There was a small fire at Astro Orbiter this morning around 9:30am. I was asleep. And it was raining. Had it been a scheduled fire (and not raining), I probably would have gone, but these sorts of things are difficult to predict. There was a similar fire at the Tiki Room earlier this year. I just want to ask whoever is setting these fires at attractions that they don’t like to please stop. Or try to set IllumiNations on fire. Or Stitch. NOT THE NORWAY MOVIE!! I’m just saying. Anyway, no one was on the ride when the fire broke out and no one was injured. Tomorrowland was evacuated as a precautionary measure and a Reedy Creek fire engine rolled through Fantasyland and into Tomorrowland to put it out. Tomorrowland reopened around 10:30am though Astro Orbiter remained closed. The cause of the fire turned out to be a decorative light high up in the center of the ride that shorted out and melted, causing it to sort of “catch fire.” It’s unclear what preventive steps Disney will take to make sure the incident isn’t duplicated and how long Astro Orbiter will be closed.
The rain mostly cleared up today, though the morning was wet and there was an occasional shower in the afternoon. Crowds were basically nonexistent yesterday due to the weather, but we should see more people in the Parks this afternoon now that rain isn’t as much of an “issue.” The anticipated crowd level was above average this weekend for Columbus Day. We’re certainly not talking about crowd levels that approach an “8” or a “9” in terms of the overall crowd numbers, but it’s the busiest Disney World has been since August. Actually, last weekend would have been busier with the 40th Anniversary of Magic Kingdom and beginning of the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. Looking forward, most of October will see slightly below average to average size overall crowds, thanks to the cooler weather and sporadic “Fall Breaks” throughout parts of the United States. We should see an uptick in foreign visitors as well.
One other note on the weather – the weather report for Orlando is almost always “showers” or “scattered/isolated thunderstorms” more than a couple of days out, especially in May through October. The truth is that it rains most days here. However, showers are usually short and intense. They generally occur around 3pm and 7pm, leaving much of the day unaffected. It’s usually not worth worrying about the weather report, especially more than a couple of days out. All day rain or even rain that lasts more than an hour is uncommon for much of the year.
I only took my “little lens” out this afternoon if you’re wondering why everything is “zoomed in.”
We’ll pick things up at the Ticket/Transportation Center around 1:30pm:
We’re back to the usual Monorail hours. Magic Kingdom is open until 11pm this evening and hosts evening Extra Magic Hours until 2am.
Gasp!!!! A five minute wait for Spaceship Earth at 1:50pm. This is a late arriving crowd due to the persistent morning rain. There were “literally” four people waiting to get on the Monorail back to the Ticket/Transportation Center when we pulled up at 1:45pm. Usually, most everyone that’s going to be in the Park has arrived by 1:45pm, but the rain keeps a lot of people away.
Wait times at 1:55pm:
A lot of people ask, “What is the best Park to visit when it’s raining?” My answer is usually Magic Kingdom. People tend to think Epcot is “more indoors” with the enclosed Seas Pavilion, Land Pavilion, Imagination Pavilion, and two Innoventions buildings. However, there is a lot of space between the Land Pavilion and Test Track. A lot of space. It’s also a trek from Soarin’ in the Land Pavilion to most anything other than the Seas Pavilion. Unless you’re inside a film, store, or restaurant, World Showcase is almost entirely outdoors. You could certainly spend a decent amount of time in Innoventions or the Seas Pavilion, but unless you’re waiting in line for Test Track or Soarin’ (which we don’t want to do in the first place), you’re not going to be spending a lot of time in the Land Pavilion or Test Track.
Magic Kingdom’s attractions are closer together – especially in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Most of the queues are indoors or covered as well, making most waits completely dry. While there are more outdoor attractions than Epcot, there are a lot more attractions overall and most of them are indoors. Magic Kingdom also tends to be less crowded on rainy days than the other Parks because so many people avoid it when it’s wet out. It’s usually a great opportunity to visit the attractions with short wait times. When it clears up after a day or two of rain, Magic Kingdom almost always gets swamped because so many people were avoiding it during the rain.
Off to the 2pm Wine Seminar. I know, tough life. Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars are hosting this one. Interestingly, the man who owns Silver Oak purchased 750 acres of prime Napa and Alexander Valley real estate about 40 years ago. Today, just one of those acres would fetch upwards of a million dollars. Good call, Ray!!
