It’s tradition to rope drop Epcot on Memorial Day and see just how far the wheels can fall off of what may or may not be an intelligent touring plan. While I took last year off because the experience would have been irrelevant with the openings of Soarin’ Over CGI and Frozen Ever After on the imminent horizon, you can compare this experience with 2015’s in this post. More recently, I covered rope dropping Frozen Ever After from the International Gateway over spring break in this post, in case you’re planning on entering from the Crescent Lake area.
Rope drop crowds continue to get larger earlier and earlier in the morning.
It’s not even 8:10am and this is how far back I’m standing.
As always, one trick if you end up being a bit further back than you’d like is to keep an eye on the tapstiles reserved for breakfast reservations/tours earlier in the morning.
You might have half your party wait behind the tapstile that is obviously going to open and the other half hang out by the breakfast tapstiles, just to hedge your bets a bit. That way, if you do visit on the one day a year when the breakfast tapstiles don’t open to everyone for whatever reason, you won’t find yourself in the very back of the line.
At 8:23am, cast motioned for guests to head down to the tapstiles previously reserved for those with breakfast/tour reservations.
And I’m six people back instead of 30.
With the regular lines backed up past the monorail platform entrance.
Two minutes later, we were let inside.
With not very far to go as Disney holds main entrance guests in front of Spaceship Earth.
While it’s quite a ways from the priority attractions in Frozen Ever After, Test Track, and Soarin’ (in that order), there is entertainment in the form of the Jammitors and the wind tunnel effect underneath the geodesic sphere helps cool things off slightly.
You can get a pretty good idea about how many people are here for rope drop in this picture of the crowd behind me, which stretches all the way back to the entrance.
A large stream of people heading to Soarin’, which is the most forgiving of the three priority rides with the opening of the third theater last year. If you’re among the first 250 people, you should basically walk right into the pre-show area. If you’re between 250-500, your wait should be around seven minutes. From 501-750, it’s about 15 minutes, etc.
If you’re 750th at Test Track, you’re looking at a wait closer to 45 minutes.
I’m not going about this in the most efficient way.
Ideally, you would secure FastPass+ for Frozen Ever After and ride it sometime after 11am, which gives you an opportunity to ride the Future World headliners and secondary attractions before moving up to World Showcase. That reduces walking considerably and allows for shorter waits in Future World as you’ll arrive at the various attractions sooner.
But if you aren’t able to secure FastPass+, there are two opportunities to ride with a relatively short wait, the first of which is first thing in the morning. The second option is getting in line a couple of minutes before Park close, which is typically around 8:58pm. You’ll miss IllumiNations, but the actual wait should be under 20 minutes, even if the posted wait is still 45+.
As far as whether main entrance guests or International Gateway (IG) guests have a rope drop advantage, it can vary from day to day. You might remember that I was behind the times entering from the IG over spring break. Here, IG guests had the advantage to Frozen, but would still find themselves at a disadvantage with the distance to Soarin’ or Test Track.
8:58am or five minutes after we were let go, I’m approaching the Mexico Pavilion, throwing 2.8 elbows per second.
And into Norway. Kids flying everywhere.
Norway is the only Pavilion open before 9am with the exception of the Boulangerie in France. The rope in the distance blocks access to China and the rest of World Showcase until 11am.
The crowd in front of the ride at 9:01am.
The length of the line may “feel” daunting, but as long as you hustle here, your actual wait should be 25 minutes or less.
Through the queue and on the ride:
I arrived at 9:01am, was on-board at 9:15am, and found myself back out front at 9:23am.
To a long line.
A very long line.
That starts over there. With FastPass+ here not coming online until 11am, the actual wait should be around 60 minutes if you were to get in line right now. If you can’t get to Frozen among the first 500 or so people, it would be best to plan on heading somewhere else first. You could arrive at Frozen around 10:15am and wait around the same amount of time, which would give you a better chance of riding a Future World headliner with a shorter wait. Perhaps later this week I’ll do Test Track -> Soarin’ -> Frozen Ever After in standby to see how that goes. I love waiting in line.
Here’s a look at Frozen posted wait times over the last month:
Unfortunately, there was an error collecting data on May 29th and 30th.
As you can see, posted wait times don’t fluctuate much between 9:15am and 10:45am, with an average around 45 minutes. Things pick up by noon with the 70-minute average wait as those with FastPass+ priority arrive in earnest. The highest waits of the day occur between 2pm and 8pm. While the posted wait at 9pm still averages 61 minutes, it will assuredly be lower as so many people are watching IllumiNations and no FastPass+ returners will arrive after 9pm.
Wait times for the Royal Sommerhus Anna/Elsa Meet:
Interestingly perhaps, wait times for the meet and greet are the opposite, with longer waits in the morning due to a reduction in capacity. You’re better off returning after 12pm or as late in the day as possible.
With nothing else in World Showcase open, we head back towards Test Track:
Construction on Mexico’s new margarita stand is taking forever.
Miss you Flower and Garden. At least Food and Wine basically starts next month.
I love the monorail and all that, but it’s a hassle to wait for it to appear in frame.
Pictures are always better when it’s gliding along the track.
It’s exactly 9:30am and waits at a number of attractions are already going to be prohibitive.
Here at Test Track, the entire extended queue is already full with a 100+ minute wait.
