We continue from Part One, where we began the day by walking over from the Grand Floridian Resort via the walkway that opened back in November with our first stops of the day at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight. Coincidentally, I think November was also around the time that post was published. We followed that up in Part Two, with visits to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Haunted Mansion, along with a general discussion about how you might want to organize your day given current crowd conditions.
So far, things have gone about as well as we could hope, with the exception of an unexpected 20-minute delay on Haunted Mansion due to some particular maleficence from our ghoulish friends. Sometimes I wonder if our ghost host takes roll each morning and shuts things down to send out the search party if they can’t locate all 999 happy haunts. I don’t think I would be a prime candidate for haunt 1,000 as I’m just about the only thing less reliable than Splash Mountain. At least you know you can usually find me at one of the three local Ale Houses scaring children and eating what’s left of their Zinger Mountain Melts. And I’m not even technically dead yet.
I was on the ride in about three minutes, but spent more time than I would have liked sitting in the graveyard scene. I suppose it’s a good thing they didn’t bury me there or it would be even more difficult to proceed with the rest of the day. On the other hand, I doubt the time it would have taken to claw my way back up to the land of the living would have adversely affected the website’s publishing schedule. Thus far, this is where we’ve been:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 8:42am – 8:56am
- Peter Pan’s Flight: 8:59am – 9:07am
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: 9:09am – 9:16am
- Haunted Mansion: 9:19am – 9:52am
Back to the task at hand, we basically have two options come 10am, or one hour after Magic Kingdom typically opens. We could hit a number of low-priority attractions in succession and not wait too long at each. We could then have lunch, take a break, and return in the last few hours with hopes of hitting some of the higher priorities when waits should be a little lower. Our other option is to try to experience some moderate priorities now with waits that will hopefully be about half of their later afternoon peaks.
Looking back at our wait time time chart, you’re looking at spending 25+ minutes in line from 10:15am through 5:15pm, but the waits do fall after that, even with Park Hopping after 2pm back in the mix potentially sending new people over and those who arrived earlier in the day head to the Ale House:
As far as Magic Kingdom is concerned, where there are so many attractions, there isn’t necessarily a “right” approach. And how you go about things may partially come down to how many days you have to visit. Even with an unfortunate 20-minute delay at Haunted Mansion, I’ve still survived the graveyard along with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Winnie the Pooh before 10am, which is a solid morning considering their combined peak wait for the day is 195 minutes, or over three hours. This is on a day with below-average waits compared to the last couple of months, so you would potentially be looking at even higher late morning and afternoon waits on a busier day.
With one day to visit, I’m more likely to be eyeballing attractions like Jungle Cruise at this point in the morning, since its peak wait will be 50% higher than it is now. With a second day to visit, I’d likely elect to stick around Fantasyland in the morning on one day and prioritize Adventureland and Frontierland early on my second day. With more time, I have more opportunity to compartmentalize things and visit the high priorities in those lands first before moving on to lower priorities in the same area.
If I were to stay in Fantasyland, visiting “it’s a small world” next would be smart, and we may even want to do that before moving on to Haunted Mansion, which sees surprisingly short waits despite going down early in the morning. We could then get to Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Mad Tea Party, Dumbo, The Barnstormer, Under the Sea ~ Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and Mickey’s PhilharMagic, likely in that order to largely reduce walking as much as possible as we make a circle around the Mine Train mountain and end up back in front of Cinderella Castle. I’ve heard some number of complaints that a Princess and the Frog overlay doesn’t make sense at Splash Mountain because Louisiana is a little short on slopes. But nobody has ever quoted me the maximum altitude in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and yet somehow somebody built a roller coaster in the middle of the forest. Not to mention you probably just flew over London in a flying pirate ship on Peter Pan’s Flight that’s both about seven feet off the ground and towering over Big Ben, among other landmarks. But we all have to pick and choose our battles. I just choose to fight them all.
This is the state of things at Jungle Cruise at 9:57am with 30 minutes posted and the queue winding around out in front of the entrance. If it was February of last year, like we all probably wish it was, a line this long with FastPass+ in play and no social-distancing would equate to a standby wait that would exceed 150 minutes. With no FastPass+ and six feet between parties circa the joy that has been 2021 thus far, lines are rarely or never as bad as they currently appear. That may be our one positive takeaway from all of this. You may find yourself eating a pickle burger outside Casey’s Corner while you wait for Space Mountain, but the wait will still be shorter than if you were pickle-burger-free and waiting inside the actual standby queue for the 23-mile-per-hour backbreaker into the vague dark expanse of the interior of a building at the same time next year when SlowPass is reintroduced and Mickey no longer pulls out his stun gun should it appear like you’re about to get within six feet of him. But there’s plenty of time to worry about that.
