It’s about 10:20am and I still have all three of my pre-booked FastPass+ experiences in my pocket. Or around my wrist. Or on my phone. Or in the cloud. Or whatever. We’re continuing from Part 4, where I bounced around DinoLand and experienced all three of the rides there without much trouble.
Here’s a look at wait times across all attractions that post one on this particular day. I’ve highlighted 10:30am since that’s about where we are:
At this point in the morning, wait times are already prohibitive or are about to become prohibitive at most attractions and I have two basic options that don’t include heading straight for Nomad Lounge: I can either begin using my FastPass+ experiences that I’ve already booked or I could move on to shows and other high-capacity attractions, saving my FastPass+ for later. There isn’t necessarily a clear advantage to either strategy.
On one hand, the first performance of most shows is the least crowded. There’s an UP! show at 10:30am that I could easily catch. Finding Nemo the Musical begins at 11am, which is about 40 minutes in the future. I could meet some characters, enjoy the scenery, or see It’s Tough To Be A Bug before heading over to Nemo if that’s what I wanted to do. After enjoying some peaceful attractions with fewer people around, I could begin using my FastPass+ after lunch when they’ll save me the most time.
On the other hand, if I begin using my FastPass+ now, I’ll probably wait less at each attraction as standby waits will be lower and there will typically be fewer people waiting with priority boarding. After I use my three FP+, I’ll also be able to book a 4th FP+ earlier, which means I’ll be able to use more FP+ over the course of the day if I continue to expeditiously book them, perhaps ignoring my friends and family in the process as I refresh the app/website. More FastPass+ is always better because I’ll be able to wait less and experience more. That sounds like a tagline. On the other hand, if I do that, and put off the shows for later in the day, then I’ll be seeing performances that are much more popular, which often leads to a less comfortable experience with worse views of the stage.
In reality, most people are probably keying in on just one, or potentially two, shows, with Finding Nemo the Musical and Festival of the Lion King being the two most popular choices. If you do elect to use your FastPass+ earlier in the day, then you could potentially book a 4th or subsequent FP+ for the show(s) that you’re interested in seeing to help mitigate the fact that more people will be watching alongside you. You’ll still need to arrive at those shows about 30 minutes before they’re scheduled to take advantage of priority seating. But at a minimum, FastPass+ does guarantee a seat to the show.
I’m going to use my first FP+ of the day at Expedition Everest.
The posted wait is 20 minutes at the moment, but it will go up to 25 minutes at 10:30am and then 45 minutes at 10:35am.
Considering the standby queue snaked around outside and FastPass+ was backed up a considerable distance, the standby wait would be a lot closer to 45 minutes than 20 minutes at this point. Instead of going back to the Cretaceous period, perhaps we could constantly go 15 minutes in the future to check on wait times and then return to the present to make more informed decisions.
Single rider is almost always a viable alternative at Expedition Everest. The entrance is a little hard to find, down a little ways to the right of the standby/FastPass+ entrance.
Unlike at Test Track and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, the two other attractions that currently offer single rider, it’s easy to gauge the length of the line shortly after you enter it. I’d say that the wait is probably about a minute per three people in front of you, on average.
That means the single rider wait now is around eight minutes, versus the 40+ you’re looking at in standby.
Eight minutes probably isn’t too far off how long I’ll be waiting with FastPass+ for that matter. If you don’t mind splitting up, then single rider is a smart alternative as you’d be able to save that FastPass+ and use it elsewhere. If you’re unsure about whether you’ll enjoy the ride, but end up loving it, then single rider may be a smart choice for an immediate re-ride.
With FastPass+, I arrived at 10:23am.
And I was on-board, removing my hair tie and preparing to cast it off at the top of the mountain, seven minutes later.
At least we don’t have to step over any bodies up here, which isn’t something I think we’ll be able to say at the Galaxy’s Edge opening. August 29th. In Florida.
I was back out front at 10:36am for a total experience time of 13 minutes, which is right around average.
The standby/FastPass+ backup proved to be short-lived as the coast is now clear. The 45-minute posted wait is probably also about accurate.