Looks like wine. Tastes like wine.
This was a much more professional talk than our last one. This guy obviously spends a lot of time in front of people plugging these wines. He had Powerpoint and videos of the winemakers explaining the flavors in the wines. He also had business cards and invited anyone that would be visiting the winery to personally call him to set up a tour. Very professional. Very friendly. The Silver Oak Alexander (and Napa) Cabernet Sauvignon is evidently a prolific bottle of wine as well.
A lot of fans at this one.
Wait times at 3pm:
FASTPASS return times have taken off now that more people have arrived with already long lines. Epcot was “not recommended” today:
Epcot isn’t recommended due to heavier than usual crowds for the Food and Wine Festival. Locals tend to visit primarily on Saturdays, but Sundays are also popular. If you need to visit one day over the weekend, Friday would be best, followed by Sunday. We also have a slightly different crowd pattern than usual due to the Columbus Day Holiday. Many people who arrive on Friday for a weekend vacation will visit Magic Kingdom on Saturday and then head to Epcot on Sunday, which will also elevate the crowd level a bit. We’re much better off waiting until tomorrow, when we don’t need to be as concerned about locals. While it is a holiday, most professionals won’t get a day off from work. If you do visit today, arrive as early in the morning as possible and head straight for the most popular attractions. Try to move up to the Mexico and Norway Pavilions by 11am to stay in front of the Food and Wine Festival crowds that will only increase as it gets later in the day.
Sounds about right.
On to World Showcase.
It’s getting more crowded in the World Showcase and will only continue to get busier as it gets later in the evening. We’ve been around the World Showcase enough recently, though. Time to check out that fire damage.
We’re arriving at 3:45pm:
Not a ton of people around here on Main Street. The Parade just rolled through about 35 minutes ago.
The crane is gone.
I don’t know about you, but I already feel safer with Main Street Fire Dept. on the scene!
Over to Tomorrowland. Everything appears to be intact.
The PeopleMover was operating. It reopened a little bit after the rest of Tomorrowland because of its proximity to Astro Orbiter.
Tasked with giving thousands of people the “bad news” all day. Because, you know, nothing says “the future” like riding a rickety old elevator up to a spaceship-themed-Dumbo-ride. Maybe they can work Zazu and Iago into this one and reopen it “under new management.”
Space Mountain was popular – a 50 minute wait with FASTPASS return times about two hours out. Magic Kingdom was also “not recommended:”
Magic Kingdom is going to be busy from 11am through 12am today, thanks to longer hours of operation, Columbus Day crowds, evening Extra Magic Hours, and a rare opportunity to see both Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes in one night. Magic Kingdom will be closing each of the next two nights at 7pm for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and neither evening spectacular will be offered. Other than Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of this week, tonight is the only opportunity to see Main Street Electrical Parade and anyone who wants to see it will need to be in attendance on one of those days. Many will choose today and we also need to be cognizant of the number of Disney resort guests who will be headed to Magic Kingdom for evening Extra Magic Hours, even if they don’t plan to stay far past 11:30pm. Many Disney resort guests believe that the Extra Magic Hours schedule is Disney recommending which Park to visit each day. Of course this isn’t true, but it doesn’t stop many of the 75,000 Disney resort guests from heading to the designated Extra Magic Hours Park anyway. There are two excellent times to tour the Magic Kingdom today. 9am to 11am will be particularly excellent because most off-site and on-site guests will sleep in so that they can stay up to see the evening entertainment or visit a few attractions during evening Extra Magic Hours. You can have a lot of success if you arrive prior to Park opening and head to either Fantasyland or the headlining Mountain rides. In order to stay ahead of the crowds, move on to the less popular attractions after 11am and collect as many FASTPASSes as possible for use later in the afternoon when crowds begin to build. If you’re also planning to stay for evening Extra Magic Hours, you’ll likely want to take a lengthy and relaxing afternoon break when crowds will be heavier. You can also have success if you stay from 12am through 2am. Many families leave soon after the evening entertainment and crowds will dissipate as it gets later and later. If you are staying for Extra Magic Hours, I would recommend beginning in Adventureland because most people will head to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland first. Next, move up through Frontierland and Liberty Square on your way to Tomorrowland. Save Fantasyland for last because most families will be long gone from the Park by 12:30am and Fantasyland will be low on crowds. It’s not uncommon for Peter Pan’s Flight to have a 45 minute wait in the afternoon and a ten minute or less wait at the end of evening Extra Magic Hours. Save Dumbo, Peter Pan, and Winnie the Pooh for the very end of the night. You’ll find lower crowds on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of this coming week, but you can make today work if you tour smart during the recommended times. For the Main Street Electrical Parade, consider finding a viewing spot along the Parade route in Frontierland or Liberty Square for the 10pm Parade. Both areas are substantially less crowded than Main Street and offer a view that is just as good. The second Parade is also substantially less crowded than the first, even when Extra Magic Hours is scheduled.