Let’s see how we do after getting in this line for Jungle Cruise just before 10am:
I got in line at 9:57am and boarded my wayward vessel at about 10:19am, for an actual wait of 22 minutes, versus the 30 posted:
I was back out front at 10:28am for a total experience time of 31 minutes, which isn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things. The line now backs up towards Swiss Family Treehouse with 45 minutes posted and a 35ish-minute actual wait more likely.
That’s not quite the end of the line for Pirates of the Caribbean on the left as we look past Enchanted Tiki Room on the right.
As we’ve learned since the Parks reopened, the boat rides that haven’t been fitted with barriers in between the rows have seen the highest increase in waits compared to attractions where the loading procedures haven’t changed. That’s why Pirates has longer average waits than Peter Pan’s Flight now, where every flying pirate ship is still loaded and there isn’t FastPass+ to bog down standby.
We may or may not have the opposite of “feels crowded” going on as I count about 14 people who aren’t in line for Pirates along a walkway that’s usually busier.
No matter how long the line for Pirates is at the moment, it gets worse as those distancing stickers on the left are for the ride. We’ll be able to verify that after we disembark and people are occupying them.
We’re in “wait and see” mode longer than I expected after the Parks, with Disney continuing to make changes to attraction capacities by making modifications to the vehicles, cutting wait times by 30% to 50% on some rides at some point between last July and now, while making no changes elsewhere. We may not see too many more modifications as Disney elects to wait out the circumstances with hopes that things largely return to “normal’ later this year without having to spend more money and potentially damage some of the ride vehicles where they have installed barriers. I’ve long advocated that it would be easier if Disney issued a standard slab of plastic for everyone to hold up in front of their faces as they enter the Park, thus reducing the need for some of these vehicle modifications, only for someone who thinks they’re smarter than I am to tell me that I’m simply describing a face shield. I’m not because the slab would also be easier to hurl at people, adding a second weapon to our vast repertoire of theme park strategies, which of course includes the traditional throwing of the elbows. Imagine if you gave Tom Brady two footballs to throw every play instead of two bottles of tequila. He would have beat the Chiefs even worse and the halftime show might not have been The Weekend testing Horror Night house configurations with the lights on.
I opted to get in line for Pirates to see how we’d do with the line starting here and headed in the opposite direction of the entrance before ideally doubling back.
We may be closer to the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland at this point, not that it would do us much good as we take a slight right and then head way down to the left.
If anything, it does give new meaning to taking the scenic route.
I got in line at 10:32am, and despite the long appearance of the line, was inside the building in just under 15 minutes. While Disney was willing to build the new Leave A Legacy installation at Epcot to the moon and back, what’s basically an extension of security theater only extends to about seven feet when it comes to plastic barrier theater. It could be that mouth spray takes the most direct route possible and hits the plastic rather than barrel rolling over. Hopefully acrobatics aren’t the next mutation and the disease will just get lazier as it gets older and eventually retires in Florida like the rest of us. If it still feels spry, it could always try out for Cirque du Soleil and spin plates on its nose while juggling canon balls on a 40-foot tall unicycle upside down.
Fortunately, there are no physical requirements when it comes to Disney World blogging. If you tried to make most of us do a simple somersault I think the majority of us would come out paralyzed. I’m not sure I would even know where to start other than sort of topple over.
Here’s why that line is so long in one picture as a boat that would usually carry about 16 people holds three with two in the back and one in the front. If they added barriers to the back and loaded every row, waits would drop by at least half.
I boarded right at 11am, or just about 30 minutes after getting in line, as the wait time sign originally promised:
I was back out front at 11:11am, for a total experience time of almost exactly 40 minutes. Just like with Jungle Cruise, the posted wait has jumped 50% since we got in line. Considering it was almost exactly accurate before, we can assume that 45 minutes is about right again.
While I wasn’t too excited to begin my wait for Pirates heading in the direction of Jungle Cruise, the line is even longer as we see one of the many “Line Starts Here” signs that we’ll be running into beyond the building for “A Pirate’s Adventure.”
While the interactive game is currently unavailable, you may still feel like you’re on your own wayward journey. If we were closer to Disneyland’s Pirates before, we’re probably nearing Shanghai’s now.
While Splash being down is rarely a good thing, at least these people know they’re waiting for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Or at least more than usual know that.
The Hall of Presidents is now closed as Disney is probably trying to save money by refashioning an old dinosaur animatronic from Ellen’s Energy Adventure to look somewhat like President Biden. It wouldn’t be too difficult for Disney to switch things up, get a little less political, and a lot more petty, and change the theme to The Hall of Bloggers. I think that has a better ring to it anyway.
Instead of offering hope and intending to inspire, we could all read the exact same Disney Parks Blog post about a cupcake that’s going to be offered between 3:07pm and 4:18pm at the All-Star Sports on that day only. Say whaaaaaaa????? You could also put half a wig and glasses on an old pterodactyl animatronic and achieve our general likeness for the most part, particularly with an excess of Gucci cardigans backstage. My enthusiasm for the cupcake would depend on whether or not it’s raining and a poncho would be required to keep me safe from the elements.
