We’ve already seen a few highlights from Veterans Day Weekend – the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, the Cheshire Cafe opening, Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade, the Animal Kingdom decorations and Camp Minnie-Mickey characters, the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House, the State of the Monorail 8pm Close Edition, and the Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney.
But there are a few things that didn’t fit into those categories and since the theme of this website is “posts that are longer than anyone actually wants to read,” we might as well continue doing what works.
Veterans Day Weekend, specifically Friday November 11th and Saturday November 12th, was busier than either of us would have liked. I had ratcheted up the overall crowd level to a “6” to signify above average overall crowds, but an “8” would have been more accurate. Because the crowd predictions you see on this website are in line with what Disney is predicting internally, we see major problems when the crowd level is heavier than expected. Specifically, Disney staffs the various theme parks based on the number of people that they are expecting. When more people show up and they’re unprepared for the onslaught, we see longer waits at attractions because variable capacity attractions aren’t running at full capacity, longer lines at quick services because fewer registers are operating, more people in line for a limited number of characters, more “sold out” shows because there aren’t enough scheduled over the course of the day, and other similar “issues.” In other words, there can be a similar number of people in the Park on two given days and depending on staffing, operating hours, show schedules, etc. the two days can “feel” very different. A good example of this was this past April when Disney was expecting far more people than actually showed up around the Easter holiday. The theme parks didn’t “feel” crowded because Disney was prepared to serve far more people.
We’ll start at Magic Kingdom (Most Recommended) on Friday November 11th and then visit Animal Kingdom (Not Recommended) and Hollywood Studios (Not Recommended).
We’re arriving at about 12pm on a day when Magic Kingdom was only open from 8am – 7pm. That means most everyone that’s going to be in Magic Kingdom has already arrived and few people are entering.
A lot of people in line at Guest Relations outside the Park. Grand Floridian upgrades must have still been available. If you have Park admission, you’ll want to visit City Hall just inside the Magic Kingdom on the left side of Main Street if you have a question for Guest Services. They can do anything that they can do outside the Park, there are far fewer people in line, there are more cast members working, and it’s air-conditioned.
Amusingly, Disney doesn’t even have the right operating hours listed on their sign inside the Park. Magic Kingdom opened at 8am.
Just a peek inside – you can see the holiday decorations in the distance over Main Street, the toy soldiers set up around the Flag Pole, and City Hall nicely decorated on the far left.
Not unreasonable for Mickey Mouse, but longer than we’d like for the Princesses.
The Magic Kingdom you can expect to see for the rest of the year.
Lines out the door for Casey’s Corner – not enough staff to keep up at peak meal time.
Over to Caribbean Plaza.
Longer than we’d like at Pirates of the Caribbean, but it could be a lot worse – 40 minutes at the same time tomorrow.
Golden Oak Outpost was operating.
With a pretty worthless menu. Disney just updated their Park Maps to include Cheshire Cafe, but it still lists the menu at Golden Oak Outpost as “Chicken Nuggets, Sandwiches, and French Fries.” Whoops. To Disney’s credit, the “Flatbread Sandwiches” were a lousy deal, as we learned back in June in the Tale of Two Sandwiches. We certainly don’t miss them, but it would be nice to see something unique on the menu again.
$9.19 for this BLT Flatbread that was previously served at Golden Outpost. I have the two honey mustard packets in the frame to show how small this thing is. Hot Dogs aren’t the answer, but these Flatbreads were a joke too.
It’s about 1:20pm here, so FASTPASS return times are just 40 minutes in the future with a 15 minute wait. Wait times are significantly shorter at Splash Mountain from November – February than they are during other months because of the cooler weather. Still, we saw a 35 minute wait on Saturday at the same time.
That in turn increases wait times at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which is sitting at 40 minutes. Better than the 70 minutes tomorrow.
The Liberty Square Riverboat is a good choice when waits are long elsewhere. It’s a very relaxing ride with sublime views of Tom Sawyer Island, Frontierland, and a few scenes you wouldn’t have the opportunity to see otherwise. For some reason DisneyWorld.com indicates that the Riverboat is closed for refurbishment through February, but it was only closed for two days last week and should remain operating for the next few months.
