Frozen Ever After Fall 2016 Wait Times and Reliability Plus Royal Sommerhus Waits and a Soarin’ Update

Frozen Ever After, a ride that is perhaps enhanced even further when viewed on someone else’s phone held high above their head, opened in the Maelstrom space in the Norway Pavilion in Epcot back in mid-June. The website has posted a couple of updates since then regarding strategy and how to ride with the shortest waits along with some updates on downtime and how wait times have progressed over the last few months. For the initial strategy, see this post from back in June. At the end of the summer, I followed up with another post on how things had improved a bit since the initial opening and updated on FastPass+ availability. That post is available here.

As a quick refresher, Frozen was basically built on top of an already aging ride system that was historically somewhat unreliable. Like with the Test Track “reimagining,” they added technical elements that initially proved unreliable. So not only would Frozen go down if the boats couldn’t be pulled up the hill or got stuck on the track, but also if Elsa’s face was missing. But by the end of the summer, things were looking much rosier with relatively little downtime resulting in shorter standby waits.

Over the first four days of operation, the overall average wait was 156 minutes or just over two and a half hours.

For the entire period of June 21st through August 29th, the overall average wait dropped to 91 minutes, a chart for which you can see in its entirety here.

And for the last two weeks of August, the overall average wait dipped a further 13 minutes, all the way to 78 minutes.

So how have things stacked up since then? I’m glad you asked. Below, each red box/cell indicates 15 minutes of downtime (or rarely, when standby is temporarily closed because of excessive downtime). Yellow indicates the elves that collect the wait times were asleep at the wheel and I don’t have data.

Here’s the full chart that includes evening Extra Magic Hours and regular 10pm closes where applicable:

There are 2,538 cells of which we’re eliminating 91 because data wasn’t collected. That brings us down to 2,447 boxes, 335 of which are red, which indicates Frozen Ever After is either down or only accepting FastPass+ users 13.7% of the time. Converted into minutes, that’s just under 100 minutes of downtime per day on average. And out of these 50 days, the ride did not experience downtime on 13 days, or 26% of the time.

Otherwise, the overall average wait over the last 50 days is three minutes higher than the last two weeks in August, which indicates waits are remaining steady given similar downtime and the maximum number of FastPass+ experiences distributed every day. With no downtime, only about 17% of capacity is given to standby, or fewer than 180 riders per hour. So it doesn’t take a lot of people in line for the actual wait to hit 75 to 90 minutes. And with extended downtime, even less capacity is given to standby as a similar number of FastPass+ users are returning in a shorter amount of time. Thus, you typically see 120+ minute waits when downtime is experienced earlier in the day.

But there is some good news here, including the fact that at rope drop, Disney rarely holds guests in front of La Cantina de San Angel in Mexico and allows them to head to the ride immediately after being let in from one of the two entrances. And with FastPass+ experiences still not being distributed until after 11am, actual wait times don’t instantaneously hit 75 minutes by 9:15am, even if the posted wait does quickly rise.

Another positive is that the ride looks to be down at Park close on only three of the last fifty days. You might remember that the website recommends getting in the standby line for the ride right around five minutes before official Park close because Disney will allow you to ride so long as the ride is operating. And while the posted wait is still often 60+ minutes that late, the actual wait should be under 20 minutes with few to no FastPass+ returners clogging up the line once IllumiNations ends. The downsides are obviously that you’ll miss the nighttime spectacular and there is the possibility that the ride won’t be operating. But if you’re visiting over two nights and the ride is down on night one, then you can enjoy IllumiNations that night. Then on your second day, either ride first thing or gamble a very small amount and wait for Park close again to get in line. The ride will likely be operating on night one and then you can do as you wish on night two.

So not much has changed with Frozen Ever After. It of course remains the highest priority FastPass+ experience at Walt Disney World.

The website also covered the opening of the incredibly charming Royal Sommerhus meet and greet, where wait times were surprisingly short after initially hitting 4+ hours at both Epcot and at Magic Kingdom shortly after similar meet and greets opened in previous years. From June 21st through August 29th, the overall average wait was just 17 minutes. The full review of the Sommerhus, including some tips on how to best experience it, is available as part of this post. The full wait times chart from the summer is available here.

Here’s the chart from the last 50 days:

Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/anna_elsa_sommerhus_wait_times_early_fall_2016_incl_emh.jpg

This is what we used to think about the Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet:

Thanks to a healthy capacity, Royal Sommerhus has averaged a wait under 20 minutes thus far with the longest waits from 9:45am to 11am. That makes some sense as those heading to Frozen Ever After first thing ride and then move over to the meet and greet after. That means an afternoon visit is more intelligent than a late morning visit. And because most of the queue is air-conditioned and nicely done, you probably won’t mind an actual wait of 15 to 20 minutes. You certainly would not want to deal with the rope drop craziness in order to head to the meet and greet first. And I don’t think spending an extra 15 minutes walking up here and back to Future World before 11am makes a ton of sense over getting in line later in the day. As you can see, on 6/21, Royal Sommerhus is open during evening Extra Magic Hours to nonexistent waits as well.