Since I’m guessing none of this is making any sense to anyone, you can take a few minutes to watch me react to mean comments about myself and catch up on things.
Instead of relying on the same boring wait time chart, we’ll take a look at the current waits on the app:
There are still opportunities to potentially experience short waits at a couple of Fantasyland attractions, though actual waits would likely end up being at least twice as long by the time we got over there. Seeing the waits in list form may also better highlight which attractions see higher waits with current capacity reductions in place. A year ago, you’d be able to walk into the next Mickey’s PhilharMagic show at just about any time on just about any day in February, perhaps with the exception of the Saturday or Sunday of Presidents Day Weekend, when you might need to wait through the current show and the following show before seats would open up for a couple hours in the afternoon.
As it currently stands, like you’ll find at other theater shows, every other row will be roped off and three empty seats will be left vacant in between parties of one to four people. Even a 25 minute wait for PhilharMagic after 11am can be optimistic as guests find themselves waiting through two or three complete shows before seats open up. Under ordinary circumstances, everyone waiting in that scenario would be seated at the next show, resulting in a wait that is only as long as it takes for the current show to end. At PhilharMagic as recently as March of last year, 25 minutes is the maximum wait we’d expect to see during a peak holiday, but as listed, it’s only five minutes shorter than Space Mountain and Peter Pan’s Flight just after 11am.
You also know you’re about to run into trouble when Disney starts listing waits higher than five minutes for the likes of Enchanted Tiki Room or Carousel of Progress. Historically, you’d only see a wait posted for secondary shows like that on the busiest of days as Disney uses the wait times in the app to call attention away from the headliners and towards “anytime attractions” that guests can easily enjoy. On less crowded days, waits for those attractions wouldn’t even be listed in the app. In 2021, Carousel of Progress has seen peak posted waits as high as 45 minutes on the Saturday of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. That’s even higher than the 40-minute peak on January 1st of this year. So far this year, a 5-minute wait for Carousel of Progress is much more common. Anything higher than 15 minutes and it might be time to hit the pool.
Otherwise, late morning waits are relatively moderate here, but they do add up with the expectation that most attractions will take at least a half hour to experience. A 30-minute wait for Space Mountain is far from unreasonable, but you’re looking at a total experience time of about 50 minutes after considering ride time and the long exit, in addition to the fact that the actual wait is likely a bit higher. With the Park open ten hours most days, that’s nearly ten-percent of your day spent experiencing one attraction. With shows like Country Bear Jamboree, which would ordinarily be the epitome of an “anytime attraction” seating less than a third of its usual number of guests, a 25-minute actual wait in the afternoon isn’t uncommon as guests have to wait through at least two shows for seats to open.
Everything we’ve seen thus far is on a day with below-average waits as we look at the very extended queue for Splash Mountain on the left. The ride will remain down for about another 90 minutes, which is why nobody is currently standing on the stickers. But then, the markers on the right are for Splash Mountain too, as the line will eventually wind its way all around here when it eventually reopens to 40 to 60 minute waits for the rest of the day.
Despite some long lines, the major pathways remain largely clear. Part of that could be because everyone is consumed by waiting for a ride inside of a former food outlet.
I suppose you could give Disney credit for how clever they’ve gotten in extending the lines for certain attractions with six feet required between parties. These people about to enter Columbia Harbour House are waiting for Peter Pan’s Flight with the 30-minute wait posted – not fried shrimp or a lobster roll.
Nobody is going to hand you any fried fish inside either with much of the seafood-heavy menu served at Tomorrowland Terrace instead. Harbour House has otherwise been closed since July, potentially because Disney was eventually expecting exactly this to happen.
You wonder if Disney regrets not leaving enough room to put “Then Continues Into Columbia Harbour House” underneath “Peter Pan’s Flight Line Starts Here.” Not everything can be foreseen. If I was employable, I could Photoshop it in about two minutes.
According to Disney, “it’s a small world” currently has the sixth shortest wait at the Park, making it seem like a reasonable next stop.
But the line still extends back past the Rapunzel bathrooms and nearly to the entrance to Haunted Mansion. This picture is probably also a good example of how social distancing at the Parks is basically out. If you needed to use the restroom, you’d have to cut through these people who aren’t adequately distanced already without the stickers on the ground to guide them towards six feet of separation. I think they say everyone is only six people removed from being connected to anyone else in the world. I’m not sure this is what they had in mind. At least Disney isn’t so clever that they route the line through the bathrooms like we saw at Harbour House, but there’s virtually no room along the path with strollers on both sides, people waiting for the ride, people trying to pass through down to Haunted Mansion, people headed for the restroom, and those scouting potential wedding locations.
So here we stand waiting. Since we’re 86 pictures in, we’ll inch forward in the next post and see what we can accomplish from there.