride at Toy Story Mania.  And then how is Disney going to distribute FASTPASS reservations?  Certainly not an “egalitarian system,” where the reservations simply open up 30 days in advance at 6am.  Will people staying at the Grand Floridian have first crack?  Can you tap your MagicBand to a reader on the day of, pay an extra $5/person, and head to the front of the line?  These are the sorts of questions that remain unanswered.

Capacity is also the reason why all of these “secondary attractions” are receiving FASTPASS+.  There aren’t enough FASTPASS+ reservations to go around for the most sought after attractions like Toy Story, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Main Street Electrical Parade.  So instead of Disney simply telling people that they’re out of FASTPASS+ reservations, they can sell them on the benefits of FASTPASS+ at it’s a small world and Spaceship Earth.  We can also expect FASTPASS+ to deploy as a tiered system, where the most sought after attractions will be in the first tier, while lesser attractions will be in a second, third, or fourth tier.  You’ll be able to select a certain number of attractions from each tier, so more guests can select a top attraction in addition to others.

But my real concern is these secondary attractions that will now have two (or more) classes of citizens.  While we almost certainly won’t care about a FASTPASS+ reservation at it’s a small world, it seems like you can guarantee your standby wait is going to be longer than it is today, because people with FASTPASS+ reservations will be headed to their boat before you – even if they arrived 20 minutes after.  But then will FASTPASS+ in turn take guests out of the standby line?  Creating similar waits?  We’ll see.

Anyway, it’s a small world!





I think most people have their favorite characters.  One of mine is the panda.

And the yak.  it’s a small world is so stereotyped/racist that I’m surprised it still exists in 2k13.

I admit I like the pink camel too.  My dream is to purchase a camel and order a “therapy animal” license for it so I can ride it around Magic Kingdom.

The lazy eyed hippo is another favorite.  I wish they could get this gal an eye exam.


I still don’t want to know.

How long until this fruit market is replaced by a margarita bar?  And you use My Disney Experience to tell Disney which margarita you want waiting for you when you disembark the ride?  Six months?  Is heaven really that close?



Clowns.  A world of tears is right.



These postcards in the last scene are new:



Supposedly they go back to the idea that you’ll be able to design your own creepy doll at home that will wave goodbye to you at the end of the ride.  Has Bob Iger seen Child’s Play?  Please don’t do this to me.

Fast forward a few days and this queue is completely full by 11am.

I’m expecting standby waits to be mostly unchanged at the current FASTPASS attractions once FASTPASS+ comes online.

Instead of guests returning with paper FASTPASSes, they’ll march through with their Gucci branded MagicBands.

Mine Train construction:





While it’s true Universal is building Transformers in record time, the fact remains that the ride is located in what currently looks like a large grey box in the middle of their theme park.  Disney is taking about 6x as long to build a beautiful mountain in the back of their flagship theme park.  We’ll see which one works better by the end of the year.

Speaking of FASTPASS+, Enchanted Tales with Belle currently operates without FASTPASS.

For whatever reason, waits continue to be exaggerated back here at Belle and Journey of the Little Mermaid.  The actual wait is closer to 30 minutes.  But once FASTPASS+ becomes operational and those in the standby line have to wait for family after family with FASTPASS+ reservations, you can see how a 60 minute wait will easily become reality.  Low capacity, lengthy attractions like Enchanted Tales will most likely become the most sought after FASTPASS+ reservations.

We’ll return to Gaston’s Tavern.

Originally, Disney Parks Blog ran a story with the Roasted Pork Shank as a snack credit.

This is the original menu, where the logo was hastily removed.  You can see that they have a newly printed menu now, but the cost of the Pork Shank has gone up a whopping $1.50, or 16.7%, since December.

I enjoyed mine quite a bit back in October, but the price increase certainly isn’t beckoning a second rodeo.

For six bucks, Disney will serve your instant hot cocoa in one of those “souvenir mugs” that are now available at Pinocchio Village Haus and Sleepy Hollow Refreshments with a different sticker.

Pinocchio Village Haus is currently hawking a “Pinocchio Punch,” an “All Natural Lemonade Topped with Wild Berry Foam” for $9.59 in one of these plastic cups.

My guess is Disney is hoping you won’t notice you can get a similar “souvenir stein” elsewhere.  And those that do notice are more likely to want to “collect them all” and pay the $6 upcharge all over property.