I know, too much information.
On to Fantasyland.
I don’t think I’ve ever shown you the Winnie the Pooh Meet and Greet area behind Mad Tea Party. It’s cute, but I prefer the Winnie the Pooh Meet and Greet in the Animation Building at Hollywood Studios. Pooh can also be found at Epcot and Animal Kingdom.
This eyesore of a tent has something to do with the new Dumbo. Because, you know, nothing says “next generation” like a 40-year-old hub and spoke carnival ride.
Now that the crane is gone, the door is gone too and this walkway is accessible. A lot of people waiting for Rapunzel. This is one queue that you don’t want to be in when it’s raining and Rapunzel has probably been inside her tower for most of the weekend.
Pretty common peak wait at Winnie the Pooh. As I’ve mentioned before, it has a surprisingly low capacity and stops constantly.
Continuing through Fantasyland.
Continuing to continue.
Long waits at Peter Pan’s Flight as well around 4:15pm.
And over to Frontierland.
I think we’ve sampled enough of that gourmet stuff over at the Food & Wine Festival. It’s time to see how “the other half” lives. Of course, that means Mickey Pretzels and Churros. You may remember this image from last week showing the only location that currently serves Mickey Pretzels:
And the menu:
I can’t guarantee these Mickey Pretzels will be available. They were available for a couple of days last month before being replaced with regular Pretzels. Mickey Pretzels then reappeared at the beginning of October.
One would assume that this would be an easy, quick transaction. Hand over money. Receive treat. But one would assume wrong. Actually, it wasn’t as if it was a difficult transaction, but you purchase the items at the cash register and then continue to a second cast member to pick up whatever it is you order. Interestingly, the second cast member doesn’t check receipts. You just tell him what you ordered and he fiddles around for a minute getting it together.
I actually ordered a Mickey Pretzel and a Cheese Sauce and showed my receipt to the second cast member who gave me a Mickey Pretzel and a Churro. Churro and Cheese start with the same two letters I guess. My mind raced trying to decide if I should correct this mistake or chalk up the Churro to “Disney magic.” Since I hate confrontations (and the Churro is a couple of dollars more expensive), I stole the Churro.
The Mickey Pretzel is about as creepy as it is awesome. That is to say, it’s “very” awesome and “very” creepy. It’s huge, salty, and was superbly prepared. There is actually a lot of variance in the quality of Disney pretzels, depending mostly on when they were made. These pretzels are popular enough that the supply is constantly refreshed and new pretzels were brought out just before I purchased one. In Germany, which is my normal “go to” pretzel location, the pretzels can occasionally be “old” and not taste particularly fresh. When the Mickey Pretzels first appeared in September, they were a bit “dough-y.” That problems seems to be corrected.
The Disney Churro. Never a bad choice. And they taste a little bit better when they are only $1.00 ^_^ Dear Walt, you can send me a bill for the rest.
Wait times creeping up at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Another ride that you don’t necessarily want to ride in the rain.:
The crowd level is also above average, it’s the most crowded time of day (especially with the early rain), and Magic Kingdom is the “least recommended Park.” Not the best recipe.
A long posted wait at Splash Mountain too, though FASTPASSes are just 36 minutes in the future. It’s 4:24pm.
A relatively long wait time for Tinker Bell as well. Because there’s only one set and the Fairies take their time with each guest, wait times at the Fairies are generally 30-50 minutes in the afternoon. If you can swing a visit by 9:15am, you’re in good shape. Unfortunately, the early morning is the best time to visit every attraction.
Heading out at 4:30pm.
It’s raining again now. According to the doom and gloom over at Weather.com, “More storminess is on the way. The persistent onshore flow during the past weekend is not giving up. But wait there’s more. A new area of low pressure is developing off the coast of Florida.”