We pick things up from our review of Early Morning Magic, which included an exclusive hour in Fantasyland to tackle the priorities there. I also stopped by Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. This is where we’ve been:
- Meet Fairy Godmother: 7:51am – 7:54am
- Say hello to Suzy and Perla: 7:55am – 7:57am
- Try to marry Anastasia Tremaine again: 7:58am – 8am
- Peter Pan’s Flight: 8:01am – 8:09am
- Peter Pan’s Flight: 8:10am – 8:16am
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 8:18am – 8:29am
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 8:30am – 8:37am
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 8:38am – 8:48am
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: 8:51am – 8:57am
- Space Mountain: 9:02am – 9:27am
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin: 9:28am – 9:39am
- Breakfast at Cosmic Ray’s: 9:40am – 10:10am
If you’re not attending Early Morning Magic, then you can still follow along with this post for the most part, with the assumption that we started with Space Mountain at regular Park open and then moved on from there. The 30 minutes that I spent at Cosmic Ray’s could be substituted with Tomorrowland Speedway or Astro Orbiter, both of which would take around that much time at 9:40am.
In the picture above, the wait for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is already up to 130 minutes at 10:11am. I was able to ride three times during Early Morning Magic without waiting longer than five minutes, and could have ridden another time or two if I hadn’t been busy with the pictures, trying to marry Anastasia, and the other attractions. Riding three times now would take 390 minutes, which is not three hours and ninety minutes, but rather six-and-a-half hours. If you were to get in line at 10:11am, and then wait the 130 minutes, you’d be off the ride at approximately 12:21pm, which is just in time for lunch at Cosmic Ray’s.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is up to a 35-minute wait. This is an attraction that you probably want to use a 4th or subsequent FastPass+ for, unless you’re planning on riding before 9:45am most days. A tremendous amount of the ride’s abysmal capacity goes to FastPass+, and it only takes a hundred people waiting in standby for the actual wait to hit a half hour. Considering the low capacity, it’s surprising that Winnie the Pooh has so much FP+ availability later in the day, so you’ll want to look out for that. It’s certainly a fun little ride when you only have to wait a few minutes.
Over the course of the day of our visit, which was back on Tuesday, February 11th, wait times were above average, but the morning certainly “felt” worse than that. Before 10:15am, the line for Mad Tea Party is already spilling out of the entrance, which is never a good sign. They have more extended queue in the back, but you want to find yourself there about as badly as you want to find yourself at lunch at Cosmic Ray’s after making it through exactly one ride in the morning.
We can usually find some relief in Storybook Circus later in the morning.
Since it’s in the very back of the Park, it typically takes some time for the people to make their way back there. That was not so much the case on this particular morning, where the posted wait for Dumbo was up to 25 minutes before 10:15am.
Even The Barnstormer was using its extended queue at 10:15am, where the posted wait is 15 minutes.
Of course, there is more extended queue back there, along with a large box that will house the majority of the new Tron roller coaster.
Being in the standby line for The Barnstormer is depressing enough, but I imagine that it will be made that much worse in ~18 months, when the future is cycling by in front of us while we wait for our goofy 57-second experience.
Live look at your My Disney Experience app crashing right as Rise of the Resistance boarding groups open.
I’ll admit that I am a little ignorant when it comes to the ins and outs of Shanghai Disneyland, other than the fact that I would prefer to stay home at the moment, but I wasn’t expecting to see Universal’s Transformers box take up the majority of the real estate back there.
At least the 15-second outdoor portion is long enough that the ride will have to close for area lightning, like the other outdoor attractions.
I’m sure that won’t come into play with a September opening in front of Magic Kingdom’s 50th anniversary next year.
We’ll take another look from the PeopleMover in a moment.
We got in line for The Barnstormer at 10:15am, and weren’t off until 10:43am, for a total experience time of 28 minutes. That’s about 25 minutes too long and real rough for that early in the morning.
The Magic Kingdom Railroad will be closed through the rest of 2020 and into 2021.
For about a year, you could see one of the steam trains up close at the Main Street Station.
That viewing has moved to the Fantasyland Station in the back of Storybook Circus, where you can also take photos sitting or standing in one of the rows.