I hadn’t ordered a LeFou’s Brew since the first day of the New Fantasyland soft openings back in October.  I was not originally impressed.  I took a sip of this one and thought it was quite tasty – sweet, cold, sugary, and distinctly apple in flavor.  But that pleasant feeling subsided a bit as I continued to slurp and the flavor grew tiring.  This isn’t much more than an apple-flavored Icee with a silly foam on top as far as I’m concerned.  I’d still order one to share at first.  It seems to be a pretty divisive beverage – some people love it, while others don’t.  You might be able to say the same thing about Frozen Butterbeer.  But I consider anyone that doesn’t like Frozen Butterbeer to be Un-American.  Anyway, it gets just an “okay” from me.  I wish Disney would have done something unique with it.

Flat out of the camera.

Same picture Instagram’d out.

I was trying to make the Brew look more epoch.

“Hershey Kiss” with a vignette.

And a cheers.

The FASTPASSes above were collected on February 13th.  They’re arranged in the order they were collected from left to right with Pooh first and Space Mountain last.  Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports7/fastpassbig.jpg.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh FASTPASSes are still distributed next to Journey of the Little Mermaid at Mickey’s PhilharMagic.  They print with a Surprise FASTPASS for Dumbo.  I then walked to the yellow FASTPASS tent at the back of Storybook Circus to collect a FASTPASS for The Barnstormer, which printed even though I had already collected Pooh FASTPASSes.  I then attempted to collect a second FASTPASS for Dumbo, but was denied because I already had the Dumbo FASTPASS that printed with Pooh.  My original Pooh FASTPASS was for 6:30pm – 7:30pm, which means I should be able to collect another FASTPASS at 6:30pm.  Note that the Barnstormer FASTPASS is for 7:35pm and states at the bottom that I won’t be able to collect another FASTPASS until 7:35pm.  The Dumbo FASTPASS is also for 6:30pm.  At 6:32pm, I attempted to collect another FASTPASS for Dumbo and it printed fine with a return time 40 minutes in the future.  I then tried to collect another FASTPASS for Barnstormer and was denied.  At 6:39pm, I collected FASTPASSes for Space Mountain.  It printed because Dumbo isn’t connected to the system and it was after the original FASTPASS window for Pooh had opened.

So what does it mean?

  • Pooh FASTPASSes still print with a Surprise FASTPASS for Dumbo.  If you get a Surprise FASTPASS for Dumbo, you have to wait until the Dumbo window opens until you can obtain a second.  Dumbo is otherwise detached from the FASTPASS system, meaning you can collect one at the yellow tent even if you have another FASTPASS for an attraction like Space Mountain or Peter Pan.
  • Barnstormer is disconnected from the system, but FASTPASSes are only available at the yellow tent.  You can ignore the “Another FASTPASS ticket will be available after…” time on the Barnstormer FASTPASS.  You can collect another FASTPASS based on the original FASTPASS pulled.
  • Once the original FASTPASS window opens (or it’s been two hours, whichever comes first), you can collect FASTPASSes for any other attraction, even if you have FASTPASSes for Dumbo and Barnstormer.

So what does that mean?

  • You can collect FASTPASSes for any attraction, Dumbo, and Barnstormer at the same time.

Since it’s sort of confusing, I’m not even sure I should talk about it.

So that’s Magic Kingdom on the afternoon of a most recommended day in the middle of February.  Things are going to get much busier next week, taper off a bit a week after, and then be busy from the second week in March through the Sunday after Easter.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

BrandyBo February 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

The Eye of Sauron —–> The Eye of URINE pierces walls, tarps, queues to see you double stacking your fastpasses! You know of what I speak – a great flaming eye wreathed in Magic Bands!
I have had the Anchors Aweigh sandwich many times over the past few years. It’s my go to meal there. I really like the bread they use, multigrain type, not plain old white bread. Much more filling. It’s as decent of a tuna sandwich as you can get. Walked in last week with my daughter and went for the lobster roll at the last second. Wish I had gotten the tuna…too much mayo on that roll for 8:30 at night.

Gustavo Pereira February 14, 2013 at 11:53 am

Hi josh. Most students in Brazil are backing to school this week, so i gess the parks are good to visit from this week on

Liz February 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I really do love tilted pictures. I probably take way to many that way. Great pics of it’s a small world too.

BeckyW February 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm

” My dream is to purchase a camel and order a “therapy animal” license for it so I can ride it around Magic Kingdom. ”

Best. Idea. Ever.

I also love the Instagram’d-out photos. Thanks!!

