On our last visit to Magic Kingdom, we rope dropped Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland, since it’s the highest priority ride at the Park due to the fact that wait times increase faster than any other attraction. In the comments, there were a couple of people asking about how to tackle Tomorrowland, so that’s where we’ll start this time around.
It’s 7:30am on the morning of Sunday August 19th, 2018.
Magic Kingdom is scheduled to open at 9am.
The Park is also hosting Early Morning Magic, which is different from Morning Extra Magic Hour. If you’re unfamiliar with what Early Morning Magic is, or are curious if it’s “worth” the $69/person cost, then you might pull up this review, which also goes over strategy for those attending. While most of those clumped together in the picture above are taking part in Early Morning Magic, some number are also headed on tours or to pre-opening breakfast reservations.
For our purposes here, we’ll see whether or not the 200ish people allowed into Fantasyland at 7:45am for Early Morning Magic affect our visit to Tomorrowland. Our preliminary answer is that they won’t. Even if all 250 of them somehow head to Space Mountain right at 8:55am and beat us there, our wait would increase by about seven minutes. Of course, all of them won’t be heading to Space Mountain as at least a third will be eating breakfast and the other 170ish people will be dispersed among at least ten different attractions.
As is typical, all guests were let into Magic Kingdom at 7:45am.
Most of Main Street is open, including The Emporium, Main Street Starbucks, and City Hall Guest Services.
As we learned from our feature on the Halloween decorations, the early morning is your best opportunity to take some pictures with little stress and few people around.
It’s also a good opportunity to do a little shopping and scope out what you might want to pick up later with only a handful of other people around. We also took advantage of that with this post covering 50+ items already available for the October 31st holiday.
For those heading to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first, it would be prudent to move relatively quickly to the holding area to the right of Cinderella Castle.
This is the scene at 8:12am or just about 45 minutes before the “Let the Magic Begin” show…begins…on the stage in front of Cinderella Castle.
You’ll typically see me say that there’s no rush to the majority of Magic Kingdom’s attractions. This is the scene in front of the rope heading into Tomorrowland at 8:28am where you could waltz right up into the best position possible. It looks like others are trying to huddle in a small shaded area off to the left.
If you want to maximize your time in Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Tomorrowland, or in Fantasyland at any attraction other than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Peter Pan’s Flight, then it makes sense to be at the rope in front of the land of your choosing between 15 and 20 minutes before the Park is scheduled to open.
If you arrive earlier, you have the opportunity to ride one of the Main Street Vehicles up or down Main Street or take in some early morning entertainment, here with the 8:25am Main Street Trolley Show.
Here’s the scene in front of the bridge over into Adventureland at 8:56am, or a minute after the Welcome Show began. It looks like there’s about 150 people waiting, which means any attraction from Jungle Cruise to Big Thunder Mountain to Country Bear Jamboree would be a walk-on for anyone headed in that direction. The Adventureland/Frontierland start is probably the best balance between a stress-free rope drop experience coupled with the ability to visit several high priority attractions in short order. The combined peak wait of Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain is going to be around five hours on your average summer day. If we were headed towards Big Thunder first, we could ride twice in short order before visiting Splash Mountain, Jungle Cruise, and Pirates of the Caribbean. The combined wait of those five experiences in the early morning would be around 25 minutes, compared to the 300 minutes we’ll see around 12:30pm.
Here we are in the Hub at 8:55am or just before Mickey’s appearance. There’s plenty of space to fill in should I prefer a closer look.
And there’s the Big Cheese himself.
And the finale right at 8:58am.
There goes the least pleasant rope drop experience available at Magic Kingdom in the form of the elbow-throwing hustle to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Interested in seeing how things would go from the back of the pack, I waited until the Welcome Show concluded before I joined the mass heading into Tomorrowland.
A wider phone shot.
And here we go at 8:59am.
About 78.3% of the people heading in this direction are going straight to Space Mountain, but about one in ten will break off to the right and visit Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin instead, perhaps due to Space’s height requirement.
There was a time back in the paper FASTPASS days where we’d actually start out at Astro Orbiter, but virtually nobody is heading here first these days, perhaps due to the fact that it’s Astro Orbiter.
At 9:01am, we continue towards Space Mountain.
If you’re among the last of the rope drop crowd to arrive at Space Mountain, you’re probably going to see a bit of a backup as people take some time to condense themselves into the narrow walkway into the building and some number of children are measured. Don’t be too concerned about this unless you check your watch and it’s somehow already 12:30pm. This backup doesn’t really affect our actual wait as even if everyone was able to magically, instantaneously continue walking through the queue, the same number of people would still be in front of us.
Ten minutes after initially getting in line I was nearing the loading platform.
And I boarded right at 9:20am for an actual wait of around 20 minutes.
Ostensibly as part of Tron construction, Disney rerouted the Space Mountain exit a couple of months ago.
It now bypasses the moving walkway and the various scenes that you’d see gliding by.
Instead, we’re walking out here.
And through here.
And along here.
And up here.
Eventually, we’ll cross the train tracks.
And then end up here next to the Tomorrowland smoking section.
This early, we could take a right into Storybook Circus without sucking down an inordinate amount of cigarette smoke. Later in the day, you might want to take a left towards Tomorrowland and go the long way to avoid it.