And get an up close look at whatever the technical term is for what may or may not be the engine.
There’s no line, so you can drop by at your convenience.
Big Top Souvenirs, with Big Top Treats inside, has apparently had some problems with fires and flooding over the last couple of months. If nothing else, it’s comforting knowing that there’s something out there that’s an even bigger disaster than our own lives that isn’t just Fast & The Furious: Supercharged. You don’t need The Kardashians; you only need Big Top Souvenirs, now in its fifth or sixth season.
Unfortunately, all of these fires and the floods mean that you’re going to have to deal with some temporary carpeting inside the store. It’s basically The Ten Commandments in here. Try to get in before the locusts do.
Luckily, Disney World’s mantra is “look up” rather than down.
Here’s a look inside the treats case, where about half of the treats are named and most are snack credits.
And on the other side. While some of the Dining Plan snack credit stickers may have been lost during the various disasters, chances are that anything qualifies here outside of the $10.99 specialty apples. At the risk of having to make human contact, you can always ask.
Journey of the Little Mermaid is typically one of the last rides at Magic Kingdom that posts a 25+ minute wait, which makes it a good candidate for a late morning stop.
Meeting Ariel at her Grotto is purportedly a 20-minute wait.
But I was surprised to see the line for The Little Mermaid Ride backed up all the way to the entrance. Farther up the line, you can sort of make out the people and the colors of their shirts. It’s all line.
The average wait here at 11am is just 15 minutes, so the 35 minutes posted is more than twice that. As one of the easiest FP+ experiences to acquire later in the day, we don’t want to wait any longer than those 15 minutes.
This was the end of the line for Mad Tea Party at 10:54am. It’s never a good thing when you are both waiting outside of a ride’s entrance and can also not see the entrance.
There is more queue to be filled, but it’s probably not what most people were expecting several days before the incoming Presidents Day Weekend crowds.
Despite the unusually long waits, it didn’t “feel” too crowded out on the pathways. We’ve got a few issues at play here that are probably contributing to the longer waits. The obvious culprit continues to be FastPass+. With more and more people aware of the system well before they arrive, more and more inventory is taken in advance. It might not make a whole lot of sense from a touring efficiency perspective to take a Journey of the Little Mermaid FP+ for 10am, but if 90% of the other attractions are showing no morning availability, then you’re going to take what’s left. That puts a serious strain on morning touring.
As I’ve pointed out before, the first return time back in the paper FASTPASS days was usually 9:40am to 10:40am, with a variety of restrictions on when the next paper FASTPASS could be pulled. That meant you had 40 minutes in the morning when nobody would have FASTPASS priority. And because you could only pull the one FASTPASS to start the day, you’re probably doing so at a high priority attraction like Peter Pan’s Flight or Space Mountain. Nobody would be pulling paper FASTPASSes for The Barnstormer at 10am, which meant very little capacity went to FASTPASS priority in the morning. These days, you typically have the maximum allotment of FastPass+ experiences distributed for the majority of the attractions, and the first return time of the day is right at Park open, or 9am to 10am. That’s really bogging us down as there is very little standby capacity available in a Park that is also actively cutting other entertainment options.
We’re also seeing very early closes these days with Magic Kingdom open until just 8pm. Even on the Presidents Day holiday itself, the Park is only open until 9pm. This Sunday, you do get the rare 10pm close, though. Earlier closes also impact wait times as more people are forced into visiting during a shorter window of opportunity. If Magic Kingdom was open until 11pm, then I might plan to visit from 1pm to 11pm instead of 9am to 8pm, in turn spreading out the crowds more. Attractions also distribute fewer FastPass+ given shorter operating hours. I’m not going to be able to book Big Thunder Mountain for 8:15pm to 9:15pm today because the ride is closed and the Park isn’t even open.
You can’t tell from the picture, but that’s a 75-minute posted wait for Space Mountain. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about my 15-minute wait first thing, but it certainly beats what we’re seeing now. On the other hand, if Disney had been running at full capacity from Park open, the lines wouldn’t have backed up nearly as quickly.
