We continue our day at Animal Kingdom after checking out what it takes to rope drop Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey in Pandora. We pick things up at 8:57am, or three minutes before the Park officially opens. I’ve already experienced Na’vi River Journey twice in standby with virtually no effort whatsoever. Flight of Passage is, of course, another matter. We’ll be returning to Pandora later in the morning to check out peak crowd levels and to see how long it takes to ride Avatar Flight of Passage with FastPass+ when the standby line is over three hours long.
It’s mildly amusing to see more people rope dropping the Creature Comforts Starbucks than Na’vi River Journey. People are lined up outside with the doors closed since the coffee house doesn’t open until 9am. The wait to ride River Journey, one of Animal Kingdom’s newest attractions, and a ride that will see a 100+ minute peak wait later in the day, is virtually a walk-on at the same time. But these people are going to be here for at least ten more minutes to order and receive their coffees. On one hand, I understand wanting to be fully-caffeinated before your first major attraction of the day. On the other hand, it might be better if you’re asleep during Na’vi River Journey.
We set out for Animal Kingdom to continue our early-2019 look at rope drop touring strategies. Earlier this month, we saw what it took to rope drop Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in this post, with Part 2 following here. We also checked out the rope drop process at Epcot beginning with Test Track and Frozen Ever After in this post, with Part 2 found here.
We’ve covered rope drop touring at Animal Kingdom a dozen-or-so times since Pandora opened, typically focusing on either Na’vi River Journey or Avatar Flight of Passage first thing. As we’ve come to learn over the last 1.7 years, Flight of Passage is the Park’s highest priority and the only attraction that requires an arrival more than a half hour before official open to experience with a wait anywhere in the vicinity of short.
One unadvertised bonus of Toy Story Land Early Morning Magic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is how it puts you in the best possible position to enjoy short waits throughout the rest of the morning. At least 90% of the people present at regular Park open are headed to Toy Story Land first thing and at least 85% of those people are going straight to the Slinky Dog Dash standby queue. During the paid Early Morning Magic event, which I reviewed for a second time here, I was able to ride Slinky Dog Dash four times without ever waiting longer than ten minutes to board. I was also able to ride Alien Swirling Saucers twice, Toy Story Mania once, and meet Woody/Jessie and Buzz Lightyear, all in the span of about 90 minutes. Above is a picture of the usual rope drop crowd heading towards Slinky. You can read more about what it takes to rope drop Toy Story Land on a regular day in this post. That’s what you’re paying to avoid.
As discussed in the Early Morning Magic review, what time you decide to eat breakfast may come down to where you want to head after the exclusive Toy Story Land time ends. Currently, breakfast is served at Backlot Express, which sits to the left of the entrance to Star Tours and at least ten minutes away from Sunset Boulevard, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror. Because of that distance, it’s going to be time-consuming to walk all the way from Toy Story Land to either Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and/or Tower of Terror and then walk all the way to Backlot Express in time for the end of breakfast. Because of that, I typically recommend those planning on visiting the Sunset Boulevard thrill rides to eat whatever they can before heading to Toy Story Land. After Early Morning Magic in Toy Story Land concludes, you can walk to Sunset Boulevard and enjoy Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror to your heart’s content without worrying about technical problems or unexpected slowdowns that will cause you to miss breakfast. As part of this post, we’ll see how long it takes to walk over to Sunset Boulevard from Toy Story Land to experience both thrill rides because it is a viable option at least 90% of the time. It’s probably just going to take a lot of hurrying around, in addition to skipping a final ride in Toy Story Land.
Our morning at Epcot continues after setting the framework for what we are attempting to achieve in Part One, in addition to experiencing Test Track and Frozen Ever After in standby without too much trouble.
The big hassle with visiting Frozen Ever After early in the morning is its relatively-remote location in Norway. The rest of World Showcase doesn’t open until 11am so until then, the only things to do over here are ride the attraction, visit Kringla Bakeri og Kafe, meet Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus, use the restroom, browse a store, or head into the Stave Church for the Gods of the Vikings exhibit. Written out, that sounds like a lot, but most people are probably riding Frozen and then returning to Future World.
It’s been a while since we’ve rope dropped Epcot, so I thought we would head out to see if any of our touring strategies need to be tweaked and how much we’ll be able to get done on a Saturday morning with above average crowds.
It’s 8am on Saturday, February 9th, and there’s probably about a hundred people here ahead of me. Those with breakfast reservations currently head down to the left. If you arrive a little later than you’d like – around 8:15am or thereabouts, then you might hang out down there and wait for the entrance tapstiles used for breakfast reservations to convert over to regular use. Cast members will ask those in the next line over to move into the newly-opened line.