That appears to be slightly less true now. And like we saw with Olaf, who went from seeing waits that were almost never longer than 20 minutes to an average wait of 30+ minutes virtually overnight, it likely has more to do with capacity than a sudden increase in popularity. But the advice of visiting later in the morning or afternoon remains true with the average wait of 17 minutes at noon being half of the 34 minutes you’d wait on average at 10am. So go later in the day if you can. I was there around 2:30pm today (October 20th) and the posted wait was 25 minutes, but the line wasn’t even backed up outside the entrance, indicating an actual wait closer to ten minutes.

We also took a look at wait times at Soarin’ Around the World, in addition to some strategy and FastPass+ availability back in June in this post. I followed that up with a look at wait times for most of August along with some updated thoughts in the middle of this post. While the Land Pavilion is obviously on the other side of the Park, there is some renewed interest with the switch over to Around the World and the increase in capacity with the addition of the third theater. The good news is that from June through August, wait times dropped compared to the year before, even with the likelihood that interest would be renewed in an attraction that was sort of replaced. And with the 47-minute overall average wait at Soarin’ versus the 65-minute overall average wait at Test Track, it made the choice to prioritize Test Track over Soarin’ pretty obvious – at least for those unable or unwilling to take advantage of single rider at Test Track.

Here’s a look at wait times from the last 50 days:

Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/soarin_wait_times_early_fall_2016_incl_emh.jpg

Wait times actually dropped here compared to the August chart by six minutes or 12.8%, which you might expect given how low crowds were in early September. During the first two weeks of September, before Food and Wine starting bringing people in, the average was just 30 minutes. Compare that to the 54-minute average for October 1st through 18th. While it’s just one attraction, Soarin’ does distribute a similar number of FastPass+ experiences each day and runs at full capacity the vast majority of the time, so it’s a relatively good indicator of the Park’s crowd level.

So what have we learned…

  • Average waits at the Frozen Ever After Ride remain in the 75-85 minute range for the most part with spikes due to downtime for a variety of technical and mechanical reasons. The ride averages about 95 minutes of downtime each day though it does stay up all day about 26% of the time.
  • Acquiring FastPass+ experiences for the ride remains incredibly difficult with the likelihood that there will be little availability 59 days out and virtually no availability 30 days out, though cancellations do happen up to a given date and during a given day. I was checking for FastPass+ availability today from 2pm to 2:15pm and Frozen came up as available for a party of two several times, as did Test Track, Soarin’, and IllumiNations. We ended up taking Test Track for 5:15pm, though the ride also showed immediately available at 2:15pm at one point. Refreshing on the day of is your friend and ally. Just not while I am also refreshing.
  • Riding Frozen at rope drop is typically easier now that Disney does not usually hold guests in Mexico.
  • If you’re visiting over two nights and don’t mind missing IllumiNations on at least one, consider getting in line about five minutes before Park close. Disney will let you ride regardless of the posted wait, which is almost always exaggerated to deter people from getting in line. The ride is rarely down at Park close these days – only three out of the last 50 days.
  • Royal Sommerhus waits are up significantly between 9:45am and 11:30am – avoid that time frame if possible as you could wait twice as long as if you got in line an hour later at 12:30pm.
  • Soarin’ waits continue their decline with the increase in capacity and new “Bend It Like Beckham” theme. The average wait at 9:45am is just 30 minutes, but it quickly approaches an hour after that. Riding at Park close is a slam dunk with actual waits typically under 15 minutes.


We’ll see what’s next.

Comments

  1. Rebecca Dobson says

    Definitely accurate! We were able to ride Frozen Ever After by standby during Illuminations with only a 20 minute wait… the posted time was 60 minutes and there were very few people in the FastPass line.

  2. Zac says

    Thanks as always Josh. Would you recommend 8am Garden Grill PPO/Soarin’/TT, or Rope Drop TT then Soarin’ as the most efficient way to ride those two?

    • Joel says

      FYI. We did a 8:00 Garden Grill and headed down to Soarin about 8:50. They were already letting people in line and we road with only about 10 people on the ride. We were leaving just as the last group of rope droppers were piling into the Land Pavillion. We headed to Test Track from there and waited about 20 minutes. That was back during July 4th weekend. I would guess it would also depend on whether you wanted to spend that kind of $$$ on breakfast just to get a head start .

  3. Heather says

    I can tell you what it was like for me on one of those 74% of days that the ride goes down.

    We had 11:30amFPs. Arrived soon there after, but FEA was down. Tried to go about our day, kept checking to see if it re-opened. It would open, then shutdown again. The line became just as crazy for FP because it seemed like none of the FP riders were yet able to board, and they continued to let standby queue. Finally we we caught a reopening at 8pm, waiting 30 minutes with our FPs. Thankfully we got on and had time for Illuminati.

  4. Mark says

    That pic of Josh and Anna is one of my all time favorites. Every time I see it, I laugh. Having been in somewhat uncomfortable conversations between myself (an adult male) and a female disney character, Josh’s look on his face and body language is EXACTLY what i look like. Love it.

  5. Vinotinto says

    The cells on 10/6 from 5:00 pm on should be yellow, not red. The park closed at 5:00 pm for “hurricane” Matthew.

    From one nerd to another – love the in depth analysis!

  6. Dack says

    Josh,
    I’m curious what your strategy would be based on a breakfast reservation at 8:25am at Akershus on a EMH morning at Epcot. With a reservation at that time does Disney let us into the park before the rest of the crowds at 8am? Would love the advantage of getting early spot in line if at all possible.

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