I don’t want to tell you not to go to Disney World in July because it would be bad for business. However, July has just about everything possible going against it. Temperatures are scorching, humidity is uncomfortable, it rains every other day, overall crowds are huge, lodging prices are among the highest of the year, and there are tons of disruptive tour groups. Is it possible to “beat” all of this? To a point, yes. Arriving early will help mitigate crowds and temperatures, staying off-site or in a Deluxe resort will keep you away from most of the tour groups, packing ponchos will help protect your camera and clothes, and smart use of discounts will bring prices down to a more reasonable level. I’ll just say, since we’re friends, that I wouldn’t highly recommend visiting Disney World in July or the first two weeks in August unless you’re fully prepared to “deal” with the issues. Of course, most people aren’t prepared and we see more exasperated visitors withering in the unrelenting heat and absurd afternoon wait times than any other time of year. If you are planning a July or August trip, it is absolutely imperative that you arrive prior to Park opening and hit the headlining attractions first thing. Collect FASTPASSes, take a break in the afternoon, and return in the evening to use those FASTPASSes, have dinner, do some high capacity attractions, and enjoy the evening entertainment. With reasonable expectations and a solid plan of attack, you can certainly have an enjoyable Disney vacation in July. However, it’s not going to be as other times of year.
With that unfortunate introduction, let’s move on to a few days at Magic Kingdom over the last week or so.
Here we are arriving via the Express Monorail around 11:40am, one week from yesterday, Sunday July 10th. You may see this “express stroller rental” area right before the entrance to the security lines when Magic Kingdom is expected to be swamped.
Busy, but it could be a lot worse. According to the Crowd Calendar, the overall crowd level is a “7” and Magic Kingdom is tentatively recommended in the early morning or late evening. By arriving just before noon, we’re pretty bad at following this site’s advice. But that’s why the mornings are so great. Lazy locals like myself need our beauty sleep on the weekends and Disney resort guests are sleeping in so they can stay a little later in the evening with Extra Magic Hours scheduled from 12am – 3am.
I know a lot of people were having difficulty envisioning where the Mickey Mouse/Princess Meet and Greet FASTPASS machines are located, so I put together this professional(?) quality diagram. Here’s the full size version for a clearer look: https://www.easywdw.com/reports/mickey_fastpass.JPG. Basically, all you need to do is walk around to the side of Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and the FASTPASS machines are sitting right there. More information about FASTPASS availability and the “connectedness” of the Mickey Mouse FASTPASSes coming later in this walkabout.
We’re still seeing considerably lower wait times at Mickey Mouse than the Princesses. Sometimes Mickey’s posted wait will be slightly higher than the Princesses, but it’s usually just a mistake. Give it a few minutes and the Princesses are usually ratcheted up a bit.
Didn’t take long to find the crowds.
Not a lot of people waiting outside Aloha Isle, one of the only places to order everyone’s favorite reconstituted-from-a-powder-soft-serve-treat, the Dole Whip. Sure it’s lunch time, but you’re on vacation people!!!! Dole Whips ARE lunch!
Still a reasonable wait time at Big Thunder Mountain. What we’ve seen is that FASTPASS return times are just 40 minutes in the future, regardless of crowd level or standby wait time. The average total wait/ride time with FASTPASS is about 14 minutes. This means Splash Mountain should be your FASTPASS priority, along with Space Mountain, because return times will be further out and FASTPASSes will ultimately run out at those attractions sooner.
Splash Mountain wait times and FASTPASS return times are already getting away from us. In a similar vein to Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom, Splash Mountain is more popular in the afternoon when it’s hot out. We see considerably longer waits at Splash in the summer than we do in the winter, even when crowd numbers are similar.
Fantasyland wasn’t crazy busy around noon, but it will just get busier as the afternoon progresses. Fantasyland crowds begin to drop off around 9pm and continue to diminish through the evening as more and more families find the exit.
I’m pretty sure the family sitting at the table next to me was making fun of me while I angled for a picture of this delicious smoothie from Auntie Gravity’s. Full menu here: https://www.easywdw.com/menus-and-seating/auntie-gravitys-galactic-goodies-menu-tomorrowland-ice-cream-smoothies-cold-breakfast-beverages/. At $4.19, the price point is a little hard to swallow, but it’s an “excellent” use of a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan and really hits the spot on those hot afternoons. The selling point is the use of non-fat yogurt, though the lack of fat is augmented by a pound of sugar, it’s still nice to think that 500 calories of sugar is better than 500 calories of fat. Plus, you get that pleasant zip-a-dee-doo-dah feeling from the sugar rush before crashing 20 minutes later.
Decently busy at Space Mountain and an unfortunate number of people lined up at Stitch’s Great Escape. I think they have unofficially done away with FASTPASSes at Stitch. I haven’t seen the machines uncovered in months.
There have been a lot of complaints about the removal of Flynn Ryder from the Tangled Meet and Greet. While it would be nice if Flynn could have been moved elsewhere or they could have found a way to diminish wait times and keep him part of the current Meet and Greet, there is no question that this was one of the worst thought out Meet and Greets in the history of theme parks. Given Tangled’s immense popularity, who thought it would be a good idea to create a Meet and Greet featuring the characters that could cycle through no more than 100 people per hour? Was it a special experience for those who were able to enjoy the original Meet? Absolutely. But waits of more than two hours were common. That is, actual waits of more than two hours standing in line outside with no cover and little to look at. Disney tried to rework it to increase capacity. Right before the end of Flynn, the characters no longer danced around the table with the kids. This way, the characters could rest while regular cast members took care of the dancing duties. This didn’t help much and Disney had to act. Unfortunately, that meant the removal of Flynn. On the plus side, the line you see above is only about 25 minutes long as opposed to the three hours it would have been with Flynn still in attendance. While the lack of Flynn may be disappointing, we might be able to agree that ten times more people having the opportunity to meet Rapunzel is worth the tradeoff. Though it would have been nice if Flynn could have appeared elsewhere.
Construction continues on the “new” Castle and the rest of the Fantasyland Expansion. This thing is only a few feet tall, so don’t worry about it dwarfing Cinderella.
Here we are making another pass just 30-45 minutes later between 12:30pm and 12:45pm. In just an hour, waits are considerably higher. This is where the “tentative” recommendation in the early morning and late evening comes into play. Had you arrived at 8:40am, the waits at these headlining attractions would be inconsequential because you would have already experienced them and collected FASTPASSes for use later in the day. However, high wait times indicate heavier crowds everywhere.
Today’s lunch is at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. Full menu, seating, and condiment bar pictures available here: https://www.easywdw.com/menus-and-seating/pecos-bill-tall-tale-inn-frontierland-major-quick-service/. This is the Chilled Chicken Wrap – Served with apple slices or french fries: $8.79. As you can see, it’s huge, unlike that sad Flatbread Sandwich from Golden Oak Outpost reviewed here: https://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/the-tale-of-two-sandwiches-magic-kingdom-on-june-18-and-animal-kingdom-on-june-19/. As far as flavor, this was only “okay.” It could have used more sauce or another pick-me-up of some kind. As it stands, it’s basically a salad rolled up in a tortilla without much salad dressing. However, it was cold, fresh, and gigantic and a nice alternative to the hamburgers and other sandwiches. I’m not sure I would recommend it though.
I guess I’m chatty today and this two part series is going to have to be a three or four part series as I still have a lot to say. Look for part three later this evening, barring any huge news or calamitous website event.