We pick things up just before 9am on Monday April 15th, 2019, in Liberty Square amidst low crowds. It’s the perfect opportunity to stop for a moment and thank capitalism for the fact that not only are we here during the second busiest week of the year, but it’s also the second most expensive week of the year to visit. What’s more American than that? We’re continuing from Part 1, which covered what to expect from rope drop on a busy day with an 8am open.
As a reminder, this is what I’ve accomplished so far:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 8am – 8:19am
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: 8:20am – 8:27am
- Peter Pan’s Flight with FastPass+: 8:30am – 8:38am
- Haunted Mansion: 8:40am – 8:53am
The regular 8am open continues to be of great benefit. Obviously, if the Park opened at 9am, I would not only have visited zero attractions at this point in the morning, but I’d still be waiting in front of Cinderella Castle to be let into any of the Lands. Instead, I’ve already visited four priority attractions and I’m on my way to a fifth. It’s the perfect opportunity to stop and think about all of those suckers sleeping in and trying to relax on vacation, probably dropping in to a nice restaurant at their resort to enjoy a leisurely breakfast with a couple of mimosas and a round of lobster eggs benedict. Maybe they’re laughing, talking about all the fun they’ve been having this week, when they could be out here sprinting from Mad Tea Party to Liberty Square because the boat’s leaving in 30 seconds but I’m four minutes away. What a bunch of idiots.
I was a bit bummed to see that the Hei Hei Cone was no longer available at Aloha Isle, which opens an hour after the rest of the Park.
Fortunately, as of April 19th, it’s now back on the menu after a four-day hiatus. Sometimes you accidentally, and temporarily, walk your Dole Whip machine right off the raft and right into the ocean.
You can read about the cone, along with all of the other snacks that are available in Adventureland, in this post. Golden Oak Outpost is worth seeking out, both for the fried snacks and the delicious milkshakes.
Crowds are already beginning to pick up as The Magic Carpets of Aladdin’s actual wait is pushing ten minutes before 9am. Instead of installing that Mary Poppins spinner in the United Kingdom Pavilion, they will just move this over to Morocco to celebrate the opening of the live action Aladdin film.
But the crowds are nothing compared to what we’re going to see later. During a busy holiday week, if there’s something that you really want to do and there’s no wait to do it, the you may just want to go for it, even if it goes against standard advice. Finally, you can answer your husband in a sentence that doesn’t start with, “But Josh says…” The exception to that may be something like Enchanted Tiki Room, where we’ll be able to walk into the next show all day. On the other hand, seeing the show now means far fewer people in the theater and what will likely be a much more pleasant viewing experience. So there are trade-offs there, too.
We typically prioritize Jungle Cruise over Pirates of the Caribbean in the morning due to waits that typically rise faster and peak higher.
Here’s a look at Jungle Cruise so far this month:
The 62-minute wait for the day is the third-longest of the month. Interestingly, there are two days with even longer waits earlier in the month, despite lower attendance. On both days, the posted wait from the get-go is 30 or more minutes. April 6th to 13th will likely end up being one of the best weeks of the year to visit Walt Disney World, so congratulations if you keyed in on that. We’ll compare Jungle Cruise’s wait times to Pirates’ once we arrive at the latter.
You might have been able to hone in on that early-April week if you planned your trip based on Dave’s crowd calendar over at yourfirstvisit.net:
He called it.
TouringPlans, of course, did not. Here’s their predictions for exactly one week before the day of this visit, Monday April 8th:
The predictions continue to be unbelievably bad, particularly when all of the indicators pointed to the week being the one saving grace during what is otherwise the busiest 6-week span of the year. Such is life when you have no mechanism to account for the Easter shift and how that affects crowd flow.
Dave and I write the award-winning guidebook, “The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit,” which I’m sure is already sitting proudly on your mantle. You can pull up Dave’s 2019 crowd calendar here with 2020 following here.
Jungle Cruise is posting a 10-minute wait, which is a little unusual considering their knack for inflated wait times early in the morning.
Back in December, I followed a similar touring plan on a day with a regular 9am open, and found a 40-minute wait at Jungle Cruise just 45 minutes into Park operation.
I decided to chance it, given the fact that it didn’t “feel” like the wait could rise that quickly given the few people that I had run into at that point. And I was right. Despite the high posted wait, the queue was virtually empty. There were only six people waiting in front of me and I almost immediately boarded.
