It’s 4:40pm on March 25th 2k14. It’s a minimum of 40 minutes assuming you want to do something that includes the miracle of motion. We have some very attractive first-generation Android phone pictures augmented by much better looking photos taken by Lisa and her Canon Rebel SL1 back on March 1st.
Higher crowd levels bring not only longer waits at attractions, but longer lines for everything else too as people line up about three-boats-deep to be dropped off at the International Gateway at Epcot. The boat floats along at a painstakingly slow pace and takes about 25 minutes, which is about the length of time it takes to walk. There’s an often overlooked bus that connects the Studios with Epcot’s main entrance that takes about ten minutes, in addition to a much shorter wait.
FastPass+ kiosks have arrived in the spot where the wait times board used to hang. This was reliably the longest line for a kiosk. It will be interesting to see how things progress with off-site visitors able to book FastPass+ 30 days in advance, in addition to being able to use the app or website to select and change FP+ times and experiences. Most users will have no use for the kiosks and they should be avoided if at all possible.
While waits for the kiosks ballooned to 30+ minutes, there was a small army of cast members on the other side of the Hollywood Boulevard shops that could do the same things with no wait.
More iPad-wielding cast members hidden behind the Sorcerer’s Hat. While it’s nice to find one of these with no wait, one wonders if it wouldn’t be more intelligent positioning them at one of the more obvious locations that actually have a lot of people waiting.
This was all the way back on March 1st at 1pm as the line for The Great Movie Ride spills all the way out of the extended queue.
This is a solid 45-minute wait in average crowds – something that would have been unheard of prior to FP+. This is a New Year’s Eve 2k12 wait but it’s the new normal in 2014. The website does recommend using your Tier 2 FP+ here and at Tower of Terror instead of Star Tours. Star Tours has a monster capacity and waits develop later and stay long for a shorter amount of time in the afternoon.
Star Tours also at 40 minutes, which would have been a sign of a 7+ crowd level prior to FP+. It’s an average peak wait time so far in 2014.
At the same time, guest behavior is perplexing as Phineas & Ferb meet with literally four (possibly five) people in line.
Average Tower of Terror waits continue to rise as nearly everyone picks it along with Star Tours as their two Tier 2 FP+ choices, maximizing the number of people returning with priority over standby.
This is Pixar Place on March 1st, back when actual crowd levels were average. It’s only going to get worse as we near Easter. Beginning the Sunday one week after Easter, things will drop back to average – or what you see in the pictures that aren’t taken with a phone above. Crowds continue to be average to slightly above average through the Thursday before Memorial Day. Then it’s on.
Characterpalooza continues on the Streets of America. With one Fantasmic scheduled at 8:30pm, Characterpalooza has two sets that should begin at 4:30pm. With Fantasmic at 8:30pm and 10pm, there is one Fantasmic set that should begin at 5:30pm and last 30 minutes. As always, Kenny’s Characterpalooza page will have the most up to date times.
The characters arrive and depart from around the corner here near Lights, Motors, Action on the Streets of America.
Characters vary with Chip, Dale, Pinocchio, Gepetto, Army Man, Minnie, Stitch, and Evil Queen being most common.
Line lengths vary depending on a character’s popularity. Evil Queen has a sizable line while the poor penguin is a walk-up.
The nice looking pictures of Palooza above are from March 1st. Here on the 25th, we have Aladdin and Jasmine together, which is rare.
Genie is rare, but also a possibility. Jafar, Smee, and Queen of Hearts appear periodically as well.
Look around a bit as the characters space themselves out and one or two might meet around a corner.
Palooza is a great opportunity to meet several characters in a short amount of time. Disney seems to again be moving toward more orderly lines, instead of the constant rotation they were trying out late last year and into the first couple of months of this year. That leads to easier and more defined interactions instead of being up next to meet Belle, only to have her run away and meet somewhere else.
Speaking of things that operate better, The Legend of Jack Sparrow continues to distribute return tickets for future shows instead of a long line.
There is a lot of hate for Sparrow, much of which I frankly don’t understand.
It is not awesome, but there is only so much you can do with so little space. The return tickets cut the wait to just two or three minutes and you’re done with the entire experience in less than 15.
At least it’s not Maleficent from Mars.
Disney continues adding alcoholic beverages wherever it can.
As someone who ummmmmmmmmm “occasionally” enjoys one, I can’t complain about the access. Perhaps the price.
Lisa tried the $8.50 Frozen Lemonade with Three Olives Cherry Vodka. Like other lemonades of this variety, it is prepared with a shot of alcohol poured first and then the non-alcoholic lemonade dispensed on top.
It was far too tart to the point where she threw about half out. Hard to say whether it was a one-off mistake or they tend to be like that.
The walk-up-only Brown Derby Lounge remains popular in times of good weather. The website has a review as part of this post.
Star Wars character meals are coming to Sci-Fi for breakfast and Hollywood & Vine for dinner every day from May 4th to June 15th as described on the Parks Blog. $60/adult and $37/child for dinner is awfully rough, but Disney can more or less charge whatever they want.
Both meals include a digital picture of some variety. Lighting inside Hollywood & Vine should be fine, but Sci-Fi is a bit of a concern as it’s nearly pitch black in there, which should result in a lot of blurry photos and a lot of distracting flashes.
Despite rumors that something will be coming to Hollywood Studios sometime, there’s virtually nothing going on at the moment. Morning touring remains largely the same, though the Studios has been opening closer to regular open instead of the 15ish minutes before it had been for most of 2013. Since everyone enters at the same time anyway, a slightly later start is not the end of the world. It would be nice if they could open a bit earlier to get more standby guests through Toy Story Mania before the 9am -10am FastPass+ returners arrive, pushing up wait times dramatically at the start of the day.