We’ll take a walk up Main Street before rope drop on the morning of Wednesday, November 13, 2017.
With Disney moving regular Park open to 8am on all Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party dates this year, in addition to a lot of other non-Party dates, there haven’t been a lot of opportunities to enjoy an hour on Main Street prior to the rest of the Lands that make up Magic Kingdom opening.
I was waiting for a 9am open.
So I could spend about an hour photographing a relatively empty Main Street. After that, the plan was to nonchalantly head to Peter Pan’s Flight to mimic how long the wait would be for someone that didn’t arrive at the main entrance until around 8:40am.
From our numerous rope drop touring strategy posts this year, we’re familiar with the usual 9am open procedure. Because we’ve seen so many 8am opens this fall/winter, that had been the focus, as seen in this post that covers a full morning touring plan with the early start. The 9am Frontierland rope drop is one of the least stressful ways to go about your day as evidenced here. And here’s a look at what a 9am rope drop to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train looks like.
During a regular 9am open, Disney opens the tapstiles at 7:45am and everyone is free to head inside the Park at that time.
Those headed to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train want to arrive no later than 8:15am and should hurry to the holding area up the path that leads towards Mad Tea Party to the right of Cinderella Castle. This is the scene around 8:55am and it’s packed in tight for a good distance out of frame.
This is my view standing in front of Cinderella Castle at the same time.
The group watching the Welcome Show, which begins five minutes prior to regular Park open regardless of when that is, is packed in much looser.
That makes it much easier to weave closer to the ideal walkway to Peter Pan’s Flight or Princess Fairytale Hall. We’ll be walking up and through Cinderella Castle. The path to Mine Train is to my right.
Mine Train is the highest priority at Magic Kingdom and the only ride that really requires being inside the Park by 8:15am at the latest. Peter Pan’s Flight is still a priority, but the walk is more relaxed and a lot more forgiving.
We’re all familiar with the principle that waits build at the majority of the attractions as it gets later in the morning, which is why we arrive earlier. If you’re serious about minimizing waits after Peter Pan, then you’ll want to be in position at the front of Cinderella Castle no later than 8:30am. That means that you’ll wait 30 minutes for the Park to open, but you’ll also wait less than five minutes at Pan and be on your way to your next attraction much earlier when waits will still be short.
I strolled up to the Castle after the Welcome Show started and drifted towards the ride at a below average speed. Above is where I ended up.
The posted wait is 15 minutes as I pass underneath the entrance at 9:01am:
On some rides, you hope for a brief stop for the sake of photography. This is one of those rides. The stop did not happen.
And my wait ended up being just about 15 minutes as I was back out front at 9:21am to a 50-minute posted wait and quite the traffic jam.
One topic that I don’t think is adequately covered is when to abandon ship. That is, if you’re running late, when it’s prudent to skip the first, highest-priority attraction on your touring plan and head somewhere else first. Here at Peter Pan’s Flight, if you don’t arrive until 15 minutes after Park open, you’re going to wait at least 40 minutes just about any day of the year. That’s probably too long as you won’t be on your way to your second attraction until at least 10am, when waits are going to already start being prohibitive at more and more attractions.
If you were to arrive at the same time, skip Peter Pan, and instead head to something like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, then you’d still be on track to enjoy a short wait there and at other attractions for the next 90 minutes or so. These ideas are probably worth a separate, more in-depth post about alternatives – but if you’re heading to Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom; Frozen Ever After, Test Track, and to a lesser extent Soarin’ at Epcot; Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and to a lesser extent Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios; or Peter Pan’s Flight or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom, and find yourself arriving at the Park closer to Park open, then you probably want to visit another, lower priority attraction first thing. There’s no reason to wait 45 minutes for Peter Pan’s Flight or 75 minutes at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train when waits are short at nearly every attraction at 9:15am. If you have to, it would be smarter to wait 60 minutes for Peter Pan at 12pm when waits are peaking everywhere. Obviously, acquiring FastPass+ or riding last thing at night would be a better alternative.
The picture above shows a lot of unfortunate people headed to Mine Train after walking through Cinderella Castle, which basically puts them behind everyone that started their day walking towards Mad Tea Party and then taking a left towards the roller coaster’s entrance. They’re going to wait 60+ minutes to ride Mine Train first thing. By the time they disembark after 10am, Peter Pan will be 60+ minutes and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh will be 40 minutes. They could accomplish both in under 30 minutes if they started with those two rides instead.
We’ll talk some more strategy in Part Two of this post, which will take us on a walk around Magic Kingdom. For now, a few pictures from Main Street celebrating the holiday as I battled the shadows and washed out sky.
It’s rough out there:
We’ll see where we end up next. I have something like 50 posts to write and thousands of pictures to edit.