About 20 minutes longer than it would be on a “not crowded day” at Peter Pan’s Flight.
With FASTPASSes almost four hours out.
Friar’s Nook is the quick service that Disney most often opens when crowds are expected to be heavy – as you can see it isn’t operating.
Diamond Horseshoe will be operating over Thanksgiving Week should you be so inclined. It will be operating from 11am – 3pm on November 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, and 26 for quick service lunch. It will also be open for table service dinner from 5pm – 9pm on November 20, 21, 22, and 23. Table service will be offered all day on Thanksgiving, November 24th. Because Diamond Horseshoe doesn’t have a dedicated kitchen, you can expect the table service food to be very similar/the same as Liberty Tree Tavern, which sits next door. You may remember that I don’t like Diamond Horseshoe, as evident in – easyWDW Initiates Coverage on Diamond Horseshoe as Strong Sell.
Those trees on the left behind the wall are permanent from what I gather. I just took this photo to make fun of that little Castle again, but I guess it serves a greater purpose.
Not bad at Winnie the Pooh – 60 minutes on Saturday.
Over to Mad Tea Party.
Hot Cocoa available in a mug similar to the refillable mugs at the resorts.
Caramel Corn being pushed heavier for the holidays.
This year’s souvenir popcorn bucket:
Fun, until you have to find a place to pack it and then try to figure out what you would do with it anyway.
The Sweet Cream Cheese Pretzel ($4.29) from The Lunching Pad – one of the better uses of a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan.
While I can appreciate a picture of half eaten food from a buffet like the next bro, I assure you that I just ripped a piece off for this picture. I’ve been considering registering PicturesOfHalfEatenFoodOnBuffetPlatesAtWaltDisneyWorld.com but I’m not sure if it would catch on. Maybe POHEFOBPAWDW.com for short. That’s a little easier to remember. Anyway, like most pretzels, the quality depends on how fresh they are. This one wasn’t particularly fresh, but it’s still a good choice. Given the choice, I would probably opt for the Mickey Head Pretzel and Cheese Sauce from the Frontierland Cart, but it’s really a, “What am I in the mood for at the moment?” call. And proximity also plays a role. You can get regular pretzels over at the Cool Ship too.
This year’s holiday cup. Hopefully most quick service locations are rid of their Halloween stock by now – they were still serving them at several locations this week.
Pinocchio out and about meeting guests at 2pm.
Daisy Duck and Pluto out at the Flag Pole as well.
Must be sold out of Grand Floridian upgrades.
Headed over to Animal Kingdom, specifically for pictures of Camp Minnie-Mickey (which have already been posted). But you’ll want to take note that the posted wait time here at Expedition Everest is 85 minutes and 40 minutes at DINOSAUR and Primeval Whirl. It’s just before 3pm and Animal Kingdom is “not recommended.”
Reportedly, Lilo and Stitch will be meeting guests for the last time on November 19th. Come November 20th, Lilo, Stitch, Terk, and Jiminy Cricket will be removed. In addition, the show that begins just before rope drop and the closing show 15 minutes after official Park close will no longer be offered.
This is the Turkey and Swiss on Focaccia ($7.99) and Mango Smoothie ($4.19) from Tamu Tamu Refreshments in the Africa section. Full menu and pictures here: https://www.easywdw.com/menus-and-seating/tamu-tamu-refreshments-africa-hot-breakfast-minor-quick-service-lunch-and-dinner/.
The Turkey Sandwich wasn’t anything to write home about. Not necessarily a terrible choice should you be looking for a turkey sandwich, but not as good as what you’ll find at Sunshine Seasons at Epcot or Starring Rolls at Hollywood Studios. With Flame Tree Barbecue, Yal & Yeti, and even the Hot Italian Sandwich at Pizzafari or Shrimp Po’ Boy Sandwich at Restaurantosaurus, there are better options around.
The Mango Smoothie is a smoothie in the same way that drying concrete is water. That is to say, it’s basically ice cream. Not to say that it’s “bad,” just be aware that you’re paying for artificially flavored soft serve rather than some sort of artificially made Jamba Juice creation. It would certainly be better from May – September than November – February.
A couple more looks since I have them:
Popping over to Hollywood Studios for Osborne Lights.