Chris February 14, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I have to backup the folks that said its been pretty busy this week but with the caveat that it has been “busier than expected for February”. Half the state of Louisiana was at MK on Monday 2/11 (a non-recommended day). It was as busy as a typical day in June. I went to AK on 2/12 and the parking lot was the busiest I’d ever seen it (park wasn’t as bad – a lot of people drove from AL and LA). HS was moderate. Some tour groups and TONS of convention groups all week. I have to agree its been busier than I thought it would be knowing its only going to get busier next week and then again for Spring Break.

Aaron February 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm

*epic

John February 14, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I also agree the it was “Busier than expected for February” Was there for the past 10 days and although we did not have much trouble, the Major attractions were packed pretty much the whole day. I was also at MK the 11th and felt it to be less crowded than the 12th.
Could walk on any ride but pan and the mountains from 7 to close.
There was a huge variation in wait times from hour to hour (20 minutes to 100 minutes) whenever a ride “temporarily closed” and all the fastpasses filled it up immediately upon opening. So a 20 minute wait would jump to 100 fairly quickly making it feel like June at times.
Except for the noon to 4 time frame, you could pretty much do what you wanted if your smart with your fastpasses. So much better than our previous February break trip!
Hollywood studios was another story, I think mostly because at least one ride was always down. Recommended days at HS felt like peak seaon this past week because of it.

I also noticed the tour groups must follow your site, they all seemed to follow us following your recommended parks! Them along with the competitions and Mardi Gras vacationers did make a difference. It amazes me seeing a Buzz, Barnstormer or Poo ride with 100 minute waits when you could walk on in morning and evening.

My biggest complaint (obnoxious chanting aside) was that the new RFID cards SUCK. It takes twice as long as before because they don’t work, the workers don’t know how to use them, the buttons for your pin number are too small and stick a-lot and most people can’t remember their pin #. Why do you need a pin for a $3 purchase? Half the time the took the card and swiped it anyway!
.

LisaP February 14, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Josh, why don’t you show a picture of MK at 1 P.M on a recommended day to show people that it will look busy no matter what the recommended park or crowd calendar number is.
Showing a picture in the evening makes people think it will be that way all day and that’s when you get the complaints.

jenny February 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm

A tiered fastpass+ system would be the tech version of the old E-ticket system. Seems like a lot of work just to end up where they started 40 years ago :-)

easywdw fan February 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm

The crowds depend on which day you go to Magic Kingdom. We went to DW from Jan 25th to Feb 2nd. During that time we went to MK on Saturday Jan 26th, Wednesday Jan 30th and Saturday Feb 2nd. On the Saturdays there was no question about “feels crowded”, it was just obviously busy crowded. I am not an expert on crowd level grading, but I would have given those MK Saturday crowds an 8-9 on the 1-10 scale. On Wednesday it was tolerable even comfortable. The New Fantasyland area had shoulder to shoulder people in the early part of the day, but otherwise Wendnesday was compariably nice.

So what we learned from that trip is never go to MK on a weekend again, if we can avoid it.

So just follow Josh’s recommendations and you should be good to go.

melissa February 14, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I know, Josh and other sites, recommend MK on a saturday and I have yet to brave it…Always sticking to just Wednesday. I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be packed on a saturday….

Michele February 14, 2013 at 3:23 pm

My head exploded after the Fastpass discussion – good thing I know a great planner :)

Also, I can get you a deal on a camel – for realz.

tanya February 14, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Love the tilted photo. You should do more like that. I’d call it Josh’d out.

Claytonia February 14, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Those iasw pics are gorgeous!

Anna February 14, 2013 at 6:11 pm

I hope you can explain this FASTPASS + in the future. It’s so confusing.

Abby February 14, 2013 at 6:27 pm

After being at the Magic Kingdom for the past two days (2/12 and 2/13) I don’t know that I am ‘buying’ these pictures. It was absolutely nuts on Mardi Gras. Nearly every person from Louisiana was there and you could NOT see pavement. The SEA OF PEOPLE pushed us out of the park and back to our rooms by 2pm. We heard from our friends who are vacationing with us that it was the same on Monday. Plus many people we’ve talked with said Animal Kingdom was the same way on Monday. We went to Hollywood Studios today and it was busy but doable. I haven’t seen anything like these pictures since we arrived 2/8. I take that back, Magic Kingdom looked like this when they let us in early for our appointment at BBB at 8am yesterday. Epcot on Saturday 2/9 and Monday 2/11 was not bad and HS wasn’t bad on the 12th. But make no mistake it is busy! We’ve waited an average of 45min to an hour to see characters in MK and approx 40 minutes for rides. Not terrible but no ‘zipping in and out’ either. We were unable to do Toy Story and Rockin’ Roller Coaster today at HS as well. Wait times exceeded 90-120 mins and FP’s were out!

