Note: Due to a problem with migrating to an upgraded server, this post was temporarily missing and the comments previously made were lost.
We pick things up from Part 1, where we rope dropped Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and then stopped in at Peter Pan’s Flight and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh before bolting for Tomorrowland. It’s 10:45am in Frontierland on Saturday October 7, 2017.
Looking over wait times over the course of the day:
We’re about three hours into the day and waits just about everywhere are prohibitive. Space Mountain is already over two and a half hours, Peter Pan’s Flight is nearing two hours; Mickey is 75 minutes; Pirates of the Caribbean is down for the majority of the day. Jungle Cruise is my next FastPass+ with a current wait of 60 minutes.
With limited options and Country Bear Jamboree just about to start, I headed inside.
The large size of the crowd for a show before 11am should be a good indication of how other people feel like their day is going:
Certainly there is nothing wrong with the Bears and it’s fun when a crowd this large is hooting and hollering along, but this is the sort of anytime show that you’d like to see when wait times peak much later in the day.
With no wait for the Bears, I arrived at 10:45am and was back out front to this scene at 11am.
My next FastPass+ was for 10:30am – 11:30am. With the ability to arrive up to five minutes before or 15 minutes after that window with no questions asked, the “real” return window is 10:25am – 11:45am.
After suffering through a particularly “boisterous” dining room during peak lunch time the day before at Pecos Bill, I decided to try and fit in lunch at Columbia Harbour House, which opens at 11am.
This was the scene outside the quick service and in front of Haunted Mansion at 11:03am.
The line was already out the door.
I took advantage of Mobile Order via the My Disney Experience app to bypass the line.
I’ll cover that process and review a number of items from Harbour House in a separate review, but I was impressed by the changes made to what is now a $15 Lobster Roll. That’s a really sizable hunk of lobster on the fresh, soft, buttery-smooth roll. It’s a far cry from what used to be served, which you can see here, in a picture I really recommend not clicking.
While I was enjoying myself in the rather sedate surroundings that is the solace of the second floor of Harbour House, it occurred to me that I needed to get going, so I returned outside to see that things had improved at Haunted Mansion. The standby line was only backed up this far and the posted wait was just 75 minutes. You might remember I was inside the pre-show in under five with FastPass+ earlier. But FastPass+ priority is why all of these poor people wait so much longer.
Considering the long standby waits, crowds on the walkways were not that impressive. Frontierland just after 11:30am is busy, but far from uncomfortable.
Splash Mountain’s refurbishment probably isn’t helping as the Park’s overall capacity is reduced by about 2,000 riders per hour, in addition to reducing the number of FastPass+ experiences available.
Pirates of the Caribbean was down from Park open through just before 6pm. That reduces hourly capacity by a similar amount and pushes 1,000+ people per hour to use their FP+ for Pirates elsewhere. Not good.
I arrived at Jungle Cruise at 11:40am with five minutes to spare. Mickey will light up green automatically so long as you return no later than 15 minutes after the stated window. If you show up a little after that, cast members will typically have mercy, but you always run the risk of finding a Chris from Orlando that is having a particularly lousy day. You don’t typically want to plan on using the FastPass+ during the grace period as that’s when you can really run into delays that adversely affect your day.
I boarded my boat in under five minutes as the standby line looked to be at least 60 minutes long:
And back out front at 11:58am for a total experience time of 17 minutes, which is not bad at all.
Things do get worse…Swiss Family Treehouse was not yet using its extended queue, for example. Flash forward to Thanksgiving Day and we should see that in use. Until then, I wouldn’t expect to see anything quite like this until November 11th.
On the other hand, the entire queue for The Magic Carpets of Aladdin was full with a 30-minute posted wait.
Pirates is still down.
This is the distribution area for A Pirate’s Adventure ~ Treasures of the Seven Seas, which is currently distributing maps between noon and 6pm. It’s across from Pecos Bill on the Adventureland side.
This is a fun opportunity to bounce around Adventureland and take in some neat interactive effects that you’ll activate along the way. It’s a good way to spend 20 to 30 minutes while waiting for another FastPass+ return window to open.
Just after 12pm.
While approaching Big Thunder Mountain, I saw the first of many signs that you do not want to see during your visit to Magic Kingdom – “(Insert Attraction Name) FastPass+ Line Starts Here.”
The ride had been down from just after 10am to just before 11am, which means at least 1,000 FastPass+ experiences had been cancelled.
Those with Big Thunder FP+ with return times during the downtime can now return.
And return they did. This is all FP+ return on the right with a clear path for standby riders.
But with virtually no capacity given to standby, you could be the 200th person in line and still wait more than an hour. If all capacity was given to standby, the 200th person in line might wait five or six minutes.
I arrived at 12:06pm and was plunging…I guess up…the mountain at 12:25pm.
That’s a wait of about ten more minutes than is typical.
Things had deteriorated further by the time I returned back outside at 12:32pm, for a total experience time of 26 minutes.
Standby was filling with people that probably think they’re waiting an hour and five minutes.
These are the same sorts of people that will march down to Guest Relations and demand that Disney “makes it right” because the sign said they were going to wait an hour and it ended up being more like an hour and a half.
I guess you could pay me enough to stand here and hold this sign, but the $10/hour that this guy is making is not enough given the amount of abuse he’s going to take over the length of the return line. As if there’s anything he can do about it. Just remember that every time you ask a cast member if it’s the “FASTPASS LINE” or the “SLOWPASS LINE,” they laugh a little harder because it’s just that hilarious.
Running off to Tom Sawyer Island may not be the worst plan.
The Country Bears have been out in force for impromptu meet and greets, which is always fun.
With Festival of Fantasy moving to 2pm, that means Liberty Square Riverboat operates from 9am-12pm and 3pm – late on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays most weeks.