Seems busy just before 4:30pm, probably because we’re following the Disney Rocks! parade to the Sorcerer’s Hat.
Our favorite nine foot tall cast member.
Hollywood Studios is our other “not recommended” Park on Friday. Note that there’s a “1” before the “40” next to Toy Story Midway Mania.
Sunset Boulevard with Tower of Terror in the distance.
The mob waiting to get into the Fantasmic Theater at 4:45pm for the 6:30pm show. Disney opens the gates 90 minutes before showtime.
FASTPASSes gone at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster with a line that looks like it’s about to approach the turnstiles.
Victorian Mickey and Minnie:
Looks like a murder weapon from a bad Law and Order episode.
Enjoy a last look at the Little Einsteins. Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates now appears in their place.
Busy in Pixar Place – as always.
Less so outside the defunct Prince Caspian exhibit. Disney finally shuttered it – but to what end?
Just a 75 minute wait – much better than the 140 minute wait we saw before!
Now that it’s dark around 6pm, Studio Backlot Tour shuts down at 5pm.
And they’re serious about it – this is 5:10pm.
Yes, the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
While Magic Kingdom may have been busier than we would have liked, I think we can both agree that it was a better choice than the excessive waits at Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios. Magic Kingdom was also significantly less busy on Friday than Thursday or Saturday.
Fast Forward One Day To Saturday November 12:
Here we are the next day at Animal Kingdom. It’s just before 3pm again, just like it was yesterday. Today, Animal Kingdom is the only recommended Park. You’ll notice that waits are 50 minutes lower at Expedition Everest, 10 minutes lower at Primeval Whirl, 30 minutes lower at DINOSAUR, and 10 minutes lower at Kilimanjaro Safaris than they were yesterday. While that’s still longer than we’d like to wait at Expedition Everest or Primeval Whirl, it’s also why we plan to ride these attractions in the early morning when waits will be nonexistent. For now, it’s just an indication that crowds are much lower than they were yesterday.
Headed over to Epcot (not recommended), where we can already tell it’s going to be busy. For some dumb reason I had scheduled a culinary demonstration today (six weeks ago) and I wasn’t about to spend $11 and miss out! I really just wanted to pound beers and watch football at home – such is the rough life of the amateur Disney blogger.
Some Christmas decorations up.
Some more in between each of the turnstiles.
Still a lot of people at Spaceship Earth – a bad sign.
Have to get the right angle in order to see the wait times board.
At our culinary demonstration with Pam and Island Block Chardonnay.
Looks and tastes like wine.
Warren Brown from the Cakelove chain of cupcake stores in the Washington DC area and the author of several cookbooks.
He prepared a “Cherry Bomb Cake,” which is named for a street where he lived rather than the cherry flavor in the cake. That is a strawberry and lemon on the top after all. He was passionate and much more animated than any of the previous demos I had seen. He also appeared much more approachable and friendly than a lot of the previous presenters. The fact that a woman at our table knew his sous-chef and assured us of these facts probably also helped shape my opinion. Anyway, as I had been saying throughout the Festival, the culinary demonstrations are the best value at the Food and Wine Festival. They’re all worthwhile.
Wait times on Saturday at 4pm:
95 minutes at Soarin’ and 70 minutes at Test Track. We wouldn’t want to ride in the standby line most days at this time of day, but it’s indicative of the overall crowd level. As I’ve been saying, don’t trust anyone that tells you that Food and Wine crowds don’t have an impact on wait times at the major attractions.
A lot of people out and about in Future World, far away from the Food and Wine booths in World Showcase.
One last look at the cranberry bog.
Miss you, cranberries.
The Christmas Tree at the base of World Showcase this year.
Tall, if not particularly inspired.
Looking towards Canada on the last Saturday of the Food and Wine Festival.
Long lines at the food booths too – this is Hawaii.
Up into Mexico.
The line for the monorail around 5pm is all the way back here. I’ve never seen it this long during the day before.
I opted to take the bus to Hollywood Studios and then transfer to the Ticket/Transportation Center from there.
Overall, it was a busy Friday and Saturday in all Disney World theme parks. Luckily, crowd dropped off significantly on Sunday and have been low the rest of the week. We’re moving into Thanksgiving next week when it should be crowded again.