It’s April 15th, 2019, or the Monday before Easter, as we head back towards Frontierland via Liberty Square just after 10:30am. Nothing says liberty quite like the freedom to go to Walt Disney World on the second busiest week of the year. On the other hand, if our options were to go to Disney World from April 15th to 21st, or to Hollywood Studios on seven straight days from August 29th to September 4th, then maybe they made the right decision. Or if their options were to go to Walt Disney World from April 15th to 21st, or to Hollywood Studios any other day of the year, then it still makes a lot of sense that we’re here and not there. I certainly don’t judge.
In Part One, I covered what to expect from a regular 8am open, followed by the rush to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first thing. Despite some of the heaviest afternoon crowds of the year, the 8am rope drop ended up being better than the usual 9am rope drop, in large part because your average guest isn’t going to be able to do what it takes to get here in time for an 8am open. Part Two continued our touring plan, focusing on why we do the things that we do, with stops in Adventureland for Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean, along with a pleasant ride on the Liberty Square Riverboat.
So far, this is what I’ve accomplished:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 8am – 8:19am
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: 8:20am – 8:27am
- Peter Pan’s Flight with FastPass+: 8:30am – 8:38am
- Haunted Mansion: 8:40am – 8:53am
- Jungle Cruise: 9am – 9:16am
- Pirates of the Caribbean: 9:20am – 9:43am
- Liberty Square Riverboat: 10am – 10:22am
Things went surprisingly well – I was expecting to finish up with Pirates of the Caribbean closer to 10:15am. My own success means that you could move considerably slower and still experience the first six priority attractions before it’s time to use our second FastPass+ of the day, which is at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Liberty Square Riverboat can be visited at your convenience later in the morning or afternoon.
As a reminder, here’s what wait times looked like over the course of the day:
It’s going on 10:30am and the combined wait time for the first seven attractions that I’ve experienced is 455 minutes. That’s seven hours and thirty five minutes in line, not to mention the time that it takes to experience the rides themselves, which would add another 75 minutes or thereabouts. So I’ve experienced 530 minutes worth of stuff in just the first 150 minutes of Park operation. That’s pretty good.
Crowds continue to rise as we head towards the highest levels of the day at 1pm.
If you’re questioning people’s early morning desperation, just look at how many are riding the Liberty Square Riverboat at 10:30am.
I have a 9:30am – 10:30am FastPass+ for Big Thunder Mountain and a 10:45am – 11:45am FastPass+ for Splash Mountain. I tried to hold off on visiting Big Thunder until the end of the window so I could walk the two minutes over to Splash Mountain immediately after Big Thunder to use FastPass+ there.
This is how the website breaks down FastPass+ priority. This is based on how much time and hassle using FastPass+ will save, in addition to how hard it is to acquire FP+ for that attraction:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain (when high temperatures are 80+ degrees)
- Meet Mickey at Town Square Theater
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess
- Meet Rapunzel and a Visiting Princess
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Meet Ariel at Ariel’s Grotto
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Jungle Cruise
- Haunted Mansion
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Splash Mountain (when high temperatures are less than 80 degrees)
- Meet Tinker Bell at Town Square Theater
- it’s a small world
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
- Mad Tea Party
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
There are far more FastPass+ opportunities at Magic Kingdom than any of the other theme parks, making the decision on which to pick difficult. Consider picking three high priority attractions in a Land that you don’t plan to visit until the afternoon or evening. For example, if you plan to start your day with Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain, then you may want to use FastPass+ in the afternoon in Fantasyland at Peter Pan’s Flight, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and Mine Train or in Tomorrowland at Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, and Buzz Lightyear.
That’s mostly what I’ve done, beginning my day in Fantasyland and selecting two of my three FastPass+ experiences in Frontierland. I wanted to ride Peter Pan’s Flight, and knew the wait would already be problematic by the time I was done with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, so I used my first FastPass+ there. I’m going to book Mickey Mouse as my fourth FastPass+ after lunch on my way out of the Park. Mickey’s location at Town Square Theater near the entrance is inconvenient from just about any other area. So without much trouble, I’ll have cleared the top six priorities at Magic Kingdom.
