You can pull up the previous update here.
There may not be too many things more cringeworthy than referring to yourself as a “foodie.” “Oh, you like food? How novel.”
And it’s possible that a blue Choco Taco from Pecos Bill stuffed with icing instead of ice cream may not put the Magic Kingdom quick service in the crosshairs of the Michelin Guide, but Disney does offer an overwhelming number of holiday treats this year. You can pull up the full list here should you be visiting between now and December 31st.
We pick things up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios after Part One, where we went over the only foolproof method to be among the first guests inside the Park. This will prove to be a substantial advantage as the lines very quickly get longer within a few minutes of my arrival at each attraction.
It’s now 9:29am on the morning of Wednesday, November 18th, 2020, and we’ve already been on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, where it was “literally” five minutes from the time I arrived at the theater entrance, to the time when I was on-board my wild and zany train through whatever is going on during that ride. Something about heavy winds, a carnival, and cowboys is as much as I’ve been able to put together so far. And then squids, water rafting, and bubbles. Everyone coming in now is inside the Park over 30 minutes before official Park open. If you arrived at the auto plaza around 9:10am and parked yourself, this is probably about where you would now be. If you were at the bus stop around 8:45am at your Disney resort, you’re probably also heading in around now, though it’s possible, and potentially likely, that you would arrive even later with physical-distancing on the buses limiting how many people can board each and the fact that they get going transporting guests over to the theme parks so much later in the morning now. You can always chime in with recent arrival experiences in the comments – good or bad.
The extended queue for Runaway Railway is completely full and those getting in line now are looking at waiting 45 to 65 minutes, even with the increased capacity. One of the reasons why we’re going to be here all day is to reassess our touring strategy now that Disney’s newest attraction is filling every row, in turn just about doubling the number of people who can ride per hour. Here’s the Railway wait time chart from the last couple of weeks:
We’re rope dropping Disney’s Hollywood Studios as we need to reassess our touring strategy now that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is loading every row in each train car, and effectively doubling capacity and the number of people who can ride per hour. That basically makes it a “high-capacity attraction” with physical-distancing protocols continuing to reduce capacity at the majority of the Studios’ other attractions. Before last Tuesday, Runaway Railway was the highest priority attraction with a standby line at the Park, with the longest waits, as it operated at less than half capacity. It’s now the fourth or fifth priority at the Park with average waits that now come in around 45 minutes, compared to the 70+ minutes that we had seen most days in September, October, and the first half of November.
For once, we’ll be taking our own advice and heading to the Studios from the Crescent Lake Resort Area, which includes the BoardWalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan, and Dolphin Resorts. Guests staying here or otherwise starting their day somewhere around the lake are able to take their fate into their own hands by walking over to Hollywood Studios before 99.9% of guests arriving via any other transportation option could hope to arrive at temperature/bag check.
There is no need to try to time the opening of the parking lot correctly, coupled by spending precious time parking and walking all the way to the entrance with no tram service. You also won’t need to rely on Disney bus service, which is limited in a number of ways at the moment, including the number of people who fit on each bus given physical-distancing and the increasing amount of time between bus arrivals. And you won’t have to gamble that your visit doesn’t fall on a day when the Skyliner gets going late. As temperatures cool heading into Florida’s version of winter, those delays only become more likely when the low is around 50 degrees.
If you’re not staying at a Crescent Lake Resort, then the easiest way to guarantee access to the area via an Uber/Lyft drop-off or driving yourself is with a breakfast reservation at Trattoria al Forno on the BoardWalk or Ale & Compass Restaurant at the Yacht Club. I go over the various scenarios on how to best set that up, in addition to reviewing the current breakfast offerings at Trattoria, back in this post. During that series, we also came in from the BoardWalk, but I purposefully arrived alongside guests coming in from the parking lot to better show what an “average” arrival experience looks like. It was not pretty.
You can pull up the previous update here.
After a couple of relatively quiet news days, there is quite a bit to report today, much to my chagrin.
Park Hopping is set to return on January 1st, 2021, with some modifications:
Disney outlines the expected process on their blog here.
All photos by Alex Westcott on November 11th, 2020
We pick things up on a peak day at Epcot with its current weekday operating hours of 11am to 9pm. Above is the line just to enter the pyramid in the Mexico Pavilion less than 90 minutes after the Park opened. The back of the line is out of frame around the corner. Once you move up these stairs to what I suppose is now a rare multi-level extended queue, the line then winds around inside the first room before you’ll eventually be let down into where the stores and Gran Fiesta Tour ride are located.
The line continues back some distance, as it would most weekends. You can see that Disney has placed physical-distancing markers all around this alleyway, which means they’re perfectly aware that this is a normal thing. Our visit is on Veterans Day, a national holiday that fell on Wednesday this year. Disney elected not to extend the operating hours, and we saw some long wait times and heavy crowds because of it. Part One in this series covered Future World happenings. And you can read more about Veterans Day waits in the November 13th edition of Wait Times and News.