I was back out in front of Space Mountain at 9:30am for a total experience time of 30 minutes.
If I was among the first people to arrive at Space Mountain, instead of purposefully arriving among the last, my total experience time would be about half that, or closer to 15 minutes.
I opted to do Tomorrowland Speedway next since it’s more prone to get bogged down early than Buzz Lightyear.
It’s a 30-minute posted wait at 9:33am.
Looking at the length of the queue, it should be about half that.
But you never know how many FastPass+ returners are going to arrive.
And this early, only one of the two loading platforms are in use, which is the reason why this many people are already waiting.
I boarded my vehicle-of-tomorrow right at 9:49am, which means I waited just about 15 minutes.
I was going to take this opportunity to brag about the speed of my whip.
But it occurred to me that if no other cars are visible, then it’s just as likely that I’m actually in last place.
And everyone has passed me.
Which is probably more realistic.
The nice thing about an early morning ride with only one side operating is that the backup to exit the vehicle is largely nonexistent, so I’m not out baking in the sun sucking down exhaust unnecessarily.
I was back out front at 9:54am, for a total experience time of 21 minutes.
Next up is Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
It’s also posted at 30 minutes at 9:56am.
I was just about passed the merge with FastPass+ at 10:09am, or 13 minutes after getting in line.
And I was on the ride at 10:12am, for an actual wait of 16 minutes, which is exactly how long I waited at Tomorrowland Speedway:
I was back out front at 10:16am, for a total experience time of 20 minutes.
There’s probably no rush to Carousel of Progress, but I would offer one shout out to anyone prioritizing the show this early in the day. For once, it’s actually what Walt would have wanted.
The incredibly slow-loading Astro Orbiter is up next.
The wait is posted at 35 minutes, but again, I would expect it to be about half that.
Of course, it’s easy to make predictions as I type the post up after the fact.
In my live vlog, I’ll probably say this looks like a 300-minute wait and start crying.
I usually ride Astro Orbiter under the cover of darkness, but it provides some scenic views during the day as well.
I boarded my rocket at 10:42am or about 25 minutes after I got in line. Even with basically no initial wait, you’re still looking at Orbiter taking 15 minutes after you wait for the elevator, ride the elevator, wait for the previous ride to end, wait for the group before you to load/exit, and then board.
What a life pic.twitter.com/Sce39WJ93L
— josh (@easywdw) August 19, 2018
You can enjoy my 90-second ride in this video posted to Twitter.
Here at 10:45am, attractions are beginning to get bogged down by FastPass+ returners, which increases standby wait times closer to what we’ve seen been posted. All of those people on the bottom left are funneling into Buzz FP+.
Space is up to 55 minutes, making our 20-minute wait “feel” more attractive.
The total experience time at Astro Orbiter has probably increased by six or seven minutes since I got in line.
Buzz is up to a 40-minute posted wait at 10:50am and is probably now closer to 30.
Even PeopleMover has attracted an appreciable line of people at 10:50am, even if it’s far shorter than what the now-permanent queue holds.
I was on-board at 10:55am, which means I waited just five minutes:
And I was back out front at 11:08am for a total experience time of about 18 minutes.
All in all, I accomplished:
- Space Mountain: 9:02am – 9:30am
- Tomorrowland Speedway: 9:33am – 9:54am
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin: 9:56am – 10:18am
- Astro Orbiter: 10:20am – 10:46am
- Tomorrowland PeopleMover: 10:50am – 11:08am
If I had waited at the rope into Tomorrowland around 8:40am instead of purposefully waiting for everyone to head over in front of me, I’d shave off about 35 minutes of waiting across the five rides. I would have finished Space Mountain closer to 9:20am and then waited six or seven minutes less at Speedway, Buzz, and Orbiter. If I didn’t want to deal with the hurried walk over to Space Mountain, which really isn’t that bad, I could have planned on using FP+ there and visited Buzz first thing to ride three or four times before moving on to Tomorrowland Speedway, Astro Orbiter, and PeopleMover and waited about the same amount of time at those attractions, in addition to cutting down my experience time at Space to closer to 20 minutes. But that fictional Space Mountain FP+ is probably put to better use at a high priority attraction in Fantasyland, where I could save 60 minutes at Peter Pan’s Flight or 90 minutes at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, rather than ten minutes at Space Mountain.
Here’s a look at wait times over the course of the day, which ended up being below average, as most summer days have been thus far:
I highlighted the four attractions that I experienced that post wait times and the combined average is 134 minutes. We’ll add eight minutes for PeopleMover, to bring the total up to 144 minutes, which is just shy of two and a half hours. The combined peak wait is 260 minutes and we’ll add another fifteen minutes for PeopleMover, to bring the total up to 270 minutes, which is right at three and a half hours. My combined wait was about 78 minutes, or a little more than half of the average and about three hours less than the combined peak.
At this point in the morning, I could walk into the next Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor or Carousel of Progress show, which are the last two attractions in Tomorrowland. I could also head to lunch or into Fantasyland for some of the lower priority rides like Dumbo and Journey of the Little Mermaid. Or I could start using my FastPass+ experiences either to re-ride Tomorrowland favorites or experience popular attractions in another Land.
We’ll see what’s next.