Knock on wood, but I’ve had good luck with the newest update of the My Disney Experience app, which made some significant changes to the interface. It’s potentially less intuitive, but also snappier. You might open the app and take a look around after the update if you haven’t already. Probably at a time that you’re feeling particularly patient.
At 10:38am, the FastPass+ return for Splash Mountain is backed up to here, which doesn’t bode well since we’ll be heading there next.
But at least we’re not headed to standby at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, where the regular queue is not only completely full, but also spilling out to the switchbacks well outside the entrance.
FastPass+ is also backed up out to the touchpoints.
But that’s not really a big deal.
Not only is the physical FP+ queue probably 5% of the length of standby, if that.
But we also enjoy priority boarding with FastPass+, probably at a ratio of eight FP+ riders to every two standby riders. So for every one hundred people that ride Big Thunder, only 20 of them will be from standby, and their line is also 20 times as long. Nonetheless, it is absolutely appropriate to sigh and loudly exclaim, “IS THIS THE SLOWPASS LINE??? OR THE FASTPASS LINE???” It’s never not funny.
Even with FastPass+ backed up to the entrance, I was still on-board in a little under 15 minutes.
While that’s about twice as long as it usually takes, it doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable given the extraordinary length of the standby line.
You might remember that my FastPass+ return time was 9:30am to 10:30am. As always, the “true” return window is up to five minutes before and up to fifteen minutes after that hour-long time frame, so I can return any time between 9:25am and 10:45am with the FP+. I don’t usually recommend that you plan on using a FP+ during the extra 15 minutes, because that’s when you can run into actual problems that will delay you past the grace period. Theoretically, I could have made it over here by 10:30am after disembarking Liberty Square Riverboat around 10:20am, but I take a lot of pictures.
I arrived at 10:40am and was back out front at 11:01am, for a total experience time of 21 minutes.
And a significantly longer FastPass+ return line.
That starts here.
That’s a 110-minute posted wait.
That’s about to be 120 minutes.
With a lot more people coming this way.
Splash Mountain is only posted at 65 minutes at 11:04am, which is a bit surprising given the number of people that we’ve run into this morning. The ride would peak at 155-minutes at 4:30pm.
The FastPass+ backup isn’t that bad – just out to here after switching around and back a time or two.
Considering just about the entire extended standby queue is full, you’d have to think that 65 minutes is a bit optimistic. This looks like two hours to me, easy.
Even FastPass+ was backed up this far, before the walk up the stairs.
Since Splash was my third FastPass+, I’m eligible to book a fourth FP+ immediately after scanning my ticket or MagicBand at the entrance touchpoint. As before, availability isn’t great:
I’m not sure how many FastPass+ I’ve used over the years, but it’s probably into the thousands. And in all of those experiences, I’ve never heard of anyone that booked a FastPass+ for a PM time, but turned up at the AM time. But both the people in front and in back of me at Big Thunder had booked FastPass+ for a PM time, something like 10:30pm to 11:30pm and tried to return at 10:45am instead. The cast member actually said out loud, “You’re about eleven and a half hours early.” Maybe that’s why the Parks actually close before 10pm most nights – there’s much less opportunity for FastPass+ confusion if you can’t book 9pm, 10pm, 11pm, and 12am slots. Disney is doing us a favor.
Just after 11am, FastPass+ availability isn’t that far off what we saw a couple of hours earlier. I could head to Dumbo in about three hours, when the posted wait will be 90 minutes. Or I could wait until 3pm and hit Buzz, when the posted wait will be 70 minutes.
As I mentioned in Part One, small world is one of the easier fourth or subsequent FP+ experiences to acquire. If I refresh a few times as described in Part Two, by clicking a new time at the top of the screen, something much earlier in the day should come up without too much effort. Otherwise, they’ll see us at 2:05pm, when the posted wait will be 50 minutes. Mansion will be up to 75 minutes at 5pm.
