Since the new rope drop procedure started earlier this year with the Welcome Show moving to Cinderella Castle, we’ve taken a look at a couple of different touring plans.
This post covers the majority of the changes in case you missed it. I followed that up last month with a touring plan that started from the main entrance with Mine Train first and then we also looked at a plan that included a pre-park-opening breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant, here.
In those posts, I occasionally cite that a Frontierland/Adventureland start is a lot easier and far less stressful than the Mine Train approach, and that’s what we’ll try today.
I don’t like to discuss security protocol much because I “feel” like it undermines what they’re trying to do, but come April 3rd, we’re going to see a lot of changes with how Disney screens guests. Those parking at the Transportation and Ticket Center or otherwise transferring to Magic Kingdom from there will undergo bag-check and go through the metal detectors there. Guests transferring via monorail from the Contemporary, Polynesian Village, and Grand Floridian Resorts will do the same at their respective monorail stations prior to boarding. Guests arriving via bus will continue to be screened at Magic Kingdom. We’ll see what they do for those walking from the Contemporary or taking boats from the various resorts with marinas. I’ll be on the ground on the 3rd to check it out.
I arrived at 8:25am to what is a predictably easy experience first thing in the morning.
Taking some time for photos from the train station since there’s no rush to the Hub. You could spend some time taking pictures around Main Street, grabbing some Mickey Waffles or another breakfast item at Plaza Restaurant, or shopping at one of the various stores like the Emporium.
It’s artsy because it’s tilted.
8:35am on Main Street.
The center Hub area is pretty chill.
Some kind of Disney wedding special starring “The Bachelor” was being filmed, which caused some changes in traffic patterns first thing.
For Mine Train, you want to be at the tapstiles no later than 8:10am and hurry to this walkway to the right of Cinderella Castle.
A bit of a backup in this direction as Disney was trying to keep the area behind “The Bachelor” clear.
The area directly in front of the stage was wide open.
The backup at the Liberty Square entrance with people that are probably planning on cutting across into Fantasyland taken at 8:40am. I recommend instead going through the Castle.
People lined up next to the reservation line that also leads into Liberty Square.
It looks like fewer than 100 people waiting at the Adventureland rope at 8:40am.
Compared to 8:50am.
More people looking to cut across into Liberty Square and Fantasyland taken to the right of the entrance to Adventureland.
While it might “feel” like there are a lot of people at any of these entrances, they’ll basically disappear once the Park opens and people head to 50 different places.
The Mine Train Pathway at 8:53am.
The scene front and center for “Let The Magic Begin” at 8:54am, which is a minute before it starts. The Welcome Show now starts five minutes before regular open or 7:55am with a regular 8am open or 8:55am with a regular 9am open.
The show is only about four minutes long with Mickey and the gang filling about half of that time. It’s arguably a lesser show than the railroad version, but it remains a fun opportunity to see the characters to start the day. If you have an early morning reservation at Be Our Guest, you can catch the show from the back of the Castle, which might be a fun perspective as the characters will also exit in that direction.
With the rush to Fantasyland, you probably want to see the show front and center on the day that you’re starting in another, less time-sensitive land. From the front of the Mine Train or Peter Pan’s Flight lines, you’re not going to be able to see much or any of the stage whatsoever. If you do want to experience the Fantasyland headliners and see the Welcome Show on your first day, consider rope dropping another land and instead rely on FastPass+ for attractions like Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Wait times also reliably drop in the last hour of operation.
Filing into Liberty Square and over to Fantasyland.
I spent some time taking pictures of flowers.
Before moseying towards Adventureland.
It does not make a whole of sense to rope drop Swiss Family Robinson.
Jungle Cruise is a viable first stop, particularly if you don’t want to use FastPass+ here or backtrack to Adventureland after visiting Frontierland for Big Thunder and Splash. I’ve seen some reports that people have had to wait a couple of minutes to fill a boat, but that certainly doesn’t look to be a problem today.
Looking over Jungle Cruise wait times this month:
Like many of the other attractions that we’ve discussed over the last few days, Jungle Cruise probably has higher waits earlier in the day than you might expect and higher peak waits. I only see one day where the peak doesn’t hit 70 minutes and that’s just because 65 minutes was the highest recorded wait that day.
Which is why I made FastPass+ there for 9:35am-10:35am.
The high on April 1st is 90 degrees…then 93 degrees on the 2nd.
You could theoretically take a ride on the Magic Carpets first thing and the wait at Jungle Cruise immediately after shouldn’t be appreciably longer.
Pirates of the Caribbean could work as a second stop. I’m going to get in the standby line at 9:48am and wait just over 25 minutes, which is rough for that time of day.
Since I watched the Welcome Show from the center of the Hub and took my jolly time meandering over to Frontierland, I’m arriving after anyone that was belly up to the Adventureland rope or anybody that hurried over after the conclusion of the show.