Here’s a look at Everest’s wait times since May 1st:
There’s a number of takeaways here. First, check out how quickly wait times rise and how high they peak after a significant amount of downtime, which is represented in the chart by empty cells. On May 31st, Everest was down for nearly three hours at Park open. Within an hour of reopening, at 11:45am, the wait time hits triple digits and stays there for more than four hours. We see a similar phenomenon on May 6th, with the roller coaster realizing a hundred-minute wait just a half hour after reopening. The ride is down on the afternoons of May 28th and 29th, in turn sending the wait times up after it reopened. If you look at waits one day later, on May 30th, waits are significantly shorter, thanks in large part to 100% uptime. This all goes back to our charge that wait times are much higher when a ride experiences downtime, due to the number of FastPass+ returners arriving during a shorter window. With virtually no capacity going to standby in those situations, waits are significantly higher.
While you might expect June wait times to be much higher than early May, when most kids are still in school, that isn’t necessarily the case. A large part of that is due to the longer operating hours in June. On June 1st and 2nd, Expedition Everest experienced no downtime with an average wait of just 33 minutes on both days. On May 3rd, the ride also operated all day with no downtime, yet the attraction saw an average wait that was eight minutes higher. On the early May date, the Park was open two fewer hours, which results in fewer opportunities to enjoy the ride with a short wait, both early and late in the day. Animal Kingdom has been open until 10pm each of the last ten days and during that last hour, the average posted wait drops under 20 minutes with an actual average wait that’s under ten. Also, from 7am to 9am, the average wait is under ten minutes during those two hours. Even with the potential for higher attendance from the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend through the first few days June, the average wait at 11am is just 39 minutes. That’s well below the 52-minute average for that time slot over the last five weeks, meaning it’s the May dates that are bringing the numbers up.
Here’s the same chart with just the days where Animal Kingdom opened at 9am – no Extra Magic Hours and no regular 8am opens:
Expedition Everest’s average wait is 49 minutes at 11am, or ten minutes longer than the days with 8am opens at the same time of day. That’s a 28.2% increase on days that may be less crowded, but also come with shorter operating hours. That seems to indicate that days that with longer hours aren’t necessarily “more crowded.” Attendance may be higher, but the longer hours help spread people out. And even if there are more people in the Park during peak afternoon hours, if wait times are shorter, there’s more entertainment, and staffing is higher, is it worth it?
Here’s a look at the last 12 days, each of which saw a regular 8am open:
Back when we chose to visit Kilimanjaro Safaris after Pandora, I mentioned the viability of choosing to go to Expedition Everest instead, followed by DinoLand. I would have arrived at Everest, after experiencing Flight of Passage once and Na’vi River Journey twice in standby, around 8:30am, when the average posted wait is 15 minutes. The actual wait should be less than half that. A half hour later, after you’d have an opportunity to ride Everest twice, the posted wait rises to 20 minutes on average with an actual wait that should be about half that. You might remember that we rolled up to a 25-minute wait at Kilimanjaro Safaris with nobody actually waiting in line. It should be similar at Everest with 10- to 15-minute posted waits with very few people, if any, waiting.
Anyway, if you’re heading over to Everest after Pandora on a day with an 8am regular open, then you’ll be in luck for at least two easy standby rides. With a 9am open, you’d probably want to ride River Journey just the one time, which would put you in front of Everest around 9:45am, when standby waits also remain short. If you’re planning on getting to Everest more than 90 minutes into Park operation, then you’ll either want to use FastPass+ or jump in the single rider line.
Kali River Rapids is where I’ll be utilizing FastPass+ next.
Some amount of work continues on the siamang enclosure.
Kali River Rapids is your prototypical rafting adventure ride – short and wet. Not unlike most of my visits to the Disney World theme parks in June,
Here’s a nighttime look at the lockers with two kiosks to aid in setting up your rental. Coincidentally, that’s the same number of registers that you’ll find at Woody’s Lunch Box.
The locker rental is straightforward. You can reserve more than one free standard locker, so there is no use in paying to rent a large locker unless you have items that won’t fit.
Standard rentals are for two hours. If the wait is longer, then the amount of free time should be increased. If you’re delayed, ask a cast member for assistance and they should be able to override the system, yielding a free rental. But if you end up waiting more than two hours for Kali, you may have bigger problems than a $10 charge.
