Note: Due to a problem with migrating to an upgraded server, this post was temporarily missing and the comments previously made were lost.
The website has been threatening October crowds for some number of months now, so I thought it would be prudent to pick the most humid morning possible and set out to see whether or not the people and wait times have materialized. This is 7:15am on the morning of Saturday October 7, 2017 as I stroll over from my penthouse in the clouds high above Bay Lake.
Spoiler: We are going to run into a considerable number of people. This is the extended queue sign for Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, which you do not want to see. I feel like it should say “Time to go home” underneath.
This is 7:23am with the regular 8am open and there’s already a couple hundred eager guests waiting.
Something like 10x more people are going to be arriving via Disney buses at this hour, which means the tapstiles closer to the monorails on the left side will be less crowded.
Those with early breakfast reservations and tours are allowed into the courtyard, but won’t be able to progress further until 7:45am.
One unadvertised bonus of the early morning is the sunrise over the Contemporary Resort with the monorail passing by.
It was so humid that it was impossible to take photos with my camera due to the condensation. We’re utilizing the phone at 7:40am with what might be a surprising amount of people already present.
With an 8am open, Disney opens the tapstiles at 7:45am, the same time that they would with a 9am open.
Those with breakfast reservations are released at the same time, so they will have a little bit of a head start on their way to Crystal Palace, Be Our Guest, and Cinderella’s Royal Table, since they’re already inside. If you do have an 8am dining reservation and the opening moves to 8am, I always recommend cancelling said reservation. You’re spending one of the least crowded hours of the day eating the same breakfast that will still be available at 10am. Otherwise, Be Our Guest Breakfast does typically afford a touring advantage if Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is your first stop. I cover what that entails along with rope drop strategy in this post.
Magic Kingdom opens at 8am daily through Monday October 16th, when there’s a 9am open on Tuesday the 17th. It’s then a mixture of 8am and 9am opens through the end of the month.
If you’re headed to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first thing, I recommend being at your tapstile in front of Magic Kingdom at least 60 minutes early with a 9am open and 45 minutes early with an 8am open.
For any other attraction, you’re fine arriving 20-30+ minutes after that.
Peter Pan’s Flight is another high priority, but it’s pretty easy to weasel your way up to the front of that rope even if you arrive a little later.
No Plaza Ice Cream breakfast.
We can always return later for a doughnut sundae.
It’s just before 7:50am.
A choice opportunity for a selfie. If you’re headed to Peter Pan’s Flight or Princess Fairytale Hall, I recommend lining up here in front of the walkway through the Castle. You’ll be let go about a minute after those cutting through Liberty Square, but you’ll have less far to walk and will make that time up.
There’s only one intelligent path to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which is the one here to the right of Cinderella Castle.
Most people present this early are going to be headed in this direction.
The scene behind me at 7:54am.
This is 7:56am. All of these people have done their due diligence and arrived before Park open, but those in the back of this mob headed to Mine Train are going to find themselves in a 45-60 minute line. That’s why we want to arrive earlier. With my 7:15am arrival and 8am open, I’m still waiting 45 minutes to ride Mine Train, but that time is spent before Park open when I’m not wasting precious touring time. And with my early arrival, I’ll be on my way after riding Mine Train at 8:15am, which puts me in a great position to continue enjoying short waits at other attractions. If you arrive at 7:40am and wait 45 minutes for Mine Train after the Park opens, that puts you off the ride closer to 8:50am; waits are already going to start being prohibitive at high priority rides.
One thing to note is that you won’t have much of a view at all of the Welcome Show from over here.
I recommend seeing the Welcome Show on a second morning when you’re heading to any other attraction. Of course, if you have FastPass+ for the Dwarfs and don’t want to deal with the rush to Mine Train, you can enjoy the Welcome Show from a front and center position.
This post covers rope drop touring to Frontierland along with a center view of the Welcome Show. It’s an easy and rewarding morning with short waits at the likes of Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and others.
And at 7:58am, we’re going for the world record for most elbows thrown in 60 seconds time.
And one minute later, I’m filing into the attraction.
Compared to the walk to Flight of Passage first thing, Mine Train is more of a cupcake than Washington’s out-of-conference football schedule this year.
But it still behooves you to hurry. If you have a stroller, be ready to shove it in the direction of the parking wall.
You don’t want to be coming in from the opposite direction.
Rope dropping does afford the opportunity to enjoy the interactive elements of the ride’s standby queue.
Kind of creepy.
But sound advice.
I arrived in line right around 8am and was heigh-ho-ing less than ten minutes later:
And I was back out front to a 60-minute posted wait at 8:15am for a total experience time of 15 minutes, which is around the time that it takes to ride with FastPass+ later in the day. An hour wait is probably pretty accurate, which means the person in the back of the line is spending the single best touring hour of the day inching towards the Mine. By the time they’re done around 9:30am, there will already be appreciable waits at a lot of other attractions.
If you caught my Animal Kingdom rope drop to Pandora post from last week, you’re probably familiar with my modus operandi, which is to go in with a sound plan and then deviate a little bit to make things more interesting. I was originally going to head to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh after Mine Train and then continue onto Tomorrowland for Space Mountain, but instead decided that I’d try Peter Pan’s Flight in standby and then continue from there.
So I switched my Pan FastPass+ to Haunted Mansion with a return window a little earlier than I would have liked.
But FastPass+ availability was incredibly dire. When I first checked for Mansion just over 20 minutes after the Park opened, the earliest return time for just one person was after 3pm.
Buzz Lightyear had a couple of early morning times and then nothing until after 4pm. For one person. This does not bode well.
Onto Peter Pan’s Flight at 8:18am.
With 30 minutes posted.
Another reason why you might want to do standby is the interactive queue, which is kind of fun.
