The website will have a couple more robust Magic Kingdom touring posts in the next few days, but I thought it would be prudent to run a quick update on the Anna and Elsa situation along with the Mine Train and upcoming closures for next weekend’s fake media event.
Rope drop crowds on Friday April 25th:
We’re at the tail end of spring break crowds with Magic Kingdom as the most recommended Park. The area in front of the train station fills in its entirety most days with this being no exception. One of the more common questions I get is, “When should we leave?” This is an easy question to answer:
- Earlier than you want to.
- Earlier is always better.
At Magic Kingdom, the Disney buses, watercraft, and monorails are almost always going to be faster than your own vehicle because Disney transportation lets guests off near the entrance, while those driving must park, walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center, and then transfer to Magic Kingdom via Resort Monorail, Express Monorail, or Ferry Boat. The Express Monorail usually comes online just 30 minutes prior to open, around the same time the ferries start running. The Resort Monorail begins operation at 7am, but requires a stop at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian before arriving at Magic Kingdom.
How early you leave depends on where you’re leaving from, but most guests staying off the monorail/watercraft will want to be at the bus stop by 7:45am. 8am is fine for the monorail resorts and 8:15am is fine if you’re walking from the Contemporary. You can see how quickly crowds build here and even with my 8:20am arrival, I’m still several rows back. Being belly up to the rope is the best way to guarantee the shortest waits at the attractions all morning. A 9:15am arrival is significantly less devastating with today’s plan that begins in Frontierland, but it would be considerably uglier with a Fantasyland or Tomorrowland start.
The Anna and Elsa situation is absurd at the moment with hundreds of guests sprinting down Main Street with cast doing little to slow anyone down.
A look at the walk up Main Street. Warning: it’s a little shaky with no image stabilization on the 16-35mm lens and the fact that it was 8:50am and I only had time for three drinks prior to arriving.
It’s 8:55am and several hundred people are already in front of me as we’re all herded in front of the Carrousel. Princess Fairytale Hall is immediately ahead on the right with the Mine Train entrance further down across from Friar’s Nook near The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Fights had broken out earlier in the week and guests are now routed to the left all the way around Prince Regal Carrousel. To the dis-amusement (not a word) of a hundred or so people that had cut out of breakfast early or sprinted to the rope with plans to be as close to the entrance to Fairytale Hall as possible on the right.
So the mass moves left.
This is not even the end of the line at exactly 9am. If you look over the new Cheat Sheet touring plans, you’ll notice that we never go to Anna and Elsa first in any of the plans. Or anytime in standby for that matter. This is why. That’s a departure from the previous plans as you might recall, where I was in and out of (no jokes please) Rapunzel and Snow White in under ten minutes.
Waits first thing in the morning are going to be three to four hours. You’ll see similar posted waits later in the day, but they are exaggerated, to the point where the wait around 1pm will actually be around 90 to 120 minutes, even if the posted wait doesn’t come down.
So what do we do?
Get on the computer at 11:50pm EST on Day 61 and wait for midnight exactly 60 days out and book Anna and Elsa FastPass+ first thing. Availability is extremely limited, but better now than it was before they first started meeting here. Remember that everyone entering needs a FastPass+, regardless of whether they plan to actually interact with the characters or just hang back taking pictures of other people’s kids.
If for some reason you must meet Anna and Elsa and FastPass+ experiences are unavailable, grab lunch, use the bathroom, and hop in line at 11:30am. The Anna and Elsa characters are only guaranteed through 5pm, so there is no opportunity to visit late when waits would predictably be shorter. Getting in line at rope drop guarantees the absolute longest wait possible and you’re wasting the precious morning hours when waits are short elsewhere. The only possible way to experience a short standby wait would be to book an expensive character breakfast, leave by 8:40am at the latest, run to Fantasyland, and elbow your way to the entrance as people try to run around you.
There is a lot of “What kind of idiots would wait four hours to meet a couple college kids dressed up like Anna and Elsa” sentiment. The answer is pretty simple: social media and an extreme human desire to make acquaintances as jealous as possible. And a picture of the family with Anna and Elsa is a pretty powerful picture to post up on Facebook for the world to see.
Anna and Elsa pull several hundred people away from the priority attractions, easing waits at several of the other priority attractions just a bit. But the fact of the matter is that even with the line as long as it is, a ride like Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain would gobble them up and spit them out in a matter of 15 or 20 minutes thanks to much healthier capacities. There only needs to be 300 people in the standby line for the wait to be 2+ hours. Anna and Elsa are the epitome of why Disney doesn’t have characters that meet together. Interaction time triples and because of the absurd waits, everyone in line wants to spend as much time as possible with the characters, which is why the waits are so long in the first place. The excitement of the Mine Train opening may ease waits a tad, but probably not significantly with the extremely limited capacity at Fairytale Hall.
So use FastPass+ or do whatever you can to put Frozen out of mind. I was going through the Ideal Morning Touring Plan Day 2, which begins with:
1. Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: 9:10am–9:20am. Ride again if desired.
2. Ride Splash Mountain: 9:23am– 9:45am (Won’t get too wet but can return later w/ FP+)
3. Ride Haunted Mansion: 9:55am–10:15am.
I arrived at Big Thunder 15 minutes late at 9:25am due to walking through Fantasyland and taking pictures of the Mine Train first. But even then, this is what the train looked like.
All walls around the Mine Train are down as only planters protect the entrance from the incoming masses. Its arrival greatly expands the walkway from Tomorrowland through Fantasyland in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh area and offers permanent stroller parking that is probably still not enough. The big question is of course, when will it open. On Friday, they still had hand-held power tools out and were painting pieces by hand. Today (Saturday), they are running clearance tests on the ride vehicles to make sure Shaq isn’t decapitated. The answer is sooner rather than later, but there is no known date.
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train entrance in context and a walk around the perimeter:
It’s hard to capture exactly how pretty the entire thing is with the grass, rockery, and trees blending together. While it’s difficult to defend how long it’s taken to build this thing (though money is a pretty powerful argument when you’re the one spending it), it looks to be a stellar and much needed addition to what is largely otherwise a concrete jungle of dark rides inside of boxes.
The fake media event over May 1st and May 2nd is going to lead to some attraction closures. They are:
Beginning at 5pm on Thursday May 1st:
- Gaston’s Tavern
- Bonjour! Village Gifts
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
- Ariel’s Grotto
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and attached store
- Storybook Treats
Friday May 2nd, opening at 11am:
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- The Barnstormer
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow
- Big Top Souvenirs
- Ariel’s Grotto (not listed on the advisory but expected)
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid (not listed on the advisory but expected)
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Monsters Inc Laugh Floor – Opening at 12:15pm
Expect to run into detours in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland after 5pm on May 1st and before 11am on May 2nd.
I’ll be back later with a full run-through of how the day went. Spoiler: Just fine.