DaveTheWaveUSMC February 14, 2013 at 7:10 pm

We did MK on 2/12 & 2/13 also. Tuesday the 12th was a mad house. I blame the tour groups ;) My fellow Mardi Gras evacuees from Louisiana had a little to do with it, but I really think it was the tour groups. I honestly do not ever remember running into these groups at this time. Perhaps it was the perfect storm of dates meshing this year.

There was a HUGE difference IMHO between the 2/12 crowds and the 2/13 crowds. We worked around them on the 12th by doing TL and then AL. We stayed ahead and around them pretty much all day. We got so much more done on 2/13 in FL and then TL that night, even with the rain and the cancelled MSEP. Fireworks went off with no issue and then the 2nd MSEP ran as scheduled.

Argentina was in the house at DHS on Sunday, 2/10. They took an entire section of the Fantasmic! amphitheater. The cheer groups were entering single rider line IN MASS, nullifying any advantage that might of been there. Argentina was in the regular line and they rode in mass, again nullifying the single rider line. The lady that hurt her knee and couldn’t get out of the RnRC car didn’t help either.

JenniferS February 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Oh my goodness, that is the worst sightline photo I have ever seen. And no, I don’t mean the Rapunzel tower. That, I actually kind of like.
The epic fail I am referring to is being able to see the Contemporary from Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. I have never noticed this before.
Glad you enjoyed the Anchors Away sandwich. It’s the only thing I have ever eaten at CHH.
And honestly, I do not see the extra pounds of which you speak.

clover February 14, 2013 at 8:44 pm

You’re 2/13 experience is much different than mine. We were leaving in search of a cocktail when you were arriving At magic Kingdom. It was more crowded than previous Mardi Gras weeks that I can recall. Although, today was worse. I can (but won’t) post pics of dh and I smooching near The Crystal Palace and the walkway from Tomorrowland as part of the true love celebration. Definitely managible with a good strategy but difficult without one.

Dana February 14, 2013 at 9:52 pm

It did rain on 2/13 yesterday at MK around 5pm.

Dana February 14, 2013 at 9:54 pm

When I was at MK around 4pm yesterday, it was definitely not what is shown in the pictures. That looks like park opening photos to me????

moscow February 15, 2013 at 6:09 am

Dana: If you look at the blog, Josh says he didn’t arrive until 4:26 in the afternoon which means the pictures were taken in the late afternoon/early evening of the 13th. I’ve got to say, those pictures mirror my experience with the so-called “crowds” at MK the week before. We were at MK on 2/6 and 2/8 — arriving at RD, leaving the park by 1:30 to go swimming at the hotel and returning to the MK between 5 and 5:30 in the evening. We didn’t experience the crowds that everyone is talking about at all. That doesn’t mean there weren’t people in the park . . . there were lots of people. It just means that we didn’t view the park as “crowded” and we were able to ride any and all of the rides we wanted to without much of a wait. We even rode BTMR twice in the standby line with our longest wait in the standby line being 22 minutes and our shortest being 8 minutes (I timed both of our standby waits just for fun).

moscow February 15, 2013 at 6:28 am

I should probably add that our first standby wait (8 minute wait) was at 10:00 in the morning on 2/8 and our second (22 minute wait) was at 6:20 in the evening on 2/8. I pulled FPs before each of the standby waits and the return time of the FPs was 1 hour out from our standby rides.

Chris February 15, 2013 at 8:15 am

Moscow, the crowd difference is likely due to time of day, as you mentioned, but also the week as it appears that the first week of February was less busy based on reported wait times for both weeks.

Agnes February 15, 2013 at 9:16 am

Is February weather always so glum, or is it just every few days of the month? I’m wondering whether it’s cloudier in February or September. It would be rather sad to avoid the crowds but then get rained on the whole time.

Rob February 15, 2013 at 9:35 am

So much greatness. I just noticed the main logo with the glass of scotch added..Epic! Eye of Sauron etc etc..Your hand in that pic of you holding out the Lefou’s brew is sort of freaking me out though..Alien Encounter! Great work as always!

Jimmy (formerly James) N February 15, 2013 at 9:43 am

At least we now know where multiple “therapy animal” bathroom areas are throughout both the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. I hear camels have a rather large bladder.