And it helps set the tone for the ride.
Along with the pixie dust effect later, there are some fun touches here.
I was past the standby/FastPass+ merge point at 8:33am, so my wait was only about 15 minutes, which is pretty good.
And back out front at 8:38am, for a total experience time of 20 minutes. The posted wait is up to 40 minutes with an actual wait that should be around 25.
Unedited, I think you can “feel” the humidity through the picture. If not, dump a bucket of water on your head because that’s what it felt like.
In the FastPass+ era, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh might be a higher priority than you’re expecting, but it still sits at 10 minutes at 8:42am.
With kids in tow, this is probably just the right amount of time to wait.
They’ll have time to play with some of the interactive elements and the line continuously moves.
But the line is already filling in behind me.
I was back out front at 8:58am for a total experience time of 16 minutes. That’s about five minutes longer than it would take with FastPass+ during the afternoon.
The humidity….now up to a 35-minute wait.
At this point in the morning, there are two good options – either continuing in Fantasyland with Dumbo, Barnstormer, Journey of the Little Mermaid, small world, and then onto Haunted Mansion, or heading over to Tomorrowland. Speedway is up to 20 minutes just after 9am and that looks to be accurate.
It looks like you’re about two elevators away from Astro Orbiter, a ride that’s going to take about 25 minutes even with a short wait on the ground.
Space Mountain is already hopping.
The posted wait is still “just” 25 minutes at 9:05am.
I had my doubts, but for the sake of research, headed inside.
And ten minutes later, I was here.
While in line, I refreshed wait times at easywdw.com/waits and saw that Space Mountain’s had ballooned to 65 minutes with this scene at 9:23am. Few things are funnier than watching tourists run towards an attraction’s entrance because they seem to think that if they just pass through the threshold that they’re locking in that wait time.
Fortunately, standby did have one side dedicated to it, while everyone using FastPass+ headed to the other side. Those with FastPass+ are going to wait just three or four minutes, if that.
Space Mountain remains one of only a couple of Disney World rides that I would prefer to skip, but I am too much of a chicken to ask to use the chicken exit.
So here I am.
I was back out front, probably with a cracked vertebrae or two, at 9:38am, for a total experience time of 33 minutes. That’s about 13 minutes longer than it would take with FastPass+ later in the day.
Humidity. When we swing back around just after 1pm, the wait will be 160 minutes.
Astro Orbiter is already at a 25-minute wait, which means the total experience time should clock in around 45 minutes.
Buzz Lightyear’s extended queue is already full before 9:45am.
When we return at 1pm, the wait will be up to 80 minutes.
Tomorrowland is filling fast. Such is life in a post-Stitch’s-Great-Escape world.
Back up towards Storybook Circus.
30 minutes at Tomorrowland Speedway is 29.5 minutes longer than you want to spend in line.
Dumbo is posted at 10 minutes at 9:47am.
It takes people a while to get back here.
15 minutes at The Barnstormer.
The line here is all outdoors, which makes it easy to gauge. It looked closer to 5.7 minutes to me, so I hopped in line at 9:49am.
I was trying to move my Haunted Mansion FastPass+ return time closer to 9:30am – 10:30am without any luck. Even for just one person, The Barnstormer didn’t have a return time until almost 4pm, indicating very little FP+ availability Park-wide.
I arrived at 9:49am.
And was back out front at 10am for a total experience time of 11 minutes. That’s probably one minute longer than with FastPass+ later in the day. The actual wait should still be around eight minutes.
Dumbo is up to 20 minutes.
What is now clearly a Little Mermaid Meet and Greet in Ariel’s Grotto is posted at 25 minutes.
Still relatively chill back here. Give it a couple of hours, though.
15 minutes at Journey of the Little Mermaid.
I was trying to push back my Mansion return time by 20 minutes so I would have an opportunity to ride one of these New Fantasyland rides. No luck.
Mine Train is up to 75 minutes versus the ten minutes I waited first thing. Next time we pass, it will be 140 minutes.
The line backed up all the way out here for Prince Charming Regal Carrousel may be our first indication that things are really about to devolve.
At least 80% of the time, the wait is only as long as it takes for the next cycle to start.
Over in New Fantasyland, the extended queue is already filling for it’s a small world before 10:15am. 10:15am.
Peter Pan’s Flight sporting 70 minutes at the same time.
You might be thinking, “Who needs a Haunted Mansion FP+ at 10am in the morning lol Josh are you dumb,” but the queue is already completely full with a 40-minute posted wait.
Like full, full.
But it’s still better than this scene, which we’ll happen upon just after 11am.
With FastPass+, I arrived at 10:16am and was in the stretching room just five minutes later. Below this painting is where the door to the next room will open. Positioning yourself here during the pre-show won’t make a significant difference in your overall wait, but you’ll be ahead of 50ish people if you throw enough elbows to get over here.
The next room can be crowded. I suggest staying as far to the left as possible and ideally brushing up against the wall as you walk. The walkway to the loading area is on the left ahead.
It was nice to see Madame Leota floating again.
I was back out front at 10:38am for a total experience time of 22 minutes. That’s right around average.
The standby line starts back here. Before 10:45am.
Things are going to get pretty rough in Part 2 with the FastPass+ return line for Big Thunder Mountain starting here.
And Tomorrowland looking like this.
But my morning has gone okay so far…I’ve accomplished:
- 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
It’s far from the most efficient plan possible, but it does afford a good look at what’s happening around Magic Kingdom, in addition to providing reasonable waits at the attractions that I’ve chosen.
Considering the Park has been open for 158 minutes up to where we find ourselves now, the 160-minute wait for Space Mountain at 1pm is actually longer than that.
Part 2 is incoming.