Back to the morning at hand, I arrived right at 9am and the standby queue was sort of backed up to the attraction entrance. But with none of the queue actually open beyond the straight shot to the dock, my actual wait ended up being about four minutes, if that:
I was back out front at 9:16am for a total experience time of 16 minutes, which is just about as quick as it gets.
When we swing back around in two and a half hours’ time, we’re going to run into a “FastPass+ Line Starts Here” sign that’s closer to the entrance to Swiss Family Treehouse and Magic Carpets of Aladdin than Jungle Cruise with a 75-minute posted wait. That’s still better than the 120-minute peak. There’s always a bright side on easywdw.com.
Pirates of the Caribbean is a moderate-high priority in the FastPass+ era.
Over the last six weeks, its average wait eclipses 30 minutes before 10:30am and from 11:15am through 3pm, you’re looking at an average wait that’s higher than 50 minutes. I wish we could go back in time and grab everyone that tried to tell us that FastPass+ would have no effect on standby wait times, slap them, and place them in front of some of these historically-secondary attractions in 2k19. Explain this then. And sorry I slapped you. It’s just that I take Epcot FastPass+ priority very seriously. Would you like to see my presentation? It’s 450 minutes, which is only four hours, fifty minutes long.
Here’s a look at Pirates’ wait times so far in April:
Pirates’ 29-minute average wait, as seen in the lower right hand corner of the chart, is more than 40% lower than Jungle Cruise’s average. Pirates also doesn’t hit a 30+ minute average posted wait until 10:45am. Jungle Cruise posts a 30+ minute wait an hour earlier, before 9:45am.
Despite “the data,” Pirates is still posting a 25-minute wait at 9:20am with standby backed up all the way back here. As it turns out, the ride didn’t open until 9:15am due to mechanical issues, which is part of why we’re seeing this many people in line so early. Those sorts of things that you can’t plan for is probably why reading through these slogs may ultimately prove to be of some worth. It’s much more important to understand the “why” than simply being able to follow the “what.”
With few FastPass+ users arriving this early, I decided to see how things would play out. Hopefully I do better than this guy. On the other hand, his body has apparently had plenty of time to deteriorate, but he’s still rocking the hat and eye patch like a boss. If only we could all be that lucky.
The actual wait ended up being just ten minutes:
I was back out front at 9:43am for a total experience time of 23 minutes, which is six or seven minutes longer than the ride typically takes with FastPass+. The posted wait dropped five minutes to 20 while I was in line, while the length of the standby line increased.
The “Guest Experience Team” arrived on-scene back on December 16th with an expiration date in the middle of January. The program proved popular enough that it’s not only basically permanent here at Magic Kingdom, but has expanded to Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well. Over at the Studios, they may call it the “Guest Apology Team.” I just assume that they instinctively welcome everyone with, “We’re very, very sorry about what you’ve experienced today” before anyone has an opportunity to ask a question.
There are five locations in easy-to-find spots around the Park.
Basically, instead of screaming at a janitor about whatever problem it is that you have that they have no ability to fix, you can do the same thing to someone wearing a blue polo. But they’re around should you have a question.
Here’s a look at posted wait times over the course of the day:
As we know, the posted wait is typically about 15 minutes behind reality, so the 10am wait times should be what we’ll experience should we get in line for something at 9:45am, which is what time it is at this point in the morning. The overall average wait for every attraction that posts one is already 34 minutes, which doesn’t bode well. That includes some attractions that don’t usually pop up on the list, including Tiki Room and PeopleMover. When waits get particularly intolerable, they’ll push wait times for the likes of Tiki Room hoping that people will realize the show exists and choose it over getting in a 60-minute line for small world. Once you see a wait for the PeopleMover show up on the app, it’s probably time to join our friends at breakfast.
With ‘Ohana seating guests through 12pm, you could actually tour Magic Kingdom for a solid three hours before taking the boat over. Just a thought.