Splash Mountain is a significantly longer experience than Big Thunder, so it makes more sense to ride the roller coaster first so you’re on your way sooner. Wait times only rise as the morning progresses.
The actual length of the line at Big Thunder is one of the hardest to gauge because of the number of potential switchbacks and additional queue areas up the hill.
I’m backed up to the entrance, which you might think would result in a long wait, but virtually none of the queue inside the station was open.
Trains are already barreling down the mountain as the interactive queue portion is roped off at 9:12am.
One of the walkways down to the loading platform was roped off.
But they were loading both sides, so wait times were half of what they would have been with just one side operating.
And I was flying through Tumbleweed just a couple of minutes later.
Hopefully the 50th anniversary of Magic Kingdom will bring a slew of upgrades to existing attractions, including the falling boulder scene.
Check out what they did at Disneyland Paris starting about 5:36 into this video. It’s a completely different, much cooler experience.
I got in line at 9:08am and was back out front at 9:22am for a total experience time of 14 minutes. According to the attraction page, we’re budgeting 18 minutes with FastPass+, so my experience should be shorter than visiting later in the day with priority access in hand…or on wrist…The posted wait is still 5 minutes.
Splash Mountain was posted at 10 minutes.
I got in line at 9:24am and was past the FP+ merge point four minutes later:
They were only loading half of the logs, but it wasn’t yet causing a backup. Hopefully they were adequately staffed by the time people started arriving.
I thought spring break was supposed to be a low crowd time:
I was back out front at 9:44am to a 20-minute posted wait for a total experience time of 20 minutes. The attraction page says budget 30 minutes due to a wait of a couple more minutes to board and then a couple more minutes to disembark with so many more logs to unload later in the day.
20 minutes at Big Thunder at 9:45am.
I marched back to Caribbean Plaza.
Pirates was backed up outside the entrance at 9:48am with a 20-minute posted wait.
With spring break crowds still in full force, you might remember that we ran into some above-average waits at Hollywood Studios a couple of days prior.
And my actual wait was 25 minutes, which seems awfully long considering I was in line before 10am.
Here’s waits in March:
It was only a few years ago when a 20-minute posted wait meant it was time to find the exit because the Park was legitimately “crazy crowded.” These days, the wait is 20+ minutes every day by 10:30am with the exception of the day that the ride was down for about eight hours.
Compare that to February, where we saw much lower crowds during the beginning of the month:
Wait times are about 50% less at 10am in February as compared to March – 20 minutes versus 29. And over the first few weeks, a 5- or 10-minute posted wait at 9:45am is a lot more common than 20.
But such is life during spring break:
I wasn’t back out front until 10:25am for a total experience time of 37 minutes, which is probably too long. Pirates is one of the easier 4th or subsequent FastPass+ experiences to book because there are so many of them.
Looking over wait times over the course of the day:
Come 10am, eight of the 29 attractions that post wait times are showing fewer than 20 minutes and 11 of them are already 30+ minutes, so a 20-minute wait this early for a moderate priority attraction isn’t the worst outcome. It may have been prudent to instead ride Big Thunder a second or third time and perhaps ridden Aladdin’s Magical Carpets in front of the Jungle Cruise FastPass+ instead. I could have easily secured Pirates at a desirable time as a 4th FP+ choice.
Jungle Cruise is a higher priority than you might expect these days and generally requires FastPass+ if you want to ride between 9:45am and 8:30pm with a short wait. We looked at March waits to open the post, but here’s February:
Even earlier in the month, when waits at Pirates were 10 minutes at 10am, Jungle Cruise typically posts at least 30.
With FastPass+, I was on board in four minutes:
And I was back out front at 10:45am for a total experience time of 18 minutes. The attraction page tells us to budget 20, so we’re a little ahead of the game with no wait to disembark given fewer boats operating this early in the morning.
15 minutes at Magic Carpets should be accurate.
Still a walk-on…
A crowd for the 10:30am Royal Friendship Faire show as it concludes.
Half of the scrim over The Emporium came down on the 31st, a day after this photo was taken. You would expect the other half would follow shortly. The red roof is certainly vivid.
Main Street at 11:05am.
And off to my 11:30am ‘Ohana breakfast reservation, which I’ll review later this week along with Crystal Palace breakfast/lunch/dinner.
Overall, the Frontierland/Adventureland rope drop is one of the most pleasant morning experiences at a Walt Disney World Park with short waits at fun, iconic attractions with far less of a hurried feeling than Fantasyland and to a lesser extent, Tomorrowland. If I did hurry a bit faster to Big Thunder, my wait would have been shorter at Pirates as I would have arrived seven or eight minutes earlier. If you’re visiting during an objectively less crowded time, you’d also do better later into the morning.
I’ll be back.