You may have caught my rope drop touring strategy posts from Saturday, October 7th, with Part 1 here and Part 2 here. While I enjoyed moderate success in the early morning, there’s no question that it was tough going in the afternoon with what will probably end up being one of the busiest days of the year outside of December 25th-January 1st. In an attempt to reassure the masses that things are going to be okay(?), I decided to rope drop on a Mickey’s Halloween Party weekday with an 8am regular open to see how much more I could accomplish. We’ll hit the same major attractions in the same order and see what else we can fit in ti the morning. Then, we’ll check out what afternoon crowds and wait times end up being. This is 7:23am, which is the exact same time that I arrived over the previous weekend. Let’s see how things shape up on the morning of Thursday, October 12th, 2k17.
Disney was already admitting guests into the courtyard, which I found surprising since they had been holding people outside the tapstiles on previous days.
I’m not sure which method is preferable from a timing/comfort perspective. It’s nice to have your tickets scanned and be inside well before open so you’re not stuck behind the Annual Passholders that try every finger on the scanner only to finally remember that it’s actually their left big toe that they’ve been using all these years.
On the other hand, the lines in front of the tapstiles do a nice job of leaving some room between people. The above picture is from 7:45am and there is a considerable mass of humanity clustered together.
The situation did afford an opportunity to use one of my favorite, classic tricks, which is to weasel your way up to the side of the opening underneath the train station.
Everybody else is going to line up straight back, but I will be the one taking the first step inside the Park. As it should be.
At 7:30am, crowds remain sparse as the sun rises. If you’re heading to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first, then you want to arrive 45 minutes prior to open for the easiest experience. For Peter Pan’s Flight, arriving at least 25 minutes early is smart. For any other attraction, you could push it closer to 15 minutes before official Park open and not suffer any shortfalls in efficiency.
Ten minutes later, at 7:40am, the area is considerably more full.
The crowd in this direction is stretched back to the entrance tapstiles. Don’t try to weasel your way in on the other side because a cast member will tell you that the walkway needs to remain clear.
A cast member greeted us at 7:45am and made a couple of announcements.
Including how the stated operating hours were wrong. It’s an 8am open.
There was apparently some professional filming that was just concluding, which delayed our entry by a couple of minutes. I’m sure it was a great vlog.
7:48am on the walk in:
“Let the Magic Begin,” the name of the welcome show that takes place on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage, is scheduled five minutes before regular Park open, regardless of when that is or whether or not there’s a morning Extra Magic Hour. So with the 8am open, the show begins at 7:55am.
That’s concluded at 7:59am and I’m on my elbow-throwing way:
Luckily, I think this is the only “Line Starts Here” sign that we’ll see today and hopefully this was the only time that this guy was threatened with bodily harm by a woman carrying an infant:
I arrived at 8:01am and was back out front at 8:15am for a total experience time of 14 minutes.
Old Fantasyland looks pretty chill.
Peter Pan’s Flight is posted at 20 minutes at 8:18am.
Walking the queue at a moderate pace is fun with Tinker Bell flying around the room. Like me, her presence brightens every room.
I was back out front at 8:37am for a total experience time of 19 minutes.
That’s exactly one minute earlier than during my Saturday visit, so the morning is going just about exactly the same so far.
The good news is that from here on out, things are going to be much easier as I pass Mine Train at 8:40am with a 45-minute posted wait.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is posted at 10 minutes.
But it’s basically a straight shot to the loading platform.
I was here just three minutes later with just a handful of people behind me.
Above is from my Saturday visit with the standby queue already filling.
I was back out front at 8:48am for an 8-minute total experience time.
It took 16 minutes, or twice as long, on Saturday. And the wait when I disembarked was already up to 35 minutes.
Tomorrowland Speedway is already posted at 30 minutes and it could already be near that if they’re running at limited capacity this early. If you have people in your party skipping Space Mountain and/or Astro Orbiter, then it would make some sense for those people to get in line for Speedway now. The wait is not going to go down.
I arrived at Space Mountain at 8:54am to a 15-minute wait.
This time it was an easy walk to the loading area.
Above is what it looked like on Saturday.
Honestly, I think I would have preferred the wait time to be “an eternity.”
I was back out front at 9:08am for a total experience time of just 14 minutes, which is just about as good as it gets.
On Saturday, I wasn’t out until 9:39am or 31 minutes later.
“Crowds” on the walk to Buzz Lightyear:
There was “literally” nobody in line.
On Saturday, it looked like the above. Oh the humidity.
Timing the picture of the picture just right. Or just wrong.
I arrived at 9:10am and was back out front at 9:17am for a total experience time of seven (yeah, seven) minutes later.
On Saturday, it would have taken at least an hour.
Today, Buzz is is still a walk-on with relatively few people headed in this direction.
Space Mountain is up to 20 minutes at 9:19am, but I’d be surprised if the actual wait was longer than ten minutes.
Since I was so ahead of schedule compared to Saturday and wanted to visit Storybook Circus around the same time, I opted to get in line for Astro Orbiter.
Orbiter is one of the slowest-loading attractions at Walt Disney World.
