In what seems like an unfortunate move, Disney has elected to cut the hours of the Adventurers Outpost Meet & Greet, which is most guests’ only opportunity to meet Mickey and Minnie together. The Meet and Greet will close at 4:30pm regardless of the closing time for the foreseeable future. Considering we are supposedly on the cusp of Rivers of Light debuting, with another round of Cast Previews next Monday and Tuesday, the timing seems suspect. On one hand, you’re trying to lure people in. On the other hand, you’re reducing the number of things they might be coming over to experience.
But somebody has to balance the checkbook around here and everybody knows the Walt Disney Company doesn’t have a lot of money. When entertainment costs go up in one area, they are typically stripped from another. Dug, who used to meet alongside his pal Russell, was cut from the Park some number of weeks ago now. The Wilderness Explorer meets by himself.
Disney has had some trouble popularizing its indoor meet and greets over the last few years.
There are probably a number of reasons why, the most obvious of which is the fact that the meet and greets are not obvious. Adventurers Outpost literally doesn’t say what it is and in a world where a lot of people are unsure if The Great Movie Ride is a ride, it’s not surprising that most people walk right by even if they would absolutely meet Mickey and Minnie together if they knew that they could and the wait would be fewer than 15 minutes. Another reason along the same lines is that kids are going to be the ones that are pulling dad towards the characters that they see out in the open. When the characters at Character Spot at Epcot were visible through the glass as recently as a few years ago, standby wait times were typically 40 to 50 minutes almost immediately after open. Now that the characters are not visible from the walkway, there’s much less window shopping going on.
Here’s a look at Adventurers Outpost wait times over the past month:
This is a somewhat interesting situation in that you have a meet and greet that is objectively unpopular after 4:30pm. Looking at the first few days before Disney cut the hours on November 6th, a 15-minute posted wait is an indication that you can walk right into the meeting room. So why operate an attraction with such little interest? On the other hand, the day after the cut, the average wait for the day jumps 50% from 20 minutes to 30.
But to make sure this is not an attendance thing, let’s take a look at Expedition Everest wait times over the same period:
This chart plots Everest’s average wait time for each day in the second to last column followed by the Mickey averages from the previous chart in the last column. Everest waits rise considerably on the 5th, a Saturday with morning Extra Magic Hour during the Wine and Dine Marathon, while it takes Mickey another day to see its 50% increase. One interesting period is the 14th through the 18th, which comprises the weekdays before Thanksgiving Week, which are among the least crowded of the year. Everest drops considerably to numbers similar to the lows at the beginning of the month, while Mickey stays at 30+ minutes during the same period. That seems to indicate that Mickey waits are going to hold strong above 30 minutes even given low crowds. On a few days there, including November 15, 16, and 18, Mickey waits are nearly twice as long as Everest.
But then during Thanksgiving Week from November 20th to 26th, when waits at Everest climb to 120+ minutes in places, waits for Mickey are actually shorter than other significantly less busy days earlier in the month. Take November 23rd, when Everest has an average wait of 64 minutes and Mickey is 34 minutes. Mickey’s wait is shorter than 12 days during the month while Everest’s is only shorter than three. That probably goes back to the fact that Adventurers Outpost is going to distribute the maximum number of FastPass+ experiences most days regardless of how many people are in the Park and there are only so many people willing to enter a standby line for a meet and greet that has a 45+ minute posted wait.
Here’s Adventurer’s Outpost wait times from November 2015:
Last year, the Park was usually open until 6pm with a smattering of 5pm closes and 8pm closes over busier days like during Thanksgiving or for Veterans Day.
Here’s the 2016 chart with the 2015 averages in the last column:
Last year, the overall average wait time was 20 minutes. This year, it’s 32. When you cut a specific attraction’s operating hours from an average of ten hours to seven and a half, it makes sense that waits would go up as supply decreases and demand stays constant.
So what do we take away from this?
If you want to visit Mickey and Minnie at Adventurers Outpost, be aware that waits are now longer and FastPass+ experiences will be even more limited. If the meet and greet is a “must do,” strongly consider booking FastPass+ in advance. Because there are fewer FP+ being circulated, it will be more difficult to secure the meet and greet as a fourth FastPass+. Something like Everest will distribute a thousand experiences an hour while something like Mickey will distribute numbers in the low hundreds.
Kali River Rapids after dark, at least at the moment, looks to be a thing largely of the past as well. Here are the operating hours for the rest of the month:
- December 4-17: 10am-5pm
- December 18-24: 10am-7pm
- December 25-31: 9am-7pm
This potentially makes some sense as low temperatures drive people away from water rides, which is why you often see their refurbishments/shutdowns during the month of January. The high tomorrow, December 2nd, is somewhere between 71 and 73 degrees and it will be a Florida Frigid 69 degrees at noon. I don’t even think Rob Gronkowski would ride in temperatures that low. By 6pm, the temperature is back down to 65 degrees. Nobody wants to ride in that.
Here’s Kali posted waits over the last month, with blank boxes indicating about 15 minutes of downtime except at the end of the night:
If you are visiting over the next month, it’s worth noting the operating hours if you do see some unseasonable highs. December 1st saw a high of 86 degrees, for example. Weather is erratic this time of year.
If Kali is a “must do” and you want to ride in the afternoon during the hottest part of the day, then securing FastPass+ in advance is another good idea. The ride will be most popular from 1pm to 4pm during the winter. Anything before or after that should be fine with shorter waits the earlier or later you can go.
The drop in hours for Mickey is potentially a shame, though it might be more positive if we knew where the money “saved” was going. If they can cut two hours off Mickey and three hours off Kali and give us Rivers of Light or some other entertainment that more people can enjoy, then perhaps the end justifies the means.
Hopefully next week’s tests go well.