That’s to accommodate Tiana’s Riverboat Party and Ice Cream Social, which I review somewhat unfavorably in this review. It’s worth noting that the view from the boat has been marginally improved by the removal of some trees, but the real draw here is the interaction with Tiana and Prince Naveen. If that’s really important to you, then the Riverboat Party may make sense. Official information and reservations are available here. But it is a bummer to see the Riverboat closed for 2.5 hours to accommodate 75 people at an upcharge function given the crowds and how many people would probably enjoy a leisurely boat ride at this point. Come back at 3pm.
One show that you absolutely do not want to miss is “The Muppets Present Great Moments in American History,” now with show times posted.
You only need to arrive at the show location to the right of Hall of Presidents a couple of minutes before the show is set to begin.
The Muppets are as funny as the show is charming – easily one of the best things Disney has come up with over the last couple of years.
The line at Harbour House still stretches outside as does the standby queue for Haunted Mansion.
Old Fantasyland at 12:40pm.
More signs you don’t want to see – “Keep Right” with the entire extended queue for small world full and a 45-minute posted wait.
Checking for FastPass+ availability for one person a half hour earlier, the earliest return time for it’s a small world was 3:15pm with nothing for Mansion until 9:20pm. It’s almost unbelievable, particularly compared to what crowds and wait times would have looked like just two or three days earlier.
90 minutes at Peter Pan’s Flight is making my 15-minute actual wait early in the morning look a lot better.
The line for Mickey’s PhilharMagic – there’s probably two full shows worth of people in front of me, making for an actual wait of 30-40 minutes. Not good.
The “Prince Charming Regal Carrousel Line Starts Here” sign should probably just read, “GO HOME. ARE YOU DUMB?”
This is such a rare sign that I don’t think the cast member has any idea where she’s actually supposed to stand. The entrance is nowhere near here.
It’s a bit surprising that Mine Train doesn’t have a custom FastPass+ return sign since it would be one of the most often used.
On the other hand, the fact that the PeopleMover sign looks like this makes me think that it’s possible that they haven’t made any new ones since Mine Train opened three and a half years ago.
I arrived at 7:15am and boarded Mine Train at 8:10am, so you could characterize that as a 55-minute wait for the ride. But with the touring advantage that arriving early offers, in addition to the current two-hour-twenty-minute wait, I think I’ll take it. If you’re looking for a short wait at Mine Train, your only other options are riding with FastPass+, which can be difficult to come by, or riding absolutely last thing at night. Those that arrived at 7:45am and walked straight to Mine Train to ride wouldn’t be off until at least 9am. Not good.
A solid hour for The Many Adventures.
The extended queue is four switchbacks deep.
25 minutes for Mad Tea Party might be optimistic.
40 at Dumbo.
45 minutes at The Barnstormer.
At this point, you might want to start dividing the wait time by the ride duration to get the most bang for your buck. This might be the worst investment with the 58-second duration.
The line for Journey of the Little Mermaid is actually backed up to where that guy is in the red Mickey ears hat is standing.
At least the ride is about five minutes long for a 10:1 wait-to-ride ratio. Assuming that’s how ratios work.
Maybe the most reasonable posted wait at the Park right now.
With the construction walls still in place, Disney has moved the entrance to Cosmic Ray’s on the Tomorrowland side all the way over here and the line is still backed up outside, despite there being a long ramp up to the ordering area and then three bays with like 20 total registers. Not good.
50 minutes at Speedway is 49.5 minutes longer than you want to wait.
So if it’s 1:05pm and the wait is two hours and forty minutes, that puts you barreling towards the chiropractor at 23 miles per hour at 3:45pm and back out front of the ride around 4pm.
Not a bad way to spend an entire afternoon?
The line for PeopleMover starts over here…wherever here is…
40 minutes for Astro Orbiter seems downright reasonable.
And there’s some concrete available for standing over there, making Orbiter seem like a pretty good 2-for-1 offer.
80 for Buzz.
FastPass+ return starts over there I think. It’s kind of hard to see my horizontal line with the vertical red pillars. I am going to have to tear those down.
I’m not real sure how to get over there, but there it is.
A sunny, albeit humid, day.
The rain arrived around 6pm and the threat of lightning closed outdoor attractions from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.
Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, which currently begins at 11:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 3:15pm, and 4:15pm at the Castle Forecourt stage.
The 25-minute show is a good opportunity to see a lot of characters and hear a lot of songs, but the experience can be less than pleasant given the heat and the shoulder kids. I have some tips on how to best see the show along with a lot more pictures in this post.
Casey’s Corner has two switchbacks outside.
I’ll follow this post up with another on current projects, construction, menus, and other updates.
Still time to turn back!
Part of why Saturdays during the fall are so crowded is because Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm on four days each week for Mickey’s Halloween/Christmas Party. Casual visitors are always going to flock to the days with longer hours. It’s also a holiday weekend with a lot of schools in the southeast getting a full week off of school. That’s Disney’s bread and butter, particularly with South American attendance continuing its slide.
Outside the gates at 1:25pm, there’s a couple hundred people still trying to get in.
But even so.
Disney has still closed half the tapstiles.
Full monorail after full monorail heading over.
Overall, crowds were a mess, but I was still able to do well for myself from 8am through 1pm. At that point, it typically makes sense to return back to the resort until around 6pm, though I could have visited some other truly anytime attractions like Enchanted Tiki Room and Swiss Family Robinson. But when Monsters Inc. is sporting actual waits of more than 30 minutes, there aren’t a lot of places to hide. Crowds empty out considerably after the fireworks and it will be a good time to tour again after 10pm. But things are undeniably rough here in the afternoon.
We’ll get to some insignificant quick service menu changes and pictures of walls.