Looking over the wait times at 10am, there aren’t a lot of places to turn. Big Thunder, which is my next planned FastPass+ experience, is already at 70 minutes. Buzz Lightyear is just five minutes behind, at 65 minutes. Dumbo is posting 20 minutes at 10am, but the wait jumps to 50 minutes at 10:15am, a sign that the actual wait is probably closer to 40 minutes and may even extend beyond that. There’s always Mad Tea Party, which is posting 10 minutes, but that’s going to be a hike from Adventureland. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is the only other ride in Adventureland that I haven’t experienced and that’s going to be posting a 45-minute wait at 10:15am, which isn’t good. Peter Pan’s Flight is at 70 minutes. Mine Train is two hours. Space Mountain is over an hour.
Just two hours into Park operation, most lower priority attractions are already seeing 30+ minute actual waits. I could visit Enchanted Tiki Room, Country Bear Jamboree, Liberty Square Riverboat, Hall of Presidents, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, or Carousel of Progress and wait only as long as it takes for the next show to start. To extend my day past my initial three FastPass+ selections, it makes sense to visit those attractions as I blend in whatever additional FastPass+ experiences that I’m able to book.
Speaking of FastPass+ availability, I checked it out shortly after I got in line for Pirates of the Caribbean at 9:19am, or less than 90 minutes into Park operation. Searching for just one person, the earliest return time was already well into the afternoon.
As always, you’ll have the best luck searching for additional FastPass+ opportunities or better return times if you continuously refresh availability by clicking a new time at the top of the selection screen. See the red arrows:
Apparently, there are people out there charging money for this single tip. Studiously refreshing FP+ availability is the best thing you can do to reduce wait times as the day progresses. At 1pm, the average wait at the 19 rides that typically post one is 76 minutes. Even using FastPass+ at small world or Magic Carpets will save you 45 or more minutes in line.
If you see a time that you like for your desired attraction on the first screen, then you’ll want to take it. If not, you can click on an attraction for the full list of available return times. If you swipe right in the area where the times appear on the screen, you can refresh availability a second time for just that attraction. After doing so, you’ll need to click the back arrow to refresh availability a third time. By refreshing a couple of times, I found an immediate return time for Pirates of the Caribbean. I didn’t want it, but it was there.
But even as I initially search for FastPass+ availability for just one person at 9:20am, nothing is available for Buzz for nearly six hours. Dumbo does have some availability in “just” 90 minutes, though. Laugh if you must, but Dumbo’s peak wait on this particular day was 105 minutes. At 11:45am, when this FP+ return window opens, the posted wait will be 80 minutes.
If you’re searching for an attraction with very limited availability, then it doesn’t matter what time of day you click at the top of the scree to refresh. I’m searching for 10am in the screenshot above, but the only FP+ available for Enchanted Tales still comes up. I usually find that it’s easiest to click on a time at the top and if what I want doesn’t come up, I’ll click the time immediately to the right. Once I scroll all the way over to the time the Park closes, I swipe left all the way back to the start of the day and begin anew.
There’s always Mad Tea Party. At 11:55am, the posted wait is 50 minutes.
A couple more attractions with return times “just” a couple of hours away.
While the Meet and Greets don’t offer a lot of FP+ per hour because of their limited capacities, they are among those most likely to be cancelled and changed. That’s probably due to the fact that those that book them typically have kids and they’re the ones that are most likely to change their plans. Once young Aiden freaks out on his third princess of the day, it’s probably time to switch out Rapunzel for the Little Mermaid ride.
Perhaps due to a capacity reduction, Tinker Bell FastPass+ are in much shorter supply than they would have been a couple of years ago.
Even Laugh Floor is out to 2:45pm, while Pirates is still offering that 9:20am FP+. It might just be for one person.
Rounding out what’s available, we’ve got Space Mountain available in 12 hours and Little Mermaid Ride available in two.
Three of the experiences with no availability are either attractions that I’ve already experienced or in Splash Mountain’s case, one that I have a FastPass+ for after Big Thunder.
It’s 9:45am and walkways are already becoming noticeably more crowded than they were when we passed through Frontierland an hour ago.
I have a 9:30am – 10:30am FastPass+ for Big Thunder and a 10:45am – 11:45am FastPass+ for Splash Mountain. I’d like to visit Big Thunder towards the end of the window so I can head over to Splash immediately after. I could go over to Big Thunder now, but it would just mean retracing my steps back to another Land before heading back over to Frontierland later in the morning.