Astro Orbiter looks to be 30 to 40 minutes.
No matter how hard we try, we can’t blame that one on FastPass+. Or, we can, since it’s likely Space Mountain’s 75-minute wait that’s pushing people towards doing other things. A 35-minute wait for Journey of the Little Mermaid might sound like a bum deal, but it’s better than waiting over two hours for Mine Train.
That’s a 55-minute wait for Buzz.
We’ll get a better view from the air once we board the Tomorrowland PeopleMover, where the wait is still just a couple of minutes.
The ramps to and from the loading platform had been under refurbishment.
That refurbishment has concluded, so you won’t see these tarps up any longer.
I thought it would be funny if the single ramp changed direction based on the importance of whoever was about to step on. If Bob Iger was heading up, then the ramp would instantaneously start moving up, throwing everyone else off. It would be a good opportunity for some of us to step on the speedramp at the same time and see who the universe favors. I’m guessing I’ll be doing most of my walking against the current.
While we’re typically interested in quantifying crowds via proprietary algorithms that you wouldn’t understand, the COPI, or Carousel of Progress Index, is usually a good indicator. The more people you see waiting outside that door, the busier the Park is. They could rename it “Magic Kingdom’s Last Resort,” but people might either try to book a room there, or it will sound even more exciting than a carousel, become even more popular, and then we would have to rename something else as Magic Kingdom’s last bastion. We’ll be going to Carousel of Progress next.
While there are some people here, it’s nothing compared to a holiday weekend.
look at these hours from the same weekend from 2016. hollywood studios WAS OPEN LONGER with DOUBLE THE FANTASMICS. magic kingdom was open from 8am to 1am with TWO nighttime parades. ANIMAL KINGDOM OPENED AT FREAKING 8AM YEARS BEFORE AVATAR EVEN OPENED. now 9am. WITH RECORD CROWDS pic.twitter.com/83apDsBNby
— josh (@easywdw) February 15, 2020
You can see me freaking out about it on Twitter if you want. It’s almost unbelievable how much shorter operating hours are these days compared to just a few years ago. Instead of the 8am to 1am hours that we saw back in 2016, the Park is open from just 9am to 11pm on the Saturday of Presidents Day Weekend. That means 9am to 11pm is about as good as it gets. Nobody can tell you how much it costs to operate the Magic Kingdom for an hour, but the “savings” has to be substantial for a company whose stock price continues to rise with the market. And ticket prices. And food and beverage prices.
We also have a glimpse of Tron in the back there.
Enjoy the views of the concrete while you still can. PeopleMover ConreteViewer.
It’s possible that there are few people out walking because everyone is in line somewhere. That’s the extended FastPass+ return line for Buzz Lightyear to the left, and the standby line waiting to just enter the Monsters, Inc. building on the right.
Disney continues to change Tomorrowland’s aesthetic, potentially going back to more of the classic whites and blues.
You might remember that the painting of these rocks was a big deal a couple of years ago. The new-ish Tomorrowland archway leading into the Land is to the rear.
Of course, we can still enjoy the majesty of Cinderella Castle.
We’re coming up on a pile of dirt.
There is the pile of dirt. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Italy booth from the Epcot Festivals tries to bury me underneath it.
Look there (or Ale House) first if I go missing.
The rest of this is probably more of the same, but you can see how the vehicles will spring from the building up top there.
Then with the rest of the short track.
The FastPass+ return line at Space Mountain is backed up due to guest confusion/malfeasance more than anything else.
That’s usually the culprit when you see backups like that, but we’ll see some legitimate ones later on too. It’s always important to have something to look forward to.
Some number of years ago, a South American tour agency tried to hire me. There is a group of about 50 15-year old girls in matching pink shirts and backpacks waiting in a 55-minute Buzz Lightyear line down there. I turned that job down.
It’s probably time for a solid character update. Buzz Lightyear still meets down there to what is currently a 30+ minute long line.
Even the birds are trying to fly away up there.
We’ll take a closer look once we’re safely on the ground, but these tarps are a good indication that work continues.
As we circle around.
And the people continue to stream in.
In the next part, we will go hide in Carousel of Progress.