As expected, Mad Tea Party is available just a couple hours in advance, while Jungle Cruise is about seven hours out. I’m not sure if you’d want to visit on a day when you could be legitimately happy to pull a Mad Tea Party FP+ for just an hour in the future. And be even happier when it saves you an hour in line.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh might be the strangest FastPass+ at Walt Disney World. The ride sees high average waits. At 12:05pm, when the first FastPass+ return time is available, the posted wait will be 65 minutes. The capacity is also lousy, which means few experiences should be available per hour. But it’s almost always one of the easiest 4th FP+ experiences to acquire. It’s offering me two return times before the first Mad Tea Party is available.
Winnie the Pooh is even available before PhilharMagic, the easiest FP+ to acquire. I ended up taking that 1:10pm for Mickey Mouse.
After a refresh, PhilharMagic is available ten minutes sooner, at least, but Monsters, Inc. is all the way out to 4:05pm, or about five hours in the future.
This almost rounds out what was available for just one person. If you were searching for larger parties, you’d see less and less availability as your party size gets larger.
For some reason, you may see FastPass+ availability for an attraction you’ve already experienced at the end of the list, as I do here for Peter Pan’s Flight:
The quality of your 4th and subsequent FastPass+ depends entirely on your propensity to refresh availability and the size of your party. Remember that Disney won’t split the difference with you when it comes to what FP+ are available. Let’s say the following FP+ are available for Peter Pan’s Flight:
- Two for 5:20pm – 6:20pm
- One for 5:35pm – 6:35pm
- Five for 7:20pm – 8:20pm
- Two for 7:40pm – 8:40pm
- Six for 9:40pm – 10:40pm
If you’re searching for a party of one, then you’ll see all five return times. A party of two will see all return times except for 5:35pm – 6:35pm, since only one FP+ experience is available for that slot. A party of three will only see the 7:20pm and 9:40pm return times. Disney doesn’t see that there’s two FP+ available for 5:20pm and one FP+ available for 5:35pm and offer a party of three a 5:30pm return time.
Because of this, you may want to break down larger groups into smaller parties by refreshing availability in groups of two or three and then trying to find overlapping return times for a single attraction. Of course, that adds a lot more hassle to the equation. But if it means saving a couple of hours in line, or moving a FP+ return time up to 5:30pm from 8pm, then it may be worth sitting down and doing some serious refreshing.
“A family that refreshes together, stays together.” – Walt Disney
Even with the long FastPass+ return line at Splash, I arrived at 11:05am and was on-board before 11:15am, for an actual wait under ten minutes. Given what must be a 90-minute actual wait in standby, that “feels” pretty reasonable.
From up here, it doesn’t even look that busy:
There really are a lot of people in line here.
The line extends all the way back over there.
I arrived with FastPass+ at 11:05am, and was back out front at 11:31am, for a total experience time of 26 minutes, which is only five or six minutes longer than average. The posted wait is up to 90 minutes, but I think that’s still optimistic. At 11:45am, the posted wait would be bumped up to 110 minutes.
Given the length of the FastPass+ return line…
The end of which you can’t see in this picture, a two-hour standby wait is probably about right with so much capacity given to FastPass+. If you were at the end of this Splash FP+ return line, you’d wait about 20 minutes to board. That’s ten minutes too long, but it’s also just 16.67% of the standby wait.
Yeah…this still isn’t the end of the Splash Mountain FP+ return line.
Big Thunder may be even worse, though. The end of the FP+ return line isn’t visible in this picture, either, but it’s not because it’s behind me.
The line stretches all the way back across the bridge.
The entrance is out there in the distance, but the end of the FP+ line is still out of sight.
And there it is in front of Pecos Bill. I feel like underneath “FastPass+ Line Starts Here,” it needs to say, “And it’s time for you to go home.”
Your wait for Big Thunder with FP+ is probably around 25 minutes from this point, which is still a lot better than the 120 minutes posted.
Cinderella Castle stands just as tall either way.