RebeccaMcK February 15, 2013 at 10:09 am

I love that tuna sandwich….the only drawback with it is that for the rest of the day you can still taste the tuna (going on big rides, etc.). I risk it though, since it’s so good. I wish that mine coaster would be done early – once it’s done I can go back to WDW. Waiting on it. Bad news for Disneyland fans….they’re going to start reinforcing FP return times, darn it. It’ll take more planning out there now, but if we get used to it with WDW I guess we’ll adjust with DLand too.

RebeccaMcK February 15, 2013 at 10:10 am

Josh, when the Rapunzel area restrooms are done and open to everyone, I hope you’ll go in and hopefully shoot some pictures if no one is inside and the theming is nice. If it just looks like a normal restroom inside, don’t bother, of course.

Katie February 15, 2013 at 10:34 am

How can anyone argue against the accuracy of Josh’s photos showing the crowd levels when he was there?! You just can’t please everyone. I, for one, am just thankful that Josh writes this blog and takes the time to photograph his time in the park!! And he doesn’t charge a penny!!

4mickeyfreax February 15, 2013 at 10:55 am

Wow! You should be a hand model (see “cheers” pic), and walk around like George Costanza with oven mitts on your hands when you’re not in a photo shoot. : )

Dawn February 15, 2013 at 6:26 pm

glad we didnt discuss FASTPASS+ that could have been confusing!
Great pictures Josh!

Starr February 16, 2013 at 5:21 am

I kinda sorta own part of a camel. Have a Kiva investment with a lady that owns a camel and makes her living renting it out. :)

Ferg February 16, 2013 at 5:46 am

750 pounds?!?!? COMPLETELY unrelated, have you been to the Habit Heroes attraction in Innoventions at Epcot?

Amy February 16, 2013 at 6:36 am

Your beloved yak is a water buffalo. Nice post otherwise, though. :)

Wendy February 16, 2013 at 8:22 am

Jennifer S – I was there the last of Jan and I totally noticed that you could see the Contemporary from there. I have never in all of my trips ever noticed it!!! I was for sure they had cut some trees down or something. We are going to be there for the Princess Half Marathon and I am kindof dreading it. We are usually there when it is like a 1 on the crowd calendar. We shall see….

Jaime February 16, 2013 at 11:53 am

We were in the Magic Kingdom on 2/12 and 2/15. It was crazy in fantasyland mid-day both days just trying to walk through but it was mostly due to large groups standing still mid-walkway and an OVER-abundance of strollers parked there. Not having them out of the way in the rapunzel construction area really tightens up that walkway.

Yes, there were some long waits, but quite a few were due to rides being down unexpectedly, or at least in my opinion. On the 12th, Thunder Mountain either started the day not working or stopped very soon after because it was down when we reached it at 9:45. That caused a backlog of fastpass riders and extended the wait. Similar things happened at Space Mountain and a few other rides on our two days in that park.

We are Disney veterans that don’t mind bouncing from area to area to have a fun day but we really didn’t find the crowds all that bad. We never. Ever. go to Magic Kingdom on the weekends.

Ashley February 16, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I have family that lives in Orlando and they were at Magic Kingdom Saturday Feb 9 and it took them an hour to get from the parking lot to the entrace gates. Also the wait time for The Little Mermaid was posted at 40 minutes but they ended up waiting an hour and 40 minutes. Of course it was a non recommened day. However, I am hearing that the wait times have been off considerably. Not sure if it’s due to more fastpasses being given or rides breaking down so more fastpass people are being allowed to ride after their return window.

dusty cheatham February 17, 2013 at 5:21 am

anchors away my friend anchors away !!!!!!! delish

mfruchey February 17, 2013 at 7:43 am

Along with my fellow Louisianians, I, too was at Disney Word last week.

AK on the 10th, EP on the 11th, and MK on the 12th all “felt” busier than I had anticipated given the park projections, but despite the sea of people my family confronted (especially during the afternoon in Adventureland and after Wishes (duh) on the 12th, we did not wait more than 20 minutes for a ride (that was Soarin’). Call it smart touring (thanks to the helpful folks on the forum) or perhaps crowds that weren’t as “crowdy” as they seemed, but with good use of FASTPASS, we either walked on or experienced very minimal waits at every attraction.

In addition to the throngs of my fellow Cajuns (at one point, as we waited to see Snow White in Epcot, every single other family in line was from Louisiana), we encountered some MAJOR South American tour groups. I could be heard yelling “Book it!!!” to my husband on several occasions as we attempted (and succeeded, as it is easier for six people to outrun 300) to reach the queues ahead of the massive groups.