End of line.
With single rider posted at 40 minutes and that line also spilling outside, I opted for Mission: SPACE.
The ride is scheduled to be closed for refurbishment from June 5th through July 31st.
The jury is still out on whether we’ll see any meaningful improvements, which would hopefully increase demand in what was a 100+ million dollar attraction when it opened 14 years ago. Flight of Passage is cool today, but you wonder how that technology will hold up in 15 years time. Of course, it could see a refresh a la Star Tours.
My total experience time doing the Green Team was 20 minutes. Orange might have taken one minute longer.
110 standby…30 single rider…a lot of waiting outside.
On my way over to Future World West, I checked in on the Baymax Meet, which looked to be about 15 minutes.
Perhaps 30-40 minutes for Joy and Sadness.
Remember that there’s no FastPass+ for either of those characters, while Character Spot with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy does offer it along with this 65-minute wait. That sounds exaggerated given the fact that there’s nobody waiting in FP+ and only about 30 people in standby. Just wait though.
Doesn’t look too terrible…
It’s 10:03am and The Seas with Nemo and Friends is posted at 15 minutes.
A couple of pictures from 2015 to compare:
This is all running pretty similar to my Memorial Day rope drop from two years ago, which I mentioned previously. This is Test Track at 10am back then.
40 minutes around the same time two years ago with a 40-minute posted wait.
The same 15-minute posted wait at The Seas.
Back to 2k17. The girls behind me were betting on how long we’d be waiting in line with guesses that spanned everything from a “walk-on” to a maximum of 15 minutes.
I mumbled that it would be 30 minutes:
And I was standing in front of the 25-minute wait for Turtle Talk at 10:37am, for a total experience time of 33 minutes.
That’s a long line for The Seas with Nemo with the 45-minute posted wait.
Doesn’t look too bad heading up to the Land Pavilion.
Maybe because everybody is already here.
You might remember me mentioning that FastPass+ at Living with the Land might not be as useless as you might expect, particularly between 10:45am-3pm.
Wait times over the last month:
I’m arriving with FastPass+ at 10:45am, so it’s right around the time when waits take a big jump. On the day before these pictures were taken, May 28th, the posted wait was 40 minutes at 10:45am and as much as 60 minutes at 3pm. That should be similar to the 29th:
Looks like catfish will be replacing the American Alligators.
Otherwise, I arrived at 10:47am, was on-board at 10:52am, and was back out front at 11:06am.
By then, the posted wait for Soarin’ had come down to 70 minutes despite the queue being backed up all the way to the entrance. That’s more like a 2-hour wait. A look at posted wait times:
Soarin’ is a pretty good indicator of crowds since everyone wants to ride it and downtime is relatively rare, though sometimes a theater going down can adversely affect wait times. Wait times to open May are significantly lower than June and the few days leading up to it as you might expect. We’ll see how viable it is to start at Test Track and head straight to Soarin’ after at some point this week – wait times look to be taking off there a lot earlier with the heavy summer crowds.
You probably have time to eat one of each in the Living with the Land standby queue.
Circle of Life down for refurbishment must be what’s pushing wait times up elsewhere.
Heading over to the Imagination Pavilion.
Only to find a 45-minute posted wait for Journey into Imagination with Figment and the line backed up over there somewhere. At least it’s sunny.
I opted for Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival.
And I wasn’t the only one as the 11:40am show was almost completely full. While it’s true that you can watch these shorts on YouTube, the 3D element and larger screen make this an enjoyable diversion, particularly during the heat of the afternoon. It’s not a “must do” by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a relaxing way to spend about 20 minutes.
And hey, Figment is down to “just” 40 minutes at noon. Looking over wait times:
Wait times over the last few days are indicative of what you can expect over the next ten or eleven weeks. The 35- to 45-minute peak waits are “normal,” but there are still opportunities to enjoy short waits before 10:30am and after 5pm.
Just after noon, Character Spot is sporting a 45-minute wait with the FastPass+ line backed up to Fountain View Starbucks.
Spaceship Earth at 45 minutes.
That’s a lot of people, particularly when this picture was taken at the back of the FastPass+ return line.
The wait with FP+ ended up being about eight minutes, which is well above average.
Usually you’ll be on in about half that.
The television in this scene has finally been replaced after being dark for the last several weeks. The narration didn’t make a whole lot of sense without the space landing appearing on-screen.
Miss you Figment.
Desperate times call for desperate measures:
45 minutes later…
Closing things out with some Flower and Garden:
Overall, it was a rough touring day with long lines at virtually every attraction that posts a wait time. The smart money would have been to head to World Showcase right at 11am and then return to Future World around 5pm to visit the attractions that close at 7pm (Journey into Imagination with Figment and Living with the Land being the big two), before moving on to The Seas and potentially Soarin’ or Test Track after 8pm. Even securing additional FP+ was difficult during the early morning. At 10:30am, the earliest return time for Living with the Land was 2pm, for example, with no availability for any Tier 1 attractions. Of course, constantly refreshing availability via the My Disney Experience app or website will eventually offer some times, but it was still rough sailing. There aren’t a lot of places to hide when Figment is sporting a 50-minute wait.
We’ll check back in on Pandora and see about a couple of fresh dining reviews.