Theoretically, I could use my Big Thunder FP+ now and then try to refresh FP+ availability to try to secure a Splash Mountain return time that’s earlier than what I originally scheduled. For example, if I were to use my Big Thunder FastPass+ at 9:45am, then I could immediately book another FastPass+ with a return time as soon as 9:50am, even if the original return window is 9:30am – 10:30am. With such limited FastPass+ availability and not really wanting to spend the next however-many-minutes furiously refreshing FP+ on my phone, I prefer to find something else to do for 45 minutes.
The line for Haunted Mansion is already backed up outside the entrance with the 25-minute posted wait at 9:50am. You might remember that I “literally” walked right into the stretching room when I got in the standby line an hour earlier at 8:40am.
The Liberty Square crowd at the same time – manageable, but far more people than you want to see before 10am.
In Part One, I forewarned that the entire extended queue for small world would be full before 10am. Well, here we are.
25 minutes is probably optimistic. I’d expect this to take about 35.
In Part One, I also mentioned that I booked FastPass+ earlier than I probably would have on a less busy day due to how backed up the FP+ lines would get later in the morning. At 8:30am, there was “literally” nobody in front of me in the FastPass+ line for Peter Pan’s Flight. All of those people lined up to the left are now waiting in that same FP+ line. With FastPass+, the actual wait will still be just seven or eight minutes, which isn’t bad at all. But I didn’t have to subject myself to anyone asking a little too loud, “IS THIS THE SLOWPASS LINE??? OR THE FASTPASS LINE???”
Never not funny as those in standby will wait somewhere between 70 and 90 minutes.
There’s going to be more people here later.
The entire extended queue for Prince Charming Regal Carrousel is full, but there’s still going to be more people in line later.
At 12:15pm, the line starts here.
That makes this better. Not good. But better.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is posting a 110-minute wait at 9:56am, making my 15ish minute wait first thing look pretty good.
Likewise, the entire queue for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is full with a 50-minute posted wait. I was on-board in under three minutes when I got in line an hour and a half earlier in the day.
The Liberty Square Riverboat leaves every 30 minutes, on the hour and on the half hour.
What a life pic.twitter.com/AcYrz6H4uK
— josh (@easywdw) April 15, 2019
The peaceful, 20-minute boat ride circles Tom Sawyer Island along the Rivers of America.
And on this particular morning, will offer us an opportunity to gawk at the crowds in Liberty Square and Frontierland. The queue for Haunted Mansion is filled to the brim in the distance.
On the boat, there’s a limited amount of seating on the three decks.
I like to sit on the lowest level near the front, but the views from the top deck may be more panoramic.
There’s also typically more people up there.
Despite the heavy crowd level, Tom Sawyer Island still opens at 11am with the last raft leaving the island around 6pm.
After disembarking, I’m heading to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to use my second FastPass+ of the day. From here, it looks like the entire queue is full.
All of the Walt Disney World theme parks will be going smoke-free on May 1st, which means this smoking area only has about 11 more days left. Guests will have to exit the Park and smoke in a designated area out front. Part of me wonders if we’re going to see even more rogue smoking moving forward. It’s unlikely that smoking will be an ejectionable offense. So there won’t be much downside to walking and smoking until the rare, underpaid cast member willing to interject can run down the offender and make them put it out somewhere.
Maybe if they just sent all the smokers out to this cabin. You probably wouldn’t even notice a difference in the amount of smoke.
Me, on a runaway train away from these crowds. Take me anywhere else (other than Hollywood Studios).
The Walt Disney World Railroad remains closed indefinitely, largely due to Tron construction in Tomorrowland. Hopefully, Disney is taking some time to refurbish the trains and the track during this time. It “feels” like they are, given the fact that the bridge is covered in tarps, perhaps to hide some work going on.
The Riverboat offers some breezy views of Big Thunder Mountain.
And there’s a number of vignettes that are only visible from the scenic ride.
Unlike the shows, where you’re sort of stuck next to whichever blogger sits next to you.
You can safely move about the boat during the voyage to try to get away from them.
I’ll still follow you around because I’m only 291 minutes into my Epcot FastPass+ presentation and you won’t believe what’s coming with the next slide.
We returned at 10:20am, which puts me in perfect shape to head over to Big Thunder to use my 9:30am – 10:30am FastPass+.
A quick check on Old Fantasyland: Yep, still busy.
In Part Three, we should finally get to what I promised was coming in Part One. As always, the website accepts returns, but it does not offer refunds.