Possibly another gauge of the actual crowds was our experience with New Fantasyland on the 12th, a busier day than the 13th. Lining up for lunch at Be Our Guest at about 10:30, we waiting in queue for no more than 15 minutes, and our food arrived just as we found a table. We met Gaston with no wait, and he was amazing. He signed my daughter’s Ultimate Princess book and scratched out the word “arrogant” in the book’s description of him. He was by far the best character we met. Enchanted Tales with Belle following Wishes worked quite well. We experienced a minimal wait, and there were not even enough children present to fill every role. My daughters were chosen as Mrs. Potts and Chip, and they were delighted. That particular Belle was not as talented an actress as the one we unexpectedly met at Hollywood Studios on the 15th, but it was a wonderful experience all the same.

Hollywood Studios on the 15th initially appeared more crowded than on the 14th, but we hit all the major rides and met character after character with NO waits. I thought the trickle of President’s Day guests would affect our experience on that day, but it went quite smoothly and was probably our easiest day at the parks.

So despite the “feel” of crowds on most days (I think the gross weather later in the day on the 13th probably contributed to your feeling of things being quite light), it still made for pretty easy touring for those who show up early and utilize FASTPASS.

Grammy Disneyophile February 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Nice artsy pic! It’s my new lock screen.
Thanks for your very smart analysis of Fast Pass+. I had to copy and paste to digest later.

DaveTheWaveUSMC February 18, 2013 at 9:04 am

After getting two full nights worth of sleep, I think the answer to Josh’s photos not representing the reality of that day is the tour groups were gone by that time. That is the only explanation I can think of. Unless they were all in TL when Josh was in AL and FL. LOL

TriSeb February 19, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Josh, please stop using made up data points with no imperically plotted graphs. You experience obviously is not statistically correct!

Faith March 2, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I think people who think lower crowds are “busier” than expected are those that have never been to Disney at a true 9/10 crowd level day. I was there for a week over New Year’s with 9/10 crowds and would have loved for my longest character waits in the middle of the day to be only 45 minutes! We had a detailed plan, used fastpasses, and we’re there at rope drop which allowed us to do the rides we wanted, but after 10:00 it was a madhouse every day, all day. Fastpasses were long gone by the 5:00 pm time Josh was there in these pictures. And we only went on recommended days as every day that we didn’t go was closed to capacity. There are always tens of thousands of people at Disney, so no matter when you go you still need a plan. We are going back the week of 3/18 and I’m anxious to see if I can tell the difference in an 8 overall crowd compared to a 10!

Valerie March 29, 2013 at 11:52 am

“Clowns. A world of tears is right.”
I see you share my aversion to clowns!!! LOL

KB June 24, 2013 at 3:50 am

A little late to the party… While I thought Fastpass+ would improve our upcoming trip greatly, after some extremely anal planning (or as I would call it some “light planning”) I soon discovered that FP+ would actually make a touring plan more difficult. At first, being able to have a Toy Story FP before even walking into the Studios seemed great, but knowing we’ll probably only get three FP “reservations” and probably only one will be for one of the big three rides is going to screw things up. My normal plan would be to grab a Toy Story FP then ride it, then head over to Tower of Terror and RnRC and ride those until the TSMM FP came due. With FP+, there’s a chance we wouldn’t even get one in the morning, depending on how many people take advantage of this. So there goes riding it twice, most likely, since in-park FPs that are already impossible to get after noon will probably disappear by 10am! So we’d have to head straight to ToT and RnRC at park opening. With FP+ added in, in-park FPs will probably be at least an hour out instead of 40 minutes, making it impossible to get in four rides in this area in less than an hour. Then, who knows what will happen to the other rides? Will people unable to get an FP+ for those three rides at park open settle for Star Tours? If we head there after the Sunset Blvd rides will it have a FastPass line longer than the Standby line? Will The Great Movie Ride have FastPass lines after lunch due to its proximity to all sit-down restaurants and because it is a nice ride to digest to? Will we now have to show up to Indiana Jones and Fantasmic even earlier since a large swath of the stadiums will now be roped off for FPs? And the worst part? They’re talking about starting it up in the beginning of October. We’re going in mid-October! I can’t see them starting the reservation process during summer considering they have so many other things to worry about. While it’ll be a fun experience to a mega-planner like me, the questions that keep popping up are starting to make me wonder if the all the Disney End of Times people might be right. For once.

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