There are no in-and-out privileges, so once you open the locker, your rental is over. You can always switch lockers by going through the rental process again. A handy receipt will print out with your locker number and expiration time.
Lockers are decently-sized, though I will admit that I did not weight it with a scale that I brought into the Park. This is my camera bag with a large camera and lens placed delicately into the locker. I could have probably fit the three or four souvenir popcorn buckets that I’m carrying with me in the locker as well, but I don’t want to risk getting hungry on the raft.
It’s a hike to the loading area, potentially giving you plenty of time to change your mind and turn back, which may be the wiser decision.
FastPass+ stays to the left, while standby will eventually run into resistance closer to one of the temples.
The queue is probably the most underrated in any Walt Disney World Park.
I won’t be capturing any of the details in these hasty iPhone photos. Unlike what you’ll find at the end of most FastPass+ lines these days, you’ll scan your MagicBands/tickets a second time at the merge point with standby. I’d recommend putting absolutely everything that you don’t want to get wet in the lockers, potentially including phones and other electronics/popcorn buckets. Keep the tickets/Bands if you’re using FastPass+, though.
Kali loosely follows a deforestation storyline where forest fires and the destruction of nature are both bad.
You can’t tell me you don’t learn anything at Walt Disney World.
With FastPass+, you’re usually looking at a five- to fifteen-minute wait to board. I arrived at 10:49am and boarded at 10:50am. You might keep the ponchos off until you’re about to scan your tickets/MagicBands at the second set of scanners. It turns out that Florida in the summer is even hotter if you’re basically wearing a plastic bag.
Oh boy, a turntable. This must be like an outdoor version of Smugglers Run.
Or not. There isn’t necessarily a whole lot to Kali River Rapids. We’ll head up this lift hill, float around for about 60 seconds, and then go down a moderate drop, probably getting soaked in the process. After the initial lift, the ride is only about two minutes long. I very rarely ride myself, not wanting to deal with the lockers and risking getting uncomfortably wet.
Clothes eventually dry, of course, but socks and shoes may not.
I arrived at the lockers at 10:42am, got in line with FastPass+ at 10:49am, boarded the raft at 11am, was off the ride at 11:09am, and returned back to the attraction entrance with my belongings at 11:13am. That puts my total experience time at 31 minutes, which is a minute longer than Flight of Passage took early in the morning.
Here’s a look at Kali’s posted waits since May:
Kali currently opens an hour before the rest of the Park and closes an hour earlier than the rest of the Park. With the rest of Animal Kingdom open from 8am to 10pm, Kali is then available from 9am to 9pm.
Kali suffers from a relatively low capacity with a maximum of twelve people fitting in each raft. Most of the day, eight or nine of those are going to be FastPass+ users, meaning very little capacity goes to standby. If you’re not going to ride in the first 75 minutes of operation with a 9am start of operation or the first 60 minutes of operation with a 10am start, then you probably want to ride with FastPass+ or return to standby after 7:30pm. Availability as a 4th FastPass+, particularly for late afternoon and evening rides, is also good as a lot of people decide not to ride.
So far, my day has gone quite well. I’ve accomplished:
- Flight of Passage: 7:35am – 8:05am
- Na’vi River Journey: 8:06am – 8:19am
- Na’vi River Journey: 8:20am – 8:35am
- Kilimanjaro Safaris: 8:46am – 9:16am
- DINOSAUR: 9:30am – 9:42am
- Primeval Whirl: 9:45am – 10:05am
- TriceraTop Spin: 10:06am – 10:18am
- Expedition Everest with FastPass+: 10:23am – 10:36am
- Kali River Rapids with FastPass+: 10:42am – 11:13am
Amusingly, my longest wait, other than the 25 minutes that I waited for the Park to open first thing, came at Primeval Whirl, of all places. And that was just 15 minutes.
In the concluding part, we’ll make the mistake of trying Restaurantosaurus for lunch, check on afternoon crowds and wait times, and finally see the Shaman Screen at Na’vi River Journey. And they say dreams don’t come true.