Every 20-or-so people in front of you equals another five minutes in line.
Efficiency is reduced further when only one elevator is operating and then from there when four rockets are flying empty.
Unless you find yourself on the short and thin side of things, you may want to consider breaking up your party into single riders.
Unlike TriceraTop Spin, Dumbo, and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, there is just the one “seat” with the larger rider sitting in back and the smaller rider sitting in front. If you’re a party of two Disney bloggers, you have a slap fight to see who sits where. At least that’s my experience. But it can be incredibly uncomfortable with two adults in the same rocket.
The ride is also a little more frightening than you might be expecting.
Not only are you much higher than any of the other spinners, but the rockets also lean inwards to the point where you may feel like you’re about to fall out.
But the views of Tomorrowland are as fantastic as they are fleeting. You’ll only be in the air for about 90 seconds.
I arrived at 9:19am and wasn’t back on the ground until 9:49am, for a total experience time of 30 minutes. That’s more than twice as long as Space Mountain took and more than four times longer than Buzz. Was it worth it? Compared to what else you could do this early in Tomorrowland…maybe not…but it is a unique experience and the time goes by relatively quickly.
Buzz is up to 20 minutes at 9:50am with a standby queue that’s now outside the building.
It looks like there are some people in the distance.
Space Mountain is up to 20 minutes at 9:55am. That’s probably pretty accurate.
On to Storybook Circus.
Still 30 minutes at Speedway at 9:57am. I would expect it to be closer to 20.
Dumbo is posted at 10 minutes at 10am, which is the same wait time as we saw on the busier Saturday.
Barnstormer is still at 5 minutes.
With a clear path to load.
I arrived at 10:01am.
And was back out front at 10:11am for a total experience time of ten minutes, which is a minute faster than Saturday. Even with much heavier crowds, it still takes a while for anyone to make it back this far – they were all in line somewhere else on Saturday.
On this less crowded day, there are fewer people overall, but they’re moving through attractions much faster, which puts a similar number of people back here.
Dumbo was posted at 10 minutes at 10:13am so I got in line. Guests had the option of going straight to the loading area or inside to the playground. With kids, you might let them run around for ten minutes or so. It’s a fun spot with some good photo opportunities.
And I was flying high about five minutes later.
And back out front at 10:22am for a total experience time of just eight minutes, which is about as good as it gets.
I had set up my FastPass+ a little differently than on Saturday, with Haunted Mansion starting later in the morning, so I would have more opportunities to hit a couple more Fantasyland attractions in standby.
On Party days, FastPass+ availability is still going to be incredibly limited with the short operating hours. If Pirates of the Caribbean distributes a thousand FP+ experiences per hour, that’s a total of 11,000 on a Party day with 8am-7pm operating hours. On a Saturday with 8am-12am operating hours, it’s going to distribute another 5,000 FP+ experiences, which is an increase of 45%. So even if there’s 35,000 people in the Park today and 65,000 people in the Park on Saturday, FastPass+ availability isn’t going to be all that different. Here at 9:37am on Thursday, the closest return time for one person at Pirates is 2:40pm. That’s not good. But that fact is part of why my first FP+ is for 11:15am-12:15pm rather than something around 8am-9am. There aren’t going to be a lot of good 4th and subsequent FastPass+ selections, so I’ve made my advanced selections for when they’ll save me the most time. Of course, the more you refresh availability, the better attractions and times that you’ll see as people cancel and change plans. But at least half of the Magic Kingdom’s FP+ enabled attractions have zero availability for one person as I’m checking here before 10am.
Passing by Ariel’s Grotto, the posted wait is 40 minutes.
And just ten minutes for Mermaid Ride.
That should be about accurate:
I arrived at 10:25am and was back out front at 10:45am for a total experience time of 20 minutes, which is about six minutes longer than the ride typically takes with FastPass+. Not too bad for arriving about 2.5 hours after Park open and riding in standby, though.
So far, I’ve accomplished:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 8am – 8:15am
- Peter Pan’s Flight: 8:18am – 8:37am
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: 8:40am – 8:48am
- Space Mountain: 8:55am – 9:08am
- Buzz Lighttyear’s Space Ranger Spin: 9:10am – 9:17am
- Astro Orbiter: 9:19am – 9:49am
- The Barnstormer: 10:01am – 10:11am
- Dumbo: 10:13am – 10:22am
- Journey of the Little Mermaid: 10:25am – 10:45am
That’s a solid morning and about as good as things get.
On Saturday, this is what my morning looked like:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 8am – 8:15am
- Peter Pan’s Flight: 8:18am – 8:38am
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: 8:42am – 8:58am
- Space Mountain: 9:05am – 9:38am
- The Barnstormer: 9:49am – 10am
- Haunted Mansion with FastPass+: 10:16am – 10:38am
So while this example is seven minutes later in the day on Thursday, I’ve managed to do three more rides and still haven’t used a FastPass+.
In Part 2, we’ll soldier on and see what afternoon crowds and wait times look like. I’m on my way to riding it’s a small world in standby and then onto lunch and Haunted Mansion with FastPass+. We’ll see how it goes.